Single-Minded: Memo to Chris Brown

Dear Chris: Beating up your girlfriend is a "big deal." So is wilding out when reporters throw you softball questions about what really happened. Grow up.


Chris Brown's definition of a "big deal" needs work. During a much-talked-about Tuesday appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, the singer was asked whether or not he has come into contact with ex-girlfriend Rihanna since her restraining order against him was relaxed. Neither fans nor foes can forget the felony-assault incident involving the young superstars back in 2009. 

"It's not a big deal to me as far as that situation," responded Brown, who appeared to be channeling Billy Idol, complete with blond hair and an '80s jean jacket, on Tuesday. "I think I'm past that in my life." He appeared annoyed, as opposed to caught off guard, batting at co-anchor Robin Roberts' softball questions with arrogance instead of introspection.

Thing is, beating up your girlfriend is a big deal. It's a big deal for Brown. It's a big deal for Rihanna. And it's a big deal for his prepubescent fan base. True, two years seems like a long time in the 24-hour news cycle. Whatever's trending on Twitter in the morning gets a hashtag by lunch and is old hat by quitting time. But when it comes to something as serious as domestic abuse, especially among highly visible "role models," then permanent records get involved.

"I've been focusing on this album," replied Brown when asked how he was coping with the aftermath of his guilty plea, " … definitely this album is what I want people to talk about and not stuff that happened two years ago."

Two years is also a long-enough time to get your talking points together. Roberts wasn't there to humiliate Brown or paint him as a monster. Her job as a journalist is to ask the tough questions and not be a jerk about it. Roberts even thanked Brown directly for being willing to go there -- although it was obvious he wasn't. He told her that F.A.M.E., the name of his new CD, stood for two things: "Forgiving All My Enemies" and "Fans Are My Everything" -- obvious nods to "everything he went through," Brown explained, without explaining how he got through exactly.

Later, of course, the real drama ensued. Reportedly, GMA staffers called security after hearing shouting coming from Brown's dressing room. A window was broken, and Brown left the building curiously shirtless, without performing his second set.

Just one day after his alleged meltdown, GMA extended an olive branch of sorts. Roberts said that the show would "love to have another chat with him." According to ABC, Brown and his camp had also been informed that questions about the domestic violence incident might come up during the interview.

None of that is to say that Brown, for whom F.A.M.E. has already produced three No. 1 hits, can't redeem himself. Rehabilitation should know no prejudice. If Charlie Sheen, a man who's been accused of beatings and then some, can be canonized for his crazy ramblings, then who's to say Brown can't be forgiven?

Brown tweeted as much moments after his alleged "meltdown": "I'm so over people bringing this past s**t up!!!" "Yet we praise Charlie Sheen and other celebs for there [sic] bulls**t."

The problem with the Charlie-Chris comparison is that unlike Sheen, who seems to relish his bad-boy image to self-destructive proportions, Brown believes that he can simply douse his dirt with a bottle of bleach -- that community service and iTunes sales will somehow absolve him from ever having to talk about something that truly was and still is a "big deal." So when Roberts -- who is a journalist, by the way -- asked a newsworthy question, instead of using that moment to address his past concisely and then quickly move on, Brown made himself out to be the brat.