The Rihanna/Chris Brown saga may have been the story dominating music headlines this week, as Rihanna publicly and frankly spoke about her ordeal for the first time to Diane Sawyer--but sadly, that was not the only domestic abuse scandal in the news. Other singers were accused of similar wrongdoing, and it remains to be seen if their respective careers, reputations, and/or relationships can recover from the fallout.
One of the most shocking stories of the week came when Oprah Winfrey booted BeBe Winans, a revered gospel singer (which somehow makes this story even more surprising), from her show's "karaoke challenge"--due to charges against him for allegedly pushing his ex-wife to the ground. BeBe, who recently reunited with his sister CeCe for their first joint album in 15 years, had already appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show the week prior and was slated for future karaoke episodes; however, this week Oprah spokesman Don Halcombe announced that BeBe had been pulled from the show due to his current scandal. (BeBe was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault in February, after he and his ex-wife Debra allegedly quarreled over their children; he is due in court January 2010.)
Oprah had been blasted by bloggers this week for letting BeBe appear on her program after she'd taken such a firm stand against domestic violence earlier this year, even dedicating an entire special episode to the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation. "Let's just not have a double standard on domestic violence or even accusations of domestic violence," argued writer Joni Reynolds of the blog Ebony Mom Politics, who later praised Oprah's decision to remove BeBe from The Oprah Winfrey Show.
As of this writing, it is still unclear whether Oprah was aware of the charges against BeBe, or when/if he will be able to return to the show.
Meanwhile Ian Brown, the ex-frontman for Manchester alt-rock legends the Stone Roses, was arrested in London on suspicion of assaulting his wife of 10 years, model/actress Fabiola Quiroz. Authorities were called to the couple's West Kensington home Monday morning after neighbors reported a disturbance, and "on arrival, a 37-year-old woman [Fabiola] made an allegation of domestic assault and a 46-year-old man [Ian] was arrested at the address and taken to a West London police station," the Metropolitan police said in a statement. Ian, who has embarked on a solo career since the Stone Roses' split in 1996, was released on bail until next month, pending further investigation.
This all seems to be part of a very disturbing and unfortunate trend, as of course the most prominent of this week's domestic assault stories was the aforementioned Rihanna/Chris Brown case. Rihanna finally broke her silence about her "dangerous" former relationship this week--after Chris had already granted a prominent interview to Larry King and offered his apologies in a self-made YouTube video a couple months ago--giving her own very outspoken interview on Good Morning America and 20/20 this week.
While some questioned the suspicious timing of all this soul-spilling--it came, conveniently, right around the time that she had a new album, Rated R, to promote--few people failed to be impacted by Rihanna's unminced words.
Describing that fateful, frightful Grammy weekend evening when Chris ("definitely my first big love") bit, choked, and punched her while she was riding in his rental car (an altercation that eventually led to Chris being convicted of felony assault), Rihanna said: "There was no person when I looked at him. He had no soul in his eyes. Just blank." She also implied that Chris assaulted her "eight or nine" times before she finally left him for good, and said she was "embarrassed" that she'd briefly reconciled with Chris after the February 8 attack because it sent the wrong message to her fans and any females caught in abusive relationships. She additionally warned other women not to be blinded by love like she had been.
However, in the end she insisted: "I don't hate [Chris] at all. I actually love and care about him and I'm concerned about him doing well. I want him to do well--have a great career, have a great life, and grow up. Just take this as something that you had to go through to grow up and learn."
After that shocking interview, pretty much any damage-control efforts Chris and his fleet of publicists had made to repair his tarnished image (as he of course gets set to release his own new album, Graffiti) had been thoroughly thwarted. However, Chris did try to once again tell his side of the story on MTV to veejay Sway; it was his second TV interview addressing his Rihanna relationship, after the famously blue-bowtied one he did on CNN's Larry King Live. While Rihanna's Diane Sawyer interview had been somber and tearful, Chris's Sway chat was definitely more lighthearted, with Chris even smirking or outright smiling in parts. Many angry detractors felt he did not seem nearly remorseful enough, especially when his interview was contrasted with Rihanna's.
Chris actually later responded to Rihanna's statements after her Diana Sawyer interview aired, releasing a statement via MTV that read: "While I respect Rihanna's right to discuss the specific events of February 8, I maintain my position that all of the details should remain a private matter between us. I do appreciate her support and wish her the best. I am extremely sorry for what I did, and I accept accountability for my actions. At this point, I am taking the proper steps to learn about me and grow from my mistakes. I only hope that others in similar situations can learn from our experience as well. Abuse of any kind is always wrong. The rest, I leave it to God."
It remains to be seen if this more contrite and carefully worded statement will help polish up Chris's still-tarnished image, or if the post-20/20 backlash against him is already in full, unstoppable force.
And finally, in other troubled-relationship news (although, thankfully, NOT having to do with domestic violence this time), this week Usher finalized his divorce from his wife of two years and the mother of two of his children, Tameka Foster. According to an AP report, Usher declared the marriage was "irretrievably broken" and any hope of reconciliation was unlikely, although a specific reason for the filing was not given. However, clues regarding the dissolution of Usher and Tameka's union were offered earlier this year in the R&B star's blatant divorce ballad "Papers," in which he sang of an evil woman (presumably Tameka?) nearly destroying his relationship with his mother, of sleeping in a separate room, and of being desperate to file divorce paperwork and finally be free.
Nope, not the most subtle song ever recorded.
And on that sad note, we sign off for now, hoping that there will be no more stories of domestic abuse to report next week. Be safe, everyone, and see you next Friday.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Rihanna Finally Speaks - Chris Brown's ex finally tells her side of the story.
2) Chris Brown Sasses Back - The singer's controversial MTV interview makes detractors doubt his remorse.
3) Oprah Boots BeBe - Winfrey removes Winans from her show amid domestic assault allegations.
4) Usher Files His Papers - His divorce from Tameka Foster is finalized.
5) No Doubt About It, They're Mad - Gwen Stefani and company sue Activision over Band Hero.
6) Bono Bums Out Berlin? - Fans become outraged over a wall blocking a free U2 concert.
7) A Sublime Ruling? - A judge prevents surviving Sublime members from using the band's name.
8) Sharon Vs. SuBo - Sharon Osbourne launches a foul-mouthed attack on Susan Boyle.
9) Elton's Still Standing - The rock legend is released from the hospital and plans to resume touring.
10) Stoned Attack - The Stone Roses' Ian Brown is arrested for domestic assault.