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How about we stop making TV stars out of spousal abusers? – An Open Letter

Charlie Sheen finds continued success on 'Two and a Half Men,' while Chris Brown is slated to be a musical guest on 'SNL.' Why are we supporting woman-beaters?

I don’t care how high-minded you are, if you spend the majority of the day in front of your computer as many of us do, you follow celebrity news to some extent. I’m guilty of knowing who Justin Bieber is dating, although I couldn’t name a single one of his songs. However, celebrity news rarely affects my life in any tangible way, until now: I’m not watching Saturday Night Live on February 12.

Despite the tired, “SNL hasn’t been good since ___” jokes, I have a season pass on my DVR and watch at least most of it weekly. But on February 12, I’m preemptively deleting my recording because Chris Brown is the musical guest.

How in the holy hell does this guy still have a career?

February 12 is only a few days away from the two year anniversary of the night Chris Brown beat the ever-loving shit out of his then-girlfriend, pop-star Rihanna. In fact, February 12 is the exact day that ABC News released this story about Rihanna telling police that it was not the first time Brown had beaten her.

In case the interceding two years have made us hazy on the details, Brown and Rihanna got into an argument after a Grammy party. During this altercation, Brown “put his hands around her neck and, according to the insider, said, ‘I’m going to kill you!'” The attack left Rihanna with “major contusions on both sides of the singer’s face — there [was] serious swelling and bruising. Her lip [was] split and her nose bloody.” She was also left with “bite marks on one of her arms and on several fingers.”

Again, I ask how in the hell does this guy have a career?

I do believe in forgiveness, and I believe in second chances. However, I believe that you have to earn both. Has Chris Brown done this? A few weeks after the assault, he was photographed smiling and flexing his muscles while riding jet skis in Miami. Five months after the attack, he released a scripted, half-hearted video in which he apologizes while not exactly saying what he’s apologizing for, and just this past December, he got into a Twitter fight in which he, in part, berated an alleged sexual assault victim.

Of course, Brown isn’t the only woman-beater who’s currently experiencing success in Hollywood. Charlie Sheen may be causing production delays on Two and a Half Men after his latest bender, but his job seems to be just as secure as ever. The internet seems to be focusing on the more ridiculous aspects of Sheen’s current scandal: The briefcase full of coke, the porn, and the hookers, while leaving out some of the less-funny aspects of Sheen’s personal life.

Most recently, there was porn star Capri Anderson, who locked herself in the bathroom of the Plaza Hotel room she was sharing with Sheen to protect herself as he went on a violent, drug-fueled rampage. A year ago, Sheen was charged with three crimes stemming from a Christmas attack on his then-wife Brooke Mueller that allegedly involved a knife.

Before Mueller, Sheen’s ex-wife, Denise Richards, also claimed that he had abused her. Richards “filed a sworn declaration in the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that Sheen assaulted her and threatened her life during a December 2005 altercation at her home. She claims that while visiting with the couple’s two children, Sheen called her a series of vulgar names and shoved her to the ground in front of their children.”

Before that, in 1990, Sheen’s engagement to actress Kelly Preston ended after he shot her in the arm in what was later ruled to be an “accidental shooting.”

Seemingly every long-term relationship this man is in ends in violence. Yet he is the highest-paid television actor in Hollywood.

Why do we put these men on television? Why do we, as viewers, pay their salaries? As long as men like Brown and Sheen continue to have careers fueled by money we are giving them, then we are sending the message that it’s okay to hit women — as long as you can sing or act.

Instead of Entertainment Weekly asking if there’s a tasteful way for Brown to do a skit about beating Rihanna (!), why don’t we ask why the fuck that is even remotely considered to be a valid question? Instead of debating whether or not advertisers were right to drop Skins because of actors pretending to be teenagers having sex, why don’t we ask why advertisers keep paying premium rates for Two and a Half Men? Or why they’re not dropping SNL?

Paul Reubens didn’t work for a decade after he was caught masturbating in an adult theater, and Janet Jackson was vilified after accidentally showing her nipple at The Super Bowl. These people didn’t hurt anyone, yet those who inflict actual physical violence on individuals still earn our entertainment dollars.

It’s not fucking okay.

Photo Credit: AP/Kona Gallagher

16 Responses to “How about we stop making TV stars out of spousal abusers? – An Open Letter”

February 3, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Small disclaimer: I have never watched “Two and a Half Men” and I have never heard a Chris Brown song, much less bought his albums or gone to see his concerts. That being said…. I don’t, as a rule, base my entertainment decisions on people’s behaviour away from their performance art.

For example: I’m an atheist, but I don’t let Prince being a Jehovah’s Witness stop me from listening to his music. I’m not a Republican, but I’ll actually pay to see a Bruce Willis flick (yes, even CopOut, don’t judge me.) I abhor drug use, but like Bill Hicks said “the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were rrreal fucking high on drugs.” Music, Dance, Illustration, Acting… these art forms have existed for centuries and are in no way diminished by the flawed artists that participate in them.

To be honest, I don’t think I would want it any other way. I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept of, say, liking someone’s music MORE or LESS because of their politics. It’s as foreign to me as judging someone’s ability to run the country based on whether or not he received oral in the White House.

Here is a personal example: I love the work of the director/actor/producer Takeshi Kitano. I own nearly every film of his that has been put on DVD. Recently someone sent an article in which he stated that “he doesn’t believe that Japanese women should date outside of their race and that he considers other races to be inferior to the true Japanese spirit.” Nasty stuff. Will I have a drink with this man if he was stateside? No. But I’m not going to throw out my collection of DVDs either and if he still keeps making entertaining films, I’ll keep buying them.

February 3, 2011 at 4:26 PM

I totally see what you’re saying, and for the most part I agree. However, there’s a huge difference between someone who has questionable political beliefs and someone who repeatedly beats the shit out of their significant others.

I wholeheartedly believe in the freedom in religion and the freedom to express your ideas (no matter how unpopular). I do not, however, believe in the freedom to be an abusive dickwad.

February 3, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Wow, I just IMDB’d Sheen and the only thing I’ve seen with him in it is Ferris Bueler’s Day Off…. and I don’t even remember him there. Worse, I would have sworn that John Cryer WAS in the movie and he wasn’t. Weird….

I respectfully challenge your statement. In fact, for a dancer or an actor or a musician, there is NO difference between someone with questionable political beliefs and someone who repeatedly beats their spouses AS IT PERTAINS to the performance of their art. In this case, it appears that Charlie Sheen’s questionable morals, alleged drug use and violent temperment don’t change the fact that some people (apparently a lot of people) find him funny.

I know it’s something that you are passionate about and I’m not saying that the things that these guys did were good. I just think that it’s a dangerous line of reasoning when we start reviewing everyone’s moral C.V. and using that information to color how we view their performances.

All that aside: I’m amazed at how little jail time (apparently only 60 days) Sheen has seen since 1990. That’s who I would be outraged at, Los Angeles law enforcement. It’s like the Wild Wild West out there.

February 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM

There’s a line though. I mean, I’m am an admitted conservative and Christian who loved S60 and everything else Aaron Sorkin has produced, despite the obvious left leaning slant to the show.

I love my Lethal Weapon DVDs, but at this point, am I likely to watch anything Mel Gibson does? No.

I’d never let any money from my pocket go to support anything Jane Fonda has ever done.

And I’ll never really support anything Charlie Sheen is a part of.

There’s a distinction between someone’s beliefs, be it political ideology or religious philosophy, and beating his wife.

February 3, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Preachit! Men who think it’s okay to abuse women need to be sent to Singapore for a caning. Charlie Sheen in particular has proven that this is recurring behavior for him. While I don’t like Chris Brown, he hasn’t repeated his violent behavior (yet). For the rest of his life, he’ll have to prove that he has changed.

His situation is somewhat comparable to Michael Vick’s, but not quite. Vick spent a couple years in jail, went bankrupt, lost everything, and was the most hated man in America. Brown, as you said, was enjoying himself a few weeks after the assault; his punishment (probation, counseling, community service) was lighter, so it didn’t drive home the severity of his crime. Vick, on the other hand, could not mistake the severity of his crimes, because the whole country was ready to kill him.

Both Vick and Brown are still hated by some and have been forgiven by others. In both cases, I’m waiting to see if they relapse. But I feel that Vick fell farther and really was broken by his fall, so the change in him is believable. Brown’s remorse seems less genuine, but that’s a subjective judgement on my part.

All this to say – I’d give Brown a chance to prove that he’s changed, but Sheen has used up his chances and needs to be locked up somewhere.

February 3, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Right on!

I hate Scientology so I want ALL actors who are in Scientology not to get any jobs anymore. They abuse people by telling them lies!


The formula goes like this: if the person is not in prison, he or she is allowed to work. And posts like this one seem to be clickbait.

February 3, 2011 at 4:56 PM

What about folks who obviously should be in (or should have gone to) jail? Michael Vick paid for what he did. As far as I know, neither Sheen nor Brown have. I know I can’t make someone go to jail without due process, but if I still believe that someone hasn’t paid his (or her) due to society, I think it’s entirely within my rights to not support them, and I don’t think anyone else who thinks these folks haven’t paid their dues to society should support them either.

February 3, 2011 at 4:59 PM

That’s a different line of argument.

I would agree to a post going one of these ways:

– Charlie Sheen should be in jail
– You asshats shouldn’t watch Two and A Half Men because it has a wife-beater on


“Why do we put these men on television?”

That is not the question. The question is

– why do people forgive Michael Vick

and if they did

Why the fuck do you complain?

Just because you can’t forgive doesn’t mean that that the rest of the world shouldn’t.

I think Charlie Sheen should be in jail. I think if he doesn’t oblige his contract and sits at home not filming his show, he should be fired.

But I don’t think that because he did beat his wife but wasn’t put on trial that you should blame the fucking studios for it. You should blame the fucking DA.

February 3, 2011 at 5:03 PM

I know the DA! Woo hoo! Sebastian is right. And, I did blame him! Talked to him in person and by email and told him if he ever kills himself or another person after the easy treatment he had in Aspen, I will hold him personally accountable. Go me! See what getting beat up by your boyfriend gets you? Awesome insider access to Sheen’s DA. TOTALLY worth it, lemme tell ya. LOL

February 3, 2011 at 5:48 PM

I’m slightly confused by your reply. Is there a difference between what you and I are saying?

My POV is that these folks in question should be in jail. Therefore, people shouldn’t watch shows with them and studios shouldn’t run shows with them. (And the DAs who don’t prosecute them shouldn’t be in office.) I think that’s the POV of the author, even if it’s not explicitly stated as such.

I don’t have a problem with folks supporting Michael Vick, just like I wouldn’t have a problem with folks supporting these guys if they had gone to jail for their crimes and paid their dues to society. I’m not rooting for my favorite football team to sign him this off-season, but I don’t think he should be banned from the NFL or anything.

February 3, 2011 at 9:24 PM

You are right we do have the same opinion so yeah it isn’t a different argument I just didn’t find it out reading your first comment :-)

February 3, 2011 at 7:14 PM

You are my new hero.

February 3, 2011 at 7:31 PM

I’ve always found myself to be a complete hypocrite in cases like this and not just with TV stars. Though I will happily sign any petition to get rid of Charlie Sheen and 2.5 Men (I think this season Sheen is the .5 man). Though more so because that show is just plain awful.

In some cases like Roman Polanski I try to separate his work from his despicable acts from which he has received no punishment for. I think as a human being he is a coward, but I still watch his films and enjoy them.

However whenever I see Michael Vick in a game I instantly have a strong desire to see the Eagles lose. One of the reasons I’m rooting for the Packers this Sunday (besides the party I’m going to being hosted by a Packer fan) is because the Steelers QB is Rapistburger. I don’t know why I can’t separate their personal falls like I do with Polanski, but I just can’t. I’m a hypocrite.

For SNL I will compromise by DVRing it and skipping past Chris Brown songs and appearances. Russel Brand is too funny to skip the whole thing.

February 3, 2011 at 10:20 PM

. . . . .

Sometimes, you just have to rant.

When you rant with meaning and clarity, it makes the rant that much better.

Yours? That much better, Kona. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better.

February 4, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I am not sure I want to post this so please be gentle afterwards. :P I am a firm believer that someone can make a mistake. I don’t listen to Chris Brown but I believe he made a mistake. How many cases of actions done against the law are given probation and a chance to start over with a clean slate? This is true for us commoners as well as celebrities. I know I have made plenty. I believe that under the right circumstances, these mistakes can be made up forgiven.
On the flip side however, I believe that if these become a pattern, the person should, of course, pay for their actions. Put them in jail, make them pay restitution, ect… I totally believe that CS should have been put in jail by now. He has shown the same behavior time and again and I am angered that he is now only in rehab. That should have been saved for during or after an incarceration.
Unfortunately, we as a country have risen our stars to a place that gives them opportunity to get away with things again and again. I am throwing this in at a bad time I know but look at Michael Jackson and what he was accused of. Sure, nothing was ever “proven” but he remained on of the biggest stars in the world even up until his death. Obviously, his mistakes did not change how the world looked at him as a musician. But again, this is what we do with stars now.

February 4, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I’m with Sebastien.

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