Rihanna's assault reenacted for ad

Will it make an impression on Chris Brown's apologizers?

Published March 20, 2009 9:15PM (EDT)

While some of us are wringing our hands about teens' reactions to Chris Brown allegedly assaulting Rihanna, DoSomething.org is, well, doing something about it. The organization staged a video reenactment of the incident as part of its campaign against dating abuse among teens. A narrator soberly reads the official police report of the attack while it's acted out by two youngsters (who happen to be white and look nothing like the famous pair) . The girlfriend, sitting in the passenger seat of a car and gripping a cellphone in her hands, starts yelling. The boyfriend, in the driver's seat, grabs at the phone and tries to push her out the door. He smashes her head against the window, hits her repeatedly, tries to choke her, and bites her ear and fingers. Ultimately, she screams for help and he gets out of the car. The screen goes black and reads: "1 in 3 teens abused in a relationship."

When I first heard about the reenactment, I imagined a video designed simply to satisfy the public's voyeurism. Considering that the police report has already undergone endless analysis in the public courtroom, visually illustrating the attack seemed a bit excessive. Just as with the leaked police photo of Rihanna's injuries, it feels unfair that she doesn't get to choose whether she becomes the poster child for domestic violence. On the other hand, the attack itself was unfair, and the evidence is already in the public domain. (And by even writing about it here, I'm reinforcing that assigned role.) Most importantly, though, the video is quite disturbing; just imagine the leverage this campaign could have with teens, especially those excusing the R&B star's behavior.

Only, if the photo of Rihanna's battered face didn't convert Brown's apologizers, why would this?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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