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Dear Grammys: What message are you sending?

Dear Grammys,

I’m not sure what message you’re trying to send. But I can tell you what message I received from your show last night.

For all the young and impressionable young people watching the Grammy’s yesterday, one thing was made clear: If you can dance and sing, we’re willing to turn a blind eye. Well, at least if you’re a man. Dancing and singing trumps all, people.

Chris Brown, who in 2009, was brought in on criminal charges (and pleaded guilty) for beating his then-girlfriend Rihanna, and released on $50,000 bail was hailed as a glory boy at last night’s Grammys. He was featured in a stage performance to what looked like a standing ovation from the audience. And then walked away with a Grammy award, a much sought-after award in the music industry in which members of the Recording Academy have the final voting rights.

Rather than shun and publicly speak out against Brown’s violence, the music industry has embraced him in one big giant, protective hug.

According to Amnesty International, one in three women worldwide is a victim of beating, rape, torture, or attack. The music industry is highly influential. But clearly, it will not use its influence to help stop violence against women.

And this, just days after Whitney Houston, is found dead in her hotel room. I can’t help but see an eerily similar path for Rihanna, with the rumour mill reporting that Brown and Rihanna are dating again. Houston, widely known for her problems with drug abuse, also shared in a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey that her ex-husband Bobby Brown used to “slap” her.

I find it very disturbing. All of it.

It makes me think that I will need to work harder to protect my children (both male and female) from your industry’s influence. But I’m willing to do that. With what little influence I have, I’ll do it.


A concerned parent



  1. Agreed, he makes me sick. 2 performances and a Grammy. Really?? **shakes head** 

  2. I agree Julie! I believe that in order for this to stop….WE…the royal WE…the consumer… must stop supporting people/artists that we feel are sending destructive, horrible messages – in particular to our impressionable youth.  If people stopped purchasing and listening to the music, going to concerts, watching the videos and performances….then that individual would lose celebrity status….popularity…and would longer be invited to perform at these events like the Grammys.  Almost like the consumers ‘fired them from their job’.  I think that we, as consumers, need to really evaluate what we see as talent and who we want role modelling for our youth.  As long as individuals like Chris Brown still have all those fans (gasp), I think the Grammys will still cater to the audience – they are providing, evidently, what the majority of people want (huh??) and where the $$ is?   Just my opinion:) 

    sidenote: I don’t follow much of the celebrity detail but you mentioned Rihanna may be back together with him?  If that is the case, that’s a whole other issue….a message that she may be sending to young women:(

    • Coffee with Julie says:

      Yes, we’re consumers. But more than likely, it’s our teens who are the consumers. It would seem that only us “adult folk” find the idolization of Chris Brown disturbing. But most of these teens get their money from parents, so — I’m with you — we’ll need to “guide” how they spend it! 

  3. Julie, I completely see where are you coming from and I agree that it seems like The Grammy’s are glorifying this artist that does not deserve to be in the limelight because of his personal actions. It really bothers me that so many young women are in awe of him, especially after reading this article this morning: 

    What I struggle with is this. Chris Brown is and was young and stupid. He committed a very damaging, violent act. One that will follow him around for the rest of his life. To you, me and many others out there, he will always be a woman beater.  It is very sad but….

    What if Chris has asked for Rihanna’s full forgiveness and she has forgiven him? What if he went to counselling? What if they go to counselling together?  What if Chris has learned a lot about himself and has truly grown as a person from this experience? Should we “hate” on him still?  Should we continue to throw stones at him for the rest of his life because of a stupid act he committed when he was a young man? Maybe it is still too fresh in our minds still. Maybe we haven’t seen enough of a “changed man” in him. Maybe we believe, once a beater – always a beater?

    I am a young mother and watching The Grammy’s disturbed me too. The performances are over the top.  I am trying to teach my son to respect others, but at the same time I want to teach him that people make mistakes. Mistakes they should be able to grow from and move on from and not be trapped in for the rest of their life.

    I agree, there needs to be more public education about violence against women and maybe that should come directly from Chris to his fans. And you are right, this is all very distrubing. I am just worried that all this hating and shunning is not the answer. 

    • Hi Alicia,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective here. I think that if Chris Brown had publicly expressed regret, apology, shared any steps he was taking to avoid violence, or even donated money to a women’s shelter — anything! — I would feel differently. But it just seems like it was shoved under the carpet by the industry as whole.


    • Yeah I get where you’re going – let he…lah lah lah…throw the first stone – but I feel fairly confident that this is behaviour that doesn’t benefit society at all, so why wouldn’t we condemn it?  Maybe he has changed but he didn’t show any “growth” after ripping his shirt off and storming out of a television studio when they asked him questions about it!  

      What about the Catholic priests – are they able to come back from their mistakes?The tweets from the fans are revolting and show that there is an ignorance about abuse from these young people.  That’s why you have to keep repeating that abuse is wrong – forgetting.  It’s a silent story that just doesn’t get told as openly as in Rihanna’s case.The only reason I am in favour of “hating” on poor old, er – young – Chris is because spouse abuse is SILENT and goes unreported in most cases.  If Rihanna and Chris weren’t famous would we even hear about it?  Wherever violence occurs it falls upon anyone and everyone to denounce it and yes, “hate” it.  It requires a specific twist of the mind to lash out with violence against anyone, and just saying you’re sorry is no solution.  It doesn’t work in geopolitics, it doesn’t work in life either.  If you accept an apology from your loved one who has hit you, you’re in the wrong relationship.

  4. Adam Harrison says:

    Good call Jules – I was listening to the recap on the radio this morning, and the update didn’t even mention Brown’s grammy win. I too wish he was ostracized for his conduct, but many of his fans are very quick to forgive and slag anyone who brings it up as “Haters”……morons.

  5. Trish Roche says:

    I have to say that I am no fan of  Chris Brown. So many reasons. But I also want to say that Rihanna needs some help too. Was it just me,or did her song “Love the way you lie” not strike anyone as the ultimate bad message for girls? I love the way you lie? With Eminem singing about hitting her and tying her to the bed and setting the house on fire?? This after the Chris Brown incident. The women in these situations, yes, they are victims. But they need some help in their own warped way of thinking. I think Rihanna is doing nothing to help send positive and empowering messages to girls and women. We know Chris Brown is an ass, but Rihanna has got lots of young girls who idolize her and that concerns me.

    • I couldn’t agree more! She seems young and a tad messed up to me. Not really in a position to be a role model, but surely someone on her “team” could guide her better?

      • Trish Roche says:

        Yes, she’s certainly building a track record of bad decisions and has publicly said that she doesn’t want to be a role model. Um — too bad! It comes with the perks of fame. I see worse decisions for her before I see better ones, I’m afraid. I hope I’m wrong about that.

  6. Sarah McCormack says:

    I must admit I had some of the same thoughts when watching last night. but on the other hand, I believe in forgiveness.  I believe that a young man (who was brought up in a household with domestic violence)  can make a mistake (a horrible one) and still be a good person who has a lot to give. He was punished. He did have his day in court.  He did pay a price. 

    as for him apologizing  ….. here it is.  take it or leave it.  i think he deserves a second chance. 

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for sharing that video link. I had never seen it before. I still have very mixed feelings. I guess it’s because I doubt his sincerity. Here’s a clip where he talks about “everything he’s been through.” He’s deliberately using vague words and it’s about him (not the victim).

      But, as always, a variety of perspectives are very welcome here.


      • Sarah McCormack says:

        hey Julie,

        yes, I saw that interview and wasn’t impressed at the time. I think that was the week he smashed the window out in the dressing room of ABC studios as well.  yikes.  so, why am i defending him? not sure.  am i am fan of his music? nope.  am i a fan of his? nope.  I guess i just trul believe in second chances.  I would be happy to see Chris live a productive life and not end up dead in a bathtub.  and i really hope he never hurts another person.   i hope he takes his second chance and runs with it.

  7. Sadly, the Grammys message was received. Buzzfeed reported an article titled “25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions To Chris Brown At The Grammys” of tweets from young girls pretty much saying they’d let Chris Brown beat them up any day. Here’s the link but it might ruin you day:

  8. Hi, lurker coming out for the first time!  I have to say, while I don’t care for him on a personal level, the Grammys are about music and recognizing musical talent, and not their altruistic and moral behaviour.  I don’t believe their personal lives should bear any influence on whether they should receive recognition for their talents.  They are two separate issues.  However, as a consumer, I can choose not to support those artists whose values are not in sync with my own, but honestly, that would likely eliminate a lot of my favourite artists!  I like Madonna as an artist, but as a person, not so much.  Michael Jackson’s personal life is questionable, but no one can deny his immense talent. How many of the featured artists are known drug users, impaired drivers or serial cheaters? People need to stop glorifying celebrities and viewing them as role models. My personal gripe with the Grammys was the Nicki Minaj performance – no talent whatsoever and insulting to those who can actually sing and/or play a musical instrument.  BTW, I must tell you that of all the Ottawa bloggers, you are my fave.  I like how you discuss family issues, but in an intellectual way that is missing from the blogs of other Ottawa parenting bloggers!

    • A de-lurker!! Woot! Woot! :)

      Yes, I think the larger answer to the question is that we have to stop glorifying celebrities. They are simply not good role models (as a general rule) — eating disorders, substance abuse, drunk driving, and the list goes on. And yet, celebrities have always been glorified role models … since the beginning of time, really. So that will be a big boat to turn around.

      The easier boat to turn around, I think, is to encourage celebrities that the better role model they are, the better recognition they will receive. I know that in some rapper communities, there have been discussions around removing profanity and the glorification of gangs since it has such a strong influence on young men. Along this same vein, the only way I can encourage a celebrity to be a better role model is with my purchase power. So I refuse to be a consumer of an artist that I can’t respect (i.e. someone who commits crimes). One of the other commenters made an interesting point: a Priest found guilty of abuse is kicked out of the Church. In many ways, the personal lives of role models in our communities can’t really be separated from their professional lives.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It’s been really interesting to hear all the different perspectives and I am so happy to know I have you as a reader!

  9. i do believe in second chances, but i also believe you need to take responsibility for your actions. if chris brown used the rest of his career to promote positive messages, then maybe it would be easier for me (and others, obviously!) to see what kind of message the Grammy’s was sending. it would have been really nice if he talked about his struggles and changes that he’s made in the last 2 years in his acceptance speech. then maybe young people would understand that he had to go through some things to change his behaviour – i’m not saying he has to be the spokesperson for ‘violence against women’, but i don’t think he is showing any real remorse and he’s not using his celebrity in a positive way. 

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