by VERONICA SULLIVAN
I boycotted Chris Brown a long time ago. It was an easy option, really – I dislike his music, and I don’t often listen to the radio. So the only effect this has in practice is that if I’m out and on the dance floor, and one of his songs begins to play, it means it’s time to go and get a drink. Win/win.
More recently though, I’ve decided to cut Rihanna’s music out of my life as well. Personally, I feel that her ongoing public affection for and forgiveness of Brown is irresponsible and unhealthy. Brown brutally beat her, refused to apologise, rapped about it, and then had the image of her bruised and bloodied face tattooed on his neck – because, you know, he’s a subtle dude. Then he claimed the tattoo is actually a Día de los Muertos reference.
No. Just… no. I’m planning a sugar skull tattoo which actually is a sugar skull; I know they are beautiful, intricate symbols – not raw women’s faces that look peeled and pulped.
My decision to boycott Rihanna’s music has had very little impact on my life, for the most part. I can get by just fine without her songs. Do I make an exception for Run This Town, given that my love of Jay-Z is undimmed, and Rihanna makes only a guest appearance? No, because this isn’t a game where I look for loopholes. The only censure I’d be evading would be my own.
The other song of hers which I loved was her collaboration with Calvin Harris, We Found Love. It’s incredibly catchy, and has a gorgeously fun poseur indie film-clip. The video features Rihanna and a Chris Brown lookalike running amok and generally being the ennui-stricken, asymmetrically-haired yoof of today: making out fully-clothed in bathtubs, riding in shopping trolleys, taking prescription drugs, making out on amusement park rides, tattooing “MINE” on each other’s bums, and making out in front of fireworks. But as much as I enjoy all the flashing lights and making out I cannot and will not watch the video, or listen to the song anymore. And I refuse to feel any sadness over this lack.
I am boycotting Rihanna because I don’t want my younger sisters, particularly the ten year old pictured – who is wildly celebrity-obsessed – to think that she is someone to be interested in. For years, I’ve humoured my sister’s various obsessions with Disney channel personalities, bubble gum pop and reality TV show contestants. I took her to a Miley Cyrus concert which caused temporary deafness from the intensity of the crowd’s squealing.
We visited Hollywood last year, and the entire time we were in LA I thought she might pop from the constant expectation that we could bump into the stars of High School Musical, in character, at any moment. As her Christmas present, I’m taking her to see Pink. But I have been and will continue to keep her far from Rihanna’s influence to the best of my ability.
“No, no, no,” Rihanna told Oprah, on the topic of being a role model. “Because of what society has made that title. It’s become a title of perfection, and that’s something nobody can achieve.”
But in reality, she is so far beyond being able to renounce the influence she wields over her thousands of fans, many of them young girls. I believe that not only is she not a role model, but is a negative model of womanhood. She is savvy enough that, if she actually is unaware of her huge, unquantifiable impact on girls and women around the world, this can only be a deliberate and self-inflicted ignorance.