An Explanation For That R. Kelly Song In Pitch Perfect 3

The Barden Bellas have once again proven that they can riff on anything and make it sound aca-exceptional in the third and possibly final film, Pitch Perfect 3.
But while they incorporated a number of popular songs into their a cappella performances, there was one tune in particular that stood out. The Bellas use "Ignition Remix" by R. Kelly as one of their riff-off songs this time around, and, given that Kelly has been accused of harboring women in a cult and engaging in sexual activities with underage girls, it's easy to see why some fans might be less than happy with this particular Bella choice.
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Refinery29 recently caught up over the phone with Pitch Perfect 3 director Trish Sie, who explained her decision to include the controversial track in the film.
"That's a tough one. I'm glad we're having this discussion about what's happening in the world right now. Nobody gets a free pass on that," Sie said. "At the same time, it was a song, and I feel like in the moment, the Bellas would have come up with it — based on how a riff-off works, they have to come up with these songs spontaneously, matching the words — and to me it feels like something that would have really happened in real life."
Sie further explained that the film was "absolutely" not attempting to make any comment or endorsement of R. Kelly's alleged misconduct. Instead, they chose to incorporate the 2003 party anthem because of how recognizable and popular it is.
"It's a song a lot of people love, it's a song a lot of people know, and if anyone feels offended by it, I am so sorry," she added. "That was never the intention. We need to air out this stuff."
The track's inclusion in the film certainly did spark a conversation. Some people pointed out how, especially in the current climate, the light-hearted riff seems not only tone deaf, but also seems to discount the experiences of Black women and girls.
Over the past few months, brave men and women have come forward with their stories of sexual assault and harassment at the hands of high-profile men, including, but not limited to, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, and Dustin Hoffman. Some of these men have resigned from their positions and have lost their jobs.
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While this reckoning is long overdue, some Black women, including Shanita Hubbard, who recently penned a powerful op-ed titled "Russell Simmons, R. Kelly, And Why Black Women Can't Say #MeToo" for The New York Times, have argued that their stories have been excluded from the narrative. Hubbard offers various reasons for this, including the observation that "we have yet to see a flood of prominent figures publicly stand with the victims" of alleged harassment and assault by men like Tavis Smiley and Russell Simmons. Another reason, Hubbard argues in her New York Times piece, is that far too many Black girls have dealt with misconduct for so long that it's almost become an internalized part of their lives and that reporting it could cause harm to their communities.
Others, still, stand firm in their beliefs that art, from Woody Allen films to R. Kelly songs, can and should remain separate from the artists' personal lives. But, can they really? As the list of alleged offenders continues to grow — so much so that there's an entire website dedicated to informing people which celebrities have been accused of sexual misconduct — it's becoming increasingly more difficult to write off these harrowing allegations, even if it is for just 20 seconds, like in Pitch Perfect 3.
This isn't to say that you should rush to break all of your vinyl and burn any collectors items. Honestly, no one seems to have the perfect answer for how to deal with having a problematic favorite. But, perhaps, we could all benefit from using this time to engage in these more complex conversations.
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If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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