The other day I got lost in an internet vortex, as I am wont to do. It started on Twitter (naturally), as Dream Hampton was flipping out beautifully about the Jovan Belcher case and how everyone was sort of hailing Jovan (who murdered his girlfriend and committed suicide later)—rather than Kasandra— as the victim. I hadn’t been following the case closely—some things just make my stomache churn so much that I’d rather turn away. But when I read Dream’s tweets, I knew I had to learn more about what happened. And it finally got me thinking somewhat productive thoughts about the Rihanna/Chris Brown reunion special that’s been driving me cray-cray, hurting my feelings, and finally, bringing me to the point where I almost ran out of ph-cks to give. Almost. Join me inside for a long-overdue pop culture theory piece on Chrianna, domestic violence, and our role in it all: PITNB’s popCULTURE CLUB: theoretically putting the “culture” back in “pop culture,” one post at a time…
So here are the tweets from Dream Hampton that started it all. It’s a screen shot so you gotta read from the bottom, up:
After Dream’s tweets, I found myself thinking back to all the TMZ headlines about how nobody suspected anything troubling about Jovan and Kasandra’s relationship; they were a happy couple, he was a great guy, etc. And I remembered not believing any of that because, as the President of the National Family Justice Center Alliance wrote:
Relationships do not go from healthy, happy and functional to murder-suicide overnight. It never happens. There is almost always a history and there is always a pattern. Over time it will be clear that friends, family, and colleagues knew things and saw things and did not take action.
I got that quote from an essay by Jessica Valenti titled Kasandra Perkins Did Not Have To Die. It sucks how much that’s true.
My vortex continued and I ended up reading a beautiful piece on The Crunk Feminist Collective (lmao… don’t ask me how I got there– like I said– it was a vortex) about Kasandra and other women whose murderers received more media coverage than they did. It was called Remember Their Names: In Memory of Kasandra, Cherica & Others. The author’s closing words really struck a chord with me:
And please… pay attention in your relationships!
Look for signs of danger… if someone threatens to kill you, believe them! If someone is emotionally or verbally abusive, leave the relationship. Love should not hurt, and despite the romanticization of manic love in popular culture, it is not worth dying for.
As soon as I read those words, I did something I do about 72 times a week; I thought about Rihanna and Chris Brown. LMAO. Kinda sad, but totally true. And honestly, I didn’t just think about the two of them. I thought of so many of my favorite shows and movies (i.e. Scandal), and other places in media and pop culture where there’s always a little bit (or a lot) of aggression tied up in the relationships we love to witness. (90s moment: can’t help but think of Buffy… remember that episode where Spike told Riley that Buffy always wanted her men with a little ‘monster’ in them?)
It’s also called passion, but it’s a very complicated idea.
Please believe that— although I haven’t been writing much about Rihanna or Chris since they debuted that abominable song Nobodies Business— I’ve been following their whole shizz and Twitter-stalking Rihanna like cray. But I’ve legit been struggling with what to say about it all. Still, I’ve seen the pics of them boo’d up:
And the pic she tweeted of him in her bed:
And the other pic she tweeted of him in her bed:
Oh, and then there was the one that Rihanna tweeted with the caption ‘Risky Business’ that’s allegedly of her… um… on her knees… in a hotel room with Chris. Maybe she was praying! But um. Yeah, no. She probably wasn’t.
So I see all these things (and you know every time I see pics of them together I really only see one pic), and then I see her cussing him out on Twitter after he was allegedly spotted in Paris with his ex-girlfriend Karreuche (remember, he said he loves them both so it’s fine). Oh, and in between all that are her pictures of, like, Scripture quotes… lmao. And I’m all like OMG.
WHY THE PH-CK DO I EVEN CARE ABOUT THESE DOUCHEBAGS?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!
And then after I release my rage, I always remember a class I once took called Reaching Out To God: The History Of Sufi Thought And Practice. Sufism is a sect of Islam and that class changed my life. Completely. One of the best discussions we had was about perception of the other. And my professor told us to think of one person who just irks the CRAP out of us. Visualize that person, and think about everything they do that drives you crazy.
So, yeah, let me do that exercise real quick:
And then my professor said something I’ll never forget, try as I might. She said that when there’s an individual who drives us crazy, whose actions offend, annoy, and disturb us to no end… it’s usually because we see some semblance of ourselves in them and that reflection– that familiarity– is the real thing that’s pissing us off.
So yeah, even though I’ve never experienced what Rihanna experienced the night Chris Brown attacked her, I see some of myself in her. And no, I never, ever picked up my ish and walked out forever on a guy the first time he hit me or put his hands on me (nor him on me, for doing the same); it was always a process.