In 2009, Chris Brown viciously assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna. His sentencing as ordered by a judge included five years probation, as well as a five-year restraining order. (In 2011, the restraining order was lifted, conditionally.) In 2015, Brown was accused of forcibly ejecting a woman off of a bus during a video shoot. In 2016, former tour manager Nancy Ghosh alleged that the singer threatened her with violence, and she subsequently cut ties with him. In 2017, his ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran was granted a five-year restraining order against him after presenting to a judge threatening voice mails and text messages from Brown.
There are plenty of other examples of Brown’s violence against women—but yes, by all means, let’s cast him in a movie that is purported to “empower women.” This is what Nick Cannon’s apparently done, as he told Variety earlier this week that he’s writing, directing, and starring in an independent film called She Ball. Cannon will play a man name Avery “who enlists the baddest women’s streetball league in the city to help him save the embattled Inglewood Community Center, which he manages, all while trying to raise his seven-year-old daughter.” It’s unclear what role Brown will play in all of this, but the decision seems incredibly tone deaf considering the singer’s track record. His casting seems to highlight the #MeToo movement’s relative inability thus far to strike the same resonant cord when it comes to the music world (Russell Simmons excepted) and cases of alleged domestic abuse as it has in Hollywood’s sexual abuse scandals.
Perhaps Cannon is aloof, and totally unaware of the optics—he didn’t see the backlash that accrued earlier this year when the singer guest starred on a pointless episode of the usually progressive Black-ish. Or perhaps he’s taken out an excellent insurance policy, because he knows Brown is a potential liability: She Ball will reportedly feature real-life WNBA players, in addition to other female cast members who Brown may likely have some sort of contact with on set. Or maybe Brown has truly changed? Sure!