Saturday, February 25, 2012
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
Black culture website The Root has published a blog editorial about the woes of frequently embattled R&B singers Chris Brown and Bobby Brown. Bobby Brown claims that he was pushed away from the funeral of his recently deceased ex-wife, Whitney Houston. Chris Brown has reportedly been recording songs with ex-girlfriend Rihanna, whom he was convicted of battering in 2009. http://tinyurl.com/7n6974a
You know what? Stop it! Neither Bobby Brown nor Chris Brown are revolutionaries! They are not human rights activists! They are not Afrocentric academics! They're not! Just because they can sing and dance does not mean they are particularly wise, ethical or moral. Talent does not indicate that they are open to advancing their knowledge, formally or informally. They are both celebrities who have (especially in the case of Bobby) squandered much of their goodwill with self-indulgent, petulant behavior over the years. Just because they are singers with an "edgy" street-wise quality does not make them into martyrs for black manhood. Chris Brown is not Malcolm X! Bobby Brown is not Fred Hampton! Am I supposed to admire these dolts because "They have swagger"? Really?? I really wish black pundits would present a more balanced portrayal and not just have a bunch of reactionary rhetoric for the mainstream media (who, in keeping with their cultural hegemony, will likely ignore it).
When it comes to the likes of Chris Brown, Bobby Brown, R. Kelly, Michael Vick, T.I., the Game, Kwame Kilpatrick, the list goes on, why do well-compensated black men still seem to be prone to making recklessly ill-informed, self-destructive decisions? And then when the inevitable pushback and criticism comes, we have to circle the wagons and damn near beatify these people? Based on the comments of many of these men, before, during and after their respective crises, they are clearly obsessed with the concept of hordes of anonymous "player haters" having something against them on principle-- supposedly for being black men who are cocky, talented, and with money. Get over yourselves!! All these guys have the millions to pay high-powered lawyers to get them out of the trouble that ordinary black men with little or no affluence would not have access too. What infuriates me is that folks like Grant Hill or Hill Harper have managed to avoid any crazy scandals, and people look at them as "soft". People have NO IDEA who Dr. Neal Degrasse Tyson is.
The Root has recently been including profiles of its Young Futurists of 2012. http://tinyurl.com/6rsrkca In this author's opinion, they will contribute more, pragmatically, to our culture than the celebrity "bad boys". Yes, some of the mainstream press coverage gets batty-- but hey-- on some core level, maybe they have a point. It speaks ill of the intellectual discernment and political capital of black folks when we start going to the wall defending literally every black celebrity who's been struck by megalomania.
Look, I'm not stumping for Armstrong Williams' spot (or Stanley Crouch's, either). I see plenty of imbalance in contemporary American cultural narratives about African-American men. There are plenty of ongoing issues in which with the mainstream press and in pop-culture that deserve vigorous critique. But when it comes to the "ne'er-do-well distant cousins" of our community, I can defend their humanity, but I will not defend their pathology. At all.