Kimberly Seals Allers: Of all of the performances at Sunday night's BET Awards -- good, bad or "What the bleep were they thinking?!" -- no one put on more of a show than Chris Brown. I'm not talking about his utterly genius dance tribute to Michael Jackson. (You would've easily thought that silhouette belonged to the Gloved One himself.)
No, it was after the dancing that the show really started. Now, I watch the BET Awards for musical performances, not dramatic performances, so when Chris Brown broke into the worst dramatic rendition of "Please forgive me; look how sorry I am" -- complete with falling to the knees and over-the-top "I can't go on"-ness -- I had to double-check at one point to see if I had somehow accidentally switched over to the Daytime Emmy Awards, where you usually see such histrionics.
At first, I thought, Is he crying over Michael Jackson's death one year later? I mean, we all love and miss MJ, but his own brother Jermaine was able to keep it together. Then I thought, Is he crying because "Man in the Mirror" is a self-reflective tune and he may not like the way he's looking in the mirror of late? Possibly. But the longer it went on, it seemed really clear that this was an artfully contrived attempt at made-for-TV forgiveness via falls to the floor, snot-wiping and major boohooing. Is this the new product placement -- emotional outpourings by fallen stars?
What really bothered me was that the performance was supposed to be about Michael Jackson, not Chris Brown. Chris Brown, somehow you took MJ's moment and used it for yourself! Not cool. But congrats to your publicity/crisis-management team. They have earned their high fees -- and whatever other checks you cut to pull off that spectacle. Look at your buzz now! Finally, you can push those pesky pictures of Rihanna's battered face down off page one of your Google results.
By the way, the L.A. Times has been conducting an online poll asking if Chris Brown was faking it at the BET Awards. At the time of this writing, 33 percent of respondents (or 2,913 voters) believed Chris was thinking only of Jackson and was choked up by his death. Twenty-seven percent (or 2,416 voters) said Chris was 100 percent faking a breakdown in order to get sympathy. Nineteen percent (or 1,648 voters) said Chris was 50 percent upset over Jackson and 50 percent freaked out because he was performing legitimately again.
As far as I'm concerned, Chris Brown was really crying (and still is) over that lightweight singer Trey Songz' stepping in and dominating his domain, taking over all of his swooning tweeny-bopper fans, while Brown has been cleaning highways for community service and trying to act contrite about beating up our Princess RiRi. Meanwhile, Trey has nary a Chris Brown-like dance move to be found -- and hasn't needed one. (Oh, and memo to BET: Please do not ever, ever again let a young'un like Trey Songz -- with his breath still smelling of Similac and a voice as weak as a newborn's neck -- sing a tribute to a musical genius and giant like Prince. Prince should have beaten Trey with a purple guitar for his off-key "tribute" performance.) But I digress.
The best thing Chris Brown said was when he came back out, acting (again!) very surprised to have beaten out Justin Bieber and Trey Songz for the AOL Fandemonium Award. "I let you all down before, but I won't do it again," he said. "I promise you." That's real, Chris. Thank you.
Listen, black people are extremely forgiving. (Ask O.J. and Michael Vick.) But we are not stupid. Don't let us down again on that one, either.