Final draft – Gaby Gabino – Group 22

Excellent work Gaby,  just add images in places that support the text and you’re good to go!

 

Over the past couple of months, discussions about sexual assault allegations made against the R&B artist, R. Kelly, and talk of the new docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly” have flooded both social and news media, changing the lives of many and ultimately leading to the arrest and indictment of the singer. The R. Kelly case is the latest of many sexual harassment cases that have been fueled by the media. This case in particular was brought to the attention of the public through the six-part Lifetime documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly”.(Fortin) From there, talk of the documentary flooded into social media platforms, such as twitter, where people were discussing the accuracy of the testimonies, previous allegations towards R. Kelly, and what consequences, if any, should Kelly face in the future. This talk on social media also reignited the #MeToo movement. News media quickly caught on to the story as well and began reporting about it soon after the documentary aired. Overall, you would have had to try extremely hard to avoid hearing about this case because it has been talked about on so many media platforms.

There are many ways in this information could have been influenced or suppressed from people being paid to talk to people being paid keep quiet. Unlike in a court room, what was said in that documentary does not have to be the full truth. There is no way to know whether these women are exaggerating or stretching the truth in the documentary because there are no rules against it. (Kahlor) On social media, there are absolutely no regulations regarding the truthfulness of what is posted. Anyone is allowed to post what they believe and their opinions on the case which could lead to confusion regarding what is factual content and what is an opinion. These days, people will post anything for attention, specifically on twitter. You will see a range of things, from people posting false sob stories to people preforming dangerous stunts, only to attract attention and retweets. Therefore, it is fairly easy to manipulate information regarding the R. Kelly case on social media platforms without having much of a consequence. On the other hand, R. Kelly has been suppressing allegations like these for nearly two decades. In the past he has been accused of crimes such as, sex with minors, child pornography, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Even then, he has not faced any jail time and only one of the many accusations ever made it to trial. Because of the amount of media coverage in this day and age, R. Kelly is finding it harder to sweep accusations like these under the rug because, unlike in the past, the entire public knows about it.

In almost every article I have read on this case, no matter which side they are defending, pathos is the main rhetorical element. The authors of articles defending R. Kelly appeal to the audience’s emotions by showing how his life has been turned upside down and by emphasizing how much he has already lost even though he has not yet been proven guilty, they are only allegations. On the other hand, media that defends the women who are claiming they were sexually assaulted or harassed by R. Kelly appeal to the emotions of the audience by having these women speak out and be vulnerable, causing the audience to feel for them. The main objective of both sides is to paint one party as the bad guy and create sympathy for the other party.  Another rhetorical element used in most of the media regarding this case is logos. Mainly in the arguments against R. Kelly, media sources have used evidence of R. Kelly’s past, such as previous accusations and previous charges, to create the image of him as a monster.

In this particular case, the main people keeping secrets are the victims. They have kept these stories about their experiences with R. Kelly under wraps for various reasons, and now they are able to share them with the public through media platforms, specifically social media. In recent years, social media has become a huge aid for victims of sexual assault or harassment. For many people speaking about their experiences with sexual abuse is extremely hard, especially when it is on a huge platform, like twitter for example, where thousands of people may see it. However, over the past year with things such as the #MeToo movement, social media has become a sort of safe space for these victims. (“History & Vision”, 2006) As this article explains, “Posts, likes and retweets are all things that tell ordinary citizens not only that their voices are being heard, but that their fellow citizens are marching alongside them”. (Slaughter 6) Seeing others posts and how others react to their post about sexual abuse gives these victims a sense of solidarity and empowerment.

Secrecy and revelation played a significant role in this event. The revelation of the accusations against R. Kelly on such a large scale changed a lot of lives. The lives of the victims are forever changed as their faces are now known and their names recognizable. Just as there is a nice supportive side of social media, there is a nasty and negative side that they now have to deal with. (Moriarty) For R. Kelly life has also completely changed as all this media attention has led to his being investigated by police. Ultimately, lectures such as the one about secrecy, have framed the way I examined this event because it gave me a different lens to analyze information with.

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