You know what they say about opinions and assholes, right?
Well, there are a whole lot of both flying around since Chris Brown deleted his Twitter account over the weekend after a brief, vulgar exchange with comedian Jenny Johnson that went down like this [jump here for screen grabs].
Based on the response -- including death threats from Team Breezy to Johnson -- it's obvious that race and gender have an influence. Both call on us (subconsciously or not) to defend or disavow stereotypes that are colored by our experiences. I can't speak directly to the racial elements that drive some of the responses around this story, but I can speak to the female perspective. Because I also have an opinion. And an asshole (shhh... girls can shart, too!)
Women generally seem to be split across three judgments when it comes to Chris Brown:
1. "He's a sexy motherf*&!er and I want to f*&! him!" After Brown's Grammy performance earlier this year, several young women tweeted something to the effect of "Chris Brown can beat me any day."
Playing armchair psychologist, I can only assume that what they meant to say was: "I know Chris Brown physically assaulted Rihanna but he's a bad boy archetype with a tight ass body and I'm horny!" Without the maturity or language to express this however, it comes out as "Chris Brown can punch me in the face!" The media -- social and otherwise -- then repurposes this story-in-a-story as retread of Brown and Rihanna's history because it's easier to talk about that than it is to talk about issues impacting women.
2. He's just Chris being Chris (a.k.a., Monday's response on The View, aka blame the victim).
[Sniff!] What's that? Oh, it's just the sound of me holding back tears over yet another opportunity to have a meaningful discussion redirected in exchange for some red herring. On Monday, Sherri Shepherd said, "I'm not saying Chris Brown was right... he was wrong. The problem I have with Chris is you're influencing a generation of young people. And young people are hearing 'if someone I don't know says something I don't like, I can respond in this way.'" (e.g., vulgar, defensive and aggressive.)
Now this I agree with. Like it or not Brown, you're a role model: sculpted out of the machine that is behind your career. You want the big, big productions? And the big, big money? Then you have to tolerate the exposure and subsequent scrutiny that comes with it. Especially if you have a personal Twitter account. Or... had. But what's most surprising about The View's discussion is the presence of the blame the victim mentality, and by women no less.
Shepherd continues "... but I also say to this grown woman [Johnson], when you tweet out 'you're a worthless piece of [shit],' what do you expect to get back? You've got a 23-year-old with a lot of money, a lot of bravado and a lot of pride... "
Whoopi piggybacks on Shepherd's comment: "If you want to mess with him, you have to expect to get your head handed to you." So that makes Brown's response acceptable? No. An acceptable response would be to ignore it, because ignoring it would have drawn limited attention to it outside of a few thousand comedy fans. Ignoring it also says to the world that you are at peace with who you are. Brown is clearly not at peace with his role in his continuing narrative.
They all weighed in. Including Elizabeth Hasselback who called Brown's response "verbal rape" and Joy Behar who said, "I've never heard of her [Johnson] before, now I know who she is" as if to imply that Jenny Johnson's response was a premeditated desire to become famous -- for this -- instead of (what I can only assume was) a knee-jerk joke based on her personal feelings about Brown. Because, you know, she's a comedian. Remember when you were a comedian Joy?
Johnson's head was hardly handed to her. She handled herself in a way I would expect any comedian who half-knowingly decides to pick a fight: by being funny and holding her own. Brown's response? To threaten Johnson with farting and sharting (a joyful mixture of shitting and farting) on her face and then delete his Twitter account. The absence of Chris Brown on Twitter then enraged some of Brown's fans who sent those death threats to Johnson (Twitter, are you doing something about this? Because it's not OK).
Johnson still seems to have her sense of humor though, tweeting:
I hope Bono writes a song about me.
— Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5) November 26, 2012
3. He's a potentially dangerous dick [and deserves to be reminded of it].
Many women, many people frankly, conclude this because of the way he continues to act out (this being only a recent example), show little remorse, yet still manages to be wildly successful. It can be hard to digest, especially when we still see the images of Rihanna after "that night" in our heads.
"Ask Rihanna if she's mad," taunted Brown to Johnson yesterday. And by the looks of it, she's not. None of us can understand how Rihanna and Chris Brown are continuing to process their evolving relationship because we aren't part of it. As Rihanna explained on Oprah's Next Chapter, "I can't tell people how to feel about it. They're entitled to feel angry because it wasn't a good thing. But it happened to me."
What's your opinion?
Follow Jennifer Tress on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jdtress