Some people think Chris Brown is a sociopath. I see him more as half a dozen sociopaths packed into a clown car, arms flailing wildly out the windows, desperate for attention. For one thing, sane people tend to keep from punching others when they get cranky. They don’t spend years unapologetically acting like they’re the victims of a brutal beating they inflicted on someone else. But what they really don’t do is get a giant tattoo on their neck of a woman with a battered face. I’m not even going to go down the road of whether or not it’s Rihanna or just the artist’s interpretation, because it doesn’t matter. The guy has a tattoo of a violently beaten woman on his neck.
For one thing, whatever his intention with it, it’s kind of irrelevant. He’s a public figure, and while he may explain his reasons in an interview, it’s not like there will be a neon sign over his head wherever he goes, quoting that explanation. Seeing as tattoos are permanent and all, this thing is going to be sitting there for years, a giant douche-stamp above the neckline advertising the image of violence against women, way past the time when even people who give a sh*t enough to read an interview with him might know why.
Because even if you give Punchy McGee the benefit of the doubt and assume the tattoo was about remorse (which, just tattoo your therapist’s cell on your hand instead, buddy), it doesn’t change the fact that every time he’s on stage, or on a red carpet, or photographed anywhere, that image is put on a pedestal by default. Because when you shine bright lights on something, wear big golden chains around it, and publish it on shiny magazine pages or big, colourful TV screens, no matter what it is, it’s being made shiny and flashy. It gets the same treatment as all the other aspects of celebrity culture that are admired and celebrated.
Meanwhile, Chris Brown doesn’t even have to see it, unless he happens to be near a reflective surface, looking at his right side. Of course, considering that he won’t let his beating of Rihanna go and keeps trying to make it about himself, that probably takes up most of his time. Does he think it’s ironic, because every time he gets invited to perform at an awards show, no one wants him there? “I know this is why you hate me, but I can wear it as a badge on my skin and strut down a red carpet with it, haters!” That’s not an actual quote, it’s my interpretation of Chris Brown’s thought process. Now let us never venture into his freaky little mind again.
Whatever his reason, that tattoo is just a bad Michael Scott Halloween costume. With so much anti-women legislation going around restricting rights, freedoms, and trying to send us back to 1950, any celebrity touting a beaten woman on his neck – let alone one who’s done that to a woman and publicly refused to show remorse – is guilty of promoting that image and the mindset which brought it about. Yesterday I read an article on Istvan Varga, a member of the Hungarian parliament who stood up and said that because domestic violence happens in the home, it is private and the government need not interfere, and anyway, if women would just shut up and have babies, they would get beaten less often. Right after, I saw Chris Brown’s neck monstrosity. Great news cycle yesterday.
We’re in a bad place in Western Culture right now, as women, struggling to move forward in history against a small but vocal segment of the male population who are trying to push us back. Chris Brown’s neck tattoo is dangling it in front of our face, as if to say, look at what he can get away with, look at where the power dynamic lies. It’s disgusting, infuriating, and a pathetic cry for attention. Your beating of Rihanna, or anyone, is not about you, Chris Brown. Congratulations on pushing the boundaries of douchebaggery into heretofore uncharted territory. You are officially the Voldemort of asshats.
Addendum added at 2:20pmEST: I don’t believe it matters whether or not his tattoo is a Dia de los Muertos one or not. Clearly the image has been construed to be of a battered woman all across the internet, and with Brown’s record, that does not bode well. It doesn’t matter what it is, but how it looks.