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Anne T. Donahue Headshot

Neck Tattoo or Not, We Should Be Boycotting Chris Brown

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Chris Brown took over the news yet again today with his absurd neck tattoo. Most of us assumed it depicted the face of an abuse victim -- one which bore striking resemblance to the police photo of his ex-girlfriend Rihanna -- but is supposedly a Mexican sugar skull based on a MAC cosmetics design.

Whether this late-afternoon explanation is damage control or a sincere shout-out to the Day Of The Dead we probably won't find out (at least until his next Twitter outburst). But what's worse than his poor taste in body art is the continued celebration of the singer at the hands of "Team Breezy," a group of hundreds of thousands who refuse to acknowledge that he is a misogynistic, damaged, sick, and disturbed human being. (Not to mention a music industry that continues to shower him with accolades, most recently at the MTV Awards where he was also seated near Rihanna for maximum media attention.)

Even if he hadn't hit Rihanna until her face was swollen and bruised, to get a neck tattoo that, intentionally or not, looks like a battered woman is alarming. If you knew somebody who got the same neck tattoo in real life, you would justifiably freak out. However, this recent stunt just adds to his legacy of not giving a fuck about his behaviour or the consequences stemming from it. Just look at screencaps of his post-Grammy Twitter rants if you need proof of just how badly he "doesn't care" what we think.

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But the truth is, he does. An attention-monger to the highest degree, Chris Brown used the Grammys to announce his "comeback" (from destroying the Good Morning America green room or being charged with assault, I guess?), and took to social networks afterwards to champion himself and to pay homage to "the haters." Following his fight with Drake in June, he did the same thing to perpetuate more "Breezy versus the world" propaganda, riling up his misguided army for the sole purpose of making himself feel like a hero.

But a hero doesn't romanticize violence against women. Regardless of what one's been through or overcome or has had to endure, a hero would get the help he needs and try to right his wrongs. A hero would choose to LEAD "Team Breezy" (for good!) as opposed to using them to stroke his own ego. Chris Brown is no hero -- and none of this is news, either.

Nothing is news here. Hundreds of pieces have been written about Chris Brown, Rihanna, and what it all means, but by writing them, we fall into the same trap: giving him press and Google alerts and fodder for rants which is everything he wants. The haters fuel him. The anger fuels him. And then he uses that fuel to unleash more hate and anger upon the world, which all of us are affected by.

Because we are all affected by this. Upon news of Chris Brown's body art, most of our Twitter feeds blew up with people who were appalled, disgusted and understandably upset. It is upsetting. Chris Brown being famous is upsetting. Chris Brown being celebrated is even MORE upsetting. The fact that I have to write a piece explaining why Chris Brown is upsetting is upsetting, too. But those men/women/children who subscribe to Team Breezy believing that a strong man is an angry one who "overcomes" (those who speak out against abuse? Those who fight for human rights?), is the most upsetting of all.

I'm a hypocrite for writing this, for feeding into the Chris Brown frenzy and for giving his actions any attention whatsoever. But it's a tough choice: do you ignore him, hoping he'll go away (the way we do with many existing systemic problems, and which never works), or do you acknowledge it with the type of reaction most of us keep having (read: face-palms and blind rage)? Maybe it's time to do neither.

Maybe now is the time that we finally put a mark in the Chris Brown "lose" column, but channel our own anger, frustration and feelings of helplessness into actually helping. Our cities are filled with women/girls/boys/men who have been and are being abused, and instead of making quips about the type of monster Chris Brown is (and he is), why don't we donate money to shelters or volunteer where possible?

At the very least, we can stop buying his music. We can make a statement by choosing not to entertain Chris Brown -- or more specifically, by choosing not to let him entertain us.

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