Well, what a thought-provoking debate columnist Liz Jones has stirred up this week. Her comments about Rihanna have got everyone talking from the Guardian’s ‘Who’s a better role model? Rihanna or Liz Jones,’ to tv shows debating the subject with angry mothers. For those who don’t know, Liz Jones writes for British newspaper, The Daily Mail – a shame really that she chooses such an odious newspaper as her platform, because when she’s on form she really has some interesting points to make and it annoys me to have to read them via their publication (but that’s another subject entirely).
Fact: Liz Jones annoys the hell out of a lot of people. Fact: There isn’t much that she writes about that doesn’t receive a tirade of abuse, negative comments and quite often personal attack. Fact: She can come across as bitter, mean and self-obsessed. However, she is a columnist after all and isn’t part of her job to offer her self-righteous opinions and views on whatever she sees fit? Fact: She is frank, acerbic and sometimes very bitchy for no apparent reason BUT this doesn’t mean what she says should be dismissed so easily or lead to her being demonized.
As much as you can try to fit this debate into a nutshell, Liz Jones basically said that Rihanna, through her selfies and tweets, other social media output and on stage persona is not a great role model for her legion of predominately young, female fans. Liz did pre-empt her negativity with some praise of Rihanna’s talents and rise to fame from humble beginnings, but with all the sugar coating in place, this article was not going to show Rihanna in a good light. It bugs me to link to their site but do read the article.
In return, like a Serena William’s backhand slice, Rihanna reacted. She had a right to. But, her defence was not in Serena William’s league. It was poor. Really poor and very disappointing. She could have had a much more intelligent debate about Liz’s warped comments about how she dresses invites rape but instead she just chose to swear and cuss her way through a really naff reply.
Rihanna'”LOL!!!! My money got a bad habit of pissing people off!! If you sincerely wanna help little girls more than their own parents do, here’s a toxic tip: don’t be amateur with your articles, you sound bitter! What’s all this about hair and nails and costumes and tattoos?? ….That shit ain’t clever!!! That shit ain’t journalism! That’s a sad sloppy menopausal mess!!! Nobody over here acts like they’re perfect! I don’t pretend that I’m like you, i just live… My life!! And I don’t know why y’all still act so surprised by any of it!! “Role Model” is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for, so chill wit dat! I got my own f***ed up shit to work on, I’ll never portray that as perfect, but for right now it’s ME!! Call it what ya want!! Toxic was cute, Poisonous Pop Princess had a nice ring to it, just a lil wordy!And P.S. my first American Vogue cover was in 2011…APRIL!!! #ElizabethAnnJones”
Sorry to be the one to re-educate you Rihanna, but no role model ever campaigns to be one. That’s the beauty and also the beast of being a role model. It’s a position you are given whether you want it or not and it comes to you simply by the virtue of being a well-known person. So, all of the young girls who follow you, go to your concerts, buy your CDs, dress like you, act like you, they do so because you are their role model. When you are famous and you have fans and you know that many of your fans are young, immature, vulnerable girls surely you owe it to them to set a better example? Yes? I understand that you are an artist, you’re creative, you want to express yourself but what is your artistic voice telling your followers? Is it giving them the message that you would want your fourteen year old daughter to hear?
Rihanna is talented. She is beautiful. But she seems misguided. She may be intelligent but how do we know? This aspect of her is not promoted as much as her bum and her boobs. She is by no means the single cause of the problem. She is one of many who are a product of the toxic pop industry which sexualises and objectifies women (I love Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines but what’s up with the video? Heinous.) and where women allow themselves to be sexual objects too.
Liz Jones sounded truly fed up in her response to Rihanna’s response and everyone else who threw in their six pence worth. She’ll get over it. The hype will go away. They’ll be someone else for her to get her teeth into next week. But the point is, it isn’t about Liz Jones, or how she looks and how old she is, it’s about the issues she has raised. They aren’t going away, are they? And as we speak, the new Rihannas are already in the making, being groomed by their record labels and management. Polished and fluffed up, ready to be wheeled out into the world.