Well, this is depressing. After what seemed like 17 identical spasmodic performances and a Grammy award for Best R&B album, a contingent of Chris Brown's female fans took to Twitter last night to congratulate and compliment the famously punch-happy singer— by offering themselves up for celebratory beatings. And all on a night that became a de facto memorial for a woman who was herself a victim of domestic violence. This is a whole rainbow of wrong.
Fans of Chris Brown's greatest hits weren't few and far between; if you tracked a #chrisbrown tag on Twitter last night, the number of messages supporting Chris Brown's mission of hitmaking and chair throwing was discouraging. But none went as far as
This isn't to say that the women tweeting messages like "Not gonna lie... I think I'd let Chris Brown beat me." and "Chris Brown, please beat me ;)" deserve to actually be beaten or shamed— whoever raised these women should be. How fucked are we as a society that a number of women find the sort of non-consensual battering that Rihanna endured an expression of giving and receiving love? And the proliferation of winky face emoticons tells me that these women aren't trying to be ironic.
The women who offered themselves up for a Chris Brown face punching are not the problem; they're the symptom of a culture that teaches people (and especially young women) that love is submitting to your partner's ever whim and not holding them to any sort of behavioral standard. And there's no better expression of love, in this fucked world view, than letting your partner use you as a punching bag. "I love you so much that I'd let you punch me in the face a bunch of times" should not be a thing. And yet, here we are. Should we have expected anything different?
Want to know the problem? People who should know better failing to do anything constructive. The problem is people like Ken Erlich, the executive producer for The Grammys, claiming that the award show was "the victim" when Chris Brown beat Rihanna severely enough that she had to seek medical treatment three years ago, and the awards show was deprived of his "Michael Jackson impersonator at a high school talent show" stylings. The problem is an industry that passes over similarly talented artists who didn't punch Rihanna in the face so that Chris Brown can get another 10 chances to prove that he's the next big pop star. The problem is that the industry's embrace of Brown is sending a message that his behavior's okay. The problem is a cultural and industry attitude that conflates enabling with love.
Less than 48 hours after the death of Whitney Houston, one would hope that the Grammys would have demonstrated class, self-awareness, and reflection in refusing to further enable Chris Brown's future childish tirades. But as they demonstrate their love by just letting Chris Brown do whatever he wants, so too do Brown's female fans. Followed by a winky emoticon, so we know that they mean that they want to get punched in a sexy way.