Should We Still Listen to R. Kelly and Michael Jackson?

Toshiana Keating, Staff Writer

The recent allegations regarding the late Michael Jackson’s inappropriate fondness for young boys and R. Kelly’s mistreatment of underage girls have left former fans conflicted on what to do when they hear their music. Should you listen to it? Should you turn it off? Should you be outraged? Do you even care?

The horrid insight into the disturbing behaviors of these men leaves listeners in a sticky situation. Listening to these artists would be supporting an alleged pedophile or rapist. But how can you completely eliminate so many songs that have so heavily influenced pop culture?

It’s no secret that many prominent figures often have a dark history. In just music alone, we see celebrities like Frank Sinatra with mob affiliations, Elvis having had relationships with underage girls, and even James Brown being a domestic abuser. Yet, the first thing that comes to mind when we hear their names is not gangster, pedophile, nor abuser. We think of them as the godfathers of music and continue to listen to their many classics. These controversies are not the overarching legacy they’ve left behind. Why is that?

For one, fans were able to distinguish between the person and the art they create. With social media’s ever growing prominence in our day-to-day life, we are all constantly aware of every mistake any influential figure makes. Because of this, a cancelled-culture has evolved, attempting to make everything black and white and dismissing any form of gray. Granted, the actions of Kelly and Jackson were terrible and should be acknowledged as such. But what are we really accomplishing by not listening to their music?

In attempting to deprive the artists of profit or success, we’d be depriving ourselves of great music. Junior Isabella Garcia said,  “If we had to cancel every single artist that did something unacceptable or inhumane, then there wouldn’t be much left to listen to.”

So, what should we do?  We should all recognize the suffering the victims faced and make an effort to prevent these atrocities from happening to anyone else. Unfortunately, there is no way in which Michael Jackson can face punishment for his alleged actions. However, R. Kelly is already facing the consequences of his actions. Skipping a song on a playlist or shutting of the radio ultimately makes little difference in furthering their punishment, nor does it alleviate the pain of the victims.

No matter what you decide, continuing to listen to to the music of Michael Jackson or R. Kelly is not as big a statement as people make it out to be.