Monday, February 23, 2009

I need to stop watching TMZ

I want to talk about what's going on in my life, but I can't. So instead I will talk more about popular culture because that seems to be all I can talk about.

I find myself increasingly irritated with celebrities who, when asked about the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation make the situation out to be little more than a tiff between friends. Or, worse, say something like, "they're both in my prayers" or "I hope they work it out."

"I'm not going to crucify him," Ne-Yo said. "I'm not going to do that. That's still my homeboy at the end of the day. For it to go to that level was wrong. I won't say who was responsible. I won't pick no sides. I'm just saying it was wrong [that] it had to happen like that, and I'm praying for the both of them."

Huh? You won't pick no sides? A man beats a woman in a car, causing her face to become bruised and causing a stranger to call the police. But you won't say who's responsible? You want me to say that it's Rihanna's fault? Or the person who called the police? Anyone but Chris Brown, right? After the Grammy's, I had a little crush on Ne-Yo, but I'm certainly changing my mind with crap like this flying out of his mouth.

My boy Will Smith said, "This is a time where they need to be left alone, and if they have things they need to work out, work it out," and urged people to "take a minute before they jump on it and judge."

I'll admit it. Men in Black II was on TBS last night. Twice. I watched both times. I heart Will Smith. So imagine my pain when I read this. "IF" they have things they need to work out, work it out? Maybe I'm in the minority here. I worked at a family service agency that ran a domestic violence shelter and ran group therapy for domestic abusers, so it's not like I'm writing something I know nothing about. I think that rehabilitation of abusers is a one-sided rehabilitation. Rihanna does not have to work anything out. She has done nothing wrong. She's the victim here. Don't blame her and tell her she needs to work something out. There's no if in this situation, either. Chris Brown has issues and he does need to work them out. It's not a two way street. Will Smith, you disappoint me.

Ever delightful Kanye West said, "Can't we give Chris a break?".

No, Kanye, we can not. Here's the deal. Domestic violence is a pervasive, awful problem in our society. When stars, who, for better of worse, have achieved the level of role model, use their power to inflict pain on those who are closest to them, it sends a powerful message. This message says that abuse is acceptable. If we give Chris a break, we ignore this problem. If he can get away with it, what happens to the people who aren't in the public eye who are getting beaten every day? Do their abusers go unpunished, too? If we give Chris a break, what does that say to those other young men who hit their girlfriends? It's okay? We'll pray for them? Escalating violence is okay?

Mary J. Blige says, "They're both young and beautiful people, and that's it."

That's it? That's all you can be bothered to say? You, who have a history of abuse, physical and sexual, in your life, can only say they are beautiful? You haven't learned anything in your life that could be useful to say to these people? Are you excusing the behavior because Chris Brown is young? And pretty? Really?

Ruben Studdard (do you remember him? he beat Clay Aiken for the American Idol win about a gazillion seasons ago) said, "I'm still praying for him. Everybody always has something negative to say about everything, and I always try to be positive. They've both made wonderful careers for themselves, and I think they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives."

You go ahead and be positive about this, Ruben. I'm going to be angry and distraught and frankly pissed off. Chris Brown ushered in complicated explanations to small children about what is an isn't acceptable behavior in a relationship. So, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be praying for Chris Brown. Instead, I'm going to be hoping that the woman he abused can pick up the pieces of her life and grow into the strong, independent woman she deserves to be. I hope the abuse he perpetrated against her has left the shallowest scars that someday she can overcome.

I hope that someday celebrities will be smart enough to understand their responsibilities to the public so that when an event like this occurs, I don't have to feel a knife through the heart every time I hear victim blaming and abuser absolving on my television set.

I didn't intend to sit down and write this diatribe in quite this way. But I'm so angry. I heard a boy at school defending Chris Brown today. He's only doing that because he hears Brown defended by this celebrities. It's not okay. Domestic violence is not okay. That's what these kids should be hearing. Not a defense for punching a woman black and blue.


  1. I really have nothing to add except how much I agree with you, but holy cow do I agree with you. I read a good article about it in Vibe, scanned here:

  2. I'd stand up and applaud, but that might call attention to the fact that I'm at work yet not actually working. I couldn't agree with you more. I had half a post written about the same thing, but you said it so much better than I could. Amen!

  3. Well said! We've gone so far in trying to understand why people do what they do that there's no longer right and wrong. It's wrong to hit someone during a fight. It's wrong to use words to tear down another person. It's tragic that there are so few places to learn conflict resolution and the healthy expression of anger, but tragic doesn't mean 'right'.

  4. Anonymous2/24/2009

    YES, thank you! Well said.

  5. Thank you so much for saying what I've been thinking! Victim-blaming makes me want to scoop out my eyes with a blow torch.


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