Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s alright because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s alright because I love the way you lie ~ Rihanna (Love the Way You Lie)
I heard this song the first time a few weeks ago, and being an appreciator of RiRi’s voice, and susceptible to hooks, in general, I kinda liked it. I’m a reluctant-at-best Em listener…so I wasn’t an actual fan of the song. Didn’t hear the whole thing the first time – I suppose I had to get out of the car for some reason. But the hook was most of what I heard. Melodic and sultry, the way Rihanna is, what’s not to like? Most of the time I’m into the music/beat of whatever anyway. Not that I don’t appreciate great lyrical content – believe me I do. That’s actually why I’m writing.
Because I think this song is supposed to be marketed as some kind of anthem for survivors of domestic abuse – people who “give as good as they get” in physical altercations in the relationship.
Now I know we said things, did things that we didn’t mean
And we fall back into the same patterns, same routine
But your temper’s just as bad as mine is
You’re the same as me –
The video depicts a couple that fights and makes up fiercely. In a house that burns on the outside, but seems mostly livable on the inside. Some folks think it does a good job of demonstrating the dysfunctionality of violent relationships. Some folks aren’t touching that with a red apple. Megan Fox is in it, and donated her money from the vid to a women’s shelter for domestic abuse survivors. That’s nice.
But tonight is the first time I watched the video, and while I’m sure I’m one of the few who hadn’t seen it, I still don’t think the visual overwhelms or undoes these troublesome lines:
Next time? There won’t be no next time
I apologize, even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games, I just want her back. I know I’m a liar
If she ever tries to f****n’ leave again,
I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire – Eminem (Love the Way You Lie)
I just can’t get over those lines. Having Rihanna sing the hook to this seems in particular poor taste. I could see the hook in another context, but in this one – no. NO. I’m under no illusions – there are relationships like the ones depicted in the video out there. And the video doesn’t seem to glorify that life too much… But the lyrics.
The lyrics in the verses are the meat of any song – and these verses only speak from one POV – that of the man, in power. The lines accuse the woman of having a similar temper/being the same way. He begs her to stay, and admits that his promise not to be violent again is a lie. And then threatens to kill her.
Except, since this is a one-sided tale, we get no indication that she really does give as good as she gets. In fact, in the video, Ms. Fox does indeed lash out quite a lot – but there’s a point where it looks as though she will be raped by Mr. Monaghan. There is no point that I remember that looked as though she would rape him. So it seems that she has quite a good reason to leave. Excellent even. Maybe one side of the story and an ending where everyone burns is enough to demonstrate the awfulness of domestic violence. I would’ve liked someone to be led away in handcuffs and someone to be shown in recovery. But that’s just me.
Either way, this is not the kind of song I can listen to over and over. Not something I want to hear on the radio. And yet somehow, it’s made it to No. 1 on the BillBoard Hot 100. Am I just officially old now – completely disgusted by lyrics about killing a partner for trying to leave a domestic abuse situation? Or is this seriously a sucky way to ‘address’ domestic abuse?