On C. Breezy and Feeling Old

29 Aug

Last night, I watched the VMA’s. They were chock full of typical MTV silliness, Lady Gaga in drag, and shocking announcements via dance numbers. You know, the usual.

Mostly, it became clear to me that I am no longer the target demographic for the show. (There were points where I looked at the screen and said, “I can’t read that font! How are we supposed to understand who to text our vote for if we can’t even read the FONT!” Boom. Age, betrayed.) And when Chris Brown came onto the stage to roaring applause and cheers from his peers, it also became clear that many folks have a much shorter memory than I do, despite my advanced years.

Seeing the response to CB (and after having a late night analysis of it with CF Susana) made me realize that most folks seem to have moved on from the Rhianna fiasco, particularly in regards to Chris Brown and his music. As he took the stage it was clear that folks had put the incident behind them, and I felt disgusted by the power of the patriarchy. It is, in fact, a function of the patriarchy to conveniently allow narratives to shift discreetly and irrevocably. Holding on to such things is, clearly, “so last year.” Calling for accountability is blasé and tedious, it seems.

Anyhow, what struck me rather strongly was the support Brown was getting from his peers in the audience (with a notable exception, it seems). This made me think about just how valuable it could be to have accountability amongst men, among artists of all genders– this tacit and not-so-tacit shrugging off seems like such a grave loss of opportunity. The opportunity for men to speak out; those men who have thought about what it means to end the cycle of violence and are willing and able to serve as models and leaders. There are many such men and great organizations dedicated to ending the seemingly interminable cycle of violence, but last night I wished there were more. And that we wouldn’t let opportunities like this one, keep passing us by.

Maybe I’m just a cranky, not-as-young-as-i-used-to-be crunk feminist, a distinct possibility.

Share your thoughts on the VMA’s in the comments, please.

33 Responses to “On C. Breezy and Feeling Old”

  1. feministish August 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM #

    I was definitely reflecting on gender based violence and the music industry after the coverage of the VMAs last night. Disclaimer: I did not actually get to watch the VMA’s and I have only listened to one song by Tyler the Creator (another male star who was shown a lot of support last night), but I was definitely struck by the role that gender based violence does or does not play. Tyler references Chris Brown’s violence against women habits in this song (which also includes a ridiculous amount of graphic violence towards women). Interestingly, the only negative comments I heard about Chris Brown were focused on whether or not he was lip syncing. Have we really gotten so far past the fact that he was an abuser in a domestic violence relationship that we only judge him for lip syncing? Has Chris Brown’s history of domestic violence become so passe that it can be a throw away song lyric in a “visionary” concept album, which also includes references to horrific violence against women?

    And when will these questions be met with discussion of the patriarchy and the music industry, instead of misogynist and hateful comments from fans to the ones doing the asking?

  2. Brian August 29, 2011 at 7:30 PM #

    So are we only concerned with male abusers or female abusers as well? If Rhianna was the aggressor, does CB not have the right to physically defend himself, regardless of attacker.

    Sometimes and with some of us, the “ism’s” get in the way of common sense and/or the need to further a personal agenda.

    • distance88 August 29, 2011 at 7:38 PM #

      Also getting in the way of common sense: victim blaming.

    • s mandisa August 30, 2011 at 7:18 AM #

      (there are no italics, so the words in caps are to emphasize-my intent is not to yell these words) Wow….that NEVER get old. Why is it that every time we talk about what HAS happened, someone wants to bring up a hypothetical of what COULD have happened? not only does it victim blame and lead us down slippery slopes, its a complete way to dodge accountability and not deal with personal and structural violence, or at the bare minimum, the issue at hand.

      Furthermore,what “isms” are you talking about? Because it seems like your need to dodge sexism is not only furthering your personal agenda, but is getting in the way of common sense.

  3. Brian August 29, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

    *correction on the last sentence.

    Sometimes and with some of us, the “ism’s” get in the way of common sense and we become concerned more with our personal agendas and less with what’s right.

    • Tiffany Reese August 29, 2011 at 8:04 PM #

      I think Rihanna was blamed enough by Chris Brown’s female fans to last a lifetime but I digress.

      My biggest problem with Chris Brown was the way he handled the aftermath. His initial refusal to apologize, his ignoring the entire situation, etc. I think he was incredibly immature but he’s human and we make mistakes and its unfortunate that in this world, we’re not allowed to move on from them. They constantly get thrown back in our face.

      But that also leads me to question, when are we “rightfully” forgiven. It’s been about a year since the incident and people are still upset with him. Rihanna has seemingly moved on, at what point, is Chris Brown allowed to continue his career peacefully? Now, I don’t necessarily like the guy and I think he got off way too easy but still at what point is it “over”?

    • crunktastic August 30, 2011 at 5:58 AM #

      Yes, certainly your statement would be true if feminism were antithetical to common sense, or if common sense were common, or if common things were revolutionary. But alas, none of those things is true. I would say more about your notions of rightness, but that would require a tired and unproductive rehashing of the whole “women-are-violent-too,” which sounds suspiciously like a gendered version of the whole “Black-people-are-racist-too” meme. And well, we’ve had that debate here, numerous times, and it’s fairly clear that the CFs would take a decidely different position about what is quote/unquote “right.” So it would be an unproductive discussion. Next.

    • survivor girl August 30, 2011 at 8:58 PM #

      still waiting to see the photo of chris’ face bashed in…

      • Medusa September 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM #

        Agreed. It’s virtually impossible for me to read a post about Chris Brown without getting pissed off about all the victim-blaming that eventually goes down in the comments.

  4. sacredpuritypeace August 29, 2011 at 8:55 PM #

    After read this post and its comments, bell hooks came to minds. She said:

    “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”

    It’s okay to “move on” or say that it’s “over,” but where is Chris’ compassion? I think it being completely over lies in “our” satisfaction of his compassion. Also, do we have enough compassion to allow Chris to move forward. Personally, I don’t feel as if Chris has given me enough to forgive him or truly move forward. I enjoy him as an artist, but as a public figure, I feel that he definitely needs to be held accountable. I’m torn.

    • survivor girl August 30, 2011 at 8:57 PM #

      good, good point but he’s proven himself to still be violent and he’s still being forgiven, which will never allow him to recognize that he has to change.

    • Peacha August 30, 2011 at 11:23 PM #

      My issue is two-fold.I completely agree with your comment and with your ambivalence about this issue. At the risk of expressing a dissenting voice, I must say that I, for one, am tired of the focus on Chris Brown and his indiscretion/violence . . . however you want to characterize it. Personally, I characterize it as wrong. First, I don’t believe that CB owes me (or the general public) anything and I don’t believe it is up to me to forgive or not forgive. Second, no matter what was said or shown, we have no idea what happened in that car on that night. We think there was an incidence of one-sided domestic violence in which Rhianna was brutally beaten by her boyfriend. This could be the case. OR . . . it could have happened differently. I am in no way trying to excuse domestic violence. However, I also am not willing to judge the situation based on what we think happened. Some say Rhianna was beating on him (we didn’t see any pics of him). If that was the case, I think that situation requires a different discussion. If i did happen that way, I think it would be a mistake to lump this situation into cases of domestic violence in which one person is being brutalalized (without any recourse or provocation) at the hands of another. Essentially, do we distinguish between a one-sided beating and a fight? If not, why not? By viewing the two situations as the same, we miss an important opportunity to teach our daughters about domestic violence and accountability. As the mother of a son, I worry about the message I send if I insist that he not hit girls regardless of the situation. Little girls these days have gotten a bit rambunctious and he tells me about them touching him inappropriately and chasing him around the playground to kiss him. Suppose a little girl gets aggressive with him. Do I teach him to be a victim just because the bully is a girl? Similarly, suppose Rhianna was the aggressor. Would we have preferred that CB take whatever she dished out as long as he could proclaim that he didn’t hit a woman? If you think my question is foolish, think again. The point is that I don’t know what happened and therefore I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to make judgements about what he should have done and who he is as a person. To be honest, his job really has nothing to do with who he is as a person. So perhaps I am not as offended by this because I had no expectations of his personal characteristics. To me, he is just as deplorable as any man that beats down a woman and if she was the aggressor, I’m not too fond of her either. I am an equal opportunity judge.. The fact that he is Chris Brown and she is Rhianna really don’t matter all that much. But I digress, I bring this up because I challenge all of us to think about our views of gender equity. Would your analysis of the situation be different if she were the aggressor? If not, why not? Suppose he had pics that showed that he got the worse part of the fight? Would we be viewing him as an innocent victim and her as a horrific man-beater unworthy of redemption? Would we expect her to end her career and disappear from the public eye? and what does that say about our feelings about gender equity?

      • voyajer79 September 1, 2011 at 7:32 AM #

        I just think it’s interesting that Chris Brown never alleged that Rihanna hit him first. He never questioned or disputed her version of events, he was just upset that it was publicly aired. Yet, we know for a fact that this young woman was beaten so badly that she was bleeding and left on the street. She had to go to the hospital to get treatment. But I keep hearing, “We don’t really know what happened. Maybe she hit him first.” I actually find this reaction bothers me a lot more than Chris Brown.

        If there were pics showing that she had brutally beaten him with a tire iron and left him on the street I would be appalled and would want her to serve time. He received a slap on the wrist and continues to make a lot of money so I don’t feel too terrible for judging him. No, I don’t want Chris Brown to end his career and disappear from the public eye but I did expect him to take full responsibility and be a little more humble, especially as a young man who grew up with domestic violence in his home. I might feel differently if his audience were older and more mature- but no, his main audience sits in my classroom everyday and he enjoys their full support. I do think he should return their support with something more than random tweet rants, throwing chairs out of windows, and a sense of entitlement. Does he owe us this? Maybe not, but I can’t help but to shake my head over the wasted opportunity.

  5. sacredpuritypeace August 29, 2011 at 9:39 PM #

    Sorry! *After reading this post and its comments, bell hooks came to mind. She said:*

  6. Sophie August 29, 2011 at 9:47 PM #

    Who was the exception?

    • crunktastic August 30, 2011 at 5:42 AM #


      • JazzFest August 30, 2011 at 10:30 AM #

        Oh no! Could you please delete my 10:29am post? I’m sorry I didn’t realize I had posted this already at 1:35.


      • crunktastic August 30, 2011 at 11:38 AM #

        Done. 🙂

      • JazzFest August 31, 2011 at 1:10 AM #


  7. reclamation August 29, 2011 at 10:37 PM #

    I personally enjoyed gaga in drag.

    • eeshap August 31, 2011 at 8:35 AM #

      Me, too, actually!

  8. d August 30, 2011 at 1:04 AM #

    I don’t think this is an indication of aging or disconnect. Rather, Chris Brown is this generation’s example of a typical pattern. People knew what was going on with Ike and Tina, but their shows still got sold out, and nobody had anything to say about Tina’s black eye. The wheel keeps turning, only clothed in different gimmicks and spectacles– its not an age thing. Just saying.

    • survivor girl August 30, 2011 at 8:54 PM #

      you are so right d. my mom says everyone knew about ike and tina…too sad that nothing has changed in 50 years.

    • eeshap August 31, 2011 at 8:41 AM #

      I completely agree with this. My comments about feeling old really have more to do with not knowing who some of the nominees are and the strange and glitzy sets and whatnot. I think that this is an age-old pattern and not just limited to the music industry and musicians (Roman Polanksi, anyone?). Thanks for making the point.

  9. JazzFest August 30, 2011 at 1:35 AM #

    I agree with you. Wholeheartedly. And I’m not “old” (what is considered old now? less than 30? Alright I’m still young then I suppose)

    P.S. it looked like Jay-Z was nodding approval but just chose not to stand up and clap? Or maybe it’s more complicated than that. Hmmm

  10. Erin August 30, 2011 at 6:43 PM #

    I completely agree. It bothers me when women try to downplay what occurred when it is brought up, with the passing of time being an excuse. It’s been mentioned, and I agree with those who noted that his treatment of the situation and the media attention is not reflective of someone who is truly remorseful. He could’ve chosen to educate himself and others, and potentially look into speaking out against domestic violence in young relationships, but he seemingly just tried to make it go away as quickly as possible.

    • survivor girl August 30, 2011 at 9:01 PM #

      yep, smashing up tv studio windows is a sign of maturity

  11. survivor girl August 30, 2011 at 9:01 PM #

    proud of jay z, i seem to recall he and beyonce boycotting another award show because of chris brown. jay’s not perfect but i will always love him for that.

  12. lala September 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM #

    I have complicated feelings about CB. I may never be a true fan again but when the world boycotts/rallys against abuser Christian Bale when the next Batman movie comes out then I will be impressed.

  13. Felicity Proctor September 1, 2011 at 11:47 AM #

    Did anyone think “Jesus” when he was lifted up in the air?? Dressed in all white and with the pose he did…. >.< i felt like i was watching Godspell.

    • lala September 5, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

      I thought Peter Pan actually.

  14. Jenn Thoman September 14, 2011 at 10:26 PM #

    I actually watched the show with my mom and my sister- unexpected because I no longer live there, and also because I was kind of shocked by how much more interested in the whole thing I was than my sister, who is 18 (and probably closer to the target demographic).
    We were a little irritated by Jessie J for the entire show- none of us really understood why she was covering songs by people in attendance at the show, some that had been nominated. Beyonce was fantastic, Kanye and Jay-Z were great. As can be expected, IMHO.
    I grabbed the remote and changed the channel when CB was announced- I don’t know how they calculate ratings, but I didn’t want to be the one cable subscriber to push his performance over any ratings edge, anywhere. I understand that people appreciate music, and sometimes that appreciation doesn’t take into account the artist’s rap sheet, but that’s not me. My sister didn’t really get it; my mom didn’t care enough to comment.


  1. VMAs 2011, or More Questions than Answers « girls like giants - August 30, 2011

    […] Thanks to the fine folks over at Crunk Feminist Collective for their discussion of Chris Brown’s performance and for alerting me–the non-live […]

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