If I hear one more person defend Chris Brown with a trite “everybody makes mistakes” attitude, I am going to lose my mind.
I was disgusted to learn this week that apparently Chris Brown is not only still considered musically relevant, but he also won a MTV Video Music Award.
VMA winners are selected by public online voting, meaning people still support him despite the fact that he committed abuse.
Furthermore, he kissed his ex-girlfriend Rihanna onstage — the same ex-girlfriend who he infamously and violently assaulted in 2009.
In addition to his continued success being wildly inappropriate, given his limited musical talent, it’s also indicative of a culture of abuse and acceptance of domestic violence.
To support Chris Brown as a musician or dancer — or whatever it is that people seem to think is appealing about him — is to accept the fact that he beat up a woman, with whom he was in a committed relationship, to the extent that she had to be hospitalized.
His continued success as an artist, his Grammy award and VMA award, and the fact that people don’t seem to regard him as emotionally disturbed are all signs that we, as a culture, are tolerant of abuse and degradation of women.
Yes, it’s true. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. But if physically harming an innocent person is a mistake, it isn’t one that a real man would make.
Male perpetrators of domestic violence are accepted back into the world of pop culture for some reason that I cannot understand.
They typically have an image as an addled, troubled artist and are notorious loose cannons. They act like children — and the public laughs and forgives them for their acts of violence because they’ve assimilated their roles as abusers into their personalities and, rather than full-out rejecting them as men, we accept them as entertainers.
This acceptance is scary. It’s almost as if we acknowledge physical assault as an annoying little quirk or indulgence that some men have. The subsequent message that is sent to boys and girls alike is dangerous. Boys are taught that if they abuse women, their reputation won’t be completely destroyed and they can still attain a measure of success.
At worst, they risk becoming the punch line of a few dumb jokes. Girls are taught to forgive men with abusive personalities.
Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, but when somebody knowingly and intentionally takes advantage of another human being in a way that results in physical harm, they don’t deserve the forgiveness of the victim or of the public.
Chris Brown isn’t the only one.
Charlie Sheen has achieved notoriety as a heavy drug user and long-time womanizer. Two years ago, he suffered a mental breakdown that was more of a desperate cry for attention than a psychological disorder, and his popularity skyrocketed.
Everybody was talking about “winning” and “tiger blood,” and you couldn’t get on the Internet without seeing a weird, twitchy interview with Charlie Sheen himself.
His antics got him fired from his show “Two and a Half Men”, but his baffling popularity landed him another new show with seemingly the exact same plot: he sleeps with a lot of women and spends a lot of time drunk.
Not only is he not that impressive as an actor or as a human being, he has a history involving abuse.
He doesn’t talk about it, but there have been at least four women who have needed to seek legal protection from him, according to the article “Should women fear Charlie Sheen now?” in the Examiner.
He is known to attempt to strangle girlfriends and to deliver frequent death threats.
As recently as 2011, Sheen’s ex-wife Brooke Mueller reported that he threatened to “cut her head off and send it to her mother,” according to the Huffington Post article “Charlie Sheen Surrenders kids after Alleged Death Threat.”
It may be easier to ignore the crimes of these sick individuals because it frees us up to laugh at Charlie Sheen’s antics or to think a Chris Brown song is catchy. But ultimately, it’s wrong. If we support these men, we support their crimes.
It’s that simple. Allowing entertainers to continue their success and to offer public support for them is to acknowledge the fact that they have injured women knowingly.
Andy Levy once tweeted some anti-Chris Brown comments, and when Chris Brown got angry, offered a hilarious, sarcastic apology on air. Comedians like Bo Burnham are known to get angry and sassy when confronted with fans defending abusers of women or seemingly advocating sexism.
We don’t have to accept male entertainers who are abusers. If we reject people like Chris Brown and Charlie Sheen, we will still enjoy music. We will still laugh.
There are plenty of talented men who are good and honest people — men who would never dream of inflicting injury on an innocent person.
My advice to the public: If an entertainer hurt another human being knowingly, don’t allow them to entertain you anymore.
They don’t deserve your time and money. They don’t deserve the masses condoning their behavior, as they jump up and down to the newest song or wait in line for the newest movie.
And my advice to Rihanna: If a man injured you, do not let him kiss you on a stage in front of millions of people. He hurt you; he doesn’t deserve to be on the stage in the first place, and he most certainly doesn’t deserve you.
Sarah Moesta is a junior majoring in English and is the Daily Collegian’s Friday columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org