Rihanna: a suitable role model?


In  my humble opinion: no, she’s not.

Who are the main bulk of Ri-Ri’s audience? She seems to have a rather wide-reaching appeal but a lot of kids love her catchy / repetitive songs. Her live performances are notable for being risqué and raunchy. Her outfits leave little to the imagination and she recently released a single called S&M, featuring the lyrics ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me’. Would you like your kids singing those lyrics?! S&M was later re-released as a collaboration with Britney Spears and their on-stage antics at the Billboard Music Awards was the usual yawn-fest of skimpy outfits, fake boobs and lesbianism.

I am not a big fan of Rihanna’s music in general but I am getting really annoyed at the recurrence of violence in her videos.

In her video for new single ‘Man Down’, Rihanna takes revenge on a rapist by shooting him dead in a crowded train station. This has, understandably, attracted criticism from the PTC (Parents Television Council) and the media justice group Industry Ears.

Ri-Ri has taken offence to the criticism and has gone on Twitter today, telling the world: ‘Cuz we all know how difficult/embarrassing it is to communicate touchy subject matters to anyone especially our parents!’

‘The music industry isn’t exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they don’t turn out like US.’

‘I’m a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What’s up with everybody wanting me to be a parent? I’m just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!’

Oh dear. Doesn’t she realise that by taking on the role of “rock star”, she is a role model whether she wants to be or not? I appreciate her sentiment regarding the nature of domestic abuse and how difficult it may be to confide in a parent or someone you trust but she is surely not offering shooting your abuser as the only alternative?! Rihanna is in a powerful position – she could deliver a very strong message to victims of rape and/or abuse but yet she glamorizes cold-blooded murder. The video makes it look as though retaliation is perfectly ok.

I’m not qualified to comment on individual cases – no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors – but considering the mess Chris Brown made of Rihanna’s face two years ago, and the fact that the pictures were seen around the world, Rihanna could use her superstar status to help victims. She could speak out about it. She could become the patron of a women’s charity. Instead, she glorifies violence.

After the incident, I have boycotted any Chris Brown songs / music videos and I feel that the industry should have turned their backs on him. Even earlier this year, he showed he hadn’t changed by trashing a dressing room in a TV studio after being asked about the Rihanna incident on ‘Good Morning America’. What a guy. However, I don’t particularly feel any affinity to Rihanna now – great that she hasn’t used public sympathy to forward her career but surely she could afford to be more sensitive to people who still are in relationships similar to the one she had with Brown?

Industry Ears got it spot on when they said ‘If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET [US music TV station] premiered it, the world would stop.’ And so it should. Just because it is a victim of domestic violence who has recorded this video, it doesn’t make it right.

This isn’t the first video of Rihanna’s that has left me feeling really uncomfortable. Her collaboration last year with Eminem ‘Love The Way You Lie’ featured Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan in a violent relationship, with their house finally being engulfed in flames. Just what you want to see when you’re flicking through the music channels.

I know all publicity is good publicity but these videos should not be tolerated. And if Rihanna doesn’t want to be a role model, perhaps she should rethink her career choices.

Vic x

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