Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abuse, as seen on MTV

(I was considering titling this post with a pun based on one of Rihanna's many hit singles; but given the subject matter I don't think it quite appropriate.)

Now, I'm not a fan of 'urban' music at all. However, I like to think I'm above the childish jibes of "this music is shit" simply because I don't like it (though I draw the line at Trance etc, simply because it isn't music and is just noise). So it shouldn't really surprise you that I have quite considerable respect for the urban/pop artist Rihanna.

Not only does she generally dress and present herself well, and in my view is not as blatantly exhibitionist as most female performance artists: now God knows I'm no prude but look at, purely for instance, Lady Gaga - in her promotional video for her first release Just Dance she is seen in just a bra. This is all very well in today's media but it just makes me think "Great, I don't know this girl's real name or where she's from but I already have a pretty good estimate of her bra size". Also, Rihanna shows a good example of being able to write and publicise her own material. She seems to come across as a businesswoman rather than a perverse "role model" or media puppet.

I also think the same for her boyfriend, singer/songwriter/producer Chris Brown - he can dance almost as well as the young Michael Jackson as far as some of his promotional videos convey, and he also writes and produces his own (and other artists') material.

So imagine my utter horror to hear that Chris Brown was involved in an incident of assault on Saturday night against a (then unnamed) female companion. I then heard via local radio that his girlfriend Rihanna has declined to perform at the Grammy Awards ceremony, and of course I put two and two together. Surely enough a statement was released late yesterday confirming Rihanna as the victim.

Rare? In 'showbiz', I suppose, yes. In real life, not so: every two minutes a woman is abused by someone she knows. Sadly, sometimes it's even someone she loves.

Personally I don't want to be one to judge. I agree it is terrible, and some of the injuries sustained by Rihanna are horrific (including bite marks to her fingers and arms), but could this unpleasant incident, brought to the attention of the media due to the exposure of the two people involved, be the catalyst? Will women see that no matter where you are and what you do for a living, you are not exempt from your rights to protection? I am of the creed that believes everything happens for a reason, and one way to look at a bad situation is to look at how in its wake people to strive for better.

I believe Chris Brown will have his punishment: as I was just hearing the news, radio stations and music video channels were already pulling his singles and videos, and the worst of it is that he will have to live with the reality of his actions forever. I only hope that no light will be made of this incident, so female and male victims and abusers will know just how serious a situation domestic violence is.

Let's hope the media don't let us down again.