Have you ever stopped to think about how invested we are in other people’s lives?
That may sound like a strange question, but humor me for a moment. We live in a society where “reality” shows are more popular than scripted dramas or sitcoms, right? Not to mention, with social media, we have unprecedented access to celebrities, which for better or worse, is demystifying the concept of fame. These days, artists aren’t just selling their music, they’re selling a “lifestyle”, and in many cases, the latter has more bearing on success than the product of the former, right? Do you realize how detrimental that can be to the shaping of our perceptions of what is truly real? Or, no?
I’ll come back to this.
Yesterday afternoon while perusing #blacktwitter, I saw Chris Brown “going off”. Now, this is nothing out of the ordinary, because if there’s one person that’s good for a profanity laced rant, it’s the kid from Tappahannock, VA. On this occasion, his digital foe was Jenny Johnson, a (white) female comedy writer and television news producer, who, like me, claims Houston as her home. This is not the first time the two have squared off. As a matter of fact, it’s a well documented fact that Mrs. Johnson has a strong disdain for Brown. In this essay that she penned for Grantland, she outlines the various reasons for her distaste, most (if not all) of which are valid. What boggles me about the situation, however, is that Mrs. Johnson also seems to have a mildly obsessive affinity for picking fights with Chris, and that’s exactly what happened yesterday afternoon. If you’d like to read the exchange, you can do so here, but please be advised that most of the language is not safe for work. Here are a few of the most important takeaways from reading the tweets:
- Chris Brown is immature
- Jenny Johnson is immature
- Chris Brown is disrespectful and misogynistic
- Jenny Johnson is disrespectful
- Chris Brown obviously did not know how to make good use of Twitter’s block function
Quick question for you, though: If you were to poke a sleeping bear, repeatedly, would you be surprised if said bear woke up swinging it’s paws at you? Yes? No? Maybe so? Hint: Your answer should be no. I don’t know about you, but I was taught from a young age that playing with fire can get you burned. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, right? In the mainstream media’s coverage of these happenings however, Johnson is being painted as a victim. [See here, and here] I wonder why this is happening, when in fact, she is equally responsible for the fall out?
Would I be wrong, or going to deep to say that this whole situation has some racial bias? Would I be wrong to say that the media’s coverage of black men’s wrongdoings is starkly different from the coverage of that of white men’s? Am I reaching, or did you forget about Sean Penn beating Madonna with a baseball bat? Shoot, maybe you didn’t know. Am I reaching, or have we conveniently forgotten about Charlie Sheen shooting Kelly Preston, or beating and threatening to kill Denise Richards? Are we not talking about that? Are people trolling Charlie Sheen on Twitter? We seem to have forgiven Sean Penn because he’s earned an Academy Award or two since he used a weapon to assault his then wife. Are they not “woman beaters” anymore? Does that not follow them for the rest of their lives?
What makes Chris Brown different from these two?
Chris has bought into, and exploited the bad boy thug image that the media slapped him with, because it’s just easier that way. Yes. It’s so much easier to give into what people expect of you, even when you know that’s not who you truly are, right?
If you didn’t know, Chris was once poised to take over the world of pop/R&B. His dancing skills, combined with his boyish good looks and effervescent smile made him a hot commodity among advertisers, moms and ravenous teenage girls alike. You may also recall him dating a then-rising pop star, a young woman known to the world by her given middle name, Rihanna? And you also know that their relationship came to a screeching halt after one fateful night which left Rihanna bloodied,battered and bruised on the side of a Los Angeles street? Yes, Chris brutally beat Rihanna in his rented luxury vehicle. Chris turned himself in to authorities. Chris went to court. Chris plead guilty to felony assault. Chris was placed on probation, was required to complete an anger management course and a (large) number of community service hours. Chris apologized. Then he apologized again. Since then, there have been a firestorm of gaffes and subsequent apologies, tempered by violent/profane/homophobic outbursts, and various other public relations nightmares. It got so bad, that Chris and his team rejected interviews for a good portion of 2012, and for good reason.
In recent weeks, however, he’s been easing back into the limelight with new management, new image consultants, and carefully selected press visits gearing up for the promotion of his new album & tour, ironically titled Carpe Diem. Unfortunately, the aforementioned indiscretions have indefinitely overshadowed anything that he can do musically. A good portion of the media would rather talk about his apparent reconciliation with Rihanna, or his flaring temper. It’s been almost four years since the beating took place, and look at us, still talking about it, to this day.
At what point is enough, enough? Let’s be clear, domestic violence is a very serious and inexcusable action, but… who sits on the panel of judges that decides which people get a second chance, and which do not? Who sits on the panel of judges who determine which of our transgressions we’ll forever be defined by? Who sits on the panel of judges that decide when it’s okay for people to move on with their lives?
Somewhere in all of this mayhem is a young woman who survived a brutal attack, only to have the photos of her injuries plastered all over television, newspapers and magazines. A young woman who had to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally under the watchful and ever-present eye of the world. Does it bother anyone else, that because Rihanna does not fit into some people’s expectations of what a victim of domestic violence should do, that she, the victim, has become vilified? By forgiving and daring to move on… i.e. by living her own life and making her own choices… she is also, just as bad as he is? What part of the game is that?
Earlier in this post, I asked if you thought about how much we’ve invested ourselves into the lives of others. Have you had an opportunity to mull that over? Maybe, just maybe, we should be taking a little time to focus on… oh, I don’t know, ourselves? I know what you’re saying. I just spent a whole heap of words talking about people that I don’t know and have never met, but… this is an example. Maybe, if we spent time learning and understanding our own destinies, and stopped looking for famous people to be our barometer, we might be able to find solutions to the problems that we’re facing.
There is a serious conversation to be had about our societal attitudes toward domestic violence, but if we’re going to have it, shouldn’t it be inclusive?
Am I wrong? What do you think about this whole situation? Let me know in the comment section.
- Chris Brown Deletes His Twitter Account (complex.com)