Where can I even fucking start with Trapped in the Closet? Luckily, I don't need some exposition-y lead; chances are you've already heard of R. Kelly's epic "hiphopera." Even if you haven't, though, it's easy to get caught up—Kelly's recently released DVD collects Chapters 1-12 of his episodic soap opera/music video, which kicks off with Kelly's alter ego, Sylvester, waking up in a strange woman's bed, then discovering that she's married (but her husband's been cheating on her, too... with a dude!), and then when Sly goes home, he finds out his wife's been cheating on him, and then... oh, shit. Words don't—can't—suffice. I won't spoil it, but I will note that by the time gunplay ensues and my favorite character enters—he's "Big Man," a philandering midget who uses an inhaler, faints, and shits himself—Trapped is one of the most ridiculously entertaining bits of pop cultural excess in recent memory.
Weirdly—or maybe not—Closet has become the must-see film for Portland's hipsters and pop culture fiends. Whether that's to Closet's advantage or detriment depends on which of Portland's social strata you frequent, but what can't be argued is how fascinating Kelly's opus is as it's brought to life by an entire cast lip-synching Kelly's cheesy vocals over a half-assed beat. The best/worst part, of course, is Kelly: "Trapped in the Closet is something that I really do believe is going to be around for a while—even after I'm gone," he humbly notes in the DVD's cleverly named featurette, "Trapped Behind the Scenes."
There are, of course, the theories: Is Closet an innovatively conceived stunt to make people forget about Kelly's creepy child pornography charges? Is Kelly's ego so huge that he's oblivious to Closet's preposterousness? Or is Trapped in the Closet a beautifully orchestrated parody by R. Kelly, a joke that Portland's hipper-than-thou white kids aren't in on? Or: When you're just waiting to see if Sylvester is going to pop a cap in Big Man, do any of those questions matter? ERIK HENRIKSEN