I received a pointer to an ESPN.com article entitled “The meaning of patriotism”. The basis of the article is R. Kelly’s recent rendition of the Star Spangled Banner during the Hopkins/Taylor fight.
Reading the first part of the article made be laugh aloud as it referenced and conjured up images of this season’s first episode of The Boondocks, “The Trial of R. Kelly”. In that episode, Huey Freeman espoused on R. Kelly’s shenanigans and how he has still managed to endear himself to Black America. Team McGruder’s treatise via Huey was almost prophetic in light of this recent development.
The thrust of the ESPN article is around the subset of people who are offended by R. Kelly’s performance because of who he is and what he represents not really for what he did. In the end, I would like to believe the majority of people who were offended were likely also offended by Roseanne Barr’s rendition — assuming they were old enough to know of Roseanne. It is difficult for me to dissect the “who he is and what he represents” element because Mr. Kelly has been accused of some pretty deplorable acts and has yet to stand trial so certain aspects of his infamy are well-deserved.
Race & cultural differences (still) matter in the U.S. but I wonder if the reaction would be the same if Michael Jackson put his Thriller/Moonwalker stamp on a performance of the national anthem. Jackson still receives the support of an even larger audience despite being accused (and subsequently found not guilty) of some pretty deplorable acts as well. An analysis of the similarities and differences between Michael Jackson and R. Kelly could take up a lot of print on its own.
Frankly, I’m surprised the promoters/producers of the fight booked R. Kelly. I’m sure Ruben Studdard could use the work. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as this is the same sport that has the trainwreck known as Mike Tyson as its biggest draw. Time for some math: