One of the most difficult things to do in life is to try to reason with a victim of abuse. They are often scared, confused and indifferent to common sense, especially if they’re young. No matter how much you try to help them by offering good, solid advice and support, their stubbornness knows no bounds. Only they can rescue themselves. Trust me. I speak from personal experience.
I can only imagine the mass frustration friends, family and supporters of Rihanna are feeling lately over her apparent reconciliation with Chris Brown, the man who brutalized her in a needless assault three years ago. (It happened just before they were scheduled to perform at the Grammys in February 2009. Unsurprisingly, they never made it to the broadcast.)
The sense of helplessness they must feel in not being able to convince her that her ex-boyfriend is still bad news and not at all reformed, that despite the recent resurgence of his recording career his attitude hasn’t changed, and that even just being friends with him is a terrible idea.
In this space three years ago, I urged readers to support Rihanna, not condemn her. (My deepest apologies for misspelling her name in the original link, an awful error I had unwittingly continued to make in other pieces but thankfully, albeit belatedly, have since corrected.) After reading a New York Times article about teenage girls sticking by the abuser and not the victim in this case, I couldn’t stay silent.
This awful story has come back to the forefront because both Brown and Rihanna performed at the Grammys two weeks ago (but thankfully not together). He even won an award for Best R&B Album.
Let me state flatly that before the assault on his ex, Chris Brown was not on my radar. I had never heard any of his CDs nor had any opinion of the man himself. I only knew of him by name. That’s it. But after he viciously attacked Rihanna, I’ve felt nothing but sheer loathing for him. And like before, I have no desire to hear his albums. (I prefer Cee-Lo Green.)
That being said, unlike many of his critics (although I share their annoyance about this), I didn’t have a philosophical problem with him performing and receiving an award at the Grammys (even though, truthfully, he should be in jail). If they only invited and recognized law-abiding musicians who don’t have criminal records or violent tempers, the show would last ten minutes. (Essentially, there wouldn’t be much of an industry to honour.) No, the real issue I have involved the audience that night. For instance, after his first performance, more than a few imbeciles got off their asses and applauded Brown like all was forgiven. It was sickening.
If that weren’t appalling enough, after celebrities like country star Miranda Lambert (who attended the ceremony) criticized Brown on Twitter, he wrote back on his own account that his Grammy victory was somehow vindication for three years of living in the public doghouse. Since then, other public figures have come down hard on him like the WWE Champion CM Punk who joked on Twitter about taking on the embattled singer at WrestleMania 28.
Brown didn’t take too kindly to that. He falsely accused The Straight Edge Superstar of being a steroids user which resulted in this fantastic video rebuttal. After briefly engaging Punk some more (before quickly deleting all those specific tweets), he publicly vowed not to address him again. (Why did he respond to him in the first place? Is he stupid?)
Brown’s recent troubles haven’t ended there. He reportedly has a new pick-up line even though he has a new girlfriend. (He denied the allegation to TMZ.) And he allegedly stole an iPhone from a fan whose only crime was taking a pic of him. (She claims he called her a “bitch”, too.) If the latter incident turns out to be true, because he’s still on probation, he might have to do some jail time. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.
Meanwhile, according to numerous reports, he’s secretly hanging out with Rihanna (the restraining order she once had filed against him has long since been lifted), going so far as to attend her recent 24th birthday party and even collaborating with her on a couple of new remixes. (They’ve also reportedly sent each other lovey dovey messages through Twitter. Ugh.)
Lost in all this flurry of bad publicity for Brown is the person everyone should be rallying around, the talented Barbados native who suffered so unnecessarily that fateful February evening in 2009. Unfortunately, she’s been making that very difficult lately. It’s bad enough she’s willingly and happily making music with her violent, immature, arrogant ex. Now, she’s picked up his obnoxious attitude.
When a young woman wrote about her on Twitter noting how she lost some respect for her regarding her recent Chris Brown collaborations, Rihanna disparaged her looks and soon thereafter absurdly accused her of being a cyber bully. Her fans started hammering away on the poor girl who gave it right back to them and Rihanna. The brave lady gained a couple thousand followers out of the ordeal but sadly, no apology.
Before that unfortunate exchange of messages, the Umbrella singer retweeted this message from another user: “Never explain. Your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe it anyway.” And later tweeted this: “Life’s a bitch, but that’s the only love I know.”.
Is it any wonder that Jay Z, the rapper who discovered her, is “deeply disappointed”?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, February 26, 2012