While last weekend’s Grammys (watched by their biggest TV audience since the 1980s) were dominated by all the Whitney celebrating, Adele’s mega-wins, and Nicki Minaj’s “what the fuck?” performance, there were other conversations going on around the peripheries also.
The decision by Grammy chiefs to cut some awards from the proceedings this year continued to cause some mild controversy, though it was another decision by the awards’ bosses that was pissing off some others among America’s music community: the decision to allow R&B wife-beater Chris Brown back on their stage just three years after he delivered one of the more memorable Grammy weekend performances, beating his pop star girlfriend unconscious in the street.
While some (and Brown’s always dedicated fan base especially) would say the R&B star has ‘done his time’ as it were (180 hours of community service) for beating Rihanna senseless, and that the world should therefore forgive and forget, others are concerned that no one has really forgotten, and therefore giving the singer a star billing at the Grammy awards show sends out a dangerous message.
After all, Brown’s criminal assault on his girlfriend three years ago will always be closely linked to the Grammy Awards, and the singer is still serving the five years of probation the US courts felt were required for his crime. Did the Grammy booking not say to the world, some wondered, “don’t worry about beating your girlfriend unconscious at our party, sell a few records and give it three years, and we’ll make you guest of honour”?
Sasha Pasulka perhaps best summarised that viewpoint in a piece for Zooey Deschanel’s HelloGiggles website titled ‘I’m not okay with Chris Brown performing at the Grammys and I’m not sure why you are’. She was unsurprisingly unimpressed with Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich justifying booking Brown by saying: “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years [actually, two] and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened”.
After stating the obvious flaws with Ehrlich’s statement, Pasulka notes: “We – the grown-up influencers in this country, the people with platforms and with educations and with power – are allowing a clear message to be sent to women: We will easily forgive a person who victimises you. We are able to look beyond the fact that you were treated as less than human, that a bigger, stronger person decided to resolve a conflict with you through violence. We know it happened, but it’s just not that big of a deal to us”.
Although the arguable scandal of Brown’s Grammy booking and two performances on the night didn’t get much media coverage, some did express their concerns or outrage via Twitter, among them country star Miranda Lambert, who knows a thing or two about the impact domestic violence has on its victims, her parents running a shelter for abused women. She tweeted: “Chris Brown twice? I don’t get it. He beat on a girl… Not cool that we act like that didn’t happen”.
The Twitter criticism didn’t go unnoticed by Brown himself, who didn’t seem so happy that some in the Grammy audience were still focusing on his Rihanna beating escapades rather than his lacklustre pop songs. So much so, the singer seemingly took to Twitter himself to respond, though said tweets were later removed, possibly because the R&B star calmed down, or possibly because the same advisors who told Brown to big up the “remorse thing” when his assault case went to court, told him to play down the “gloating thing” now that the American pop establishment has reappointed him as its approved bad boy.
Seemingly there were several tweets, though only one was grabbed by Mashable before its deletion – it reading: “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY NOW! That’s the ultimate fuck off! I’m back so watch my back as I walk away from all this negativity”. So that’s nice. On the upside, I don’t think he smashed any windows this time.