Update 8:46 p.m. ET: Chris Brown has been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Update 4:40 p.m. ET: Chris Brown’s accuser, Baylee Curran, has posted a video on Instagram responding to critics of her motives for calling the cops on Brown. “Do you all honestly think I wanted this and I caused this?” she said. “If somebody put a gun to your head, what would you do? Call the police.”
Comments on Curran’s post include choice messages as, “Sounds like a typical thing a white girl victim would say stfu you just want money dumb ass bitch,” and “here’s your 15 minutes of fame.” In an interview with TMZ, Curran said that Brown pulled a gun on Curran after she admired a piece of jewelry.
Police began searching Brown’s home after obtaining a search warrant at roughly 1 p.m. local time in Los Angeles.
“Chris is finally awake and posting videos.”
That might be the greatest update ever to a celebrity scandal story, with its plainspoken, almost blasé matter-of-factness perhaps more effectively indicting a celebrity’s actions than any warranted incendiary language could.
The slumbering Chris, of course, is Chris Brown. The video he is posting? An expletive-ridden screed to cops—“Fuck tha police!” included—who, along with an alleged SWAT team was stationed outside his Los Angeles house after receiving a 911 call from a woman who claims he threatened her with a gun.
Brown’s claim: “I’m asleep half the damn night. I just wake up, all these motherfucking helicopter-choppers is around. Police out there at the gate.”
According to Brown, who posted the video after the police had been outside his home for hours waiting to make contact with him, the cops are harassing him and the woman has made a “fucked-up allegation” about him. “Man I’m innocent,” he said in the video. “Fuck everybody.”
Since waking, and with police still trying to make contact, Brown has reportedly thrown a duffel bag out a window. TMZ reports that at least one gun, other weapons, and drugs were in the duffel bag. Refusing to leave the house, he apparently taunted, “Come and get me,” at cops as he chucked the bag out his window.
The story evolved over the course of Tuesday morning, and is still evolving. The tone, however, is familiar: accusations of threats and violence against a woman from Chris Brown, and obstinacy to the point of annoyance from the R&B star.
The incident, it might be worth pointing out, is developing about seven years after Brown plead guilty to felony assault of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna.
According to Chris Ramirez, lieutenant of LAPD media relations, officers fielded a call at around 3 a.m. PT Tuesday from a woman claiming to need assistance outside of Brown’s home. With the pending investigation transferring over to the robbery and homicide division—and Brown making videos instead of cooperating with police—official details were still rather vague.
Which is why we turn to TMZ.
According to the site, Brown was hanging out in his house with several friends, including apparently Ray J, when two women who were uninvited to the get-together showed up with a man who was. The two women were asked to leave, and one of them, the one who made the police report, claimed that Brown pulled a gun on her.
Another source, however, said that Brown was asleep the entire time—something the cranky singer seems to corroborate in his video. As for Ray J, he was detained trying to leave the house, but eventually was let out of handcuffs and took an Uber home. His car was kept for evidence.
As Brown tells it, the whole thing is a witch hunt. “Come on my nigga,” he said in the video, posted at around 10 a.m. PT. “What the fuck else do y’all want from me, bro? I stay out of the way, take care of my daughter, do work. I don’t need fucking ugly bitches, them bitches, whatever the fuck it is. I’m not on that, bro. I’m way too tired to be dealing with this bullshit.”
Exasperated, he said that “every three months” he feels like the police are trying to accuse him of something. “What’s gonna be next? I’m gonna fart out an elephant? Come on my nigga.”
There’s a vendetta, he claimed: “But at the same time when I call the police who are endangering my life they don’t come until the next day. Let somebody make a fucked up allegation about me and oh yeah the whole fucking SWAT team [comes].”
Again, these are accusations. Details are murky. It’s a she-said, he-vlog’d at this point.
But it’s also another incendiary scandal from a celebrity with nine lives. Woken from his little catnap, Brown released an angry video, refuted the allegations against him and, like he always does, will probably land on his feet after all this.
For many people, myself very much among them, it is frustrating, confusing, and depressing that Brown continues to be so warmly received by the entertainment industry. As I’ve written before, the industry—not to mention its consumers—almost never rebuke or punish the careers of men who are accused of domestic violence.
Brown’s is probably one of the most public cases of this, with the photos of Rihanna’s bruised face going viral—at a time when the idea of “viral” was still a new concept. Sure, Brown pleaded guilty and accepted his plea deal of community service, probation, and domestic violence counseling. The felony case was formally closed when the probation ended last spring.
But those six years in the interim weren’t exactly hard for Brown. His next album, Graffiti, was released months after the 2009 incident. Its lead single “I Can Transform Ya” charted in the Top 20. Graffiti was nominated for a Grammy Award. The next year, his album F.A.M.E. actually won.
Joining the likes of Charlie Sheen, Tommy Lee, Ozzy Osbourne, Nicolas Cage, James Caan, Terrence Howard and, most recently, Johnny Depp, he is in proud company of celebrity men whose careers did not seem to suffer at all when they were accused of or, in many cases, convicted of domestic violence.
Brown has had six Top 20 singles, released five new albums that have sold nearly 2.5 million copies in the U.S. alone, led world tours, been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards—winning one—and been nominated for 27 BET Awards, winning 11. This is all, by the way, after assaulting Rihanna.
Also since that 2009 incident: He allegedly threw a chair at a window inside the studio for Good Morning America, apparently angry that Robin Roberts asked him contentious questions, eventually resorting to threats against the segment producer and leaving the studio shirtless.
He heaved bottles at Drake’s entourage, punched Frank Ocean over a parking spot, fought a pair of fans who wanted a picture, mocked singer Kehlani for attempting suicide, attacked his longtime manager—sending him to the ER—and bullied his PR representative into quitting with misogynistic berating.
Allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, of course.
The man of a thousand chances, in an industry that shrugs while offering them to him, and a consumer culture more than happy to let him take them.
I get as teary-eyed as anyone does during that episode of The Office where Steve Carell re-stages the famous “Forever” viral video and the staff of Dunder-Mifflin dance their way down the aisle at Jim and Pam’s wedding. But, damn, it’s shocking how much support Brown continues to get.
Should we reject the music of a celebrity just because, by all official accounts, he seems like a terrible person? Should a felony assault charge bar someone from receiving a Grammy? Should accusations of pulling a gun at a woman, condemning the police in a video, and throwing a duffel bag at them containing drugs and weapons be reason to stop purchasing his albums?
It’s a conversation we’re constantly having in pop culture, the debate over whether an artist’s personal life should have any bearing or their art, and whether we should consume it.
The debate has reached a fever pitch recently, in the midst of a fascinating and necessary cultural discussion about Nate Parker, the director boldly bringing the woefully untold story of Nat Turner and the slave rebellion he led to the big screen, but who has also been tried and acquitted in the gang rape of a Penn State University student in 1999.
We may talk about it again when Woody Allen’s new Amazon series is released his fall, as we do any time one of his new movies hits theaters. We should be talking about it in all these cases, and probably more often.
Still, at a time when we put a celebrity’s career in a casket and dance on their grave whenever they send an ill-advised or offensive tweet, it seems especially egregious that we look the other way at Chris Brown’s antics—along with any other male celebrity accused of such crimes. And keep looking. And then again. And then we look away some more.