Rihanna needs to explain
There could be a dozen reasons why the music stars Chris Brown and Rihanna have collaborated on vocals on two new songs (as they let the world know earlier this week) three years after he brutally beat her in the face on the eve of the Grammys. Here are some possibilities: They’ve both had counseling and have forged a new and wiser friendship; each felt the other was the only singer who could complement their music; they have cynically calculated that the publicity and curiosity generated by their teaming up would make sales skyrocket…
The specific reasons matter less than the mere fact that Rihanna agreed to sing with her former boyfriend Chris Brown, who is still serving a five-year probation term for what he did to her.
Most important is that Rihanna address her decision to collaborate with Brown. Victims forgive their assailants all the time, that’s fine. What happened here was not a spat, it was an assault. And for better or worse it played out on a very public stage — the photos of her face after the beating, the video of Brown in court.
Someone as young as Rihanna (who just turned 24; Brown is 22) with a huge fan base, should offer a public explanation for why she would permit a man who assaulted her to now sing alongside her. Rihanna is a successful and talented musician with a substantial amount of control over her career choices. This is not a woman with limited skills and opportunities who is compelled to take work with a man who beat her.
Dating violence is a troubling national issue. “In a 12-month period, one in 10 high school students nationwide reported they were physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend,” said President Obama in his White House proclamation declaring February 2012 National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
Rihanna may consider it onerous to have to answer for her actions, but as a public figure, and a role model to a certain extent, whose fans include many young women and girls, she should tell us all why Brown now deserves the respect that she has bestowed upon him by working with him.
-- Carla Hall
Photo: Rihanna performing at the Grammys at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times