Have you heard of Chris Brown? He’s that vulgar cretin who used to be a rapper, and became world-famous as a convicted felon who indulged in domestic violence against his musician girlfriend Rihanna.
Over the weekend, Brown deleted his Twitter account after attacking a comedian called Jenny Johnson who dared to criticise him. Never short on vanity, Brown had tweeted: “I look as old as f***! I’m only 23”, to which Johnson amusingly replied “Being a worthless piece of s*** can really age a person”. There followed a revolting exchange which I won’t give you the full detail of.
Except to say, Brown’s next tweet said: “Take them teeth out when u Sucking my d*** HOE”, to which Johnson replied: “It’s HO not HOE you ignorant f***”, prompting her interlocutor go off in a very scatological direction.
It doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that Brown is a disgusting chauvinist and an affront to the integrity of women everywhere. He also has form, having posted a photo of himself dressed as a terrorist for Halloween in the past. And he is a coward, because he would rather delete his tweets (as he did after a tirade against his critics following the Grammy Awards) than defend them.
If we were being momentarily generous to him, we could grant that, in this particular dispute, it was Johnson that started it; that Brown played the character of a bear trapped in a cage to perfection; and that he was being prodded by someone in avid pursuit of more followers for themselves. And at that point our generosity would stop.
My independentvoices.com colleague Memphis Barker points out that Chris Brown is the perfect villain for the modern media. In the digital age, there’s no such thing as media, only content, and boy does Chris Brown churn out the content.
He provides his detractors with a seemingly endless stream of music, words, videos, violence, and vitriol. He plays perfectly to those two great generators of content, YouTube and Twitter, supplying both with constant material. His romantic entanglement with an exceptionally talented woman – Rihanna – who is also perfect for the modern media just amplifies the noise his public profile makes.
Above all, his many indiscretions create an emotional narrative, of hubris, fall and redemption, that is capable of being repeated ad infinitum. Look him up on Google, if you can bear it. You’ll see, in almost equal measure, stories relating his moral crimes and those conveying his sincere apologies.
In his prolific use of digital media, cavorting with another pop superstar, and irrepressible sexual aggression, Chris Brown is the perfect villain for our digital age.