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Grammys Celebrate Chris Brown's F.A.M.E, Ignore Felony Assault Conviction

By February 14, 2012

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Kids notice the way their parents treat each other. This early exposure influences how they'll subsequently treat their romantic partners later in life. Over time, they'll also pick up cues from what they see and hear on TV, in films and songs. Domestic violence doesn't just spring out of nowhere. When a pre-teen, teen or young adult beats up on his or her partner, that's a learned response. Knowing that pop culture has the ability to reverse and change attitudes, several organizations have sought to appeal to boys and men -- even putting the iconic James Bond in drag -- to encourage them to apply their strength to care for their girlfriends and partners.

Yet all these thoughtful efforts to end domestic violence are for naught if the powers that be celebrate men who beat on women. And that's what many are saying happened at Sunday night's Grammys when Chris Brown was featured prominently at an awards event he infamously missed three years earlier after abusing then-girlfriend pop vocalist Rihanna the night before.

In the Boston Globe, AP entertainment reporter Jake Coyle writes:

On Sunday evening, Twitter was abuzz with questions of Brown's significant role in the proceedings. Many critics argued against the Grammys' decision to celebrate Brown and endorse his comeback.

New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones called Brown's return "one of the Grammys' weirdest choices ever"....

In an op-ed, Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post said that while people deserve second chances, "That doesn't mean they deserve a chance to strut around the Grammy stage a few years after being convicted of felony assault."

Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic tweeted: "I don't look for the Grammys for moral clarity, but, really? Do the words `felony assault' mean anything at all?"

Coyle also observed that tweets from Chris Brown fans exhibited questionable taste and made light of the domestic violence angle. One example: ""I don't know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to."

It's disturbing to realize that what might have been a turning point in the conversation about partner abuse has become a sort of joke. Shortly after the Chris Brown/Rihanna story broke, in a commentary for Salon Tracy Clark-Flory described how during her evening train ride home, she'd overheard a teen couple arguing when the girl found photos of other women on her boyfriend's phone. When she protested, he smirked, "Don't go all Rihanna on me, now." And now, three years later as evinced by fan tweets, Rihanna still is seen as "complaining" and a person to blame.

For six years -- from age 7 through 13 -- Chris Brown grew up seeing his own mother's abuse at the hands of her domestic partner. Even though he vowed not to ever hit a woman, in a stressful situation that's what he did. Domestic violence is a learned response. It takes deliberate effort to unlearn the tendency to lash out physically or verbally with the intent to hurt.

With so many groups and organizations working hard to change the dynamic, the least that "the powers that be" could do would be to support their efforts and not glorify a man convicted of felony assault. Chris Brown may have made a musical comeback with his album F.A.M.E. (Forgiving All My Enemies), but he's still got far to go to earn the forgiveness of those who work with domestic victims and the men who hurt them. Celebrating him at an event associated with his abusive past sends a conflicting message to his fans and to women who've been victimized. It takes more than fame to make his wrongs right.

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February 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm
(1) Sylvia says:

Ironic that it is OK with the music industry to be a drug addict (and die from it and get a big emotional send off), or be a rapper who earns their bones by killing people. I haven’t heard anybody complain about these felons when they appear and even receive awards. You’re a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites bitching about a self-aggrandizing awards show put on for yourselves. See if if ever buy a piece of music from any of you ever again.

February 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm
(2) Muffy says:

It’s okay for other celebrities under sun who was involved in scandal to attend an award show and move on, but 22 year old Brown must never do that. Explain that logic to me? Rihanna is over it. Explain why Rihanna can move on, but others cannot?

February 15, 2012 at 9:29 am
(3) Kristin says:

Chris Brown gave a lot of non-apologies and has not felt any remorse about what he did. He acts like the victim in all of this like beating up Rihanna was something done TO him, not something that he did himself. Abusing drugs and abusing a woman are two completely different things. Yes, a lot of other men have beat women- BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE WHAT HE DID OKAY. I don’t like any of these guys that have a history of violence against women. I also asked why Charlie Sheen was getting so much attention. But I think this is the difference between Chris Brown and the other abusers- we all saw exactly what he did to Rihanna. We shouldn’t have seen the pictures, but we did. There is no doubt that what he did was beat her savagely. And now people want to act like 3 years ago was soooo long ago. Well victims of domestic violence are scarred emotionally for life. All this outrage for Chris Brown- where is it for the women that are beat every day? I doubt that your names are “Sylvia” and “Muffy.” You do not sound like the usual commenters on this site. My suspicion is that PR people for Chris Brown are flooding these message boards trying to make critics sound like the bad guy. If Chris Brown didn’t still have anger management issues, then he wouldn’t have flipped out at Good Morning America like he did. The reason why people are mad, is he’s running around making music and a lot of money when he should be working on himself and his issues.

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