Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chris Brown Doesn't and Does Recall Beating Rihanna

First, let me say that while I know that being raised with domestic violence, as it's reported Chris Brown was raised, may result in your also being a physically abusive partner, my sympathy for the young singer is limited. Nothing excuses a man beating a woman. Brown, seeking to save his recording career, has made multiple public apologies for severely beating another star, Rihanna during what began as a "lovers' quarrel" this winter.

The public weighed in then and continues to weigh in. Unfortunately, we still have people, often named Anonymous, popping up in comment sections, who don't get that the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident or beating the hell out of someone and then asking forgiveness is not about love or romance. Neither is it something to brush off, letting by-gones be by-gones. Yet, we see people, young and old, male and female, blaming Rihanna for Brown beating her with arguments that amount to "she was asking for it."

All that said, when Chris Brown appears to tell CNN's Larry King in a clip from an "exclusive" interview that will air Wednesday night that he doesn't remember beating Rihanna, I think he may be telling the truth. The real truth. There is evidence from the field of psychology that blind rage makes one exactly that, blind. A beating like the one Brown gave Rihanna is an example of primal rage unleashed.

Nevertheless, perhaps doing damage control for public perception that a blurry memory of your beating someone up is akin to not taking responsibility for your actions, Brown's released a statement through his record company, Jive Records, explaining his comment to King. He says that the CNN clip was taken out of context and that he "misspoke" when he answered King's query "Do you remember doing it?" with "No."

There have been reports on the internet that I didn’t remember what happened that night with Rihanna. I want to try and set things straight.
That 30 seconds of the interview they used of me was taken from a one hour interview during which that same question was asked something like 4 or 5 times -- and when you look at the entire interview you will see it is not representative of what I said.
The first four times – or how ever many times it was - I gave the same answer -- which was that I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to talk about what happened that night. I said it was not right for me and it really wasn’t fair to Rihanna. The fifth time – or whatever it was – I just misspoke. I was asked, “Do you remember doing it?” and I said, “No.”
Of course I remember what happened. Several times during the interview, my mother said that I came to her right afterwards and told her everything. But it was and still is a blur. And yes, I still can’t believe it happened because it is not me or who I am or is what happened like anything I have ever done before.
As I have said several times previously, I am ashamed of and sorry for what happened that night and I wish I could relive that moment and change things, but I can’t. I take full responsibility for my actions. What I have to do now is to prove to the world that this was an isolated incident and that is not who I am and I intend to do so by my behavior now and in the future. -Chris Brown (Global Grind, "Chris Brown says he didn't black out.")
Hat tip to MrsGrapevine for that link.

Others have posted his statement as well, breaking into different camps--sympathetic vs. no sale. The latter see the singer's statement as a well-crafted bit of PR speak.

Having trained people to talk to the media before, I'll tell you what I think. I think that major parts of the beating are indeed "a blur" to this young man, that there are parts of what happened that Chris hasn't processed and that he really doesn't remember some of his actions that evening. Neither can he explain what turned him into a raging maniac. King kept asking him the same question over and over again because he recognized that Brown was giving him the talking points that his image consultant or media trainer or lawyer told him to give, and King wanted an answer from Chris's heart not the gospel according to image spin.

I've watched the early clips of Brown's interview with Larry King, which include Brown's mother and his attorney, and have decided to post two videos: 1.) The part of interview in which Brown says he doesn't remember beating Rihanna and 2.) CNN talking heads discussing the interview, how Brown must rebuild his image and appear contrite, but also how they are disappointed that he isn't more articulate about what he did and how he feels.

In June, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault against Rihanna and was sentenced to five years probation and six months community service, which means for six months he'll be cleaning up public areas, "removing graffiti," for instance. He says he doesn't mind doing it. Some observers feel the sentence was far too light while others say the solution is not hard prison time but close monitoring and psychotherapy.

From CNN:

Pop star Chris Brown has admitted guilt and apologized for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna in February, but he does not remember hitting the singer, he told CNN's Larry King.
Looking at police reports about the incident makes him feel like he's reading about a stranger, Brown said in his first television interview since the arrest.
"I'm in shock, because, first of all, that's not who I am as a person, and that's not who I promise I want to be," he said in an exclusive interview that airs Wednesday night.
"I just don't know what to think. I'm just like, wow," Brown said. "It's crazy to me."
Brown, 20, said he still loves singer Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
But, he added, it is tough for him to look at the photo showing Rihanna's battered face, the one image that might haunt and define him forever.
"When I look at it now, it's just like, wow, like, I can't believe that that actually happened," Brown said.
...Why did it happen? How did it happen?
Those are questions Brown and his mother, Joyce Hawkins, have been asking.
"Chris has never, ever been a violent person, ever," Hawkins said.
However, CNN obtained a probation report for Brown last week that said he and Rihanna were involved in at least two other domestic violence incidents before the February attack for which Brown was sentenced.
"The first incident occurred in Europe about three months before the present offense," the report said.
"The victim [Rihanna] and the defendant [Brown] were involved in a verbal dispute and the victim [Rihanna] slapped the defendant [Brown]. He responded by shoving her into a wall."
Another incident happened in January, three weeks before the Hollywood incident, when Brown and Rihanna were visiting her home country of Barbados, the report said. (CNN)
In the second video, the CNN journalists discuss that people undergo hours and hours of media training to prepare for such an interview. They are correct. However, a good interviewer must break through the talking points and get the subject to be real. The interviewer seeks authenticity. Sometimes the authentic answer, however, will get the subject in hot water.

In Chris Brown's case, the average person won't believe he doesnt' remember. "I don't remember" sounds like a cop out.

The latter part of the second video is on the death of DJ AM.

Cross-posted at BlogHer.com


Bri said...

This situation, from an outsiders POV, makes me sick. He forgot? Really?

I don't care what the fight was about, beating a person up to that extent with evidence that it wasn't the first time he'd done so, is inexcusable. That isn't blind rage, it's abuse.

I remember smacking someone after I found out he was unfaithful, I was angry enough to seriously hurt him, but the second I hit him, I realised that I would never approve of any man hitting any woman over infidelity. It sobered me. I understand that people get angry and sometimes people really can aggravate you but what he did has no excuse. It's shameful and disgusting. Even worse are the people who say she deserved it.

Vérité Parlant said...

Thanks, Bri. I agree. However, saying someone flew into a blind rage does not translate to an acceptable excuse nor does it mean the result of the rage is not abuse. In fact, regular outbursts of rage is a self-indulgence and negative self-indulgence always results in abuse of someone or something. It's mismanaged anger for which people need to be accountable.

Often abusers are full of rage. However, even in cases where rage is understandable, such as finding out someone murdered your child, rage is never an excuse, but always a dangerous state of mind.

But if someone murdered your child, you might get off pleading temporary insanity.

A bigger but--regular bouts of rage, like what CB seems to have, are not classified as temporary insanity but as the pattern of the abuser.

We humans tend to excuse people we say "lose it" easily with comments like "Oh, he or she's just high strung." In truth, losing your temper regularly is a warning sign to get help before you hurt someone. With all those warning signs in Chris's life, he has no excuse.

Once you cross the line and do hurt someone, you don't get a free pass based on rage, whatever the trigger, because human beings should practice self control and also be humble enough to get help when they need it.

I'm pretty angry with the people who say she deserved it too. I wonder who raised 'em.

Enjoyed your visit.