When Chris Brown assaulted his girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, you would have been forgiven for assuming that such an assault would have put an end to any thoughts of a glittering career that he may have hoped for. As pictures circulated the world's media of Rihanna's bruised and bloodied face, her fans rallied in support and breathed a huge collective sigh of relief when it became apparent that she would no longer be dating the man that attacked her.
Just three years later, the couple appear to have made amends and yesterday - on Rihanna's 24th birthday - they both announced that they had appeared on remixes of each other's tracks and tweeted links to the music. On the surface of it, it would appear that all has been forgiven between the former lovers. Whether or not the world's music fans will forgive Chris Brown quite as readily as Rihanna appears to have done, remains to be seen. And it will be interesting to see how the weight of opinion shifts regarding Rihanna's apparent willingness to forgive and forget. Willingly or otherwise, Rihanna became a role model for domestic assault victims when she testified against Chris Brown and this latest move, on top of that fact that she agreed to have a restraining order against him lifted last year, seems to be sending out a contradictory message
The assault on Rihanna happened at a Grammy Awards pre-party in 2009. Both Rihanna and Chris Brown had been scheduled to perform at the awards ceremony. Both of them cancelled as a result of the assault and the subsequent publicity that ensued. Chris Brown was charged and trialled with assaulting his girlfriend and sentenced to five years' probation. On top of this, he was ordered to attend anger management classes and domestic violence counselling, all of which he is said to have done. A restraining order was placed on him and remained in place until 2011. This decision passed without too much media interest but when it was announced that both Chris Brown and Rihanna would be performing together at the Grammys, interest was sparked once more with regards to the nature of their relationship.
Chris Brown not only performed at the ceremony on February 12, 2012; he was also awarded the Best R&B Album Grammy for his self-assuredly-titled F.A.M.E. Many music lovers looked on agog as the Recording Academy chose to honour Chris Brown in such a way. Many stars, such as Miranda Lambert and Jack Osbourne took to Twitter to express their disapproval of this newfound celebration of Chris Brown's talent, which seemed to unashamedly delete the section of his recent history in which he beat up his girlfriend.
The saga did not end there, though. Yesterday (February 20, 2012), on Rihanna's birthday, both artists posted links to new remixes of their songs on their Twitter pages - both featuring the other as guests. Perhaps the most disturbing of the two is Rihanna's track 'Birthday Cake,' which was suggestive enough before Chris Brown went anywhere near the microphone. The first lines that he utters are "girl, I wanna f*ck you right now / been a long time / I've been missing your body," which was probably the last thing that Rihanna's more righteous fans needed to hear from Chris Brown.
Of course, it is important to allow both artists the freedom to reconcile at their will. And few people would begrudge them that. But there will be a number of people who feel let down by Rihanna's decision not only to forgive and forget but to actively help Chris to further his own career by piggybacking on hers (and, to a lesser extent, vice versa). Given the nature of Rihanna's own lyrics in the song, which are far from defiant (sample lyric: "remember how you did it? / If you still wanna kiss it come, come and get it"), this particular birthday cake leaves a pretty bad taste in the mouth.