Critique of Article Stormy Relationships, Forgiving Followers
In the article Stormy Relationships, Forgiving Followers by Ben Sisario published in the New York Times magazine on April 28, 2013, Sisario seeks to show the differences between the way fans treat their favorite artist and the way the media treats such artists. In my opinion, Sisario seeks to show how fans may overlook at the personal life of an artist in order to enjoy the music. People are not ready to lose the quality entertainment that such artists produce. On the other hand, the media is eager to find any news on such celebrities, one they know will capture many people, as well as the most controversial. For the media, the more a celebrity is popular, the more they want any piece of new that could sell out fast.
Sisario sufficiently shows how the hip hop fans are eager to overlook the personal life of one of their favorite artist, in order to continue enjoying her music. He manages to show that not even the scandalous issues of Rihanna, and her on and off boyfriend Chris Brown, are able to stop her fans from enjoying her music despite the media’s coverage on the same. Rihanna’s musical career is at its peak, and her success has continued to flourish unlike her relationship with Chris Brown.
Sisario is successful in showing a definite separation between how the fans feel about Rihanna’s music and her relationship with Chris Brown. In particular, Sisario shows a distinct separation of forgiveness from the fans and forgiveness from the media. He shows that her most royal fans are willing to forgive and forget her troubled personal life while the media, on the other hand, takes advantage of the whole situation to make news. Sisario manages to point out the distinction by stating that, “To their fans, the couple represent a story of forgiveness and happy endings. To a ravenous celebrity news media, their every affectionate tweet or late night indiscretion is reliable hot copy” (Sisario 1). At this point, Sisario succeeds by using statistical information such as the number of music copies she has sold as well as how much she earns annually to prove his case. For instance, he states that, “Her annual income is estimated at $53 million, much of it through corporate sponsorships like the one she recently announced with MAC Cosmetics” (Sisario 3). With such evidence, especially one of the companies that sponsor Rihanna, it is clear that her fans overlook her personal life to continue enjoying her music.
Sisario goes ahead to point out the different kinds of popularity. He points out that today celebrities such as Rihanna get their popularity from their music; social media networks the media, as well. One of the main reasons making Rihanna, so popular is her music, which Sisario shows by mentioning her sales. He cites that, “She has sold 63 million tracks in the United States and has as many No. 1 hits as Madonna and the Supremes” (Sisario 2). This is one of the reasons that she is so popular, which is why follower are readily willing to forgive her. This is true considering that her sales despite the media attacks on her. In my opinion, Sisario suggests her talent would see her followers continue to forgive no matter what she does.
However, Sisario further argues that the forgiveness role only exists within the fans but not in the social media. Sisario shows how the media stirs public opinion. He states that, “The role of the media in stirring public opinion was carefully built into a recent episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” a thinly veiled fictionalization of Rihanna and Mr. Brown’s relationship that ends with her death” (Sisario 3). In this argument, he manages to show the dark side of media that does not forgive. In this situation, Sisario shows how capable the media is in not only creating a buzz and generating sales of publications based on someone’s personal life, but also the ability to capitalize on a bad situation with the inclusion of a disclaimer on it. The worst part is that this is not bound to stop s long as the media can make money from such a situation.
However, it is worth noting that some celebrities including Rihanna allow themselves to be constantly attacked by the media. Rihanna is known to put herself in the media spotlight when off stage performing. Sisario does a great job pointing this out by referring to her appearance on Oprah. He argues that, “The story was carried along that summer with Rihanna telling Oprah Winfrey that she had forgiven Mr. Brown, and a seemingly impromptu embrace – and was that even a little kiss?” (Sisario 4). Allowing the media to attack her contributes to some of these issues arising since the media will always be looking for such news to spread.
Further, the article points towards the message Rihanna sends to other female fans regarding domestic violence. Sisario points out the fact that with so many fans adoring her, she has the responsibility to lead them down a straight path concerning domestic violence as well as being abused. He further argues that although all the celebrities have a right to privacy, when some of them such as Rihanna constantly use the media to be in the spotlight through twitter, feeds, and instagram amongst other social media networking sites, most of privacy is forfeited. With so many appearances over the media, she sends a message to the young fans especially girls that it is right to forgive a person who is abusive and that such people can change. This is not only a slippery slope for her, but also her followers.
The national coalition against domestic violence points outs that every home should be a safe home. The statistics on domestic violence are frightening, and the fear of abused women when contemplating leaving their significant other is unimaginable. Thus, when Rihanna is making her domestics ups and downs public she sends dangerous messages to all the women that idolize her. However, this does not seem to trouble Rihanna going by the statement in a 14th interview with Rolling Stone Magazine that read, “Even if it’s a mistake, it’s my mistake,”. Although it is not known whether she can handle the issue, the media news on her adds to her popularity.
Rihanna continues to hit the headlines because of her success tours and sell out concerts not only because of her talent, but also her unstable relationship with Chris Brown. The fans are eager t buy her music as well as attend her concerts, which show their forgiveness for her decisions pertaining Chris Brown. On the other hand, the media has not been so forgiving. The media is always out for headlines, which Rihanna readily continues to provides them with plenty news items. In this article, Sisario has done quite a great job illustrating how forgiving fans can be while the media continues to prosecute Rihanna. Sisario ensures to gather majority of the information from various sources that are quite reputable to argue his points. He finally closes by pointing out that according to the media, love does not conquer all while for the fans it does.
Sisario, Ben. Stormy Relationships, Forgiving Followers. The New York Times. 18 April 2013: Print.