Yesterday, Arizona police were called to Frankie Muniz’s home to for a domestic disturbance call.   Quickly rumors of assault and suicide attempts began flying, despite police reassurance that they were simply intervening on an escalated situation between the Malcom in the Middle actor and his girlfriend, Elycia Turnbow.

Even though the details of the situation remain blurry, one thing is clear- the media isn’t throwing this former teen star under the bus.  While the world of gossip sites is usually quick to go for the jugular, most bloggers have refrained from going in on the actor, choosing not to accused but to ask, “What’s really going on?

Now, our question is this: where was this sense of journalistic wonder when R&B star Mario was accused of assaulting his mother last October?  Though the “You Should Let Me Love You Crooner” was later cleared on any charges, the blogosphere had already sentenced him through their reporting which chose to jab first and ask questions later.

It would be easy to call the discrepancy a case of discrimination.  White Boys Gone Wild usually get rosier treatment than stars of color.  And if you have your doubts on that theory, close your eyes and try to imagine a black Charlie Sheen…

However, we’re prone to think the media’s mercurial slayings could be something more.  Muniz’s run as Malcom on the FOX sitcom lasted nearly six years, making him America’s poster child for much of the early 2000’s.  Though the initial reports of the domestic disturbance certainly suggested the worst, I don’t think the media that had embraced him and known him for years was quite ready to give up hope on the actor yet.

On the other hand, Mario- a well known star in R&B circles had yet to really have the crossover effect where middle America could feel familiar with him yet.  Even Chris Brown, who had come so close with his Wrigley Double Fresh “Forever” commercials wasn’t close enough.  Even in the minutes after ‘the incident’ with then girlfriend Rihanna, the media held no punches reporting even before there was real evidence against him.  While we refuse to defend actions taken against any woman, we have to wonder why the media quick to walk some male stars down the green mile faster than others.

Does the media’s familiarity and affinity keep them hesitant or keep them honest?

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  • poppy

    I don’t the media really cares to much about Frankie unless something more serious had happened. I get the sense the gossip sites are waiting for Charlie Sheen to hit further rock-bottom that is the story they are interested in.

    • Alexandra

      Yeah. Frankie is not in the limelight anymore. And his girlfriend isn’t famous either.
      His story is not ‘juicy’ enough for the media to dwell on.

    • zy

      Bingo. Frankie Muniiz is no longer a “relevant” celeb. he hasn’t been in years so he’s not on the media’s radar right now. comparing him to Chris Brown is like apples and oranges in the land of the media. when Chris beat up Rhianna, he was on top of his game, America was in love with him because he was so ‘clean cut’. Frankie Muniz? who dat? lol at this point, everyone’s waiting for Charlie Sheen to blow a bigger gasket and end up in jail or for Lindsay Lohan to finally do some time…no one’s studying Muniz.

  • i think race has a lot to do with it, more than ‘familiarity and affinity.’ Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, and Charlie Sheen are both prime examples of celebs gone criminally cray cray, yet its almost like the media and the justice system refuses to reprimand them for their actions. But Wesley Snipes was put in jail for YEARS for not paying his taxes, T.I., Lil Wayne, even Remy Ma have all been given serious time for their actions.

    i also think the fact that Frankie Muniz’s girlfriend is a nobody (or, rather, definitely not as famous as him) has something to do with it as well. im 100% positive that if chris brown had beat up anybody other than rihanna, nobody would have cared. if he had smacked up kat stacks, people would have been cheering… but since he put his hands on ‘Americas Sweetheart’ (my how times have changed for her) everyone banded against him. and then she capitalized on it and turned herself into a victim and him into a monster, and the media went crazy for it because it was a great headline: Americas Sweetheart Stomped By Americas Other Sweetheart. so i think there are more issues at play than just the media’s familiarity and affinity when these kinds of stories come out.

    i also disagree with the authors stance that Chris Brown didnt have crossover appeal. aside from his doublemint commericals, he had got milk? campaigns, he had pop songs like ‘no air’ with jordan sparks and ‘forever.’ White folks knew who he was and, quite honestly, i saw more people/websites of color bashing Chris Brown than White and/or mainstream ones. Most of the mainstream media i saw seemed to be on the ‘give the kid a chance’ boat, while minorities were all ‘burn him at the stake’ and whatnot.

    this very e-zine asked in an article last week ‘are we over THE INCIDENT,’ and one of the most popular posts this week is the one about rihanna lifting the restraining order on chris brown, which everyone seemed to be against. i know ppl are going to hate me for this but… White people are more forgiving than minorities when it comes to their own. a lot of us still have that crabs in a bucket mentality and just love to bring each other down.

    • isolde

      “but since he put his hands on ‘Americas Sweetheart’ (my how times have changed for her) everyone banded against him. and then she capitalized on it and turned herself into a victim . . .”

      Again with your nonsense. . . She was a victim, end of discussion. And so what if she capitalized off of her tragedy? Really though, so what? Whose fault is it that she had a tragedy to capitalize off of in the first place, Rihanna’s? It’s not Rihanna’s fault that CB’s career went south after he assaulted her; it’s Chris’ fault that his career went south after assaulting her.

      White male privilege definitely plays a role in how the media is handling Sheen and Gibson, but then again, Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson are older and they’re receipts are much longer than Chris Brown’s. People ask why Lindsay doesn’t get the Charlie treatment by the media, and again, I blame white male privilege and receipts. Charlie makes networks and studios money. LiLo loses money for networks and studios. If Charlie Sheen were washed up and out of work, the press would probably treat him differently, maybe not as badly as Chris, but differently. However, as it stands, Sheen is an extremely lucrative commodity, and his sitcom is worth over a quarter billion to his network. Can Chris Brown say the same about any of his projects?

      And as for Rihanna having fallen out of favor as one of America’s sweethearts . . . yeah, ok, check the charts, check her magazine cover sales, perfume sales, album sales, recent grammy win (Only Girl), Vevo video view counts, summer blockbuster movie role, etc., and continue to stay mad.


    • okaaayyy you seem really angry in every thread i see you in lol. i understand that youre a rihanna fanatic but unless the girl is paying your bills im going to need you to chill out. im going to address what you said piece by piece and, if you choose to respond, please try and do it without the disrespect and e-thuggery cuz i dont appreciate it and i wont keep responding to you.

      call me crazy, but i think its inappropriate to capitalize off of domestic abuse. its a serious subject and not one to be taken lightly, which i feel she did. she appeared on talk shows and at public events calling herself a spokesperson for abuse and role model for girls, but then she never actually followed through with any of her causes and appeared damn near naked on the cover of GQ magazine. if youre going to talk about it, be about it. but dont talk about it to boost the sames of your album coming out which everyone knows is about the aftermath of ‘the incident’ when you really could care less. it insults domestic abuse survivors that are actually trying to make a difference.

      i agree with you on the white male privilege point; its similar to what i said in my own comment about how race plays a bigger part than ‘familiarity and affinity.’ since it seems like we agree there, im not sure how this plays into your feeling my comment was ‘nonsense.’ according to money, while brown is, of course, not worth as much as charlie sheen, his net worth is almost $75 million, and before ‘the incident’ he was certainly making millions for wrigleys and the got milk campaign. they pulled the plug on him because of the nature of the incident, not because he wasnt making them any money.

      and what i meant when i said ‘my how times have changed’ was to say that rihanna no longer WANTS to be America’s Sweetheart. when she came out she was known as the Bajan Beyonce, now she prefers to be seen as edgy, independent, and fashionable. which is all well and fine. but America’s Sweetheart doesnt make songs about S&M or Russian Roulette or other sexually charged music. shes going to a darker place with her image that can certainly not be called America’s Sweetheart… i would say that title now goes to Taylor Swift or someone like that. it wasnt an insult and im not ‘mad,’ so how about you relax? you stans kill me.

      and last, my opinion is my opinion, just like yours is. you calling it ‘nonsense’ just shows how ignorant and close-minded you really are, hun. take your hate elsewhere and #thanksforplaying (even though i hate hashtags in non-Twitter media lol)

    • isolde

      Actually I think you’ve entered the most comments on the last 2 threads linked to Rihanna, which says something rather interesting about you being obsessed with her. You seem to be under the impression that I care whether or not you respond to me, which is the furthest thing from the truth, and if you think pulling the tone argument (“you sound so angry”) is going to work, think again. None of my comments to you have regarded your criticisms of her craft. However, you said some nonsense about Rihanna turning herself into the victim, and I called you on it, the end. I probably wasn’t the only person who picked up on it, either (see Chesea comment).

      Only ignorant, close-minded people suggest that those beaten bloody by their significant others “turn themselves” into victims. Only ignorant, closed minded people, attempt to dictate when and where a woman should speak about her abuse, how she should behave after being abused, or how she should pose on magazine covers after being abused. All of the above are ignorant, misogynistic, and close minded, and coincidentally, are an accurate description of much of your BS remarks on this issue.


    • theres a lot i could say about ignorant and closeminded behavior, or my opinions on rihanna painting herself as a victim. there is a difference between being a victim and moving on and being a victim and splashing that shit across magazine covers to get money. but seeing as youre a stan, that would fall on deaf ears, plus thats not even what the bulk of my comment in this particular article was about. so im just going to leave you with this:

      if you check, i comment on pretty much every thread lol… im lucky enough to have a job that offers me a lot of downtime, and clutch is one of the many sites that i frequent every day so im definitely comment happy. but i think youll see my comments in each of the top articles on the clutch homepage, not just the ones on rihanna soooooo your claim that im ‘obsessed’ with her is a little baseless.

      if im obsessed with her because i commented, then im also obsessed with michelle obama, with the republicans trying to push through anti-abortion legislation, with Egypt, with single mothers, with lil kim, with profane children, with allure’s stats on women and their bodies, with God vs S-E-X, etc. but if thats the case, then i can honestly say i am obsessed with current events and whats going on in the world. sue me.

      and you do sound angry. comments like ‘again with your nonsense,’ and ‘continue to stay mad’ are aggressive… all i needed was for you to roll your eyes at me, suck your teeth, and say im ‘hatin.’ and thats downright civil compared to stuff ive seen you post on other threads about rihanna.

      if you dont think your comments are aggressive even though youve consistently demeaned others who dont share your opinion that rihanna is the greatest thing since sliced bread by trying to sound clever with hashtags and sarcasm, then there is nothing else to say.

      thank you and good night!

    • isolde

      “theres a lot i could say about ignorant and close- minded behavior, or my opinions on rihanna painting herself as a victim.”

      . . . as you continue to prove my point (Only ignorant, close-minded people suggest that those beaten bloody by their significant others “turn themselves” into victims.)

      “there is a difference between being a victim and moving on and being a victim and splashing that shit across magazine covers to get money.”

      Oh wait, so she’s a victim, now? Is it because she turned herself into one?

      (Only ignorant, closed minded people, attempt to dictate when and where a woman should speak about her abuse, how she should behave after being abused . . . )

      Oh, and I can speak on ignorance as aggressively and as often as I like.


    • lol i love how you pick and choose what to reply to… girl BYE. you clearly dont have anything to do but argue over the interwebs.

  • Chelsea

    I like Chris Browns music but a guy that beats on a women is a punk and she was the victim point blank…I wonder how many ride or die so called chicks are out there getting beat just to “stand” behind her “man”. When did everyone especially women turn against another women being abused geez people ridiculous.

  • AHa

    I’d say that Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson have taken pretty big hits by the media and the business. A movie called “The Beaver” (weird title) that Gibson is in and was directed by Jodie Foster has been pushed back countless times because of his negative associations in the news; some actors have vocally distanced their personal and professional relationships with him as well. And Sheen is the butt of every one’s late night jokes. Race really doesn’t have anything to do with it if you’re comparing these guys to Chris Brown.

    Something tells me that Brown may have gotten a pass like Muniz has (besides the fact that Muniz has passed the peak of his fame and Brown was just creeping up on what could have been the apex of his career) if that picture hadn’t been released. Having evidence like that of such a brutal crime only magnified what he did to another woman, famous or not.

    So, I think comparing Brown to Muniz is not really appropriate in this case. Add in the factor that the woman he assaulted was Rihanna, and I’d say it has less to do with race and more to do with varying degrees of current popularity.