Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media



Cultural Innovation and Narrative Synergy in R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet

Ioana Literat


Abstract: This article analyses the narrative conventions of R. Kelly’s serial “hip-hopera” Trapped in the Closet, exploring the manner in which the artist’s chosen narrative strategies have shaped the generic reading of the series. Specifically, I discuss how Trapped in the Closet re-appropriates the conventions of the soap opera and the music video, to create a wholly original product that both evokes these schematas and simultaneously challenges their traditional narrative norms. Looking at R. Kelly’s chosen promotional strategy, I argue that the convergence of genres and narrative influences, as evident in the series’ content and style, parallels the convergence of media channels—radio, television, internet—that characterised its release and distribution, highlighting the increasing importance of a transmedial approach in the conceptualisation and dissemination of cultural texts.


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