Friday, August 14, 2009

Apology Not Accepted

by WCI Intern Cassie Nelson

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock or perhaps just returned from a space shuttle voyage, here's the latest Hollywood News: Chris Brown has issued a very public apology for abusing Rihanna in February 2008. He issued the apology in a video released via the Internet. Although he seemed sincere and aware his acts were wrong, I don’t believe he should be forgiven, and if forgiven, not so easily.

As a 17-year-old high school student in a frightening world of ceaseless dangers, I don’t believe individuals should be so easily forgiven solely because they apologized. Once upon a time, heroes were doctors, firefighters, soldiers, and police who lived and worked to save others. It's amazing how so much has changed in so little time. Now our heroes are performers, athletes, and models, who contribute nothing to the world besides exposing talents they were born with, such as outstanding voices, physical strength, height or agility, or beautiful faces and bodies.

An apology issued five months after the incident and coincidentally near the time of Brown’s sentencing makes me curious. Was Brown's apology spurred by true regret for his actions or to gain sympathy in hopes of reducing his sentence?

Everyday I watch as my friends obsess and fantasize about celebrities. It makes me angry that they are so blind-sided by looks and talent that they don’t see that they are praising celebrities who have done horrible things.

I don’t doubt Brown is sorry for what he has done, nor that he wishes each and every day that he hadn’t done it. But that doesn’t make physical abuse OK. Another example of the public's willingness to ignore or forget celebrity misdeeds: the incredible outpouring of love and admiration for Michael Jackson after his death, with few mentions of the many allegations of child abuse directed at the pop star during his life.

While interning with Robin Sax, a former prosecutor of sex crimes, I noticed that when she appeared on top news shows, ranging from the Today Show and ABC News to TV Guide News, she was asked who could be responsible for Michael Jackson’s death. She wasn't asked about the past allegations of sexual abuse. This makes me wonder if death or an apology makes wrongdoing too easily forgiven. People in the pubic eye apologize for all sorts of acts, crimes, and even accidents. An apology is a first step, only that. It doesn’t mean that Chris Brown will never abuse Rihanna or anyone else again.

Our society places too much emphasis on apologies and gives celebrities too much leeway. Saying one is sorry doesn’t make abuse ok, and dying shouldn’t erase allegations of sexual assault. Chris Brown should not be forgiven and his career should not be advanced because of a mere apology.


Patty Beeken said...

Great article Cassie! You are right on with this. Why is all this celeb stuff so much more important to our media then real issues that happen to real people?

There are so many crime and missing people issues that are passed by while we have to hear the latest Brittany or Jessica news? Over and over and over again.

These people are forgiven for being bad parents, or drug users just because they are who they are.

Kathryn Casey said...

Great post and welcome to WCI, Cassie!

Cheryl said...

As soon as I saw Chris Brown I thought "Ugh, not another celebrity story," but your article was well thought out and VERY well written. Its so nice to get a young persons perspective and to see you aren't blinded by the "glitz and glamour" of the celebrity life style.

Your voice matters and I look forward to hearing more from you.

TigressPen said...

What a phenomenal and well-written article you have here. You have strong views and one day will make a great advocate for the victims of abuse, among other crimes.

You hit the nail dead center with how the media and public view celebrities’ crimes. We are with many cases far too quickly forgive horrific actions. Talent and good looks don’t make it right or okay to abuse or commit any other crime.

cheryl said...

Hmm..the Rhianna pic looks so much like the picture of me that the Spring Lake NJ PD has of me from 1997.
My ex husband beat the you know what out of me. Because, after 18 years of marriage, I had enough.
Sometimes, it takes a long time for women to realize that the man they think they love is really an asshole.

Robin Sax said...

Cassie is amazing and I am honored to have spent the summer with her. As much as she thinks she learned from me I learned that much and more from her!

Nphyxx said...

Cassie, I agree with you on everything except one point: you don't live in a frightening world of ceaseless danger. All forms of crime, including domestic violence, have been on a long decline for decades now, despite the so-called war on terror deaths in international conflict are at historical all-time lows both per capita and in total numbers. You're safer than you were when you were a child, safer than your parents ever were, and immensely safer than your grandparents and your distant ancestors. Don't buy into the media hype and live your life in fear - it's not as bleak as they want you to believe.

As for people like this guy, they don't need to be given second chances. I haven't the slightest sympathy for him, and you're absolutely right in saying "apology not accepted".

iwinc said...

I agree with you to a degree.
Do celebrities get special treatment?-i think so.I think if someone was a celebrity and gorgeous they could do any crime and would be easily "forgiven" possibly unfortunately even idolised for their crime
I agree that there is huge idolisation of athletes and models etc.
Women and girls aspire to be like Paris Hilton and others like her.
The media goes crazy over them.Thats all you see,thats all you grow up with so women and girls know no better-they have no alternatives.
They think if they can be like Paris & others like her,or like a gossip girl,or jennifer Lopez,or a victorias secret model etc then they will be loved,adored,have attention,worth etc.
The mainstream media now even covers stories and photograph pornography people like hugh hefner and his girlfriends,jenna Jameson or whatever her name is etc-people that a few years ago would only have been featured in pornography magazines/media.
Its like theres now a blurring of the lines and the media portrays these "stars" and actions as desirable and cool and attention worthy making it even more confusing for young girls and for parents of young girls/women who are trying to raise their daughters well i suspect too.
There needs to be better role models for people in the media and TV shows.
Its great that at your age you can see through it and can be a "light" to other young girls if that makes sense.Keep it up.Be encouraged.Your doing a great.Don't underestimate your impact.
As for you mentioning that role models used to be firefighters,police officers etc.
Unfortunately going by articles like the below it appears their standards have lowered also.
Police sometimes now appear to no longer be the people that i thought were honourable & moral but now hang out at hooters etc.
Maybe they always were this way but my expectations/ideals of them were too high

As for people like this guy-being truly sorry is a great step.The next step though is that he gets assistance to find out what in him caused him to act that way and to change it.I've never been in that situation thank God but i assume it could be the case that in some battered womens situations that the partner truly felt remorse afterwards but then did it again with again feeling remorse each time?
The underlying cause of what makes a person abuse someone needs to be dealt with otherwise the person might truly be sorry but not be able to stop their actions and keep doing it.
Thats not to diminish the act of feeling sorry(assuming he genuinly is).That is a great thing in itself and there are possibly some abusers that dont even feel sorry?
At the same time Rhianna needs to examine herself to see if there was something in herself that attracted this sort of partner because if she doesn't do that in the future she could attract someone just like him

In defense of Michael Jackson i think that there was a large amount of time that much media coverage was given regarding did he commit those abuses and his popularity went down,possibly finances and health too?
For years we didn't of hear of Michael Jackson making making new releases but we associated Michaels name with did he commit sex crimes,the court appearances etc.
I understand your point but i do think it was covered very much in media and magazines-maybe your possibly too young to remember this.
I think that mentioning this just after someone died would be highly insensitive and inappropriate whether they are a celebrity or not makes no difference to me.

iwinc said...

Oops sorry,it said leave a comment,i think i left an article:)