Joanna Schroeder didn’t think Chris Brown’s tattoo looked that much like Rihanna… Until she saw it side-by-side with the evidence photo from the night the singer battered his girlfriend.
I believe in redemption.
I believe people can stumble, and can recover from almost anything with a ton of honest and self-critical hard work. I’ve seen in it my own life, in relationships and with friends. I’ve had to do it myself.
When I heard that Rihanna admitted to Oprah that Chris Brown was still the great love of her life despite him having beaten her to a swollen, bloody pulp one night in his car, I was not outraged. I understood. I’m fortunate to be in a safe and happy marriage for the last 8 years, but I remember what it’s like to be young and to love someone who you know is terrible for you. Just because you love them doesn’t mean that you’re going to choose to be with them and put yourself in the line of fire over and over again.
And inside my heart (which may be childish and illogical) I hoped that Chris Brown could pull his shit together, do the work, and heal whatever caused him to batter the woman he apparently loved so very much. If he did the hard work and healed himself, and she did the same, I would be willing to part with the crowd who most likely would exploded in outrage if they ended up back together.
In truth, there would be no way for any of us, as the general public, to know whether Brown has done any of the necessary work to not only redeem himself, but also to heal himself and make himself into someone who could be a safe and loving partner. Like any character in the media, we’d have to base it upon what we learn through TV and magazines.
But Chris Brown sure doesn’t seem to be headed in the direction of someone who wants to heal himself. His most recent bizarro move is a grotesque tattoo of the mutilated face of a woman whom many assert bears a notable resemblance to Rihanna.
Chris Brown’s reps have stated for the record that the image is actually from a MAC Cosmetics ad—it’s supposed to be a skull—to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. The art work that the tattoo is allegedly based upon can be seen here, though if you ask me, the tattoo is pretty dramatically unlike the original art EW.com is featuring.
I looked at the photo of the tattoo and then Googled images of Rihanna to try to get a critical perspective. I came away thinking that while the tattoo is definitely a strange one—the woman is either beat up or a zombie—it doesn’t really look exactly like Rihanna. Check it out, see what you think:
So yeah, I mean that’s definitely a woman with a messed-up face… But Rihanna? Most likely not. I mean, who would be so stupid as to admit beating up your girlfriend, and then tattooing her disfigured image on his neck?
My mind was changed when I saw a side-by-side comparison of Brown’s new tattoo and the photo taken of Rihanna by the LAPD for evidence after Brown beat her up. It’s actually pretty startling.
The injuries on the tattoo are markedly more severe, but the image seems obviously designed to evoke Rihanna’s face. Could it be a warning? Is it a brag? Why would someone brag about having battered someone they love?
Amanda Marcotte quickly presented an explanation for that question, asserting that the classic image of the remorseful batterer is outdated and incorrect:
There’s a myth that men who beat and rape women just “lose control” and that after they act out, they sit around stewing in shame. That is because this is what these men tell people they are trying to ingratiate themselves with, in order to gain their acceptance and forgiveness. But inside, as many victims who have seen their true face can tell you, they are defiant. They believe they are entitled to dominate women, and they feel victimized by a world that doesn’t give them what they believe is theirs. They act out, looking for little ways to assert the right to dominate [what] they believe is theirs.
Now, I’m no Marcotte fangirl. I disagree with probably about 40% of what she writes, but something about this statement rings true to me. The batterers I’ve known have betrayed a certain pride over the pain they cause their partner. They want their partner to keep the abuse a secret, but they themselves say things like “Jodi knows better than to look twice at another guy” while making a punching motion with their hands. It’s always under the guise of being a joke, but it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you already know or suspect that the guy is abusing his wife. One man I knew who was a batterer would threaten to rape his wife, seemingly joking, in front of almost anyone. Turned out he had been raping her for almost as long as they were married.
As a child, my close friend and neighbor had an abusive father. He would start screaming and slap his wife, and we would all run from the house down the block to my front yard where we would wait for a while until we guessed it was safe to creep back to see if the screaming had stopped. Once or twice we’d end up walking down the block with a police officer to give a statement. This guy would apologize up and down to the police and swear he didn’t mean to touch his wife, he’d just tripped and they’d both fallen. Something absurd like that. But his wife would never press charges so as far as I can remember, he was never arrested for battering.
At least once after a beating he said, “And don’t think I won’t do it again” to her and their children, explaining, “If your mom didn’t make me so mad…”
While this is all anecdotal, the batterer’s brag feels very true to me, including with women who physically abuse their male partners (though to my knowledge, I’ve only known one female batterer). Lots of women love to brag about their husbands being scared to make them mad. It’s always weird to me… Why would you be proud of that?
So is that what Chris Brown is doing? Is this tattoo a brag about beating up Rihanna?
Could it be a reminder to himself not to ever do it again?
Perhaps it’s a tribute to zombie art… Maybe a message to AMC to cast Rihanna in the next season of Walking Dead?
Is there any chance that tattoo is actually based upon the MAC Cosmetics art shown on EW.com?
Seems doubtful to me… You know Occam’s Razor – the notion that the simplest explanation is usually the truth. What’s the simplest explanation here?
What do you think?
Also read: Rihanna, Chris Brown and the WTFness of Celebrity Love by Shawn Maxam