Chris Brown makes a "comeback" - and in the eyes of his fans he can do no wrong. Why are people so willing to let abusers off the hook?
Before this week I had no idea what the hell "Team Breezy" means, nor that "RIP" could also stand for "Really Inspirational Person". Thanks to the wonders of Twitter I'm now all too aware of both and how they relate to everyone's least favourite abusive idiot of the week, Chris Brown - and I really don't feel like my life has been enriched by this knowledge.
Let's recap the whole sorry state of affairs involving Chris Brown. The night before the Grammys in 2009, the singer beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna because she was unhappy about a text from another woman that she'd seen on his phone. And he left her in a seriously bad way. That picture of her battered face almost broke the internet. The full text of the police report on what happened, should you wish to read it, is pretty disturbing. This was no "lovers' tiff", as was claimed at the time.
Brown ended up being sentenced to five years' probation and 180 hours of community service. He had to complete a year-long course about domestic violence. But not until the media and the internet had spent months deliberating over whether or not the abuse had been Rihanna's fault, what she must have done to provoke him, and why Brown was to be defended. When celebrities spoke out against him, they felt forced to apologise later.
This week's controversy all started with the build-up to the Grammy Awards last weekend. People got fed up with the way the mainstream media was treating Brown's performance at the awards as a much-awaited comeback, and were horrified by the way Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich described the awards ceremony as a 'victim' due to the fact they've not had Brown singing for a couple of years thanks to what happened. Clearly, Ehrlich and his fellow producers feel that it's high time we all moved on.
Except it's not that easy. It's not that easy when you've got legions of Brown's fans - often teenage girls, taking to Twitter to say things like "Chris Brown could beat me all he wants" and "I'd let Chris Brown punch me in the face". It's not easy when said fans - the aforementioned "Team Breezy" - will do anything to defend their man from the "haters", including spending at least a whole day talking about why he's a "really inspirational person". It's not easy when Brown himself, acting like a child, also takes to Twitter to tell us (in a now-deleted tweet) "HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That's the ultimate FUCK OFF!".
No it's not, Chris, no it's not. The fact you won some award does not absolve you of the fact that you beat your partner to a pulp and proceeded to emerge relatively unscathed, free to act like a complete ass, with the added bonus that a bunch of young women are now happy to tell the world they'd let a man beat them if only it was you. Give me strength.
What kind of attitudes are they taking into their real life relationships when they seem happy to brush off the reality of abuse and joke about it because they think the guy is hot? What does it say that the entertainment industry has now swept the unpleasantness of Brown's actions, his lack of remorse and his subsequent angry outbursts under the carpet? Maybe we shouldn't be surprised, seeing as the industry has been so willing to do the same to other famous men following incidents of violence against women.
In the wake of this fresh controversy, numerous bloggers and journalists have spoken out about the long list of high profile men with arrests and convictions for abusive behaviour under their belts. Why, they want to know, does the world ignore this, and lay on the hero-worship anyway? This post and thread over at Feministe names plenty of them - and I have to admit that for each one I'd heard about - Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen - there were more that I had no knowledge of. I may not be the most avid follower of celebrity news, but it's not a short list. These men, who have attacked, raped and threatened women - their wives, their girlfriends, sex workers - are rewarded. The darker side of their nature is forgotten about. And it's not good enough.
The entertainment industry needs to wise up to the fact that it's giving out the message that for rich, powerful and talented men, being abusive is okay. That this is failing the young women who adore them and that it is failing the countless women who live as survivors of abuse and are disgusted that society lets perpetrators off so lightly. It's been happening for decades - Ike Turner, Sean Connery, Roman Polanski (I could go on) - and it's high time that things changed.
Hannah Mudge writes about all things news and feminism-themed for BitchBuzz. You can also read her blog, We Mixed Our Drinks or follow her tweets as @boudledidge.
Image via kaycee weezy.