The Boondocks (S01E02) - The Trial of Robert Kelly

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When Aaron McGruder's comic strip, The Boondocks, became an animated series, it changed television forever.

The show debuted in November of 2005 and was instantly a hit as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line-up. Black and white audiences watched every Sunday to see retiree Robert "Granddad" Freeman (voiced by John Witherspoon) and his grandsons, Huey and Riley (voiced by Regina King), and hear their thoughts on Black topics.

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This week rapper T.I. and his wife, Tameka "Tiny" Harris, were accused of sex trafficking and forcing women to take drugs.

These accusations stemmed from a social media post from Tiny's former friend, Sabrina Paterson. Paterson alleged that T.I. pulled out a gun and put it to her head. Soon after Paterson's claims made their way to the world, multiple stories of T.I. and Tiny drugging and coercing women to engage in sexual acts started to surface.

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I'm listening to my Apple Music library on shuffle.

A song from my teenage years starts to play. The familiar beat brings me back to my junior year of high school, and as the chorus comes in, an unmistakable voice fills my AirPods.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Camila MorroneLeonardo DiCaprio and Camila Morrone out and about, New York, USA - 15 May 2018

Photo by: John Sheene/Ace Pictures/Shutterstock

There's not really a lot of confusion about why Leonardo DiCaprio keeps ending up with beautiful younger women.

Famous, wealthy man-children have been leveraging their status and power to pursue young women since wealth and fame became concepts. It's almost more uncommon for a man in that position to date someone age appropriate. In the past, however, it was easy to imagine that many of the young women DiCaprio was seen with might have been nursing girlhood crushes connected to his heartthrob status as the young male lead in Titanic (1997).

The problem with that theory as it relates to Camila Morrone is that she was born in 1997, six months before Titanic (1997) premiered. So unless she was a particularly advanced infant, it's unlikely that she was aware of DiCaprio's breakout role. Perhaps, then, she saw his 2004 performance as Howard Hughes in The Aviator and was left indelibly marked by the sense that DiCaprio was a man who could date young aspiring actresses well into middle age—and clearly Leo is just so method that he was unable to drop that part of the character.

Whatever her early impressions of him, now that she is nearly half his age, she feels confident that she has matured enough to be with a man so stunted that he wants to keep dating beautiful women who were children for most of his career. She even feels that their relationship is worth defending. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Morrone, 22, responded to critics of the 23-year age gap between herself and DiCaprio, saying, "There's so many relationships in Hollywood—and in the history of the world—where people have large age gaps… I just think anyone should be able to date who they want to date."

Of course she's right. You don't have to look far back "in the history of the world" to find royals marrying off their daughters before they'd even reached puberty. And Hollywood continues to be rife with mismatched couples—like Dennis Quaid and Laura Savoie—that are reminiscent of old Hollywood drama like Charlie Chaplin's marriage to Oona O'Neill, when he was 53 and she was only 18. Or how about Elvis Presley, at 25, marrying a 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, or 27-year-old R. Kelly secretly marrying 15-year-old Aaliyah

There's a saying that goes, "Everything in life is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power." There's an extent to which the power relationships and vulnerability inherent in sex and love can be gratifying and exciting for both parties, but there's a tremendous potential for those dynamics to get out of hand. If left unchecked, it's easy for a power imbalance to blur the lines of consent, and a big age gap often results in a big power imbalance. But should these concerns really apply to Camila Morrone?

That depends. Obviously, there's a big difference between a 14-year-old and a 22-year-old, but what may not be as obvious to someone whose brain is still developing is that there is also a huge difference between a 22-year-old and a 45-year-old. In the eyes of the law, they are both adults. They can sleep together, get married—hell, she's even old enough that they can go drinking together! Though if they ever rent a car together, he should probably be the driver, because insurance rates go through the roof for people whose brains are not done maturing

The point is, someone who has been 22, who remembers what it was like to be 22—23 years ago—should know that a 22-year-old is still learning a lot of the basics about life. By and large, they are impressionable, naïve, and pretty easy for an older person—especially a wealthy and respected celebrity—to manipulate.

Camila Morrone may be an exception to that. She may be wise beyond her years, and the connection that she and DiCaprio have together may be that rare kind of soul-bond that is so profound and unquestionable that age really does become irrelevant. Certainly, if that's what she feels is going on, then she has every right to invest in that belief and see how it plays out—even if it ends up being one of those twenty-something mistakes that she learns from. Alternatively, if it's just exciting to spend some time with someone as famous and interesting as Leo, and she's not taking it too seriously, all the better.

Either way, we shouldn't let our morbid curiosity about a mismatched couple undermine her autonomy. No one can tell her what love and romance should look like in her life, and any suggestion that she's in it for Leo's Hollywood connections looks pretty absurd when you consider that her stepfather is Al Pacino. Camila is just fine—great even…but we're all going to keep commenting about Leo as long as he keeps seeking out women who are so much younger—and potentially very vulnerable to that power imbalance. You get one, maybe two age-defying soul-bonds per lifetime, Leo! At this point, dating women who are in that sweet spot of technically-legal-but-with-a-brain-that-is-still-developing is just your thing, and it is not a good look. Maybe stick with climate change instead.

In the interview, Morrone also expressed her desire to be recognized for more than her connection to Leo, saying of her new film, Mickey and the Bear, "I think more and more now that people are seeing the film, I'm slowly getting an identity outside of that… which is frustrating, because I feel like there should always be an identity besides who you're dating." With any luck, the positive reviews are a sign that she will soon have made a name for herself, and will not be thought of as "Leo's girlfriend" for much longer.

And with a bit more luck, maybe Leo will commit to a relationship long enough for a girlfriend to enter her thirties.

Walt Disney Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

Beyoncé has never been one to stick to tradition or to announce when she's about to drop something, so it's really no surprise that she just released a 40-track live album called Homecoming in conjunction with her new Netflix documentary.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer |

The album, which dropped at 10 AM on Wednesday morning, is a collection of the singer's greatest hits, ranging from "Single Ladies" to Destiny's Child's "Say My Name." It also includes rarities such as two covers of the hymn often called the Black national anthem—"Lift Every Voice and Sing"—first sung a cappella by an emotional Beyoncé as a lead-in to "Formation," and later by Bey and Jay-Z's daughter, Blue Ivy.

Blue, who recorded the track in the audience at one of her mom's rehearsals, has obviously inherited some of her parents' love of the spotlight; at the end of the song she exclaims, "I wanna do that again because it feels good!"

B7 also features Jay-Z and J Balvin and concludes with a new studio track—a cover of the song "Before I Let Go" by Frankie Beverly and Maze, originally released in 1981 and first covered by Destiny's Child in 1997.

As if the album alone wasn't enough of a gift, it's available on all streaming platforms. On it, you can hear Beyoncé's vocals—silky and flawless as ever—layered over complicated new brass-heavy arrangements and the distant screams of the infatuated crowd. Supercharged with electric energy, it's a straight shot of the empowerment and magnetism that has gained Beyoncé her well-deserved status as an inimitable icon of our times.

June's Diary performs "Lift Every Voice and Sing" live at Royal Farms Arena in

The album comes as a surprise companion piece to Beyoncé's Netflix documentary, which debuted last night at Howard University and Houston's Southern Texas University—appropriate venues, as her Coachella performance featured a massive marching band and sets inspired by the aesthetics of historically black colleges. It follows her 2018 performance from conceptualization to fruition and features interviews and intimate behind-the-scenes footage.

The critically lauded set marked the first time in the festival's 11-year history that an African American woman headlined it, and 2018 will forever be marked in history as the year of Beychella. But then again, every year is Bey's year—she's been steadily creating extraordinary multimedia works of art for the past decade, with each event—from the Super Bowl to Lemonade—further fortifying her legacy as music's eternal queen, one surprise release at a time.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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In the wake of the sexual abuse charges made against high profile men, documented in Surviving R. Kelly and the harrowingly detailed HBO documentary Leaving Neverland – in which two men claim to have been sexually assaulted by Michael Jackson when they were children – fans, media outlets, and the general public are left to answer some very difficult questions.

Firstly, do we submit to cancel culture, write off these important musical figures, and censor their respective catalogs? Secondly, does our reluctance to do so make us insensitive to victims of abuse? Lastly, how do we reconcile the talent of these artists with their crimes, particularly in cases like Jackson's, where the artist is no longer here to either defend or redeem himself?

These questions are particularly difficult in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which helped to return a sense of empowerment to victims of sexual abuse. The result was a swift and widespread execution of vigilante social justice. The movement was a necessary step in the right direction toward greater equality and, hopefully, fewer abuses of power, but it also played a role in cancel culture's ability to thrive — largely without question.

Historically speaking, artists haven't always been great people. Pablo Picasso was notoriously misogynistic, Lewis Carroll, who gave us Alice in Wonderland, was rumored to be a pedophile, and the legendary composer of the Romantic period, Richard Wagner, was viciously anti-Semitic. But if these people had been banished for their demons, the whole world would be deprived of their art.

There seems to be a direct correlation, however, between the amount of talent and influence an artist possesses, and the public's willingness to "cancel" them. Rumors surrounding MJ being a pedophile, for example, were in circulation long before his death, yet many fans spent years dismissing them due to "alack of sufficient evidence." The same is true of R. Kelly, who was given a second chance by the public in the wake of charges that he made child pornography in 2001 and 2002. Conversely, Offset came close to being canceled by the Twittersphere for cheating on Cardi B. Could this be because, in comparison to pioneers like Kelly and Jackson, Offset is less important to America's musical identity?

Alexis Petridis of The Guardiansaid of this phenomenon in regards to Michael Jackson: "You can't easily eradicate Jackson from history: too many people have too much of their lives bound up with his music. And perhaps you shouldn't. Perhaps it is all right that his music continues to be heard, so long as it comes with a caveat: that it reminds us great art can be made by terrible people, that talent can be weaponised in the most appalling way, that believing an artist automatically embodies goodness because we like their work is a dreadful mistake that can have awful consequences."

So maybe it is possible for us to condemn an artist's actions while also continuing to appreciate his art. If we are to decide that Michael Jackson and R. Kelly have contributed enough musically to warrant continuous airplay, it will be a testament to the power of their music, not to who they were as people. Their songs may take on different – perhaps darker – meanings and their lyrics may become more complicated by historical context, but isn't that a good thing? Shouldn't art be complicated, messy, and difficult to grapple with? While there is an argument to be made for boycotting Kelly's music to prevent him from reaping the profits of continual streams and record purchases, Jackson, for one, is no longer making money off his music. So, what is our incentive to banish his songs? Who are we punishing?

Maybe Jackson's legacy can be as instructional and cautionary as it is toxic and painful. It's possible that we have more to lose by trying to bury our offenders than by confronting them head on, coming to terms with what happened, directly discussing the problems, and, hopefully, healing in the process.

At the end of his Grammy award-winning standup special, The Age of Spin, Dave Chapelle demonstrates what this more complicated view of a public figure could look like. While acknowledging Bill Cosby's simultaneous importance to the Black community and his abhorrent actions, Chapelle says, "The point is this: He rapes, but he saves. And he saves more than he rapes … but he probably does rape."

Here, Chapelle gives us something of a roadmap for acknowledging that a man can be a monster and an important cultural influence, all at once. That beauty, again, will and should never make up for, soften, or redeem the heinous acts that Cosby (or anyone) has committed, but that beauty still does exist alongside, and separate from, the hideous things he's done.

Simply shunning artists like MJ or Kelly out of mainstream consciousness does not erase the art which outlives their public favor. If anything, it just makes it easier for us to ignore serious issues. Nobody is asking you to support a particular artist if you find it unconscionable, but consider this: For every person who is offended by hearing a Michael Jackson song, there are 10 who find it transcendent, are transported by it, or even feel healed of their own traumas.

Perhaps, moving forward, we can approach both the artist and his art with a heightened level of nuance that art intrinsically demands. To what ends do we believe that justice can truly be served, after all, if sincere redemption is impossible from the start? Maybe a man can be admonished, and his art can be admired, all in a single breath.