A comical side effect of the #MeToo movement has been the concern that it’ll ruin the lives and careers of powerful men. I say “comical” in the “laugh-to-keep-from-crying” senseto see the utter failure of this feeble strain of whataboutism, we need look no further than Chris Brown.
On Tuesday, Brown headlines the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, which has a capacity of twenty thousand. He’s still being afforded lucrative top-tier opportunities and his songs still crack the Billboard Top 100, even after abundant documentation of his violent relationships with women.
Photos of Rihanna’s bloodied, battered face weren’t enough to end Brown’s career in 2009. In 2016, he punched a woman at a nightclub, and a few months later, he threatened another with a gun. Last year, the actress Karrueche Tran won a five-year restraining order against Brown after dating him on and off from 2010 to 2015. Even years after they’d broken up, Tran still felt like she needed to “protect [her] safety,” as she told talk show host Wendy Williams. And yet, here comes Brown to sing and dance like there’s nothing wrong.
Brown certainly isn’t the only man whose career has been more or less unaffected by women coming forward about the abuse they wrought. R. Kelly still skulks across this horrible earth, and so does Woody Allen. The list is sickeningly long. And yet, Brown and his miserable cohort can still book shows, make art, and exist in public. It’s almost like none of it ever happened at all.
The #MeToo movement was long overdue, and it’s encouraging to witness an apparent sea change in power structures and dynamics. But it can’t last unless those who have done wrong face consequences for the damage they’ve wroughtand we certainly can’t get anywhere if none of those consequences end up sticking.