The Grammys became a Chris Brown celebration, but is the singer really worthy of the adulation three years after beating Rihanna and showing scant remorse? Domestic-abuse experts and survivors answer a resounding ‘NO,’ but Rihanna seems to have forgiven and may even be hooking up with Brown—like other celebrity women who have gone back to their abusers.
The night was supposed to be about Whitney. And yet, with the exception of a brief prayer led by host LL Cool J, and a fleeting tribute number courtesy of Jennifer Hudson, Sunday night’s 54th Grammy Awards ceremony degenerated into the “Chris Brown Comeback Special,” featuring three limber performances by the pop star, as well as a Grammy award win for Best R&B album, for F.A.M.E.
Celebrities such as Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model-cum-actress Brooklyn Decker took to Twitter to voice their disapproval, not only because one of the greatest singers that ever lived was given short shrift, but also due to the fact that just three years ago, on the day before the Grammys, Brown violently assaulted his then girlfriend—the pop star Rihanna—and now, all that seems to have been forgiven, forgotten, or, in the case of his exceptionally delusional young female fans, made light of by tweeting bizarre things like: “I would let Chris Brown beat me up anyyyy day.” (The great irony, of course, being that the late Whitney Houston was a very public victim of domestic abuse herself.)
“The Grammys is an event, and events need entertainment, and the entertainment trumps morality sometimes,” said Dr. Reef Karim, director of The Control Center for Addictions as well as a psychiatrist, relationship expert, and addiction doctor. “If you look at the Grammys or at the music industry, the real question here is: why are you so interested in bringing Chris Brown back to where he was in your industry in spite of his legal ramifications?”
To understand why many are up in arms over Brown’s comeback, one must review the details of that fateful incident three years ago.
While cruising around Los Angeles during the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 2009, pop stars Rihanna (born: Robyn Fenty), 20, and Chris Brown, 19, got into an argument. According to the police report, Rihanna picked up Brown’s cellphone and saw a three-page text message from one of Brown’s former flames. An argument ensued, and when Brown could not force her out of the car, he got physical.
Brown took his right hand and shoved Rihanna’s head against the passenger window of the vehicle, causing a one-inch raised circular contusion. She turned to face him and he punched her in the left eye, and continued punching her while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The pummeling caused Rihanna’s mouth to fill with blood, and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the vehicle. Brown then looked Rihanna square in the eye and reportedly said, “I'm going to beat the shit out of you when we get home! You wait and see!”
Rihanna attempted to call her assistant, who did not answer, according to the report. She then pretended to talk to her and told her to have the police ready when she got home. Upon hearing this, Brown looked at her and reportedly screamed, “You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I'm really going to kill you!” He continued striking her on her left arm and hand, causing a contusion to her left triceps two inches in diameter as well as numerous contusions on her left hand. Rihanna went to text her other assistant and Brown snatched her cellphone away and threw it out of the car. She then went for his cellphone and he put her in a headlock while steering the vehicle with his left hand. He bit her left ear and continued to rain punches down on her face and arms. When he began choking her, she started to lose consciousness. With her left hand, she gouged at his eyes in an attempt to free herself. He bit her fingers and continued punching her, all while Rihanna desperately screamed for help.
All of a sudden he stopped, exited the vehicle, and walked away.
A neighbor phoned police, who arrived on the scene and issued a Domestic Violence Emergency Protective Order for Rihanna. Both Rihanna and Brown canceled their Grammys appearances. A picture of Rihanna’s bruised and battered face was posted by the entertainment website TMZ. Despite the evidence, few people in the music world spoke out against Brown’s actions. Nine days later, according to the police report, Brown apologized to his victim via text message. In 2009 he pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to five years’ probation and six months of community service.