Sunday, December 7, 2014

Beat It. Or Her. Or Those Guys.

This year has been filled with news stories to read about celebrities that have made mistakes, grievous ones.

War Machine’s domestic assault/attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend

Resurfaced accusations against Woody Allen for molesting of Dylan Farrow

Alleged sexual assaults, so many assaults, by Bill Cosby dating back decades

Adrian Peterson’s child abuse charges

Ray Rice knocking his then fiancé out cold

AC/DC’s drummer arrested for some kind of murder plot

The former drummer of Cake sentenced for child molestation

You can hardly go through a week without reading a story about a celebrity or politician who has or has potentially hurt others in some unimaginable way. But what do we do with this information once the heat has died and the sensationalism has passed on to the next story?

Not much, it seems.

Mark Wahlberg is one perfect example of our lack of concern for what celebrities have done in their pasts (and often in their presents). In his early life, he was in legal trouble at least 20-25 times. At 15 he was committing hate crimes against minority children including throwing rocks at kids on a field trip and calling them racial epithets. By 16 he graduated to attempted murder. In one day he beat a Vietnamese man with a wooden stick while yelling slurs at him then blinded another later that afternoon. For those two crimes, he served all of 45 days in prison despite the attempted murder charge. And that wasn’t the end of it. He got in trouble again years later for another unprovoked attack only this one wasn’t racially motivated like the others. In 2006 when these issues came to light, he stated publicly that he has done his time and has no guilt for his crimes. Even though he never even so much as apologized to the man he blinded for life, he recently applied for a full pardon for his crimes… A full pardon. Just let that sink in. In this country there are men serving life in prison for possession of marijuana in 3 strikes states, but Marky Mark wants his record to be wiped clean after serving basically no time in prison for a hate-driven, attempted murder, and let’s face it, it’ll happen because he has money and this country is addicted to celebrity-worship. He has acted in 44 roles and has been a producer 22 times since he nearly killed two men for being different. Currently, Wahlberg is worth approximately $200 million.

Perhaps the most ironic example comes from an expected place but not for the reason you’d guess. Audiophiles like myself can hardly conduct an internet search without seeing an ad for Beats
headphones by Dr. Dre. Did he pick this name because he beats women? I suppose Dee Barnes would agree with that statement. Barnes was a rapper in the hip-hop group Body & Soul going by the stage name D Zire. She also hosted a hip-hop themed show on Fox called Pump It Up! It was this hosting role that got her into hot water with the good Dr. She interviewed Ice Cube during the pinnacle of the financial issues between him and the other members of N.W.A. drawing Dre’s ire for making the group “look bad.” I suppose he didn’t understand they’d already made themselves look bad enough with no one’s help and decided the thing that would fix it all is to beat the ever-loving-fuck out of the woman while his bodyguard threatened anyone who tried to help her with his gun. I don’t mean that he simply punched her and was done not that it would make it any more excusable in if that were the case. He did, though, slam her head and body into a brick wall, attempt to throw her down a flight of stairs, kick her repeatedly in the ribs, then chase her down when she managed to run from him and proceed to punch her in the back of the head. His response and those of other N.W.A members was “bitch had it coming.” The court wasn’t too concerned either considering Dre spent no time in jail and had a petty fine and some probation time. Barnes sued but the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. I can’t look at a pair of Beats headphones the same. $169 a pair at the cheapest to line a man’s pockets who “beats” women when he doesn’t like what they say. Since selling Beats to Apple, Dre will be pretty close to billionaire territory with many pegging his net worth at nearly 800 million. He’s the richest man in the hip hop industry which is already rife with misogyny and violence much the way the film industry is and any other music genre and television and apparently the NFL as well.

I get that people aren’t their pasts. If that were true, I’d still be an angsty weirdo with a penchant for black lipstick and mainstream metal. Instead I’m just a weirdo. But the thing is…neither of these men feel any remorse for what they did. Dre nor Wahlberg ever really apologized to the people they hurt and instead feel like the world fucking owes them just because they had tough lives as kids. And we continue to fall for that shit. It’s not like Jay-Z stabbing a record executive for bootlegging his albums. Because apologized and wrote candidly in his memoirs about never wanting to get back to that place, to be the kind of person who would do such a thing. That, I can get. But why do we still continue to laud people like Marky Mark and Dr. Dre? Why do people continue to defend Cosby no matter how many women come forward? Why is that when someone we’ve watched in movies that we don’t know personally, that we’ve never met outside watching the characters they play does or has done something heinous, we’re far more forgiving that we are for people in real fucking life? Where’s the logic?

I’m sick of seeing Ray Rice apologists claiming that everything is fine now that he told his wife he’s sorry. All abusers say they’re sorry. It’s part of the cycle. Would you say that if it was a stranger who punched your sister, your mom, your daughter, your niece? Would you accept that apology as the truth every time right up until he kills her in a murder-suicide like many of these relationships end? I’m sick of people thinking that just because a woman didn’t step forward when she was raped, that she is no longer credible. I’ve been there. It’s hard to admit, to talk about… It’s even harder when every single person who hears your story picks it apart and finds a way to put the blame on you instead of where it belongs. I don’t want to hear that leaving lashes on a child’s leg is just punishment for being a child. If your son or daughter came home with those marks on their legs given by a parent that no longer lives with you, I doubt it’d be so fucking kosher as it is when a coveted football player has done it. I don’t want to hear reasons why Mark Wahlberg is different. I want to see him apologize. I want to see Dre fucking crawl on his hands and knees and beg forgiveness from that woman for being such a cowardly piece of shit. Where’s the fucking accountability with these people? Why the hell are we so worried about violence on tv and film and in songs when real violence is being perpetrated by the players themselves while we continue to worship them like patron saints of misogyny, entitlement, greed, and criminality?

If we’re going to read these stories about celebrities and get caught up in the drama of it all and get angry over their bad behaviors, we need to stop sweeping them under the rug when it’s no longer an interest piece on Huffpo or in Rolling Stone or on Slate. When the story isn’t top news on CNN, it’s quickly forgotten while these assholes are left to make millions, to become beloved icons, to be memorialized and idolized…while we’re left wondering why our culture is so often depraved, greedy,and violent. At least part of the answer is right there in the "news" stories we read.

As always, thanks for reading another edition of Sunday Confessions with More Than Cheese and Beer. Be sure to check out the other contributions. And a special thinks to a very talented friend of mine who recommended I tackle the Dr. Dre issue in writing. When I really started thinking about this week's prompt, I knew this was the right time to put my thoughts about that situation in print.

And since that talented friend is an artist, please check out some of his work here:  He's amazing at what he does and one of the coolest dudes I know. 

1 comment:

  1. As I always look forward to your viewpoint on the Sunday confessions prompt. I have to admit reading, hearing, and seeing society's hero worship of anything celebrity is disconcerting. I too feel sick to read of the violence in the music world. The lyrics to songs nowadays really hurts my heart and my ears. The blatant misogyny, chauvanism, and violence to women make me feel sick, vulnerable, and offended. And like you wrote what happens when that story of violence, crime, sexual assault, and rape dies down when the victims are no longer heard, understood, or thought about? Society moves on to adorn the purpetrators with accolades, love, and worship. Excellent blog Jenniy I always appreciate and respect when you tackle the tough subjects.