All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rihanna: Please, just go away. Now.

As the mom of two boys, part of my role is guiding two young men into the world of friendships and relationships. They will learn by watching, and thank God I have an amazing hubs to serve as a prime example. Unfortunately, they are also growing up in a world in which the media cards seemed stacked against healthy examples. I know parents have bemoaned influences around their kids, well, probably as long as there have been parents and kids. The difference now seems to be how truly out there the female stars are. It's not the scandal of a lone husband-swiping Elizabeth Taylor or burgeoning Madonna trading on sex appeal. It's EVERYwhere. And the most out there and nasally voiced of them all is Rihanna. And she drives me in-sane.

For those of you who don't know, or need a primer, Rihanna brought us that started-as-catchy-then-morphed-to-sensory-torture song "Umbrella" (-ella ella ella yeah ella). She also was in a car with her then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, when all hell broke loose. According to reports, they had a rocky relationship and each had hit the other before. In his car after an awards show one night, he pummeled her beautiful face. TMZ floated pics which you can Google if you choose. It was all over the news, and quite the talk of the young middle school set apparently at the time. Faced with the topic of domestic violence and a young son who has always gravitated to hip hop, we used it as a chance to talk about all the horrid parts of the situation. In conversations, we covered hitting girls (and NOT hitting), what to do when you start to get so angry you can't control yourself, and ways to handle it if you are hit by a girl. We used Rihanna as a teaching point because she was inescapable.

Rihanna next surfaced in our house, once again with the domestic violence topic, when she released the song "Love the Way You Lie" with Eminem. I'm not going to lie, I can't stand Eminem. Aside from the checkered past toward women, he always sounds so mean and angry and miserable. In that song, she sings the haunting line "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, that's alright because I like the way it hurts." It's not metaphorical. They sing and rap about abusing each other, tying her to the bed, and setting the house on fire. What boggled me was Rihanna's choice to do the song BUT not do a single PSA I've been able to find about violence. I thought, "ok, it's awareness" and no, Son1 (then 12) you're not getting that on your iPod. Meghan Fox signed on to do the video with salary going to charity. A helpline appeared at the end. But, from Rihanna? (insert chirping crickets).... not a peep in her own words I could use to talk to my son about the horrifying things he was humming walking around the house.

I do not expect Rihanna to live every moment thinking about the effect her choices have on 13yr olds, but hey, it would be super nice if she did just once since she shows up at the Kids Choice awards. Hearing her say so little after releasing (and HEAVILY promoting) such a track was frustrating. When your kids and teens idolize these morons, and when dufuses like Snooki are plastered all over the place, you kind of lose your own mind discussing how unacceptable it all is. However, even in the "reality show" universe partying is one thing; violence is another. "When you treat people like that, there are consequences," was met with 12yo boy logic of, "yeah she showed him by making a cool song and being really famous so she's ok with it now." UGH. No, not the message I was going for. Back to the parental drawing board.

Over and over again, I hoped her nasally-auto-tuned voice would shimy its way back to Barbados and take that song that blared everywhere with her. In the trajectory of Top40 radio, I knew it would fade. Just as her song "Rude Boy" did, which had my sons singing "Rude boy, is ya man enough... is ya big enough? Is ya hard enough?" And it did fade, just in time for the song-fiasco in which we are now mired... and yet again, I say big thanks to Rihanna.

If you have a very well publicized romance laced with violence, would YOU of all people release a song about S&M? Does my 13 year old REALLY need to know what S&M is? You know I so love hearing my 11 year old Son2 walking around singing , "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me!" When I hoped the whole thing was way over their heads, Son2 chimed in with some confusion "So I guess she liked it when she got hit? That's what she's saying." Thanks Rihanna, on behalf of parents of young men who are your fans, and parents of the young girls who they will be dating and the good Lord willing, NOT treating so violently. Thanks for all the lovely conversations we get to have about it NOT being ok to hit, about it NOT being the norm for girls to like being whipped when with a guy (call me a prude). Please, just go away. You've had your 15 minutes and then some. The shock value worked and got you airplay, but it's getting old. You've made some money. Just go. Britney Spears just sang about threesomes with her parent-driving-to-soccer-cringe-inducing hit last year, so that's done. I shudder to think what you could possible sing about that would have greater shock value. Just please, go away.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Darth Mother

In trying to find some bright spot, some silver lining to the waaaaaaay long Jersey winter this year, I wracked my brains for some saving grace to all these layers and the fact that on April 1st, I'm still wearing gloves. And then it struck me... the gloves. the leather.

I've seized upon the intimidating yet polished look presented by swaggering winter coat and high black leather boots. This may seem an odd choice, like a bit of a stretch. Perhaps. But it's the effect this ensemble has upon young children with which I am most enamored. You see I am sure that each edict I issue to the adolescent Son1&2 is made all the more resonant by the fact that I resemble Lord Vader in all his boot wearing, cape tossing, asthmatic-sounding (it's allergy season) glory. The message is perfectly clear: Don't mess with me.  I'll kick your ass and squeeze the force right outta ya.

"I SAID: BRUSH ---YOUR----TEETH!" Squeeze leather clad fist around Colgate tube. Cue dramatic, coat swinging turn.  And then this plays in the background. By the 27th "brush your teeth" I probably look more like the Emperor actually.

While I adore a good peep toe as much as the next girl, you don't get this sort of gravitas in a sundress.

Yes, you can look authoritative and grab attention in lighter weight clothes, but the houndstooth, chalk stripe and deep jewel tones of winter-wear really do beg to be taken more seriously than, say, polka dots or lavender. You didn't see Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada oozing ice from her veins while sporting a baby pink cardi. She played the cold weather-wear card for a uniform befitting the tyrant she was. And that's what we all are, frankly, in our kids eyes: tyrants. Our kids are not members of a democracy. While I strive for "benevolent dictator," I know they see our house as a fascist regime escaped only by college, boarding school, or a week alone with Daddy.

This Winter has been exceptionally insane in duration, so I've gotten my fair share of DarthMother moments. I am ready to pack away the long coats and give the boots a rest for the next, say, 4-72 months. Maybe before I do, I'll relish one last menacing directive in "uniform."

The week has come to end, but yet another email has been received by a Son1 teacher. And it's not a love note or request for guest blogging. Mommy's not happy. She is, in fact, on the war path. (So much so she's speaking of "her"self in third person?)

I must go make my entrance, convey the sentencing, and take my dramatic coat/cape swinging leave, leather-clad boots stomping in my retreat. Cue the music, DJSon1, and kiss your PSP goodbye for a few days: