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This week, singer-actor Chris Brown continued his slow but steady climb back into the public's good graces. Brown, 21, is both an executive producer and star of the crime film Takers, currently the No. 1 movie in America. It's been only a year-and-a-half since Brown brutally assaulted girlfriend Rihanna, a charge for which he pleaded guilty. But things seem to be going quite well for him now. In June, he made headlines with his emotional Michael Jackson tribute at the BET Awards. In July, he reached a half-million Twitter followers. He's begun to work on a new album with hot hip-hop star Drake, and his new music video is scheduled to premiere this month.
Does it seem like people have forgiven and forgotten his grievous behavior?
It's not that we think people don't deserve second chances. But we're amazed at how eager everyone is to give one to Brown. Chris Brown committed a serious and repulsive crime, bruising and bloodying his girlfriend so badly that her famous face was unrecognizable. He served zero jail time for this offense. Yet compare the way Lindsay Lohan has been regarded. Lohan's crime wasn't violent; it boiled down to being selfish and entitled. But she was sent to jail, and now her chances at a comeback seem questionable.
Want another example? Charlie Sheen was arrested on domestic violence charges in December, allegedly holding a knife to his wife's throat, strangling her and threatening to kill her. But his career hasn't suffered in the slightest: Two and a Half Men is still extremely popular, and Sheen is the highest-paid actor on TV. Oh, and thanks to a plea deal, he got no jail time.
Meanwhile, Amy Winehouse has been arrested multiple times, usually for suspected drug use or public brawling. In January, she pleaded guilty to assault and disorderly behavior after punching and kicking a theater manager who asked her to move her seat. Earlier this week, she showed up at a Libertines concert and was heckled so badly by the audience that she retreated backstage.
Winehouse and Lohan aren't blameless by a long shot, but their crimes are petty compared to what Brown and Sheen did. It's been said that Hollywood loves a comeback -- but maybe that's only true for male stars. It seems like famous men can commit despicable acts but we don't begrudge them their success, while if a famous woman's personal life is a wreck, her public image suffers irreparably.
Britney Spears doesn't have so much as a mug shot to her name, but she may never live down the damage that her infamous nervous breakdown did to her reputation. Contrast that with all the misbehaving male stars who've successfully come back -- Rob Lowe (caught on tape having sex with an underage girl), Robert Downey Jr. (multiple stints in rehab) -- or those whose career never suffered at all -- David Hasselhoff (videotaped in a drunken stupor by his own daughters), Alec Baldwin (caught on tape screaming at his child).
With female stars, it seems like people are just waiting for them to screw up again -- and have a steeper climb coming back from the edge. And if a woman did to an innocent person what Chris Brown did to Rihanna, it's doubtful that she'd have a whole lot of Twitter fans.
So it will be interesting to see what happens to Mel Gibson, who is being accused of felony domestic assault (and has been caught on tape being a raving, racist, misogynist lunatic). It seems that he's done enough to get himself ostracized from Hollywood for life. But given the respective success of Chris Brown and Charlie Sheen, maybe Gibson's reputation will emerge intact.
Do you think there's a double standard when it comes to celebrities' bad behavior? Chime in below!