Let me just start out by saying that I used to be a huge Chris Brown fan. I would download all of his music, even the low-fidelity demos. I watched the video for “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” more times than I can count. I have cried to “Say Goodbye.” Actually bawled.
Go on and judge me. Chris Brown’s first album came out when I was first starting high school, and his second came out as I graduated. We grew up together! He’s only a year older than I am. But as with any friend, sometimes as you grow older, you grow apart. Unfortunately, Chris and I (we used to be on a first-name basis) did not simply go to separate colleges and develop divergent interests. We had our falling out because he brutally abused his girlfriend, Rihanna, and I felt very disturbed by it.
I know people will say (and have said) that his abusive tendencies have nothing to do with his being an entertainer.
But I deleted all of his music from my iPod when I heard the news. The idea of a friend acting violently toward others in his life is not the kind of thing I can just forgive and forget.
If we were actually friends (and yeah, I felt like we were,) I would not have his back in this situation. Violence is never OK. As top-ranked Brown fan site uchris.com puts it, “supporting him through it all,” I feel like I’d be wagging my finger at him but not really getting my message across. I’ve even heard friends try and hold Rihanna responsible for what happened, which is especially frustrating in light of how common domestic violence is in America. I don’t support abuse, and I don’t support abusers, especially financially. The only way I can tell my boy Chris how I feel is through not supporting any of his endeavors, since for some reason we never exchanged contact info in high school.
I know he’s an entertainer, and he’s gotta make a living.
But entertainers have a responsibility to ensure that their private lives do not endanger their profession. Even a person with a regular old day job has that responsibility. Chris couldn’t do that. Not only did he endanger his livelihood, he also endangered Rihanna’s health and well-being, which is far more important.
By not buying his records anymore (though not all of the songs I had before were “bought,” per se,) I’m trying to show him that what he was doing was a privilege. Plenty of people sing for free, at church, on the streets, on YouTube, wherever. Being able to make money by being in the public eye is not something to be taken for granted, and I feel like he did just that when he chose not to control his emotions.
I know Chris is making moves. His new movie, Takers, is coming out this August. He’s been out and about on red carpets and award shows, and he has a couple of mix tapes circulating on the Internet. They might even be good stuff.
I won’t be buying tickets to his movies or getting any of his songs on iTunes or anywhere else, though. I haven’t forgiven or forgotten what he did. Sometimes, a friend has to hold a grudge.
Alison Thurston, a South Florida Times summer reporting intern, will enter her junior year at Princeton this fall.