Will Chris Brown’s BET Performance Revive His Career? PR Experts Weigh In
‘The question is: Do people think it’s real?’ one expert asks of Brown’s tearful BET Awards Michael Jackson tribute.
Only Chris Brown knows what caused him to choke up on Sunday night at the BET Awards during his tribute to Michael Jackson. Was it paying tribute to his late musical and dancing idol? Was it the emotion of performing on a major TV event for the first time in over a year in front of his peers? Was it the song’s lyrics, which are about staring in the mirror and willing yourself to make a change?
Brown, whose career has stalled in the wake of his plea a year ago to felony assault on ex-girlfriend Rihanna, grabbed a lion’s share of the headlines in the wake of the emotional performance, earning higher placement in most reports than the return to the show of T.I. after spending nearly a year in prison on weapons charges and another major awards-show resurrection: Kanye West’s first live set at an awards show since he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
“The question is: Do people think it’s real?” said veteran publicist and crisis manager Howard Bragman about the latest scene of a celebrity welling up on national TV. “If [the audience] bought it as authentic, then it might give him some sympathy, or there will be people who will roll their eyes because they feel like it’s a PR stunt because we live in a cynical world.”
Many of the respondents in an MTV News story about reader reaction to the Brown performance expressed a desire to forgive the singer and allow him to move on from the Rihanna assault. Even one of the star’s most virulent blog attackers, Perez Hilton, put the knives away for the first time in more than a year and said the performance “seemed genuine” because the low-key wasn’t “crying pretty,” but rather seemed to honestly break down and lose his composure.
While initially skeptical, Hilton said upon further viewing the breakdown seemed real. “It was ugly and raw and I think a lot of different things were going there, from his love and tribute to Michael, to having exerted a lot of energy and emotion earlier, to thinking about the Rihanna incident, to probably relief and joy over getting the opportunity to perform again on television at a big awards show,” he said.
As to whether a publicist would ever counsel a client to cry on cue in order to gain sympathy, Bragman not-so-sheepishly admitted that he did once tell a thespian, “You’re a really good actor, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few tears.” And Bragman said the person in question was a good actor and it did work, though Bragman would not divulge their identity.
With tepid album sales for his latest LP, Graffiti, little interest at radio and the cancellation of a recent U.K. tour due to visa issues tied to his felony plea, Brown has been struggling to put his career back on track following the Rihanna case.
CtPatriot: This Guy Beat A Woman… Period.