The Masterpiece That Is Trapped in the Closet

// August 22nd, 2007

R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet came to a triumphant conclusion this week, capping the 2nd set of chapters of this masterpiece hip-hopera with chapters 13-22.

Like most artistic geniuses, R Kelly is truly aware of his greatness.
Kells, accompanied by some nerd host named Matt Singer, presented one chapter each night for the past 10 nights, chuckling & feelin’ himself on every episode & its intricacies while Matt just nods somewhat befuddled or condescendingly.

What many people wonder, though, is if he is in on the joke or not. Maybe that’s what makes R Kelly some sort of genius. We just can’t tell, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still absolutely hilarious TV, viral, and it’s the one amp; only hip-hopera from the Pied Piper of R&B, who’s now calling himself Mr. Showbiz. In short, Trapped in the Closet is a masterpiece amp; you should see it over amp; over again.

To get the run down on all the chapters and the web of sex, lies, deception, and the package that envelops Sylvester, Gwendolyn, Twan, Rufus, Cathy, Chuck, James, Bridget, Big Man, Tina, and Roxanne, check out the Trapped in the Closet Wiki and YouTube.

Here are some poignant reviews of Kells’ epic:

Village Voice:

Many of its biggest fans seem to think they’re laughing at Mr. Kelly, not with him, as if the whole thing were some sort of glorious, terrible mistake. People like Weird Al and Jimmy Kimmel have done “Trapped” parodies, which is pretty ridiculous when you consider that “Trapped” itself is already total self-parody of a particularly broad sort. Anyone who doubts that Kelly possesses the ability to laugh at his own sexed-up persona should really see the Live! The Light It Up Tour DVD; the opera version of “Feelin On Yo Booty” should dispel any lingering doubts. Kelly knows that he’s being funny with “Trapped in the Closet”; any storyline that includes a midget shitting himself at a pivotal moment can’t be taking itself all that seriously.

New York Times:

Mr. Kelly’s outlandish achievement seems to inspire overstatement, especially online. The Web site for New York magazine (nymag.com) proclaimed this “the cultural event of the year,” while one fairly typical commenter at ifc.com called it “a perfect storm of the worst artistry ever.”

No doubt Mr. Kelly is enjoying all the attention. He seems drawn to the idea of being an old-fashioned all-around entertainer, and he has recently taken to performing beneath a lit-up sign that reads, “R. Kelly as Mr. Show Biz.” He already stands as one of the last true giants in the twinned worlds of R&B and hip-hop, and now he’s relishing the idea of branching out into IFC territory. (He told Variety he “thought of ‘Trapped’ as an independent film.”) Mr. Kelly seems giddier than ever.

And yet there is something slightly unnerving about the kind of attention “Trapped in the Closet” has received. Many of its biggest fans seem to think they’re laughing at Mr. Kelly, not with him, as if the whole thing were some sort of glorious, terrible mistake; as if the far-fetched plot turns (most infamously, the policeman cuckolded by the “midget” hiding beneath the sink) and cliffhanger endings (“Oh my God, a rubber!”) were the work of someone who set out to make a traditional musical and failed. It’s hard to think of a work that has inspired more parodies, from Weird Al to Jimmy Kimmel, from sketch comedy to cabaret. Why do so many people think the funniest pop star on the planet is the butt of the joke when he is so obviously in on it?

Trapped in the Closet may be an anomaly, but it’s no fluke.

Slate:

Surely this is the most widely viewed psychedelic chitlin-circuit soap opera in history.

Instead of singing about sex, Kelly is singing about singing about sex. He’s gone meta-love man.

Trapped in the Closet is a riot, but it is also, in its way, profound. The real triumph of Kelly’s meta-love-man routine is how it underscores something essential about sex and desire: the comedy and absurdity that so often accompany the desperate lurchings of our loins.