…but without talking about them.
I’m not sure the last time there was a story that seemed to fascinate the world that, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt the slightest inclination to pay attention to. Perhaps it’s because I don’t give much thought to the careers of either of them, so this is kinda of like if I found out that the best male and female foosball players had a dysfunctional relationship. That’s not to dismiss what has happened. That’s simply to say this isn’t in my sphere right now.
Either way, I don’t want to talk about it because…well, that whole situation is too strange for most of us to begin to speculate upon. We know what’s in the police report, but I’m inclined to wait and see what else comes up and how it’s handled. That said — there ain’t much of an explanation for how that small woman could ever need to be beaten like that. There is no plausible defense.
But check this post Jozen Cummings did a little while ago. He compares finding out that Chris Brown may be a savage to reading Miles Davis’ autobiography, finding out that one of his musical heroes was, unequivocally, a reprehensible, degenerate bastard. Coincidentally, Miles was cold as he wanted to be with the trumpet.
I hear lots of people talking about boycotting Chris Brown. Stations have taken his songs off their playlists. Doublemint gave him the bad habit treatment. Even if she takes him back, I don’t see him making money off music any time soon. He’ll have to do a total reinvention, and it’ll have to be convincing as all get out. Honestly, I’m not sure there’s that much convincing in the world. He’s probably done.
Didn’t have to be this way, though. If he’d made any music with anything approaching depth and substance, he’d actually have a chance to recover.
It’s amazing how forgiving we can be of artists, how fascinated we are by the fruits of tortured genius, how we’re willing to trade brilliance, so long as it can be shared with the world, for misery, so long as the misery is shared by small numbers of people that we don’t know.
The list of dangerous, violent artists — particularly in music — is too long for me to even consider listing examples. I just know that, right now, I’m listening to music by a man that damn near beat his wife to death way back. He’s one of my favorites. Finding out that he beat his wife didn’t make me stop listening to him. It made me understand his music, the stories about suicidal thoughts brought on by self-pity after doing stuff that was nobody’s fault but his own. It seems like just about all his albums have a song about begging his way back that wasn’t just pop songwriting. This wasn’t Otis Redding, who could write about coming back home about 15 different ways. This cat always sounded a half step away from death, offering details that were too stark and unsettling to be entirely fictional.
And after this song is over, I might run it back. I doubt I’d be this forgiving of one of the athletes I cover. But I’m talking an artist, right?
I’m not the only one that does this.
Chris Brown is a pop star, and not an artistic one, far as I can tell. He tried to sell himself to everyone, and he now appears to be a tad phony. People can’t believe he’d do such a thing. The world’s gonna flip up on him completely.
Not because he beat a woman, of course. Nope. It’s because he’s been shown to be a fraud. Singing sweet, sweet love songs and being the good guy stop you from being able to beat a woman bloody and still have a career. Those are the rules.
Make some deeply compelling stuff. Explore the depths of your emotions in your music. Then, people would forgive you. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just pointing this out.
Many believe that for genius to thrive, it needs to be coddled. It needs to be allowed to, on occasion, trample standards of common decency because it’s hard to push boundaries and expand thought while coloring between the lines. I’m willing to hypothesize that this has a lot to do with why people pooh-pooh drug users so often, but listen to and love so much music recorded by fiends. We can live with it if we like what it produces for us.
It’s selfish, but it’s what we do. I’m not sure that requires apology. I shamelessly admit that I’ve learned much of what I know about how other people see the world through music. Saw a lot of what I wanted to be, more of what I didn’t want to be, and how important it was to be who the hell I was.
Do I get all of that without cats Bill Withers (OK, that’s who I’m listening to, even though I said I wouldn’t single anyone out)? Not quite.
Let’s spare the righteous indignation toward Chris Brown, and the judgment of whatever relationship he and Rihanna still have. At least for now.
(Aside — I’ve never once met a woman that’s said, if she were beaten, that she would try to talk it out. Not one. So, given that, shouldn’t people stop and consider that, since so many women go back to men that beat them, the situation is more complex than you can fathom? I don’t get it. I won’t pretend that I do. I don’t get it from either side. I just know how glad I am that whatever is in the two of them isn’t in me. Beyond that, I wish them both the best, whatever the best happens to be.)
If someone else were doing the beating — and, I wonder, if someone less attractive had taken that disturbing photograph — is the response the same? Is the outrage so loud from so many corners? Are the responses requested from so many celebrities? It’s unlikely.
Other people could land on their feet after something like this. Chris Brown can’t. But since that fact isn’t exactly grounded in some morality, a lot of folks need to chill out.
There are certainly plenty of people that see this as a time to bring attention to violence against women. A felony conviction would be a big deal, especially considering hitting someone is typically a misdemeanor (in one state I’ve lived in, I’m pretty sure the crime “domestic battery” is clearly a misdemeanor).
Chris Brown gets what he gets. And with all this wrong, a lot of us need to get right. Do so however you see fit.
EDIT — I just read the police report for the first time. If half of this is true, I’m not sure how talented he would have to be to get away with this. My goodness.