There are two contradictory rules of Twitter success that get told to everyone who signs up for the micro-blogging service: 1) be yourself, and 2) don't say anything controversial. This year, R&B star Chris Brown was very good at the first one of those, and very bad at the second. With his history of domestic violence having gone seemingly unpunished, Brown is probably always going to have a legion of digital haters waiting to pounce on his every word, but in the future, he might want to think about taking a deep breath and counting to ten before @replying them. Or is that asking Chris Brown to act against his very nature?
Just how many Twitter feuds did Brown get into during this awesome musical year? So, so many. We run down Breezy's 12 months of online drama, below.
[All tweets edited for clarity. Strings of multiple tweets have been condensed where necessary.]
The 2012 Grammys were Chris Brown's unofficial "welcome back" party, his first time attending the ceremony since assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna on the eve of the 2009 awards. Brown performed twice and took home the Grammy for Best R&B Album—achievements which Brown and his fans took as vindication. Other celebrities were less enthused.
Miranda Lambert: Chris Brown performed twice? I don't get it. He beat on a girl. Not cool that we act like that didn't happen. He needs to listen to "Gunpowder and Lead" and be put back in his place. Not at the Grammys.
Chris Brown: Strange how we pick and choose who to hate! Let me ask you this. Our society is full of rappers (who I listen to) who have sold drugs (poisoning). But yet we glorify them and imitate everything they do. Then right before the world's eyes a man shows how he can make a big mistake and learn from it, but still has to deal with day-to-day hatred! You guys love to hate!!! But guess what??? HATE ALL YOU WANT BECAUSE I GOT A GRAMMY now! That’s the ultimate FUCK-OFF!
Michelle Branch: Trying not to go off on a rant but ... Chris Brown ... *bites tongue* have we forgiven him?
Jack Osbourne: People don't forget! #chrisbrownbeatswomen
Annie Gregg of #teambreezy: Everyone shut up about Chris Brown being a woman beater. Shit, he can beat me up all night if he wants.
Brown later deleted his remarks. Gregg's tweet, and dozens of similar updates, were collected in an infamous Buzzfeed article the next day.
On February 20, Brown and Rihanna dropped a pair of remixes on the world, sparking rumors that the couple had rekindled their relationship. The next day, WWE wrestler CM Punk took to Twitter to challenge Brown, with predictable results.
CM Punk: I would like @chrisbrown to fight somebody who can defend themselves. Me curb-stomping that turd would be a #wrestlemania moment.
Chris Brown: @CMpunk needs more followers. He’s such a leader! Not to mention the 'roids he's on has made it utterly impossible for him pleasure a woman.
Brown then deleted this message, and attempted to take the high road:
Chris Brown: Positivity regardless of how you feel! @CMpunk contact my assistant and I’ll have him send you an autographed pic for my biggest FAN!!!
The wrestler fired back with a video response:
CM Punk: http://twitvid.com/4CAPE - This must be said.
Chris Brown: @cmpunk The video you just posted was cute! It's so funny how defensive you are. And the fact that I really don't know who you are and could give a shit is the funny part! I really hope this 15 minutes of fame is paying you for the long run because music lasts forever! Wrestlers come and go according to ratings!
Brown then launched an anti-CM Punk hashtag, that soon became one of Twitter's most trending:
Chris Brown: I miss the real wrestlers! (Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Brett the Hitman Heart, Coco Beware, Rowdy Roddy Piper) #Notnopunks. THE ROCK #Notnopunks.
Later, Brown attempted to put the matter to rest.
Chris Brown: Note: Today will be the last day I bring @cmpunk's existence up! The confrontations that people continuously bring my way are very amusing. Because honestly, that shit is too time consuming to argue with every person who has their own issues to deal with!
CM Punk: #aintnowomanbeater
At the same time Brown was feuding with professional wrestlers, the Internet was going crazy over the "Birthday Cake" and "Turn Up the Music" remixes. At the center of the storm, Brown stayed calm—the eye of this particular hurricane.
Chris Brown: @rihanna goo.gl/ttRJR YIKES!!! Cake, cake, cake!
Sharrod Richey of #teambreezy: I don't even feel right listening to #birthdaycakeremix. It feels like I'm being nosy, listening to two lovers talk sexual to each other.
Joyce Hawkins of #teambreezy: LEAVE THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE ALONE!!!!! LET THEM LIVE THEIR LIVES AND YOU GO LIVE YOURS!!!!!
Chris Brown: Don’t fuck with my old bitch it’s like a bad fur / Every industry nigga done had her/ Trick-or-treat like a pumpkin just to smash her/ Niggas breaking codes, but I’m the password.
Rihanna responded by unfollowing Brown on Twitter, and throwing some shade in his direction:
Rihanna: Aw, poor dat #neaux1currrrr
Brown followed up with a weak nonapology:
Chris Brown: Assumptions! I didn’t say any names so if you took offense to it then it's something you feel guilty about.
Pink: One day if I lip-sync, I hope I do it as well as him.
Chrissy Teigen: Why sing when you can dance?
Chris Brown: Don't hold your breath waiting for me to stop doing me! Anyone who is upset obviously is upset with their lives. Make your music, make a difference. Be better than me! God bless!
Teigen and Pink soon began receiving from death threats from Team Breezy, and Brown was forced to step in:
Chrissy Teigen: Really makes me sad that 99% of the most disturbing comments come from young girls. I'll end it there but it makes me sad. I have screen caps. I will do everything I can to make sure people know, Internet or not, you CAN'T say this shit.
Chris Brown: Team Breezy! Lets stop sending death threats! I know y'all are about that life, but it's the wrong message! You're turning haters into victims!
Twitter later deleted the accounts of the users who sent death threats.
Up next on Breezy's fight card: '90s R&B singer Brian McKnight. (You remember him from "Back at One.") The reason? Eh, there wasn't one, really, unless you subscribe to the theory that McKnight was trying to start a fight for self-promotion:
Brian McKnight: Since everyone's so opinionated I'm taking suggestions on what I should do next. I'm thinking rent a Lambo and beat the shit out of my girl. That's acceptable these days. It's not shade, I'm just reminding all of us what we accept on a daily basis.
Chris Brown: I see how this works now… When people's careers get to the “nobody cares” stage they use my name for publicity! LOL. Listening to “Let Me Show You How Your P— Works”!!!! THAT SHIT IS TRASH! If you need help just ask!
Brown's altercations had stayed firmly in the virtual world all year, until the early morning of June 14, when Breezy encountered Drake at Manhattan's WiP nightclub. Details are still scarce—everyone's favorite rumor involved Drake sending a bottle of champagne to Brown's table, along with a note bragging about sleeping with Rihanna—but at some point in the night the two musicians and their entourage became involved in a club-clearing scuffle. The few primary-source details we do have of the altercation come from the Twitter account least likely to stay silent after an incident like this:
Chris Brown: How do you party with rich niggas that hate? LOL... Throwing bottles like girls? #shameonya!
Brown also tweeted an image of an injury he sustained in the fight:
To what we imagine was his lawyers' infinite relief, Brown soon deleted every tweet about the night's events. After that, both men stayed largely silent about the affair, though Breezy couldn't resist taking a few verbal potshots at his Canadian rival on an "I Don't Like" freestyle:
Chris Brown: Them eyebrows, man / Them shit is yikes / OVO, you overdosed, screamin’ YOLO—no, I live twice!
As summer turned into fall and memories of the WiP fight began to fade, it took a controversial piece of body art to get Chris Brown in the news again. In early September, the singer unveiled his latest tattoo: A woman's mutilated face, one that bore a striking similarity to the famous images of Rihanna after her assault. The Internet erupted with scorn, though Brown and his fans maintained the tattoo had nothing to do with Rihanna.
Chris Brown: I’m an artist and this is art. Dia de los Muertos.
Tasha of #teambreezy: Chris Brown does charity work, doesn't get recognition for it. He helps poor kids get stuff for school, no recognition for it. He has a symphonic love foundation, no recognition for it. Anything positive he does doesn't get noticed. One minute something controversially bad is related to him EVERYONE blows it out of proportion and all the hate is aimed his way. He gets a TATTOO on his neck which people are portraying to be Rihanna, are you all seriously delusional. People need to realize not everything he does is related to her, y'all just finding something to give him hate for. Grow up.
Ned Hepburn, comedian: Leave it to Chris Brown to somehow make 9/11 worse.
As a celebrity who is both well-known and almost universally despised, Brown is an easy target for Twitter comedians looking to crack jokes at his expense—many of them, like Texas comedian Jenny Johnson, tweeting humorous abuse at him multiple times a week. In late November, Brown became frustrated with Johnson's antics and attempted to turn the tables, with disastrous results:
Chris Brown: I look old as fuck! I'm only 23...
Jenny Johnson: @chrisbrown I know! Being a worthless piece of shit can really age a person!
Chris Brown: @JennyJohnsonHi5 Take them teeth out when you're sucking my dick. HO. I should fart while you're giving me top. #CarpeDiem
Jenny Johnson: @chrisbrown Your mom must be so proud of you.
Chris Brown: @JennyJohnsonHi5 See... I don't even have to tell you what you already know. Thanks HO! #bushpig
Johnson then tweeted Brown a link to an MTV.com article detailing his attack on Rihanna, with the hashtag #SuckIt.
Chris Brown: @JennyJohnsonHi5 Mom says hello. She told me not to shart in your mouth, wanted me to shit right on the retina. #pinkeye
Jenny Johnson: @chrisbrown YOU FLIRT!!!
Both then appealed to the wider Twitter audience, which was now had its rapt attention on the feud.
Jenny Johnson: Okay. I'm done. All I got from that exchange with Chris Brown is that he wants to shit and fart on me. I have zero respect for a person who seems unapologetic for the terrible crime he committed and shows no signs of changing.
Chris Brown: Just ask Rihanna if she's mad??????
Jenny Johnson: @chrisbrown Get some help. Seriously.
At that, Brown deleted his Twitter account. With the loss of their idol, Team Breezy turned on Johnson:
Nelly Breezy of #teambreezy: Do you wanna know what I'm gonna do now ? I'm gonna kill that Jenny Johnson for making Chris delete his Twitter.
Nina Breezy of #teambreezy: @JennyJohnsonHi5 Whore bitch. If Chris kills you I will have more respect for him.
Jenny Johnson: Best @ replies today: 1) Who dis bitch need hop off CB dix! 2) She b 50 old eat dic fuh. 3) Ima fux dis bitch n da err 4) Breeezy b up hoe.
Todd J., writer: "I didn't want attention from this. I just thought I could troll a sociopath for three years and nothing would happen." —@jennyjohnsonhi5 #fixed
Brown returned to Twitter a week later, supposedly at the urging of Rihanna, whom he has apparently reunited with. The singer says he's handed over control of the account to his PR team, which should prevent him from continuing the vicious cycle he fell into far too often this year. Before he said goodbye, though, Brown had one final thought to share.
Chris Brown: Time to start fresh. #NewChapter
We talked to … Taylor Swift, Artist of the Year!
Who had … 33 extra-special moments in 2012!
Plus, we chatted with … Carly Rae Jepsen!
And finally, we showed you … the year’s most NAKED pop stars!