The Grammy Awards did themselves a disservice last night.
On a night where a young woman triumphed, taking home the award for every category where she was nominated; on a night where the music industry mourned one of their own, a woman whose own demons — and those of her ex-husband — ultimately may have killed her, the Grammys instead of performing lasting tributes to these amazing voices instead chose to give the stage to a domestic abuser.
It’s notorious now. Chris Brown, on the eve of these same Grammy awards in 2009, violently assaulted his girlfriend Rihanna. The photographs of her injuries shocked and horrified all those who saw them. Brown initially denied all charges, including felony assault and making criminal threats, but eventually pleaded guilty. He is still serving probation for those attacks — the probation being, in fact, the “harshest” part of his sentence. Brown has been denied entry into Britain due to this conviction in a serious felony case. He has previously claimed to “not remember” the incident, and also claims that’s “not who he is” as a person — two hallmarks of someone who has not taken responsibility for their own actions.
And yet last night, after dropping him like a hot potato in 2009, the Grammys rolled out the red carpet for him in 2012. He performed not once but twice, and took home an award. All in all, Brown got more scheduled airtime than Adele — who won six Grammys and who herself was a true comeback story after having risky throat surgery — or Whitney Houston — the soulful songstress whose power ballads romanced an entire generation until her downfall into a violent marriage and drug addiction sidelined what should have been a long and glorious career. Let me repeat that: the man convicted of domestic abuse got more attention than the woman who had BEEN abused, and got touted as a bigger comeback than the woman who nearly lost her voice but came back to win six Grammys.
The Grammys organizers, far from thinking that there was anything wrong with giving a domestic abuser center stage, actually welcomed him back with wide open arms — and amazingly, posed themselves as the victims. Executive Producer of the Grammys, Ken Erlich, incredibly told ABC news radio last week that “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”
Excuse me? Who, exactly, was the victim? You’re telling me you think that rich music executives and self-congratulatory awards show producers were the victims here?
And what of Rihanna herself? She performed admirably last night on the stage she — incredibly — had to share with her abuser. It must have been inconvenient for all involved, given they’re not permitted to be within 10 yards of each other at industry events. And maybe that restriction should have given organizers a little pause. Hmm… you really think this is a good idea, guys?
The Grammys should have taken a higher road. They should have sent the message that domestic violence is not acceptable. They should have figured out that showcasing a violent abuser while at the same time purporting to mourn a woman who was herself a victim of domestic violence makes no sense. They should not have asked a young female artist to share a stage with her abuser. And they should have a little more common sense than to pose themselves as the “victims” of anything except their own bad judgment.
Photo Credit: Christopher Macsurak on Flickr.