Chris Brown Grammy controversy

Rihanna and Chris Brown together at an awards show in 2007. (Michael Caulfield/WireImage for BET Network) Rihanna and Chris Brown together at an awards show in 2007. (Michael Caulfield/WireImage for BET Network)
Four years ago, just before their planned performance at the Grammy's, Chris Brown severely and brutally beat his then-girlfrined Rihanna. Both singers were no shows back in 2009, with Rihanna in recovery and Brown in police custody.

On Sunday, Brown will get a second chance to perform on the Grammy stage.

A year shy of completing his probation, Brown has been nominated for three of the industry's highest honors, including best R&B album.

Performing live is like an additional prize, awarded to the most buzzed-about artists nominated. Rihanna will also perform live on the Grammy stage, though not alongside her ex.

In recent years Brown has skipped the pivotal awards show, in part because of a restraining order preventing him from coming within a certain distance from his ex. Last year the order was lessened and he's now entitled to be in the same massive awards hall as Rihanna. But just because he's legally entitled to make an appearance, does that mean he should?

You'd think the Grammy brand wouldn't have wanted to be any more associated with initial assault that it already was. But, unless it was a gross oversight, this year's invitation to get Brown back on the stage relishes in the connection. On Sunday night, Brown will literally be on a pedestal looking down at his fans, as if all is forgiven, if not forgotten. It's not that a violent abuser can't be rehabilitated, but should he be celebrated while his victim sits in the audience watching? Even if the victim has forgiven him, what kind of message is that sending to a larger audience?

Back when the initial assault became public knowledge, a shocking Boston Globe poll found that 46 percent of local teens believed Rihanna was to blame for the beating. Four years later, the record industry isn't helping to change kids' minds, and that's a major failure of judgement.

But ratings take precedent over responsibility during awards season, and Sunday night is no exception. The opportunity for an awkward shot of Rihanna watching Brown perform, or clapping as he receives an award, will bring heads to the Nielson box and guarantee Monday morning headlines. If controversy is what the perpetually bland awards show wants, Brown's appearance my provide that. But so would a deep-V dress on J.Lo. Is this really how the Grammy's has chosen to attract viewers and will you even want to watch?

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