Saturday, February 20, 2010
I Hate Rihanna
She has the perfect pedigree.
Beautiful lithe body, striking features, hailing from the exotic far off land of Barbados, Rihanna symbolizes raw feminine sexual power. Her look is versatile, she is the punk chic, the lady in red, the hipster, the dominatrix, the Las Vegas showgirl: Tina Turner, Grace Jones and Lisa Bonet wrapped in one sexy package.
Her debut album, Music of the Sun, was a mixture of reggae and R&B, and received luke warm reviews. Rolling Stone gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars, claiming it "lacked replay value." Slant and Entertainment Weekly were even less kind, they considered Rihanna "maudlin and chintzy" - a clone of Beyonce.
Rihanna seemed destined for the trash heap of rejected teen debutante pop stars.
Then before the release of her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna changed her look. She cut her hair short and dyed it black, adopted more provocative outfits, and metamorphosed her image from good girl to sexual predator.
Good Girl Gone Bad was a smash hit. It sold over 2 million copies in the United States, was nominated for a slew of awards, and the AMA awarded Rihanna with best female R&B vocalist of the year.
So what if her voice sounded nasally or suspiciously "not as good" live when she performed at award shows. Who cared if her songs were jacked from other R&B artists, lacked originality, or were little more than turbo charged soul cringing power ballads produced, written and packaged by veteran music producers like Timbaland and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart?
Rihanna was hot. She was the self made success story, a Horatio Alger tale for the new millennium. The poor little immigrant girl who struck gold and made it rich. She even had the faerie tale boyfriend, fellow R&B crooner hottie Chris Brown.
Then it all fell apart. Chris Brown received an alleged "booty" call text. The couple argued, Rihanna grew angry and tried to leave, Chris Brown grabbed her and forced her back into the car. Violence ensued.
Photos of Rihanna's bruised and bloody face were "mysteriously" leaked to TMZ, and Rihanna went from being an R&B star to a household name and the national topic of conversation.
Chris Brown hadn't beaten on a girl, he had beaten on a vibrant sex symbol, an icon of post modern feminine empowerment. The story was inescapable, it played everywhere, even the most clueless and out of touch, those who had never heard of Rihanna and never listened to R&B were subjected to endless stories of Chris Brown's rampage.
Obama's stimulus package, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Recession - momentarily forgotten. Rihanna had become the Reality TV moment, the national dialogue, endless fodder for talk shows and late night comedians, the symbol of domestic abuse.
Predictably, in the wake of the assault Rihanna's sales skyrocketed, while Chris Brown's plummeted. Rihanna was a victim, the heroine, the girl done wrong. That she and her publicists milked her domestic abuse for free publicity - well, that's just business. Any publicity is good publicity, in the age of reality TV notoriety and fame are interchangeable.
There's nothing worse than being anonymous.
Rihanna used all the free press to market her latest album, Rated R. Initially the album sold well, but then its sales dropped off. Industry experts were baffled, Rihanna had received more publicity then any other singer in 2009. Rated R was supposed to put Rihanna over the top, crown her the new queen of R&B. Rated R was supposed to make Rihanna the new Beyonce.
But they forgot what made Rihanna a smash hit wasn't her singing, it was her image. She was supposed to be the nubian goddess, the unobtainable temptress, the sexual dynamo.
No one wants to buy the image of a beaten and broken woman. That's not the Rihanna brand.
A few days ago, new photos emerged of Rihanna nude, photos of Rihanna flashing her "asshole" in the mirror. Rihanna is posing - the photos are provocative, dirty, hot.
But hey, Rihanna knows the score:
Paris Hilton Sex Tape: World Wide Fame
Kim Kardashian Sex Tape: World Wide Fame
Rihanna Flashing Asshole: ( Do the math )
What choice does she have? Her album sales are down, Rated R has sold barely half of Good Girl Gone Bad. She has to remind the world that at 20, she's still sexy, she's still hot. What better way then to grab headlines then flashing your bum?
That's because Rihanna knows there is nothing worse than being anonymous. If album sales are down, you have to do what you have to do...
..... even if that means flashing the world your asshole.
But Rihanna is just a piece of the reality glitz junket, the fast food image vomit tapestry that dominates cultural discourse.
She's verbal junk food, safe. You can't offend anyone talking about Rihanna, provided you agree that she's a victim and Chris Brown is a villain.
It's like talking about balloon boy, or Jersey Shore's Jenni "Jwoww" Farley trash outfits, or the Salahi's crashing white house dinners. You don't have to have an opinion, its already made for you.
Wouldn't you rather see if Jon and Kate Gosselin can save their marriage rather then focus on your own?
So on Friday when someone mentioned Rihanna flashing her asshole, and what a poor abused victim she was, I told them Chris Brown was justified and that she deserved it.
I don't really believe that, I just wanted a reaction.
The teachers got angry, but for the first time all day, we had a discussion. From Rihanna to domestic abuse, from domestic abuse to the "double standard" of men being attacked by their wives and the attacks never reported, Rihanna latest"half-ass" venture was evaluated with a critical eye.
Because I don't really hate Rihanna....
.....it's just that when you flash your asshole at the world, don't get mad at the world for thinking you are an asshole.