In 2009, the world was stunned when photos surfaced showing a battered and bruised Rihanna after a violent fight with her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown. Up until that point, the couple had been considered a powerhouse among young celebrities and their combined appeal had no limits.
When Brown turned himself in to authorities and was sentenced to community service, some felt his punishment was too light but most fans were happy that, despite some moments of uncertainty, Rihanna had ended the relationship and was an example to victims of domestic violence everywhere.
That is, of course, until rumors began swirling about the pair engaging in clandestine meetings. Rather than downplay the talk, Rihanna revealed that she still loves Brown and was more worried for him than herself in a televised interview with Oprah. To make matters worse, Brown has now broken up with his long-time girlfriend and has been spotted spending time with Rihanna.
Since then, the Barbadian singer has had to deal with public backlash and lost Twitter followers who feel that she’s setting a poor example for the people who look up to her. They assert that she is sending the wrong message to women who have been victims of abuse and, in turn, is minimizing the seriousness of violence in men.
Of course, these people may have a valid point – but the bigger question remains – is it really fair to hold celebrities up to standards that we, ourselves, struggle with?
On the one hand, as many stars have argued, they are simply entertainers and our interest in them should be strictly on their work whether it’s in music, movies or television. They feel their lives outside of that scope should be their own and fans should not look to them as examples of how to be happy.
While that is a fair statement, it can also be said that a level of responsibility comes along with fame since so much of their lives is shared with the public. There are interviews, and even documentaries, inviting fans into their lives and many could argue that, through their endorsements and projects, they are encouraging us to emulate their lifestyles.
Is it, therefore, reasonable for celebrities to ask us not to consider them role models? Is it not their goal with their lyrics and films to move, inspire and motivate us to feel a certain way? To live a certain life? Isn’t that what a role model does? What do you think?