Why Are We Still Talking About Chris Brown?

If you didn’t know we were talking about Chris Brown at all, Tricia Romano summarizes the controversy for The Daily Beast:

Jenny Johnson, who writes regularly for Grantland and has published stories in GQ, is a self-described “writer, wife, a****** and owner of 2 dogs” responded to one of Brown’s innocuous tweets with a scathing riposte. On Sunday he tweeted: “I look old as f***! I’m only 23 …”

Johnson replied: “I know! Being a worthless piece of s*** can really age a person.” (Brown was arrested in 2009 for beating up his then-girlfriend Rihanna. The two have since been rumored to be back together.)

Cue meltdown: Brown responded with a series of misogynistic tweets, each one more lurid and disgusting than the last.

Brown eventually shut down his Twitter account, and Johnson received numerous insults and death threats from his followers, along with accusations of bullying from members of the general public. Others leveled accusations of racism against anyone who too enthusiastically decried Brown’s behavior, since plenty of white celebrities have also beaten up their wives or girlfriends and behaved like pigs in general toward women.

Syreeta of Feministing quotes Roxane Gay to explain why this is (partly) incorrect, and why we need to keep misogynist behavior in the spotlight:

You can’t keep trotting out Sean Penn, Roman Polanski, et al because our cultural memory is short. If social networking were around when Sean Penn abused Madonna in 1987 or when Polanski raped a minor in 1977, the backlash would have been similar. Those examples will not work unless we’re discussing Chris Brown with the same fervor in 2042. Also, we’re still conjuring their names. Polanski still can’t return to the United States and he’s still a rapist pig. Sean Penn has always been an a****** who puts his hands on women. Charlie Sheen is irredeemable. I hold these men and all their cronies in the exact same regard as Chris Brown. We haven’t forgotten these misdeeds as much as people assume.

I don’t generally cover the “celebrity gossip” category of news, so I’ve tried to avoid giving any attention to this incident, but Gay nails it: regardless of race or color, we can’t let behavior like this go unchallenged; silence is approval.