I will never forget the first time in February 2009 that I saw the disturbing images of Rihanna’s face. Battered and bruised as a result of the altercation that quickly escalated between her and the man she loved, she was unrecognizable. Even though I understood the extent of Chris Brown’s wrongdoing, I was devastated for both of them. As an angst-filled 15-year-old, I selfishly suffered in knowing that my borderline obsession for Brown would have to be toned down a notch, starting with taking all eight (yes, eight) posters of him off my bedroom walls.
Fast forward to six years later, and people are still talking about it. Rihanna, who is featured on the cover of the November issue of Vanity Fair that hits the stands today, still has to answer questions and set the record straight for what exactly happened right after the Clive Davis’ Grammy after-party.
Rihanna, a.k.a. Robyn Fenty, 27, is wildly successful. She has 13 number one songs, is a fashion icon, and has a number of endorsements ranging from collaborations with MAC Cosmetics to being the face of Puma. So the age old question is, why would someone that has everything in the world going for her choose to return to a life of physical and mental abuse? Her answer in the VF interview: she thought she could change him.
The “Umbrella” singer has stated in many interviews in the past that she has moved on from the traumatic event, she will always be associated with this major social issue. She even admitted during her interview with Diane Sawyer that her “…selfish desire for love could result in some young girl getting killed.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and although Fenty does not like all of the connotations of being the victim in such a horrific crime, she gets people talking. In her interview with Vanity Fair, she explains how she thought she was strong enough to deal with Brown’s insecurities and that he was misunderstood. These are the excuses women, and men, too, in abusive relationships make for their significant others when, in reality, they are only making excuses for themselves not to walk away.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states 10 million Americans are victims of physical violence annually and that domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes in the US. Furthermore, it states that 1/3 female murder victims and 1/20 male murder victims are murdered by their partner. It is important to note, though, that domestic violence goes far beyond physical abuse. If you feel as though your partner stalks you or is too obsessive over you, that is abuse. If your partner is forcing you into sexual activity, or simply ignoring the lack of consent, that is abuse. If your partner is critical or humiliates you if you question them over one of the issues previously listed, that is also abuse. The number one rule while in an abusive relationship: don’t let the abuser be the victim.
Rihanna is highly commended for staying strong in her permanent decision to not return to Chris Brown. She is an example to all that even though that with all of her tremendous fame and fortune, all of her contacts, and all of the people supporting her, no one could have made that decision for her. Women and men alike have to find the power and ability in themselves. It is crucial for them to know, regardless of how beaten down or meaningless they feel, they are absolutely worth the love from another human being, but more importantly, they are worth the love from themselves.
If you or someone you know is struggling to come out of an abusive relationship, please visit http://nnedv.org/getinvolved/dvam.html.
“Black Mass” director Scott Cooper and screenwriter Mark Mallouk have tried to bring together all of the character and plot traits that American audiences have come to love and expect from their gangster films: a charismatic, yet psychotic gang-lord, a plot thick with tension between said gang-lord and the federal law and emotional relationships that attempt to humanize the main characters.
“Black Mass” tries to do all of this, and it fails. Cooper’s retelling of the rise and fall of one of America’s most violent and ruthless criminals seemed promising in its theatrical trailers, which were undoubtedly chilling and fantastic. However, in all its theatrical feature-length glory, “Black Mass” isn’t half as good as the two-minute teasers released beforehand.
Starring Johnny Depp as the vulgar and violent James “Whitey” Bulger, “Black Mass” recounts the way in which Bulger terrifies his way to the top tiers of Boston’s gang hierarchy, while simultaneously acting as an informant to the FBI in order to remove his competition.
Sounds like a good plot, right? Wrong. “Black Mass” suffers from the same syndrome that ail many Hollywood films: its star-studded cast takes away from the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Watching the film, I didn’t get the feeling that I was immersed in the story of “Whitey” Bulger. I felt more like I was just watching Johnny Depp with too much makeup on, Joel Edgerton being the obligatory crooked cop, and Benedict Cumberbatch bumbling through what may have been the most laughable Boston accent in recent film history. And I should mention that everyone’s Bacon Number just decreased all the way to one, because the prolific Kevin Bacon was thrown in there for good measure, as well.
“Black Mass” is also barely interesting to look at, unless you like looking at a crusty Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch doing his worst John Kennedy impression. Stylistically uninspired and formally unimaginative, the cinematography in “Black Mass” leaves something to be desired.
Further, the characterization of “Black Mass”’s main character, “Whitey” Bulger, was a bit off-mark and poorly cobbled together. After a couple weak attempts to humanize Bulger near the beginning of the film as a family man who cares about his elderly mother and impressionable son, Bulger’s plotline veers off course and over a proverbial cliff as the film seemingly gives up completely and randomly on trying to characterize Bulger on any human level, electing instead to hamfistedly shove the character’s craziness down the audience’s throat with excessive violence and vulgarity.
For the majority of the movie, little of Bulger’s intimidation, violence or wit serves much of a purpose toward the plot. Instead, Cooper seems to put all of his efforts toward superficially characterizing Bulger as a cool and composed homicidal maniac, instead of tying Bulger’s actions and disposition into his weak plot. At first, this tactic was effective at creating tension and suspense. However, about halfway through the movie, Bulger’s seemingly unrelated actions and encounters came across less like necessary characterization and plot development and more like the filmmakers’ attempts at distracting the audience from the nosediving storyline with titillating gore and tension.
Evocative of early gangster films in which criminals ran around and did random acts of crime and evil for no apparent reason, “Black Mass” didn’t live up to the hype it created for itself. If you want a good gangster experience, save yourself the time, money and disappointment and just watch stick with “Goodfellas.”