On Friday, Zazzy and I were at the mall dress shopping for an upcoming wedding. While she tried on a bevy of brightly colored gowns, I retreated to a corner to feed Mayo. There, they had a television, tuned to Fox News Channel’s “The Five”. The segment I caught was discussing a recent poll asking parents who they thought the worst celebrity role models for kids were. The results of that poll found that parents identified Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, and Lindsay Lohan as the worst role models for girls and Chris Brown, Kanye West, and Justin Beiber as the worst for boys. The Five then set out to discuss the question themselves. And, god, how wrong they were…
Personally, I struggle with the idea of celebrity role models. But I get that kids are going to look up to and attempt to emulate the people they see on TV, in movies, and hear on the radio. More specifically, I’d be pretty uncomfortable with my kids looking up to any of the six folks listed in the poll (though Beiber seems like an alright dude, I think?). Yes, some of them are talented… I would
n’t mind my child haven’t Kanye’s musical abilities or Kardashian’s apparent entrepreneurial sense… but as an entire package, I don’t find any of them particularly admirable. But to me, one of these people stands out head and shoulders above the other as a deplorable human being: Chris Brown. Lest we forget, Chris Brown beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna to the point of requiring hospitalization. The picture above shows just what this young man is capable of. Surely, The Five would identify his transgressions as the worst, right? All of them would unanimously agree that his physical violence against women put him far beyond the others and their foolish behavior.
Nope. After naming him in the poll results, Chris Brown is not mentioned again during the segment. I couldn’t believe my ears. I had to go back and re-read a transcript of the segment and do a text search because I was sure I missed it. Nope. Somehow, Kardashian’s sex tape and Amanda Bynes’s weed use and Lil’ Wayne’s inadvertent walk across an American flag all make them scourges far worse than a man who put his girlfriend in the hospital over an argument. The segment is so absurd it demands viewing.
What. The. Fuck.
I get that Brown’s violent act occurred over 4 years ago. It is not particularly fresh in the pop culture sphere. Well, it’s fresh enough that a number of poll respondents felt moved to name him as a terrible role model. But I guess discussing it doesn’t make for great TV. Not when you have monsters like Bynes ranting on Twitter and Kanye giving his child an absurd name.
However, this is about more than just answering the question wrong. This isn’t akin to selecting Beiber over Adele as your preferred singer and exposing yourself as either tone deaf or a hack. This isn’t a matter of preference. This is trivializing the horror of domestic abuse because… well, I don’t know why. Because talking points about drugs or patriotism or the downfall of society are all more important? Because everyone has gotten over criticizing Brown about his actions that night? Because domestic abuse just ain’t that big a deal? I don’t know why The Five gave the answers they did. But I do know they are wrong. All of them. Dead wrong.
Domestic abuse is far too often ignored, trivialized, or excused away in our society. Segments like this, where a person like Brown goes unmentioned while harmless fools like Bynes get plenty of play, are both a symptom and cause of such a wrong-headed mentality when it comes to violence against women. Shame on The Five for having their heads so far up their asses they Tim Duncan-ed a layup of a question.