Three years ago, Chris Brown attacked his then-girlfriend Rihanna the night before the Grammys (where they were both set to perform) putting her in the hospital and him on five years of probation for assault. Brown has since made a comeback (although it is debatable whether he ever suffered any real repercussions, certainly he has always had a lot of vocal support and has shown little public contrition) with two albums (debuting at #7 and #1) and being named Billboard's Artist of the Year in 2011.
Tonight marks his first time performing on the Grammy stage since assaulting Rihanna. This is what Ken Ehrlich, Grammy Executive Producer had to say about welcoming Brown back:
"I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened."
Regardless of how one feels about Brown, about redemption and whether people can change, that kind of cold, callous comment drives home the devaluation and marginalization of domestic abuse survivors. That the Grammy producers saw themselves the victims of Brown's abuse would be laughable if it weren't so incredibly appalling, if it weren't such a vile insult to all survivors of DV.
This post isn't about Chris Brown performing or succeeding, or about whether one can enjoy his music. In an era over-saturated by celebrity culture, it's difficult to find entertainment not marred by the bad behaviours of its creator. Holy shit, one of my favourite authors sent his Nobel Prize for Literature to Goebbels. It's no secret that I absolutely love R Kelly's music while R Kelly the man is a fucking predator. I'm struggling over my continuing to watch 30 Rock given Tracy Morgan's abhorrent views on gay and trans people. But this quote by Ehrlich, erasing Rihanna and every other DV survivor turns my stomach, it says unequivocally that domestic abuse is no big deal. It's enforcing a culture which shames and silences survivors while enabling their abusers.
So separate Chris Brown the artist from Chris Brown the person if you can and if you desire, but let's begin dismantling the culture that enables him and other abusers, the culture that refuses to hold them accountable. Don't watch the Grammys because the Executive Producer places more importance on an award show than survivors of Domestic Abuse. If Grammy producers are going to send the message that abuse is ok then send a message right back that deflecting the attention from the victims and survivors will not be tolerated.