Friday, June 21, 2024

Why Rihanna’s Decision Bothers Us…

March 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Entertainment, News, Weekly Columns

( When we left our story, 19 year-old singer Chris Brown, during a lover’s quarrel, had allegedly assaulted his 21 year-old girlfriend, singer Rihanna. After the media got hold of the news, both performers slinked into seclusion while whatever happened between them that fateful night before the Grammys morphed into a story deserving of its own zip code.

Soon, Chris and Rihanna were on the cover of magazines and tabloids that even the most well-oiled PR machine couldn’t have gotten them on prior. During news broadcasts, the latest about Chris and Rihanna chased segments on the economy and Afghanistan. Suddenly, more people had heard of Chris and Rihanna than actually know who they are.

The dynamic of the coverage–and especially, the opinion of the public–was interesting: Brown, obviously a young man with a problem, became Ike Turner incarnate, while Rihanna was lavished with sympathy and concern approaching Lady Di proportions.

Then came word she and Chris were getting back together.

The news traveled fast, and the public’s stance on Rihanna turned quicker than a taxpaying lynch mob’s judgment of a disturbed, jobless single mom bent on having 14 kids. You could almost feel the love wilting as sympathy turned to bewilderment, resentment and finally anger.

What a difference a reconciliation makes.

And while both fans and the curious seek to justify their assorted vexation for the personal decision of someone they don’t know, the truth is, our feelings about what Rihanna does with her life has nothing to do with Rihanna and everything to do with us.

She betrayed us. This young and impressionable woman, inexperienced regarding affairs of the heart, was supposed to do the right and sensible thing on behalf of us all. She was somehow supposed to know better, we’d decided. I’ll be damned if she didn’t do exactly what many of us, when faced with similar circumstances, have done: she jumped back into the fray.

Rihanna’s are no doubt the same agonizing ball of emotions Don Covay soulfully harnessed when he wrote Aretha Franklin’s 1967 smash, “Chain Of Fools.” At some point, the lyric mentions the folk whose advice fell on a misguided woman’s deaf ears, all because her man’s “lovin’ is much too strong.”

Everyone from the Man on The Street and domestic violence professionals to radio and TV pundits are telling Rihanna what she should do. As if that kind of advice stopped any of us from making injudicious moves.

Show me someone who hasn’t at least once succumbed to the twisted temptation to make a go of an unhealthy relationship–show me someone who, on more than a couple occasions, didn’t have to eat the whole cow before being convinced it was beef–and I’ll show you someone who is either way smarter than most of us or someone who is willing to live their life solely on the advice of others.

Most of those who feel qualified to counsel Rihanna have been where she is at least once. And they were busy going there even as someone offered them the same valuable direction, to which they didn’t listen.

I don’t quite fit that particular bill. That is to say, no one offered me a sage word when I needed it, because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what I was up to. Of course, my intuition yelled and screamed. But when you think you’re in love–moreover, when you think you can “fix” someone–you ignore that.

Equipped with the best cutlery–my heart–time and again I bellied up to a table of rump roast, flank and plenty of shank (but in retrospect, very little sirloin) seasoned with infatuation, lies and some of the best sex I’d ever had in my life, determined to make each relationship more than it was. At some shameful juncture in my life, I decided I was full.

I think I know what Chris and Rihanna are going through. But I also know that if they haven’t gone through it before–or enough to finally understand it–they’ve gotta go through it. Rihanna flutters to Chris like an enchanted moth to an enticing flame.

Those who batter, well, they hurt, too. But men and women who communicate their pain with violence don’t change overnight.

Perhaps you–and you know who you are–know all this, which is why you’ve got your underwear in a bunch over Chris and Rihanna. It feels too much like what you are caught up in.

You may say, “Well, my partner doesn’t hit me.” They don’t have to for it to be abuse; emotional torture packs the same wallop. He or she doesn’t have to be abusive at all; it might simply be a relationship you know you don’t need to be in. That’s called self-abuse.

You said you wouldn’t be in something like this ever again, and here you are. And you were hoping Rihanna would somehow conjure the strength that you haven’t been able to find.

As you take your place at the table yet again, you’re itching to tell the young pop stars that the only person any of us can change is ourselves. Perhaps one day you will hear those words and truly believe them.

Until then, bon appétit.

Written By Steve Ivory

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