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.