This has been popping up all over YouTube. I’m not going to post the video directly on here, because I personally don’t believe violent video games are the way to punish Chris Brown, but here is the link to the YouTube game. One site apparently thought it would be cool to create a video game in which we can beat up Chris Brown. So we can throw all kinds of stuff at him, including fish, high heels, and flaming bags of poop. But if you miss, the couple gets back together! And the game has received a staggering number of YouTube views already. While on the one hand it’s nice to see that so many people are so angry at Chris Brown in the light of the charges against him, and it really does feel kind of good to throw flaming bags of poop at him, I’m not really sure how I feel about the game in general.
Violent video games always irk me, even when their creators may have been trying to make a reasonable statement. Is fighting violence with more violence really okay? Granted, this is fake violence, and is nothing in comparison to the horror of the abuse that Rihanna has gone through. Rihanna has gotten little to no privacy since the abuse was made public. Games like this, while well intentioned, sort of make domestic violence into a joke. The couple gets back together if we don’t play the game well?! These are people we are talking about, not toys. Chris deserves something more concrete and legal than an animated flaming bag of poop and a smelly fish, in my opinion. But the case has been made into a joke all over the internet, and this game may just contribute to the trivialization of the issue.
I also saw a lot of hideous YouTube videos (even “featured” videos) that make the abuse into a joke. One person even recreated his/her own version of the incident on The Sims! One particularly awful video was entitled “Why Chris Brown Hit Rihanna.” The video was an attempt at humor in which a young man played both Brown and Rihanna. In the Rihanna role, he recites annoying song lyrics to Chris Brown, implies that he is cheating on Brown, and flips his hair repeatedly. Eventually, the Chris Brown character gets so fed up that he beats up Rihanna. Many of the viewers of the video were highly impressed and commented that the video was “hilarious.” I’m sorry, was I watching the same video? It was disgusting, NOT hilarious. The video makes a joke out of the whole issue, and perpetuates a survivor-blaming culture. At least the video game blames Chris Brown, not Rihanna.
Another thing that is bothering me about the Chris Brown and Rihanna case is that so many people are so angry at Rihanna for reportedly getting back together with Brown. Yes, Chris Brown WILL hit her again. But there are a multitude of reasons for a survivor to return to an abusive relationship. Sometimes the survivor is in love with the abuser, and buys into the abuser’s claims that it won’t happen again. But also, sometimes the safest thing for a survivor to do is to stay in the relationship. How can we judge Rihanna’s decisions when we do not have any idea why she made her choice (if she actually did make the reported decision to get back together with Brown)? There is a tendency for concerned outsiders to oversimplify domestic abuse situations with statements like “Why doesn’t she/he just leave?” But often the most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship is after leaving the relationship.
Although concerned Rihanna-“supporters” (like the You Tube game creator and those that are angry at her for returning to the relationship) are of course so much more tolerable than those who blatantly deny the issue or blame Rihanna, we still need to re-examine how we are thinking of the abuse. Let’s focus on Rihanna’s safety, not on dumb video games that reinforce a culture of violence. And please, stop blaming Rihanna!