Unlike the other YouTube video he put out in May, where he plugs his new album and tells his fans, “I ain’t a monster,” this video is a clearly scripted and exactly two minutes long. He looks remorseful. He pleads for sympathy. He apologizes to Rihanna, his fans, and everyone else he disappointed when he assaulted her earlier this year. He even says he hopes to be worthy of the phrase “role model” some day. It’s the PR-iest of PR scripts a PR person could dream up.
Maybe you ain’t a monster, Chris, but you could have done a lot better.
- It looks like an infomercial testimonial: Brown sounds like he’s reading from cue cards and it doesn’t sound like him. He refers to his absolutely brutal assault as “the incident” and “the situation,” making it clear this script was obviously written by lawyers and PR people who like to obfuscate facts instead of take responsibility. I understand that he needs to protect himself legally by being careful with what he says, but this is a situation where a more off-the-cuff, Mark Sanford-style apology would have been more appropriate. Chris Brown’s video is so PR-ed and lawyer-ed up that he doesn’t sound sincere or reflective at all.
- He misses the point: Anna N. on Jezebel noted that the only time Brown mentioned “domestic violence” in the video was when he said he witnessed it in his home growing up. Alas, this could have been a teachable moment about something important: discouraging violence against women and the importance of anger management. Brown could have said, “Never, under any circumstances, is it ever acceptable to hit your girlfriend or your boyfriend.” He could have said, “When I was that angry, I should have taken myself out of the situation and talked to Rihanna when I was calm.” He could have straight-up said, “Don’t ever do what I did.” But Brown didn’t say any of those things. This apology video is more of a life preserver for his career — and a pathetic one at that.
- It comes at a weird time: In June, Brown plead guilty to felony assault, with a plea deal of five years of probation and approximately 1,400 hours of community service. The sentencing is August 5, which means Brown’s next day in court is coming right up — and the tabloids can’t wait. What a savvy PR move it is to release this video now. Surely every article about Brown’s slap-on-the-wrist sentencing will include a sidebar about his apology video, tying the whole “incident,” as he puts it, up in a neat little package.
Chris Brown always had to publicly apologize for assaulting Rihanna, I think. Like it or not, he is a public figure who has been tasked with the responsibility of educating a generation about violence against women. The public demands that of him and I’d hope Brown would actually want to be a poster boy for turning his life around if he’s actually serious about being a role model.
Doing an apology video was a good idea — just, unfortunately, not this apology video. I hope in the next few months he gets a clue and proves through his actions, not just his scripted words, that he’ll stop the cycle of violence in his own life and use his poster-boy status to discourage violence by others.