I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s collaboration

* A relatively rough rant. I may come back and edit it tomorrow. Or I may just leave it entirely. 

I have been ranting to friends/relatives/colleagues about this pretty solidly since yesterday morning, although I haven’t had the time to actually blog about it*.

*Which reminds me, I have a backlog of material – blog, work and personal – to get cracking on. I should probably invest in a day-planner. Do those things actually help?

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s new collaborations.

I am not okay with the fact that in an attempt to “shock the world” (according to one of the producers, Kosine, on the remix of Birthday Cake), Rihanna has made a pretty public statement: It’s okay to go back to the man who abused you.

Court documents in Chris Brown’s 2009 trial made it clear that he beat Rihanna repeatedly. Photographs from that night – the night before the 2009 Grammy Awards – show a Rihanna that is almost unrecognisable.

Rihanna

Rihanna after Chris Brown's assault of her in 2009. <i>TMZ</i>

The recently released documents made for absolutely terrfying reading. You can read the full report on Perez Hilton’s site but I’ll give you highlights.

He punched her repeatedly, smashed her head against the window, bit her left ear and two of her fingers, threatened to kill her, had her in a headlock and tried to strangle her.

(And yes, all you Chris Brown “fans”, he was also injured. Those are called “defensive wounds”. You find them on rapists, murderers, robbers and abusers. They’re caused as the victim tries to defend him or herself.)

It’s been just three years since that night – and, in fact, Chris is still serving a five-year probation for the felony assault. He made an extremely controversial return to the Grammy Awards last week – he performed twice – and his appearance raised the ire of a number of celebrities, music fans and critics.

They questioned the appropriateness of his inclusion into the ceremony, and his reaction does not seem typical of a man who is remorseful of actions. He tweeted, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!”

And you know, in the interests of not stirring the pot without due cause, I kind of left it after the Grammys. It made my stomach churn to watch him parade around the stage, but I could have been being over-sensitive. It happens.

But then Rihanna tweeted her two collaborations with the man that beat her within an inch of her life. And I was unbelievably disappointed.

In 2009, Rihanna said: “I don’t want to be the big domestic-violence spokesperson, because that doesn’t define who I am. But if I can help young women in any way, and that being one of the things they need help with, then I’ll do that.”

Rihanna had a perfect chance – whether she wanted it or not – to make a statement, be a role model. She had the chance, through her actions, to say: What happened to me is not okay. What he did was not okay. I do not need to stand for it. I do not need to go back.

But these two songs have sent a very, very public message: I have forgiven my abuser, and want him back in my life. Even better, I can cash in on the controversy and the abuse.

These were my thoughts before I had listened to the remix of Birthday Cake. And yes, while Chris’ contribution to the song is keeping with the hardcore, S&M style of the original’s lyrics… Well, Jesus H Christ in a handbag, it is not okay for the man that abused you to be singing those lyrics. 

“Girl, I wanna f*** you right now. Been a long time. I been missin your body … give it to her in the worst way. Can’t wait to her blow her candles off.”

I was surfing for various opinions on the tracks, and an article on the Boston Herald site really stuck out. The author had interviewed one Wendy Murphy, who apparently teaches a seminar on sexual violence at New England Law School.

Her thoughts?

“I don’t even have words to describe the perversity of (the collaboration),” she said.

“The obvious message she is sending isn’t that violence is bad, it’s that you need to find a way to enjoy it. … Someone should confront her and say, ‘Women are dying from the same violence you are celebrating’.”

“To do a song with the man who beat the hell out of her is exploiting her own victimization for money,” Murphy said.

I am not okay with Rihanna’s collaboration with Chris Brown.

I do not care – and I suppose it is none of my business – whether she has forgiven him for what he did. I don’t think that I would ever forgive abuse dished out to me. I would never record a fucking song with my abuser. But that’s just me.

And if they are all happy-and-back-together? Well, for god’s sake have some tact about announcing it. Release a statement instead of dropping two unnecessarily controversial tracks. They both owe it to their fans – whether they think they owe anything to the people who keep buying their records or not.

Rita Smith, the executive director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, seems to agree with me.

She told MTV News (and I bold this for the tl;dr among you):

“I don’t know what the message is. I would like the message to be: People can change, and I will never be treated that way again and I will never treat anyone that way again.

“If they had released a song saying this is what this represents for us, that would be such a much more fabulous, powerful story than not saying a word,” she said.

Instead, Rihanna’s stand-alone collaborations with Chris Brown are a public statement – that she endorses the man that abused her.

Smith also said that, given Rihanna’s history with Chris Brown: “I think the message she’s sending is that the feelings of being in love are more important than your personal safety.”

Like so many other victims of domestic abuse, Rihanna returns. Convinced he has changed, perhaps, or convinced that she can change him.

And what if, like so many other victims of domestic abuse, it happens again?

Number Thirty – #30DayBlogChallenge

Number 30: A photograph of yourself today, plus three good things that have happened in the last 30 days.

Well… You didn’t ask for a NORMAL photo. I was in a silly mood and playing with bunny ears so I snapped a few shots in my brother’s mirror (he’s got the only remaining full-length mirror in the house. My one broke).

Bunny ears
Not quite your usual Playboy bunny pyjama shot…

And then three good things… They’re not necessarily going to be amazing things, not in any sense of the word. But they made me happy, and that’s all you need.

1) Signed up for a social media for business course being run by one of the agencies here. It’s six weeks and my company is covering the cost. Yay!

2) Dinners with friends… Happened a few times, but “friends” in my life are good things, consistently. Deal with it.

3) And got news that somebody surprisingly  close to my heart was pregnant.

And so ends the 30 Day Blog Challenge (Hey! I made it!) What have I learned from all of this? 

a) I’m not geared for blogging to a pre-set list of topics each day. It’s not my style

b) Stuff can go unintentionally viral unintentionally quickly

c) flickr.com has some amazing, amazing photographers. Yes, you can pretty much find anything on there.

An open letter to PR people

This doesn’t apply to all of the PR people that I deal with. I have some dear, dear favourites (I bet you know who you are) who I do go that extra, extra mile to help out. I know some PR people that are so wildly excellent at their jobs that they probably deserve some kind of medal. This open letter is directed to those PR people who, from where I sit, look like they couldn’t care less about their jobs.

Dear Public Relations Person:

I get it, I do. You’re under pressure to sell your product. I’m under pressure to attract readers to my site. We need each other. Yes, I’ll admit it. I need you. It’s a difficult, complicated relationship. I’ve done some bad things, but so have you. In the interests of getting our relationship back to where it should be, I’ve compiled a list of small changes that you can make – and then some ways in which I can change.

  1. Please at least try to get my name right. I understand that I’m just one on a list of 500 names that you need to deal with, but how can I take the rest of what you’re saying seriously if you don’t take the time to check that you have my name written correctly. I’ll tell you a secret: We like to feel special. Spelling my name (which is “Candace”, by the way) as “Candice”, “Candance” or, true story, “Can” does not make me feel special. It makes me feel as though you don’t care.
  2. Please run your press release through a spell-check… And think before you click “Accept change”.  If I want to publish your press release, I want to do it with as little effort as possible. I do not have a team of journalists at my bidding, I’m afraid, so correcting the spelling and grammar so that I can use your press release just isn’t feasible for me. Make it easier for me, and I will be more likely to publish your piece. (*In all seriousness, when you learn public relations and marketing, is there a writing component?)
  3. Do not use 500 different types of formatting (bold, italics, underline, different sized fonts and bright colours) – I just have to strip it all out anyway. Also, please do not just send me a flyer/PDF/JPEG image. I am an online publication. I can’t use your pretty pretty flyer. It doesn’t fit in my template. (And no, I can’t change my template “just this once”.)
  4. Please attach an image to your email if you can. It stops me from having to request one from you within 30 seconds of receiving your mail. If you can’t attach images because you’re mass mailing, then please ensure that the time between my requesting an image and you sending one is less than a space of hours. I work online. If you have to source an image from somebody, please tell me so I can be prepared.
  5. Please do not call to check whether I received your press release. Unless you got a bounce-back, I did receive it. I may have chosen to ignore it, but I did receive it. If you absolutely must phone (and I know that for many of you, it is in your job description), then there is a certain… Etiquette that should be followed. Generally, I answer the phone with my name. This is because I pronounce my name “Cand-ACE” and not “Cand-uhs”. Do not then greet me with “Hi Candice”. No, I did not mispronounce my own name. Also, please, introduce yourself early in the phone call. Preferably before you’ve asked how I am. “Hi Candace, this is Sarah from Imaginary Press Releases calling. How are you?” is better than “Hi Candace, How are you?” The latter will get a snappy response. Or be met with dead silence. Next part of the phone call is usually “I’m just calling to check whether you got my press release”. And what was it about? When did you send it? I get a minimum of between 80 and 100 emails a day. I can’t remember them all. Some details go a long way to helping to jog my memory. “I’m just calling to check whether you got the press release that I sent on Thursday about the Imaginary Music Event” helps me to go yes/no/maybe more quickly.
  6. Please please please do not spam me with press releases regarding your event/competition/promotion/brand. The more I get spammed by you, the more I am likely to ignore your emails. Do not send me the same email twice. Do not send me five emails a week about your project. They will get ignored.
  7. I physically can’t make all of your events. I wish I could. I wish I could clone myself and have little versions of me going to events and writing about them. But I can’t do it, I’m sorry. Please don’t sound so hurt when I say I can’t attend. It’s not you, it’s me. Really.

And speaking of me, I do agree that I haven’t been an angel in all of this either. And for that, I do apologise.

I promise to RSVP promptly to events, even if I cannot attend.

I promise to publish press releases and promotional materials on time if I say that I will, and if they are relevant to my audience.

I promise to return phone calls and emails if needed.

I promise to at least try to write/tweet/Facebook about your event after I have attended. Sometimes I can’t because once I’ve been to the event, I’ve seen it just won’t appeal to my audience, but I will try.

I promise to make sure that all the information you request is in the article on my site and I promise to include links where relevant.

And I promise to moan, just a little less, when you send me the fiftieth press release for the same event.

Day Twenty-Eight – #30DayBlogChallenge

Day 28 – Your favourite movie.

I am sure that I shock exactly no one when I say that I have no favourite movie.

I have a list of about 40 that I love , but only a few hands-down favourites.

Stardust, starring Charlie Cox and Claire Danes and based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. I love how rich and textured this film is. Simply saturated with beauty and magic.

Titanic , James Cameron’s epic still remains one of my favourites. Watch it now that you’re a little older, and watch it carefully. It’s immense. You all can keep Avatar, thanks.

Saving Private Ryan: The first twenty-odd minutes of Steven Spielberg’s war epic have to be some of my favourite scenes of all time. Absolutely harrowing, incredibly filmed.

Forrest Gump. Really, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love this movie. I cry every time.

Grease. It’s cheesy, I know. But it’s one of my go-to films when I’m feeling down.

Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s iconic. I could watch it half a million times over.

Moulin Rouge! I haven’t seen it in years, but I love Baz Luhrmann’s style and adore the choreography and the music.

Chicago Love the attitude, the sex appeal, the performances, the casting. Everything. This is probably high up on the list of favourites, ever.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can pretty much recite all three films. That’s how many times I’ve watched, and how much I still love.

Disney films, in general.

The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fight Club…. I’m a David Fincher fan girl.

Inglourious Basterds. No explanation needed, I feel.

Day Twenty-Seven – #30DayBlogChallenge

Day 27 – Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 10 songs.

Fun fact: I don’t own an iPod. And I recently cleared out my laptop and haven’t had a chance to re-import all my music. So, I shall do the next best thing. My phone. (Don’t judge me, think I only have about 12 songs on the thing anyway)

1. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay
2. The Immortals – Kings of Leon
3. I’m Only Joking – Kongos
4. Shake It Out – Florence and the Machine
5. Pyro – Kings of Leon (told you)
6. Hurts Like Heaven – Coldplay
7. One – U2
8. Radioactive – Kings of Leon
9. Settle Down – Kimbra
10. Somebody I Used To Know – Gotye ft. Kimbra

Most of it was from my calm-me-down-on-the-way-to-the-clinic playlist.

Day Twenty-Six – #30DayBlogChallenge

Day 26 – Think back to how you were five years ago. How have you changed since then?

Firstly, for fun… Here’s me. Five years ago. Give or take a few days.

Self

I remember drinking a fair amount of vodka around the time of this photograph, which was taken in the first few days of us moving into our new flat in Grahamstown.

Five years ago would have been February 2007. Wow. That’s a long time ago, and much has changed. Honestly, I’m hardly the same person I was back then. Although, if there’s still some old Candace, she is buried quite deep.

Some context. Five years ago, my father had been lying in a coma for almost five months. There was still hope (to me, at least) that he might wake up and come back to us. He was still in the ward in Jwaneng. I had just returned from Botswana where, despite all of the awful stuff that had been happening, I managed to have an amazing holiday.

And then, I was back in Grahamstown, in my first flat with M. For a number of reasons, I was angry, terrified, hurt. I had just hooked up with the person that was going to define my life for the next three and a half years. That is all a very different story, and not what the question was.

Five years ago, I was wild. I drank a lot – we all did – and I made a number of bad decisions. I was in my third year of university, was the Features Editor of the varsity newspaper and was a dedicated journalism and English major. I still had a family, relatively intact. I still believed that the world could be a good place, that it would all work out. I had absolutely no understanding of the definition of pain. I thought I did. That would all come much, much later.

I was proud. Of myself, of my father, of my family. Of what we had been through and who we were. I still am, I guess. Proud of my family. I’m almost never proud of myself, anymore.

I spoke my mind, I made bold choices, I charged through life – not recklessly, just at pace, with force. Now I am more reserved. Maddeningly so, I would imagine. I agonise over decisions. Am terrified of saying the wrong thing. Fret over things I say that could be misinterpreted.

I am much more responsible now. For myself, for my brother, for my mother. Somewhere along the line I became the pillar for my family to lean on. My defining characteristic is that I’m scared, of everything. And that has defined and destroyed a few things.

But, there are good things, too. I have a kick-ass job. And I do wish my dad was here to see it – though I shudder to imagine trying to explain this weird “Facebook” thing to him. He could barely figure out how to turn on a computer, and it took him an hour to type out the one and only email he ever sent me.

I also have a few of the same life dreams. I want to travel. I want to write and publish a novel. I want to do some good in the world, changes some lives. I have changed two, already, I know. Definitely. But that is another story, for another day.

My standards are much higher. I am more generous now, less selfish. More quick-tempered and demanding. I am still infinitely loyal, willing to drop anything and everything to help if I can.  I grew up somewhere along the way.

Like I said. Sometimes I’m not sure who this new girl is. Sometimes I’m not sure that I like her. But it is fascinating trying to get to know her.