Having The Birthday Cake And Eating It Too: A Collection of Conflicting Thoughts About Chris Brown

Ever since his infamous assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna, I’ve been captivated with Chris Brown, Rihanna, the myriad different stances people have adopted in regards to them, and the “Whys” behind these stances. Case in point: Along with my recent piece at Ebony, I’ve written about them — well, him in particular — at least four times in the three years since.

First there was “naked: chris brown and the sad plight of the scorned man” — an entry where I used their situation as a convenient segue to talk about how men dealing with effed up relationship situations usually don’t have any proverbial “shoulders to cry on.”

I followed that a few months later in something written about Tiger Woods and his wife, where I made mention of the fact that it seems like some of the people excusing Chris Brown for his role in the incident may not realize exactly how much bigger he is than Rihanna. Not that it should matter. A 5’6” man can inflict just as much damage as a 6’6” man can. But, I thought (and still do think) that some people hear the name “Chris Brown” and immediately think skinny, dancing-ass, teenage pop star, not 6’2” man with muscles formed from years of dancing and working out. Basically, in their minds, him vs Rihanna was a fair fight, but in actuality he dwarfs her in size.

Next, I made mention of them making a “movie” together in “A Sneak-Peek Into “Tyler Perry’s Love Jones.”

And, by the time “Seven Reasons Why I’m Totally Not Upset About Steve Harvey’s “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” Movie” was written a few months ago, you could begin to sense my exasperation with this discussion. In a matter of a couple years, I went from “this is some serious sh*t” to “I know it’s serious, but I don’t really give a damn anymore”

“Back to Blonde Breezy. Although I’ve been very critical of Chris Brown’s “redemption” in the past, I think I’ve officially reached the “not a single f*ck was given” point regarding whatever the hell happened that infamous night on the way to the Grammys. Apparently, time heals all wounds and all self-righteous indignations.

But, what remains completely fascinating is how both him and Rihanna have gotten progressively weirder and progressively more famous since that night. Maybe instead of a fight that night, they actually went through the Illuminati’s application and pledging process. Who knows?

I do know, though, that somewhere out there (probably on Mars), Andre 3000 and Erykah Badu are kicking themselves. They already had the weird part down pact. Who knew that all they had to do to keep people actually buying their albums was jab each other a couple times while riding in one of their spaceships?”

I guess today’s entry is me coming full-circle. As you may have guessed, I am fascinated again. Now, though, the best word to describe my feelings about Chris Brown is ambivalent.

From the perspective of a person who follows, studies, appreciates, and, sh*t, depends on pop culture, I’m elated that Breezy and Ri-Ri are making music (and, possibly, love) together again. I don’t give a damn about the “Birthday Cake” song itself (I haven’t even listened to it yet), but I will be tuned in to read, watch, listen to, and attempt to deconstruct people’s reactions to it. For a person who writes about pop culture for a living, you couldn’t ask for a better, more layered story.

But, from the perspective of a man who used to be an educator and knows exactly how damaging the latent message of “It’s ok to beat up your girl as long as you’re handsome and popular because everyone, including her, will forgive you shortly anyway” can (and will) have on their millions of young fans, their very public reconciliation rubs me the wrong way.

Right now, Chris Brown is having his birthday cake and eating it too. And, along with the Gotdamn Idiot factor, I think much of the push back is due to the fact that it just doesn’t seem fair for him to be able to do that. People upset at the situation are interested in and deeply invested in concepts like justice, and karma, and comeuppance, and seeing a person do dirt and still succeed in spite of it is a severe rebuke of the way they see the world.

On the other hand, that — Life just aint f*cking fair. Get used to it. — could be a teachable lesson in itself. Perhaps it’s not a bad thing to teach kids at an early age that popular guys and pretty girls will have advantages that normal folks just don’t. I mean, I’m sure they see it play out in front of them every day, and they’re probably tired of hearing “all people have the same chance” from their teachers and parents anyway. Why not be real with them now instead of setting them up for a lifetime’s worth of disappointment?

I don’t know. I don’t have any answers to any of these questions. I don’t know which side of me — the writer or the human — will win out. Sh*t, I don’t even know if the writer and the human are separate entities. I do know, though, that this will not be the last time I devote space to Chris Brown, and I’m concerned with how easily I’m beginning to be able to write something and feel nothing.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)