After a highly-publicized domestic violence incident in 2009, music stars Rihanna and Chris Brown have now released two remixes together. Monday, Brown tweeted a remix of his song “Turn Up the Music” featuring vocals from his ex-girlfriend. Rihanna retweeted the post, and also tweeted a remix of her own song, “Birthday Cake,” that features Brown.
Many were outraged at this year’s Grammy Awards, as Brown, a convicted felon serving five years of probation for his attacks on Rihanna, was not only asked to perform twice, but was even awarded the prestige of Best R&B Album. In her widely shared piece “I’m Not OK With Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys, and I’m Not Sure Why You Are,” writer Sasha Pasulka makes a moving argument against the music industry’s endorsement of such an individual:
I’m frustrated that the mainstream media is covering this story like it’s any comeback story, like an exiled prince’s return to a former glory, like this is another political timeline—as though some rich and powerful old white men in the music business have not just issued an enormous ‘f**k you’ to every woman who has been, is or will be on the receiving end of domestic violence.
We should be furious.
Why aren’t we?
The message we sent to young women was unmistakable: You are powerless. You are worthless. You will be a victim, and that will be okay with us.
Many celebrities were taken aback by the decision as well. “Are Chris Brown’s mom and dad CBS and Grammy Brown?” asked actor Eric Stonestreet of “Modern Family.” Singer Michelle Branch tweeted, “Trying not to go off on a rant but…Chris Brown…(bites tongue) have we forgiven him?” “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd was at a loss for words, writing, “Looks like all is forgiven [with] Chris Brown. That’s all I’ll say.”
Perhaps most surprising now, however, is not the music industry’s forgiveness of Brown, but that of his victim, Rihanna. Not only have the two been conversing via Twitter, with Rihanna thanking Brown for his birthday wishes to her on Monday, but the two have now released not one but two songs together.
Rather than using her platform as an accomplished woman of color in the music industry to take a stand against domestic violence on the Hollywood level, Rihanna’s latest move seems to be, in the words of Pasulka, issuing an “enormous ‘f**k you’ to every woman who has been, is or will be on the receiving end of domestic violence,” just as the “rich and powerful old white men in the music business.”
As a result of the 2009 domestic violence incident, Brown was ordered to stay 50 yards away from Rihanna. Last year, however, a judge eased the restraining order, reducing it to 10 yards if they were both at a music industry event. Rihanna has recently said that she is no longer angry at Brown and is still a fan of his music.
Reps for Rihanna and Brown have not yet commented on the collaborations.