I’m not sure when the Grammy’s became the official sponsor of domestic violence, but it might have been around three years ago when Chris Brown sent Rihanna to the hospital the night before the 2009 show. Somehow, in just three years time, Chris Brown has been ushered back into the media’s good graces like a prodigal son returning to feast. After 2 short years of being blacklisted from the Grammys, Chris Brown performed not once but twice this year. Is this some kind of twisted anniversary celebration?
Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich said recently, “We’re glad to have him back. I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it might have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened”. Read that over carefully. Ken Ehrlich is claiming that when Chris Brown decided to punch Rihanna in the face repeatedly, it was ultimately the Grammys, an awards show, which really fell victim. We should excuse him while he “gets over” this. The message that this quote alone is sending to young women is despicable. In essence, Ken Ehrlich is chastising Rihanna for clumsily getting herself in this sticky situation right before an awards show and how dare she leave them with time to fill on the show, as both Rihanna and Chris were set to perform that year.
Let me first say that I am an advocate for second chances. We all have that one guy that we give one too many chances, and that’s OK. However, the events of the police report shocked, horrified, and disgusted me. I will spare the gruesome details and merely state that the entire altercation was started by the fact that Chris was texting an ex girlfriend and Rihanna found the text messages. If that’s not a typical relationship quarrel, I don’t know what is. What was not typical was Chris’ reaction of trying to force Rihanna out of the car and then bashing her head against the window. What also isn’t typical is the millions of girls watching Rihanna’s reaction to the ordeal and looking to her as a role model.
As you may have heard, Rihanna and Chris have reunited in song. In time for her birthday, Rihanna released a remix to her song “Birthday Cake” featuring Chris Brown. With lyrics like “been a long time, I’ve been missing your body” and “if you still want it, come and kiss it”, it’s easy to see that this is much more of a sexually charged song than the cathartic, artistic expression they claim it to be. Perez Hilton, famous celebrity blogger, after tweeting that he “can’t get enough [of the song] CAKE!!!!” took to Twitter again to give his opinion about the reunion. He says: “Music heals! It really does! #MusicHeals!!!! It has the ability to turn what was something destructive into something creative and positive!” If this was the intention, why not write something soulful and meaningful?
This sentiment leaves me asking the same question Youtuber Chris Crocker (from “leave Britney alone” fame) asks in this great video: Rihanna, why? Crocker quotes what Rihanna told Diane Sawyer right after the incident and tells her to “stop eating birthday cake and eat [her] words”. In the emotional interview, Rihanna says “my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed…I couldn’t be held responsible for telling them ‘go back’. Even if Chris never hit me again, who’s to say that their boyfriends won’t? Who’s to say they won’t kill these girls?…I will say that to any young girl who’s going through domestic violence. Don’t react off of love. Eff love.” If Rihanna wants to be romantically involved with him, it is not a public issue. Maybe reuniting in song IS healing for them, like Perez Hilton suggests. The fact is that the content of the song in this context is completely inappropriate.
The powerful statements made in the Diane Sawyer interview were much needed at the time and are currently sent down the drain. It is of course natural for her to go back to her abuser, as many battered women do. Even with her independence, strength, and power, the woman who sings about finding love in a hopeless place can’t resist her ex boyfriend. While I don’t blame her for her personal choices, I am disappointed in her career choice to do such an explicitly sexual song that completely ignores everything that happened post 2009. Just because Chris Brown has a great voice and did some sexy dance moves on stage at this year’s Grammys doesn’t make what he did OK. It will never be OK. Does Rihanna’s public support of him and complete disregard for the harm he’s caused her now make it acceptable for his fans to tweet disturbing ‘jokes’ about how they would love it if he beat them? One twitter user even said, “I don’t know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to”. Another says she actually wishes Chris would punch her. This isn’t S&M-like whips and chains. Those may “excite” Rihanna, but I’m sure having her head slammed into a window doesn’t.
The moral of the story is not to be fooled by the celebrity or the lyrics or the dance moves or the Grammys. This is about domestic violence, a tragedy that unfortunately occurs way too often. In the United States, a woman is beaten every 9 seconds. Just imagine if this was your roommate or sorority sister. Imagine if it was your real sister. Imagine if it was you.