Can I Hate Chris Brown?

strong female characters

For the record, I don’t hate anybody. Some celebrities—Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Kim Kardashian---get on my nerves. And there are other male superstars who have mistreated women, physically, sexually, and/or verbally---Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Sheen—who piss me off/gross me out/don’t deserve to be successful.

But hate is such a strong word.

The titular question flitted through my mind as I viewed the recap of his latest douchebag escapade on E! News. Chris apparently got into a dust-up last week with singer Frank Ocean over a parking spot outside Frank’s studio. Shoves/punches may have been thrown, including one from Brown at Ocean. Of course, it doesn't sound like the fight was as crazy as Drakegate 2012, which had Brown and Drake and their respective crews throwing shit from across an NYC dance floor at each other, apparently in a tiff over Rihanna. Which was then, as any good fight is these days, taken to Twitter.

But while Brown-Drake 2012 was like, WTF, Ocean-Brown 2013 is like, Chris Brown just go the fuck away. First of all, I love Frank Ocean. He’s adorable, he’s subverting heteronormative sexuality, and he sings beautiful songs that make me cry. (See here and here. Gah.) Second, Chris Brown took it—yes—to Twitter and posted a photo of Jesus on the cross and noted “the way I feel today”. Obviously, this is completely ridiculous in this context, but let’s zoom out a second and remember that there is literally never a situation where you compare yourself to Jesus that doesn’t make you look like an asshole. Which is what he is. GO AWAY.

This is by no means the first time I’ve pondered whether I really hate Chris Brown. The last time was on Halloween, when he and his buddies decided it was a clever idea to dress up as the Taliban. Long, shaggy beards, dusty turbans, rags, AK-47s and all. On top of being tasteless, there’s more than a whiff of casual racism happening here, as tends to happen whenever the “terrorist” costume idea pops up.

Then there was the time he said this to comedian Jenny Johnson on Twitter: “take them teeth out when u Sucking my dick HOE” Sure, she had just called him a worthless piece of shit, but it doesn’t need to be reiterated that misogynistic, sexually threatening insults are not the correct response. Especially when you’re Chris Brown, and you a) are already known to have beaten a woman, and b) do, in all truth, deserve to be called a WPOS.

And yes, lest we forget, God forbid, the number one reason why anyone should ever feel like hating—or, serious minimum, hating on—Chris Brown: he brutally beat his then-girlfriend* Rihanna and did no jail time**. Nothing will ever make that okay, really. He’ll always have done that, and that will always be unacceptable. That it was such a public escapade, and that Rihanna herself was arguably even more famous than him, made it a much greater lightning rod for outrage than aforementioned messrs. Sheen, Schwarzenegger et. al. who have also mistreated women less famous/powerful than themselves. This is true.

*And now-girlfriend. But that’s an outrage for another day. **He may have also not done the community service he was sentenced to. Let's just add that to the outrages.

But the fact that certain crimes draw less outrage doesn’t mean we’re making too big a deal over Chris Brown’s criminal douchiness. It means we’re not making a big enough deal about all the rest. And: Chris Brown still lives his life unmolested. Chris Brown still has a career. Chris Brown still got to perform at the Grammys last year in a “comeback” tour that seemed to have amnesia about why he had to “come back” at all.

All the other stuff is just frosting on a bad-person cake. Also, let’s not forget that by continuing to support him, when he hasn’t made any significant public effort to address and apologize for his actions, we send a message that what he did was okay. . . that it was on par with (or even, less than) those times Lindsay Lohan drove without a license, or Winona Ryder shoplifted. Just another oops! celebrity screwup. (Which, incidentally, is probably a countdown show on the E! network.) For proof, view this disturbing assortment of statements from (where else) Twitter, collected after his Grammy’s performance last year, where various women say something to the effect that "Chris Brown's so hot he can beat me any day." Takeaway: We all still have work to do.

Hate is a strong word. But it’s definitely okay—maybe even necessary?—to hate on Chris Brown.