Beating up on Chris Brown

Beating up on Chris Brown

There’s been a lot of it. And honestly, I can understand the, uh, “distaste” most of the women I know have for him – it’s earned.

None of it starts to bother me until I hear someone say he shouldn’t be allowed to perform, or that his albums should be taken off the market. Yes, he’s a violent, [insert string of negative adjectives here], creep, and we don’t really like him. Some truly hate him for what he’s done. But does that mean that now he can’t work?

Could you imagine if this extended to everyone? What if you found out that 5 years ago one of your coworkers did something terrible?

I don’t pay much attention to the private lives of celebrities. There’s not much value in it for me, seeing as my life is not affected by the contents of People or Us Weekly. That’s my aloof answer (people always told me seeming aloof made me look cool, so…). The real answer is this: the less I know about a celebrity’s private life, the more I can enjoy their performance.

Let’s be honest: none of us – I shouldn’t really say “us”, since I’m not part of this group, but it makes me sound kinder – who are reading gossip mags are actually interested in seeing Ben Affleck pick up his dry cleaning, or seeing Reese Witherspoon grabbing Starbucks with no makeup on. I don’t care, you don’t care, and I seriously doubt the editors care, they just have to put in space between the rumors about Amanda Bynes and that girl from Teen Mom who recently made a (totally expected) string of poor decisions. That’s what we want; we’re like hyenas, watching and waiting so we can feast on the carcass of a dead career.

But I avoid it completely. The only thing I care about in a celebrity or public figure is what he does when he’s on the job. That’s what I pay to see, and that is his entire responsibility to me. What responsibility do they have to the rest of us? None. Michael Jordan is widely characterized as a world-class prick. But that has nothing to do with his basketball career. Michael Vick was criminally cruel, and it (along with a host of other poor decisions) cost him at least $3o million, put him in prison, and stunted his career. But I think anyone who says he shouldn’t be allowed to play football anymore is way off base. Charlie Sheen…well, he’s Charlie Sheen. I don’t know what we expected.

Could you imagine if this extended to everyone? What if you found out that 5 years ago one of your coworkers did something terrible? Maybe he slapped his wife around. Maybe he got caught stealing a car. Maybe he was a drug addict. But now he’s gone to counseling/prison/rehab and is out, and wants to move forward. Should he get fired and denied entry into his field for life? You know the answer; now apply that to singers, athletes, and actors. Because they’re doing their jobs, and – like most of us – they don’t have the skills to just pick up and switch careers. Even if they do, that’s not our call to make.

I never really cared for Chris Brown’s music, and obviously don’t think much of his character. But there are two things I know, that aren’t really disputed: he can sing, and he can dance. As long as he can do those two things, people will pay to see it. As long as that’s the case, I say let it be. He won’t be getting any of my money, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be able to keep working. He’s a kid, and he’s got issues, but I don’t think he’s evil. He was 19 years old when this went down…and I just don’t think that should necessarily characterize the rest of his life, and end his career.

In the one episode of Glee I watched this year, the mixed kid (I really don’t care to look up his name right now) wanted to do a Chris Brown song and got savaged just for thinking about it. He made a pretty compelling argument about separating the art from the artist, but no one was listening. Considering the artists we consider great, and those who are still performing that we tend to love, he’s got a point.

Frank Sinatra had mob ties. Most think they were nothing more than social, but the connections are undisputed. Hemingway had affairs, Wilt Chamberlain claimed to have slept with 20,000 women. But they were good at what they did, and all we have of them now are recordings and books and highlight reels; so we don’t care. And what about the people we still idolize now? While we focus on Chris Brown, we completely ignore the pasts of Kobe Bryant, Robert Downey, Jr., Mickey Rourke, Mick Jagger, Eminem, and Jay-Z…all of whom were grown men at the time. It’s not really fair, is it?

So, all that to say, give Breezy a break. Not as a person, necessarily, but as a performer. Because nothing else he does affects you in the slightest.

If you comment and I don’t respond, it’s because my girlfriend is still yelling at me, so I can’t get to the keyboard.

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