Double standards within double standards: Chris Brown vs. Charlie Sheen…Posted: March 23, 2011
- So I’ve been reluctant to delve into the Chris Brown/Charlie Sheen debacle, because it just seems so obvious to me–they’re both troubled, in need of intense anger management classes, and should NOT be getting any more extensive media coverage– , but after reading a ridiculous amount of ridiculous comments on blogs/websites that supposedly cater to the ‘educated liberal,’ I have to say my piece.
A quick synopsis:
Chris Brown went batshit crazy in his ‘Good Morning America’ dressing room after a tense interview with reporter Robin Roberts. Roberts asked Brown a few pointed questions about his relationship with Rihanna (see video here) since he pleaded guilty to felony assault two years ago.
I understand why Brown might have been upset. He did his hours of community service, took those anger management classes. All he had to say was, “Look Robin, I’m here to promote my album, that was in the past, I’ve apologized, let’s move on.” No need to break a window for pete’s sake!) A number of Chris Brown fanatics have criticized Roberts for this very reason, questioning why she needs to bring up something that happened two years ago.
Their questions aren’t invalid.
Compare this interview with the one hour snogfest over at Piers Morgan Tonight some weeks ago. Charlie Sheen and Piers Morgan had a capital time, reminiscing about their meeting in Aspen, talking about their kids, with Morgan assuring Sheen multiple times that he’s ‘alarmingly normal’ and that Sheen is ‘entitled to behave how the hell you like. As long as you don’t — in the old fashioned sense — scare the horses and the children and you turn up to work on time, and you do your job’ (original transcript here). That’d be all just honky-dory if Sheen was getting a little drunk or playing bongos in the nude. But the dude has a serious, frightening domestic violence rap sheet.
Why are so many people ignoring this?
Anna Holmes, founder of the feminish site Jezebel, wrote an excellent op-ed in the New York Times elaborating on the string of Sheen atrocities:
In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)…
Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining order against her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.
And yet, as Drew Grant of Salon points out in her article, ” when Sheen was doing his crazy-ass publicity tour, these items were barely touched upon, with interviewers like Piers Morgan and Andrea Channing not questioning Charlie’s claims that he’s never hit a woman. (Despite court orders and guilty charges that say otherwise.)” Grant concludes:
“Look, all domestic violence is terrible, and celebrities are not above being held accountable for their actions. But what a dark double-standard that Chris must continually answer for his actions, unable to be known as anything other than ‘the guy who beat up Rihanna,’ while Sheen gets a free pass, possibly because none of the women he hurt were famous enough to bother caring about.”
Too true. But I’m going to take it one step further. This is a classic example of a racist double standard. Black male celebrities become the epicenters of shitstorms in the face of questionable moral conduct while their white male counterparts (in terms of heinous deeds) are subject to a myriad of second chances, explanations and excuses. As one astute Salon commentator observed, Tiger Woods was torn apart for committing adultery (immoral perhaps, but hardly illegal) , while Sheen, with that ridiculously long rap sheet of violence towards women, remained on CBS as the most highly paid actor in TV history, until he was stupid enough to insult his boss. If a black celebrity screws up, that mistake stays with him for a long, long time. (Michael Vick anyone?) But white celebrities (Rob Lowe, Roman Polanski, John Mayer, Woody Allen, the list–sadly–goes on and on) can move past their iniquities. And I’m not even going to go into the gender politics of this debate.
Look, I’m all for second chances. I’m hardly one of those ‘that-person-should-be-blacklisted-from-everything-forever’ kind of people. Once you’ve paid the consequences for your actions, admitted your mistakes, you should be allowed to go forth and do you, without calls for your execution hanging over your head. But let’s be fair about this. That’s all I’m saying.