Tag Archives: Grammys

The Grammys’ mixed messages on domestic violence

By Hannah Stein, JWI

In between dramatic performances, corny jokes and tearful acceptance speeches at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, President Obama spoke out against domestic violence. Obama reminded artists and the music industry that they have the power to shape a culture that denounces domestic violence and sexual assault. In his video appearance at the awards ceremony, the president encouraged artists to take part in the It’s On Us campaign. Just a week after NO MORE’s eye-opening Super Bowl ad, domestic violence and sexual assault were again in the national spotlight.

After the president’s message and before Katy Perry’s performance, survivor and activist Brooke Axtell shared her own story of abuse. Axtell emphasized the reality that violence is not love, preaching, “authentic love does not devalue another human being.” She spoke directly to the audience and delivered an important message: domestic violence is inexcusable, and we need to talk about it. It seemed that on a night typically known for it superficiality, the 2015 Grammys stood for something bigger.

Or at least they tried to.

While heightened awareness marks progress, there’s a much bigger issue at hand: the entertainment industry continues to glorify abusers.

Sunday’s Grammys sent viewers very mixed messages. Our president demanded that celebrities raise awareness for and stand up to domestic violence, stressing the importance of being proactive. Axtell shared her gut-wrenching story of survival, empowering people around the nation to get help and recognize their worth. Yet among the nominees for Best R&B Performance were two men whose careers include instances of mistreating women, R. Kelly and Chris Brown.

In addition to his indictment on child pornography charges, R. Kelly faced numerous rape accusations throughout the 2000s. He was eventually acquitted of all charges in 2008. Chris Brown, just before the 2009 Grammys, beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna so badly that she went to the hospital. He recently finished his court-mandated community service and faced no jail time.

Adding to the confusion of the night’s message-filled show, rapper Eminem won the Grammy for Best Rap Album. His music is known for praising violence against women, often threatening female icons in his lyrics. He has rapped about hurting women from Lana Del Ray to Christina Aguilera and his own wife. And the recording industry just gave this guy an award? Listening to his lyrics, we should ask what message young people who are learning what it means to be in a relationship receive, when we are part of a culture that rewards violent imagery, or too quickly forgets aggression toward women and girls.

Our culture idolizes celebrities and makes them into role models whether they like it or not. We have to hold artists accountable for their actions, showing that violence is never acceptable. It shouldn’t matter whether a person has one dollar or a million to their name — abuse is abuse, and it’s not OK.

President Obama asked viewers to take the #ItsOnUs pledge to end domestic violence and sexual assault. This is a great start, but it cannot be the only thing we do. Most people feel that taking the pledge means they’ve done their part, but there’s so much more work to be done.

Start the conversation with your friends. Provide support to a local domestic violence shelter. Raise awareness on campus. Every action matters because, remember, it’s on all of us to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Chris Brown at the Grammys: Horrifying Reactions to Violence

By Hannah Sherman, JWI Intern

I have a confession to make: I’m that awkward person, singing and dancing in the car that you pull up next to at the intersection. While I can’t help but belt out (quite out of key, let me assure you) the tunes that come through the car stereo, one artist has made me reconsider if I truly want to be singing his songs.

When news broke three years ago that Chris Brown physically assaulted Rihanna, I was shocked. It may have been naïve at the time, but I thought celebrities were immune from the problems of the “normal” folk. This incident quickly took the issue of teen dating violence to an international, public stage, proving to the world that this is a serious issue that needs to be recognized.

While in the immediate aftermath Chris Brown faced massive media backlash, this year’s Grammy Awards welcomed him back, allowing him to perform on the same stage that Rihanna would perform on later that evening. The most shocking and horrifying part of the evening was not even that Chris Brown was allowed to perform, but the way in which his fans reacted on twitter.

Now call me crazy, but being physically abused isn’t something that I would ever wish upon myself. While I would have thought most people would agree with my sentiment on the matter, it seems as if some of his fans not only excuse his violent past, and even make light of it. In a horrifying selection of tweets, young women expressed that Brown could ‘beat them anytime’, one going to far as to posit, “Do you realize that it would be an honor if he hit you?”

In a blog for the Orlando Sentinel, Lisa Cianci writes, “Where have we gone wrong as a society when girls think it’s OK to be hit if the guy is hot?” If we start legitimizing violence, we only make it more acceptable. Contemporary media and society are desensitizing youth to abuse, breeding this culture where violence is glamorized. If we don’t make changes to the ways in which the media deals with domestic violence, we risk the endless perpetuation of teen dating violence.

Use JWI’s dating abuse and healthy relationship guides to learn more about breaking the cycle.