Chris Brown is sorry. Or at least he is sorry enough to almost say what he did (without quite saying it), furrow his brows and remind you that he is still a good boy and you should definitely continue to buy his records.
I don’t buy it. I am sure on some level he is sorry, but that is not really the point. This is about what he is saying, accountability for what he did and the quickness with which the American public is willing to take an apology from someone that brutalized his girlfriend to the point of putting her in the hospital. What is most frustrating about this video is that his fans are probably swooning. And the message is clear; beat, bite, punch and strangle your girlfriend, and as long as you apologize, you are a-OK. You might think I am being too harsh, but let’s be clear, dominant narratives indicate that when women are victims of violence, the first question people ask is “what did she do wrong?” That was true when the story first broke, message boards everywhere were asking “what she did wrong?” and “it wasn’t that bad…” Or let’s not forget the headlines that were out and surveys that found young men felt it was Rihanna’s fault.
Furthermore, generally when people apologize they mention what they are sorry about. He doesn’t mention what he did, while calling it the “situation.” Ann just mentioned to me over IM, maybe if we spliced in the picture of what actually happened to Rihanna after the assault, “the situation” wouldn’t be so vague and we could remember the extent of her injuries. I am obviously not actually endorsing this and we have written and talked about how TMZ shouldn’t have published her picture. The public was fascinated by the picture, but apparently TMZ’s claim about “raising awareness” really was bullshit, since so many have quickly forgotten. Anna at Jezebel has a really good analysis of the video. She writes,
By going the vague route, Brown allows fans to forget the visceral reality of what he did — assaulting Rihanna until her face was swollen and bruised — and instead focus on all the nice things he says about his mother, his “spiritual advisors,” and his commitment to change. By saying he’s sorry he didn’t “handle the situation better,” he casts the beating as a response to a bad “situation” — and instance of poor conflict resolution, not of flying off the handle. And by implying there was something that needed to be “handled” in some way, this statement subtly implicates Rihanna too.
I concur. But ultimately we are not the ones that this video is for. We know this is bullshit, but the target of this video are other young men and women that might be in this very same situation. They might have to navigate a tense situation, violence might be used and if this is what our role models do, we don’t have much to look up to. And while I appreciate him actually discussing that he experienced domestic violence so as to gesture towards cycles of violence, the moral of the story is, “it wasn’t really my fault.” It was a “bad situation” that he “didn’t deal with well,” and he himself is a “victim” which is true, but shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not have to take direct accountability for his actions.
Yeah, I’m mad. What could he have said to make this an effective apology? Thoughts?
PS: If you really want to feel horrified read what people are saying on twitter about his apology.
Black women’s bodies, voyeurism and Rihanna
Beyond Chris Brown and Rihanna: An interview with Elizabeth Mendez Berry
The media reminds us, famous women have no right to privacy.
Rihanna and Chris Brown might be getting back together, allegedly.