Currently the number one song in the United States is Love the Way You Lie, a collaboration between Eminem and Rihanna. The song deals with domestic violence from both a male and female perspective. On August 6 a music video accompanying the song was released, starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan.
I really like this song because I think it does what very few other mediums have done in exploring the aspect of male responsibility in domestic violence. It’s also a good opening for parents and educators to talk about relationship violence. In addition, I think it’s pretty brave of Rihanna to directly address domestic violence, since her abuse at the hands of an ex-boyfriend became a public spectacle last year.
What I question is the content of the music video, which is a little too glossy and star-studded for the subject matter. Megan Fox (who donated her entire paycheck from this video to a shelter for battered women) is considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, and Dominic Monaghan has a rough-around-the-edges hotness to him. Throughout the video we see them fight: she screams and pushes him, he punches a wall and pulls her hair, and in the end we see both of them and their house go up in flames. But there are no bruises or cuts, no trips to the emergency room, no panic attacks on her part, and in between being mad at each other they start making out. The whole thing plays out like a melodrama of love, where the consequences of violence aren’t fully explored. For commentary on the music video, read "Rihanna Stars In Eminem's Video About Domestic Violence" or "Does the Eminem/Rihanna Domestic Abuse Video Send the Right Message?"
Since preteens and teenagers are one of the primary audiences of music videos, and women are the majority of domestic violence victims, I wonder what message girls will take away. Will they perceive relationship violence as just another problem beautiful people have when they fall in love? I hope instead that they can be inspired by seeing Rihanna singing about what she’s been through and how she survived.
Girl Museum Inc.