How Do You Decide?

2019 has been a little rough. A stark contrast from last year when we were all basking in the Wakandan sun. It appears as though the Black community is taking some L’s.

I recently watched the two-part Leaving Neverland documentary that aired on HBO.  The documentary follows two men’s account of sexual abuse and molestation they experienced as a child by Michael Jackson.  This post isn’t about whether I believe them or MJ. This is more of an inquisitive and observational post on how people react to these types of allegations from their beloved celebrities.  

As soon as an allegation comes to light people often take a side pretty quickly. Usually without knowing all the facts. People on either side of the story are firm and absolute in what they believe. And the attacks from those who think differently are vitriol.

I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of discussions or condemning social media post about Michael Jackson as there have been of R. Kelly or Jussie Smollett.  Understandably so. It’s Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Everyone loves him. Generations of people of all races feel deeply connected to him. He’s otherworldly and enchanting.

People feel deeply connected to their favorite celebrities. As much as we may feel like we know a celebrity we only know the personas that make them money. But at the end of the day, they’re just humans, and humans are troubled and problematic. If we can agree on that, then why is it so hard to believe a celebrity wouldn’t be any different? I’m wondering the following:

  1. When a harmful allegation is reported against your favorite celebrity how do you sift fact from rumors?
  2. Or do you even investigate the story further? Do you have blind allegiance?
  3. What if your favorite celebrity vehemently denies the allegations? How do you reconcile what is being said about them?
  4. If it turns out your favorite celebrity is guilty? Do you cut off support to their art or can you separate the artist from the art?
  5. And lastly, if you can separate these two, what does that say about you and your scruples?

As for me, I think I am always going to be partial to the victims only for the simple reason that I would want someone to believe me if I ever experienced such a trauma. I understand people lie and extort celebrities. I also deeply understand the history of white people constructing campaigns to lie, diminish the impact of and kill Black men. But I also understand that where there is smoke there is fire. And when multiple allegations come to light then you can be sure that there is some truth underneath it all.

Ultimately, when someone uses their power and influence to manipulate and abuse the vulnerable it’s a problem for me. Celebrity or not. Taking advantage of others is not cool and I could never support that. But this can be problematic because everything we engage with is shady. We bop our heads to music produced by drug dealers and domestic violence abusers. We watch films and television shows produced by sexual predators. Some of us attend churches in which the word of God is being spoken by pedophiles, adulterers, and scammers. Many of us work for companies owned by racists. With so much crudeness and salacious behavior going on in the world, how do you just cut off one and not the other? How do you decide?

24 thoughts on “How Do You Decide?

  1. You know these conversations are all so hard because we don’t want to believe any of it. As a social worker, the first thing that I think about is what has this person seen in their life. Things that we have experience does play a role in our behavior. Not trying to justify any of their wrong doings but bringing awareness to the fact that they had issues that needed attention a very long time ago and could have prevented some of the mess they are in now.

  2. You don’t want to believe and I try not to pass judgement until I see everything but it’s hard not to feel some type of way for both sides. So much talent wasted on foolishness.

  3. I’m still doing my research about MJ but R Kelly without a doubt been on some foolishness. Very thought provoking posts. I’ve been thinking the same thing about the support of so many problematic people in the music industry.

  4. Here’s the thing unless you were present you don’t know and will never know what happened. Once get have been tried in a court of law and found innocent then we move on. Once they’re found gulilty they serve their time for their crime. I personally haven’t followed any of their cases.

  5. These are all tough situations and I can only have an opinion but ultimately it’s up to them having their day in court.

  6. That final question is food for thought. I don’t have blind allegiance to any celebrity and I think looking at the facts is important. The Michael Jackson situation is the only sticky one in the ones you named because he is no longer alive to tell his side.

  7. I call it all fake outrage.
    MJ is dead. So I question people (specifically Oprah) riding the coat tales of the R Kelly ‘scandal’ who is SICK – mentally ill. And had conspirators, including thsse greedy arse arents. Bill … more questions and personal conspiracy theory. Jussie 🤦🏾‍♀️🙄 did wayyyyy too much when he called himself Tupac. NO! Stop it. Please have several seats cuz you doin’ too much >.<

    I have a lot of unpopular opinion. Maybe not so unpopular. 🤷🏾‍♀️ But without looking at these to deal with the everyday REAL alongside their incidents – because let’s face it. These things are only public knowledge because of status but more common than we care to admit So without us exploring this with consideration to solution, end point or whatever we want to call it… I call it all fake outrage + media sensationalizaion. Maybe even desensitization. Programming at it’s best 💫

    1. Interesting thoughts. Although I agree that perhaps the media heightens the allegations of Black men, I’m not convinced of any conspiracies theories.

  8. All of these situations are tricky but I tend to never put anything past anyone. I’ve seen incidents in my family and with friends that have totally changed the way that I see the world. Nobody gets a pass and I tend to believe victims when they risk their reputations/family/friends to expose someone. Ultimately I feel no one truly gets away with anything. I believe in divine justice. Every one of us will have to own up to our wrongdoings one day.

      1. Everybody needs to be cancelled honestly. Celebrities are human just like everybody else, none should be exempt from morals or the law.

  9. Its a mess of what is going on in the celebrity world. We all have to remember celebrities are human too and sometimes what they do on your favorite shows or sing in your favorite song isnt who they are as a person.

  10. We have all fell in love with the idea of the person but its hard not to go with a particular side! But no matter what the talent is you can’t put anything past anyone. It’s all so sad! To truly be able to do what you want for a living and you waste it all by putting yourself in situations to ruin it all…is truly heartbreaking!

  11. I’ve never been one to give bling allegiances. I listen to the arguments then come to my own conclusions. R Kelly deserves what’s coming to him. And I hope Jussie gets the help that he needs.

  12. Leaving Neverland is one of the documentaries I just won’t watch. He’s dead. Now, Aura is a different story. He’s alive. He doesn’t see any wrong in what he’s doing or has done and will continue to do so unless he’s locked up.

  13. Most people haven’t mastered the art if discussing these topics with the care and sensitivity they deserve; as a result I chose not to discuss these topics on social media. Great points!

  14. Disappointing, to say the least, but I believe that people can be like Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hyde one decent person and the other a monster and still live in the same body.

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