Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chris Brown: What Does his Performance at the Grammy's Signify

Chris Brown's recent performance at the Grammy's has created a lot of controversy in recent news, and has shed light on gender issues and abuse in today's society. Since being convicted of abuse three years ago, Brown has received negative attention for his assault of pop star Rihanna and was seen initially as a falling star. In police reports, Brown was said to have "shoved her head against the passenger window of the vehicle" and "punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand" indicating an extremely deliberate and conscious decision to assault his sexual partner. Despite his conviction and the severity of the report, Brown was asked to perform at the Grammy's, signifying his return to the top of popular culture.

Is this acceptable? Should Chris Brown been allowed to perform at the Grammy's even after his assault of Rihanna?

On one hand, fans believe that Brown's past is behind him, and that people always have the chance to change face. Although he may have been convicted of assault, it does not mean that he will do it again, and that he has learned his lesson from the event, and is working towards a new life. 
Regardless of the ethical component, Grammy performers are picked based on popularity, fan support, and fan generation. If Chris Brown performed at the Grammy's, than it is safe to assume that he is considered a popular artist and fans want to see him perform. 

But to what extent is that okay?

The fact that Brown has a supportive fan group suggests that his conviction has been overlooked to some extent and delegitimized. After his performance, many fans posted on Facebook and Twitter that Chris Brown could "beat me" if fans could have the opportunity to be with him sexually. As one woman tweeted, "I know Rihanna didn't like it much, but Chris brown you can punch me in the face all you want". Not only is this response frightening, but it suggests a lot about how we idolize celebrities and delegitimize abuse towards women. Men and women alike are perpetuating the notion that what Brown did was acceptable and that it should be overlooked, creating a society that accepts abuse towards women. It also creates an environment where men can be forgiven without changing their lifestyle or practices at all. In Brown's performance, he alluded to sexual scandals, and continued to practice mysogeny in his lyricism. One verse of his song went, "girl you're glistening, the way you look in the light. It’s obvious that I want something from you. You know what I wanna do … I can only imagine what it'd be like". The utter sexuality and to some extent, creepiness indicates that Brown has not had a change of heart- his perception of women remains sexist.

To make matters worse, Rihanna also performed at the Grammy's. The fact that the Recording Academy that hosts the Grammy's would choose to have the both of them perform suggests that they saw Brown and Rihanna's disaster as resolved, or unimportant to their event. Seeing Rihanna and Brown both on stage creates the dangerous assumption that what happened between them is in the past, and that life should carry on regularly.
Violence towards women is becoming normalized through instances such as this. Abuse cannot be forgiven. Period. Regardless of how famous you are. Regardless of how sexy you are. Regardless of age, gender, class, sexuality, race. If we continue to forgive and forget instances of rape, violence, offensive language, dehumanization, prostitution and objectification than we are creating a culture inherently at odds with womandom and a world where women have no voice. 

While I may be extremely biased in my opinion of Brown's performance, some could still argue against me. 

What do you think? Am I right in criticizing our acceptance of Chris Brown? Or am I oversensitive to the whole issue?

Evidence from my argument came from these sources:


  1. What Chris Brown did was wrong, but his personal life should not interact with his music career. I don't believe that allowing him to perform at the Grammys is symbolic of accepting his previous actions. He is an artist, and he is performing professionally--this is not reflective of his personal life in any way.

  2. I do agree that society may be too accepting of Chris Brown’s actions, but my problem lies in how people speak about it and not in the fact that he is allowed to perform. People deemphasize the severity of how he treated Rihanna and it should not be acceptable for people to post lighthearted comments about being beaten by him. When people post things like that, it gives the impression that violence towards women is not a real issue. It especially makes it seem like celebrities have the freedom to do what they want, even if it is not acceptable for an average man to hurt his girlfriend. However, I think that there should be some degree of separation between Chris Brown’s personal life and his professional life. Although his lyrics do allude to disrespecting women, he does have talent, so he should still be allowed to perform.

  3. I agree that there should be a separation of personal and professional life. I also believe that the tweets, although "not kidding," are mere jokes as no woman in the right mind would want to be beat up. Chris made a mistake and paid the price. There is in no way a desensitization towards domestic violence by letting him perform at the Grammy's. People love Chris for his talent, not because he beat up Rihanna. In fact, although many songs aimed at each other were not the kindest, the two have once again reunited on two songs. Without a doubt there is a lot of sexual tension. I believe this can be seen as a forgiving from the victim herself, therefore, everybody needn't still whine about a mistake made years ago. Get over it and turn up the music.

    Turn up the Music (Remix):
    Birthday Cake (Remix):

  4. I don't really know how to feel about these two (Rihanna & Chris Brown). They are both crazy in my opinion. I think their personal life should be kept a part from their Professional life. What Chris Brown did was wrong, but his career shouldn't be affected by it, especially since the "victim" seems to care more about how good their sex was (Birthday Cake), rather than the fact that he hit her. Now we see where their priorities are, which is something I will talk about in my next blog post!

  5. But to what extent is Rihanna's "forgiveness" a symptom of our society's unwillingness to see domestic violence as a serious issue? Many times victims of assault attempt to justify their abuse by blaming themselves for the incident, or even attempt to excuse the abuser for their anger and character flaws as incidental rather than normal. While I am not saying that this is the case for Rihanna, many victims fall into this pattern of denial of the crime and acceptance of their abusers condition as normal. This is an issue that is overlooked frequently in domestic violence cases, and leads outsiders (such as those who follow Rihanna or Chris Brown) to believe that the abuse was unintentional, or that it is worth forgiving. We have to ask ourselves: Is it ever okay to forgive someone for abusing someone? How do we know when to look past that? I don't think we have really considered Brown's actions fully, and whether or not he deserves respect after what he did.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.