The Grammys took a rare unified stand on the key social issue of domestic violence — but with one glaring omission.
The show devoted an extended section to abuse — including a video address by President Obama and a stirring performance by Katy Perry.
Watching it all in the Staples Center seats was Chris Brown, the most famous music industry domestic abuser since Ike Turner. In fact, his attack on then-girlfriend Rihanna occurred right before Grammy night in 2009.
« I think that we’re in a stage in the movement for social justice when we are in desperate need of having male allies,” Brooke Axtell, the domestic violence survivor turned activist who introduced Perry’s performance, told the Daily News after the ceremony.
“And that means that part of that is confronting within our own communities in a powerful and honest way when violence occurs, and making sure that we’re providing interventions for both those who have abused and those who have been abused. I think it’s an important part of the conversation because it doesn’t help to stigmatize somebody for their own struggle around this issue. »
Brown’s presence made for a disquieting contrast to the speech from Obama, who called on the music world to send a stronger message against violence.
« Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes,” he said.
The President’s speech led into a piece from performance artist Axtell, who declared, « authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silent, shame or abuse. »
Perry then performed her heartfelt ballad « By The Grace of God, » about crawling back from a ruinous love.
Perry’s performance came a week after she rocked the Super Bowl — part of the NFL’s outreach to women after a year filled with domestic violence stories.
Brown remains a record industry pet, having earned three nominations this year. He didn’t win any golden Victrolas, but his presence at the event provides a useful reminder that this issue isn’t going away — and shouldn’t.
With Nancy Dillon
Tags: grammys , music , chris brown , katy perry , barack obama , rihanna