Why Lady Gaga and Terry Richardson Should (But Won't) Halt the Release of the Video for "Do What U Want"
The thing about yesterday’s news, that R. Kelly is a predator, sexually preying on young girls, children, is that it isn’t news. We knew this. We just…forgot. Or ignored.
How could we forget? How could we ignore?
It can’t be something as simple as talent, as Art overshadowing Man. Otherwise, Roman Polanski would be living happily on American soil right now. Tragically, horrifically, Kelly’s abhorrent, unspeakable deeds are more in line with Woody Allen. Rich, talented man abusing child of color. And we focus solely on the more comfortably salacious details, like golden showers and *hilarious* incest. We laugh. We laugh and we don’t consider what it really is we’re laughing about. And, in the case of Kelly, hundreds of young woman, many of them young girls, are ignored. Forgotten.
How could we do that to them? How could we consent to and supplement his ability to continue hurting these girls, aiding and abetting through iTunes downloads?
We separate Man from Artist as though it’s somehow the right thing to do, but how can that be, especially when this man’s Art speaks to the Man so deeply, his songs entrenched in sexual demands and a proudly voracious appetite for young flesh? How does the Art not disturb us to our very core?
And that’s why Lady Gaga and Terry Richardson need to call this video a loss and walk away. Because there is no way it won’t be unspeakably disturbing in light of Jim DeRogatis’s reminder of who exactly R. Kelly is and what he has done.
I was disturbed by this collaboration from the beginning. Many of you know that I am an unabashed Gaga lover, descending into a shrieking caps lock monster at the mere mention of her name. And I like the song, I actually like what it’s saying. But who she’s saying it with changes the song. She’s professing ownership over her physical being while lamenting the industry’s fixation on a woman’s body, but given that we know what he does with the bodies of young girls, it doesn’t sound like that anymore when his verse comes along. And, from what we’ve seen thus far of the video, given what we knew, what we already knew, it’s not right.
These girls, these victims, have been ignored, forgotten and laughed at for years. I implore all of us to consider that, to do the tiny things we can to help the situation, to think of these people for whom justice wasn’t an option when money was on the line.
Do what u want, Terry and Gaga. But that won’t make it OK.