The Oprah interview with Rihanna: Lots of talk...and not about music

The Oprah interview with Rihanna: Lots of talk...and not about music

Well, I started out watching the Oprah interview with Rihanna mistakenly thinking that it would have something to do with music.  Silly me!  I should have known that any Oprah interview can only go in one direction: therapy session.  Luckily for Rihanna, Oprah (thinks she) is a licensed therapist, so she ended the faux hour more balanced than when she began.  Unfortunately I’m stuck trying to make sense of all Rihanna’s feelings rather than reporting some insights about her songs.

The interview took place on Rihanna’s picturesque home island of Barbados, which provided a lovely backdrop.  Rihanna’s beauty and accent were mesmerizing, but Oprah trying to imitate the accent jolted me back to reality.  Here are the main topics they covered.

Her rise to fame:
Rihanna signed with JAY-Z’s label when she was just 17, before she felt like she had really figured out who she was.  The label had an idea of what they wanted her to be, which felt “claustrophobic” to her.

Her image:
Oprah reported that Esquire magazine not only deemed her (Rihanna, not Oprah) the sexiest woman alive but also “the queen of ‘rhymes with puck’” (thanks for the discretion, O).  Rihanna said she is flattered by the former but doesn’t even understand what the latter means.  Oprah noted that Rihanna seems very comfortable in her “sexual skin,” although Rihanna said that has only been genuine for the past couple years; before that she was acting the part of sexy vixen.  She claims not to be comfortable with the title of role model (not sure whose role model Rihanna is) because that implies perfection and no one is perfect. 

Her fans (a.k.a. the Navy):
Rihanna said that her fans have helped her get through the most difficult times; when she was at her lowest and made herself vulnerable, someone would always reach out to her.  What does she want her fans to know about her? That she has flaws, that she’s not perfect.  She doesn’t want to ever seem like she’s better than anyone else.

Oprah’s deep questions:
1. “Who are you?” Seriously, I could ask questions like that and make Oprah’s money.  Nonetheless, Rihanna pretended it was a really good question and responded that she loves to have fun and be spontaneous, and she’s intrigued by things that are a little adventurous and unknown.  She is black and white with business, but there is a gray area with personal life.

2. “What is the hardest thing and the loneliest thing for you?” Answer: the hardest thing is being lonely (I started getting a little confused by that), and the loneliest thing is not wanting to be seen as weak (which I would argue is also the hardest thing.  I think Oprah was trying to trick her).

Chris Brown:
Here we go, this is what we’ve been waiting for.  Rihanna acknowledged that when Chris beating her went public, that was all anyone really knew of their relationship.  For her, though, everything changed that night: she lost her best friend and everything she knew “switched.” According to Rihanna, “he made that mistake because he needed help,” and she was more concerned about him than she was about her own embarrassment.  (Long pause while Oprah soaks it all in)

Where is their relationship now?  They are close friends again and are working on building trust between each other.  They aren’t romantically involved as Chris is in a relationship with someone else, but Rihanna considers him the love of her life and her stomach still drops when she sees him.  She said that she hopes he has found peace.  Kudos to her for saying what she feels rather than what people probably want to hear, although it made me a little bit sad that the love of her life is with someone else.

Has she forgiven Chris?  Yes, because she made peace with her father (here is where I started getting lost in the therapy speak).  Her father was apparently violent toward her mother, which is how she remembered him (her parents have since split up), and she didn’t consider that while he was a crummy husband he was also a good dad; she had to come to terms with that.  I literally don’t get it, but Oprah seemed to, so I think it’s just me.  Most poignant: she has forgiven Chris, and that doesn’t mean she’s weak or a victim. 

Road trip around the island:
After the heavy duty tears were dry, Rihanna (Robin to her peeps) and Oprah hopped in the car and swung by her childhood home.  Unfortunately, Rihanna’s family no longer owns the home, so the gals had to bust in on the current owners.  Rihanna even posed for a picture with the traumatized daughter who looked terrified that a stranger was snuggling with her.

Last, Rihanna’s mother, aunt and brother arrived at a beautiful home for an interview with Ms. O, but guess what? Rihanna had actually purchased the house FOR her mother!  The aunt looked completely unphased by this turn of events, but guess what the most exciting part of the gift was for Rihanna’s mom? HER FIRST HOUSEGUEST WAS OPRAH!!!  Seriously, she repeated that so many times that I’m convinced there was a cue card just out of sight.


And there you have it.  An hour-long interview with one of the most successful recording artists around and they managed to not talk at all about music except for a few minor references.  My takeaway: I’m having trouble reconciling Rihanna’s bad girl image with the emotional sweetie that Oprah chatted up.  I’m more confused than ever because now I don’t know who the real Rihanna is.  Maybe if we’re lucky Ryan Seacrest will get to the bottom of it.  In the meantime, Cheers! (Drink to That)

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