Monday, June 28, 2010

Chris Brown's Road To Redemption (Living with the Scarlet Letter)

I didn't watch the BET Awards this year but I found time to peep Chris Brown's Michael Jackson tribute. It was a year late due to his domestic abuse situation with Rihanna where he threw away his slot at last year's awards and possibly the MJ Memorial. But what I saw proved several things.

First, Brown is great when it comes to tributes. I had chills when I saw him honor James Brown three years ago at the Grammys - nearly doing a move-for-move rendition of Brown's "Night Train". And for MJ, he had the moves down pat, even singing a bit of "The Way You Make Me Feel". It was faithful, well-done and was better than anything I saw except for Janet's tribute at the VMA's (The Grammy tribute was well-sung but poorly executed)

Second, Brown recognized the magnitude of the moment. He couldn't sing "Man In The Mirror" because he was overwhelmed by emotion. Was it for remembering his mentor Michael? Was it because he knew how fortunate he was to have another chance at fame? Was it because he knew the message of the song applied to himself? YES to all of the above.

I wish he could've sung it. It would've been the most emotion he'd ever show on a song and he could sing it from experience that he had to make a change. But the moment was bigger than him and his tears showed that.

It was his first steps to public redemption and it's about time. Let's face it, he's going to carry the Scarlet Letter the rest of his life for beating up Rihanna. It's the cross he has to bear but at some point, that cross should get lighter in lieu of his actions. It's not fair to constantly judge him and brand him as a demon when he's trying to do better.

If he's seeking help for his anger and working on being a better man, why should I bring up his past if he isn't trying to relive it. If he was an arrogant prick who flaunted his freedom and didn't try to make things better, then we have another point.

Chris is no Ike Turner - a repeated abuser whose legendary career will forever be overshadowed. He's just in his 20's and has his whole life to atone for his crime. Chris lost his career, his endorsements, his reputation and his image that night.

I believe jail isn't always the most effective way to punish a man. Affect his conscience and you'll damage him far worse than trapping him in a box. Arthur Dimmesdale in the Scarlet Letter saw this punishment and it was no surprise how he dealt with it in the book.

Two words on redemption. Kobe Bryant. Ray Lewis. Look them up.

Sunday night was his chance to regain public favor after staying out of the limelight. If people want to judge him for his actions, then they should judge the full scope, not just the bad. And quit wondering if his tears were phony - if you don't think this affected him, watch his interviews right after the incident. He knows he screwed up.

By the way, if you ever read Scarlet Letter - it also deals with redemption for the main character Hester Prynne, not just carrying the burden of your guilt. It's time to let Chris Brown find it and as a fellow man, I'll be rooting for him turning this into a positive and overcoming his anger. One step at a time.

(Consider this a rebuttal to my boy Tyler over at The Swamp - he takes the opposing view and it's worth a quick read. We agree on one thing, Michael Vick got burned way for animal abuse compared to others for human abuse)

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