Why I found the 2012 Grammys so unsettling

I’m an award show junkie and the Grammys – with their multitude of performances and the guarantee that at least one pop star will try to out crazy Lady Gaga –  usually means that I’ll spend the evening entertained. Not this year.

This year, the Recording Academy decided to schedule both Chris Brown and Rihanna as performers, three years after that notorious night when he beat her up before the 2009 Grammy Awards, forcing both of them to cancel their scheduled performances. And not only that, but in response to questions about the appropriateness of inviting Chris Brown to perform, the executive producer of the show, Ken Ehrlich, explained, “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.”

I’m sorry. Excuse me for getting in the way of your victimization, but the last I heard you are representing  an organization that produces a show that makes millions of dollars and serves as a way for an industry to pretty much just congratulate itself on the back all night. I’m not sure how you can play that card with a straight face. And I’m not sure why more people are not calling you out on it.

The response to the Chris Brown/Rihanna incident has been bothering me for years. People say that I need to get over it and give him a second chance. I’m all for second chances, but has he shown any sense of contrition or guilt? No. I’m pretty sure he just throws chairs around when he’s asked about it. (Unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating here.) I’m tired of seeing my friends and peers explain it away in discussions by saying that Rihanna is obviously not wholesome herself. Or compartmentalizing it by saying that they just love his music even if they don’t love him as a person.

Even though 25 percent of women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, it’s something that not many people talk about. Plenty of my peers probably don’t even realize that statistically, they likely know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. I guess that makes it easier for them to view this issue in abstract terms. They have less of a vested interest in making sure that Chris Brown is held accountable to his actions, especially if it means sacrificing their music. But that doesn’t make it okay. All it does is implicitly support Chris Brown. More than that, it sends the message out to young men and women everywhere that although domestic violence may be unfortunate, as long as you’re rich and famous you can have a glorious comeback and be welcomed back with open arms without even tarnishing your reputation.

I, for one, am not okay with this scenario and I am going to keep talking about it. The music industry may have forgotten about the past, but I certainly haven’t.

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3 Responses to Why I found the 2012 Grammys so unsettling

  1. San Tran says:

    Four for you, Glenn Coco! And none for Chris Brown, bye.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing this! This came up in my English class today and we didn’t get to talk about it enough. There are so many frustrating things. Two in particular stand out:

    1) Victim-blaming, victim-blaming, victim-blaming. Excuse me, but “she’s not that wholesome herself” is a disgusting attempt at an excuse for what happened to Rihanna and happens to so many other men, women, and children every day. Nobody, no matter how “unwholesome,” deserves to be treated like that. (And the matter of who gets to judge women’s “wholesomeness” is a whole different issue.)

    2) Why are these young celebrities of color the face of domestic violence? Wealthy white people experience domestic violence just as much, and it seems to me like yet another way of criminalizing and otherizing people of color to make what happened between the two of them bigger than what’s happening to hundreds of other people in the celebrity circuit, or to hundreds of thousands of regular people living in the United States and around the world.

    Thanks again for posting.

  3. I think this was really bad idea. Although there are a few years passed, surely there is still some bad vibe between them and it will not be really pleasant experience to perform together. But this is a tricky PR approach to attract some more attention.

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