In the ongoing saga of famous men trying to redefine what constitutes rape, CeeLo Green recently detached his jawbone in order to get his foot farther down his own throat. His most salacious tweet was one that reportedly read: “Women who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!” Outlets ranging from the Los Angeles Times to Billboard to The Guardian to BuzzFeed have reported this quote as fact, all pointing to each other and/or this manual MT (modified retweet) from a user instead of a direct screenshot of CeeLo’s deleted tweet (something I haven’t seen turn up yet). Legitimacy of this specific tweet aside, Green undoubtedly offered up a handful of offensive tweets about date rape loosely veiled as dialogue with his fans, apologized for them, deleted them, and went back to mercilessly promoting his new music video all in the last few days. It’s an uncomfortable reality of our digital age, the way off-the-cuff tweets can hurt a celebrity’s reputation even more than a criminal paper trail — one that had been following Green for a little over two years by the time he took to Twitter.
We seem to pay more attention, these days, to the portrait a celebrity paints of himself online than his real-life actions. I’m left to wonder if Green’s felony drug charge and accusations of date rape would have damaged his reputation at all had he not spoken out on social media, seeing as many of the millions who watched him every week on The Voice, or knew him as the singer with the catchiest kiss-off in recent pop history, or remembered his Grammys performance covered in feathers and surrounded by Muppets, had little idea of such matters. Green managed to lay low throughout 2014 by reportedly quitting The Voice before he was fired (NBC said they would be working with him again, as part of his development deal). He had a new TBS show, The Good Life, that has now been canceled — supposedly due to low ratings, though the announcement came mere days after Green’s Twitter fiasco inspired a campaign from feminist activist group UltraViolet.
As it turns out, Green’s is a nuanced tale that those rushing to anger now may not even know. On Friday, Green pleaded no contest to a felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a 33-year-old woman during a 2012 dinner date at Los Angeles’ Luxe Hotel. Green was sentenced to three years of probation and 45 days of community service, though it all could have panned out much worse for him had the victim’s initial rape allegations been taken to court. “Insufficient evidence” by an intoxicated victim led the District Attorney to throw out the plaintiff’s sexual assault charges before the case first went to court in October 2013. At that time, Green plead not guilty to supplying his date with MDMA, though, as the Los Angeles Times reported then, “sources familiar with the investigation said Green allegedly acknowledged providing the woman with the drug in a documented telephone call [with her] after the incident.”
In other words, they got him admitting something, even if it wasn’t the date rape the victim initially described: she woke up in bed, naked, in CeeLo’s hotel room the morning after their dinner, not remembering what Green’s lawyer later called their “consensual relations.”
Despite not be tried for sexual assault and receiving a relatively lenient sentence for his drug charge (he could have received up to four years in prison), Green felt the need to argue over what constitutes a rape on Twitter following the court’s decision last week. These revealing dispatches took the shape of bitter, typo-strewn @-replies, all of which have since been deleted and apologized for.
Green admitted and sort of non-apologized on Monday for his outburst, before deleting these tweets and his account altogether (his account is now reinstated, with zero real talk — mostly just promo). The highlights of his apology tweets read as follows:
- “I sincerely apologize for my comments being taken so far out of context”
- “I intended on a healthy exchange to help heal those who love me from the pain I had already caused from this”
- “I’d never condone the harm of any women”
Green would be hard-pressed to find an ally at the moment, but I can sense the moment will pass. He’s been quickly vilified, far more than he was when the allegations of date rape first hit back in 2012. Of course he deserves the backlash; it’s just that we could have shown a little more of it when his case first made headlines. My fear is that we’ll forget in a year’s time: CeeLo will be back on our TVs, and he’ll release a “Fuck You” follow-up that’ll top the charts. Be it Woody Allen or R. Kelly or Rick Ross, we forget too easily when it comes to the questionable morals — and allegedly vile behaviors — of beloved cultural figures.