Justin Bieber recently faced criticism for referring to Chris Brown’s assault conviction as ‘a mistake’, and claiming it has led people to ‘overlook’ his talents.
For context, it seems that Bieber is referring to the infamous incident in 2009, when Brown was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Rihanna’s injuries were so severe that they required hospital treatment, and she was forced to cancel her performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Since the incident, numerous artists have refused to work with Brown.
However, Bieber appears to have few reservations about working with Brown, having done so since 2009.
Bieber’s comments have been criticised for trivialising a serious act of domestic violence, and many have questioned whether he should ever have expressed his opinion on Brown’s past. Bieber’s opinion has been considered especially controversial because many of his fans are impressionable, young teens.
It seems the comments were intended to defend Brown in the wake of his latest scandal, in which he faced criticism for directing an offensive rant at indie band CHVRCHES, after they criticised a former collaborator for their decision to work with the ‘abusive’ Brown.
Given this scandal had nothing to do with Bieber, other than the fact he has also worked with Brown in the past, and perhaps felt the need to defend this decision, his decision to speak out in Brown’s favour seems ill-advised. It seems to dismiss the ferocious assault on Rihanna as a minor incident, and trivialises domestic violence in front of Bieber’s army of teen fans.
Bieber’s decision seems even more ill-advised when one considers Brown’s lack of remorse over the incident. Whilst he did once say that the incident made him feel like a ‘monster’, he has also gloated that winning a Grammy means he is now ‘untouchable’, and seemed to blame Rihanna for the assault, alleging that it was in response to her jealousy over another woman.
Despite this, Brown is still releasing commercially successful music. In this climate of ‘cancel culture’, when celebrities can see their entire career ended by a single mistake, one has to wonder why Brown’s fans, including Bieber, continue to support his career.