Althouse | category: Rihanna



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"The whole night, down to Rihanna’s eloquent performance of 'Lift Me Up' from 'Wakanda Forever,' felt well oiled but entirely preprogrammed because, of course, it was."

 What?! Everyone seemed drunk? I might have watched if I'd known that.

Hey, WaPo, "well oiled" means drunk. If you don't mean literally that oil, the lubricant, was used, you have to get "machine" in there — something like The show worked like a well-oiled machine — if you want to say it functioned effectively. 

I'm reading "It was a lovely, back-to-basics Oscar night. Sorry about that. At Sunday’s 95th Academy Awards, a focus on the winners, not the drama" (WaPo).

Yes, the Oscars took place last night. The thing that we'd be hearing criticism of if it didn't happen happened, so there's no way to know what motivated the Academy, and I just don't care anymore.

I don't know if Rihanna somehow injected "eloquence" into "Lift Me Up," but I read the lyrics, and they're the opposite of eloquent:
Burning in a hopeless dream
Hold me when you go to sleep
Keep me in the warmth of your love
When you depart, keep me safe
Safe and sound

But that nonsense did not win. This won: 

Translated lyrics hereLike the shrill voice of a bird that can ring your ears... Like singing a song that can make your fingers snap to the beat....

"A hat is a celebration of oneself. It is about presenting one’s most adorned, spit-shined, upright self to God, social media or, in this case, the history books."

Writes Robin Givhan (at WaPo) about the hat Melania wore yesterday at the greeting ceremony for French President Macron. These days, hats are not "about fashion," but "more of an affectation, whether it be the religiosity of Sunday church service or the self-conscious flamboyance of the Kentucky Derby."

The hat was a "magnificent halo of pure white light perched atop first lady Melania Trump’s perfectly groomed head."
Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else.

That hat, broad-brimmed with a high, blocked crown, announced the first lady’s presence as boldly and theatrically as a brigade of trumpeters. It was the bright white hat of a gladiator worn on an overcast day, a kind of glamorous public shield when sunglasses would not do at all. That hat was a force field that kept folks, the wrong folks, from getting too close.

It was a diva crown. A grand gesture of independence. A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen.
So, I'm seeing 3 things the hat does: 1. Showing off (yay, me, trumpets!!!), 2. Creating a religious aura (looks like a halo, like a lady in church), and 3. Keeping everyone away (force field!).

As to #3, the first thing I think of is the kissing. I saw Macron and Trump kissing. This was the greeting ceremony. Was none of that cheek kissing to be aimed at Melania?

But Givhan emphasizes independence from Trump: "A grand gesture of independence." And she combines #2 and #3 by continuing: "A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen."

Remember, according to Givhan, the hat says everything: "Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else."

Silent, stoic, statuesque Melania cries out to the Lord. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — the White House, with my satanic president-husband — I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

ADDED: Of course, hats were huge in Trump's campaign. No one ever made as much headway through a hat as Trump. And when Hillary wore a hat, Rihanna wore a picture of it — Hillary + hat — on a T-shirt. And Hillary very famously wore a hat — a big blue hat (presaging a blue dress?) — at the first Bill Clinton inauguration.

ALSO: Is that first line quoted in the post title an intentional reference to Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"?
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
But Melania could not have felt at ease on the grass at that tree-planting ceremony (where Brigitte Macron grasped Trump's shovel shaft). She along with Madame Macron was wearing stilettos. In order not to sink completely into the sod and get stuck, they were both tasked to walk and stand entirely on their toes.

"As far as rihanna (who isn’t a citizen, and can’t vote) and all the rest of the celebrities who are using their influence to stir the public, you lot really REALLY need to shut up and sit down."

"Stop chastising the president. It’s stupid and pathetic to watch. All of these confused people confuse other confused people. Hoping the president fails is like getting on an airplane and hoping the pilot crashes. What makes you think, the the USA is going to enter the Middle East destroy a bunch of shit and pull out without any real repercussions ????"

Celebrities pushing back celebrities. That's Azealia Banks.

We'll see how things work out for Banks. So far....
Apparently in response to Banks’ rant, [Rihanna] shared a black-and-white photo of herself with the caption, “the face you make when you a immigrant #stayawayfromthechickens #iheartnuggets #saveourhens.” The hashtags are likely in reference to Banks’ controversial video where she showed herself cleaning up what she claimed was blood from years of sacrificing chickens in her closet. She claimed the sacrifices were part of her practice as a witch.

Banks promptly shared a screenshot of the star’s post — which she curiously decided to “like” on Instagram — and said, “What rihanna meant was ….”
What's at that ellipsis is too ugly to put on this blog. I don't picture Banks winning this fight. 

The creepy spectacle of Hollywood actors laughing in their laughing-because-a-comedian-is-telling-jokes style while Chris Rock tells his you're-all-racists jokes.

Oh, they are actors! They're always acting, so sitting there in the fanciest costumes, playing stars at a gala event elevating and celebrating what their character believes is a very grand enterprise, they laughed on cue, presenting faces that seemed to understand what the joke was, but not to the point where they realize that the man on the stage — he's an actor too — is accusing them of participation in evil. Their character is a bit dumb and obtuse, or so earnest about making this gala night beautiful that she pretends not to know that this man is telling them all — in the nicest possible way, under the circumstances — that this enterprise of theirs is thoroughly infected with racism — not lynch-you-from-a-tree racism, not cross-burning-racism, but we'll-always-hold-you-at-arm's-length racism, "sorority" racism, we-like-you-but-you’re-not-a-Kappa racism.

They had to sit there. They'd gotten the role and they were lucky to have it. The evening was, perhaps, a success. Was it? The spectacle felt so awful to me, especially the faces of the actors laughing. What else could they do? Me, I was sitting at home, so I could just turn it off, which I did, after I found myself, one too many times, talking to the TV, saying things like "Look at them laughing as if these are just the usual jokes and the jokes aren't about them and telling them that they are disgusting" and "They're supposed to be demonstrating to us how wonderful they are, and Chris Rock is appropriating the event for something I don't need to watch. But what choice did he have?" and "If they're disgusting, they're disgusting, and why am I watching disgusting people chuckling inanely? This isn't the gala event it's supposed to be."

And now here's Rock saying "Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited." He's calling out Hollywood for racism. How can that work if he doesn't take the higher ground? Here he is gratuitously bringing in the name of a woman, referring not to her as a person, but to her undergarments, for a laugh not about racism, but all of a sudden about sexual intercourse, as if tonight's not the night to concern ourselves with sexism. Rihanna is the human being who's name was chosen to fit that analogy. Why? The joke is written so we'll get it. Rihanna was chosen because we're expected to recognize her as the person Chris Rock would want to have sex with. It's as clear an example of making a woman a sex object as you're going to find. Not only do we get it — because we understand the woman to be sex — but she's not even a woman, she's her panties.

And this is a role given to Rihanna because she was black. As with so many other parts in Hollywood, the role goes to the black person because it's a role that's written for a black person. Rock chose not to complicate the joke with a racial crosscurrent a black man wanting sex with a white woman. A black woman was needed for this cameo appearance — used to insult another black woman (Jada Pinkett) — and that was it for her. 

"I think she was a bit of a hero," said Rihanna about Rachel Dolezal...

"... because she kind of flipped on society a little bit. Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black? Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people’s perspective a bit and woke people up.”

IN THE COMMENTS: Marty Keller said: "Name one."

For some reason that caused this song to play in my head: "You're only pretty as you feel/Only pretty as you feel inside..."

"Brass knuckles, also sometimes called knuckles, knucks, brass knucks, knucklebusters, or knuckledusters, are weapons used in hand-to-hand combat."

So begins the Wikipedia article on brass knuckles, which is illustrated by this picture of the brass knuckles that were carried by Abraham Lincoln's bodyguards:

I got there because I was googling "who uses brass knuckles" after reading this news story about San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, who "was arrested Friday after he allegedly struck a bicyclist, attempted to flee the scene and then threatened a witness with brass knuckles after he was cornered." What sort of person, out driving, finding himself suddenly confronted, would have brass knuckles immediately at hand?

It's bad to hit a bicyclist, but anyone who drives could easily find himself in that awful accident. Bicyclists often zip into your periphery, squeeze into narrow spaces in traffic, and are ill-lit and hard to notice before it's too late. You make it so much worse if you drive off, hoping to avoid responsibility, but if you successfully escape, though it's a much worse thing that you've done, you've gotten away with it. So some people with bad morals and bad judgment hit and run. Now, when you've come that far, and you find that some witness has chased you and is committed to stopping you — as opposed to getting a good look at you and your license plate — you're making it immensely worse if you threaten violence against the witness. It's less bad than committing an act of violence, but here you are displaying yourself as the kind of person who has brass knuckles.

What sort of person is that?

Last line of the linked article (in the L.A. Times): "Culliver previously made headlines for anti-gay remarks he made made during a Super Bowl media day interview two years ago." In case you missed that fascinating culture-war story, he said: "I don’t do the guys. I don’t do that. We don’t have any gays on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff." That's the sort of thing that — unlike brass knuckles — could have been ignored, but if quoted in the press, gets a man in a lot of trouble these days. But brass knuckles? Why did Culliver have brass knuckles right there in his car? What sort of person has brass knuckles?

Brass knuckles are one of those weapons that seem less dangerous than firearms but tend to be more restricted in the criminal law. This isn't an issue I've thought much about, but I take it these things are regarded as weapons used by criminals (and not by law-abiding people in self-defense, the realm of the individual right to bear arms). If that's how people think, then having brass knuckles is not only a crime (where it is defined as a crime in the statutes) but it's also evidence that makes you look like an all-around criminal character. If, as alleged, Culliver had those brass knuckles as part of the sequence of events, it will make it much harder, I think, to put the facts in a positive light.

Wikipedia runs through some of the law relating to brass knuckles. It's a crime just to possess them in Russia, Australia, and Canada (where they call them "brass monkeys"). In France, brass knuckles are called "poing américain" — "American fist" — and you can buy and possess them, but you can't carry them around. In Brazil, brass knuckles are legal and called "Soco Inglês" ("English Punch"). In Russia, what they call "кастет" — casse-tête ("breaking the head") — are illegal. In the U.S., you've got to look at all state and local law. Culliver was arrested in California, and this looks like the current statute.

I see there are products sold as belt buckles that are brass knuckles. And there are iPhone cases that are shaped like brass knuckles. These seem to be plastic, but with a metallic finish. Here's Rihanna holding one, back in 2012. Maybe plastic knuckles would be somewhat effective in a fight. Wikipedia says that in New York, the criminal statutes prohibit "metal knuckles" and "plastic knuckles." And Texas makes it a misdemeanor to possess "knuckles." Just knuckles, perhaps made of anything. Did you think Texans were more enthusiastic about weapons? I take it they like their guns, but are tough on the people they see as criminals.

Here's a blog called if it's hip, it's here, with a post displaying a lot of "designer items... inspired by brass knuckles." Some of these however really seem to be metal or plastic knuckles incorporated into another object — stiletto heels, purse/umbrella handles, corkscrews — which isn't going to somehow magically legalize them.

So... in short: Watch out for bicyclists, take responsibility for accidents, and lose the brass knuckles. And tone down your statements about how assiduously you avoid homosexuality. They're not even successful in making you look un-gay.

Artist seems to think he invented the image of a woman with snakes for hair, accuses Damien Hirst of plagiarism for depicting Rihanna as Medusa.

"It's always fun to take a pop at Hirst, but... the charge against Hirst is not plagiarism – it is sheer artistic ordinariness."
Neither he nor [Jim] Starr have added anything original to the image of Medusa. The GQ cover is as insipid as some late Victorian mythic erotica. Compared with the great Medusas of the classical and baroque ages, Rihanna with snaky hair is just plain dull.
"The whole night, down to Rihanna’s eloquent performance of 'Lift Me Up' from 'Wakanda Forever,' felt well oiled but entirely preprogrammed because, of course, it was.""A hat is a celebration of oneself. It is about presenting one’s most adorned, spit-shined, upright self to God, social media or, in this case, the history books."

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