When Chris Brown was charged with beating then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, I was one of many who wanted to believe that the altercation was not as brutal as the initial reports seemed. The picture of her bruised and swollen face shut that down immediately. I sincerely hoped then that his ‘people’ would snatch him out the public eye and put him through some heavy duty therapy before even thinking about trying to have him out on stage or promoting a record- not so much out of concern for his career, but in hopes that he would face his demons in order to protect his own life and that of any woman who may find herself in his company. Alas, what we’ve seen instead has been an endless parade of bad press, bratty behavior and misguided attempts at reclaiming his spot at the top.
This week’s tantrum backstage at Good Morning America is only par for the course that Brown has been on since that Grammy night two years ago. From the outside looking in, I think it’s deeper than the singer simply being a jackass. This is someone who seems to have some serious emotional troubles that court mandated domestic violence counseling cannot solve. Unfortunately, because Brown is a commodity in the eyes of his record label (and perhaps even his mother-manager), there hasn’t been so much focus on getting his mental health in order. Like R. Kelly before him, so long as it seems that there’s a market for his music he will continue to work.
What’s odd to me is there are number of people asking, “Where’s his publicist?” Public relations people are not therapists or life coaches. The only think a PR person could really do for Brown would be to keep him out of the public eye all together, because when you have someone who is as seemingly troubled as he is, no talking points or interview tips are going to change that. Media training for Chris Brown would be akin to putting a candy paint job on a car with a dying engine; it may look good, but it won’t be long before the whole thing falls apart.
Some folks may want to give him points since he hasn’t, to our knowledge, had any further physical issues with women. Others may say “Who cares? He’s not my son/brother/friend!” But at the end of the day, we have a lot of Chris Browns around us: men (and women) who are damaged and destructive. Hurt people hurt people, as they say. While those who are formally charged with crimes may be punished with either jail time or mandatory counseling, few will get the sort of long term therapy they actually need.
Brown is a violent young man running around the country with a bunch of money, a lot of attitude and a parole officer. This won’t end well. If the GMA incident damages his public image to the point where his label is finally ready to give up, then perhaps he’ll finally have the chance to get the sort of help he needs. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. So long as the kid can dance and halfway carry a tune, his health and safety (as well as that of those around him) won’t be a priority.