Hot on the heels of Tyler The Creator canceling an Australian tour, prompted by a petition against him, protestors Down Under have moved their attention to everyone's favorite short-tempered narcissist, Chris Brown. GetUp!'s petition — titled “No, Chris Brown. You're not welcome in Australia.” — has, at the time of writing, received over 14,000 signatures and argues that Brown “is in breach of the Australian visa character test, for having 'a substantial criminal record.'” The petition also states that, “Allowing his entry into Australia sends the message that the Turnbull government does not place significant weight and condemnation on men's violence against women.”
[jump] Now, the smart thing for Brown, at this point, would've been to just keep his mouth shut and ride out the storm until Australian authorities made a decision one way or another. Instead, he hit the internet yesterday and unfurled a series of Tweets that can only be described as deeply ironic.
“I would be more than grateful to come to Australia to raise awareness about domestic violence. Im not the pink elephant in the room anymore,” Brown wrote. “My life mistakes should be a wake up call for everyone. Showing the world that mistakes don’t define you. Trying to prevent spousal abuse… The youth don’t listen to parents nor do they listen to PSA’s. The power that we have as Entertainers can change lives.”
Based on this, Brown seems to be laboring under the impression that his ongoing ability to continue a very successful career in an industry that doesn't care about his well-documented history of violence (towards at least one woman and a couple of famous men), before an audience that would prefer to look the other way on these issues (because they like his songs), is a solid way to raise awareness about the scourge of domestic violence. How are Brown's “mistakes” ever going to be a “wake up call for everyone,” when there are rarely any consequences to any of his (borderline-psychotic) actions?
At no point — correct us if we're wrong — has Chris Brown ever really spoken out about the evils of spousal abuse. He's made a couple of half-assed apologies for his variety of violent outbursts over the years, but has never tried, in any meaningful way, to attempt to “raise awareness about domestic violence.” Unless you count the fact that he's a famous person that committed it. In fact, when Brown does talk about it, we're much more likely to hear him say that “You have to forgive yourself” and “You can't beat yourself up over the years,” than we are to hear him say Don't Beat Women. Ever.
Chris Brown is right about one thing — entertainers do wield a heavy influence on fans. Which is precisely why his unshakeably self-entitled attitude is so maddening.
Interestingly, the GetUp! petition against Chris Brown has since “apologized unreservedly for the problems of this campaign,” thanks to a multitude of (very valid) objections that famous white offenders are not targeted in the same ways as the likes of Chris Brown and Tyler the Creator.
“We now understand the campaign supported a racist narrative,” GetUp! admits on the petition page, “that sees men of colour unfairly targeted, and stereotyped as more violent than their white counterparts. We all should stand up to any man who commits violence against women, but Australia has a history of arbitrary executive decisions and disproportionate exclusion of non-white people at its borders and upon reflection our approach contributed to this.”
So, to recap — everything is bad and nobody wins.
The answer to all of this is actually pretty simple. Immigration offices around the world need to have solid rules in place when it comes to granting people with criminal convictions visas to enter their borders. If there is a restriction on people with convictions entering a country, that restriction should apply equally to everyone, regardless of fame level or an individual's ability to buy their way into a visa. Equally, it should apply to the people that didn't wind up on Entertainment Tonight after beating the crap out of their famous girlfriends. Random arbitrary petitions cannot do the job of a nation's immigration office, and people with convictions that carry visa penalties shouldn't be able to talk their way out of it under a bullshit banner of “raising awareness.”. Over to you, Australia.