Come with me now to an alternative reality. Imagine that a young African American man has had a breakout R&B song called “Rehab,” in which he boasts about the fact that he refuses to go to rehab. They’ve tried to make him go, he sings, but his response is always the same: “No, No, No.”
Now imagine that the once-handsome black singer has, in recent months, become a dessicated shell of his former self, acting crazy, getting arrested on drug charges, and manifesting all the signs of having a serious crack habit. Imagine his transformation is as dramatic as that of Amy Winehouse, that he’s been photographed stumbling around in the street in his underwear and lurching through court in a semi-coherent fog.
Now, for the coup de grace, imagine that this young black artist is given five Grammy awards, including best pop vocal, for the very song in which he boasts of his substance abuse problem.
How would that go over in the media? Any thoughts?