“I hate that guy.” That’s what you’re bound to think first upon hearing that Chris Brown has announced a new album — if you reside in the camp that believes Chris Brown is a deplorable human, that is. It’s not his music that targets your animosity — not specifically, anyway. But him. You hate Chris Brown. And whatever you think of harmonic dexterity, you’re not willing to give the Fortune follow-up, which MTV reveals will be available later this year, a second thought. It doesn’t matter if his music is any good — you’re just not on board with him as a human being. Therefore, you have no room in your life for his art.
And while we’re hardly making this claim in the interest of attracting an audience to Brown’s next array of trash compactor sounds set to lyrics about lounge bathrooms, we can't help but wonder: should we try to take an ubiased look at Brown’s music before we cast it out? Or are we right to boycott all output from the artist based solely on the vicious act of violence he imparted upon his girlfriend Rihanna in 2009? Is this distinction — between the individual and his or her work — one that needs to be made?
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George Washington owned slaves and dabbled in drugs. Albert Einstein treated his wife like a servant and neglected his illegitimate daughter. Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was vehemently in favor of detention camps for Japanese Americans. But we’re perfectly fine with glossing over all that.
We’re well aware of the transgressions of figures like those listed above — men whose toils resulted in the likes of modern democracy and Hop on Pop. We know that behind many historical triumphs there live imperfect characters, riddled with corruption, cruelty, and intolerance. But instead of honing in on personal maladies, we’re inclined to keep our eyes on the achievements in government, science, and the arts. At least when it comes to dead people.
Separating the individual from the work is none too prevalent a practice when it comes to contemporary figures. While the contributions of Washington and Einstein live on with vigor long past the expiration of these men (and their indiscretions) the public icons of today do not have the same kind of statute of limitations working in their favor. And as privacy is a luxury so few know in this day and age, we experience the influence of personal wrongdoings tenfold.
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We oust political figures from office over ordeals of sexual deviancy and blacklist actors for racial epithets. We can’t watch a Mel Gibson movie without recalling his infamous anti-Semitic rant or a Tom Cruise flick without braving thoughts of the allegations of psychological abuse with which his name has been associated — as such, many of us will abstain from watching altogether. But are Tom Cruise and his movies one and the same? Is there harm in shirking an artist’s work due entirely to the artist’s off-screen character?
Taking, for a moment, the quality of Brown's music out of the equation, it is the very idea of this alienation that conjures concerns. As expressed via the above examples, valuable achievements can come from objectionable sources: Washington, Einstein, Seuss. Roman Polanski, guilty of child molestation, is responsible for a number of cinematic masterpieces. Oscar Scott Card, an outspoken homophobe, created the popular science-fiction tome Ender’s Game. Ray Charles, an adulterous heroin addict, forever changed the genres of blues, jazz, and rock and roll.
The question is an especially biting one when it comes to the music industry. More than a piece of film, television, or even literature, a song seems to be inherently connected to the essence of its creator. When you’re listening to a Chris Brown song, you feel like you’re listening to — and as such connecting with, communicating with, supporting — Chris Brown.
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In Brown's case, the issue is greeted with even more jaw-clenching fury, however, because Brown doesn’t seem at all interested in separating himself from his work. Antics like announcing his new album just a day prior to girlfriend Rihanna’s 25th birthday exhibit a willingness to associate his work with his personal affairs. Brown constantly sells himself (and his music) under a label of rehabilitation, with a misguided Rihanna’s vigorously enabling his efforts. Brown seems satisfied with who he is, and, furthermore, with his listeners connecting to that very character. And what’s scary is, many of them seem to. A slew of legitimately terrifying messages hit the Internet in the wake of Brown’s crime, with fans of the singer/songwriter excusing his actions based on their affinity for his music and good looks.
Justin Bieber, a contemporary of Brown’s, rules in favor of judging Brown’s actions separately from his music. “Chris Brown. I’m a fan,” Bieber said, as reported by Hollywood Life. “His music is really good. That’s what they should focus on: his music.”
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The real meat of the debate asks whether support for Brown’s music entails support for his actions. Is any sort of propagation of his validity, as an artist, some form of a free pass for the disgusting act of abuse for which he is responsible? Even if we can distance our own judgments of Brown when considering his music, will said consideration be taken into account by the observers — society, and Brown himself?
Plain and simple, we’re not sure. With passion for artistic expression resting steadily in our hearts, we want to say that an individual’s personal life and his or her creations should be distinct entities. We grant this favor when watching Chinatown or reading Ender’s Game. We’ll even enjoy Mad Max on a rainy day. But not without a sheath of guilt — while their crafts might warrant merit, we don’t want to support the people who inspire this debate. We don’t want to put another dollar into the pockets of the men and women who propagate ideas we detest or enact deeds we can’t even stomach. We want to be able to look at a piece of art for what it is, not for who made it. But we might never be able to do so objectively and shamelessly.
But we’re in luck here, friends — because at the end of the day, Chris Brown is also a pretty crappy musician. Ergo, we don’t have to worry about liking any part of him. Problem solved.
[Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images]
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Saturday was a big day for the TV world as the 2012 Creative Emmys took place. Hollywood.com was both backstage and on the carpet, bringing you the scoop direct from the source. HBO and its epic hit Game of Thrones were the night's biggest winners, with the network taking home 17 statues — six of them for GoT. CBS wasn't far behind with 13 wins, followed by PBS with 11. Frozen Planet, Great Expectations, and Saturday Night Live each took home four awards, resulting in a three-way-tie for second place after Game of Thrones. See below for the list of winners:
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series: Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein, Judy Henderson, Craig Fincannon, Lisa Mae Fincannon for Homeland
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran, Kathleen Chopin for Game Change
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series: Jennifer Euston for Girls
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Kathy Bates for Two and A Half Men
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: Greg Nicotero, Jake Garber, Andy Schoneberg, Kevin Wasner, Gino Crognale, Carey Jonse, Garrett Immel for The Walking Dead
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic): Mario Michisanti, Francesca Tampieri for Hatfields & McCoys
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic): Paul Engelen, Melissa Lackersteen for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic): Zena Shteysel, Angela Moos, Patti Ramsey Bortoli, Barbara Fonte, Sarah Woolf, Nadege Schoenfeld for Dancing With the Stars
Outstanding Costumes for a Series: Michele Clapton, Alexander Fordham, Chloe Aubry for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Annie Symons, Yvonne Duckett for Great Expectations
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie: Monte C. Haught, Samantha Wade, Melanie Verkins, Natalie Driscoll, Michelle Ceglia for American Horror Story
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special: Bettie O. Rogers, Jodi Mancuso, Inga Thrasher, Jennifer Stauffer, Cara Hannah Sullivan, Christal Schanes for Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series: Anne "Nosh" Oldham, Christine Greenwood for Downton Abbey
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Davies for Justified
Outstanding Choreography: Joshua Bergasse for Smash ("National Pastime", "Let's Be Bad", "Never Met A Wolf")
Outstanding Music Direction: Rob Berman, Rob Mathes for The Kennedy Center Honors
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score): John Lunn for Downton Abbey
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special (Original Dramatic Score): Javier Navarrete for Hemingway & Gellhorn
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics: Adam Schlesinger, David Javerbaum for the 65th Annual Tony Awards ("It's Not Just for Gays Anymore")
Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series: Glenda Rovello, Amy Feldman for 2 Broke Girls ("And The Rich People Problems", "And The Reality Check", And The Pop Up Sale")
Outstanding Art Direction for Variety or Nonfiction Programming: Brian Stonestreet, Alana Billingsley, Matt Steinbrenner for The 54th Annual Grammy Awards, and Steve Bass, Seth Easter for The 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie: David Roger, Paul Ghirardani, Jo Kornstein for Great Expectations
Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series: Bill Groom, Adam Scher, Carol Silverman for Boardwalk Empire, and Gemma Jackson, Frank Walsh, Tina Jones for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: Jordan Goldman, David Latham for Homeland
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Steven A. Rasch for Curb Your Enthusiasm ("Palestinian Chicken")
Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Sue Federman for How I Met Your Mother ("Trilogy Time")
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Don Cassidy for Hatfields & McCoys - Part 2
Outstanding Picture Editing for Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials: Bill DeRonde, Chris Lovett, Mark Stepp, Pi Ware, John Zimmer, Ben Folts for 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming: Andy Netley, Sharon Gillooly for Frozen Planet ("Ends of the Earth")
Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming: Josh Earl, Alex Durham for Deadliest Catch ("I Don't Wanna Die")
Outstanding Animated Program: Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle, Bret Haaland, Nick Filippi, Chris Neuhahn, Ant Ward, Andrew Heubner, David Knott, Shaun Cashman, Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev for The Penguins of Madagascar: The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole
Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program: Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Curtis Lelash, Rob Sorcher, JG Quintel, Mike Roth, Janet Dimon, Matt Price, Jack Thomas, John Infantino, Robert Alvarez for Regular Show ("Eggscellent")
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance: Maurice LaMarche for Futurama
Syd Cassyd Founders Award: Dick Askin
Governors Award: Dan Savage, Terry Miller for "It Gets Better"
Outstanding Special Visual Effects: Rainer Gombos, Juri Stanossek, Sven Martin, Steve Kullback, Jan Fielder, Chris Stenner, Tobias Mannewitz, Thilo Ewers, Adam Chazen for Game of Thrones ("Valar Morghulis")
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role: Dave Taritero, Robert Stromberg, Richard Friedlander, Eran Dinur, David W. Reynolds, Matthew Conner, Austin Meyers, Jonathan Dorfman, Steve Kirshoff for Boardwalk Empire ("Georgia Peaches")
Outstanding Stunt Coordination: Peewee Piemonte for Southland
Outstanding Main Title Design: Nic Benns, Rodi Kaya, Tom Bromwich for Great Expectations
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music: Paul Englishby for Page Eight
Outstanding Commercial: "Best Job" (Procter & Gamble Corporate Brand) – Wieden + Kennedy, Ad Agency; Anonymous Content, Production Company
Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming: Tom Paul for Paul Simon’s Graceland Journey: Under African Skies
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour): Matthew Waters, Onnalee Blank, Ronan Hill, Mervyn Moore for Game Of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Stanomir Dragos, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern for Hatfields & McCoys — Part 1
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation: Stephen A. Tibbo, Dean Okrand, Brian R. Harman for Modern Family ("Dude Ranch")
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special: Paul Sandweiss, Tommy Vicari, Pablo Munguia, Kristian Pedregon for 84th Annual Academy Awards
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: Douglas Murray, Peter Horner, Kim Foscato, Steve Boeddeker, Casey Langfelder, Andrea Gard, Pat Jackson, Daniel Laurie, Goro Koyama, Andy Malcolm, Joanie Diener for Hemingway & Gellhorn
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): Kate Hopkins, Tim Owens, Paul Fisher for Frozen Planet — Ends of the Earth
Outstanding Sound Editing For a Series: Peter Brown, Kira Roessler, Tim Hands, Paul Aulicino, Stephen P. Robinson, Vanessa Lapato, Brett Voss, James Moriana, Jeffrey Wilhoit, David Klotz for Game of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series: Steven V. Silver for Two and a Half Men ("Sips, Sonnets, and Sodomy")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series: Jonathan Freeman for Boardwalk Empire ("21")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie: Florian Hoffmeister for Great Expectations
Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming: The Deadliest Catch team ("I Don't Want To Die")
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming: The Frozen Planet team ("Ends of the Earth")
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series: Steven Cimino, John Pinto, Paul J. Cangialosi, Len Weschler, Barry Frischer, Eric A. Einstein, Susan Noll, Frank Grisanti for Saturday Night Live (Host Mick Jagger)
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or Special: Steven Cimino, Paul J. Cangialosi, John Pinto, Chuck Goslin, Barry Frischer, Jeff Latonero, Len Weschler, Susan Noll, J.M. Hurley for Memphis (Great Performances)
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series: Robert Barnhart, Matt Firestone, Pete Radice, Patrick Boozer for So You Think You Can Dance (Season Eight Finale)
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special: Robert A. Dickinson, Jon Kusner, Travis Hagenbuch, Andy O'Reilly for The 54th Annual Grammy Awards
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Jimmy Fallon for Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming: Geoffrey C. Ward for Prohibition — A Nation of Hypocrites
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking: Connie Field, Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer for Have You Heard From Johannesburg (Independent Lens)
Outstanding Nonfiction Special: Margaret Bodde, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Blair Foster, Olivia Harrison, Nigel Sinclair, Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Outstanding Nonfiction Series: Alastair Fothergill, Susan Winslow, Vanessa Berlowitz for Frozen Planet
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series: Don Roy King for Saturday Night Live (Host Mick Jagger)
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series: Tim Carvell, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, JR Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Outstanding Variety Special: George Stevens, Jr., Michael M. Stevens for The Kennedy Center Honors
Outstanding Special Class Programs: Ricky Kirshner, Glenn Weiss, Neil Patrick Harris for 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Special Class: Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs: Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern, David Wain, Keith Crofford, Nick Weidenfeld, Rich Rosenthal for Children's Hospital
Outstanding Special-Class: Short-Format Nonfiction Programs: Michael M. Stevens for DGA Moments In Time
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Enhancement to a Television Program or Series: John Wooden, Aaron Bleyaert, Conan O'Brien, Timothy Campbell for The Team Coco Sync App
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Original Interactive Television Programming: Fourth Wall Studios for Dirty Work
Outstanding Children's Program: Ben Montanio, Vince Cheung, Todd J. Greenwald, Gigi McCreery, Perry Rein, Richard Goodman, Greg A. Hampson for Wizards of Waverly Place
Outstanding Children's Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Carol-lynn Parente, Melissa Dino, Mason Rather, Kevin Clash for Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger
Outstanding Reality Program: Eli Holzman, Stephen Lambert, Chris Carlson, Scott Cooper, Sandi Johnson, Rachelle Mendez, Lety Quintanar, Rebekah Fry for Undercover Boss
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Martha Plimpton for The Good Wife
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Rock legend Elvis Presley has overtaken Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain as the highest-earning dead celebrity.
The "Jailhouse Rock" hitmaker topped the Forbes magazine poll with earnings of $58 million during 2007.
Cobain, who pushed Presley off the top spot last year after widow Courtney Love sold a portion of his recording catalogue, did not make the 2007 list.
Other late stars featured include former Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison and slain rapper Tupac Shakur.
Musician James Brown enters the list in 11th place after earning $5 million since dying last year.
The Top 10 is as follows:
1. Elvis Presley--$58 million
2. John Lennon--$44 million
3. Charles M. Schulz--$35 million
4. George Harrison--$22 million
5. Albert Einstein--$ 18 million
6. Andy Warhol--$15 million
7. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)--$15 million
8. Tupac Shakur--$9 million
9. Marilyn Monroe--$7 million
10. Steve McQueen--$6 million
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