When I heard Chris Brown received an invitation and an olive branch to perform at the Grammys this year, I was disgusted. Then when I actually saw the Grammys last night and the fact he was one of only two people to have two stage performance and the fact he won a Grammy, I wanted to punch a hole through my wall. But I didn’t, because unlike Chris Brown I have control over my actions and take responsibility for the consequences. Unlike Chris Brown, I’ve never punched anything, let alone a person.
But please let’s take a moment to remember that Chris Brown did punch a person, repeatedly in the face. That he beat someone up to the point that she looked like this. I know, I know, you want to scroll down the page and avoid seeing that horrific photo of Rihanna’s face. But don’t. Because that’s what he did and everyone seems to have forgotten that in the past three years. Chris Brown’s hands did that to Rihanna’s face. In case you don’t remember just how bad it was, this is from the TMZ article published shortly after the 2009 assault:
“…the photos show major contusions on both sides of the singer’s face — there is serious swelling and bruising. Her lip is split and her nose bloody. We have now confirmed there are bite marks on one of her arms and on several fingers. And we now know this… Rihanna claims Brown struck her with his fists and that’s what did the damage.”
It was not a simple mistake, it was not an accident, it was most certainly not an event that anyone, let alone someone in the spotlight and someone who’s a role model to young people in the country, should be able to bounce back from. Over the past three years, we’ve softened the language toward Chris Brown and we’ve let his rabid fans dictate the story of his exile and his long-awaited redemption. We’ve let them redefine what he did as a silly little thing that everyone blew out of proportion. Just look at the tweets from his fans last night, they included included gems like this:
We’ve let ourselves pretend that he made a boo-boo and paid for it dearly That he tapped her on the face and then immediately repented. That he’s truly sorry for his itsy-bitsy mistake and that the least we can do is let him perform at the Grammys. [tagbox tag= "Chris Brown"]
But no more. Chris Brown beat Rihanna up to the point that police described her injuries as horrific. His career should have been over in that moment. His fans, especially his female fans, should have turned their backs on him for using his hands against a woman. The music industry should have linked arms and made a clear declaration that Chris Brown was no longer welcome. That his “mistake” was unacceptable and unforgivable, that violence against women is more important than record sales and that he’s never, under any circumstance or any probation fulfillment, ever welcome back.
Instead they waited until enough time had passed, until the Chris Brown and Rihanna reunification rumors seemed true enough, until the public forgot why exactly we hated Chris Brown so much. They waited until the point that the Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich could say something like this and get little to no reaction from the media:
“Explaining the decision to allow Brown back on the show, Ehrlich told ABC News Radio, “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.’”
Yes, once all this happened, they invited him back and gave him TWO stage performances. Two opportunities to show off his talent and earn praise and compliments. And then, to add insult to injury they awarded him the Grammy for best R&B album.
Before the show started, I hadn’t planned on even addressing this. I’ve read so many well-written essays over the past few years that summed up my feelings on Chris Brown, his behavior and his lack of remorse more succinctly than I could. But then I saw what happened at the Grammys last night. I saw that people in the audience cheered for him, that he was welcomed back to the show like a war veteran and not like a domestic abuser and I knew I had to write something. I knew I had to say something about the message the Grammys sent last night.
I don’t care how talented Chris Brown may be. I don’t care if he’s the second coming of Michael Jackson. He beat up Rihanna. He didn’t poke her, he didn’t pull her hair while she was driving, he didn’t call her a bad name. He used his fists and pummeled them into her face. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t earn you a glorious “comeback” performance at the Grammys. That earns you a permanent spot on the blacklist, it earns you the silent treatment from the music industry and frankly, it earns you a spot in hell.
I wish nothing but the worst for Chris Brown. May 2012 be the year that karma finally catches up with him.