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Chris Brown, His Tie, and The Black Comedic Tradition

3 September 2009 10 Comments

I’ve stayed quiet on the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation because the thought of one person beating another person until her mouth fills with blood is not very funny and you know I like to crack myself up. Notice that I did say a “person” – my problem with the domestic violence discussion is that it focuses on the idea that men should never hit women and I don’t exactly see it that way. Not only does the men vs. women idea reinforce gender and sexuality stereotyping, it ignores the more fundamental fact that no one should use violence or intimidation against another human being. While it’s true that 99% of the time the man is stronger than the woman, and therefore has the physical power in the relationship, it’s more important to realize that this physical power should never be used to dominate the other party – this also goes for same sex relationships and when dealing with the elderly or children. Violence is a sickness, and until society can stop chiseling the “abused woman,” and “abusive man,” stereotypes into stone and look at these situations as expressions of violence, very little progress will be made. Of course most abusers are men – biologically they’ve got it like that, and even those who were trained in the rather brainless approach “never lay hands on a woman” find ways of justifying violence anyway. It’s all so sad.

That said, I can’t stand Chris Brown but I loved making fun of Chris Brown’s apology video shirt, and I loved making fun of the tie he wore on Larry King Wednesday evening. People have accused me of focusing on these trivial things because I’m uncomfortable with abuse, or because I fell into Chris’ diabolical public relations ploy to distract me from the real issues, or simply because I lack fashion sense. None of these are true. I like making fun of Chris Brown’s clothes for three reasons. First is that I’m mean and make fun of everything I can set my wit towards. Secondly, Chris Brown is an obnoxious little turd. He needs the professional help that any abuser would, but I’m upset by his PR driven apology attempts, blank stares in response to questions about the attack on Rihanna, and my favorite, the claim that he “doesn’t remember,” the incident. Let’s not forget the knee-jerk “I will be seeking the support of my Pastor,” right after the news broke. Who does he think he is? AND I don’t like his music that much and I never thought he was cute. So there.

The real reason I love mocking Chris Brown’s shirt and tie? Jokes about it are firmly rooted in the black comedic tradition! If you’re not on Twitter (which you should be, and following me at twitter.com/thembithembi), there are things called hashtags that allow your Twitter updates to be indexed. For example, if you use #chrisbrownshirt in your message anyone interested in the topic can easily find your message among the others and laugh along with you. This great feature of Twitter lets everything turn into a mass game of The Dozens. Sure The Dozens was co-opted by MTV and turned into the show “Yo Momma,” but its really a verbal challenge that requires quick wit, mental agility, and cultural knowledge. I hold the call and response aspect of African-American culture very near and dear to my heart, so I’ll even do it online if I can! If you’ve never sat around with friends in real life, relentlessly cracking jokes on someone else or each other, usually remixing the same joke over and over again, you ain’t really black. I find it fascinating that The Dozens can take over a social media site like Twitter, and it says a lot about the pervasiveness of black culture and about our presence on the web.

Do you remember Chris Brown’s apology video?


I don’t remember a word he said because he is such a phony baloney, but the week the video was released The Dozens was in full force and there were hundreds of people online playing. I joked that Chris Brown’s shirt

… comes in three sizes: Raj, Dwayne, and Re-run

… plays “Memories,” when you push the buttons

… was worn in a “Get In Shape Girl,” exercise video

… snaps at the crotch

… was originally worn by Bobby Brown in the “Popcorn Love” video.

For more search twitter.com for #chrisbrownshirt.

Now, my father loves bow-ties. He taught me how to tie a bowtie even though I’m a girl, he’s asked me to make him bow-ties from scratch on a sewing machine, and people have asked me dozens of times if he’s a member of the Nation of Islam. I love my daddy and I love bow-ties. Chris Brown’s attempt to be cool but nerdy? Not so much.


Although my real problem with his so-called interview on Wednesday was that he refused to answer any questions, I was annoyed enough by this kid’s very existence to clown him with the obvious ammo he gave me. I wasn’t the only one – this bowtie has been the most discussed topic on twitter since its debut. It’s definitely fashionable and I expect to see a lot of clones in the coming months, but Chris Brown’s bow-tie

… is Frasier and Niles Crane’s other brother

…wrote Mambo #5

…was the Debarge family’s drug dealer

…tripped Keith at Thelma’s wedding on Good Times

…was cc’d on all torture memos

…was married to Frankie Lymon

…founded the Dharma Initiative

…was Step N’ Fetch It’s Christmas bonus

…wrote the fourth verse of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

and I would go on ALL DAY AND NIGHT. Notice how quickly the snaps turn to obscure black pop culture references? I love it. And I still hate Chris Brown.

For more search #chrisbrownsbowtie on Twitter. Oh, and Chris Brown fans about to comment about how great he is, your comment will probably be deleted, especially if you sound under the age of twenty-one.


  • [fung'ke][blak][chik] said:

    Clearly the only reason he did that interview was not to answer questions, but show off that tie, and give us great blog/twitter fodder! Because like he said, “the blog sites” hate him. Nah negro, we don’t hate you, we love you, bc without you, I wouldn’t be sitting in my office choking on my soda as I read this.

  • Marvalus said:

    I arrived at the comedic party late last night, but had an absolute side-splitting ball laughing at all of the chrisbrownsbowtie hashtags!

  • Malcolm said:

    If Chris Brown has a publicist, they need to be fired. Chris needs to stop talking now!

    Lol at the bow tie being responsible for tripping Keith at his wedding the Thelma. I guess that’s why Keith’s fall looked so damn fake.

  • anna said:

    You are hilarious!

  • Ginneh said:


  • chris said:

    i like the music of Chris Brown but he is just an abusive boyfriend. poor Rihanna.

  • MissG said:

    I like this piece.Really funny. Now onto Chris Brown. He’s a coward and a punk and hypocrite.If you’re going to attempt to address the issue, do it with enough sincerity that you’re believable. Enough said about him. I’m angry that so many women really think there are viable reasons for someone to be assaulted the way he assaulted Rihanna. I’m scared at what it says about our culture, how we raise young girls and our collective self-esteem when we look for justifications and rationalizations for this level of violence and brutality.

  • Anya Sweet said:

    i kinda like the R&B music of Chris Brown but i dont like the way Chris Brown beats her ex girlfriend Rihanna.

  • Renata said:

    I think that chris’s comment was written by brown himself. Admit it, that’s you chris brown.

  • Caramoan Tour Package said:

    Chris Brown makes the best hip-hop and r&b music today. i have a full collection of all the albums of Chris Brown in my home. It is too bad that his relationship with Rihanna did not work out well.

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