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Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Is earning a Grammy more important than earning respect?

Published: Friday, Feb. 17 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

For most artists, the Grammy award is the most coveted honor in the music industry. Whether it’s taken years to achieve or is a golden ticket to launch a budding career, it means a lifetime of recognition. It says, “You’ve officially arrived.”

The Grammys were Sunday night, and like most music lovers, we were tuned in to see the performances.

Among some of the greats were Adele’s comeback performance of her smash hit “Rolling in the Deep,” Taylors Swift’s Great Depression-era inspired “Mean” and Jennifer Hudson’s touching tribute to Whitney Houston — all performers I admire and respect for their talents and tenacity and all deserving Grammy-award winners.

But one newly crowned Grammy winner I can’t quite figure out is Chris Brown.

You can’t argue his talent. Brown is one amazing dancer, singer and performer. He has catchy songs. He’s attractive and bold. He’s fun to watch.

He’s also been accused of and pleaded guilty to a domestic violence assault involving then-girlfriend and fellow artist Rihanna back in 2009.

He’s a little dangerous. He’s a little edgy. In a twisted way, could that be what makes him more attractive to fans?

Brown’s no stranger to domestic violence. In a pre-taped interview for "Larry King Live," Brown’s mother admitted to having struggled through an abusive relationship with his stepfather. However, despite this unhealthy upbringing, she said that she doesn’t believe in the “cycle of violence” and that Brown has “never, ever been a violent person, ever.”

Well, until now, at least.

Brown has said the night he physically assaulted Rihanna remains a “blur” and is his “deepest regret.”

I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. But this wasn’t simply a case of a guy being mean. He hit a woman, bruised and bloodied her, and it could have turned out much worse than it did.

So why is Chris Brown’s light growing ever brighter? His career certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down, although it seems not everyone is on the Brown wagon.

His performance at the Grammys raised a lot of celeb eyebrows, including those of country singer Miranda Lambert, who tweeted, “I don’t get it. He beat on a girl ... not cool that we act like that didn’t happen.’’

Jack Osbourne had similar feelings, putting out the question, “have we forgiven him?”

Well, it looks as though the one person who has the biggest reason to be hating him might actually be thinking about a reconciliation. Rumor has it Rihanna has been sneaking around with Brown again, meeting up in private places and re-kindling that old toxic flame!

I sincerely hope that’s not true. This is a woman who went on Diane Sawyer after the infamous incident describing it as “traumatizing” and telling young girls everywhere who have been in similar damaging relationships not to “react off of love. … Come out of the situation and look at it in the third person and for what it really is." Rihanna also told Sawyer she went back several times after Brown beat her, but that she believes that decision was “wrong.”

Was it a little strange they both shared the same stage Sunday night? I think so. I don’t think we should hold this over Brown’s head forever, but I wonder if this young man has truly learned his lesson? This tweet — “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now!” — makes me think perhaps not. (The tweet has recently been removed.)

There seems to be a common denominator among celebrities such as Chris Brown, Kobe Bryant and Lindsey Lohan that overrides bad behavior, and that’s status. If you’re rich, famous and entertaining, it seems all can be forgiven.

In the world of celebrities, you’re not admired for being a decent person. You’re admired for your accolades.

And with the new title “Grammy-award winner” permanently preceding his name, I’m sure Brown is hoping we all get a bad case of “fan-amnesia” and just forget the whole thing ever happened.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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