Friday, July 2, 2010

Bamboozled! Chris Brown and aficionados

You know, I was really fighting the feeling; I was not interested in supplementing the blog world and mainstream media's recent explosion of reporting on Chris Brown and the BET awards. As a matter of fact, I was certain that my computer, itself, would literally explode because the internet must be exhausted with the everyone having an opinion on Chris's "breakdown" at the award show. I refused to have anything to do with the BET Awards early on; I was on twitter and threatened to unfollow the bulk of my friends for tweeting about the awards. And I got sucked in -- it began with my flipping back and forth and somehow, forth stopped on the awards on a network that I am sure the Black community should not be in support of. Back in the day, Black Embarrasmentntertainment Television actually had some positive aspects to it and one day, poof! No more. It's sole output has been degrading and exploitative and for that reason, I try my best to avoid anything related to the network. Personally, this upsets me because I believe in supporting Black business because we cannot expect the success of our own if we lack faith and support; yet, it directly conflicts with my own personal beliefs about the worth and strengths of the Black community to do so in this particular instance. But, alas, I was sucked in. I'll admit to you this: I'm disappointed in myself for giving in.

It was nothing more than I expected it to be: a bad car accident that you just could not look away from. Right up to Chris Brown's tribute to Michael Jackson. Sure, the award show had its high points, relative to the rest of the show. But, oh..Chris Brown.

If, by chance, you've been living under a rock without access to the television or internet, here's what happened in my home (and during Chris Brown's performance):
I'm stretched out across the couch, glued to the tube. I have my blackberry in hand and when Chris Brown began dancing, I was messaging my best friend about what a skilled dancer he is. I was not surprised that BET permitted him to perform since he was disallowed at many events last year. I got a little bored with the transition of his performing, looked down at all of the tweets and it sounded like my audio was screwed up on the tv. Confused, I look up, to see Chris Brown doubled over, "crying".

Now, I'm sure that my readers (and even non-readers) can guess my reaction: staged, phony, publicity stunt to win his way back into the hearts and minds of those who had decided not to support him. Now, I'll tell you this: the rational individuals who have chosen not to support the brother any more are probably the ones who did not support his music initially because I know several teenage girls that have rallied behind him immediately after his assault on Rihanna, his court trial and conviction, his internet "apologies", his colorist and degrading comments toward blogger Sandra Rose, the creation of #teambreezy on twitter (which, further invited the public into the ugly battle between he and Rihanna, causing a similar twitter trend on her behalf), the ranting on twitter about certain stores not marketing his music, and most recently the UK taking a stand and not allowing him into the country to tour. And from the very beginning, there was the victim blaming: "she gave him an STD", "she hit him first", "you're a hater", et al. And you know what? He was convicted, he served his sentence, and my issue with Chris Brown is not solely an issue with Chris Brown.

Having direct experiences with victims and perpetrators of relationship violence and also having done the bulk of my research on issues of sexual/relationship violence within the Black community, there are issues with domestic violence. One major issue that does not get as much attention as it should is the social consequences as they relate to the abuser. In fact, I'm sure that some of you may have released a mental gasp at my referring to Chris as an "abuser"; I've had grown women and men ask me to not refer to him as such because, in their own rationale, "abuse" dictates something long term and ongoing. This is silly because I'll tell you this - domestic violence agencies and reserachers refer to the perpetrator of violence, whether it happened once or several times, as abusers.

This is a prime example of a major problem. Why is Chris Brown - the celebrity that you do not know - an exception to what is common and logical in examining relationship violence? Chris Brown does not know me personally, and as such, he does not owe me a personal apology. He does not owe his fans a personal apology, because they have been excusing his behavior from the beginning of his socially perceived fall from grace. I also am not aware of whether or not he is continuing counseling. Chris Brown as a person and individual is not the entire problem with Chris Brown.

As a celebrity, he has been placed on a pedastol and, as a result, demands that his fans continually support him - despite acknowledging his wrong doing. The fans and the celebrity feed into one another; you fans, you've told Chris Brown who and what he should be and, like a minstrel show, he has given you everything that you've craved and applauded, both before and after his assault on Rihanna. This is about maintaining an image. Yet, what are the reasons that his behavior has been excused besides the above hater-isms?
Besides hearing "he didn't hit you/she asked for it", a major reason that, within the Black community, relationship violence is so far underreported and overlooked is because of a perceived necessity for racial solidarity above all else. This is also a major reason that women's rights within the Black community is taken as a sour flavor - because we shouldn't be focused on the disparities of hurt and injustice that come from within because we are a family. As a matter of fact, the day after the award show, I turned the radio off because I heard someone on the radio saying, "we can't just let one of our own..."; seriously. The next day, 106 and Park dedicated the show to Chris Brown, saying he's back. The blogworld has referred to his performance as a redemption song. For crying out loud, the kid won an award that very night. Just like that...all is forgiven in social media's world.

It is unreasonable that as a community of people, we turn our backs and leave a celebrity or non-celebrity perpetrator of relationship violence to fend for him/herself. Yet to continually support their career without blinking an eye and acknowledging, as fans, that their behavior is completely unacceptable in any form of society, is also not a reasonable answer. This isn't about anyone giving their lives to whatever-higher-power you may or may not believe to be true. Instead of spending so much time defending, rationalizing, and supporting their actions, though, we should be encouraging them toward a healthy lifestyle as examples to our young children. If you want the Black community to remain unified, why not move it along in a healthy and reasonable light?

What I don't want is for people to say "he/she is one of our own and therefore, we cannot do ______". That's silly to me. Chris Brown (and others) is a human being that fans and supportors of his entertainment have made into an image, and if you choose to support him (or others), do so at the best interest of the community and not in the best interest of the image that you want for him. The entire Chris Brown-Rihanna situation was higher profile than other relationship violence because of their celebridom and as such, was the perfect opportunity to engage in dialogue, as a community, about relationship violence and unhealthy behaviors. Yet instead, every main social networking outlet that I find young Black people on (mediatakeout, twitter, facebook) are filled with children and adolescents ignoring the abuse and excusing relationship abuse.

The fact of the matter is this: women are physically and sexually abused by their partners every single day. And many cases do not even make it to court because, as a result of "real life" apologists and defenders of abuse, women stay in these relationships. The same can be said for women abusing men (though there is not as much research to prove), and homosexual relationships. I've encountered people who think twice at celebrity relationship violence but are black and white about "real life" violence, and there are also the same types of people, besides the victim, that defend the actions of the abuser and blame the abused. The violence will not stop if the community is unwilling to, not only acknowledge wrongdoing and abusive relationships of celebrities as such but also, apply our standards of thinking in a universal manner and teach young children and adults what is acceptable and what is not.

I'll admit that I feel repetitive in that this post is nearly identical to my other Chris Brown-Rihanna/relationship violence post. I am not of the opinion that abusive relationships are private matters; if we are unwilling to speak out, then we can never expect any improvement. Teach the youth - including Chris Brown and other celebrities - that violent relationships are never acceptable, instead of creating images of what they should be based on your salivating as fans or supporters.

Be Righteous. And watch Bamboozled..those themes don't just apply to racial identity and entertainment.

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