In the wake of the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident, the talk show hosts team up for an episode on teenagers and abusive relationships.
“It’s the story that brought dating violence back into the headlines in a big way,” began the promo for Oprah’s much-touted Thursday episode. After weeks of rumors and tabloid speculation about 21-year-old Rihanna, who suffered injuries at the hands of her boyfriend, 19-year-old Chris Brown, mama O seized this “teachable moment” with a full hour devoted to talking about teen dating violence. In case you missed it, below are some of the highlights:
The show begins with a chilling statistic: 1 in 3 high school students have been involved in dating violence. “If a man hits you once, he will hit you again,” Oprah admonishes her young viewers.
After greeting her audience, Oprah introduces fellow talk-show host (and avowed Oprah wanna-be) Tyra Banks. Later in the show, Tyra talks about a possessive, emotionally abusive boyfriend from her 20s. It took several attempts before she could break up with him, and Tyra emphasizes that she could only do it because she had a plan.
Oprah turns the floor over to Kevin Frazier from “Entertainment Tonight,” who reviews the Rihanna-Chris Brown saga for anyone who might be renting space under a rock. He confirms that the couple is recording a song “about the trials and tribulations of love” and reports that they’re also planning to co-author a book on domestic violence. Oprah and Tyra seem (understandably) skeptical.
Next, Tyra talks about an interview she conducted with Rihanna in which the singer recalled the migraine-inducing arguments her parents had when she was a child. Oprah shows a clip of Brown talking about the domestic violence his mother experienced on an episode of Tyra’s show that aired long before the incident. “I don’t want to put women through the same thing my mother went through,” he said, emphasizing how well he treats girlfriends. For those who grew up in abusive households, says Oprah,”You really almost cannot help yourself until somebody helps you.” Although she acknowledges that Brown is also a victim, Tyra insists, “It does not give him or anyone the excuse to put his hands on a woman, ever.”
Later in the show, teenagers give their opinions on Rihanna and Chris Brown. “He lost my respect,” says one young woman. Another disagrees: “I kind of think she deserved it. If a girl has enough nerves to hit a boy, she should get hit back.” And Monique, live from Boise, Idaho and surrounded by a group of high-school classmates, tells the story of her own emotional and physical abuse: “I want Rihanna to know that things like this happen to everyone,” she says.
Perhaps the saddest moment on the show comes when visibly shaken friends of Charney Watt, a high-school cheerleader in Charlotte, North Carolina who died Sunday after allegedly being gunned down by her ex-boyfriend, speak to Oprah and Tyra via satellite. Asked about Rihanna, one girl refers to the singer’s reunion with Brown. “It was kind of a slap in the face,” she says. “Everybody expected Rihanna to step up and be a role model.” But, Tyra reminds us, we can’t force Rihanna to behave as we wish she would: “She is no better or different than any other girl. She is just as easily pulled into the cycle of abuse.”
I’m not a fan of Oprah or Tyra, but they both managed to dial down the narcissism to produce a sensitive, intelligent show about teens and abuse. The episode did fail to thoroughly address one topic, however, that has been preoccupying me (and, I know, many Broadsheet readers): the rumor that Rihanna hit Brown first. When one high schooler mentioned it during the show, Tyra quickly pointed out that, if it’s true, Brown should have been allowed to defend himself without using excessive force. It is, of course, inexcusable to slap your boyfriend. But choking your girlfriend, threatening to kill her and sending her to the hospital with a face full of blood and bruises elevates the situation to a dangerous extreme. Rihanna may have her own anger issues to work out, but a woman doesn’t have to be a saint to be a victim of domestic violence.
Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet. More Judy Berman.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- The secrets of cicada survival
- Nobody "needs" to rape
- Catholic Church in market for more exorcists
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Boy Scouts to members: Just don't be a gay adult
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- My text blew up in my face
- Boy Scouts end ban on openly gay boys
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- Man arrested for sending Craigslist sex party to neighbor's house
- Greek yogurt, toxic waste hazard?
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11