Hitmaking R&B singer Chris Brown--lately known better for physically assaulting his ex-girlfriend and fellow pop star Rihanna than his music--made a thoroughly memorable "comeback" appearance at the 2010 BET Awards on Sunday night. (Brown has been keeping a low profile since the news of the incident surfaced in early 2009).
Brown's tribute performance of singles by the late Michael Jackson (his self-professed idol) went smoothly until he began "Man in the Mirror," at which point he appeared to become overwhelmed with emotion, breaking down into tears and struggling to choke out the lyrics to the song.
Now the video footage of his performance has become something of a viral hit, with viewers and writers across the Web analyzing it and wondering whether the showing was an admirable display of genuine emotion from a repentant and changed young man, or a shameless, disgraceful and exploitative attempt to drum up sympathy for his exile by hijacking the memory of the deceased "King of Pop." Most have settled on the latter interpretation.
"Brown put out a sizzling tribute to Michael Jackson, just days after the one-year anniversary of the pop icon's death, with a medley that included 'Remember the Time' and 'Billie Jean.' The embattled R&B star's take on 'Man in the Mirror' was measured and emotional, tugging at the hearts of many as Brown broke down during the song's refrain."--Jayson Rodriguez, MTV
" As the first tear welled in his eyes, it became impossible not to wonder whether Brown was showing genuine grief over the death of Jackson or whether he was trying to drum up sympathy as he struggles to regain control of his career."--PopEater
"Overcome by emotion, Brown choked up while trying to sing and eventually fell to his knees. Stirring tribute or clever publicity stunt? Brown certainly does have some inner turmoil to draw from..."--The Daily Beast Video
"Really folks? Really? An over dramatic, on cue and extremely convenient breakdown, some fake tears during a Michael Jackson tribute and now all is forgiven with Chris Brown now? I'll give it to Brown; he finally got a PR team worth their money. "--Kriss, The Insanity Report
"Brown got ~emotional~ and, in turn, transformed the tribute into something obnoxiously self-serving...Yeah, it was that bad. And I'm not the only one who thought so, either. If you were on Twitter during Brown's performance, you'd have seen a literal tidal wave of tweets decrying Brown..."
--Matt Cherette, Gawker.TV
"Because every pedophile should be honored by a moonwalking woman-beater, Chris Brown performed a tribute to Michael Jackson at the BET Awards Sunday night where he broke down crying at the beginning of 'Man in the Mirror.' Which would almost be touching until you remember Chris Brown was a goddamn robot during his public apology for bashing Rihanna's face into a car door and trying to bite her ear off."
"Yes, his emotions were probably real. He's a young, talented guy who lost a towering idol. Aaaaaand, he's still disgusting."
--Sara Libby, True/Slant
The performance even spawned this one-note joke Twitter account.
And of course, the "real" Chris Brown had some thoughts on his performance that he also took to Twitter to share.
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