Trapped in the cinema

By Lauren Romag

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Having the opportunity—nay, the privilege—to get trapped in the closet with R. Kelly for Amherst Cinema’s Sing-Along event, a group of floor mates and I bravely went where few would think to go on a Friday night.

Rob Kim/Landov/MCT

While waiting impatiently for the sold-out show to begin, we chatted with strangers whilst sizing up the attendees that we determined to be too irrational to actually cast aside their social lives for a film that followed the same two-chord pattern for the entirety of its running time (save one scene).

Inhibitions melted away when, following a raffle, strangers bumped and grinded, bounced and slid as three R. Kelly music videos played before the feature. Like the “Remix to Ignition,” it was the freakin’ weekend, baby, and we were about to have us some fun.

With a unison of squeals, something that can only be experienced once in a lifetime (unless you plan on attending the tentative spring viewing) began. An entire theater (save the few “Trapped” virgins like me) sang the opening lines and dutifully followed along with the subtitles that mirrored R. Kelly’s inflection to a T. Hard core fans of the hip hop ballad cried out “Twan!” with infinite and undying passion as he was introduced in a later chapter. Audible gasps and moans were heard as the story progressed, with every audience member emotionally invested in the plot. Nothing short of thunderous applause drowned out the repeated last word that concluded each scene.

As midnight came and went, our minds were set to repeat the simple melody and our fingers to access the Internet and watch the newest online chapters that were not played in the cinema.

This led to philosophical questions posed on the way home, memories made and our story shared with proud excitement rather than timid embarrassment.

“Oh… yeah… I… maybe… had to attend a R. Kelly ‘Trapped in the Closet’ Sing-along event,” turned into “You guys, I went to this R. Kelly ‘Trapped in the Closet’ Sing-along event, and I now own all of the chapters on DVD.”

During the event, we learned what it meant to be human. We loved both the individuals that graced the screen with their presence, and those in the audience who chose share their sorrow and joy. We lost a bit of our sanity and rationale and self-respect as we screamed “NO” when the credits began to roll and we realized that our experience had to come to an end.

Because of R. Kelly, we truly lived.

Lauren Romag can be reached at [email protected].