Which is why none of the reactionsabout Chris Brown and Rihanna is surprising to me.
A little over three years ago, on the way to the Grammy Awards, Chris Brown beat Rihanna in the car they were riding in. (There have been rumors that Rihanna is violent towards Brown as well, but I have no hard evidence of this. But these rumors will factor in to my point later.) Pictures of Rihanna's bruised face turned up on the news, and everyone was urging her to make a break from her abusive boyfriend. She did, and was rewarded with skyrocketing sales of her works as fans tried to show their support of her the only way they had available.
Well, it looks like there's a reconciliation in the works. Rihanna provided backing vocals on a remix of Brown's latest single, and he sang a Happy Birthday song to her.
People are, understandably, up in arms about this. And for two reasons. The first is the obvious one, that a woman is going back to her abuser and both of them are acting like nothing is wrong and how dare you even question any of this.
The second reason is less obvious but more important -- the people who supported Rihanna feel like they've been played for suckers.
It was early in the days before the "breakup" became official that Sean Combs brought the two of them to one of his seaside mansions where they jet ski'ed in stuff and tried to patch things up. Combs felt there was nothing wrong with aiding this and that what Brown did was just how it is, it really isn't terrible. This attitude, unfortunately, is still fairly prevalent in the modern world, it's just hidden better or people don't want to notice it. There are women who think Sean Connery is a manly man and their panties get wet just thinking about him. Yet, in an interview with Playboy in the 80's, Connery stated, unequivocally, that he sees nothing wrong with striking a woman to remind her of her place.
Brown has spent the intervening three years trying to deny a problem exists. During an appearance on Good Morning America about a year ago, he got flustered by interview questions about Rihanna and, once backstage, broke a window with a chair and ripped off his shirt. His Tweets during his Grammy wins were all about how he was showing "the haters". If you've been on the Internet for any reasonable length of time, you know "haters" are people who hate just because they can't stand the thought that someone else is successful. However, that is personal jealousy. Brown completely overlooks that his so-called "haters" have very valid reasons to hate him. (For example, at a recent concert, Miranda Lambert held up the sign you see at right, urging everyone in the audience to Tweet pics of her holding it. She announced into the mic that her next number was for Chris Brown, and launched into a song about an abused woman who has had enough and goes after her boyfriend with a shotgun (Lambert herself is proficient with firearms). I guess the feud between those two is back on. I'm with Team Miranda on this one.) His oafish behavior, his violent actions, his refusing to own up to anything, his anxiousness to rub his recent successes in because it proves he has no reason to apologize....
...and these are all public acts. They make the news. Even the Tweets, which were hastily taken down and changed, are still preserved in screen caps around the country. Brown is a bad boy who lives by his own rules and fuck y'all. Sort of like the Kardashians and Hiltons and others of the world.
So why is Rihanna getting back together with him? This isn't, "I don't know what you see in him." This is, "I see a lot of ugly in him, why are you going back to him?"
This isn't helped by the notoriety of the situation. The media recognizes the public interest. After Dancing With The Stars, ABC was trying to figure out how to get Brown and Rihanna to do their first interview together since the "incident", knowing it would be ratings gold. The whole thing is no longer a question of ethics, where Brown would be marginalized out of existence, but it's now a soap opera, a reality show with breathless updates on all networks, and you don't need cable to follow it.
I firmly believe that who we love is a reflection of us. We are attracted to people who are developmentally similar to us, who share our maturity or, in certain key areas, our lack thereof. I think it's why I consistently date women at least a few years older than me. It's why my sister keeps dating and marrying guys who are no more mature than your average frat boy. So, if the stories about Rihanna having these violent tendencies are true, well....
...Chris Brown and Rihanna are a match made in Heaven.