Raz B has made fresh allegations about what went on during his time in B2K. But the real story is what this episode tells us about America's sinister obsession with youth.
emember that Noah's Arc digisode, where Noah has a confession? Noah, Ricky, Alex and Chance have been talking about hot men in hip-hop, and a shamefaced Noah pipes up, "You know what I'm kind of embarrassed to admit?" The guys look warily at him - is Noah going to admit he's a closet snow queen? But - phew! - no, it's not that (anything but that): "I'm starting to feel the young ones, like Omarion."
If Raz B is to be believed, Noah wasn't the only one feeling "the young ones". B2K manager Chris Stokes was feeling them too - Raz B alleges - and all of the boys in B2K were feeling each other.
Allegations of sex abuse in B2K (formed in 2001, and disbanded in 2004) first exploded onto the Net over Christmas in 2007, and Raz B's descriptions of what went on have only become more graphic: "Me and Boog was in a room together. Chris Stokes put us in a room together and made us do stuff together." And if you were wondering just what they were doing, Raz spells it out in no uncertain terms: "My truth is the fact that Chris Stokes had me and Jarrell Houston [J Boog] in a room sucking each other's dicks."
Were Raz B and his bandmates molested? Were they the victims of a paedophile? Or just teens experimenting, as sexually active teenage boys are wont to do? If Chris Stokes did manipulate the boys, putting them in rooms and making them do things with each other, could it be that he was just doing what everyone who watched those B2K music videos wanted to do?
B2K's Gots Ta Be video has a 16-year-old Raz-B seductively caressing his baby smooth chest. It's saying, "You want this. Come and get get. Come and take it." By what definition is it right to put a commercially sexualised 16-year-old boy on the world stage for the greedy consumption of a global audience; not just of fellow teens, but adults too?
America is in the thrall of youth, more than any other Western nation. And in America, youth equals sex, and the younger, the closer to barely legal, the better. The guys in that Noah's Arc webisode recoil at Noah's confession (they actually all get up and leave) because it's all a bit near the knuckle: Noah's admitting America's dirty little secret, that, in fact, it's all about "the young ones". But who decides when "the young ones" go from being cute kids to sex objects?
From their debut video, Uh Huh in 2001 (when the boys were 15), B2K were marketed as sexual playthings, ostensibly for teenage girls, but with a sly wink to a much older audience. Adults too could privately fantasise about the pretty young things. B2K: sexy, sexually ripe, barely legal boy toys for the mass market! What a hoot!
A close friend recently remarked upon the extreme fetishisation of high school in America; for Americans, it seems to be the absolute defining life experience, or so pop culture would have it. Look at Glee - wholesome, supposedly - but chock full of attractive, sexy kids; it's producers are saying to us, "Look, but don't touch! That would be so wrong - but hot!"
Is American pop culture merely legitimised, socially acceptable paedophilia for the masses? B2K, the kids in Glee, and Britney Spears in her school uniform are all portrayed - and marketed - essentially as sexually desirable children. And here's the rub: mainstream America condemns homosexuality, linking it to paedophilia at every opportunity, but the truth is its condemnation is merely a smokescreen for the wider American public's own obsession with "the young ones".
The public can't wait for that moment when the child star transforms - seemingly overnight - into an intoxicating, lust-crazed sex bomb (Britney, Bow Wow, Lil Romeo). Willow Smith's mentors must be ticking the days off the calendar for when they can get away with selling the fantasy of taking her virginity - if the current marketing doesn't already do that. I've heard a few critics call her Whip Your Hair video a "paedophile's delight".
The question of what happened in B2K remains, but one thing is clear: the music industry, and the boy's families, took four young boys and prostituted them for big bucks. There's a name for that: child abuse.