Quite often I am disappointed in the lack of regard society has towards problematic behavior and individuals. From our former president spewing volatile comments about women to victims blamed for their rapes. I watch the dismissal of these time and time again.
The individuals who surpass cancel culture are most likely the ones in positions of power over their victims. Whether they are the all-American high school quarterback or a legendary business tycoon. Their likability and success have earned them a team of loyal supporters to stand by them for almost anything.
America’s most beloved abuser
A variety of names and public figures comes to mind when I think about this. However, Chris Brown is the name that angers me the most. Catchy song lyrics and radio hits are not the only things people know the American singer, songwriter, and dancer by. He is also known for his violent history involving women.
Reports of women being threatened, beaten, and injured at the hands of the singer have danced across headlines for years. Yet, his eighty-five million Instagram followers and recent hit on the Billboard Hot 100, proves that his career has managed to pull through amid the controversies.
Four years and zero change
The source of inspiration I found to write this was in Mia Vance’s article, Why are we still supporting abusive people?, which mentioned Brown.
However, in light of Brown’s most recent allegation of battery, I am currently asking the same question Vance did four years ago. Why are we still supporting abusive people?
In 2021, I find that this question yields even greater weight than it did before for a few reasons. The first one being that societal ignorance towards Brown’s violent behavior has indirectly led to the harm of others.
A timeline of Brown’s violence against women
Society should have ended Brown’s career the moment images of Rihanna’s battered and bruised face from Brown’s attack broke headlines. However, as the timeline points out Rihanna’s story would only mark the beginning of Brown’s violent onslaught.
February 2009: An altercation between Brown and then-girlfriend, singer, Rihanna, turns physical leaving Rihanna hospitalized. LAPD arrested Brown later that night after he turned himself in.
March 2011: Brown has a violent outburst and breaks a window in his dressing room during a Good Morning America interview. Brown became agitated after Robin Roberts asked him about the 2009 assault against Rihanna, sources speculate.
October 2012: Brown violates the restraining order placed by Rihanna. Allegedly showing up to her Halloween party dressed as a terrorist.
November 2013: Brown throws a rock at his mother’s car window after a family therapy session. His rehab facility kicks him out as a result.
January 2016: Brown is under investigation by Las Vegas Police Department. He is accused of stealing a woman’s phone and hitting her in the face.
August 2016: After allegedly pointing a gun at a woman’s face a long standoff between Brown and police occurs. Law enforcement arrests Brown under suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon afterward.
February 2017: After receiving multiple death threats, Brown’s former girlfriend Karreuche Tran files a restraining order against him. Tran also says that he punched her in the stomach, pushed her down the stairs, and threatened her friends and family.
June 2018: A woman accuses Brown in court of alleged stalking and harassment. The court grants the woman a temporary restraining order against Brown.
May 2018: A woman files a lawsuit against Brown, and two others for assault, sexual battery, and civil rights violations. All of these incidents allegedly took place at a party at Brown’s home in L.A.
January 2019: Paris law enforcement arrests Brown and two others after a woman accused them of rape. French prosecutors release Brown and the two other unmanned individuals from custody later that night.
June 2021: A woman accused Brown of hitting her during an argument and files a crime report for battery. The investigation is still pending.
It’s important to note that this timeline, while in itself still lengthy, sheds light on abusive patterns specifically entailing women. Several men have also reported accusations against Brown.
Targets of cancel culture
The question: “Why are we still supporting abusers?” holds more weight in 2021 because it is being asked in a time where cancel culture is stronger than ever.
Why is cancel culture good at punishing people for decade-old tweets and remarks, but fails to target a person with a recurring history of violent assault?
I can’t help but think of the huge difference it could have made for the victims, if Brown’s violent actions were seen as important as other reasons people are canceled for. Better yet, how much of a difference this could have made for society’s tolerance of abuse.
For figures like Brown, obtaining the privilege of having a platform means that their actions will be put under a microscope for society to use as an example for what is and isn’t tolerable. By not effectively ‘canceling’ him the first, third, and what seems like the hundredth time this has happened, a message is sent to society stating that if you are talented and powerful enough, you can for the most part get away with abusing women. And still be a pop sensation!
While I believe cancel culture is effective to an extent, I think its priorities are due for realignment. Instead of targeting people for actions they have since proven to grow from, our energy should be focused on those whose actions cause the most harm and reflect little change. What we decide as worthy of canceling is a reflection of what society morally stands for. I would like to think violence against women is a worthy enough issue to be de-platformed for.