It’s starting to feel like Chris Brown is the only man in the world to have ever hit a woman.
Every time the adults let Chris Brown out of their sight he’s doing something eye-wateringly moronic. Smashing up a dressing room because a journalist wants to ask him about his assault case; starting a brawl with Drake in a NYC club that left two bystanders hospitalised; releasing a single called ‘Don’t Judge Me’; getting a tattoo on his neck that looks awfully like the police photo of his battered girlfriend; dressing up as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween. So perhaps it's no surprise that today Brown replied to a female comedy writer criticising him on twitter, by saying that he wants to take a sh-t in her eye. That is the problem.
I’m genuinely worried by how easily Brown has become a pop-culture punchline -- it diminishes the reality of the man and his reprehensible actions. It’s not helped by the decision of his victim to work with—and, it would appear, reunite romantically with—the man who savagely beat her up. Rhianna’s forgiven him, the argument goes, so obviously everyone else should.
February 8, 2009:
"Robyn F. [Rihanna - Ed.] turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.’s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle."
The couple were driving in Brown's car after attending a pre-Grammys party. Brown reportedly became angry that Rihanna discovered a text message from another woman on his phone, to the point that he beat the sh-t out of her. A passerby called police when they heard screaming coming from the car and Brown fled on foot, taking the keys with him and leaving Rihanna badly injured and alone. Both sides of her face were cut and bruised, her lip split and there were bite marks on her fingers and arms. Brown surrendered to the police the following morning and was charged with felony assault. (For a gruesome insight into the actual police report of the incident, read our Supafest adds guy who beat the sh-t out of Rihanna to their 2012 lineup article here on TheVine.)
Brown's PR went into overdrive as endorsements and sponsorships vanished. Carefully orchestrated media interviews were arranged with his mother. He'd "been the victim of an abusive stepfather" she explained as reasoning. His publicist issued a statement: “Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired.” Not sorry and saddened over what he did. What transpired. As though it was just some terrible inevitable tragedy that he just happened to be there for.
There’s a good reason why he didn’t apologise. He wasn’t sorry.
Just look at the language he used in his statement. It’s “tough” for him to look at the picture of Rhianna’s battered face. “I'm in shock,” he insisted, “because, first of all, that's not who I am as a person, and that's not who I promise I want to be.” Rihanna barely comes into it. He was “pretty sure we can always be friends,” because this whole thing is about him.
And like any classic abuser, Brown’s kept it up. Rihanna publicly forgave him, opening herself up to no end of criticism, and what did Brown do? Publicly humiliate her, to punish her some more for all that he had to suffer. Because of her.
Earlier this year he did a mixtape track, ‘Theraflu’ upon which he rapped “Don't f-ck with my old bitch, it's like a bad fur/Every industry nigga done had her/ Shook the tree like a pumpkin just to smash her". He then had the nerve to get angry when people assumed it was about Rihanna (she certainly did, immediately blocking him on Twitter). He followed it with a tattoo—on his neck, no less—which looks awfully like a battered woman. A very specific battered woman, in fact.
And the worst thing? That his desire to be forgiven has became true. Brown been given a free pass from his paymasters at Sony, his publicity team, the Grammy association, by promoters, by his loyal “Team Breezy” fanclub (who’ve been quick to paint Rihanna as a selfish harpy who absolutely deserved what she got for not understanding and supporting her man) and, of course, Rihanna herself. (In the last 24 hours, Rihannaposted a photo of a half naked Brown on a bed via her Instagram).
Now we come to his latest rant against a woman: specifically, comedy writer Jenny Johnson. Johnson's crime was to retweet his tweet “I look old as f-ck! I’m only 23…” with “I know! Being a worthless piece of sh-t can really age a person.” Not the funniest joke in the world, perhaps, but also something pretty easy to ignore.
But Brown wasn’t having some dame backtalk him. His witty responses include:
“take them teeth out when u Sucking my dick HOE”
“I should fart while ur giving me top #CarpeDiem” (Carpe Diem is the name of his forthcoming album – bet Sony were chuffed with this piece of viral marketing).
“mom says hello… She told me not to shart in ur mouth, wanted me sh-t right on the retina,… #pinkeye”
“It’s good to know my worth by listening to a bitch that is worthless #iwin”.
And then, like the coward he is, he deleted his account – or perhaps one of the grown ups tasked with looking after him took his phone away.
Maybe Rihanna, like so many victims of domestic violence, thinks that her love can heal this broken man. Maybe she genuinely believes she deserved it. Maybe she's truly forgiven him. None of this changes the fact that Chris Brown’s terror and hatred of women is on display in everything he says and does. It’s rare that someone in the public eye wears their pathology so proudly.
Don’t make the mistake of reducing Chris Brown to a figure of ridicule or an easy pop culture joke. He’s something far more vile and far more disgusting -- and as long as he is not held to account for his continued actions, far more culturally poisonous. As an individual, he’s a twisted, perverted child; as a public figure, he’s a monster.