The fourth in an occasional series commending excellent New Zealand journalism, Alex Casey applauds Kanoa Lloyd’s piece about Chris Brown on Newsworthy yesterday.
It’s hard to turn any corner on the internet right now without someone saying something about Chris Brown. He’s just been banned by Australian Immigration from touring the country, following his horrific 2009 assault on Rihanna. I’ve had to unfriend horrid primary school mates on Facebook for complaining they can’t see Chris anymore because “Rihanna got too lippy”, and seen every single opinion fly at me on Twitter from Chris Brown being satanic to Chris Brown being a born again angel.
Luckily, the Newsworthy site managed to tackle this debate in the way that they so often have – unearthing the real problem from whatever topical issue is currently being buried under social media noise.
TV3’s Kanoa Lloyd spoke the most sense on the matter I’ve heard yet on the site – which seriously has been consistently excellent since it began – yesterday, when she addressed a big problem that has been mostly ignored:
“All this makes it seem like the people in charge of our country’s borders are taking a real stand against the well-known perpetrators of domestic violence. In reality, it seems they’re only taking a stand against the black ones.”
It’s the reason why Odd Future were banned from entering our country and performing at the Rapture festival last year, where other white members of the lineup breezed in with a warm welcome from the Golf Warehouse.
“Odd Future had to cancel their appearance at Rapture Festival. It was headlined by Eminem, who’s been rapping about raping and murdering women for 16 years.”
Kanoa then goes on to list the white male artists who have performed in our country recently, despite having a history with domestic violence. Tommy Lee, Vanilla Ice and Ozzy Osbourne have all been sentenced for assaulting their partners – and yet none came under fire for their criminal pasts. The worst punishment Vanilla Ice got was having to do the ice bucket challenge with Jono and Ben.
It’s easier to pin the idea of domestic violence on someone like Chris Brown, Kanoa says, because of his “shadowy stereotype of a ‘dangerous African American man’.” But does the explosive public outrage extend to the daily reality of domestic violence, that it affects one in three New Zealand women?
“Maybe blocking foreign musicians with domestic violence convictions from entering the country will do something to change those dire statistics. If it will, shut the door on them all. Change the locks. But if we’re going to do that, we should apply the standard consistently. At the moment that’s not happening, and we should ask ourselves why.”
I completely agree with her, and am so glad someone else was able to articulate the wider issue in this complex debate. If Chris Brown is banned from New Zealand by the powers that be, this should set the new precedent for touring artists with a domestic violence record across the board – all or nothing. And whatever conclusion we come to, let’s not solely apply our judgement to touring celebrities…