Celebrities, News, Pop Culture

Let Me Taste Your Tears, Chris Brown. Oh, The Tears of Unfathomable Sadness: Chris Brown Breaks Down at BET Awards

Elisabeth Dickson :: Monday, June 28th, 2010 1:14 pm

After a flawlessly executed moonwalk, Chris Brown broke down during a Michael Jackson tribute medley at the BET Awards last night. Brown, who pled guilty last year to a 2009 felony assault charge on ex-girlfriend Rihanna, started convulsing into sobs during the opening bars of “Man in the Mirror,” prompting many viewers to wonder what Chris Brown’s tears taste like (my guess is top notes of Axe body spray followed by a savory hint of bullshit).

Although the audience at the Shrine Auditorium last night appeared to be moved by the performance, many critics are questioning the motives behind Brown’s visible display, arguing that the breakdown was intended to garner public sympathy for the singer a year after his domestic abuse conviction. In response to an L.A. Times survey asking if “Chris Brown [was] faking it at the BET Awards,” 22% of readers polled responded that Chris was “100% faking a breakdown to get sympathy,” while writer Rob Tannenbaum Tweeted that Brown’s performance was “making it about himself, not about MJ.”

Unless there’s some sort of high-tech top-secret celebrity lie detector test at a military base in Nevada, we’ll never know for sure whether or not Chris Brown was “faking it” at the BET Awards (although the more I watch the video, the more I’m convinced that he wasn’t, mostly because a dude who looks the way Chris Brown does in a T-shirt wouldn’t be caught dead in an emotional state other than one of muscle-glistening indifference). And to those who have seen the leaked LAPD photos of Rihanna’s battered face, an “Intervention“-esque sobfest won’t garner anything but further contempt for Chris Brown. So what if the dude finds the key change in “Man in the Mirror” emotionally compelling? So does my boyfriend’s friend Ed, and to my knowledge he hasn’t ever punched a leggy Barbadian pop star in the fucking face.

Crocodile tears or no crocodile tears, I do think that Tannenbaum’s analysis of the Chris Brown Breakdown -i.e. that Brown’s demonstrative performance was making it more about him and less about MJ - is valid, though perhaps not for the reasons that Tannenbaum suggests. Chris Brown might be a shitbag with regrettably flawless arms, but he’s first and foremost a pop vocalist - this is how he makes his living. And his job as a pop vocalist is to take a song, find the story in it, and make the story his own. “Man in the Mirror” tells the story of an individual who is, for the first time in his life, taking moral inventory of his own actions, and he isn’t necessarily pleased by what he finds. Whatever you may think about Chris Brown’s performance at the BET Awards last night, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t find the story in the song, and it’s hard to argue that he didn’t make the story his own.

That having been said, in order to maximize dramatic effectiveness, he probably should’ve saved the bitch tears for the epic key change at the bridge. The audience would have totally lost their shit.