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OFF CENTRE – Who they think she *are?

Sherwyn Walters

OFF CENTRE – Who they think she *are?

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(*with apologies to Carew and the grammar book)
This week I am talking loud. Not loudly – as you will see.
In the midst of the rush for tickets throughout the range of not-bread-and-fish prices for Rihanna’s August 5 concert, I started thinking about the verbal skirmishes that have occasionally erupted in Barbados about some of our star girl’s choices.
And as she is going to be right in our faces, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are more flare-ups shortly.
The set-up: in the blue corner (singing the blues, naturally) the morally perturbed; in the red corner (of course, seeing red) the affronted.
Let’s fight. (I can’t use the phrase “Let’s get ready to rrrrummmmble” because famous ring announcer Michael Buffer owns the copyright or trademark (or both) to that phrase. As of 2009 he had made US$400 million for its legal use.
I don’t know how much he has made from its illegal use, but I do know that last year he won a US$175 000 judgment against a radio station.
So I en putting myself or THE NATION in dat.)
But back to the fight.
The morally perturbed come out swinging: she shouldn’t wear that; she shouldn’t say that; she shouldn’t do that.
The affronted punch back: you dare to criticize Rihanna? – bup; you know who she is? – bup; you are hypocritical; you are envious; you are unpatriotic.
Bup, bup, bup.
This is where I come in.
Listen. I have it on good authority that when the Lord said, as quoted by the Psalmist, “Touch not mine anointed,” he was not referring to Rihanna. People have the right to criticize anybody – and very often should.
For my part, I have never been critical of Rihanna. She does her entertaining and I choose not to speak about her deeds one way or the other. But I don’t see anything inherently wrong with somebody else’s choice to question her judgement.
Mind you, I have come across some criticisms that have betrayed unseemly traces of righteous indignation, which scarcely ever becomes any of us.
But for the most part the objections seem to hint more at naïveté. After all, our Rihanna is now operating in an image-driven world, a world of grab-the-attention-or-you-disappear, a world that moves at morally dizzying speed.
All the same, I still often recognize in these ingenuous disapprovers an almost charming yearning that Rihanna, as though she is a sister or daughter, would live up to certain values.
The expectations may be unrealistic, but not grievous.
Not like the disparaging retorts.
Take hypocritical.
Do they know this particular person to be insincere, double-faced, deceitful? What a terrible thing to say of a person you do not know.
How judgemental.
The Guardians Of Rihanna lump the naysayers together and rabidly pummel them. Is it fair to randomly lump people together and assassinate their character? Don’t you just hate it when they do that to black people, or people from a certain district, or Rastafarians, or (fill in the blanks)?
And calling them envious? Same mean-spirited, judgemental thing. People they don’t know and whose minds they can’t read, and they dare to say that? In this “Christian” society we should at least know that when Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, he was warning against harsh, censorious judging, especially of motives.
Rihanna does not need the yardfowlish kind of protection that many umbrage-takers try to give her. In her sphere she must know that criticism comes with the territory. If, like a child, she sees every negative in a negative light, she will grow up to know better.
So disagree with the viewpoint if you feel so inclined, but hold off on the mind-reading and the ravishing insults. You might knock out your opponent, but the Referee will probably disqualify you for hitting low.
Next time you are tempted to hurl insults, defining people you don’t even know as hypocritical or envious or unpatriotic, remember that that makes you sound like a yardfowl or a bigoted profiler or a judgemental s.o.b.
I don’t know you, so I won’t say that you are such or such.
But check yuhself!