Chris Brown Wasn’t Fakin’ Those Tears
I think this was the first time that he had been asked to perform at something big lately (yeah, Kanye has been coming out of the woodwork lately, too). Brown’s album tanked last year. He’s been doing his service. Yeah, those tears were about himself, but I also think that they were about Michael, his oft-cited mentor, and possibly, how he must have let MJ down.
Nothing like “Man in the Mirror” to get people worked up. And yet, I don’t feel that he deserves “forgiveness” for that wallow in grief last night. This is far from the kinds of deeds that I would like to see to see him do, unbidden and unstaged, that would prove to me that he knows better not to go off. He still hasn’t shown that he’s grown up and knows how to keep his hands off women and girls. Which is why I think that some of the skepticism expressed by the entertainment media is warranted.
Brown’s overwhelming display of emotion spoke to many people watching the awards. For these viewers, Brown was turning the page on the tumultuous phase of his career that began when he infamously beat then-girlfriend Rihanna last February. Others, like me, felt the precise opposite way. Brown pleaded guilty just a year ago to a very serious felony. Intimate partner violence is not something you can make up for with a few well-executed dance moves or on-stage sobs. In this view, there was something unseemly about Brown using a tribute to a late legend as an opportunity to turn the spotlight on himself and score some career-rehab points.
Naturally, some in the hip-hop community came to his rescue. Including Queen Latifah. I’m shaking my head at Latifah at this. In with the guys?
At the afterparty, hosted by the tag team of Diddy and “Hustle & Flow” actress Taraji P. Henson, everyone from a show producer to the cast of the soon-to-be-revived BET series “The Game,” as well as some of the night’s winners and presenters, had something to say about Brown’s emotional performance of “Man in the Mirror,” during which the singer fell to his knees crying, genuinely unable, it seemed, to sing the song.
“You know who stole my heart tonight?” Henson asked.
“Chris Brown!” answered Diddy, host Queen Latifah, BET personality Tigger and a group of others in near-unison.
“He was so vulnerable,” Henson continued. “I love you, Chris!”
During the tribute, Brown channeled Michael as he danced to “Remember the Time,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Billie Jean.”
The winner in the Best Male R&B Artist category, Trey Songz, said, “Chris killed that. He left his heart on the stage. He gave genuine emotion. I was proud of him and I was happy for him for having that moment.” Songz didn’t mention Brown choking on the lyrics during the song: “He did that justice. Everybody’s been waiting for that.”
Nope. That’s not what I have been waiting for.
Nor is it justice for Rihanna or for the thousands of battered women and girls who aren’t Rihanna Fenty, either.
I don’t expect Chris Brown to start building homes for battered women and their children. Or to start learning how to bake bread, as Alice Walker once wrote for one of her male characters in The Temple of My Familiar. But I do expect him to walk it like he talks it. So far, a totter–like James Brown, another deceased and oft-imitated singer and woman beater who used to perfect his stagger and collapse on stage while begging his woman, “Please, Please, Please,” gold cape around his neck and all (probably after she had had enough of his beatings and was going to leave his ass flat)–ain’t as good as a walk.