No, We Don't Have to Forgive Chris Brown


I don't have much to add to this piece by Sasha Pasulka, "I'm Not Okay With Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I'm Not Sure Why You Are." But the internet is abuzz with reaction, and I do think it's worthy of discussion — even if I completely agree with the author.

Pasulka writes that Brown was last scheduled to perform at the Grammys in 2009, but his appearance was canceled after he viciously beat then-girlfriend Rihanna the night before. This isn't opinion: it's fact. The author goes on to quote Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich, who absurdly suggests that Brown has done his time and deserves another shot on the awards show stage. Pasulka sarcastically notes the troublesome implication here.

By blacklisting Chris Brown from the Grammys for a "few" years (actually, a grand total of TWO Grammy Awards), the Grammys have gone above and beyond expectations for the social exile of an adult man who hit his girlfriend so hard she went to the hospital, and honestly it was really, really hard for them to show even that much support for victims of domestic violence worldwide.

But talk about Chris Brown online, and his legion of fans (Team Breezy) will repeat some iteration of, "Get over it." Get over it. Chris Brown is over it. Rihanna is over it, apparently. Why are we still talking about it?

Because it still matters. Because it will always matter. We are under no obligation to forgive and forget — and frankly, the idea that any person can violently abuse someone else and maintain a thriving career in the entertainment industry is embarrassing. (See also: Charlie Sheen.) The Grammys have their own business reasons for booking Brown, but as Pasulka points out, we certainly don't have to accept it.

We — the grown-up influencers in this country, the people with platforms and with educations and with power— are allowing a clear message to be sent to women: We will easily forgive a person who victimizes you. We are able to look beyond the fact that you were treated as less than human, that a bigger, stronger person decided to resolve a conflict with you through violence. We know it happened, but it's just not that big of a deal to us.

What positive message could Chris Brown performing at tonight's Grammys possibly send? And don't give me any bullshit about redemption — exactly how has he redeemed himself since 2009? If Brown were willing to devote some of his time to spreading the word about domestic violence and explaining what led him to beat up his girlfriend, perhaps I'd be less disturbed by seeing him onstage.

But Brown's message — along with that of his loyal supporters and plenty of contrary-for-the-sake-of-it internet commenters — is that it's time to move on. To which I second Pasulka's stance: nope.

[Image via AP]