Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rihanna - what were you thinking?

Today, Rihanna unveiled her new single. It is called Russian Roulette, and that's exactly what it's about. Rihanna's man wants to point a gun at her head and pull the trigger. Unbelievably, she acquiesces, saying: "I know that I must pass this test".

I'm sure everyone at Universal is busy patting themselves on the back over this "clever" and "shocking" lyric - but given that Rihanna suffered a brutal beating at the hands of her former boyfriend just nine months ago, it's in pretty poor taste. Even if she hadn't, the lyrics are morally questionable. The character she's playing (and let's assume it's a character for now) is willingly submitting to a lover's chilling, violent fantasy. The song ends abruptly with a single gunshot.

It's a strong, dramatic narrative - and would be superb as part of a bigger story on film or in a musical. But presented as it is, shorn of any context, it's all rather unpleasant - because the only context we have is Rihanna being hit in the face with a pistol earlier this year.

According to the BBC, one in four women suffer domestic violence in their lifetime. Two women are murdered by their partner every week in the UK. Many of those who come through such abuse say that friends and family didn't take their cries for help seriously. Russian Roulette will not help this situation.

Rihanna is, like it or not, a role model. Her strength in standing up to Chris Brown after his vicious assault, and her courage in appearing at his trial, were undoubtedly an inspiration to other women who were going through a similar situation. This song singlehandedly undoes all of that good work.

Plus, it is a terrible piece of music.

Hear it on Rihanna's website if you must

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