Chris Brown and the Impossibility Of Reconciliation

It can be difficult to seperate an artist’s private life from their work. Michael Jackson’s music is embedded in the very soul of both popular music and popular culture, but there was a couple of years before his death where both the man and his artistic output were nothing but punchlines to paedophilia jokes. In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Nirvana’s entire body of work became an extended suicide note, albeit a suicide note you can headbang to. It is due to this effect that Chris Brown, and his music, makes my stomach turn.

It's good to know that he's "never funky in the mouth". That is my main concern.

You can't fool me with that puppy, Chris. I'm on to you.

When he broke down in tears at the 2010 Black Entertainment Television Awards performing Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror“, I didn’t see a fan eulogizing his hero – I saw a desperate PR move from a poor excuse for a human being. If I hear about him collaborating with Justin Bieber, it’s hard not to worry about the Biebster’s preteen audience being exposed to the music of a despicable man, unaware of his crimes. When I hear him sing, all i can see is the image of Rihanna, post-beating, her face rendered dysmorphic by pugilism.
Thus, any kind of restraint when it comes to judging the quality of his music becomes impossible. The production on the fifth single of his latest album “F.A.M.E.“, Wet The Bed featuring Ludacris, is shamelessly generic, pitch-corrected to within an inch of its life – or at least it is to me. Does it just sound that way because I think he’s a vile human being? The actual lyrical content of the song (“I’mma put your legs behind your head/I’m gonna make you wet the bed”) is witless raunch, but that’s par for the course as far as modern R&B goes – saying that, the line “As I kiss both sets of lips, lips, lips” pushes even that loose limit. It’s difficult to enjoy it ironically as well because, at the end of the day, the person who made it is a monster.

Would I like it if someone else performed it? Could I find it bareable, at least? I like to think that if it was released by The Lonely Island, then I could whole-heartedly enjoy it as a parody, but other than that I’m not so sure. Did Beat It stop being incredible, racially-transcendent pop music when Michael Jackson was accused of having sex with children? Not really. It makes me wonder what people see in Chris Brown: he’s no humanitarian; he’s charmless, violent, mysognistic. He’s an okay dancer, admittedly. Is that what all takes to be a successful pop star? Are those Chris Brown’s selling points – dancing and violence ? Sexy, sexy violence? The mind boggles.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop instantly associating Chris Brown and his music with those career-defining pictures of Rihanna, battered and bruised. And, now, a wet patch on a bed. However, the fact is that he had number one singles before the domestic abuse charges (Say Goodbye, 2006) and he’s had number one singles after (Deuces, 2010). Clearly, I am in the minority.

-Christopher Macarthur-Boyd

2 Responses

  1. I’ve never been a huge fan of Chris Brown anyway but I agree that my opinion on him completely changed after the Rihanna incident. I’ll admit that I do find some of songs quite catchy but since his only contribution to most of his songs are some extremely auto-tuned vocals, I don’t feel too guilty about liking them anyway.

  2. I actually looked up the lyrics and thought it was a joke. Surely got to be? As for entertainers and the argument that their personal life and their art to be two different entities, all I have to say is this, even if you loved “rock n’ roll christmas”, would you ever like “Gary Glitter” on facebook? Probably not.

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