So the interwebs were all aflutter last week with talk of Chris Brown’s Grammy performance, nomination and subsequent win, starting with a Tweet (or several, as the screenshots will attest) from a young girl who didn’t know what Rihanna was complaining about: she’d love it if Brown punched her.
Wow, just wow.
Following on from this, I read this fabulous post from Sasha Pasulka on HelloGiggles on why she wasn’t okay with Brown performing at the Grammys and why you shouldn’t be either, and another great blog post in which Michael Fassbender was vilified for allegedly beating his girlfriend whilst simultaneously being lauded for his acting skills in the media.
Now, I’ve never seen anything Fassbender’s been in, but my housemate is (or was, until I linked him to this story about the assault) a fan, so I’m familiar with his work.
I linked the above news story (is TMZ considered news?!) on Facebook admonishing Fassbender, and a friend asked me if I was going to boycott everything anyone with a dubious personal life has been in, like David Boreanaz, for example. I replied that cheating may be immoral, but it’s not illegal, whereas Brown and Fassbender (along with my favourite, Charlie Sheen) are accused of intimate partner violence, which is never okay.
Now, I’m not really a fan of forgiveness and second chances, personally, but I do agree that Brown and Fassbender should be given second chances so that we can say they have when they inevitably fuck up again and then expunge them from society. Some could argue that Brown had his when he trashed a dressing room on Good Morning America and threw a chair out of a window. From experience, I know that violent men hardly ever only hit once and will always revert to their old ways.
The abovementioned friend who asked me if I will boycott all Brown, Fassbender, Sheen et al. projects (and so far I have successfully done so) said, after reading the TMZ piece, that Fassbender’s girlfriend should have left after he dragged her from a moving vehicle causing injuries to her knee, ankle and a blown ovarian cyst.
Sure, to anyone safely removed from that situation and reading about it from the comfort of their own home, the seemingly logical thing to do would be to leave after the first push, slap or abusive comment. But that reeks of victim blaming; abusers are highly skilled in manipulation and will make you feel like you have no other option but to stay. That it’s your fault. That they only hurt you because they love you so much. That they promise they’ll never do it again.
And, in the case of Brown, to allege that Rihanna deserved it because she sings about “S&M” and “Breaking Dishes” (more on this to come next week) is abhorrent! Those songs are what Rihanna does for a job. Furthermore, S&M is a consensual sexual act with “safe words and boundaries”, as one commenter on this MamaMia thread put it. Intimate partner violence is not consensual and there are no safe words. “Stop!” “You’re hurting me!” and “I can’t breathe!” are not enough to stop those who are mentally predisposed to hurting their lover with violence.
I thoroughly urge you to read the HelloGiggles piece if you haven’t already. In it, Pasulka uses quotes from the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Carrie Underwood, who said what a tragedy it was for both parties involved in the assault at the time. Oh yeah, it’s really tragic for Brown to have his name dragged through the dirt for a crime he actually committed. I guess it’s kinda tragic for Rihanna, too, as she was beaten to a bloody pulp by the man she loved and trusted and was then disparaged for it by the public.
Pasulka also cites the statement from the producers of the Grammys in which they insinuate that Brown’s attack on Rihanna the night before the awards three years ago was an inconvenience to them. Yeah, I’d say it was pretty inconvenient for Rihanna, too.
Also troublingly, going through the screenshots of all the Chris-Brown-can-beat-me-all-night-long-if-he-wants Tweets, they are primarily from young, white girls. To me, that signifies the trope of black-man-as-predator. Yes, this probably didn’t even cross the girls’ minds, but that they’re seemingly willing to be with someone who is a known wifebeater because he is attractive (personally, I find him ugly, but then I’m biased) not because of his race is a problem within itself.
In the comments thread on HelloGiggles some commenters raised the question of why is Brown being so vigorously vilified while other known/alleged wifebeaters such as Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson go by unscathed. Is it because he’s black?
And they raise a good point. Personally, I don’t think it is, but it baffles me as to why people jumped at the chance to follow Sheen on Twitter, get tickets to his My Violent Torpedo of Truth tour and lament the fact that Two and a Half Men is apparently now less funny with fellow douchebag Ashton Kutcher at the helm. (Gibson suffered considerably more public scrutiny for his racist and anti-Semitic vitriol, but was still cast alongside one of his defenders, Jodie Foster, in The Beaver. That he was replaced in The Hangover with Mike Tyson is just as bad: substituting one violent racist, sexist alcoholic for a convicted rapist. Nice.)
Brown responded to his haters after winning a Grammy with the above Tweet. Take from that what you will but, to me, that doesn’t sound like a man who’s remorseful for physically assaulting his girlfriend and deserving of a second chance.
*Trigger Warning: This post deals with domestic violence and may be upsetting to some.