Dear Chris Brown: People Will Get Over You And Rihanna If You Allow Them To Get Over You And Rihanna » VSB

Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

Dear Chris Brown: People Will Get Over You And Rihanna If You Allow Them To Get Over You And Rihanna

Michael Kovac/Getty Images


Hey Breezy. How are you today? I know you didn’t ask, but I’m doing fine. It was cold as balls last weekend in Pittsburgh, but it seems to be warming up, and I’m enjoying this nice fall day. BTW, why do we say “cold as balls”? Aren’t balls typically warm? I mean, even when it’s super cold outside, I at least know my balls will be warm. My balls are like an electric blanket or a Megabus bathroom.

Anyway, I’m not writing to you to talk about testicle heat retention. Instead, I’m going to ask you do to something for me. Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to play the New York Jets. The Steelers are on a roll and the Jets suck, so the Steelers should win, but forget about that. Instead, I want you to focus on the guy who began the season as the backup quarterback to Geno Smith, but is now starting: Michael Vick. I want you to watch the pregame shows when they preview this game. I want you to pay attention to the play-by-play guy and the color guy when they talk about Vick. I want you to scan the crowd for their reactions when Vick does something positive. I want you to listen to the sideline reporter talk to Vick. I even want you to watch the postgame show.

Most importantly, I want you to pay close attention to what none of these people will talk about, mention, hint at, or even allude to. Michael Vick’s arrest, suspension, and imprisonment seven years ago for his role in creating a multi-state dog-fighting.

Now, all of these people — each of the analysts, fans, and reporters — are aware of Vick’s history. They know most of the sordid details, and were likely disappointed in and possibly even disgusted by him. But now, seven years later, he’s just a backup quarterback on a bad team; a past his prime star who still occasionally shows flashes from his past, and he’s treated as such. Granted, there are going to be some people who will just never get past Vick’s past, but they don’t matter anymore. Plus, at this point, there’s nothing he can say or do to sway them, so fuck em. Again, they don’t matter anymore. 

Why don’t they matter anymore? Because there’s just not enough of them left. Why aren’t there enough of them left? Because, since his release from prison, he hasn’t given them anything. No stories about him beating up a cat. No screencaps of him leaving threatening messages on a dog’s Instagram page. No public quotes about why he hates Scooby Doo. He’s also done all of the right things. Supported the right charities, appeared at the right events, been in the right commercials, listened to the right people. He’s distanced himself so much from what happened in 2007 that only the tiny amount of people with enough stamina to care about it still care about it. Most others just stopped caring because he’s given them no reason to continue to care.

Why does this matter? Well, last week, you appeared on Hot 97 and said you think people should be over your assault of Rihanna by now.  You were a kid (19) and this happened several years ago. People should have forgiven you by now.

And, you know what? I agree! You were a kid! This did happen several years ago! And you did face some legal consequences over what happened! Again, you are right! Most people should have forgiven you by now. Or least stopped bringing it up every time you’re being interviewed. But there’s one problem here:


You won’t let people forget about and forgive you for that violent incident because, every other month or so, you do something that reminds people of it. There are too many instances to list. There’s the lightskint brawl you and Drake were a part of that managed to be so wild that it almost ended the career of another lighskint superstar who just happened to be there. There’s your series of unfortunate tweets that someone really needs to be fired over. And, just yesterday (Yesterday!), three days after your plea for people to move on, there’s your Instagram tirade against Adrienne Bailon and Tamar Braxton for their comments about you on The Real — a show I didn’t even know existed until yesterday.

Bailon and Braxton may very well be hypocrites. And Bailon might be “trout-mouthed.” Who knows? What I do know is that a person wanting people to move past his history of antagonism towards women probably shouldn’t be so publicly antagonistic towards women. Because acts like this prove you haven’t really matured and that you haven’t actually gotten past what you want everyone else to get past.

Basically, instead of following Michael Vick’s script, you’re following R. Kelly’s. And no one follows R. Kelly. Unless, of course, they want chlamydia.

Anyway, Breezy, it might not seem like it, but there are a lot of people criticizing you now who actually want to root for you. Who want to see you genuinely changed and matured. Who want to see you finally become a man. Who want to be able to say “You know what? What he did when he was 19 was awful and inexcusable. But, since then, he seems to be sincerely contrite” but can’t because you keep fucking it up. Because everyone — even the most ardent cynics and critics — loves a good redemption story…as long as the protagonist appears to be redeemed.

You don’t have to believe me, though. Just watch the Jets play the Steelers this weekend and see for yourself.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • menajeanmaehightower

    He hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. Until that happens, he won’t change. Normal people, when they trip up, the analyze and change their ways. Not this guy. He keeps going and going.

    • Exactly. The crazy part is that so long as he’s moving units and selling tickets, he won’t hit rock bottom. The best thing for him would be for an album to go straight wood.

      • This, though? This will never happen. Chris has more talent than Michael Jackson & Beyoncé’s love child. He’ll never not sell. The music is the only thing saving him, and, ironically, the only reason he won’t save himself.

        • John

          Graffiti didn’t sell, but he came back with a significantly better cd.

          • This must be true cause i have no idea who or what a “Graffiti” even is.

    • PunchDrunkLove

      Exactly….he’s gotta reach the point of sick and tired of being sick and tired….of himself. No matter how much we’re sick of his regurgitated behavior

    • DG

      Exactly…while I agree with Todd and other posters who have commented re: his mental/emotional issues, I’ve always felt that after the incident, he didn’t really suffer. He didn’t serve any significant time, his career didn’t derail, his hardcore fans never abandoned hm, he never lacked in feminine attention, he’s still making music and booking shows, etc. I don’t think he ever realizedthat everything, and I do mean everything, he’s ever worked for could vanish because of one critical lapse in judgement and/or control. If anyone was in need of an Eddie Kane-style come-to-Jesus moment, it’s Breezy.

      • menajeanmaehightower

        When he does hit bottom, and i think he will, it won’t be pretty.

  • uNk

    He gotta chill smh
    What makes it worse is his influence on the large fan base he has.

  • LadyIbaka

    What’s the phrase, Panama always uses, ‘A nigger gon always nig….’
    This boy goes off over anything, the temperature of his clam chowder soup in Whole Foods was not right. I really want him to do well, to get back to why he was ever relevant-the music.

    • IcePrincess

      Mmmmm…..clam chowder……

      • LadyIbaka

        Giiiiiiiirl, can’t nuttin beat a New England clam chowder. Like, yaz.

        • IcePrincess

          That’s the white one, rite? I don’t kno who da heII eats that red, watery version.

          • LadyIbaka

            Listen that red watery BULlSHIT is called the Manhattan Clam Chowder

  • Ah, Heinz Field, scene of many Jets heartbreaks. Maybe one day, our kicker will hit a game winning field goal, and the refs won’t call a forward pass a lateral which was recovered for a touchdown. First, of course, we’d need something like talented skill position players.

    Still, I wouldn’t even call Chris Brown following R. Kelly’s script. After all, for a minute, he had us talking about grown and sexy, making us forget about those kids. If Chris Brown was on the same ish, he would be a simp’s simp, trying to be as tender to women as possible.

    Keeping it 100,ddude has some serious mental issues that they aren’t disclosing. Due to my interactions with the mental health system, I know how people talk around mental illness, and public statements about Chris Brown seem consistent with those types of statements. The problem is that too many people are making money off of Chris Brown for him to go just chill. Wilding out as he is, dude is still selling out shows and moving units. Until he gets the help he needs, this is him. I expect nothing more or less.

    • Andrea

      “Keeping it 100,ddude has some serious mental issues that they aren’t disclosing.” Thank you for explaining Chris Brown to me.

    • BeautifullyHuman

      I agree. He definitely has mental health issues. He’s bipolar or something.

      • I’m wary of doing analysis by media, but there’s a difference between being a fool and having serious mental health issues. Michael Vick was dumb as heck, but he didn’t get off on torturing dogs to deal with his demons. It’s clear that the man isn’t playing with a full deck, but so long as he keeps moving units, no one is going to really go in and tell the truth. Jacked as it sounds, Chris Brown pays a lot of people’s bills indirectly and directly. No one is going to say anything that’s going to cost them money, even if it’s for the greater good.

        I think just once or twice has anyone been direct and even mentioned mental illness about Chris Brown. Everything else has been in code that unless you’ve dealt with this stuff before, you wouldn’t know the scoop.

        • It could be mental illness, but I still think it’s just coke and other drugs. He reminds me of Charlie Sheen during the Tiger Blood era.

  • God Shammgod

    This is really only tangential to the topic at hand, but I watched the Hot 97 interview that you’re referring to in this post.

    In the Sham-dizzle list of all time biggest pet peeves..people in the media continuing to refer to Chris Brown’s domestic violence as “the Rihanna incident” or “the Rihanna situation” has gotta be in the top 5. Above “females” and “prove you’re a real sports fan” but below “Reggie Miller.”

    Rihanna wasn’t complicit. For the life of me, I don’t know why folks refuse to refer to that tragic night as what it was. I wish that every time it was discussed via interview Chris Brown was forced to acknowledged the severity of what happened instead of dismissing it as an “incident.”


  • Pinks

    Let’s not forget throwing a chair out of a window at GMA. Like, dawg, you hurt Robin Roberts and we gotta throw the hands.

  • Yeni Makinde


    • Angel Baby


    • BeautifullyHuman

      Combined with mental illness… I would say we have a winner.

  • Imoteda

    I’ve been rooting for Chris Brown for years. He’s so talented and I really and truly believed that he was just young when that sh!t happened. But honestly the more time goes by the more I realize.. Chris Brown is just a dick.

  • PhlyyPhree

    Chris Brown is still young.
    He STILL has no one to show him the way.
    Instead of watching the Jets game, he needs to watch Lean on Me or the Steve Harvey show (the talk show) (Actually hell, even the sitcom because that Steve was there for the youth too)

    I am NOT trying to give him an excuse, but I do believe he blew up without watching the show clip because all he heard was that someone else was disparaging him and his current boothang. Sometimes, it’s just an accumulation of slights and the last person to hit the pinata gets exploded on.
    Again, not excusing it because he still needs help/therapy/a muzzle and a jitterbug phone with no internet access, but I kind of understand it.

    • PunchDrunkLove

      “Chris Brown is still young. He STILL has no one to show him the way.”

      To teach him accountability is HUGE in his line of business.

More Like This