Chris Brown throws tantrum on Good Morning America.

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Chris Brown was on Good Morning America promoting his new albume F.A.M.E. When asked about his assault on singer Rihanna and if they are talking, he replied, “I mean not really, it’s not really a big deal in my life, I think I’m past that situation” and how we should all buy his album. After the interview Brown stormed off stage, smashed a window in his dressing room and then ran out of the building (shirtless). I am sure talking about his brutal assault of Rihanna is emotional for him, but his post-interview reaction states that he is all but “passed” that situation, but instead does not understand the gravity of his crime or sought rehabilitation. Because, frankly, if he understood the gravity of his crime, he would stay out of the spotlight for a little while and get the help he so desperately needs.

Dream Hampton writes on BET,

What he didn’t seem to understand was that it was way too early for an album. Not only had we not moved on, but Rihanna had barely healed from the emotional trauma (when she attempted an even march forward on her ABC special it only further belied her fragility). Just as important, and I don’t always consider attackers just as important in domestic abuse cases, Chris Brown had clearly not even begun to heal. Early in his career, teenage Chris Brown gave a heart-wrenching interview where he said watching his stepfather beat his mother had made him both so enraged he wanted to fight the man and so afraid of him that he’d wet his pants. When 16-year-old Chris Brown said in a magazine interview that he’d wet his pants at 13 he was a mere three years away from his abuse. Children who witness abuse are abused. When Brown abused Rihanna he was five years away from his own abuse.

Holding Chris Brown accountable publicly has nothing to do with if he is a good musician. He can’t expect the public to forgive him for his act of aggression by putting out new music, collaborating with some great people (shame on all of you, you should be advising this young man) and some good dance moves. There is no denying how talented he is as a performer.

But that doesn’t change the brutality of his attack, the respect Rihanna deserves and the reality that he clearly needs counseling, more counseling, than say violating probation may bring. It is not only upsetting to watch him self-destruct in front of us, it also sends a bad message that being good at one thing should make you exempt at being accountable from another. “I said sorry..” in this case is not enough in the face of devastating statistics for intimate partner violence and the reality that so many young men and women look up to him. As Hampton asks, what kind of profound impact would it have on young black men if he were to actually deal with and overcome the cycles of violence he has been subject to and participated in? It would certainly be a turning point for how the public responds to famous male aggressors of violent crimes against women.

In that same vein, Brown went on twitter to express his frustrations and made mention of the different way he is being treated by the mainstream media as opposed to say Charlie Sheen who also has a serious history of violence against women. The tweet was removed, but as unfortunate as his outburst may have been, I wonder if he has a point.*

*To update: As Jay Smooth just pointed out to me, while Charlie Sheen might get off way too easy, in many ways Chris Brown has as well. The fact that he is getting media appearances and has a new album out tell us that many people will continue to work with and promote someone that has history of violence against women. A history that is clearly very much his present.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted March 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Yes, “way too early” for an album as it sells millions and millions and millions, as he’s invited to perform on Good Morning America and elsewhere, as the media falsely chastises him while profiting from a sensationalism of their own creation. The public, so easily distracted, has “forgiven” him. And now Feministing takes a drink, advertising Brown’s album in the very first line of this article. By not chastising the institutions that enable the profitability of Brown’s villainy, we engage in lurid celebrity gawking, of which Brown is, himself, a tool and a victim. Does GMA not send a mixed message by ambushing Brown before allowing him to perform in their name? Are we seriously complimenting GMA’s journalistic scruples in the midst of such a transparent and deplorable ratings stunt? Do you think GMA truly cares about Brown’s reformation? About stopping violence against women? I don’t understand this article.

  2. Posted March 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    He should have never abused Rhianna. He should get the help he needs, but that reporter should have respected his desire to not talk about the subject. I do not believe it is anyone’s business, but him and Rhianna’s. He does not need the media or the fans for permission to do his job. It is possible to forgive him for abusing her. I have. I was very disappointed to hear that he really did that. It is so minimal for the public to forgive him. This is like highschool where the public is the school and Chris and Rhianna were the “ideal” couple. Who knows how he feels on the inside. He’s still a person. Relationship abuse makes me mad, but I can sympathize with him because he still has feelings. I’m angry with the media. I love the batter women receive the support and aid they need, but what about abused men? It exists. Maybe the statistics are smaller but it angers me that the message that can be spread through abusive relationships is to ‘hate the man’. In no way, shape, or form do I approve of Chris Brown’s actions, but this is his life.

  3. Posted March 24, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    When I first heard that Chris Brown had abused Rihanna I didn’t look into it any further. I didn’t want to hear anything about him and I didn’t want to be part of the celebrity gossip machine that would not stop talking about the issue but never in a constructive way. As so often happens, when celebrity abuse scandals hit the presses the public can’t get enough and it becomes a free PR campaign for the abuser instead of a serious discussion about the prevalence of violence against women in the fame industry. Consequently I had never heard that Chris Brown had been a witness and victim of abuse himself. This in no way excuses Chris Brown, in fact it makes his need to get help that much greater. As a celebrity he has unavoidably become a role model for his fans and if he got help he would be setting an amazing example for the many fans who witnessed and suffered abuse as children themselves.

    In the “What We Missed” post published on March 18th there was a link to an article “on being a black male feminist.” If you happened to skip over this link or didn’t get around to reading it I highly recommend it. It is especially relevant to this article because the author was himself a witness to the abuse of his mother at the hands of his father when he was young and then became an abuser himself as an adult. As the title gives away, he is now a feminist as well as an advocate for ending violence against women. It gives me a little hope that maybe, with the right guidance, Chris Brown, and all the other abusive men out there, can change their ways and can help others to do the same.

    You can read the article here: http://www.theroot.com/views/why-i-am-male-feminist?page=0%2C0

  4. Posted March 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t known all those things about Chris Brown’s past. While it doesn’t excuse his own abusive behavior, it makes it clear he has a lot to work through and a lot of his own behavior to look at – what was learned by what he witnessed in the home growing up could be a hindrance to becoming his own person. At a glance, not a therapist here.

    If you read material on domestic violence, the abuser often moves forward from the incident faster than the victim–of course! They’re not the one who was made afraid or made to suffer! So in his mind it may be less of a big deal or something he’s already moved on from, while for Rhianna, and others he impacts, it is not.

    As far as him vs. Sheen, while I see neither of their careers suffering, there does seem to be more readiness to focus on Brown’s violence. This may be because Sheen has changed his name (a journalist friend of mine says the given name is Carlos Estevez. Father is really Ramon Estevez) and is publicly perceived as Anglo. It may be because Sheen distracts the public by saying really funny things when he’s ranting – yes “I’m a Vatican warlock assassin” etc. is going to get a laugh. I really don’t know.

  5. Posted March 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Of course, ABC is not helping in calling out Chris Brown when’s he’s being terrible. After his violent tantrum, ABC is still welcoming him to perform on Dancing With the Stars.

    Meanwhile, Adam Lambert kisses a guy on the American Music Awards, and HE spends months banned from ABC shows like Good Morning America and The View.

    Nice priorities there, ABC.

    There is racist implications with how people are less likely to go after Sheen than Brown, yes, but Brown is still getting away with it as well.

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