Esquire Magazine is DUMB and Rihanna is not havin’ it
Rihanna on Chris Brown…again: That’s how f-cked up society is. There’s a lot of sh-t y’all can’t get over. Y’all holding your breath on a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter. When you realize who you live for, and who’s important to please, a lot of people will actually start living. I am never going to get caught up in that. I’m gonna look back on my life and say that I enjoyed it – and I lived it for me- and God. This is turning into a tacky interview. What do you really want to talk about? I’m not here to [talk] about messy shit.
The interview was pretty intense. Check out the transcript below:
Esquire: What has been the Twitter response to the Chris Brown remixes?
Rihanna: Some love it, some hate it, some love it but hate that we did it. But the response in the end has been incredible.
Esquire: Was that [the recording session] the first time you’d seen him in a while?
Rihanna: When would we have seen each other? We’ve both been working and touring. [changes the subject]. This is really good food.
Esquire: It proved quite a controversial thing.
Rihanna: Well…definitely. Definitely. It caught me a little off-guard to be honest…especially the amount of…negative attention. Because it never occurred to me how this was a problem, you know. It really didn’t.
Esquire: Because enough time had passed that it was OK?
Rihanna: I thought people were gonna be surprised that we finally did a record together, but I didn’t see how people could think it was a bad thing, you know? In my mind, it was just music.
Esquire: Some people felt it sent the wrong message.
Rihanna: [Angrily] What was that? What message would that be?
Esquire: You’d gone back to someone who put you in the hospital.
Rihanna: [Getting angry] Oh really? Did I?
Esquire: Well… yes.
Rihanna: Did I? Did I? Did I?
Esquire: You went and recorded with him, yes.
Rihanna: Okay. In a completely professional environment. And on a complete professional note. I mean, if I went back to him [as a girlfriend], then that’s a whole different discussion. And if I ever do, then that’s something that y’all have to talk to me about when – if – that ever happens. Until then, look at it for what it is. I think a lot of people jumped to an assumption that was incorrect and they ended up looking stupid.
Esquire: The assumption you were dating again?
Rihanna: Because of a song. How stupid. If I was together with every collaborator I worked with… f-ck my life.
Esquire: Still, the lyrics didn’t do much to dispel that impression. His opening line is “Girl I want to fuck you right now/been a long time/I’ve been missing your body”. You reply: “Remember how you did it/If you still want to kiss it/Then come and get it”.
Rihanna: That was the tone before he was even on the record. You think it was going to be about hopscotch or jump rope?
Esquire: So neither of you for a minute thought “This is going to put the cat among the pigeons”?
Rihanna: I could never see anything wrong with making music.
Esquire: Maybe the thing is that as an artist your personal and private life are intertwined, and you’ve already played on this. The first song you put out after the beating incident was “Love the Way You Lie”, about domestic violence.
Rihanna: Absolutely. But Love The Way You Live was me as an artist working with Eminem as an artist, telling our stories individually. On a track together. I’m lost. I’m confused as to what you’re trying to get at.
Esquire: That it’s hard to separate the person who’s been the victim of domestic violence and the pop star singing about domestic violence.
Rihanna: I know. And that’s how f-cked up society is. There’s a lot of sh-t y’all can’t get over. Y’all holding your breath on a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter. When you realize who you live for, and who’s important to please, a lot of people will actually start living. I am never going to get caught up in that. I’m gonna look back on my life and say that I enjoyed it – and I lived it for me- and God. This is turning into a tacky interview. What do you really want to talk about? I’m not here to [talk] about messy sh-t.
Esquire: It’s just what’s been making the headlines recently.
Rihanna: OK! So do you want to talk about everything on Google? Or do you want to talk about stuff that my fans want to know? Let’s get to the real stuff. The stuff that’s important.
Esquire: What do your fans want to know?
Rihanna: You tell me, as a journalist. You’re asking the questions and I give you the answers. I can’t give the questions too.
Esquire: I’m sorry it’s upset you.
Rihanna: It hasn’t upset me. It upsets me that you keep asking the same kind of questions about stuff that’s trivial. What’s there to talk about? Are all your questions like that? Let’s move onto the next one.
Esquire: It’s just that you haven’t given an interview for a while. A lot has happened.
Rihanna: You think I haven’t given an interview for a while? I did four this morning.
Esquire: Did they go any better than this?
Rihanna: We’ll see [when they come out] tomorrow
Perhaps in some simplistic context, such violence might seem unnecessary, yet in a culture that consistently diminishes the violence associated with rape, often employing user friendly euphemisms like sexual violence—as was the case in the initial New York Times coverage of a recent Texas gang rape case—rather than call a rape a rape. As an artistic statement, intended to disturb the public square, Rihanna’s deployment of the gun is an appropriate response to the relative silence associated with acts of rape, let alone the residual violence that women accusers are subject to in the denial and dismissal of their victimization with terms like “she deserved it,” or “she was asking for it” because of her style of dress.
One wishes that as much energy that was expended criticizing Rihanna’s video for its gun violence was expended to address the ravages of the rape culture that we live in. One man may be down, but rape culture is still standing.
This is, by far, the best article I’ve read on the ongoing controversy surrounding Rihanna’s music video for “Man Down.” The comments also offer really interesting insight and bring up many new, important perspectives.
As a child survivor of domestic violence, I believe in non-violence as a way of life. In American culture more generally and in Black communities in particular, we have to commit to non-violent ways of loving, disciplining our children, and addressing conflict. At the same time, this video shows a young Black female rape victim, vulnerable and hurt, struggling with how to make sense of the act of violence perpetrated on her. She makes a choice that many would and have made, and rather than banning this video, we need access to grapple with its moral and political implications as a community.