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?

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Eminem ‘Space Bound’ in suicide video

For the most part – I love Eminem. It’s a conundrum, see, because I completely abhor his attitude to women and gays in general.

But I also find him to be a lyrical genius with a mastery of the language that is unparallelled in the world of hip hop. He’s a powerful voice and a powerful actor – and he also has a sense of drama that I find intoxicating.

Anyway, my fan-girl-ness aside… His new video for Space Bound is no exception to the rule. Much like with Love the Way You Lie (which is also directed by Joseph Khan) there’s a strong cinematic feel to the video. Violence, too, obviously – this is Eminem, after all, and the song is another cautionary tale of the line between love and domestic abuse.

The video starts with Eminem hitching a ride from the ridiculously beautiful former porn star Sasha Grey. In the car, Eminem splits into two versions of himself – a calmer one and an aggressive one (quite possibly a throw-back to his famous Slim Shady persona).

This continues through a scene in a diner – where Eminem check the lovely Sasha’s phone and discovers that she is, in fact, two-timing him – to a room where he attempts to choke Sasha to death, before she disappears in front of his eyes and he puts a gun to his chin. The entire story then plays itself backwards to show Em climbing into the car again.

Take what you will from it – he dreamed it, it’s a hallucination, it’s a cautionary tale, it all actually happened – it’s a powerful, powerful video.

Unsurprisingly, the watchdogs were up in arms – with anti-violence group Mothers Against Violence providing my favourite soundbyte: “Children are influenced by the things they see,” the group said. “If we feed violence, it becomes strong. Like an addiction.”

“It’s all about the money with these videos. Eminem isn’t thinking about the families affected. It’s selfish — it comes to a point when selfishness becomes evil.”

It’s shot largely in pallettes of dark hues and greys with some bright pops of colour – the neon sign, the condiments on the diner table, the door – and obviously the light that Em raps against . Khan uses intense close-ups – particularly of the actors’ faces and upper bodies – much as he did with Love the Way You Lie, which produces a sense of claustrophobia and that inescapable sense of being in-your-face that Eminem trades on. It’s gritty and intense – a great piece of directing.

Well, watch it below and see for yourself. I think it’s amazing. And that’s my Entertainment Ed voice talking, not my Eminem fan-girl voice.

Should we get over Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna? Hell no.

Today’s shaping up to be a fairly frantic day – so just briefly, a mini-rant on the Chris Brown incident.

I was reading a user’s comments on my site today and felt my blood boil. This reader, however, is not the only person to have voiced this thought. The idea is wildly prevalent:  Everybody deserves a second chance. We all need to move past Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna, I mean – wow – it’s been a whole two years already. He’s done a bunch of community service. Let’s just get over it.

What.the.fuck?

In case you need a visual reminder, this is what Chris Brown did to Rihanna. A whole two years ago. More after the jump… (and picture)

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

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