It’s starting to feel like Chris Brown is the only man in the world to have ever hit a woman.
When it comes to the internerd, I’m a simple lady with simple tastes. I love a good meme and I love a good take down. Combine the two, and I’m like a pig in the proverbial.
So you’d think I’d have been tickled to have one such pop cultural portmanteau pop up on my facepage yesterday, especially considering it was in regards to that pus-laden piece of pond scum known as Chris Brown and yet another of his ludicrously enthusiastic tweets.
Bless Frankie Boyle. The Scottish comedian has said what all of us are thinking. And at the time of photo capture, his reply had received 1076 retweets and been favourite 312 times. The number has surely increased by now, as it should do. Chris Brown bashed his girlfriend to the point of hospitalisation, and so far he’s done very little to even acknowledge that fact, let alone make amends for it. He deserves none of the sympathy, money or fame that continues to be foisted upon him from braindead fans permanently attached to a Kool-Aid drip.
But – and I can’t believe I’m about to say this – I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable about all the Brown memes and the witty ripostes. As exhilarating as I find them (and Chloe Papas surely won the internet for eternity with her cracking ‘no stars ever’ review of ‘Fortune’), it’s starting to feel like Chris Brown is the only man in the world to have ever hit a woman. Because he’s certainly the only one we keep talking about.
Don’t get me wrong. If Brown’s career shrivelled in and died on itself, I would be the first in line to say, ‘‘Brown who?’’ He’s an arrogant, unapologetic bucket of turds whose second greatest crime after the abuse of women is the abuse of exclamation marks. Frankly, I don’t know whether to be sad or furious that millions of people – a large number of them women – seem to think he’s been hard done by, or would consider being beaten by him a small, sexy price to pay for the sexy honour of being with his sexy, sexy self.
But where are all the memes about the other famous men who continue to carve a career in Hollywood and beyond despite their gross histories of abuse? Why don’t we harangue Sean Penn for the felony domestic assault charge he received during his 1980s marriage to Madonna? He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour; since then, he’s received six Oscar nominations, winning one of them for his role in Mystic River. Meanwhile, reports of violent behaviour towards his wife and child did nothing to stop Nic Cage from (partially) resurrecting his career as Big Daddy in Kickass. And no one seems particularly interested in even entertaining the possibility of truth in the serious 2010 allegations against Michael Fassbender, in which the actor allegedly assaulted his girlfriend Leasi Andrews, bursting an ovarian cyst and breaking her nose. Why? Because he’s hot and we don’t want to believe it of him?
And then there’s Charlie Sheen. Sheen’s sordid history includes shooting Kelly Preston with a .22 calibre pistol, throwing chairs at his then wife Denise Richards, being sued by a UCLA student for allegedly hitting her in the head after she refused to have sex with him, allegedly strangling at least two of his former girlfriends and just generally being a god-awful d-ckmonger. Yet none of that mattered to Chuck Lorre and the other people making squillions of dollars from the long running Two and a Half Men, a televisual fart that didn’t just succeed in offending the tastes of thinking people everywhere but also legitimised Sheen as some kind of raffish japester. In the end, Sheen was fired not because he’s a disgusting human being with a gross history of violence against women but because he had a drug problem and was publicly rude to his boss.
Did the spectacular downfall that followed result in him sinking quietly back into the swamp from whence he came? No. It delivered ‘‘winning’’ into the lexicon, and spawned a legion of new fans who found his erratic meltdown hilarious, and viewed him as some kind of lone wolf. His new sitcom ‘Anger Management’ commanded the highest ad rates FX has ever seen ; even now, the greatest concern from some reviewers doesn’t seem to be asking how such a cretinous human being hasn’t been blackballed from the industry yet, but fretting that it just might not be very good.
We seem to accept by proxy that the people who hate Sheen don’t understand the ones who love him and vice versa, and never the twain shall meet. So we roll our eyes and make guttural noises in our throats when his name comes up, but never, ever do we seem to associate his continued success with the fact that the industry just doesn’t give a sh-t about how he treats women. Brown assaulted Rihanna in a most heinous way, and it was abominable – he should be held to account for it. But if we were to rank the two, I’d say the fact that Sheen’s repeat offences are merely brushed off seems to be far worse.
Don’t even get me started on Roman Polanski. The celebrated auteur drugged and raped a 13- year-old girl. He pleaded guilty, but soon fled to France where he’s been in exile for 30 years. Yet when Swiss authorities arrested him in 2010, threatening to return him to the States to, you know, serve his time, celebrities and other luvvies rose up in arms. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy began a now infamous petition, which featured thousands of celebrities as signatories. People like Whoopi Goldberg, Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman, Monica Belluci, David Lynch, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Harvey Weinstein and Pedro Almodovar, and the list goes on and on. Among arguments that cited Polanski’s difficult life as an excuse – for drugging and raping a 13-year old girl – Levy argued, ‘‘It is shameful to throw a 76-year-old man into prison for unlawful sex committed 32 years ago,’’ because of course our primary concern in the matter is how an elderly man might fare in prison for the crime of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.
My point with all this isn’t that we ought to go easy on Chris Brown. The sooner that guy’s career crashes and burns in whimpering mess, the better. He deserves everything he’s getting.
But why aren’t we equally as vigilant about pursuing the other perpetrators of heinous violence against women? Is it that it’s too difficult to tackle the widespread problem, so we’ve chosen our one poster boy to use as evidence we take a zero tolerance approach to abuse? But Brown isn’t the only one with a history of intimate partner violence – he isn’t even the worst one. We cannot make an example of him and him alone and pretend that our obligations towards decency have been fulfilled.
By all means, remind everyone daily of Brown’s behaviour. It’s important that people don’t forget. But let’s not forget ourselves, in the process, all the other perpetrators of violence who continue to garner respect in the community, collect their pay-cheque, and quietly go about the business of abusing women in private.