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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

MUSIC News: Creative expression or is Rihanna getting a "victim pass?!?"

In Rihanna's new video (for a song I have grown to LOVE btw) there is a graphic depiction of her murdering  in cold blood. Specifically, she is shown gunning down her alleged rapist in a crowded public space and then leaving the scene. I *know* everyone wants to forget that fateful grammy night when the world found out she was Chris Brown's punching bag but I couldn't help but flashback to that time.

I recognize that for some women involved in domestic violence situations they reach a point where they believe their spouse has to die in order for them to escape. The American judicial system calls this "battered woman syndrome." We should not make light of their situation. We should not make light of one's thirst for revenge after another person violently attacks him or her. This is especially true for women who tend to be at a physical disadvantage, which leads to feelings of helplessness. 

Domestic violence is no laughing matter and neither is rape. Thousands of people suffer at the hands of their spouse and hundreds of women become murder victims from domestic violence every year. After watching this video I wondered if it would have been acceptable if Chris Brown released a video where he killed a woman in cold blood? I haven't read many stories about people being up in arms besides The Parents Television Council (PTC)  who said, "Instead of telling victims they should seek help, Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability." I am not saying we should compare Rihanna's form of artistic expression to people like Lady Gaga or Ozzie Osbourn because her public persona is very different from their persona. Lest we forget that Ozzie used to bite the heads off of bats. I'm no psychic but I guarantee that if the shoe was on the other foot, Chris Brown's career would be OVER. Heavy, isn't it? 

If Rihanna wants to send a message to her fans about how to deal with issues involving violence against women, her message needs to be clear and consistent. In her interview with Barbara Walters about her attack she said she decided to leave Chris Brown alone for good after she realized what kind of message she would be sending to her fans if she went back to him. It appeared she had figured out how to deal with the situation. Her message appeared to be one of forgiveness as she once said she decided to lift the restraining order against him after she realized it was having a negative impact on his career. I am not saying artists should be muted or restricted from addressing certain topics but if you endure a situation like "Chrihannagate" and you chose to respond with a message of forgiveness, preach about that and allow that message to resonate through your actions. I'm not afraid to admit I think some of our youth are weak minded and will follow anything. They follow fake accounts on Twitter and talk to posers pretending to be celebs. Adults do this too. You can choose to deny the truth if you want but I think celebrities who recognize that their audience is vulnerable about certain issues need to be more careful about the steps they take. YES a new video will make you lots of money, but what is the real cost of alluding to violence as a means of executing justice? Do I think this video is encouraging victims to kill their attacker? Heck NO! Do I think the video should be pulled? No.  I am not extreme enough to say pull the video because the damage is done but I do wish people with the kind of influence Rihanna has would be more careful about the material they release. 

What do you think? Is Rihanna's newest release getting a pass or is it creative expression people are taking too far? 

I'm listening...

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