Last week in my Bee column, I wrote about the not-quite-yet redemption of Chris Brown after the Grammys and how his fans (*ahem* Team Breezy *ahem*) need a reality check. Ya know, considering the way they defend him and even wish to get beat up by him.
I expected Team Breezy to get upset by this. In fact, were I to pen a predictable response to the column, it would have went something like this e-mail I got from Jasmine:
I read your article about Chris Brown and him winning the Grammy and I STRONGLY disagree with EVERYTHING you said. He may have had a violent breakout with Rihanna, but that was 3 years ago. Obviously she got over it, so you need to get over it. Chris Brown is just another person who made some mistakes, you don’t know him. I’m sure you’ve made mistakes.
In case you didn’t know, Chris Brown grew up around violence. His step-dad beat his mother. You are nobody to judge him or to say that him winning a Grammy was “nauseating”. I believe it’s good that he won, he deserved it. I am a HUGE Chris Brown fan and I think your article was pathetic. There are many celebrities who do drugs, or have been involved in abuse, so how come nobody writes about that? Chris Brown is just another person who made a mistake YEARS ago, learned from it, and is now accomplishing things. So don’t be so bitter and negative. Like I said, you are nobody to judge.
How would you like it if people kept on reminding you of your MISTAKES years after it happened? I supported him from the beginning and I continue to support him now. What ever happened, happened. You were not there during his conflicts and you don’t personally know him, so it’s not your place to talk about it, and say all those things about him. Plus, Rihanna’s over it, so people like you need to find something more interesting in your life, and GET OVER IT!
Like I said, pretty predictable stuff. Straight outta the Team Breezy talking-points memo. While that was totally expected, an e-mail like the one below (all 1,676 words of it) is totally NOT what I expected. Just for the record, the subject line on this one was: “Despicable.”
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to comment on your blog posting in which you state that fans of Chris Brown need a reality check.
I think that is a highly offensive thing to say, and certainly lacks critical thinking about the issue of intimate partner abuse and domestic violence.
I am a 42 year old man and I have been a die hard Chris Brown fan since hearing his first album nearly 7 years ago.
I am a licensed therapist who has worked for over 20 years with people who have engaged in child abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of violence. I have worked with both perpetrators and victims. I have worked with children in South Central Los Angeles who have met Chris Brown at their domestic violence shelters where they lived while he was volunteering with them……not because this was part of his probation to do this volunteerism, but because he wanted to learn and understand more about the cycle of violence that he witnessed as a child.
For those of us who have done a great deal of work with people who have chosen to use violence or are unable to manage their feelings without resorting to violence, we know that the line between resorting to violence or not doing so is a very fine one. In fact, that is the reason that over 35% of people in relationships experience violence at some point in their relationship in America. People who are unable to manage their feelings without violence are our neighbors, our friends, and members of our family. Violence in American society cuts across all racial, ethnic, cultural and socio-economic boundaries. Violence impacts millions of people in America every day. Crimes of passion are the most common forms of violent crime. When you criticize and ridicule people who have suffered through this cycle, you are vilifying a large portion of the American public who are much less likely to seek help because they feel further shame for the violence they have perpetrated and the violence they have experienced.
The list of Famous people who have exhibited violence or been victims of violence is extensive. John Lennon and his first wife Cynthia, Frank Sinatra and several partners, Liza Minnelli and David Gest, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tina and Ike Turner, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, Sean Penn and Madonna, Jackson Browne and Daryl Hannah, Ron Wood from the Stones, Rick Springfield and his wife, Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker, Halle Berry and one partner, Harry Morgan from M*A*S*H, James Brown, Charlie Sheen, Riddick Bowe, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens, Phil Hartmann from SNL (who was murdered by his wife), Eminem and his wife, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown and the list goes on. By the way, it might also be important to note that Elvis Presley likely engaged in pedophilia by beginning a sexual relationship with Priscilla when she was a young teen. By many accounts, she also began using amphetamines in his presence as a teenager.
Have any of these artists faced the type of scrutiny and vilification for their mistakes that Chris Brown has? Have they had to contend with the constant glare of paparazzi and public ridicule that this young man has had to endure? Has anyone ever suggested that Eminem, Elvis Presley, John Lennon or Frank Sinatra shouldn’t have the opportunity to be honored for their craft because they have exhibited violence in their personal lives. How many rock-n-roll celebrities have trashed their hotel rooms in fits of rage and inebriation?
This would an interesting article for you to explore as to why Chris Brown is any different from these celebrities. I have no doubt that Chris being a young black male certainly has something to do with it. I’m also certain that his tendency to stand up for himself and call out the hypocrisy in the media is another. Young black men are not allowed in society to talk back lest they look like angry black men.
Sadly, what bloggers and journalists like you fail to realize is that your vilification of people who have not yet managed to learn how to cope and deal with their violent feelings is one of the very things that perpetuates violence. If over 35% of the American public experiences the human condition of intimate partner abuse, how likely do you think it is that people who need help (both as victims and perpetrators) are going to come forward to get the help they need if they are constantly vilified for something that so many people suffer with?
Thankfully, in the United States of America, first time offenders of violence are not generally sent to prison, they are not fired from their jobs, they are not discouraged from achieving in their professions, and they are certainly not subjected to 3 years of constant scrutiny and ridicule for making mistakes as young people. They are sent to domestic violence groups, to anger management classes, and are given the responsibility to work out their sentence with guidance from Probation Officers and Judges. So many people have called for Chris Brown’s head and suggested that he should be imprisoned, which would almost certainly result in furthering the cycle of violence that he grew up witnessing.
There is a huge difference between a man like Ike Turner who abused his wife for years, and a young man like Chris Brown who had one event at the age of 19.
The media scrutiny surrounding Chris Brown has been so one sided and has lacked critical thinking at every turn. People treat him as if he is a monster: celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey have made patently false statements and perpetuated the myth that a person who abuses a woman will always abuse their partners. The group think mentality that you are perpetuating in your opinions only serves to make the problem worse.
Vilifying members of the American public for supporting this young man suggests to me that you are the one who needs a reality check. Its insulting to my intelligence. It lacks critical thinking. Its wrong.
Just today, there is a story flying around the internet as if its fact purporting that Chris Brown suggested to a women that he wanted to date that “he wouldn’t beat her.” There is no proof of this allegation. There is no evidence that this occurred. But yet, it is printed as fact across the globe for one purpose: to hype up a story to sell various forms of media by appealing to the lowest common instincts of the public. Its simply despicable, and you are a part of that cycle that puts sensationalism above journalistic integrity.
I have 20 years of experience in working with people who have learned over time how to manage such feelings and become quite capable of having successful relationships without violence.
I also have over 900 songs by Chris Brown in a mere 7 years. He is most likely the hardest working and prolific R-n-B and hip hop artist of his generation. He is a songwriter, song producer, singer, rapper, actor, visual artist, video director, dancer and choreographer. He is universally praised for his work ethic and his creativity, most recently being compared to Michael Jackson by several producers. He relishes the creative aspect of his art, and collaborates and works with both veteran artists and up and coming singers and rappers. He is, quite simply, on his way to becoming a legend.
As you can see above, many established legends have experienced the same type of demons he is having to overcome. That makes him no less or no more they any other person on this planet. He is neither a monster nor a saint……he is like all of us: human and imperfect. By all accounts of people who know him, he is continuing to try to hard to learn from his mistakes, even as he stumbles.
The most offensive part of this modern day lynching by the media of Chris Brown is that despite repeated requests from the victim of his violence to move on from these issues, the media continue to incessantly bring up Chris’s violence towards Rihanna over three years after it happened. Its so disrespectful and abusive to her to continue to use this tragedy to sell papers, T.V. shows, and to receive hits on blog sites for the sole purpose of making money. I wonder how she feels about the fact that people vilify this man with no concern for her feelings or trauma.
In this era of TMZ and E, none of these things are considered. The only thing that matters is sensationalizing celebrities mistakes and tragedies for financial gain. Every one has an opinion, but by and large those opinions lack depth and nuance.
I would encourage you to seriously consider rising above the pack and demonstrating something unique in your writing. Do some good, instead of disparage people. There are a million blog postings and articles about this situation that promote the same shrill information ad nauseum. It takes no creativity or inventiveness to run with the pack. Its not original or thoughful. Its simply overkill. Its ignorance on a mass scale.
Chris Brown said it best during the sensationalism that Oprah Winfrey brought to the subject in 2009 when he was violent towards Rihanna. He stated that what he needed from people in order to grow as a man was understanding about what he had been through to learn from his mistakes. He was right.
Who in the media even tried to look at his life and what he had been through to give him some modicum of understanding?
Sadly, he has never been given that platform. It would have been a teachable moment for perpetrators of violence had such a moment occurred.
I have no doubt that Chris Brown will learn from his mistakes through this long trial by fire. What I find sad is that he will do so despite ignorance such as the type you are perpetrating against him and people that support him.
Ummmm, anybody want to take this one for me?
When I wrote about white-girl rapper Kreayshawn before her Fat Tuesday show at Rome Nightclub, I realized there were a number of things in the story that might offend Bee readers — the talk of her taking off her clothes, advocating selling drugs or her use of the N-word. All likely hot buttons, right?
All those things made the story, though, because they’re all part of what Kreayshawn is trying to do — make us uncomfortable. I honestly didn’t even think much about the picture her record label sent us (above) to go with the story beyond noticing it showed the exact same attitude she did in our interview.
Not a single reader called or e-mailed about the drug selling or boob-flashing talked about in the story. But they sure got worked up about the photo.
Here’s an example from a reader named Jill:
The photo tied to the story about Rapper Kreayshawn in today’s paper was not only outrageous, but offensive, soft-pornographic and in extreme poor taste. I’d expect titillating coverage such as this from rapper music magazines. Once again, the Fresno Bee lives up to it’s reputation for mediocre standards in journalism. But then, was I really expecting anything more? No.
But the most fun e-mail came from reader Jillian, who took the Kreayshawn picture as invitation to judge me as a parent:
Please tell me what a HUGE picture of a girl licking a Big Stick Popsicle have to do with a Rap Concert?!
I didn’t realize The Fresno Bee was publishing soft porn these days. As a subscriber I’m offended. As a mother, I’m disgusted. I can’t help but consider the irony of the headline beside the photo to your story…Mom gets to savor daughter’s journey…
A huge thank you CentralValleyMoms.com for giving me HOPE in our next generation because you, Mike, as a father and reporter, sure don’t!
There you have it, folks. I’m a crappy parent — because of Kreayshawn.