The Problem of Incredible Talent & Heinous Crime
I’m assuming that based on that picture you all know where I’m going with this. However, assuming you’re completely unaware of what I’m talking about, this post is going to deal with Chris Brown and Rihanna… Well, mostly Chris Brown but their careers hit such a critical crossroads that you can’t mention him without Rihanna and the implications of that one awful night…
Hitting the rewind button for a second, let’s provide a little backstory for those unfamiliar with the situation. Chris Brown and Rihanna are pop superstars who arrived on the scene a little less than 10 years ago; Chris Brown with his self-titled album at 16 and Rihanna with Music of the Sun when she was 17. Naturally the stars found a way into each other’s hearts; I don’t imagine young pop stars can find many people they can identify with.
Their relationship went swimmingly for a short while and they were media darlings as each’s stardom continued to approach the ‘super’ level. However, everything changed on February 7, 2009, the night before the Grammys, when Chris Brown violently assaulted Rihanna. The result was a media firestorm that cast Chris Brown as a horrific woman-abuser and Rihanna as the victim of assault that is unfortunately none-to-unfamiliar to women around this nation and the world.
Despite this (or perhaps because of it) Rihanna’s career continued to flourish. Her next few albums were all chart toppers and she had become a true superstar. Even more surprisingly, after Chris Brown’s apology tour (and having most charges dropped/lowered), Chris’ career had also grown to the superstar level (though women’s activist groups and Rihanna fans would continually rail against him and bring up the story of his heinous crime).
Both Chris Brown’s and Rihanna’s careers have been moving along quite nicely since (both growing, but Chris’ under the shadow of the events of that one night), however a new storm seems to be inevitable. Rihanna and Chris Brown had reconciled their differences many years ago, with Rih forgiving him but choosing to go in her own direction not long after the fateful night. However, old habits die hard and it seems that Rihanna and Chris have found their way into each other’s lives again with each appearing on a remix for the other’s song:
The difference in label responses is interesting and the results are controversial nonetheless. Island Def Jam does not support Rihanna’s new song at all while Chris’ label loves that he got Rihanna on his song. The songs have inevitably started a controversy in the public with many rehashing the events of February 9, 2009 and feeling as though Rihanna is foolishly running back into Chris’ arms. All the issues of 3 years ago regarding abusive relationships have come back into the public forum for debate.
NOTE: Now as an aside on this blog I’ll debate a lot of things, but not a crime as heinous as abusing a female. I’m in no way defending this crime but this issue brings up an important question for our society which I’m going to dive into below. As another aside, I’m not diving into Chris Brown and Rihanna getting back together, I think it’s a terrible idea but that’s not the purpose of this post.
The question I’m interested in is, should Chris Brown still be haunted by the crimes of his past? We call this nation one of allowing people to get second chances… but it’s also one that has people treated very differently by the law depending on how rich they are. Chris Brown would have definitely received jail/prison time for his crimes had he been a non-rich/non-celebrity member of society. However, the reason he’s so rich is his incredible talent. Hate him or love him, we can all admit (though many begrudgingly) that he’s a fantastically talented entertainer:
So the question I want to ask/consider is should what happened three years ago still haunt Chris Brown’s career? If he wasn’t back with Rihanna… I’m not so sure it would. We’ve forgiven incredibly talented superstars for doing much worse (Ray Lewis potentially murdering someone comes to mind), but should we?
I think we can all acknowledge this “treatment of celebrities/talented people” as a glaring hypocrisy in our society. But how as individuals do we feel about it? As stated above, Chris Brown would not be a free man if he wasn’t Chris Brown… but he is. Should that matter? The ethical side of me easily says, “Yes!” Unfortunately, the “I think these people need to share their gifts with the world” side of me says “Well…” and it droans off into an eventual “Well…. no.”
So as a reader of this blog, we can see in this specific case (and many others) how incredible talent and heinous crime come to a head. Chris Brown’s past hasn’t been mentioned with such fervor as it has in this past week with him and Rihanna making career amends of sorts…
More often than not… we let crimes slide if someone is worth it. But should we? If we all look in the mirror and admit it’s hypocritical, I suppose not. For those who hate Chris Brown and think he’s not even that talented to start with, that’s an easy question. For those who are on the other side, though not forgiving of his crime, it becomes a deeper issue.
An even deeper issue… Would people care as much if the woman he hadn’t abused wasn’t the beautiful Rihanna? What if it was someone who wasn’t famous? What if he abused an unattractive female? What if he just beat up some random guy? I hate bringing perceived attractiveness into this, but I absolutely think it matters and plays a role. If the situation had been altered, would we still be mentioning this with Chris or like with other celebrities would we have tried to move on from their pasts?
I have no real answer. You probably don’t either. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I’ve always thought about this though and thought it would be an interesting topic for dialogue. I’d be interested in knowing what my readers think so comment away!