I'm a little late on the bandwagon, but this deserves more commentary than is currently out there. Poor Rihanna. Stupid Chris Brown. The whole thing is a really sad, hot mess of a story. But I'm particularly interested in how the web gossip spiraled before more of the facts were revealed. Especially that whole part about herpes.

So I heard about the Rihanna/Chris Brown debacle immediately after Rihanna and Chris Brown pulled out of their awards show, and I started Googling like crazy to find out more details. It seemed like, at that moment when the facts weren't so clear, all the gossip magazines were speculating that Rihanna had contracted herpes while cheating, and that's why Chris attacked her. The implication here, of course, is that Chris was on some level justified in his actions. Rihanna's silence about the issue wasn't reflective of the typical fear of violent retaliation many people feel in abusive relationships, it was apparently a silence because she deserved it.

But I think there's more here. I've recently been reading a lot about constructions of gender and sexual scripts among black men and women, and survey says that a situation like this evokes hints of racism and classism amid more obvious bouts of sexism.

Some theorists claim that music stars like Chris Brown and Rihanna fall into a category of success for black men and women that is acceptable by white society's standards; they are Disney-fied performers that have a huge white audience, they are a representation of blackness that does not threaten whites and white families. And to really cement themselves in the market, by being in a quiet, monogamous, and in a heterosexual relationship, they essentially avoid the myriad of racist allegations about black promiscuity and violence.

I guess I'm mostly wondering about what will happen from here on out. My guess, according to theory about black masculinity and sexuality, is that Chris Brown will fall from white, family-oriented grace, with whispered justification that he's simply another black man ascribing to poor black cultural tendencies of violence and abuse. He could bring his career back on track again, but not with Disney. He'd have to follow the other acceptable track society allows black music artists to follow -- the immature, irresponsible, undomesticated black man. Rihanna, on the other hand, could embody the strong black woman and keep her career going. But what's most important, here, I think, is that race and class will from here on out inevitably shape how they are perceived in the market. This may be a horrible case of domestic violence, a scenario that happens in many relationships all over the world, but it is a story that will be viewed through a much more complicated lens than most would think.

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