I was surprised at how many of my “real me” Facebook friends watched the Grammys. (One of them was even in the audience.) Even in my younger days, when pop music mattered more to me, I wouldn’t have watched the Grammys. In past years, though, as I’ve become increasingly aware of the moral decay lurking behind the entertainment world’s self-congratulatory festivities, I just don’t have the stomach for those narcissistic love fests.
And speaking of the moral decay, Sasha Pasulka writes an impassioned post asking why Chris Brown, famed Rihanna-assaulter, was welcomed with loving arms at the Grammys. Indeed, according to Pasulka, who followed the story more closely than I, even at the height of the beating story, Hollywood never released Brown from the tight grip of its hugs and kisses.
Pasulka sees the whole story (the reaction to Brown’s original assault as well as the enthusiastic support for his Grammy appearance, despite the fact that he pled guilty to felony assault and is now on probation) as evidence that, in Hollywood, women have no worth. I would amend that a little.
In Hollywood, women have great worth if they’re bringing in the profits. They are commodities. Hollywood sells one thing and one thing only: women’s sexuality. The notion of women as morally worthy people started vanishing with the sexual revolution in the 1960s and now doesn’t exist anymore.
Before the sexual revolution, Hollywood’s women were certainly sex symbols (think of every screen goddess from Hollywood’s Golden Age), but Hollywood understood that a still-young, moral America wanted its sex symbols to have a moral dimension. They were either good women worthy of love, or morally depraved creatures who got their comeuppance at film’s end. Their beauty kept the eye engaged, but it was important that they be women of worth.
Ironically, in the past 40 years, as women’s voices have gotten louder and louder (“I am woman, hear me roar”), those female voices in Hollywood have been increasingly dedicated to one thing: sex. Hollywood women view “empowerment” as the right to take off their clothes without getting criticized for doing so. No wonder that Hollywood as a collective entity doesn’t take them very seriously. They don’t take themselves very seriously. This doesn’t excuse the Hollywood collective’s gross, immoral, unprincipled behavior, both on-screen and off, but it does suggest that the women in Hollywood aren’t doing anything to counter the moral implosion that daily plays out there.
One more point about Hollywood’s willingness to forgive a manifestly unrepentant singer, and them I’m done. Rihanna did a song called S&M that was, as the name suggests, about sexual sadomasochism. I have often wondered if Rhianna’s decision to sing that song represented merely an artistic choice or if it was a stealth way to promote a (her?) lifestyle choice. If the latter, the Hollywood types who immediately forgave Chris Brown may have known a bit more about the back story there, making Rihanna as complicit in her injuries as Brown himself. Certainly the song taints her reliability on the issue of physical violence. It doesn’t excuse what Brown did, but it does make one wonder what part Rihanna played in the whole thing.