[url id="http://www.mtv.com/photos/chris-brown-enjoys-jet-skiing-in-miami/1606087/3636485/photo.jhtml"]Pictures of Chris Brown[/url] flexing his biceps and playing in the waves off Miami on a jet ski wouldn't normally raise eyebrows. But coming amid reports of Brown and girlfriend Rihanna's reunion following an alleged domestic incident three weeks ago, the images struck some as a bit odd.
"That might not have been the first image I would want out there of him," said public-relations guru and crisis-management expert Howard Bragman, author of "Where's My Fifteen Minutes?"; Bragman has handled delicate situations for everyone from embattled former "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington to onetime "Tonight Show" sidekick Ed McMahon. "But I also don't believe that he should be running around in sack cloth and ashes. He's a young man, and he has to go on with his life."
The problem, Bragman said, is that — apart from some grainy photos that reportedly show him and Rihanna arriving at an airport in Los Angeles, which were posted by TMZ.com on Monday (March 2) — the jet-skiing images are the only ones out there right now of Brown, whose career has already suffered some damage as a result of reports that he allegedly struck and bit [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] during a domestic dispute in Los Angeles on February 8. Because the jet-skiing pictures are the only ones currently making the rounds, Bragman said, they become the "defining image" of the alleged reunion and "that's not how you want to be defined at this time."
Bragman said he would have preferred to see the 19-year-old singer "taking his mother to a Tyler Perry movie or out to dinner ... anything with family. You want to be really cautious at these moments. And if his people set this up [as has been reported], I don't know why, because it seems to project an attitude of, 'This is behind me, and I'm going to have fun, because I'm Chris Brown.' "
While no photos of the couple together have surfaced since the alleged incident, hundreds of readers wrote into MTV News to express their shock, disappointment, hope and confusion over the alleged weekend reunion at a home owned by [artist id="1244169"]Diddy[/artist] in Miami, with some singling out the jet-ski pictures as particularly galling.
Us Weekly reported that Brown was photographed arriving via private jet in Los Angeles on Monday (March 2), with Rihanna not visibly by his side; spokespeople for the singers had not return calls for comment at press time.
As to how the reported reconciliation happened, People Senior Editor Julie Dam told the "Early Show" on Monday morning that [artist id="1961441"]Brown[/artist] reached out to Rihanna on her birthday last week "and since then, they've sort of been mutually talking." While Dam didn't know if Brown sent gifts to his girlfriend of more than a year as part of that attempt to reconcile, she said Brown has definitely been "saying that he's really sad and reflective about what happened, but he's really happy to be with the woman he loves."
Asked if the singers' relative youth — Rihanna just turned 21 — has to do with their alleged quick reconciliation, clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere told the program, "I don't think it's just about the youth here, because we see that older folks in their 30s, 40s and so on who are involved in domestic violence, they break up and they come back together." But, he warned, if they stay together and there was, in fact, an abusive incident, there is a "very high probability it will happen again, because we find out that some of the female victims of domestic violence quite often end up choosing other people who are abusers, because they don't work out the emotional issues that may draw them to those people who perpetrate violence against them."
As to how the pictures of Brown might further impact his career, Bragman said until the facts in the case emerge, no one except Rihanna and Brown know why they are doing what they're doing.
"The image is not the final nail in the coffin by any stretch — that would have been if he was with another woman — but at a time like this, you always want to go back to family," he said. "The real question is, 'What does the DA in Los Angeles think of this image?' " Bragman said. "How does this affect how they feel about it, and does it make him [seem] more capricious, or does Brown know something about the resolution of the case that we don't, and does he have a reason to feel good?"
The district attorney has not yet filed charges in the case but is reportedly planning to do so next week.