Celebrity musings. Goody, huh?
Back to the old ‘Opinions are like assholes’ saw… who *hasn’t* weighed in on the Rihanna/Chris Brown debacle yet? It’s kinda funny how lots of celebrities have commented to say they have no comment, etc. etc.
If you don’t know, 21 year old (just) Rihanna was battered by her boyfriend, clean-cut mega-star Chris Brown, on the day of the Academy Awards. She went into reclusion at her family home in Barbados, and Chris Brown eventually issued a public apology which nonetheless denies his guilt. People everywhere have voiced their concern or condemnation for Brown’s career and Rihanna’s personal life.
Because it’s been so public, and because it doesn’t matter a dingo’s turd what I think, it’s kinda silly to add my voice to the avalanche of opinion. Still and all, here goes.
I’ve been watching Rihanna’s carreer as she launched hit after hit out of the park starting as a teenager. She’s savvy. The girl has talent and cool. I actually made a few people watch her ‘Take a Bow’ video, cus her expressions are so evocative, I’m thinking… how long till she crosses over to movies?
And even though it was mainstream, I’ll grudgingly admit I really liked her hits. Until Disturbia.
If you haven’t seen the video, maybe skip it. I was disappointed, personally. In her videos up to that point, there was an unapologetic power to her persona. Sexuality was a part of the mix, but it was a powerful and daring sexuality. In the male dominated hip-hop world of scantily clad female eye-candy, Rihanna carved out a tactile impression of a woman who clearly called her own shots.
And then after a slew of hits, with that edge not just working but humming her songs to new heights on the pop charts, out comes Disturbia- A creepy, dark video where Rihanna wears a chain and collar in several scenes, another outfit that looks like knives are going through her in profile..spasms freakishly in rhythm to lyrics that imply another person’s control over her. The BDSM overtones were noticable. The nightmare hint to the whole thing really bugged me. Cus… well, it’s the kind of stuff easy for youthful audiences to mistake for *cool*.
When did darkness become so freakin’ popular? Why is it the darker a movie franchise gets, the better the critics say it is? Why does the outward expression of damage impress us so much?
I didn’t know what was up with ‘Disturbia’ but my regard for Rihanna fell. Now? Not so much.
She has made some clear and powerful choices about her artistry, and I don’t think Disturbia was the selling out I took it for.
Nope. That was the artistic choice of a woman being battered. That video expressed in shockingly clear terms that the beautiful, the powerful Rihanna was being hurt and controlled. And people devoured the image.
Now, three weeks after the Oscar day incident, the news breaks that Rihanna is back together with Chris Brown. People are now so disappointed in her.
Bear in mind, she’s 21 years old. Her critics maybe don’t have immediate access to the statistics of abuse, but an abuser isn’t someone you just weigh the pros and cons, then walk away from. There’s a whole set of psychological constraints in place. That pattern is so hard to break, that a woman leaves her abuser 7 times on average before she can actually make the break permanent.
And that number includes any woman who walked away after the first punch. That’s easier to do if you have support, if you aren’t too invested, if you have people you can trust, if you have internal self confidence.
But it still isn’t easy. And that number also includes the women who stay for years and years. The women who never break the mindset. The women who end up dead.
That mind set is powerful. I cannot access the mind of who I was when I was in a scenario of abuse.
I ache for Rihanna. She’s a star, yeah. She’s a kid. She’s a woman who will be widely criticized and crucified for her choices.
I wish something better for her. I wish something better for women everywhere who live through this, who try to survive it, day by day.
So as these stories break all over Yahoo and ‘Entertainment Tonight’, I bear in mind that it isn’t easy to walk away from someone who seems omnipotent in your head, and potentially murderous when retaliating. Without support and understanding, it’s nearly impossible. An abuser is generally so adept at convincing you that they are the victim, everyone around you buys it too.
Chris Brown has done more than raise his hand to Rihanna; he’s begun the process of taking her identity away.
I hope that she’ll sing her way to strength.
(This video, a new discovery lent by a European friend, relates somewhat. Great pipes, too. Enjoy.)
Oceana: Cry, Cry
*Additional Information about Disturbia, found in post follow-up research:
Wikipedia: The song was originally written by Chris Brown and his team known as the Graffiti Artizts and was considered for the re-release of his album Exclusive. However, Brown felt that the song would be better suited for a female singer; he then forwarded the song to Rihanna. Def Jam had considered saving the track for Rihanna’s next album in 2009, because she had already recorded “Take a Bow” for the re-release of Good Girl Gone Bad. However, Rihanna and her team felt that the song was a summer single and needed to be recorded and released as soon as possible. The decision was finally made to release the song as the follow up to “Take a Bow”.
So the song was actually written by her abuser, for her to sing.