By now, the world is well aware that Chris Brown’s two performances and televised win at Sunday night’s Grammys marked his first appearance on the show since he was forced to miss the 2009 ceremony after assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna.
His showing there seemed to confirm that this guy was a superstar, at least in the minds of the people curating the Grammys, and that everything he had done—from the initial assault to his various temper tantrums—was water under the bridge.
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow was defensive about the amount of attention Brown’s appearance garnered: “If we’re going to get in trying to personally evaluate artists in terms of their personal lives, that’s a slippery slope that we wouldn’t want to get into,” he said the following day. “That’s really where the judgment comes from: music professionals listening to the music of other professionals. Clearly, our voting membership rated highly Chris’ musical work this past year.”
Show producer Ken Ehrlich also defended Brown. “I just believe people deserve a second chance,” he said to ABC News Radio on Feb. 7. “The year he had this year, really brought him back into the public. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.” (No really. He said that.)
When Brown actually won the prize for Best R&B Album (one of only a handful of Grammys actually given away live on the show), it appeared to complete an uncomfortable redemption narrative that involved him returning to the scene of the crime and somehow finding closure through flashy dance moves — and casting him as a conquering hero after several years of exile that, in Brown’s own mind, was patently unfair.
But even if some were willing to let Brown off the hook, he doesn’t appear to be ready to move on either. “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now!” the singer tweeted. “That’s the ultimate F— OFF!” It was the latest in a series of Grammy-related tweets that were later deleted, including, “People who make mistakes and learn from them are ROLE MODELS too. I’m just happy to inspire growth and positivity,” which showed up on his feed just after his victory.
The Twitter reaction has been all over the place. Terms like “Team Breezy,” “wife beater,” and “RIP Chris Brown” have all become trending topics since his Grammy win, and Buzzfeed hit upon the disturbing trend of young women openly pining for Brown to abuse them.
Brown’s situation is fascinating and complicated. He seems paranoid and appears to feel persecuted at all times, yet there is a massive contingent of people who have left him off the hook—many of whom believe his actions were justified and that Rihanna was in the wrong on that fateful night in 2009.
He occasionally makes a reasonable point that other people have been given second chances after committing heinous acts (one that comes up pretty often is R. Kelly, whose crimes don’t seem to inspire the same kind of conversations among music fans). Sometimes it seems like he’s just trolling for reactions.
What do you think of Chris Brown’s latest Twitter outburst? And why does he continue to divide people so deeply? Sound off in the comments.