The Blog

Why We Must Forgive Rihanna For Forgiving Chris Brown

On the face of it, she would appear to have enjoyed revenge against the man who beat her on a dish served cool, collected and lucrative... except... this role model to millions of young impressionable girls has gone and taken Chris Brown back. What's a fan to do?

So we all know what happened. In 2009, on the way to the Grammy Awards where both were to be feted as young champions, Rihanna and Chris Brown had a huge argument in the front seats of his Lamborghini - no Ford Capri for these two - culminating in Brown's assault of his girlfriend, her attendance at hospital, his arrest and conviction.

Somehow, the photos of her horribly bruised and battered face made their way into the public domain and our collective consciousness. And, whatever partying pictures Rihanna might have share on an almost daily basis ever since, it is this four-year-old set that will forever define the pair of them in relation to each other.

There wasn't, and won't be, any justification for Brown's behaviour that evening, and signs of his contrition in the intervening four years have been fleeting and not entirely convincing. Apparently, only a very short time afterwards, he flounced out of a talk show, complaining he was "done talking about it". Well, sorry, Mr Brown, but, if you continue to rely on fans to generate your record sales, you may find yourself having to answer their questions.

There's been no sign of a Profumo-esque second act of repentance for his actions, instead, a catalogue of self-pitying songs about "no one understanding, everyone judging" type of thing and, even more foolishly, fights. With other singers, in nightclubs, in full glare of the world's paparazzi and a million mobile phones.

This culminated in an unseemly sulk on the front row when one of his rivals, Frank Ocean, won a big award, where applause would have been fitting. Whoever is being paid to manage Chris Brown's public image these days must be very stupid, or very frustrated, and it's probably fair to say this petulant prince of pop has not had a soul-searching epiphany, nor is he a shining example of rehabilitation in the hands of the justice system (especially as it now appears he may even have failed to carry out his community service properly).

However, this is all about Brown. If you don't like him or what he represents, don't be receptive to his music, simple as that. Deal out your own commercial punishment, where the judicial one failed. Take matters into your own hands, inspired by the group who slapped 'Don't Buy From This Man' stickers all over his albums in shops. Nothing more radical need be done - simply cut it off at the source, and the column inches, the cars, the blingy bling clothes and ridiculous jewellery will all dry up if we just stop buying his records. Over and out, lout.

But, as for Rihanna... what did she do in 2009? She didn't cower, she didn't go home and wait for him to return from the police cell. She didn't make up any nonsense about banging her head on a Lamborghini door. She pressed charges, stayed away, went out with other blokes, expressed her pain through music and continued her charge to being one of the world's most successful pop artists.

She's made some shocking decisions along the way, but she's also recorded a dozen number one singles and earned herself a cool $50million. On the face of it, she would appear to have enjoyed revenge on a dish served cool, collected and lucrative... except for the blot on this glamorous landscape.

This role model to millions of young impressionable girls has gone and taken him - the same Chris Brown - back. What's a fan to do?

Well, firstly, didn't this seem kind of inevitable to you? Not because of the traditional cycle of violence tragically present in so many abusive relationships - it's been four years, remember - but because, for the past four years, Rihanna seemed to be living some kind of controlled limbo-life, despite all the hits, the music duets, when it came to romance. I'm not saying the mass revulsion for Brown propelled her into his arms, but... he has been built up as the ultimate forbidden fruit.

Another thing is that stars on this level, these days, are so synergised, so branded up to the eyeballs in terms of 'message', 'product', 'brand', that it's hard to tell what decisions are their own, and what belong to the group of executives in suits, gathered to plot their public narrative arc.

I'm sure there is an enormous amount of people right now imploring Rihanna to kick him to the kerb, checking their own bank balances all the while (hopefully at least one more in number than the cynics pondering 'this is good for business, however it plays out'). In the midst of this Synod of strategy-making, I'm kind of relieved that the 25-year-old girl at the centre of the storm - you know, the one with the talent keeping them all in aforementioned suits - still has enough of a heart and spirit to withstand all that.

Society did its job, it didn't let her down. It protected her, with a restraining order, it gave her time to get away, recover and heal. And what did she do with these tools? She forgave, which is actually quite an extraordinary example of female emancipation. She's no victim. She's owning her decision. "Even if it's a mistake, it's my mistake", she told Rolling Stone magazine.

If (it's a big IF) Brown never did anything bad again, and Rihanna married some other bloke just to keep her fans - a bunch of people she'll never meet who happen to like her tunes - and shareholders happy... well, then, who is she? The Princess Margaret of her generation? Not marrying the man she loved because she didn't want to let the nation down? Yep, that was 1955, and the nation even then didn't give two hoots either way.

Instead, Rihanna has chosen another path. "After being tormented for so many years, being angry and dark, I'd rather just live my truth and take the backlash. I can handle it", she says.

If you don't agree with what Rihanna's doing, what can I say? Don't stay in an abusive relationship, and don't buy her records. One of these is something the pop princess has any control over.

Hopefully, the amount of attention, the world's paparazzi following their every move, the camera lens shining in both their faces, will do as much to protect Rihanna during her reignited romance as her words of faith and hope...

"He doesn't have the luxury of f***ing up again", she says. "That's just not an option. I can't say that nothing else will ever go wrong. But I'm pretty solid in the knowing that he's disgusted by that."

So she knows, and he apparently knows. But he definitely knows we know.

Popular in the Community