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Music Editors Write Open Letters to Rihanna and Chris Brown

Rihanna, Chris Brown
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

News of Rihanna‘s collaboration with Chris Brown on her ‘Birthday Cake’ remix not only rocked the Twittersphere, it also drove music editors nuts. Billboard in particular had strong reactions to both artists’ actions of late — Rihanna’s choice to duet with her maybe-reunited-ex and Brown’s seeming lack of personal accountability and anger management skills.The magazine takes issue with Rihanna’s dedication to her own individuality, explaining that “doing her,” in the case of publicly embracing (literally or figuratively) Chris Brown is too potentially damaging to the girls who look up to her.

While Rihanna’s expressed more than once that she doesn’t want to be a rolemodel, and that parents shouldn’t take their young children and teens to her shows, Billboard recognizes the fact that, whether she likes it or not, she’s still a strong influence on her listeners. Her ubiquity and success further drive home the fact that girls will see what she does and eventually, consciously or not, replicate her actions:

Look, you could do this one song with Brown and never work with him again, or go record “Watch The Pop Throne” with him. You two could become a couple again and get married in Vegas next week. Maybe you want none of those things, or all of those things; you certainly have the right to do any of those things. In your words, “there’s only one you, so just be that.” Do you, Rihanna!

But, in all honesty… you can’t do you, Rihanna. Not here. Not with Chris Brown. Because like it or not, millions of people are paying attention to you, trying to be as cool as you, attempting to find love in a hopeless place and wondering if it’s okay to walk down the same dark alleyway twice. Young girls look up to people like you to guide them through circumstances too complex for them to tackle on their own, and by granting Chris Brown an iota of tolerance, you implicitly encourage others to consider doing the same. “With great power comes great responsibility” is a schmaltzy sentiment, but it’s fitting here — like it or not, you have a different level of power than most of us schmoes because of your pop superstardom, and a different level of responsibility in your personal life than in your music because of the tabloid-infected culture we live in. It’s a burden that is not fair to you, or anyone in pop culture, but it’s one you have to accept.

They had harsher words for Brown, likely because he wasn’t on the receiving end of the assault. The editors assess that the public would be more forgiving of Breezy if he would allow them to be — but his ‘Good Morning America’ and Twitter tantrums make that difficult.

One minute you’re crying at the closing of a Michael Jackson tribute at the 2010 BET Music Awards and the next you’re throwing chairs out the “Good Morning America” window. One minute you’re grabbing your first Grammy for your first No. 1 album. The next you’re cursing everybody and their mothers on Twitter AND reportedly saying it was someone who controls your tweets. Really?

You can’t get mad at us for not forgetting. It happened, it’s written. But when you get aggressive and act out, what do you think people are going to reference? For every person that is waiting for your fall, there are those cheering for you to win, but it’s hard for those who want you to thrive because when you take one step forward, you inevitably take two steps back.

While we believe that sonically, the collaboration will be a fantastic one, we have to agree with the majority in that it may not set the best example. Though he’s incredibly talented and we’re happy to see him recognized as such, until Breezy learns to calm down and stop lashing out at everyone (maybe he should have his handlers run his Twitter account), people will not be able to forgive or forget what he did to the digital sales queen. Here’s hoping she sees something the rest of us don’t.

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