Why is the music industry so set on giving Chris Brown a big comeback?
—Dally, via the inbox
It does seem like collective amnesia has swept over musicland, given the number of artists dying to feature Chris Brown their tracks, the Grammy he just won, and those two big numbers he performed in last night's show.
You're not alone in your curiosity. Plenty of fans and journalists are wondering why the industry still gets behind this guy, given his not-quite-repentant attitude, homophobic rants and endless self pity.
Well, there's a good reason for the support:
And support him, they do.
Since he pled guilty to felony assault for using a dashboard as a brickbat on Rihanna's face, artists have lined up to work with Brown. That list includes Tyga, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Game, Timbaland and Justin Bieber. His latest album, F.A.M.E., won a Grammy Sunday. Additionally, Brown got to strut his stuff twice at the ceremony itself.
It's all been too much for a lot of pop culture observers.
Sasha Frere-Jones, the New Yorker music critic, called Brown's return "one of the Grammys' weirdest choices ever."
Valerie Strauss ran an opinion piece in The Washington Post arguing that, while people deserve second chances, "That doesn't mean they deserve a chance to strut around the Grammy stage a few years after being convicted of felony assault."
Lastly, there was Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The Atlantic, who said, "I don't look for the Grammys for moral clarity, but, really? Do the words 'felony assault' mean anything at all?"
"No," Louis Peitzman wrote this weekend, "we don't have to forgive Chris Brown."
And E-Poll, the market research company, says that public dislike of Brown is essentially at the same level as it was in 2009.
So why on Earth did the Grammys and the rest of the industry welcome him back so gleefully?
Well, there's nothing that the biz loves more than big sellers, and F.A.M.E. is a big, big seller. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been certified gold.
Second, the Grammys aren't about morality. They're about money. Clover Hope, senior editor at Vibe, points out to me that, first and foremost, the awards show is just that: a show. A show that needs zazz to bring in the kids.
"They have to put on a good show," Hope notes. "They know he does a good show, and that's what its about.
"I'm sure they had multiple meetings about whether it was a good idea, but ultimately, fans have to realize that this is a business, and it's about entertaining people, and whatever else Brown does, he's a good entertainer."
Third? Call it the audacity of hope. We are a Christian nation, raised on the empty lip service about judging not, and never casting the first stone, and learning from "mistakes." People hope that Brown has changed, and that attitude is driving Brown's resurgence in the public eye.
"People have definitely not forgotten about his transgressions," M. Tye Comer, editor of Billboard, tells me. "But he has kept his nose fairly clean over the past few years and people want to believe that he has learned from his mistakes."
In fact, many people are already convinced that Brown is a changed man.
"It's never OK to hit a woman, never," explains Dro Genao, director of promotions at Shady Records. "But to be human is not wrong. I think he learned his lesson. I've got a good feeling he will never touch another woman again."
But what do you think? Should the Grammys have given Chris Brown so much love?