Society Turns Blind Eye to Abuse as It Welcomes Back Chris Brown


Three years ago, I saw Chris Brown go down in flames as a once smug R&B star who brutally abused his equally famous girlfriend Rihanna just before the 2009 Grammys. He went from ruler of the dance floor with his infectious beats to the most hated man in show business. But even then, I knew his fall wouldn’t last long. No one can deny the compelling power of a story of repentance and redemption to American audiences. I figured he would return a hardened thug who now had legitimate street cred.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Instead what arose was a Dennis Rodman lookalike with some star-studded collaborations that made us forget why we crucified him in the first place.  I hate that this performer has made a full and successful career comeback. I would have very gladly washed away the ashes of his burned-out career from the pyre. Yet it isn’t Chris Brown who I hate most. It’s society for letting his unsettling past actions remain uncomfortably hushed while it welcomes him back with open arms.

Brown’s narcissism is overwhelmingly apparent. He is, in fact, his own biggest groupie. He has deluded himself into believing he was the victim in the whole situation. He thinks he has actually repented for his actions. Because he issued a very public apology, in an orange shirt slightly reminiscent of what a Buddhist monk might wear, he believes he is holy again. He entitled his Grammy-winning album “F.A.M.E,” which is an acronym for “Forgive All My Enemies,” as if it isn’t he who should be seeking forgiveness but instead the one who should be distributing it.

This is insanity. Brown has plenty of enemies and rightfully so. The night he won for best R & B album, he tweeted, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate F*** OFF!” You’re right, Chris Brown, that is the ultimate f*** off.  It’s the biggest f*** off to us as a society that I can think of. We’ve let this nonsense happen. We tell people that if they say that had discovered one of the two “R’s”—rehab or religion—all is forgiven, all is forgotten.

I don’t understand why the train wreck becomes top-selling tabloid fodder, and the abuser becomes idolized. Why, in our skewered society, do these people become our heroes? Shouldn’t we posses more rationality than that? Maybe we all need to take a look at the pictures of a brutalized Rihanna that emerged after the Grammy’s incident three years ago. A few catchy radio hits shouldn’t so easily erase such horrific images.

I understand that Rihanna was the victim in all of this. But the insanity grows as she continues to victimize herself. With her collaboration with Brown on the new song “Birthday Cake,” she’s practically made it acceptable to love your abuser. In the song, she tells Brown that, “I’m going to make you my bitch,” but that doesn’t mean she’s now the one in the position of power in their newly rekindled relationship. Just because she got a tattoo of a gun under her ribcage does not mean she has become a stronger, more independent woman.

By collaborating with Brown, Rihanna has made it seem that his less-than-remorseful public behavior is acceptable or redeemable. While none of us know the private interactions the pair has shared, Brown has been nothing more than a child in the public eye as he loses his temper with those who dare to suggest he should perhaps be a little more penitent about his actions.

Rihanna’s newfound relationship with Brown has somehow made it okay for a slew of girls to beg for him to “give it to them in the worse way.”  That sentiment, along with “Dude, Chris Brown can punch me in the face, as long as he kisses it afterwards,” were just a couple of the mind-bending tweets sent out on the evening of this year’s Grammys.

I’m not sure how Rihanna, a mediocre singer with a penchant for dying her hair, became a role model, but she did nonetheless. Now it’s time she took some responsibilities for her actions. She shouldn’t be pandering herself for a multi-platinum single. She could collaborate with anyone besides Brown to get the money that’s she looking for, if that’s all she’s seeking. Rihanna needs to learn how to actually be the strong independent woman, as opposed to play-acting one on stage and in raunchy music videos.

It’s never been about the music, regardless of Chris Brown’s Symphonic Love tattoo splayed across his chest. I don’t blame Chris Brown’s tired dance moves or his egotism. I blame us for welcoming all of it with open arms. He has risen again, and he has only brought the darkness back with him.