That’s certainly one way of becoming a household name. People who didn’t know a thing about American R&B singer Chris Brown probably do now – in a flame of controversy over whether he should even play a scheduled concert in Dartmouth.
At issue is the artist’s personal life, in particular, a conviction from 2009 for an assault on then-girlfriend superstar Rhianna. According to accounts it was a vicious attack.
One would think the people outraged by the musician’s reputation could stay away from the show in droves. They can even, if they like, protest outside and try to let those attending know their feelings about the man’s tendency toward violent behaviour. But the future of the Aug. 31 show is front and centre in a way the public hasn’t seen in a while.
A couple of the major corporate sponsors have withdrawn their support because of the outcry. Halifax Region Mayor Mike Savage has said he’s sickened by the thought of such a person performing locally because he’s not a good role model.
But the promoters vow the show will go on. They’ve also described the calls to cancel the concert in terms of an attempt at censorship.
There’s no accounting for musical taste, it’s often been noted, but in the past we’ve seen self-righteous individuals come out and condemn artists based on their own standards – in some cases due to race, ideology or sexual orientation. That’s not a good precedent.
Certainly this particular singer’s actions were reprehensible and should rightfully shadow him. Assault of any kind needs to be punished and violence against women is a social scourge that has long needed serious address.
But let people who listen to music and attend concerts make up their minds about the integrity – or lack of it – of the artist. This negative publicity will certainly affect that perception. Automatically pulling the plug on the show doesn’t help anyone learn anything, it simple tells them how to think.