LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When R&B singer Chris Brown unleashed a Twitter post taunting detractors after his Grammy win last Sunday, he broke a rule that every Hollywood image builder knows: don’t show contempt for those who may be willing to forgive and forget.
This week, the celebrity blogosphere, websites and media pundits have buzzed with commentary about whether Brown is truly remorseful for assaulting ex-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.
William Moran, who provides crisis management services for athletes and celebrities through New York firm McCarter & English, said there are “three golden rules” embattled celebrities must remember.
“One, time heals all wounds,” Moran told Reuters. “Two, winning solves most problems. Three, people are forgiving.”
Where the last rule is concerned, Moran said that showing remorse is a key factor and that is where Brown fell short.
“People are angry because he’s being obstinate and not showing remorse,” Moran said. “If he were my client, I would say that he should be expressing remorse for what he did, rather than defending himself.”
Brown, who won a Grammy award on Sunday for best R&B album with “F.A.M.E.,” has been trying with some success over the past three years to redeem himself in the public eye following his guilty plea for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009 on the eve of that year’s Grammy show.
After publicly apologizing, turning in positive probation reports, taking domestic violence classes, getting back to work and releasing his latest album that included hits such “Look At Me Now” and “Yeah 3x,” Brown seemed to be back in good graces.
Then, after appearing on Grammy’s stage and winning one of the world’s top music awards, he tweeted to those who have deried him: “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now!...”
The tweet was later deleted, but the damage was done.
Brown is nowhere near the first celebrity to fall from grace with fans. Last year at this time, Charlie Sheen was showing hubris moreso than regret for his firing from TV sitcom “Two and a Half Men” after public rants about the show’s producers.
But after a series of bizarre public appearances, boasts about his “winning” ways, and a mixed response at best from his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth: Defeat is Not an Option” tour, Sheen seemed to simmer down. In September, he subjected himself to a Comedy Central roast, went on TV to say he’d calmed down, and took to the stage at TV’s biggest awards show, the Emmys, and wished the best to his old bosses on “Two and a Half Men.”
Whether he is fully redeemed awaits fan reaction to his upcoming new TV program “Anger Management.”
Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Los Angeles management firm Reputation.com, told Reuters that celebrities like Brown need to make more than superficial changes in their lives to get back in the public’s good graces.
For Brown, his post-Grammy tweet only dredged up memories of past stumbles on the path to redemption. He raised eyebrows in a March 2011 interview with Page Six Magazine in which he was quoted as saying, “At the end of the day, if I walk around apologizing to everybody, I’m gonna look like a damn fool.”
That same month, Brown appeared on TV chat show “Good Morning America” where he was asked about Rihanna. Brown stormed off the set, started screaming, caused staff to call for security and left a shattered window behind.
“He needs life lessons, not PR lessons,” Bragman said. “He needs to change his thinking. Once you change your thinking, your behavior will change.”
Reporting by Andrea Burzynski; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte