Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chris Brown's "art" excuses abuse? No way!

by Molly Borowitz

In a completely unsurprising development, it turns out that the judge's ruling on the Chris Brown/Rihanna abuse case has only served to spark more controversy around Brown's behavior, his reputation, and the entertainment industry's reactions to both the aforementioned. New York Magazine reports that Jay-Z apparently threatened not to appear at the June 28th BET Awards if the network permitted Chris Brown to perform as scheduled. In response, BET cancelled Brown's Michael Jackson tribute and asked Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx to play a few extra songs to fill the time.

Jay-Z's refusal to perform alongside Brown has met with extremely mixed reviews from the larger community, if the comments on nymag.com's coverage of the event are any indication. In fact, I rather hope they aren't, because Brown's fan base comes off as loyal to the point of...well, insanity. One of the comments posted in response to the Jay-Z article reads as follows:

"I've been seeing all this bad press about Chris Brown and Rihanna,and basically everybody needs to calm the f**k down. I mean sure he made a foolish mistake but not only is a talented star, he also bleeds red just like everybody else does. People please wake up, domestic violence has been goin on since who knows when, so let it go and focus on what he's done as an artist."

I hope that my readers will also find that last sentence an exercise in a very disturbing irony, and will agree with me that there is no amount of talent that can excuse the "foolish mistake" of domestic abuse. That being said, this particular fan reminds us that Chris Brown is just a person like other people -- which is something worth remembering. No, he shouldn't be excused...but perhaps he can be rehabilitated. Some of us hoped that Rihanna, as a victim of abuse, would take up the mantle against domestic violence, but - in spite of my earlier skepticism - I think Chris has a unique and powerful perspective that could drastically improve the way we talk about domestic violence in this country. His situation presents an opportunity for former abusers to come forward and share their stories, to open a dialogue and to present a complete picture of domestic violence. What if Chris asked for help, for guidance from people who have been in his place and have succeeded in changing their behaviors? People, please wake up: domestic violence has been going on since who knows when, so please don't let it go.

Thanks to Beverly N. for the tip!

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