Friday, March 6, 2009

And You Ask Yourself..."Where Is My Mind?"

I'd like to preface this with the fact that domestic and sexual abuse are not foreign, unrelatable concepts within my family.

Aside from emotional outbursts and snarky comments/jokes on other blogs and with my The View-watching mother, I've tried not to address/place judgment on this whole Domestic Disturbia thing. It should be a semi-private matter, worked out between those two involved, their families, friends, and legal and spiritual counsel. But it isn't. It's a media circus, a mess, a fiasco of epic proportions, complete with "Bat Boy exists!"-esque rumors and speculation as well as interviews with Chris Brown's Sunday School teacher and the custodian who cleans Rihanna's regular recording studio, even by those media outlets with a semblance of credibility. It has in part helped me realize that when it comes to the American media/publicity machine, there is no bottom. "Can this be any more depraved?" has become a purely rhetorical musing, since the answer is always yes, all under the guise of the journalistic standby that people deserve to know everything. Who will get ahold of Rihanna's bloody dress? Who can find the most gruesome photo of her face? Will the person who called the police speak out? Will the girl who sent the alleged text message be revealed? What are Chris Brown and Rihanna doing right now? It's downright unsettling, because I am only just now noticing how desensitized the public (including me) is about these things. It's as if we think we have the right to know, to pass judgment, to demonize and analyze. Yet, things of this magnitude or greater occur with seeming regularity right in our own families, neighborhoods, and towns, and we (collectively) turn our heads, say it's not our business and that we don't want to get involved. Why does the situation change when a celebrity is involved? We are no more connected to them than a person we make eye contact with once in a hallway, maybe less so.

Anyway, I admit that I've been guilty of it as well, so excuse me if I come across as hypocritical. I've just read so many comments and opinions that I didn't get to address and really, would have loved to talk about this with those people to understand why they feel as they do.

"Rihanna's so stupid for (allegedly) taking him back. She deserves whatever she gets, because she's enabling an abuser."
I do think, provided she really did take him back, that she made a very stupid decision.
I understand that abuse is difficult to differentiate when combined with love. Both actions require emotion and passion, so it's possible and even probable to become conditioned to believe they are related, or even one and the same. However, I define "stupid" as having a wealth of information and support at your disposal to influence your decision-making away from dangerous choices (or at least those with very high risk), yet making said dangerous choices anyway. I don't think people were stupid for smoking in the 40's; they had very little information, so I'd just call them ignorant. People who choose to take up smoking or continue to smoke currently are making a stupid decision. Of course, this doesn't reflect on their overall mentality, just their thought processes for a particular decision. Same goes for Rihanna. I've been guilty of it too. I stuck with a guy who wasn't like he used to be, thinking he'd change back to the person I thought I knew instead of getting out while the getting was good, before I got my heart broken. So to a lesser extent, I am not immune to stupid decisions. No one ever deserves to be abused, however, no matter what. Violence is not an answer to a problem, because it only creates more problems.

"Chris Brown is a monster who should be put under the jail. He's sick and deserves to die/be anally raped in prison/be castrated/burn in hell/etc."
No. Absolutely not. The demonizing of this young man is downright disgusting. He did an awful thing, yes that's true. He even (allegedly) is a repeat offender. He deserves to be punished by law for his actions. Anything else is up to God. Or karma. Or whatever you believe in. None of us have been appointed as his judge and jury in this life or after.

"Chris Brown/Rihanna is an adult who shouldn't be cut any slack for whatever reason."
These two people may be adults in age, very close to my own, but I see them as children/teenagers. Think about it. Both of them witnessed some traumatizing things in their lives. Some 30- and 40-somethings are still working similar issues out with therapists or medication. I know that some people who have also seen drug-addicted or domestically abused parents have grown up to become stronger and better people for it, but everyone does not have the same constitution or emotional pain tolerance. These two became top-earners and breadwinners within in their families at an age when many are worried about acne, getting an A in sophomore biology, or going to the prom: i.e., seemingly frivolous things. From that point on they've lived a lifestyle alien to most of us. They've been primped, prodded, spoiled, and coddled for years since. How could they possibly have managed to go through whatever experiences are necessary to "grow up normally?" Even children should be punished for things that are reprehensible, but I can't imagine not feeling bad for both of them, not just Rihanna. Clearly Chris Brown has not had the time he's needed to confront his demons, nor has Rihanna had the time to build up a self-esteem that matches her public persona.

"You're stupid for criticizing Rihanna because you don't understand the cycle of abuse."
Many people were saying that to commenters, particularly those who experienced it first hand. The cycle of abuse is easily comprehended: honeymoon phase ->build-up/tension ->explosion ->honeymoon phase. That doesn't mean it should be accepted. (Some) People who criticize Rihanna's role in all of this are basing their opinions on how it should be, not how it is. Having a chart on the widely accepted abuse cycle does NOT make it all right. It merely makes it common, which is not the same thing at all. It seems as if these people are defensive because they also took back an abuser, currently or in the past, and (perhaps rightfully) feel like a criticism of Rihanna's decisions is a criticism of their own similar decisions. Well, for their sake, I wish someone had been around to talk them out of it, too.

"Celebrities are not immune to the cycle of abuse."
Obviously not, but Jesus Christ, she IS a celebrity and it is 2009, not 1969! My grandmother (as lovely a woman as she was) had 10 children, a gambling problem, an abusive boyfriend, and black skin in 1960's and 70's Mississippi. Now, tell me that ain't hard. She had very few options for herself. Rihanna is financially independent (even if she is "broke", if she would just forgo the $12,000 shoes and bags for a while, she'd be good to go), has no children with Chris Brown, has a security team (who obviously weren't on their job that night), and a support system in her family, millions of fans, and incredibly powerful industry friends (hello, Jay-Z and Kanye). Why on EARTH would she stay? Well, people would go for this garbage:

"Love is very complicated."
No, it is not. Call me a romantic, but love is the simplest, purest thing in existence. People are complicated. It is our thoughts and questions that complicate it and our need for qualifiers that muck it up and turn it into all these things that we don't understand and ruin for ourselves. One drop of pee can spoil the bucket of water, or whatever the dumb saying is. Trying to mix love and pride, love and fear, love and jealousy, or love and abuse will always leave you confused and hurt. Not that it's impossible to overcome, but to me it's really like eating a fallen souffle: it's kind of hard to enjoy when you have that constant reminder that something's wrong or off. Chris Brown and Rihanna will make their own decisions about being together, but personally I think it's a bad idea. When there is physical evidence that a person invokes that kind of ire in Chris, why would he want to continue walking that tightrope, possibly regressing and hurting the woman he thinks he loves...again? Would Rihanna ever really be comfortable with him again, or would she walk on eggshells, afraid to do or say the wrong thing? What kind of life is that? What kind of love is that? I would think love, real actual love, would be expressed in the ability to let the other go, when a relationship is that volatile, to preserve the life (biologically or socially) of that other person. Obsessive relationships should have died with Romeo & Juliet. Grrr. I blame the drippy nonsense that is Twilight.

There is so much more. I suppose because the whole subject is so taboo, yet so intriguing to the public because of the "high-profile" people involved. I can hardly ever stop myself from talking once I get going, so luckily with typing, my hands get tired. I'll just leave you with a song that's lyrics are appropriate with the situation, I think, sung by one of the better, underrated contemporary singers.

Amel Larrieux: "Say You Want It All"

1 comment:

Secretista said...

Whatever Rhi Rhi wants to do, she can. It's her life.