I honestly don’t understand why the hell Chris Brown is still a thing. Within the past few months, Brown has not only appeared on his own documentary (now streaming on Netflix), but he just had a Tidal live stream concert. Which makes me wonder: why the fuck are we still giving Chris Brown a platform?
— TIDAL (@TIDAL) October 26, 2017
Brown is a musician that, at this point, is mostly defined by controversy. Sure, he definitely had a few bangers out during my elementary school days; some would argue his music stands alone, separate from who Brown is as a person. But the fact of the matter is this: when you think of Chris Brown, you almost immediately think of domestic violence.
Back in 2009, Brown assaulted the famed songstress Rihanna, who he was dating at that point. Of course, I probably don’t need to tell you that — anyone who was alive at that time remembers the media coverage it received. Though let’s be honest: if it was anyone besides Rihanna, would people have cared so much? Musicians, especially those at Brown’s level, are often pardoned for their actions.
Just look R. Kelly, the famed R&B musician who has recently been accused of sexual assault, abuse, pedophilia, and creating a “cult”. Yet still, even as women come out with their stories about their mistreatment by the singer, his songs continue to play on the radio and blast in clubs. People care that it’s happening, but it’s not enough to halt his career. Unlike Harvey Weinstein, who many high profile celebrities have come out against, the terrible allegations against Kelly doesn’t seem to be enough for people to separate themselves from him or his music.
Chris Brown is a similar phenomenon. Though his image will forever be marred by his abusive relationship with Rihanna, it’s hardly caused a hiccup in his career — he continues to win Grammys and appear at the top of the charts. Sure, he’s a controversial character, but maybe that’s part of his appeal to mainstream audiences: he’s a bad boy. Even aside from his tumultuous relationships with Rihanna and Karrueche Tran, he’s known for his violent behaviors — even toward other big name celebrities. Just last year he was accused of threatening a woman with a gun in her own home.
So why do people continue to give Brown so many chances? His documentary is full of celebrities gushing about him, including DJ Khaled, Jennifer Lopez, and Jamie Foxx. At one point, Brown even says:
“I’m tired of giving people something to talk about. They should be talking about how I’m the baddest motherfucka onstage, instead of I’m the baddest motherfucka in the courtroom.”
I guess that’s where the problem lies for me. Why should we ignore what he’s done just because he makes music people like?
We continue to give Brown a platform to become a sympathetic character, to say, “Hey, I do some bad shit, but that shouldn’t matter because I make music.” Filmmakers give him a documentary in an attempt to recreate his image, titling it “Welcome To My Life,” as if showing people a glimpse into who he “really” is will (and should) change their minds about him; Tidal gives him a live stream concert to increase his fan base. We continue to give him chance after chance when most people in the world are hardly allowed a second one. But no matter how “great” his music is, it doesn’t change the things he’s done.
Can you really separate the artist from his art? It’s one of the biggest questions we ask today. As our Hollywood heroes and celebrity crushes begin their fall from grace, people can’t help but wonder if we can continue enjoying their products without supporting who they are as a person. Honestly, I’m not sure we can. We are the ones who fund their paychecks by becoming patrons of their work, and the more we ignore what they’ve done, the easier it is to cover it up completely.