“The worst thing to call somebody is crazy. It’s dismissive…These people are not crazy, they’re strong people. Maybe their environment is a little sick.”
– Dave Chappelle
Tuesday’s Chris Brown media circus ended in an assault with a deadly weapon charge for the singer. In a brief Instagram video posted Wednesday, Brown vowed to turn the other cheek to “the bullshit” and just release more music. He made good on his promise Thursday with the release of “What Would You Do?,” an up-beat club track with melancholy lyrics that raises an important question about the way we treat celebrity scandal:
“What would you do when fighting for your life when no one’s on your side?”
Like Brown, comedian Katt Williams also passed through a Los Angeles court house on Wednesday, also facing felony charges for assaults involving guns and women. But rather than shake our heads or chuckle at their antics, we need to reconsider how we treat stars who have seemingly gone off the rails. We wouldn’t just laugh at a cousin or friend who is clearly struggling with their mental health. Yet we dehumanize celebrities by claiming their money and fame should solve their problems. We may naively think those things would solve all of ours, but we have to look past the lifestyle to acknowledge the individual: a fellow human being.
Williams has been collecting Ls—legal charges and embarrassing losses—for years now. And all we can do is what we’ve always done: laugh at him. Meanwhile, all signs point to some deeper, underlying mental health issues that could require serious medical intervention, which he would only get if his inner circle stops protecting him and his fans stop laughing at him.
Meanwhile, Brown was released on $250,000 bail after former beauty pageant contestant Baylee Curran claimed he threatened her with a gun. Before Curran’s documented history of lying and stealing for profit came to light, the narrative wrote itself given Brown’s past crimes: there he goes, acting crazy again.
Turns out, it’s highly possible the media got many details wrong: according to the most recent reports, Curran and her cohorts may have planned to set up Brown the whole time, and the LAPD never found any guns at his residence. As for that 11-hour “standoff,” as this much needed USA Today report points out, Breezy was just exercising his constitutional right (Fourth Amendment. Look into it.) to make police present a search warrant before entering his home.
With TMZ passing off unconfirmed details as facts and the LAPD live-streaming their camp-out on Brown’s lawn like they were chasing OJ’s Bronco, can anyone imagine the pressure this young man is under on a daily basis?
Well, one person can.
In 2006, after leaving millions of dollars on the table at Comedy Central when he quit his show, Dave Chappelle gave one of the most enlightening interviews on celebrity culture we may ever see.
In front of a room full of aspiring Hollywood professionals, Chappelle broke down the insane nature of fame and indicted the ruthless system that manufacturers it. The audience laughed instinctively at his deadpan delivery, pessimism and paranoia, which are the trademarks of his routine. But Chappelle made it clear throughout the interview that he wasn’t joking in the slightest. Hollywood drove him to the brink of insanity, like it does to almost everyone, and he was there to warn the sheep before they reached the slaughter.
As for Brown and Williams, neither man is an innocent victim of their circumstances—we all have to be accountable for the choices we make and the results that come with them. But, the mainstream media has done its best to remind us at every turn that both these men are crazy n***ers who are capable of doing it again. They’re writing them into the same narrative as Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice — thugs who deserved to die because they’re a threat to society.
From the drug abuse to the episodes of rage and isolationism, why do we see Brown’s erratic behavior as anything other than an obvious cry for help? Granted, grown Black men aren’t allowed to cry for help in our society. And since he’s rich and famous, even the woke folks can shrug and say, “He’ll get over it,” without losing sleep or turning their attention from their own problems.
But like Michael Jackson, Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears, Chris Brown is a child star who came of age in a fantasy world. How can we expect him to be anything close to what we would consider normal?
It’s easy to make fun of Brown’s social media outbursts or public relations affiliation with the Bloods, but consider his perspectives. He’s one of the most famous human beings in the world. He can’t trust media to tell his side of any story or police to protect his rights.
What would you do?
Katt Williams spent many of his stand-up specials screaming about the illuminati and the corrupt state of the entertainment business. While his recent behavior is even harder to rationalize than Brown’s, crazy is not the word. Especially when he’s been vocal about his situation for years.
Chris Brown is neither a victim or a villain—he’s a young man with more talent than guidance. He’s dealing with emotional issues linked to the PTSD of experiencing fame and domestic abuse as child. But for some reason, people who’ve never met him would rather cheer his downfall than encourage his growth. How crazy is that?
Before passing judgement, pass a prayer or positive thought next time you see a celebrity like Brown or Williams struggling in the spotlight. And hope they find help or help finds them before things get any crazier than they already are. Or, just put yourself in their shoes for a second and ask “What would I do?” Would they call you crazy?