The only thing remotely heartening about the fact that Chris Brown was invited, or indeed even allowed, to perform at Sunday’s Grammy Awards ceremony was the fact that, by all accounts, he sucked. As The New Yorker’s fierce Sasha Frere-Jones put it, “He ended his performance by back-flipping off the stage, though sadly not off the earth.”
Admittedly, I did not watch the Grammys. Not because I don’t love awards shows, and certainly not because I don’t ugly-cry every time I hear even the first few bars of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” Instead, not watching the show had a lot to do with the following statement:
“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.”
Guess who said that. No, seriously, guess. Was it Rihanna, Brown’s then-girlfriend who, the night before the 2009 Grammys, he hit so hard that she had to go first to the hospital, then to the police? Was it Rihanna’s family and friends, who must have been devastated to watch their loved one suffer through the aftermath of such abuse? The women of the world, for whom Chris Brown’s “comeback” (as if he had cancer or a drug addiction, rather than an unfortunate girlfriend-beating proclivity) was basically a big fat screw-you?
Nope. That statement, about being “the victim of what happened,” came from Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich. Because, you guys, a bunch of wealthy old white men producing a television spectacle were the ones who really suffered in the collision of Chris Brown’s fist and his girlfriend’s face.
I can’t…I don’t even…who…WHAT?
But it gets even worse. This morning, my Facebook was blowing up with this gem from Buzzfeed. Basically, it’s a collection of Tweets from women expressing the sentiment that “Chris Brown can beat me up whenever he feels like it.”
Is this…do you even…can I just…are you…WHAT?
Sure, go ahead, buy into the “bad boy” image. I’ve been there (see: would sell my soul for a night with Robert Downey Jr.). But there’s “I’ve done a few stints in rehab,” and then there’s “I showed zero remorse and have, as far as anyone can tell, paid almost no price, in fame, record sales or hordes of adoring fangirls, for beating my girlfriend so badly she had to be hospitalized.”
Ladies. Stop it. I’m serious. No, Chris Brown cannot “punch (you) whenever he wants #love.” That’s not “passion” or “young love,” as a lot of fellow celebrities suggested after the incident. It’s not. And, for the love of all that is holy, it is NOT Rihanna’s fault. She might be kind of a difficult lady – celebrities tend to be. I don’t know; I’ve never hung out with Rihanna. But whatever was said in the limo that night, three measly years ago (see: a lifetime in awards show years, apparently), what happened to Rihanna was not OK. And forgetting about it, or letting it go in favor of “second chances,” is also straight up not OK.
There’s so much more to be said on the subject of domestic violence, and shaming women into thinking they have it coming. Luckily, I have no personal experience in the subject (and I deeply hope that you, Dear Reader, don’t either), so I can’t speak to the hell I imagine an abusive relationship would be. It seems Rihanna doesn’t want much to do with being the face of battered women, and I certainly can’t fault her for that. She didn’t ask for any of this to happen to her, and she has the right not to want to talk about it, ever again.
But we sure as hell should still be talking about it. And whether or not you luuuurve Adele, or think Nicki Minaj was robbed by Bon Iver (please tell me you don’t), or thought Katy Perry looked amazing/like Bambi if he were a space alien, or just wished it had been the Queen of Pop herself signing “I Will Always Love You” (RIP Whitney), let’s all agree on one thing, shall we? Chris Brown should not have been on that stage, and does not deserve a “second chance” until he actually, in humility and in the fullness of understanding and feeling remorse for what he did, asks for one.