Unfortunately, when you become a celebrity, your private life is no longer private and what’s done in the dark will definitely be brought to the light. But, why are Black celebrities ostracized for committing the same act, or acts that are equally as heinous, while others simply receive a slap on the wrist and maybe some public backlash? I’m all for celebrities reaping the consequences of their actions, since most of them feel that they’re above the law anyway, but doesn’t it seem like Black celebrities suffer far more than their melanin-deprived counterparts? Let’s discuss:
Case #1 – Chris Brown vs. Charlie Sheen (not pictured because we’ve already seen enough of him)
First and foremost, let me just say that Chris Brown aka Breezy was wrong. I do not condone or encourage domestic violence, nor do I believe that there is ever a valid reason for it. But, this story has run its course, and unless someone comes forward with an actual video recording of the incident from that night, I no longer care to hear Rihanna’s or Breezy’s side of the story, or speculation from the public as to how they think it all went down. At this point, I feel sorry for blonde Breezy. He did his time and has thoroughly suffered the consequences of his actions, yet he is still being shunned his assault on the pop princess over 2 years ago. If this is what Rosie O’Donnell meant when she said “Chris Brown is a victim too,” then I wholeheartedly agree.
Although Breezy’s off-camera reaction to questions about Rihanna and the restraining order on “Good Morning America” was completely out of line, I totally understand his frustration. Why Robin Roberts even felt compelled to ask him about “the situation” two years after the fact, is beyond me. No one cares anymore. And even after Breezy calmly communicated several times during the interview that the focus of the discussion should be his new album, F.A.M.E., Roberts annoyingly persisted with questions about the past.
Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen, with his laundry list of offenses, managed to turn the public’s frown upside down, and has even profited from press surrounding allegations that he beat his wife, and that he is currently under the influence of some narcotic, which he so cleverly calls “Charlie Sheen.” Although both incidents have been highly publicized, Sheen has successfuly managed to make a mockery of his situation with a growing dictionary of Sheen-isms and countless videos in which he exhibits erratic and unstable behavior. The public is not as vocal about Sheen’s violence towards his ex-wife, nor have these allegations affected the success of his popular TV sitcom, “Two and a Half Men.” If anything, his extreme and irrational behavior in interviews has increased the show’s ratings, as I recently caught it playing on two different channels at the same time.
However, the uber-talented, Chris Brown, was consequently sentenced to 5 years probation and more than 1400 hours in “labor-oriented service” for his actions, and his career took a turn for the worst. As a direct result of the incident, Breezy’s album, Graffiti, released in 2009, experienced low sales leaving critics and naysayers predicting a grim future for the self-proclaimed pretty boy, and the public became divided as to whether his actions should be forgiven, with the launching of “Team Breezy” and “Team Rihanna.”
Rosie O’Donnell, an unlikely member of “Team Breezy,” recently expressed her disgust for the disproportionate level of scrutiny Breezy has received from the public in comparison to others who have been accused of the same, stating that perpetuation of this controversy may have more to do with the color of his skin than anything else, and I happen to agree. #TeamBreezy
Case #2 – Michael Vick vs. Ben Roethlisberger
I will, again, begin this case evaluation by emphatically stating that I do not condone or encourage the acts committed by Michael Vick. But, here is another example of the difference in how, not only the public, but the justice system responds to unethical behavior displayed by two NFL superstars who both ironically sport the
unlucky number 7.
The most confusing aspect of this story is that Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was only “accused” of committing rape and was never formally prosecuted or charged. Yet, despite escaping the arms of justice, Roethlisberger was suspended for six games for “violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.” Why did the NFL feel a need to punish acts that were supposedly never proven? Do they know something we don’t about what happened the night he alledgedly raped a 20-year old college student in a Georgia nightclub?
Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick, on the other hand, is just now starting to “bounce back” publicly after being banished from society, literally (he was sentenced to 23 months in prison and 3 years probation thereafter), for his participation in an underground dog-fighting society back in 2007. He just recently landed his first endorsement with Unequal Technologies (never heard of them, but hey, it’s something!) – a company that manufactures protective, shock-absorbing padding for athletes – since pleading guilty to dog-fighting charges almost 5 years ago. Meanwhile, Big Ben, with a second rape accusation under his belt (reported in 2010), has only received minimal backlash (being called “Rapist-berger” and losing an endorsement deal with Big Ben Beef Jerky), and still maintains relationships with major companies like Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Sidenote: I just wonder how this secret dog-fighting society was discovered. Are there police officers being paid right now to investigate and prosecute dog-fighters? If so, I think I’ll write my congressman and suggest that the public would be better served if law enforcement officers were more abundant and aggressive in preventing crimes against human beings rather than animals.
Granted, Montana is being prominently featured in pornographic films, whereas Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton claim that their sex tapes were “leaked” under the pretense that their videos were made within the privacy of their own boudoir. But, we all know the release and sale of these sex tapes was no accident. So, why was Montana’s decision to become a porn star met with such criticism, while Paris Hilton’s and Kim Kardashian’s careers flourished? Montana’s own father, actor Laurence Fishburne, temporarily disowned her, and the media pegged her as a delusional, misguided teenager who got her cherry popped prematurely. She hasn’t caught the eye of any professional athletes or musicians, nor has she gotten any offers to do reality TV (but, I suppose porn could be considered a reality show).
Poor little Montana experienced firsthand what happens “when keeping it real goes wrong,” by explicitly stating that she “loves sex.” This was her first mistake, namely because we all know that, unfortunately, we live in a society where the more a woman pretends not to like sex, or if she appears chaste and untainted, the more coveted she will become.
Montana’s second mistake, which she had little control over, was her father, Laurence Fishburne, speaking openly about his disdain for the career path his daughter has chosen. You don’t hear Bruce Jenner (Kardashian dad) or Daddy Hilton sounding off in public about what an embarrassment their daughters are to friends and family (even though I’m sure they are). Although this is every father’s worst nightmare, Laurence would have done his little girl a solid by keeping his opinion to himself.
Finally, Montana’s biggest mistake was actually becoming a porn star. She is openly being paid by Vivid Entertainment for her “services.” Kim Kardashian is, wisely, being paid under the table for her “services,” also by Vivid, and inadvertently through reality show success, endorsements and all the other business opportunities which ultimately became available to her only after she bared all in a sex tape with R&B singer, Ray-J.
I could go on…Tiger Woods vs. all other married men who cheat on their wives, Reggie Bush vs. other Heisman trophy winners who also more than likely received “impermissible benefits” while still playing in the NCAA, and so forth and so on. As much as I would like to believe that these discrepancies are merely coincidences, the evidence shows otherwise. Black celebrities simply cannot engage in the same shenanigans as non-Black celebrities and get away with it. We are not only held to different standards by society, but also by our own families and friends. That’s just the way it is. We must accept it and act accordingly—