In a post-Surviving R. Kelly world, the spotlight has never been harsher on alleged sexual predator R. Kelly and his fervent supporters. Recently, NBC Chicago aired video of R. Kelly supporters facing off against protesters outside of the Chicago studio where Kelly is alleged to be holding women hostage in a cult.
NOW: R. Kelly supporters clash with protesters in front of his West Side studio. Two white vehicles (Cadillac & Rolls-Royce) came out from behind warehouse & started blasting his music. @nbcchicago pic.twitter.com/ekiuqcB1UR
— Chris Hush (@ChrisHushNBC) January 12, 2019
It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s also something that Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks predicted over a decade ago.
“The Trial of R. Kelly,” the 2005 episode of the Adult Swim series, was McGruder and co-writer Rodney Barnes’ indictment of the singer and his supporters. The episode includes prescient clashes with protesters and supporters which looks similar to the clash in the NBC Chicago video:
As is par the course for the series, Huey Freeman (voiced by Regina King) is the long-suffering voice of reason against a public willing to be lured off a moral cliff by the Pied Piper of R&B.
The climax of the episode happens when R. Kelly starts performing in court, leading everyone, including the judge, lawyer and Huey’s brother, Riley (also voiced by King), to start dancing, forgetting about the reason they’re all in the courthouse: Kelly’s trial for child pornography. Huey condemns the celebrating public, particularly Black supporters, for believing that the criminal justice system was persecuting R. Kelly because of his race and fame. “Every famous n***a that gets arrested is not Nelson Mandela!” he reasons. Despite Huey’s speech, R. Kelly is still acquitted of all charges. The real-life Kelly would go on to be acquitted three years later in 2008.
McGruder has since responded to his episode’s newfound popularity.
“R. Kelly was a very slow-moving cultural thing that took place over years and years and years. And there was a lot of time for everyone to really think about it and mull it over and decide how they felt,” said McGruder to The Undefeated. “We live in the era now where we don’t do that anymore. We don’t wait for the judge and jury. We make our decisions quick. It’s a very, very different time. And I think a lot of people are trying to reconcile their older selves and their R. Kelly fandom.”
McGruder also revealed that he’s “close” to bringing The Boondocks back. It would seem we’ll need his commentary as we head into a brand new era in which R. Kelly is finally thought of as a criminal rather than a persecuted star.