(The Root) — Not too long ago, one of my best friends sent me this frantic text: "OMG I'm at the office and just saw that security guard who looks EXACTLY like Darren. I'm totally freaking out. I'm getting a taser!!"
You would think this Darren guy had done her some terrible wrong. That he had hurt her so personally and deeply that she should not only fear but also rally against him. But no, "Darren" (not his real name) was my college boyfriend, a first love who after four semesters and as many breakups would devolve into my first real-life bogeyman. "Things" ended beyond badly. The police were involved, and after all these years, so are all my friends.
To this day, Darren is brought up in irreverent (though hushed) tones whenever we're sitting around reminiscing about undergrad life. Not only does he represent my biggest mistake and lesson, but he's also an easy punch line and parable. Soon after I got that text reminding us of him once again, we did some Google stalking and confirmed our suspicions that Darren was still "nuts." The villain in a story rarely gets redemption because if he did, the rest of us would be left wanting.
I wonder if the same could be said of the celebrity villains whose bad behavior goes through a predictable 24-hour news cycle that ticks from shocking to sad to Twitter stalking. Take, for example, the recent dustup between comedian Jenny Johnson and embattled entertainer Chris Brown.
Johnson has a history of "hating" Brown. She "frequently makes fun at the expense of controversial R&B singer Chris Brown," according to an article in the Huffington Post about how Brown recently replied to Johnson's regular quips.
Basically, the man went a little overboard — if by "overboard" you mean tweeting vulgar, violent and threatening "jokes."
On Sunday Brown tweeted, "I look old as [f—k]! I'm only 23 … ," which sounds innocent enough if you don't have an allergic reaction to everything Chris Brown does. Johnson, who has tweeted about Brown since 2009, saw that as her opening, replying, "I know! Being a worthless piece of [sh—] can really age a person. RT @chrisbrown: I look old as [f—k]! I'm only 23 … "
Brown then began barraging Johnson with several tweets about oral sex and bodily functions. It was gross, to say the least, and totally misogynistic, to say the most. For her part Johnson, who once wrote, "If I take a verbal shot at Chris Brown via my Twitter page, I know the rest of the day will be filled with Team Breezy @ replies," refused to back down.
She corrected his grammar (apparently the colloquialism of whore, "ho," doesn't have an "e"), threw out her own f-bombs and tweeted back an MTV News story about the details of Brown's arrest for beating his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.
And where was Rihanna's e-alter ego during all this? She was Instagramming Bible verses. "Be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you," read a highlighted portion of the Scripture she messaged to her 26.8 million followers.
Perhaps her friend Chris got the message, because his Twitter account has been deactivated. Yes, in this metaphor, Twitter is the devil.
Let's be clear: Like many of you and Jenny Johnson, I don't know Chris Brown personally. We've never met. I've never even seen him in person. But from what I do know — his domestic violence arrest, chair throwing at Good Morning America, dressing up as a "terrorist" for Halloween, etc. — I don't think we'd ever be close. And I'm pretty sure he's cool with that.
What's more disturbing for me isn't so much that Brown would tweet a woman he's never met such vile and disgusting things, but that a woman he'd never met seems to take it as a point of pride that she can eke out such a response. If you're admittedly gaining notoriety for antagonizing celebrities who behave badly, then is your behavior any better? From what I gather, Johnson doesn't regularly tweet about domestic violence hotlines, women's shelters or rehabilitation programs.
She isn't calling for the boycotting of the radio that plays Brown's records or the concert venues that showcase his performances. She's simply pointing to the bad guy, crying "ogre" or "bear," while the rest of us are supposed to scream and shout instead of building a fence to keep the baddies away.
So in this Twitter celebrity shouting match, both Johnson and Brown succeeded in moving the needle absolutely nowhere. Johnson will be held up by her fans as a champion for the cause of yelling "idiot" in a crowd of dummies, and Chris' #TeamBreezy extremists will get a shot in the arm for a day or two. But after all that, the whole situation still remains nuts — just like when I wasted an hour Google-stalking Darren. I uncovered a new mug shot, but not much else.