Why Has The Music Industry Forgiven Chris Brown?


The “ultimate fuck-off”, huh Chris? Is the ultimate fuck-off not “[placing] her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm,” as the police report details the night in February 2009 when Brown attacked his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. It continues: “Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.’s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.”

Last night, Chris Brown went on a Twitter rant – since conveniently deleted – where he railed against those who had the temerity to rightly decry his appearance at the Grammys at the weekend (Feb 12), where he performed twice and won Best R&B Album for his fourth LP, ‘FAME’. You may remember that he assaulted Rihanna the night before 2009’s Grammys, leading both performers to pull out of the event. He tweeted:

Strange how we pick and choose who to hate! Let me ask u this. Our society is full of rappers (which I listen to) who have sold drugs (poisoning).

But yet we glorify them and imitate everything they do.

Then right before the worlds eyes a man shows how he can make a Big mistake and learn from it, but still has to deal with day to day hatred! You guys love to hate!!! But guess what???


As I watched these tweets unfold last night, I thought, “God, this is vile. But I really hope they get him in a world of trouble. OH HANG ON A MINUTE, his career survived him smashing his girlfriend’s face in. These remarks are going to do jack all.”


What Brown said – and did, obviously – is beyond disgusting. People deserve second chances, and second chances can often be fulfilled. But that doesn’t mean that old misdemeanours – old, criminal, domestic abuse-shaped misdemeanours – should be brushed under the carpet. Rihanna will doubtless never do another interview, or have another review written about her music, that doesn’t somehow allude to what Brown did to her that night, making his righteous indignation at having the incident used against him even more repellent. He may have owned up to making a mistake, but remarks like these hardly demonstrate that he has “[learned] from it”.

(You may remember that in March 2011, after being asked about Rihanna on Good Morning America, Brown threw a chair through a window and stormed out of the building shirtless).

But what’s equally as pernicious as Brown’s lack of remorse is the way that the culture industry at large has decided to gloss over what he did. When Usher tweeted disparagingly about photos depicting Brown appearing on a jet ski in Miami shortly after the initial incident, he later issued an apology, just in case his comments had offended anyone. Website Hello Giggles ran a brilliant piece on why Brown’s appearance at this year’s Grammys was Very Much Not Okay, drawing particular attention to this abhorrent quote from Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich, who said:

I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, [Chris] 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.

The Grammys… were the victim… of Chris Brown beating up his girlfriend… The awards ceremony were the victim… of Chris Brown trying to strangle and bite Rihanna. Nope, it doesn’t make any more sense the second time.

It’s this kind of laissez-faire, woolly clutching of Brown back into the media’s bosom that doubtless fostered the incredibly ignorant responses to his performance – you may well have seen blogposts featuring screen-caps of (mostly) women tweeting things along the lines of, “I’d let Chris Brown beat me up any day lol”. Reading these lists makes for profoundly depressing reading.

But what’s worse is that there’s been no strong, en masse media message that has emphasised that Brown’s behaviour is totally unacceptable. Until that happens, idiots will continue to make uninformed, flippant remarks like the above, teenagers will still continue to think that Rihanna was responsible for her attack, and Brown will be able to consign the incident to the past whilst his ascent continues.


A large swathe of Brown’s audience is made up of teenage girls, a group who need to be made aware from the word ‘go’ that violence against women is never, ever acceptable. I’m not saying Chris Brown should be stripped of his record contract, but he should never expect for what he did to be forgotten. Highlighting the fact is hardly going to feature in RCA’s marketing campaign (and clearly, the industry’s failings to disgrace Chris is all about the $$$), so it’s vital that other media platforms continue to draw attention to it. Sadly, this brushing under the carpet of musicians committing violence against women is nothing new. John Lennon, Keith Moon, Nick Oliveri, Ian Brown; the music industry is disturbingly quick to forgive artists who beat up women.

Chris Brown later tweeted (also deleted), “I’m so OVER everyone’s opinions.. Really!!!” Chris, I’m so OVER the people with power – awards bookers, radio station heads, record label executives – not having an opinion on this, not coming down on you like twelve tons of bricks, failing to make the decision not to legitimise your deeply unacceptable behaviour.

Also deleted was this festive missive, which made me vomit out my own heart: “HAPPY VALENTINES DAY ladies… Let today be about u!!! Love you.”