On Sunday night R&B singer, rapper, dancer, convicted felon and general irritant Chris Brown went straight to the top of the UK charts with his latest album Fortune. His success comes just over three years after beating the crap out of his ex-girlfriend Rihanna.
Don't get me wrong, I think forgiveness is a good thing. We want people to show remorse and accept the seriousness of their mistakes. But Chris Brown does not deserve forgiveness and perhaps the most depressing thing about his recent chart glory is the realisation that beating a woman is no obstacle to success. He didn't need our forgiveness because his career never really suffered anyway.
It seems like every other week another article crops up discussing if Rihanna should forgive Brown, debating if he should be allowed to perform at the Grammys or asking if getting attacked by a seagull is some sort of divine karmic retribution. So far I hadn't felt the need to join in. Until now. Listening to the radio announce Chris Brown as the number one album, I just thought "Christ, this stinks". It stinks, it stank when it happened, it continues to stink and the stink is getting worse. I feel compelled to put it on record just how much I think it absolutely and utterly stinks.
Apart from the obvious (he kicked the s**t out of a woman) I've got two other big problems with the situation. Firstly his attitude since the attack. Brown says he is remorseful, but his actions following on from the event say otherwise. He clearly believes he is a victim. Secondly I take serious issue with the reaction from his fans, people I know and the various celebrities who've come forward to suggest it is time for forgiveness.
For those unfamiliar or with hazy memory of the incident just take a quick look at those pictures that were leaked. This wasn't a bit of a scuffle, it was repeated punching, biting and smashing of a her head into a car window. Police reports recorded visible facial injuries, including a bloody nose, as well as bite marks on her arms and noted the victim had been strangled until she began to lose consciousness He told her "I'm going to beat the shit out of you when we get home" and "I'm really going to kill you".
Since the incident Brown has publicly apologised. Which would be great if he wasn't still going round punching things and calling women bitches. So respectful of women is Brown that in a recent song, widely speculated to be about Ri-Ri herself, he raps "Don't f*** with my old bitch it's like a bad fur. Every industry n***a done had her". Classy, Chris.
Then there's his lyrics from the remix collaboration with his ex Birthday Cake with where he talks about how he wants to "give it to her in the worst way". Nice touch. Then there's the time he smashed the window in his dressing room and stormed out of the Good Morning America studio, in an hulk-style shirtless rampage onto the streets of New York because he was enraged that the anchor had dared ask him about the incident on television. What a guy.
Then there was last month when he got in a bar brawl with rapper Drake. A changed man, clearly. Then there's the time where he tweeted after winning a Grammy: "HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That's the ultimate F*** OFf." Awww. He is after all a victim in this too. He beats his girlfriend because she won't do what he tells her to, shows little remorse, feels he doesn't deserve criticism for it and earns of millions of pounds as his career rocket lanuches. Poor Chris Brown. Really, my heart bleeds for you.
So we've established that Chris Brown is not very good at apologies but that's okay because some celebrities seem to think he didn't need to apologise. Others think it is time we moved on.
At the time few celebrities came forward to condemn Brown and a number of well known artists have gone on to duet with him. Three years on and even human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, a guy usually on the right side of every campaign possibly going, thinks we should forgive Chris Brown. After all, he is an incredible dancer.
Usher had to publicly apologise for daring to criticise Brown. Then there is our national darling Cheryl Cole who thinks "it's time we all moved on. That guy is talented as hell." Even Peter Andre, a man so inoffensive and middle of the road he's practically a cat's eye, thinks Chris is a tip-top fella and wishes we could just all get along. Peter Andre. We're doomed.
Even people I know have startled me with their take on the situation. Educated, normally sound-minded people saying things like "yeah but Rihanna is a bit slutty" like if true that is in any way relevant. Or "I wonder what she did for him to do that?" like this kind of violence could maybe be excusable. Like she might have deserved it.
Perhaps most sad of all though has been the backlash from his army of young, mainly female fans. In reaction to Brown's appearance at the Grammys, Team Breezy as they call themselves, went into a frenzy on Facebook and Twitter posting things like "Chris Brown can beat me any day", "Chris Brown... please beat me" and "I don't know why Rihanna complained".
But who can blame them. Look at the messages they've been sent. We've basically sent a loud and clear message: "You can beat a woman but give it time and we'll turn a blind eye and your career will be better than ever." Inspirational.
While I don't think everyone who has gone out and bought his album condones his behaviour it is certainly not at the forefront of people's minds when rushing out to buy his records.
Domestic violence is apparently not as important as we pretended it was for that brief time in 2009. The Grammy's uninvited Brown from its future ceremonies. Take that, Chris! Well they did for a whole two years but now they've changed their minds. Radio One stopped playing his music. Again, that protest had a shelf-life of two years until the station resumed playing his records in 2011.
We were outraged with Brown and we were outraged with domestic violence but apparently it was temporary. All it takes is an album full of chart friendly songs, a lot of airplay, some celebrity supporters, a couple of duets and domestic violence nosedives down the agenda. What a great message we've sent to young girls. It seems that the reaction in 2009, the anger and promised boycotts, the condemnation of domestic violence, was seemingly no more sincere than Brown's apology.
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