Last night, I tuned into the VMAs late. I tuned in just in time to miss Adele, but in the middle of Chris Brown's performance. Which means that I promptly turned the channel and waited it out. I might be one of the few left, but I haven't forgotten what Chris Brown did.
A colleague of mine, Carlos, tweeted me, "Please, please, please tell me you're going to do a piece on the VMAs." and later, "I just think that thousands of teenage girls cheering a domestic abuser is a little creepy."
It's funny, because at the time, I wasn't planning on writing about the VMAs, but Carlos is absolutely right, and it got me to thinking... What place does Chris Brown have in our culture? What place SHOULD he have? At what point do or should we move on from his past transgressions?
I will say that I should clarify. Most people have probably not forgotten what Chris Brown did. I think he's still very much the guy who punched Rihanna, but many young girls (and music fans in general) are overlooking what he did...overlooking it and supporting him--both speaking with their money and tweets in his defense.
It is very, very disturbing to me for someone with a proven track record of anger management issues, violence, and abuse to be so heavily marketing to teen girls. I truly want to believe that people can change, but many abusers are repeat offenders. If the message we are sending teens is that you can brutally beat your girlfriend, lay low for a year or two, and then re-emerge and continue your ridiculously successful music career, how can we expect young people to condemn violence in their own lives? And what does it say about our society when we continue to implicitly reward this type of behavior?
I don't have the answer...but I do have the question that we must examine...What do we do with Chris Brown? Ben Roethlisberger? Mike Tyson? Dov Charney? Terry Richardson? Julian Assange?
In other words, what do we do with misogynists in high places?