Date: Monday, March 09, 2009, 2:13 pm
By: Tonya Pendleton, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Just when you thought things were cooling off in the Chris Brown/Rihanna saga, there has been yet another development.
The Chicago-Sun Times reports that Brown and his fellow pop superstar girlfriend, Rihanna, may have worked out an agreement, supposedly entitled “Project Mea Culpa.” The Latin phrase translates to “my fault,” often used when someone wants to take responsibility for something they’ve done wrong.
The agreement includes a promise by Brown to pay Rihanna $10 million dollars if another assault occurs, as well as a book deal and a joint TV appearance tour, obviously geared to repair Brown’s badly damaged public image.
On Friday, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker quoted a source close to Brown’s legal team who says, “Obviously this is a public relations campaign, but it only will work if there’s genuine healing, contrition and a path to preventing future problems. … It’s another example of trying to turn a bad situation into something good … where people can learn to change habits.”
It should be noted that Zwecker wrote a column in January saying that the Rihanna was “very vocal” about Brown being faithful on his European tour. And to ensure his fidelity, his sources say that she hired not only a female detective and one other person to make sure of it, but planned on making a few “surprise appearances” herself. So that could suggest that Zwecker’s connected, since jealously is at the root of the alleged February assault – or it could sound as speculative as the countless other rumors about the couple both before and after the incident.
What is known is that Brown will be back in court on Monday, April 6 to answer charges of felony assault and making criminal threats, also a felony. He has not been ordered to stay away from Rihanna, but has been ordered to not “harass, strike, threaten, assault (sexually or otherwise), follow, stalk, molest, destroy or damage personal or real property, disturb the peace, keep under surveillance, or block movements of” the Barbados native. She, in turn, is allowed to tape his telephone calls.
Rihanna has not made any additional public statements to date, but is said to have reconciled with the Virginia-born singer, although the report of the alleged beating taken by police on the night of the incident documents in detail the horrific beating she endured allegedly at his hands.
With a photo that supports Rihanna’s version of events leaked to the public via TMZ, as well as the jarring pictures taken of an apparently relaxed Brown jet-skiing while reconciling with Rihanna in Miami, is it possible that a “mea culpa” operation would even work?
Both parties involved have yet to appear in public to make any statement about the incident, either jointly or separately. Rihanna has mostly stayed out of sight, although she was photographed alone in Mexico and getting on a private plane from Miami with Brown. Sources on both sides say the two are back to work on their separate projects, but neither has announced any public appearances otherwise.
If blog posts are any indication, Brown is losing across the board with both black music and gossip sites, as well as mainstream site posts condemning him and his behavior. Once it was learned that Rihanna had reportedly returned to Brown, posters have increasingly responded more negatively to her as well. Could any joint press operation at this point be too little, too late?
“It could go either way,” says Chuck Creekmur, CEO and co-founder of the leading hip-hop website Allhiphop.com. “I think that the public is very suspicious of press stunts, and if this were to be an …..accurate report, it could very well undermine the actual importance of the issue at hand. It could play into the fact that all of this is simply for publicity. On the flip side, it could work if it’s sincere, if it’s honest, if it’s truly meant to be productive.”
Other stars have rebounded from serious legal woes.
In 2006, singer Brandy was involved in a fatal car accident (She is fighting two lawsuits in the case.). Her album “Human,” released last year, was not the sales juggernaut of her earlier works, but it may be the four-year gap since her last release “Afrodisiac” that hurt her most. Stars like Diddy, Snoop and Jay-Z have rebounded from gun-related charges (Snoop was acquitted in a murder case), but all three were rap stars with other controversies, the antithesis of Brown’s squeaky clean boyish image. Yet Brown’s initial response to the charges – silence, then a statement released by a publicist, followed the now infamous jet ski photos – prove that his camp’s decision-making has been questionable, at best.
“I don’t think anything shy of [an appreance on] ‘Oprah’ is going to do it,” Creekmur says of the possible Project Mea Culpa. “She’ll also be able to turn it into a larger issue on a larger platform. She’s a great interviewer, and maybe she’ll get Chris to cry or to show some real, honest remorse. Some of the things that we’ve seen, like the jet-skiing, these things detract from the need to show the remorse and sorrow and regret. He has to allow people to see him as a regular human being who wants to stay with his girl and loves his girl, whatever the case may be.”
Even then, Creekmur admits, it may not work.
“The problem is the public only goes by what they see,” he said. “If they only see you jet-skiing, not in counseling, or if they see you getting off a plane together, that’s all they see. They don’t see the genuine nature of the true emotions. Nobody knows what’s going on in Chris Brown’s head. Nobody knows what’s going on Rihanna’s head. We see a confident, beautiful young lady, but maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe there are self-esteem issues there.”
Given the preponderance of domestic violence in this country, including several high-profile murders of young black women in the last year alone (not to mention the murders of Jennifer Hudson’s family), one would assume the public outcry over the incident would have blown over in the month since it occurred. After all, the grim statistics on domestic violence suggest that Rihanna is but one out of four women who are harmed or killed by an intimate partner. So why are people seemingly so upset by this case?
A veteran industry insider, who requested anonymity and has knowledge of both artists’ situations, has the answer.
“Two successful high-profile young people with money,” says the insider. “In the other cases, usually the woman was unknown. We’ve seen the picture, we’ve read the transcripts, and the intense media scrutiny is giving us more insight and details than ever before. Rihanna’s probably one of the biggest pop artists in the world right now. She seemed to have it all – money, fame and the cute boyfriend. Turns out the cute boyfriend wasn’t so nice.”
Both careers have been negatively impacted, says the insider, especially now that Rihanna has reportedly reconciled with her alleged abuser. Because of the seriousness of the charges in this case, a proposed damage control operation will probably do more harm than good, says the insider. ….. don’t need to be doing the talk show circuit,” the insider opined. “I would only advise something like that after they’ve had a lot of intervention. I wouldn’t have them go out now and speak to people. His career is more at stake than hers, but hers will be affected if she takes him back, and he’s not contrite. A lot of people will be upset and angry with her instead of empathetic.”