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Rihanna’s ‘Russian Roulette’ Video Better Than Chris’ ‘Crawl’

Hip-Hop Media Training

Once again, former pop coupleChris Brown and Rihanna simultaneously releases new content.

Friday, Chris premiered the videofor his song of redemption "Crawl" on "The Wendy Williams Show." Later that night,Rihanna's chilling clip for "Russian Roulette" made its debut on "20/20."

There is a commonality among thevideos. Both are highly emotional. "Crawl" captures Chris in a seeminglydepressed state, rarely smiling, and fantasizing about having his woman back inhis life.

Rihanna's "Russian Roulette" videois even more harrowing than the song lyrics suggest. Through a series ofshocking scenes, Rihanna relives her traumatic involvement with a psychopath.

Chris has the stronger song."Crawl," a sincere apology ballad, is clearly among Chris' best records andgood enough to top the charts. Rihanna's "Russian Roulette" track is average,but its over-the-top, thematic video has enough drama and sub-plots to befleshed out into a feature length film.

The coordinated release of bothvideos sends a poignant message about how both young stars are coping withtheir turbulent split.

See below my detailed recap of"Crawl" and "Russian Roulette":

 

Chris Brown
"Crawl"

The video opens with Chris sittingon the edge of a bed, wearing a pair of thick black glasses. The conservativespecs make him look like the nerd he portrayed in his video for "Kiss Kiss."

Chris is in a daze, lookingblindly into space. His head is bowed. An illuminated pink heart flashes on hiswhite T-shirt. It's so cold in the room that when he breathes, smoke comes outof his mouth.

The very first lyric resonates--"Everybodysees it's you, I'm the one who lost the view." When Chris refers to losing the"view," it is implied he is referring to the night he assaulted Rihanna.

I've questioned Chris' remorsesince the ordeal, but I feel the sorrow in this song and visual. When Chrissings the second line, "Everybody says we're through, I hope you haven't saidit too" he makes his first direct eye contact with the camera.

He doesn't smirk or grin as he hasdone when discussing the assault with Larry King or Sway from MTV. He is brokenand humble. You believe and forgive him.

Next, the camera introduces hisfemale lead, singer Cassie. The shot is angelic. She is engulfed in the brightnatural light of the sun. She is smiling, looks beautiful and oblivious to hisplea for forgiveness.

In less than 60 seconds, directorJoseph Kahn has managed to humanize the 20-year-old who once solely made headlinesfor his comparisons to Michael Jackson.

The rest of the video finds Chris strugglingto move on beyond his heartache but constantly reminded of his lost love. Whenhe's on the street she pulls up in her limo. When he's in the store, she walksright past him. When they cross paths in an alley, they stop to reminisce. Theydon't reunite, but she offers him a comforting smile. He is relieved and freedto return to his typical jovial self.

Right there he has a MichaelJackson moment and breaks into one of his trademark solo dance sequences.

Chris Brown is back.

Rihanna
"Russian Roulette"

The message in Rihanna's "RussianRoulette" is more complicated to interpret.

I felt chills the first time Iheard it. I wondered why the song is named after the dangerous game? Is it supposedto be an analogy for her tumultuous relationship with Chris?

If so, why was it necessary tochoose a metaphor this extreme?

The game of Russian Roulette involvesinserting a single bullet into the chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder... and pulling the trigger.

Before firing the gun, players hopethat the cued up bullet chamber is empty.

Is Rihanna saying that her two-yearswith Chris was always just a click away from a tragic ending?

The "Russian Roulette" video feedsinto the speculation, and is dramatic enough to star the likes of Sharon Stoneand Angelina Jolie.

It opens with a scantily cladRihanna lying on the floor. As she moves her hand, a small pool of blood isuncovered. The five red claw marks on the brick wall indicate a struggle. The shotwidens to reveal two foreign armed police officers. It appears to be aninterrogation.

Rihanna remembers why she is inthis imprisoned state. She flashbacks to a dimly lit room. She sits at a smalltable, opposite to a man profusely sweating and wearing a wife beater tank top.He extends his hand to touch the firearm between them.

Rihanna's flashbacks intensify.They come faster and increasingly more disturbing, gruesome.

True to the song lyrics, the horrificgame leaves Rihanna visibly troubled. She can't keep her composure. She is onthe verge of a nervous breakdown, yet she continues to play along.

Rihanna comes apart as she facesthe authority on the other side of the two-way mirror. She falls to her knees,worrisomely scratching her head, leaving her hair a mess.

As the video nears its close, theill-fate finale unfolds.

There's just one final round ofthe haunting game, and the single gunshot heard at the end of the song scaresRihanna to death.

The ending explains herpredicament and her uneasy disposition. You feel her pain and wish herstrength.

If this is truly an analogy forher courtship with Chris, it's no wonder he is asking for forgiveness in"Crawl."

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