Men/Redemption: Chris Brown’s Good Morning America Meltdown

Not that I need to make any further comment on this than what has already taken over the internet, but seriously. How many excuses does Chris Brown get? And as a bigger question, how do men think that there’s somehow a 2 year statute of limitations on talking about extremely messed up assault? No one’s past it dude, least of all, you. Keli Goff does a great job talking about Chris Brown’s non-apology at HuffPo, and in case you weren’t aware of what went down, Chris Brown had a meltdown after appearing on Good Morning America.

Previously: How Crying At Awards Shows Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

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Men/Redemption: How Crying at Awards Shows Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

The Good Old Days

Chris Brown has been on my mind for a long time. You know when it started – the night he and Rihanna didn’t appear at the Grammys because he was assaulting her in a car. When all the photos of her bruised face leaked, it seemed surprising (yet, not totally) that a person who had spoken about his own experience with his mother’s battering publicly would be guilty of the same disturbing acts himself.

But oh, it was true. And oh, Chris Brown was sorry. It unleashed a firestorm of MTV specials about abuse, fans defending him, fans disowning him, and his retreat out of the mainstream to get help, or whatever it is you do when you’re under 21 and you brutally beat your own girlfriend. He plea bargained out of jail time, and participated in a year long domestic violence course that, from all reports til recently, seemed successful.

In that year, two things happened that still rattle. The first was his appearance on the BET Awards, participating in a Michael Jackson tribute. While there are very few entertainers who had what MJ did, Chris Brown has some of the moves.

And if he had come out, danced, and gotten offstage, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest. It’s when we get to ‘Man in the Mirror’ that I bristle. It’s the crying. It’s the crying and the panning to the women in the audience who are obviously feeling empathetic toward someone who hasn’t shown any true remorse about the crime he committed, but is relieved that there is still a way to salvage his career.

Then “Deuces” leaked. Written by Brown himself, Tyga, and Kevin McCall, the song talks about breaking off a relationship after failed attempts to make it work. On the surface, it seems like myriad other pop songs.

Then I listened to the lyrics. Hearing someone paint themselves as some kind of victim, calling a partner “nothing but a vulture” and demanding things be “drama-free” in light of his own personal life was nothing if not messed up. No, dude, the person who should be getting deuces chucked at them by a partner is YOU.

So, here we are, a year later, and news breaks that while Brown’s DV counseling has been going well, he can’t seem to keep his anger in check. I don’t think there are enough awards shows for him to cry this all away. On top of that incident, he is now allowed to meet and talk with Rihanna, after the court order barring both was lifted due to his progression through counseling. While the lift required Rihanna’s consent, I can’t imagine that his overall mental health has improved to the point of a stable relationship. Redemption for Chris Brown is going to require intensive counseling, and I don’t know if a 21 year old man is capable of that kind of commitment.


Men/Redemption: Do Championships Erase Transgressions?

In case you didn’t hear, this Sunday is the Super Bowl. America is poised and ready to clear out all of the tortilla chips from every grocery store, drink a lot of Budweiser, and watch the Packers and the Steelers hash it out in between all of those multi-million dollar commercials. I don’t have anything against this – I am a card-carrying sports fan and while I don’t know anything about the NFL, nobody talks trash about my boyfriend the NBA.

While that league has had its own share of this same problem, I’m amped and ready to discuss Pittsburgh’s golden boy, Ben Roethlisberger. Two weeks ago, as soon as the Steelers clinched their Super Bowl appearance for 2011, stories of “redemption” and “overcoming adversity” cropped up regarding Big Ben. I’m still confused as to where this adversity stems from. Is it his multi-million dollar salary? Is it his role as a white male athlete in America? Tell me, please, world, what heartfelt tale of thwarting the odds involves Roethlisberger? Last time I checked, this is a guy who rode a motorcycle without a helmet, crashed it and almost died. This is a guy who has been not once, but twice, accused of sexual assault in his seven year professional career. This is a guy that just doesn’t seem to learn.

Even as a professed sports fan, it amazes me that getting to the Super Bowl and (possibly) winning means that any kind of inappropriate behavior is somehow totally acceptable or that somehow victory indicates this kind of behavior has been conquered even when the person involved says or does nothing to indicate any kind of growth. Once the team is victorious, who cares that this guy was accused of cornering a woman in a bathroom and forcing himself on her? Who cares that this guy also allegedly assaulted a woman in Lake Tahoe just 2 years prior?

Obviously someone did, because last year at the NFL draft, as the Steelers were poised to make their selection, the crowd began chanting “She said no!” – and that’s from people drinking the kool-aid, present to see teams pick up new players. It was a rare moment that the club acknowledge one of its own had possibly, allegedly, used his power as an athlete, as a celebrity, and as someone who felt entitled to take advantage of someone else in the most reprehensible way. Letting him believe that a championship forgives that is a crime we are all committing.

I have kept up on most of the press containing any kind of redemption song for Big Ben, and there has been a lot. I understand that when you support a team, you want to support the best. You want to be behind them and see them win and bring glory to a fan base and its city. But what has to stop is this idea that the person on the field and the person off are two different people. If I assaulted someone, I wouldn’t be able to just show up at my job and not expect consequences (not to mention legal ramifications.) America wants a bootstraps story, wants a hero, and sometimes we’re just going to have to accept when the people we want to be our champions all-around, aren’t.

To parallel an excellent piece on espnW (oh, you haven’t heard of that? it’s espn for girls. it’ll come up again, soon) – until Ben Roethlisberger attends some rehabilitation, starts a campaign stressing the importance of respect and the word NO when it comes to sexual activity, and asks for forgiveness, he shouldn’t be treated as someone who has conquered his demons and overcome adversity. The answer to the question I posed is, of course, no.