Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Rihanna and Chris Brown

I’ve been following the Chris Brown-Rihanna story, reading every MTV news article, and every “new” story that hits Google News, even though most of the information rarely changed. I always figured a photo would leak out; it’s inevitable in this day and age.

I’ve thought about reposting the image, but decided against it. It’s too harsh, and there are plenty of other sources that show it. People have said that the image will win her sympathy points (there is always a cynicism factor to any story), which seems like an obvious duh. Very rarely, if ever, images of beaten women inspire glee.

Are Rihanna’s eyes closed because she is in pain (they were “punched” close), or is she closing them out of sadness, pain, and sensitivity?

I admit to my own voyeurism in regard to this story. I would like details, a reconstruction of the fight, of their relationship troubles. Completely none of my business, and I respect Rihanna’s decision to keep as quite and private as she needs to. I cannot fathom everything she’s going through, knowing that despite just dealing with her complex feelings for Brown, the physical and emotional hardship of what just happened on the eve of what would have been a momentous night, and a police investigation and possible case, she has to think about her career, her image, and how she can react publicly. The pressure! When to speak out, what to say. Does she address it in her music? Does she become the face of domestic violence?

There are a lot of people out there who do want her to take a hard stand, to go out there and speak against domestic violence. And I applaud her and encourage her to do so—when and if she feels she can tackle it. She shouldn’t be forced to do anything; if she wants to speak out, it should be on her terms.

I have read rumors that if she goes back to Chris Brown, then people will lose respect for her. I understand this reaction, and I think that disappointment will follow as well. She’ll be under so much pressure to completely cut him out of her life—not only from anyone who didn’t like the two of them together, but for all the people who worry about her image and the effect this will have on her career. It’s awful to think so strategically about personal decisions, isn’t it? To worry about how every little thing you do will look to others, how it will be interpreted, if you’re sending an appropriate message, or if you’re cutting off your foot?

Alas, that’s how Brown’s career has been seen the past two weeks. Golden R&B star is no more. I’ve read accounts that say he’s career is forever down the toilet—eh, the right combination of circumstances can turn it around. Might not happen, might not happen for a long time, but it’s possible.

It was heartening to see both Kanye West and Jay-Z—two major hip-hop figures—speak out in horror regarding the incident and their love for Rihanna. Jay-Z was a mentor to Rihanna, and opened up “Umbrella”, her 2007 smash that kick-started Good Girl Gone Bad’s hold on America, as well as a target of nasty rumors involving the two of them.

I support whatever Rihanna decides to do. I hope that she doesn’t end her career over this, not that I believe that will happen. I’d like to see this whole crisis addressed somewhat on her next album, even if it doesn’t arrive for a few years.

Although Rihanna’s star was very, very high, she was heading for a vacation. Called the “queen of the summer”, Rihanna has become of the biggest stars of this decade by consistently releasing hits, summer after summer. The last four summers—yes, the last four—were dominated by, respectively, “Pon de Replay”, a cheesy dancehall song that virtually everyone, including myself, dismissed; “SOS”, the new “Crazy in Love” that borrowed “Tainted Love”’s famous hook; “Umbrella”, which took her to new heights; and “Disturbia”, the going-crazy song that was unfortunately penned by Chris Brown. Good Girl Gone Bad was rereleased last year with additional songs, including “Disturbia”, yielding eight singles, a massive number for any artist; the album is done. She would have laid low anyway, relaxing or working on her next album.

That next album, rumored to be released sometime in late 2009, was supposed to follow in the steps of “Disturbia” and her harder, edgier, kicking-ass-and-going-slightly-crazy songs, a move I am totally for and one that fits well with her and even what she is experiencing now.

But that is the subject of another post.

No comments: