I carefully examine potential friends, partners, and even social events before choosing. Now I have to add celebrities to the Official Vetting List.
Of course it never takes long for a celebrity to make headlines for poor behavior or provocative statements. TV stations, radio, and bloggers make a living from reporting the latest shenanigans by the world’s (in)famous. But it seems celebrities have become more bold about expressing and endorsing questionable beliefs and actions. For me that means making some adjustments in who I support. Too many celebrities are failing to make the grade:
Goodbye John Mayer because racism, misogyny, and homophobia is just about too much prejudice for one person. I was never fond of loud mouths.
See you around Chris Brown because domestic violence and colorism have never been on my list of issues to support. We’ll forgive you when you show some improvement.
Jill Scott, you can sit in your own corner some time. Maybe next time you’ll think before speaking for other people and setting the progress of black American women back 50 years. Not that I’m betting on it.
Some would say that it shouldn’t matter what these celebrities opinions, personal beliefs, or actions are. What matters is their product; whether they bring value through entertainment. This is partly true. Everyone is allowed their personal quirks. I’d never penalize a person for smoking cigarettes or having an anger problem. But I draw the line at a celebrity causing harm to other people through their words or actions.
Celebrities have a global audience. What they say and do has a great impact on society at large. I will not support, through viewing, buying, or requesting the products of people who are not using their platform to better society but to damage it. Negative reinforcement is sometimes necessary and, best of all, it works.
Anyone else vet celebrities?
By now most people have heard about the domestic violence incident involving R&B singers Chris Brown and Rihanna. If you haven’t heard, here’s a quick recap: In March of 2009 Chris Brown pleaded guilty to physically assaulting his then girlfriend, Rihanna, on their way to the 51st Grammy Awards in early February of that year. Pictures of Rihanna’s extensively bruised face were leaked on to the internet and people the world over responded by ostracizing Chris Brown. Radio stations refused to play his music and music stores declined to stock his albums. Chris Brown was sentenced to five years of probation and his career seemed to be over.
Then, after performing a teary-eyed tribute to the late Michael Jackson at the 2010 BET Awards, support for him poured out and many, including celebrities, asked for others to forgive the 20 year old for his actions. Chris Brown issued a number of statements about his regret for what happened that night. But has he learned or was he simply trying to salvage his career?
Many in America believe that Chris Brown is sincere in his apologies and is ready to forgive him and offer their support. A Los Angeles Times survey asked “was Chris Brown faking it at the BET Awards?” Close to 40 percent of respondents believed that Chris Brown’s tears were genuine. And with his single “Deuces” topping charts, Chris Brown may finally make a comeback.
I too think that Chris Brown is truly regretful. But not simply for what happened, but because he was caught and paid heavy consequences for it. I believe that if the effects on his career and reputation were less, he would not be as sorry for his actions.
Coming from a home where his mother was abused by his stepfather, he understands fully the harmful effects of domestic violence. And despite his remarks that sudden anger caused him to beat his girlfriend so severely, as someone who has known many domestic abusers and their victims, I can say domestic abuse is rarely about losing your composure. Abusers want to control and physical abuse is but one method that they seek to gain control over others. Only time will tell if Chris Brown’s underlying thinking is changed, and in the meantime I wouldn’t be quick to think he has sincerely changed.
What do you think? Is Chris Brown truly sorry? Has he really changed?