cbrownIn light of the events of the past couple of days, Chris Brown must be wondering what the hell caused him to be so stupid as to put his freedom and career in peril. In the barely 72 hours since his arrest on charges of domestic abuse and making a criminal threat, the cherub-faced R&B singer has already had his endorsement deal with Wrigley’s suspended, and one must assume that he’s lost a fair amount of fans, especially if the rumors are true and the woman he assaulted is his girlfriend, pop sensation Rihanna.

In one fell swoop, Brown has gone from a teen dream pinup (albeit a tattooed teen dream pinup with a hint of bad boy) to a criminal. However, it can be argued that this incident might actually HELP his career, especially if Brown takes the usual celebrity scandal perp walk-making the rounds of the talk shows, doing candid interviews, reviewing his past as a victim of domestic violence himself. A few flashes of that mega-watt smile and all will most likely be forgiven. But should it?

Let’s be real here. If you’re a celebrity, there’s not much you can do to lose your fanbase if your product is still saleable. All you have to do is look at R. Kelly, whose Platinum career has continued virtually unscathed in light of his child abuse allegations (and subsequent acquittal). One could conversely argue that Michael Jackson’s career has suffered in light of similar allegations, but MJ’s career was on a decline before even the first molestation allegations hit. That’s not to mention his pre-established image as a weirdo of the first order. For better or for worse, the public has proven that they’ll turn a blind eye to all manner of indiscretion as long as the artist comes back with a hot single.

And what about Rihanna? Questions about the incident will inevitably come up next time Rihanna has a project to promote. How will she handle the questions? Will she have to defend herself against Chris Brown fans who will accuse Rihanna of “snitching” or “provoking” Chris and will see the abuser as the actual victim? How will this affect the songwriters, producers and guest artists that will appear on future projects?

Of course, this is America. Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty. Until proven in a court of law, Brown should have no sanctions against him. However, it’s hard to imagine that even if he is convicted, there will be any fallout from either his record label (who tend to turn a blind eye to their artists’ indiscretions) or his fan base.

Jerry Lee Lewis, who famously flushed his pop career down the toilet when he married his 14-year old cousin back in the Sixties, must be kicking himself for not being popular forty years later.