Trapped in the Closet

Posted September 28, 2007 in Film

R. Kelly’s first 12 chapters of Trapped in the Closet established him as hip-hop’s Andy Kaufman. His morality farce of cheatin’ and lyin’ was day time garbage elevated to brilliance by Kells’ deadpan sincerity—the pinnacle was the DVD’s commentary track during which we watched the peacocking crooner smoke cigars and absorb himself in his self-proclaimed masterpiece, occasionally turning around to dispense such wisdom as "Ya’ll might not notice, but this is rhyming the whole way through," and "That wasn’t a cliff-hanger, but that’s the cliff-hanger, the fact that it wasn’t a cliff-hanger." Of the plot, the centerpiece of which has a philandering cop discovering his chubby Southern wife (duly twanged by Kelly) is pregnant by an asthmatic midget stripper, he offers this: "It’s just something that happens in reality." Was he kidding himself or us?

Chapters 13-22 have arrived along with Kelly’s promise they’ll prove that there’s a global closet and we’re all inside. But his manager or his 8th grade English teacher must have clued him in that the rest of the world saw his wild misrepresentation of Aristotelian drama as comedy. After a brisk recap—punctuated every three seconds by the refrain "Oh shit!"—Kells sets about trying to convince us he’s in on the joke. His schizophrenia multiplying like mogwais, he now not only acts as besieged Sylvester and the Narrator but Old Man Randolph, Reverend Mosely, and Pimp Lucious all gussied-up in bad wigs and ridiculous suits. Kelly stutters and burps and plays to the rafters; he’s hip-hop’s Eddie Murphy. Unable to maintain a straight face through an entire commentary track, he’s scrapped it for a making-of doc where he touts his genius and warbles to craft services that he’d like a turkey burger with cheese. At least we still have his albums ("Sex Planet" gets my vote for Song of the Year) and in the dark abyss of night, we can feel connected to the universe with philosophy from of the Book of Kells: "Life is full of chapters, and that makes us all trapped in the closet, some way, some how." (Amy Nicholson)


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