To talk about Chris Brown is to talk about "haters." America's No. 1 female-assaulting R&B singer threw the word around on a personal webcam video, his first appearance after he assaulted his then-girlfriend, the singer Rihanna.
He's followed suit in numerous interviews and quite often on his noxious Twitter account. His song "Beautiful People"—simultaneously the best and worst radio hit of the year—finds him belting out feel-good platitudes like "Live your life" and "Don't let them bring you down." It's one of 2011's numerous fist-pump pop jams, and it's squarely directed at all the "haters."
People have good reason to hate Brown: He punched Rihanna in the face a whole bunch of times, bruising her angular visage nearly beyond recognition. Still, he seems intent to pretend that it never happened, as if he were the victim of some great injustice. Brown's latest album, and the first since his February 2009 beating of Rihanna, is titled F.A.M.E.—an acronym for "Forgiving All My Enemies." Irony, it seems, has found a new home.
Five months after the assault, Brown appeared, prerecorded, on Larry King Live, sporting a creepy-as-hell baby blue vest and bow tie, a parody of what a fine gentlemen (read: one who would never beat, bite and threaten to kill his ladyfriend) might wear. He blamed the incident on the domestic abuse in his childhood household and also claimed he didn't remember that fateful night—just that he kind of did something. His only focus was getting through the interview and looking good enough to put out more music. Fuck this guy.
About five months later, Rihanna released Rated R, a quasi-dark dance album that implicitly addressed the trauma. Songs like "Russian Roulette" and "Fire Bomb" employed violent metaphors for lust and love. In the video for "Hard," she wore army fatigues and commanded a group of soldiers. She mounted a Pepto-Bismol pink tank, mocking the tough guy masculinity of wife-beaters and warmongers in one perfectly symbolic moment....

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