We have every right to be angry about Chris Brown at the Grammys

My tacit method of avoiding most “major label” produced media is why I didn’t watch the Grammys last night. If I had watched, I would’ve found out sooner rather than this morning that convicted felon Chris Brown performed onstage, three years to the day from when he was arrested, and later pled guilty to, the felony assault of then girlfriend Robyn Rihanna Fenty. (Rihanna performed too, so we had both the victim and the assailant at the same show. Hmm…but let’s not get into that right now). The new and varying ways stewards of mass media will bend ethics for financial power never ceases to amaze me. And it’s as simple as that. There’s no room here to claim that he’s been rehabilitated or learned from the errors of his ways, especially when just last year he vandalized the set of Good Morning America after being asked about his assault charges. Brown got a standing ovation after his first performance, and referred to himself as a “role model” on Twitter before deleting it. Really?

Sasha Pasulka of Hello Giggles sarcastically remarked: “It was nice of the Grammys to let him off a couple years early for high record sales good behavior.” Also disappointing was Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich’s response, where he claimed that he and Grammy Awards were victimized by Brown.

“We’re glad to have him back,” said Ehrlich. “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”

Uhh, what about Rihanna? Many of the articles about Brown’s performance didn’t even mention her, further silencing the victim and magnifying the criminal. Worst of all, were the comments circulating social media and the blogosphere regarding Chris Brown.

Last night, Buzz Feed compiled “25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions To Chris Brown At The Grammys,” and they were all variations on the same message; “I would let Chris Brown beat me.”

Judging from the Twitter photos provided, most of these commentators appeared to be young women (teen to 20s) from a diverse array of backgrounds. What does this say about my generation? It most certainly does not live up to the Time Magazine claim of a generation that used social media to start global revolutions and topple tyrannical political regimes. Instead, at best it demonstrates that a lot of young Americans are a) unaware that we live in a rape culture or b) don’t seem to care about doing anything about it.

Mary O’Donnell, a commenter on the Buzzfeed article, said:Mary O'Donnell Comment on Buzzfeed

At their worst, these comments demonstrate a sheer lack of decency, but I’d like to cut my peers just a little slack. Let’s educate each other. Instead of glorifying abusers, let’s empower abuse survivors. It’s as simple as putting yourself in Rihanna’s shoes . Would you want the person that attacked you to be celebrated by 100,000 fans and named artist of the year? C’mon people, let’s make this generation one we can be proud of by saying that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

“We should be angry about this, and we should be angry publicly about this. This not okay with me. A man hitting a woman in anger is unacceptable and is not easily forgotten or forgiven. A man who hits a woman in anger deserves to be reported to the authorities and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of who might be inconvenienced in the process. A man who hits a woman in anger may eventually be permitted to go on with his own life, but he is not permitted back in my life, even if it’s been three whole years.” –Hello Giggles, reposted again by Oh No They Didn’t.

3 thoughts on “We have every right to be angry about Chris Brown at the Grammys

  1. No, we do not have every right to be angry about Chris Brown because we have BEEN angry about Chris Brown. We have every right to forget about him, to stop correlating Rihanna with his pathetic career, and stop creating reasons to give him attention. Rihanna should not be mentioned every single time chris brown performs, how does that even make sense? what happened to her was a terrible thing and he did it. but does that mean they both stop living? does that mean she is forever marked as his victim and should be a shadow in his career? i’d like to think she has propelled herself so far past him in terms of their careers and their reputations that mentioning her in relation to him in terms of things like this, the Grammy’s would just be an enormous leap backwards. Yes, you may want to crucify him every time he steps into the public eye, but she is a survivor and has proven that multiple times over. If she is beyond it, we should be too. She has presented herself back to us as stronger and better than ever (even though i’m not even going to mention the lyrics of her latest album//how she portrays herself in we found love though…it would contradict…). And the twitter comments, could she take a screen shot of all the ones in absolute upheaval over chris brown? because collectively, we have clearly not forgotten what he did to rihanna, it has stained Chris Brown’s career entirely. people say far more ignorant and insensitive things on the internet, but isn’t that kind of what these personal accounts are for? its not like each and every one of us is proud of what we say all the time on our arbitrary internet profiles or expect people to hold what we say against us by taking malicious screen shots of us and posting them publicly. People make crass inappropriate jokes with their friends, on their profiles…we are all guilty of that. so why do those people on their twitters get to be deemed complete assholes for making those insensitive comments, when its likely if you asked them in all seriousness how they feel about abuse it is likely that it won’t be “shiiit he can beat me whenever he like!” come on, you person say you want to “cut your peers a little slack?” who are you to judge your entire generation or be the one in a position to cut us slack when you are communicating through our favorite medium-the blog, doesn’t that bring you down to our level? Or do you just get to determine the penance for us? Well maybe you should stop taking the internet so seriously, running around pointing fingers at every single person who makes an insensitive remark will make you dizzy. It is completely insulting for you to say that we should are only beginning to educate each other when the evidence of how much we care about more serious issues is splashed across the internet, however if you only search to aid your own contentions, you look foolish. it was a terrible thing that happened to rihanna, we have not forgotten that, and i don’t think that those two people are synonyms, so she does not have to be mentioned every time he is.

    • Synjin,
      I don’t agree with this. As long as felony abusers can call themselves “role models” to the public, the public should continue to be outraged. Violence is a major problem in this country, so much so that the Center for Disease Control declared it an American epidemic. Just because we personally want to forget Chris Brown doesn’t mean that young and impressionable people aren’t buying his records and consuming his messages by the millions. That’s not acceptable to me, so I am not going to forget him.
      “Many of the articles about Brown’s performance didn’t even mention her, further silencing the victim and magnifying the criminal.” I was reiterating the fact that when media reports about abusers, the victim is often minimized, and the articles I read perpetuated this theme. Hyperbolizing my statements into the idea that Rihanna should be mentioned every time Chris Brown is doesn’t help your argument.
      No, Rihanna should not be forever labeled as a victim of Chris Brown’s violence. But when two very public people are embroiled in a serious public issue, their actions reflect broader social issues of ignorance that we as media consumers should be paying attention to and talking about. Entertainers don’t exist in a vacuum, and I don’t think we should be “beyond” talking about mass media’s portrayal of violence and violent people.
      I’m glad to hear that people are still angry! I was only responding to an article that provided those screenshots and highlighted ““25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions To Chris Brown At The Grammys.”
      I appreciate the free speech argument, and maybe I am too idealistic in hoping that people would show more discretion in what they broadcast on what is more or less a permanently open forum. I would never say anything like those twitter comments publicly (or even privately for that matter – because it goes against my personal ethics). Honestly, the “cutting my peers some slack” comment was sarcasm. These people aren’t my peers, I’ve never met them. And if they choose to joke about violence online, I hope they have enough common sense to realize that they are facing public scrutiny by doing so.
      And no, I don’t go trolling the internet looking for dirt on celebrities. As I said in my post, I didn’t even watch the Grammys and don’t listen to or follow Rihanna or Chris Brown’s careers. I was responding to some really upsetting online content that someone shared with me. It’s not “determining penance,” it’s free speech. The contrast I made between social media as a tool for political justice and its use by a select group of young Americans in perpetuating misogyny and chauvinism was meant to be a catalyst for dialogue, not pontification.
      To be clear, outside of direct action organizing, one of the few remaining ways to dismantle our rape culture (a culture in which prevailing social norms and media normalization often excuse and trivialize violence), is to stop excusing it.

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