The big loser of the week? Chris Brown by a headlock.
Despite the most laughable lead-in I think I've ever heard on a newsmagazine â?? "We've done SO many stories on domestic abuse on this program ... tonight, one more" â?? Rihanna's sit-down with Diane Sawyer was revelatory.
The "Umbrella" singer revealed herself, in slightly broken English, to be a shockingly insightful, steel-willed woman whose self-searching, "new woman" bit, the same kind we've heard over and over again from every celebrity looking for a comeback, was, for once, the real deal. Every nervous tic and thoughtful response came off as a clarion call for girls everywhere: Through the wreckage of self-doubt and victimization comes clarity and, if you survive it, renewed strength.
Rihanna harkened back consistently to this idea of the "other girls out there." A woman so badly beaten down in every respect by a sick, rich sociopath with the means to "never hear no," Rihanna faced the closeup as she grappled with this sudden knowledge that she was connected to something larger: The fundamental idea of feminism, that to light another woman's candle does not diminish your own flame.
She recalled with disgust her return to her tormentor, Chris Brown, and how it was fueled not by fear or guilt or having no other options, but by sympathy for the devil. Like so many abusers, Brown played the hurt and lost child in the aftermath, even going so far as to appear on Larry King with his mother and wearing a ridiculous, child-like baby-blue bow tie and sweater vest. Rihanna confirms that his conversations with her were pleas for maternal comfort, and she responded ... at first.
Until, she claims, she started hearing from "the others," the girls of all ages from around the globe who suffer from abuse on a daily basis. (And at whose mention she became overcome with emotion every time.) She gained a greater appreciation for her public role and understood her need to set an example.
As I said, this is the standard argument made by public figures seeking redemption these days, the "Whoops, I didn't realize I'm a role model" argument laid out by everyone from Michael Vick to Paris Hilton. The difference with Rihanna's interview â?? truly one of the most genuine soul-searching moments I've seen on gossip TV â?? is that she meant it. Watch when Diane Sawyer questions her strength: "I am strong," responds Rihanna with a chiding lilt of her eyebrow. It's believable, it's important, and it's the stuff of true female role models.
Oh, the point of all this? Chris Brown is playing the House of Blues (who should be ashamed of themselves) in December. Make sure you let HOB know how you feel about that, as well as any media outlets who give the douche any hint of favorable coverage.