The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


September 21, 2012

Jeremiah Tucker: Stars’ moral standing based on apologies

JOPLIN, Mo. — Let’s talk about Chris Brown’s new neck tattoo. I mean, let’s really get down to brass tacks on this important story that’s gotten lost amid the news coming out of the Middle East and a million blog posts feigning shock and outrage about Romney calling half the nation degenerate losers.

Before I describe to you the tattoo, I want you to think about the connection between a person’s personality and his or her work. What would it take for someone whose work you’ve admired to become such a toxic personality that it retroactively poisons everything he or she has ever, or will ever, do?

It turns out, for me, that it’s getting a tattoo on your neck that resembles the battered face of the girlfriend you beat with your fists one time. That’s the tattoo Brown appears to have gotten.

Brown claims the tattoo is a skull associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration based on a design by a MAC makeup artist, which sounds dumb enough to be true. And maybe it is!

But someone in Brown’s entourage should’ve said, “Ay, bro. That looks uncomfortably like Rihanna’s face that one time you busted it to pieces, which is weird and gross. So maybe don’t get that tattoo?”

Of course, celebrities make poor decisions all the time. I saw lots of people on Twitter say they couldn’t enjoy Clint Eastwood movies anymore after watching his incoherent comedy routine with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. I, personally, am of the opinion that Eastwood is an icon whose movies as a director tend to be overrated but who has nonetheless lived to be 82 years old and therefore should be allowed to perform his improv on any stage in America.

Other artists have committed morally repugnant acts and bounced back. I can still enjoy Woody Allen movies. I find Tom Cruise’s mania disconcerting, but it won’t keep me from watching “Jack Reacher” later this year. If anything, Cruise’s weird intensity will likely be necessary to compensate for the gap between Cruise’s 5-foot-8-inch frame and that of the fictional Reacher, who in the books the movie is based on is 6-foot-5 and 250 lbs.

I can listen to Michael Jackson without thinking about his weird relationships with children. I still think R. Kelly is the greatest R&B singer of the last 20 years, and if you like throwback soul, you should really check out his latest album “Write Me Back.” That is if, like me, you can put aside the troubling allegations of sexual deviance brought against him.

So what’s the tipping point? When does the person’s real-world sins bleed into the art and ruin it?

I’ve enjoyed a few Chris Brown songs since he was revealed to be a woman beater Ñ primarily last year’s “Look At Me Now” Ñ but that’s about it. He’s so marginal a talent that I can’t overlook how thorough a piece of human garbage he appears to be.

Modern American culture is founded on redemption stories. How often have we seen celebrities or politicians mess up, make a public apology, lay low for awhile and then do a public-relations campaign to repair their image after an appropriate amount of time has passed?

Sometimes it’s successful, like Robert Downey Jr. or Bill Clinton, and sometimes it’s not, like Lindsay Lohan or John Edwards. But it’s so ingrained in our culture now that it’s sacrosanct. And Brown never did it.

Oh, he gave it a half-hearted try in the beginning, but after he smashed up his dressing room at “Good Morning America” after one of his comeback interviews, he mostly abandoned it. Since then he has spent most of his time addressing his “haters.” I would almost find this un-repentance refreshing if Brown wasn’t such a repugnant character.

The public shaming and seeking repentance is part of a contract. You act sorry, we continue to support you, even if we both know the whole ritual is a sham.

But just because something is fake doesn’t mean it’s not real. Or, more accurately, just because an action is insincere doesn’t mean it’s inconsequential. After all, the whole idea of politics is essentially a play we all agree to participate in and not break character, which is why when unguarded moments occur in a campaign it’s so weird.

It’s pretty rare I vote for someone thinking, “I bet this person deep down is terrific and believes everything he or she says.” Voting, for me, is more transactional than personal.

Maybe art is similar. When confronted with an artist you suspect is a bad person, ask “What have you done for me lately?”

Text Only
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071114_steve cindy head.jpg New exhibit combines works of married couple

    Steve and Cindy Head create different types of art, which means they can be each other's best mentor. Steve makes mixed media works assembled from photographs, headlines and more; Cindy paints vivid patterns and fanciful scenes with bold color palettes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo