Chris Brown has withdrawn his name as a Nickelodeon Kid's Choice award nominee after 10,000 people signed an online petition criticizing Nickelodeon for keeping him on the nominees list despite charges against him for assaulting Rihanna. Perhaps unfortunately for Brown, the public is speaking out, and saying that they will not enable his actions.
In domestic violence cases, aside from the perpetrator and the victim -- who generally co-exist in an unhealthy codependent cycle -- there also tend to be enablers who, perhaps unwittingly, can allow the abuse to continue and play as important a role as the perpetrator and victim themselves. The victim can be an enabler him or herself by, for example, going back to the perpetrator as it is alleged in the case of Chris Brown and Rihanna. Other enablers may be friends or family members who don't speak out about the abuse, who make excuses for it, cover it up, or encourage the couple to get back together.
Often in the case of celebrities who act up, their fans, the music or media industry can be enablers. In 2008, when Amy Winehouse was awarded a number of Grammy's despite her much publicized drug problems, Natalie Cole drew attention to her belief that Winehouse was being rewarded for bad behaviour. That is, the music industry was in effect enabling her, financially and through praise, to continue in the same way. The same could be said of Winehouse's fans who continued to like her more and buy more of her music, the more she indulged in self-destruction.
While some celebrity figures have come out in support of Brown, the public response to him has shown that music buyers have no interest in supporting or enabling his disgraceful behaviour. This can only be a good thing. If Brown is to make changes and to deal with his issues, it may help him to see the public fallout of his behaviour. Unlike many other mollycoddled stars, he may be realizing that actions come with consequences: serious ones that affect his career, his image and his finances.
Abuse and other types of destructive behaviour do not exist in a vacuum. Society at large can also play a role in aiding and abetting the behaviour when people do not step up and let it be known, loudly and clearly, that they won't buy into it. Chris Brown has not just abused Rihanna, he has abused the trust all of the people who bought into his image and supported his music.
While Rihanna may not have the strength to walk away and say no, the public does. And it is exercising it.
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