Soapboxing: Is Chris Brown Vindicated? Not Quite.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I am a bit annoyed. Annoyed because while I would be so obliged as to join in the flowers-and-cotton candy love circle for Chris Brown after viewing his Michael Jackson tribute performance at the BET Awards last night, I cannot engage.

Ever since Michael Jackson's passing, left and right people were clamoring to have Chris Brown take over tribute duties considering that he has long been using moves from the King of Pop's dance steps handbook...and he was doing them well. Yet during that time, Brown was simmering in hot water still over the February 2009 domestic abuse debacle between him and ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, so him giving Michael Jackson a tribute during his time while on the "vindication" circuit wasn't such a grandiose idea. Flash to now, it seemed appropriate for Chris Brown to finally have his moment to pay tribute to Jackson, and yet, even though all the flash, slickness, and introduction from Jermaine Jackson, this truly didn't make me like Chris Brown any more so.

 And like Chris Brown, I want to. I want to let bygones be bygones and see him actually eclipse the other male R&B stars like him, because, I admit, the guy has potential to be the next Usher (not Michael...let's not get ahead of ourselves). But let's just say I was with Chris Brown during the performance as he kicked his legs up, slid, crotch grabbed and spun like Jackson. He was killing it. He was doing better on his own than the number of people performing at last year's BET Awards. I was thinking, "Okay, Chris, let's do it and do it an MJ tribute RIGHT" I was excited. Excited till he pulled out the snot and water works during the final number of "Man In The Mirror". Brown was so choked up that he could barely finish the song and that's when the smells of bull's excrement rode on in.

While most would like to override that emotional breakdown during his performance on "Man In The Mirror" and say that he was being "in the moment", he was being "honest" and being "a true artist"(because true artist's shed tears, duh), I have to sort of grimace and shout "Foul!" at how the whole scenario was derived, because at that moment, the tears he shed weren't for Michael was about Chris Brown. Chris Brown and HIS problems. Chris Brown on how he wants everybody to know that he has changed because he looked inwardly at himself one day and decided to "make a change". Chris Brown and how he wants everyone to treat him better because "I did a tribute to Michael Jackson, and you applauded, so you must love me". That doesn't sit with me and it was a right party killer.

Showing emotion is okay, and I'm not doubting Chris Brown's tears, which were real but the tears should not be in the mix with him honoring Michael, thus the whole thing seemed very ill-timed. Ill-timed is what Brown has been through most of his campaign to salvage his career after the Rihanna debacle and he hasn't swayed me yet in that aspect. And his apologies (or so I thought) haven't swayed him into people welcoming him back with open arms, but last night everyone (especially on my Twitter feed) was jumping on the "Go Chris Brown!" bandwagon, when probably just yesterday they were hating the guy and were roasting him to high heaven during his Apology Tour last year. Is it because he had an uncomfortable moment by crying on stage? Is it because he was singing some Michael Jackson songs, and Michael Jackson makes everything better? Still not sitting with me.

Chris Brown has been struggling to win our acceptance, even releasing an album last year (2009's Graffiti),  and while I applaud him for that, I still think that this was not the appropriate time for him to be repenting and showing humility for his past actions. He should take a little time off, he should musically gather himself together, and then come back and shed the tears during a performance for one of HIS songs. That would show a real comeback, in my opinion.

I probably have the unpopular opinion about Chris Brown's performance, but maybe I would have favored him a bit more if he hadn't be in the midst of letting it be about him, and not the tribute we were supposed to be seeing, which was actually superb. I mean, if you're not going to tribute...then don't do it for your personal gain, do it for the person you're giving tribute too, just like artists Patti LaBelle, Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae did for Prince. So should I give Chris Brown a break? Yeah, he's human and we all make mistakes, but what rubs me wrong is that he used a moment that should have just been about Micheal Jackson and used it as his freeway ramp to get back on the right foot with the listening public.

There has been the conversation of singers and how their actions sometimes tarnish their image to where the music doesn't sound so sweet anymore. We don't know all the facts that went down that fateful night and Chris does have some personal demons to sort out in his young life, but Chris hit Rihanna, and that is not cool by any means. Yet, there are number of celebrities that have done the same, even some in attendance last night that we sort of glide over for sake of the works they produce. El Debarge was charged for domestic violence, yet, I was enjoying his comeback on the BET Awards last night as well, and praised him on a comeback well done. So what makes him different? Preference? Or the fact that he didn't cry for himself during the performance to prove something to the public?

Michael Jackson, ironically, was viewed of differently after molestation charges ran amuck for the latter part of his career and just now, after death, he is getting absolution. Same for other musicians and rappers who have done wrongful deeds, but their body of work, image and just plain creative presence has overrided people's thoughts of them, because well, they are human and maybe everybody deserves a second chance. But I was even thinking, if R. Kelly had been the one to do this tribute to Jackson, tears and all, would he have been so freely and warmly welcomed back after all his trials and regressions? Or are we just wanting to give Chris Brown the benefit because he's young, a little cute, and can mime Michael Jackson's moves better than anyone else at this point in time and we need someone with his skills now that R&B is in the tubes? Ponder that.



  2. I watched the the tribute yesterday and I would say that it was good until that point like you said. I was also expecting more people for the tribute.

    I would like to think his tears were for Michael but after having a chance to stew on it over night it wasn't good on a professional standpoint.

    I'm not a professional performer, but I've learned from those who are that you have to put your emotions aside for your performance.

    For example Stevie Wonder choked up at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but pulled himself together and kept going.


    I won't lie though, Chris's performance made me teary eyed and still does a bit. But he still has a long way to go. Even though I dropped the whole thing after a while because he's still a kid. A kid who needs to take a break and get more help.

    And I don't mean to be rude but just because people have kept silent about the allegations on Michael, it doesn't equal absolution.

    Some are just not saying anything because he's dead which isn't good for him, his family and his legacy.

  3. The boy is entitled to cry, I can imagine how it must have been for him to go up there and get a chance to do what he does best for someone who inspired him.

    The whole thing was beautiful & I think very honest. Everyone has an opinion about this, and unlike most, I stuck with Chris last year when he dropped his excellent "Graffiti" LP. I see him doing wonderful things & he delivered an A1 tribute to a man who fought demons just like Chris Brown fought his.

    Let's not forget, people dragged MJ through the dirt until the poor man passed, now everyone wants to have opinion on how he should be honored. Bull. I can't think of a more appropriate work in progress to pay tribute to a man who struggled until his death to find himself as well. Brava Chris. Storm 'em.-QH


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