About a month ago, 24-year-old George Huguely was found guilty of murdering Yeardly Love, a female lacrosse player and his on-again-off-again girlfriend at the University of Virginia. Around that same time, Rihanna and Chris Brown both released songs that featured one another (“Birthday Cake” by Rihanna and “Turn Up the Music” by Chris Brown). These two stories may seem to have nothing in common, but there is one underlying theme that connects them: both women were victims of domestic violence.
Both attacks were widely covered by the media and in each instance, the male was strongly portrayed in a negative light. It is interesting to note, however, that in about the same amount of time it took for Huguely to be convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to up to 26 years in prison, Chris Brown was on the rise in his musical career.
Now, I’m not saying that Chris Brown should be permanently black listed for what he did to Rihanna. If he is making good music, then there is nothing wrong with him topping the charts once again. It starts to get iffy, though, when his potential top track on the Billboard Hot 100 happens to be with the girl that he allegedly attacked.
I’m sure I was not the only one to raise an eyebrow when I first heard that Rihanna and Chris Brown were working together on a song. In fact, I thought that it must be a joke. There was no way the edgy woman who produced the album Rated R after being abused would agree to collaborate with her abuser. If the violence she faced was enough to transform her from the sweet singer of “Pon de Replay” into a darker, more sexual person, it seems that it should have been enough to make her want to avoid any association with Chris Brown.
Rihanna even worked with rapper Eminem in the song “Love the Way You Lie,” which was accompanied by a controversial music video depicting a brutal case of domestic violence. People predictably related the events in the music video to the relationship between her and Chris Brown. While many opposed the explicit nature of the video, some felt that it was appropriate given the trauma that Rihanna had experienced.
With all of the examples of how much the violence appeared to change Rihanna’s life, it is pretty clear why this news of collaboration came as a shock to most. For the past three years, Rihanna’s dark transformation was largely attributed to her dark past. Yet, seemingly out of the blue, she is willing to release two tracks with her past abuser.
The biggest concern with this is what kind of message the release of these songs is sending to those who face a similar situation. On one hand, it looks as if Rihanna is excusing what Chris Brown did to her by working with him. There were even rumors shortly after the release of these songs that the couple was secretly seeing each other again. While that was just a rumor, its circulation in the media has the potential to lead to dangerous decisions made by women who look up to her. Although Rihanna stated that she merely collaborated with Chris Brown on the tracks because he is, to her, the “hottest R&B artist out right now,” the partnership between the two creates the open possibility that they may one day restart their relationship.
The case involving Yeardly Love and George Huguely is said to have not been violent at first; however, emotional abuse was present and the couple still remained together until it resulted in her death. Not all domestic violence incidences result in such tragic outcomes, but with abuse you can never rule out that possibility. People cannot always see how bad their situation has become. This is why the way the media portrays issues like domestic violence is so important.
When young girls see their role models ignore such a heavy issue for a calculated gain, it can convince them that such things are okay. We need to realize that no matter how it may be presented in the media, domestic violence is not an issue that should be taken causally and if it is ever present, one should seek out help.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE(7233)
Domestic Violence in the Media
Posted Mar 31 2012 - 8:01pm
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