In the early decade, America was swarmed with teen pop (and R&B) stars. After all the greats had grown up and moved on to better things, we were left starless. Destiny’s Child had become Destiny’s Woman. Brittany Spears had gone from a teen cutie to a sexy bombshell that you had to convince your parent was still making albums with no parental advisory. Backstreet Boys turned to Backstreet Men. N’Sync turned to…Justin.
And then – voila!- there was Aaron Carter, Lil Bow Wow, B2K, Lil Romeo, 3LW, Ciara, Jo-Jo, Jesse McCartney, and yes, even our occasional Disney Actors “ternt sangas” (as T-Pain would say). But where were the breakthrough stars?
Then, we met Chris Brown and Rihanna.
Where do I begin? Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty met us fresh out of high school with island sounds and a pretty face. America hadn’t seen anything this hot since Beyonce went solo. She was sexy, had a cute bohemian accent and best of all, she was young. I won’t say she had a voice like Whitney, but with her island themed club bangers and heartbreaking lyrics, she appealed to the industry and slowly but surely became a household name. Finally, after the release and re-release of her third and most sought after album of 2007 “Good Girl Gone Bad,” we knew she was just getting started. She became the face of Def Jam, Covergirl and the tabloids all in one year. Where did she hang out? What was she wearing? Who was she dating? In 2008, we found out.
Chris Brown. A singing, dancing phenomenon who was thought by some to be “the second coming” of the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. His first album featured the traditional heartbreak and high school love affairs that we all loved, but there was something more. He was a pretty boy; girls LOVED him, old and young. We wanted to know where he’d come from with such fluid moves and a voice that could make us melt. He was a hybrid star; the LeBron of the music world. He managed to dance his way to two double platinum albums, countless sold-out concerts and even made a few movies.
So when we figured out that RiRi and Chris were together, we were nothing but excited. Sure they weren’t some hip-hop billionaires like Beyonce and Jay-Z, but they were young and cute and you just wanted to see them succeed.
And then everything changed. One night we were watching the Grammy’s and the next thing we knew Rihanna’s face was plastered all over TMZ with captions like “Chris beats RIhanna to a pulp,” and “Couple believed to be Rihanna and Chris Brown have domestic dispute gone bad.”
I’m not here to go into details of the fight. I don’t care what sort of extreme nagging Rihanna did, whether Chris was texting another girl, or if Rihanna gave Chris an STD (as this was all speculated at some point). I don’t even care if Rihanna hit him first. Chris Brown, a 250lb, 6’3”, 5th degree belt had no right to strike Rihanna.
But this isn’t about him hitting her. He said he was sorry. He said it on TV, he said it online, he said it on the radio with songs like Crawl and Changed Man. He apologized to his fans, to his family and, most of all, to Rihanna. He let Larry King rake him over the coals. Both were seen together at Diddy’s house just days after the incident, yet, even after all of this, the media continued to berate only Brown. Both artists had scheduled tour dates thy had to rearrange, both had new albums they’d been working on, both had fans that suffered.
So why does it seem like our culture can’t see through the publicity stunt that Rihanna used to sell her albums? She told Diane Swayer, “If I didn’t have little girls looking up to me, I’d have stayed with him.” Uh, really? She can say that, but we can’t let Chris Brown perform on GMA?
Lest we forget that a few weeks ago, when asked what she wanted for Thanksgiving, Rihanna said “Food and Sex.” Her new album seems to be following along the lines of Disturbia, with songs like Russian Roulette that have dark lyrics about death, love and sex. In another interview she said that her next boyfriend “better be well endowed, because size matters.”
Am I the only one who heard that? Are we missing something here?
Lately, it seems like we’re punishing the wrong person. Chris went to court, admitted to his wrong-doings, was fined, charged, and shunned. He wasn’t even allowed to go to Michael Jackson’s Memorial to pay tribute to the man who singlehandedly influenced his entire career. Don’t get me wrong – he should’ve been punished, but when will it be over?
All I’m suggesting is that when Whoopi Goldberg said the media – specifically GMA – was being unfair to Chris Brown when choosing not to give him a concert during their holiday concert series, I agreed. He did his time, he made his amends. Let’s move on.
And while we’re at it, why not let Adam Lambert swing by? Crotch snorkeling can’t be worse than anything else we’ve seen on TV. Especially at the American Music Awards.