Why Has Everyone Forgiven Chris Brown?

Chris Brown fool

"Thanks for inviting me back, guys. Lord knows I sure earned it, what with all the apologizing I didn't really do."

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.

I Love Award Shows: The Grammys

She kinda does have it all

My name is Kate and I love award shows. I think that they are awesome, from the amazing style, to the hot celebrities, to the day-after watercolor buzz that is always generated by them. I endure January- March’s weather and otherwise monotony because I love award show season so much.

Sunday night’s Grammys did not disappoint. They were everything you would expect from a great award show – scandal, a couple of WTF moments, some tear-jerking speeches, and lots and lots of celebrities. True, there weren’t a lot of surprises in who these awards were doled out to, but that’s really not the point of the Grammys. Most celebrities already come to the Grammys knowing whether or not they have won already. Eight awards were presented during the telecast and for the most part, they went to exactly who everyone was expecting. This means Adele was popping up every half an hour to accept a new award, and came away as the big winner with six Grammys, including album of the year for 21 and record of the year for “Rolling In the Deep.” Yeah, nobody was surprised about that. This was Adele’s year.

Most were also pleasantly surprised that Bon Iver managed to overtake such artists like Nicki Minaj for best new artist (he also won for best Alternative music album), but again, this was predicted. This was the first Grammys in a long time where I truly agreed with the vast majority of the choices. I think that the awards did a great job of straddling that talent- popularity line, ie: you want the recipient to be deserving of the award, but you also want people to know and accept the choice. If this is not taken into consideration, and just one is considered, you end up with cases like the famous Justin Bieber vs. Esperanza Spalding debate of last year, where Esperanza overtook the Biebs for best new artist. And if you are saying “Who’s Esperanza?”, my response is – and has been for the last year – “exactly.”

But the Grammys aren’t really about the winners and losers, are they? We all choose the music we enjoy, generally regardless of who the Recording Academy says is the best. (For example, Justin Bieber is still topping the charts, and people still have yet to listen to Esperanza Spalding.) So, I am sure that there will be many people who will continue to listen to Nicki Minaj over Bon Iver – even though Bon Iver took the top award. However, thanks to the performances, I can’t guarantee I will be listening to Nicki Minaj again.

Once you get past the watercooler chat of how adorable Adele was in her British accent and figure- flattering, gorgeous black sparkly dresses, and how relieved you are that her throat surgery has clearly not had any lasting ill- effects, you can move onto the other performances, and I would be willing to bet that number 2 most talked about will be Nicki Minaj. From the fashion to the performance, Nicki definitely was going for visibility this year. First, she shows up in a Versace- designed (I’m still wondering how she talked Versace into this) red hooded outfit … complete with a pope. If that wasn’t sacreligious enough, stay tuned for her performance; “the exorcism of Roman,” as it is being called already, revolved around Nicki Minaj sort of singing a few songs, but mostly reclaiming The Exorcist as her own, but redoing scenes from the famous horror movie. The idea was that she was ‘exorcizing’ her alter- ego, Roman, but the bishop in a starring role plus the random riff of the Christian Church Christmas classic “O Come All Ye Faithful” just took the whole performance into a horrifying level.

Kelly Osborne, fashion commentator for E!, might say that Nicki Minaj’s bold choice on the red carpet is ‘equivalent to Lady Gaga’s egg of last year’ (and she in fact did say something very close to that), and I might have been able to accept the weird choice if it had stopped there. But I think invoking these iconic religious symbols for her performance simply for entertainment value was just too much. She probably alienated a lot of people watching the show, and to simply tell a made- up story, it just wasn’t worthwhile. This was reflected in Twitter – the trending topic for long after was “WTF Nicki.”

Thankfully, the Grammys weren’t just a combining of very predictable (Adele’s wins) and horribly shocking (all things Nicki.) There were some nice surprises, such as Katy Perry’s killer debut of her kick-ass girl power song (clearly written to reflect her breakup with ex Russell Brand).  This was a favorite in my apartment, because let’s face it – pretty much everyone can relate to the lines “this is a part of me that you’re never gonna take away from me.” Another favorite of mine was the Maroon 5/Foster the People/ The Beach Boys singing The Beach Boys’ tunes. It was the year of The Beach Boy’s fiftieth anniversary and they still were making great music as they performed an adorable rendition of one of their most famous songs, “Good Vibrations.” I say adorable because while the voices were still in top form, the guys were dressing and acting like they were performing the song in a retirement home, as members of a retirement home. However, reliving these amazing songs straight from my childhood was a great moment.

Unfortunately, Paul McCartney just didn’t strike the same note in my heart. I love him, but his song about Valentine’s Day on the heels of the awesome Beach Boys collaboration fell flat. The song itself was slow, and his voice had a bit of a tremor that was hard to ignore. He performed once in the middle of the show and also wrapped up the show, and the final performance was more rock and roll and redeemed him a bit. However, this night definitely belonged to the young people, especially performance- wise. While I didn’t love Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and I didn’t feel that The Foo Fighters contributed anything new, I have to applaud the younger artists. Taylor Swift delivered with one of her greatest award show performances to date – a down-home, banjo-wielding performance of “Mean.” The audience seemed to agree as it rewarded her with a big standing ovation after she was done. And the tribute to the electro house genre with a David Guetta/Deadmau5 collaboration (Foo Fighters and Chris Brown also contributed) was definitely the performance I most wanted to be at. Party people flooded the stage wielding awesome light- saberesque sticks and danced to these two DJ’s infectious tunes. The light show plus the dance-inducing songs… watch that performance and tell me you don’t want to be apart of that mob.

Of course, the night was tinged with an air of remembrance as the artists also paid tribute to the greats that had come before them, especially Whitney Houston. The show opened up with host LL Cool J inviting everyone to join him in prayer for everyone’s fallen idol, and many tributes were added throughout the night (Jennifer Hudson’s beautiful rendition of one of Houston’s most famous songs, “I Will Always Love You,” was respectful and stunningly executed). It was clear that artists were all about celebrating current musical trends, but they weren’t afraid to look to the past as well. Thankfully, the whole night wasn’t a downer and gathering to celebrate through music is probably exactly what the late great Whitney would have wanted.

In short, the Grammys truly did reaffirm my love for award shows. The show was exactly what I would have expected – and of course nothing like I would have expected, as every great one was. I can’t wait for the next one!

Did you enjoy the Grammys? What was your favorite performance of the night?