While it is true that all parents should strive to be Role Models for their children, the fact is that Human Nature lends us to Idolizing and looking up to more well known personalities as well. Even those with wonderful, loving parents become Fans and relate to Actors, Singers, Writers, Athletes, Politicians - people who obtain the status of "Celebrity" in their respective fields.
With the exception of people that become famous at a young age and may not fully understand what becoming "known" entails, it is no secret that if one is lucky enough to realize their dream and star in the blockbuster movie of the Summer, have the next big album, Best Selling book, or win the Stanley Cup, you are now opening yourself up to the world. Along with people who become your fans, admirers, supporters, cheerleaders and Corporate Sponsors, you will also be written about, gossiped about, scrutinized, photographed, (See: TMZ's disgraceful posting of photos of a butt in a bikini, and people wonder why women have problems with body image, but that's a whole new subject) and have people who wish to see you fail.
Not everything that comes with fame is fair, for example, I for one don't think Mrs. Movie Star and her kids should have cameras flashing around them while they have taken a simple trip to the grocery store, that's what I call Paparazzi Overkill and an unnecessary Invasion of Privacy. But there is no way that Mrs. Movie Star could ever claim that they didn't expect attention coming their way, both positive and negative.
Yes, Celebrities are human just like the rest of us, perfection should not be expected of them and it is a shame that often times that is exactly what happens. But with the common knowledge that there are people who will look up to them, including children and teenagers, they must realize that their actions and choices do in fact affect the decisions of others.
From "Who" they wear to The Oscars to the products they choose to endorse, they influence the public. It is not because we are sheep, it's because we like them, we loved their last tune, we dig their style, we thought they nailed that last role, we respect them. We develop favourite celebrities and hone our own personal style based on parts of who we are. I love Old School, so yeah, I own this awesome Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock T-Shirt. I love to read Douglas Coupland so I bought the DVD of his TV show jPod when it was released.
As fans, we become a part of a celebrities' success by having a little piece of something they created. Our CD Collections reflect the music that moves us, and we donate money to the Charities they speak so passionately about. Again, this is all about being Human, we follow those who inspire us. The most recent example would be the United States electing President Barack Obama. His platform of change was evident by the flowing sea of Americans in Washington on Inauguration Day. This became a reality because people literally gave their Vote of Confidence, respected his ideas and trusted that his promises are genuine. But how many people actually personally know President Obama? Of course not every American knows him, but he let his words and actions speak for themselves. Young, old, Black and White stood together, passionate about their Country and Politics based on one mans' Public Persona, because in the end, with the exception of very close Family and Friends, that's all anyone in the Public Eye has to convey who they are and what they stand for.
Rihanna should obviously realize that to her fans, kids and adults alike, she is a Role Model. She has got to know that people honestly care about her from the outpouring of support she received after the brutal beating at the hands of Chris Brown. These weren't loved ones of hers, but just everyday people who cared about her and wanted to show her compassion during what is a truly difficult time. I don't care about what events led up to the assault, IT IS IRRELEVANT. Whether it was an argument over another woman, or she threw his keys out of his car, there is simply no reason on the planet that excuses him from laying his hands on her in rage. No man, ever, can profess True Love for a woman when he has been violent towards her, physically or emotionally abusive.
I think women especially, are reacting so strongly to the news that Rihanna would choose, in the Year 2009, with the support of her family and close friends, all her financial resources, no children to worry about being hurt, (and if the rumours of a pregnancy are true, it makes the situation even worse because then not only did he beat his girlfriend, he beat his pregnant girlfriend) that she would continue a relationship with her abuser. I don't think people should be comparing her to Tina Turner either. When Ms. Turner endured her years of abuse Domestic Violence was still being pushed under the rug by a male dominated society. There wasn't much help for women and children who were victims of abuse, Celebrity or not.
We get that she may still love him, it's hard to just shut feelings off. But she must give herself time to heal. The bruises and bite marks will fade, but the emotional impact is going to take longer, and it is something that no matter what is a permanent part of the person she now is. We can't change the past, only try to live our lives the best we can when something horribly sad and terrible has happened.
Rihanna had the opportunity to show women the world over that violence toward women will not, and should not, be tolerated. She had the chance to prove to woman that they can survive without their boyfriends and husbands who think so little of them that they would inflict pain on them. She had the chance to encourage other women living in fear for their and often their childrens, safety, to seek help and leave these men who claim to "Love them".
She could have been a Crusader for abused women everywhere, and instead, all she has shown is weakness and a lack of self respect and no love for herself. She chose not to believe that while her heart may be broken, that she could one day fall in love with a true gentleman who would never in a million years make her a sad statistic.
The message she is conveying to young women everywhere is that it's okay to give another chance to a man (and as a 19 year old girlfriend beater, I reluctantly use this label for Chris Brown) who chose to thrust violence upon her instead of removing himself from an emotional situation. An apology, a Happy Birthday wish, and a promise to never do it again should mean nothing to her after such physical betrayal. What "Rehabilitation" could he have possibly gone through in 3 weeks that makes her believe that he is a changed man and he won't ever do it again? Even if there is the possibility that he has learned his lesson, does she really want to take that chance with her life? Does she want to live every day in fear that "This may be the day he snaps and murders me?"
Rihanna is most likely very upset that she has now become a "Poster Child" for Battered Woman. She probably doesn't like the fact that women and girls are possibly basing their own relationships upon on her actions. That's a lot of pressure. She must look at the person who put her in this situation - Chris Brown has brought her into a Media Circus that she did not deserve. I understand she is still young, but I would love to believe that she would have considered the fact that impressionable women and girls might follow her example.
While it may not be right or fair that women and teenage girls may base their decision to stay with or continue a relationship with an abuser because "Rihanna took Chris back", the fact is that Rihanna has fans who value what she thinks and will follow in her footsteps. How long will it be before we hear of a woman found murdered because if Rihanna thought it was okay to forgive Chris Brown, then she thought she could do it too? Again, no woman should base such an important choice on the actions of a celebrity, but we all know it happens anyways.
Parents and loved ones of victims can only do so much. They can beg and plead with a woman to gain control of her physical and emotional well-being, but in the end it must be the victim who takes a stand and values her own life over that of the feelings of her boyfriend or husband, and to end the relationship that has become emotionally devastating.
Women still have a hard time getting the help they need to get away from their abusers, especially those who may not have the financial resources or loved ones to aid them. It's probably one of the hardest things anyone has ever had to do. In time, Rihanna could have made the decision to encourage battered women and girls everywhere to value their lives and not be controlled by an abusive partner. Actually, if the one and only thing she ever publicly did was to never go back to him, it would make a huge impact. Consensus would be "Rihanna is a strong woman. She may have loved him, but she loves and respects herself more. It has to be so hard, but she has shown that violence against women will not be tolerated."
If Rihanna has indeed continued her relationship with Chris Brown, she may as well resign herself to the public perception that she is not worth our sympathy, not worth caring about, not worth supporting her artistic endeavors. Many Mothers have already stated on Message Boards that not only have they stopped letting their children be consumers of any Chris Brown project, but with the revelation that Rihanna has taken him back, they will no longer let their kids be listeners of an artist who has so little respect for herself, let alone the fans who contributed to her fame in the first place.
As a Mother, I am constantly aware of what media I expose my children to. While they are young it is my responsibility to ensure they are negatively influenced as little as humanely possible. I know I can't watch over my kids every minute of every day, but I can monitor the content loaded on their iPods, give the go ahead or kibosh regarding which concerts they go to, and decide if I'm going to spend my money on merchandise that brings celebrities millions of dollars every year during a trip to the mall with the kids.
Of course, for my older ones, I have learned that I may not like every actor or singer or band that my kids are into, but I know that I did my best until they were old enough to decide for themselves who they chose to be fans of. I also know that I have taught my Teenagers that just because so-and-so may have sung a song about keeping all his ho's and bitches in line, they don't mean garden tools and female dogs, and that kind of behavior in reality is totally unacceptable.
So goes it that parents everywhere may now refuse their children Rihanna's music. Parents tend to favor healthy, positive Role Models for their kids. Yes, this may be judgmental, but when it comes to my kids, I am going to be judgmental. Some may say "Well, the only person Rihanna is truly hurting is herself" but like I said, celebrities must be aware that they are emulated, it's just the way it is.
You may say I am holding Public Figures up to higher standards, and yes, I admit I am. When famous people influence the decisions of others, whether they intend to or not, they should have enough hindsight to know that they lead by example.
Again Celebrities, I don't ask for perfection, but I do ask that you don't beat your girlfriend or Wife. I demand that you do not drink and drive. I suggest that you don't get so totally shitfaced at the club that you pass out in your car and give the paparazzi an opportunity to take pictures of your drunk ass. I ask that you don't shoot steroids to pad your Batting Average, and I would think it's best that you don't spend John Q. Public's money to pay for Hookers.
From Message Board responses, it is obvious that people are mortified at the thought of Rihanna reconciling with Chris Brown. Some have begged and pleaded to her, some have gotten outright royally pissed, and some have gone as far as to call her some pretty nasty things and wish her more harm. What we should be doing is letting Rihanna know that we understand that she is going through a very rough time right now. She may not be thinking with a totally clear head while trying to convince her heart to let go. She gave her love to Chris Brown and this is how he has treated her, the feeling of betrayal must be overwhelming. Not only has she had to go through all of this, but she has had to do it being scrutinized en masse.
What we should be doing is supporting her and letting her know that we realize she will need time to mend her broken heart. Regardless of the fact he beat her, we must acknowledge that she loved him and anyone who goes through such a life altering experience is bound to feel lost and alone, even if she does have a great support system, and wonder just what the hell they are going to do.
Rihanna at the same time though, must realize that whether she agrees with it or not, women and girls hoped she would rise to the challenge and let it be known that men who hit do not deserve another chance. The second he laid his hands on her in rage, Chris Brown forfeited the privilege of continuing to be her boyfriend. If Americans have come so far as to forget about the colour of ones skin and elect a black President, how come today's society can't have traveled as far as making violence towards women one of the most vilified actions known to humans?
It disturbed me to read some comments about her becoming a punching bag because she was with a black man. Violence has no colour, no nationality. Domestic abuse happens in every race, every country, every religion. Rich, poor, educated, popular, bookish, beautiful, it doesn't matter. Implying that where one is raised lends to a higher occurrence of domestic violence is a shameful excuse. It would be foolish for anyone to believe a man hauls off on his wife or girlfriend because it's typical of a certain culture, the plain truth is that any man who hits a woman is a coward with the highest level of Douchbaggery attainable, and not because he was raised in The Islands.
All around the world, women are murdered every day at the hands of the men who supposedly love them. Sometimes it's in the name of Religion, Honour Killings. Look at the term. "Honour" killings. It's the year 2009 and why do they still exist? I'm not a Religious Scholar, does it actually say in the teachings of any religion that a woman can be punished with abuse and death? For "disobeying" or showing a little more skin than is just around the eyes? For not wanting to enter into an Arranged Marriage? For being raped? There is no "Honour" for any man who murders in the Name of their God. And if there are such teachings in any religion, those Old World punishments should be left exactly there, and abolished in our Modern Day.
I would have hoped that by this point in Human History, we would have evolved enough as a compassionate society to eradicate Domestic Abuse. All people, Women, Men, Young, Old, Religious, Atheist, Agnostic, Straight, Gay, these differences should not matter. We are all Human inside and deserve to be treated equally. Unfortunately, after seeing the picture of Rihanna's beaten upon body, it is obvious that Chris Brown does not believe she is equal, his actions spoke louder than words ever could have.