Lifetime was called out by fans and viewers on Saturday night when it posted several tweets during the airing of its biopic “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” that seemed to romanticize the late singer’s illegal relationship with singer and producer R. Kelly.
The tweets that ask questions like “R. Kelly is almost twice Aaliyah’s age. Is that crazy?” and “Are Aaliyah’s parents being unfair?” were deleted from Lifetime’s Twitter account, but captured by blogs. The network did keep up their tweets about the chemistry between the two and a picture captioned, “Is Aaliyah too young to know?”
Viewers accused the network of posting tweets that were in bad taste and and made it seem as if having a relationship with a minor is romantic.
Aaliyah was 15 when she secretly and illegally married R. Kelly, 25 at the time, in 1994. The singer lied about her age, saying she was 18 years old, in order to go through with the marriage. The illegal marriage was annulled in February 1995 by her parents.
The Lifetime movie’s portrayal of the romance ends with the scene in which Aaliyah (Alexandra Shipp) and R. Kelly (Clé Bennett) reveal their marriage to her parents and her father, Michael Haughton (Sterling Jarvis), forces them to end their relationship.
Shipp told TheWrap that scene was her most difficult to portray in the movie.
“I think that was pretty hard. I think it was hard for everyone,” Shipp, 23, said. “To be able to get to that place and get to that emotion where you think someone is keeping you from the one person that’s making you the most happy brings up a lot of emotion. And when it comes to my method, I always try to take things from my own life for the emotion. And so, that was a really hard scene for me.”
This is just the latest in a controversial journey for the biopic. Not only was Aaliyah’s family opposed to the movie, its first star, Disney Channel actress Zendaya Coleman, dropped out of the project amid controversy over her casting and her own personal issues over the production. That would be followed with further furor from fans when additional castings, particularly the movie’s choice for Aaliyah’s longtime producer Missy Elliott, led to accusations of “Hollywood colorism” and body bias.
Lifetime didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
See the tweets below: