Selling The Danger: Will You Like Chris Brown When He’s Angry?

By Arturo R. García

And I am
Whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the papers, the news, everyday I am

– Eminem, “The Way I Am”

My first thought while watching Chris Brown’s debacle of a Good Morning America interview: WTF is up with his hair?

My second thought: This is horrible. Didn’t his media people give him a better gameplan than this?

My third: … What if this is the gameplan?

It’s fair to mention Brown’s tweet about how he’s being treated vis-a-vis the Charlie Sheens of the world. But it’s at least partially inaccurate to accuse THE MEDIA for that disparity. If the past decade should have taught us anything, it’s that there is no One Media anymore. Sure, the power and influence centers might be depressingly consolidated, but there’s too many individual media outlets catering to too many individual tastes these days to believe Brown and/or his publicists couldn’t lead him toward a network show more willing to ignore his past violence against Rihanna.

By comparison, one of the reasons Sheen is getting a pass in the Tiger Blood era is that his appearances have been limited to strategically-sound outlets. Did anybody really think he would get any intelligent questions from Piers Morgan, who makes Larry King look like Edward R. Murrow? Did anybody really think Jimmy Kimmel, who makes Piers Morgan look like Larry King, would call Sheen out? Even if Sheen is rightly excoriated across the blogosphere, he, or whoever is coordinating his PR blitz, is steering him toward shows catering to patrons of his brand of misogyny. It might be reprehensible, and cunning, but you can’t say it’s not better for his brand than, say, trying to match wits with Rachel Maddow.

So, this post from TMZ, saying Brown “insisted” GMA host Robin Roberts ask him about the expiration of the restraining order put on him by Rihanna, is suddenly just this side of plausible, even if trusting anything from TMZ requires three grains of salt, a thorough hand-washing and 100,000cc of penicillin. So why would a guy with the top album on iTunes and three hit singles, whose career is actually rebounding in spite of what he’s done, give himself a Sisqórectomy and then swing a chair more recklessly than a pro wrestler? Kevin Powell might have unwittingly given us a clue in his open letter to Brown:

Why are they often forgiven, given a pass, allowed to clean themselves up and to redeem themselves in a way Black males simply cannot, Chris? It is because, to paraphrase Tupac, we were given this world, we did not make it. And it is because of power, Chris, plain and simple. Whoever has the power to put forth images and words, to put forth definitions, to determine what is right and what is wrong, can just as easily label you a star one day and a thug and a has-been the very next day. Or make you, a Black male, the poster child, for every single bad behavior that exists in America. Just ask Black males as diverse as Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, or Kanye West.

What Powell doesn’t say is that, aside from Simpson, nearly all of those men he name-checked were able/allowed to use their offenses as part of a more marketable persona: Tyson has traded for years on spoofing his image as a Boogeyman in boxing gloves; the Kobe who emerged after his sexual assault case in Colorado was embraced as the ruthless, title-winning “Black Mamba”; the payoff to Kanye’s Borat job on Taylor Swift was his most critically-acclaimed album yet; and don’t think for a second that the golf world won’t rejoice if and when Woods starts winning more consistently.

So maybe these new touches – the bad dye job, the extra ink on his arms, the stunningly arrogant name for his album, and creepily nonchalant remarks about handling “girl business” and the Rihanna saga being “not really a big deal” – are not just a plea for help or publicity. Maybe they’re a way for him and/or his team to gain control of his story.

Maybe they’ve decided that, as long as Brown is going to be held accountable for what he did to Rihanna (as well he should be), then he’s better off using the implied threat as part of his package. As Roberts pointed out in her ill-fated interview, Brown had a number of supporters in the studio; how many were there just to see him sing “Yeah 3x,” and how many were there wondering, I wonder what he’s gonna do next?

As a plan, it’s far from original. But a hyper-fast news cycle and a fanbase with less of an attention span and more of a willingness to blame the victim in abuse cases can only work to Brown’s benefit. If the idea behind this outburst is to embrace his inner “thug,” his team might be thinking it’s better to be a sideshow than to not be in the show at all. At least for now.



About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • Charles Jackson

    To comment on this article. I totally do not believe Chris Brown is trying to profit from a bad boy image as it would not benefit him. He’s a pop/R&B singer. Maybe if he was a rapper he would benefit from more record sales, but not a pop/R&B dude..

    As for the Kevin Powell article Ive been thinking long and hard about this whole Chris Brown situation and Keven Powell put my thoughts into words.

    He addressed the intersection of Sexism and Racism perfectly. He addresses the fact that beating up Rihanna was/is a big deal and has life long lingering effects on the both of them and the socialization process of how we as men view and treat women.

    As for the double standard that others have including Charlie Sheen he hit the nail on the head.

    As a young Black male I often hear the terms about Black men:
    “angry,” “difficult,” “violent,” “abusive,” “criminals,” or “cocky” or “arrogant.”

    These terms are used on Black men so easily it makes my head hurt. Another word should be added to the mix “disposable” Especially Black male entertainers/athletes as soon as Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, or Kanye West acted up they were no longer loved by the mainstream public but called those terms above. Luckily for them except OJ they got to shuck and jive to get back in the graces of the mainstream.

    Anyway I hope Chris Brown listens to Kevin and continue counseling as watching his mother get abused in still him and work on his issues with anger and remember unlike Charlie Sheen he does not have White privilege and he continues to act out he will not be afforded the extra millions Sheen will be getting for acting like a maniac.

    • Gregory A. Butler

      Unfortunately, whatever insights Kevin Powell had were buried in a mass of braggadocio. He went on and on and on about how he hangs out with famous people, then he bragged about how perfectly centered he is (he even does yoga!) – the article stopped being about the issue at hand and it became a chance for Powell to aggrandize himself.

      Also, Powell seemed really patronizing – he was talking to Chris Brown like Brown was a little boy who needed to be scolded, rather than a grown man who committed a serious crime.

      I hate to say it, but after reading Powell’s little screed, I felt sympathy for Brown for the first time since he assaulted Rihanna!

      As for Powell, he needs to get a bit of humility – if you have to tell people how perfect you are, you aren’t really that perfect at all!

  • DTP

    I hate the way society glorifies the wrong doings of celebrities! Chris Brown AND Charlie Sheen both need to be in jail for their violent actions towards others. It makes me upset to see the both of them getting all of this attention, and in some cases SUPPORT from people who seem to have already forgotten their hateful and deplorable actions.

    • Anonymous

      Tell me about it. If I see another person say “B-Winning” in their facebook status . . . I will punch my laptop monitor.

  • Anonymous

    I remember seeing people comment about his new hair *cough* piss stain *cough* and his outburst. I was a little surprised that someone even said that she liked the “new” Chris Brown, post-outburst. I find that troubling. She even went on to say that Riri “lost the fight,” as though that wasn’t even a domestic violence case. I was disgusted by it. I had to wonder how comfortable would she have been in Riri’s place during that night? How would she have felt getting a bust up lip and being taken to the hospital? I do not feel that this is something good for him. Not in the long-run. And if this is how he wants to really act I wouldn’t feel safer around him.

  • Val

    If Chris Brown had brutally beaten a young White ingénue, like say Taylor Swift, the way he assaulted Rihanna would he have even been invited on GMA?

    If your misogyny is aimed toward Women of Color then it’s possible for your new album to end-up at number one on itunes and to be invited back on GMA even after what happened earlier this week.

    • Chrichelle McCloud

      What’s sad Val is that sisters seem to be his strongest fan base. We are so pathologically misogynistic in our unfailing support of the Black man it’s confounding and sickening.

      • Val

        That’s true. I’ve read blog comments by Black women from the moment he assaulted Rihanna in support him. Very sad indeed.


    It really is unfortunately possible for CB to actually profit from his newfound “badboy/misogynist” image. It’s almost like people aren’t shocked anymore by crimes like domestic violence because it’s because it’s become so depressingly common; in fact as CB reveals one can actually revel in being associated with such a despicable crime! With that said I think it’s also the fault of MSM for also downplaying the crime of DV by not treating all offenders equally. So since CB saw how Charlie Sheen got away for years from being ostracized and reprimanded for his despicable behavior towards women, I believe that in a way might have led his handlers to think why not let CB revel in his newfound infamy? But I think even with way bad boy behavior is associated with men of different races should be taken into account. Like I think a white “bad boy” is regarded as being someone “cool enough to hang out with/date” whereas POC “bad boys” (in this case black men) have to also be regarded with an undertone of suspicion because they could become bad to the point of becoming dangerous violent and thuggish…

  • Jj

    Unfortunately, the media is still giving Brown a pass. I was shocked in the interview when Roberts referred to “what you went through” — sorry, that should be “what you DID”. It is true that the media treats black and white wrongdoers differently– but that means we need to step up the scrutiny on the white ones, not soft-pedal the black ones.

  • mama k

    yes to everything except the inclusion of kevin powell. his letter to chris brown was so eye-rollingly bad and so incredibly self-serving, that it was far from useful to anyone other than powell himself.

  • Hans Anggraito

    sisqorectomy. n.: a risky medical procedure usually involving bleaching and frosting one’s scalp, donning a de-sleeved jean jacket while crooning to a machine-made pop song. Side effects may include blurred vision, uncontrollable desire for non-prescriptive large-frame glasses, ill-advised publicist, album cover, album title, stylist?, and desperate (buthopefullysomewhatcathartic) media stunt such as throwing a chair through a GMA studio. The procedure is irreversible and may quickly result in complete pop irrelevance and apathy.
    See: Sisqo Thatthongthongthongthongthong