A Body Language Expert Talks R. Kelly's "Frightening" Interview with Gayle King
During his interview with Gayle King which aired Wednesday on CBS This Morning, R. Kelly broke his silence regarding the abuse charges against him — and then some.
The singer vehemently denied the allegations of sexual abuse (the most recent coming to light in Lifetime's documentary, Surviving R. Kelly) and got physical while doing it. Body language expert Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma, says that his "violent" actions during the emotionally charged interview are comparable to that of an "anguished little boy."
Wood also underlines just how "disrespectful and frightening his voice and carriage and gestures are" — a point which she says is not to be overlooked. "It’s clear as he sidesteps formal interview etiquette that he is a rule breaker," she says, citing his raised voice, subtle micro-facial cues, and "sharp-edged" gestures that increase in frequency as the interview goes on.
King, for her part, remained impressively calm throughout the ordeal (as demonstrated in the below image), even as Kelly stood up, began wildly gesticulating and yelling, and had to be restrained by his publicist. "You can actually see King draw back and blink multiple times," she says. "She is obviously affected and upset," Wood adds, noting King's stutter, "but she keeps barreling on, which actually shows how out of control he is."
Wood, who specializes in deception detection, called Kelly's response to King's question about whether he has ever held anyone against their will a bit suspect. "He does not reply immediately, instead he bridges to a non-response to the question, 'how stupid would I have to be to do that?' ... Not answering the question directly is telling."
Regarding the moment he beats his chest (an "alpha signal"), Wood says that his action is a limbic response to "feeling attacked," and his means of getting ready "to fight."
"His paralanguage is a mixture of anguish and uncontrolled anger, matched by a twisted face. Again, the face is going back-and-forth as he tries to suppress anguish and control his pain with anger and rage," she notes.
The takeaway? Kelly's raw emotions are very much real, but his inability to control himself is "not normal."
"I need to state the obvious that this is not normal ... His disregard for her and the fact that he doesn’t see or notice her, as well as of his lack of composure is in itself frightening."