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The Starlet and the Beast: Chris Brown and Rhianna's Scary Fairy Tale

05/25/2011 01:05 pm ET
  • C. Nicole Mason Executive Director, Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest and Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute

Just a few short months ago, Chris Brown was the kind of young man you'd want your daughter to go to prom with; today he is the one you'd warn her to stay away from. This is bad news for a career built on 'tweens hanging posters on their bedroom walls and fantasizing about one day becoming Mrs. Chris Brown.

The bruised and battered face of his long-time girlfriend Rhianna riding the Internet waves has done more than tarnish two promising careers; it has made violence sexy and a part of tabloid celebrity fodder. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Donald Trump has weighed in and offered public advice to Rhianna--ditch the bum. I suppose this is easier said than done as Rhianna just cannot seem to let Chris Brown go.

As the story continues to unfold, I am shocked by the absurdity of the details and the finger pointing, most recently from Chris Brown's camp intimating that he was provoked and beaten with a stiletto by Rhianna before he was forced to defend himself by punching and choking her nearly unconscious.

About a week following the incident, Chris was spotted frolicking on a jet ski in sunny Miami on Star Island posing for the paparazzi. Rhianna, while reportedly there, was nowhere in sight. She was later spotted leaving the airport hidden under a jacket-- with Chris Brown.

For her part, Rhianna is mostly silent and continues to thank her fans for their outpouring of support--standard fare for a celebrity experiencing difficulty and hardship.

But Rhianna, you have to do more. Covering your head in shame, allowing the incident to be portrayed as mutual combat, or allowing yourself to be blamed for the attack is not the way to go. It sends a message to young fans that violence in a relationship is acceptable.

On the role model front, she is beginning to lose ground as well. This incident makes her come across like a co-dependent Amy Whinehouse as opposed to an empowered Mary J. Blige. Be more Mary and less Amy.

On average, it takes six attempts before a woman actually leaves an abusive relationship. I don't blame Rhianna for wanting to stay and work it out, but statistics shows that violence escalates rather than ends as the relationship continues.

A few days after his court arraignment, Chris was spotted club hopping and hooping it up with R&B star Tyrese, who has also been accused in the past of punching his pregnant girlfriend. This is a sure sign that for him this is business as usual--a bad P.R. hurdle that will be swept under the rug once he cuts a new record.

Chris Brown should be held accountable for his actions. And since Rihanna seems unwilling to press charges, the state of California should step in. This isn't about a rock star lifestyle, but criminal behavior. This guy is no prince charming and definitely no angel.

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