"WELL, I'D rather my man would hit me/then follow him to jump up and quit me. Ain't nobody's business if I do."
So sang Billie Holiday, back when it was considered "OK" to knock a woman around, and for the woman to accept it. (Even Clark Gable's character, speaking about Claudette Colbert's character in 1934's "It Happened One Night" said, "What she needs is a guy who'd take a sock at her once a day whether she deserves it or not."
But that was then. Romantic comedies don't treat hitting women as funny anymore. And women don't sing about how they'd rather be hit than abandoned.
That is, unless you are Rihanna. The singer's new album is titled "Unapologetic." The most controversial song on it is a duet with her ex, Chris Brown, titled "Nobody's Business." (Brown pled guilty to battering Rihanna three years ago. Who could forget the photos of her bruised and swollen face?)
But almost immediately, it seemed that Rihanna wasn't as upset about the incident as was the media. It appeared she took to heart the cries from women's groups that if she "forgave" Chris Brown it would send a bad message to her young fans. She was only 21 at the time. Or was it that she took to heart advice from her PR people?
In any case, Brown has never really been out of her life. She was always running into him. She has wept over the beating (with Oprah, naturally) but the suggestion lingered that as traumatized as she had been, she wasn't ready to cast him off. Indeed, that she might even have encouraged or enjoyed or felt she deserved this kind of "attention." She has given out signals that she doesn't mind "danger" in relationships.
This is a far cry from the S-and-M posturing of Madonna in her heyday. Everybody knew The Big M was just looking for new ways to shock. Rihanna has also shocked. But there is a disturbing feeling she's not posing or kidding.
Rihanna is the token hot woman on one of the current GQ "Men of the Year" covers. (Channing Tatum is another cover, named as "Movie Star of the Year.") She is half-naked, of course.
Whatever. As Billie Holiday exuberantly sang, and now Rihanna boldly declares -- it's "nobody's business." I suppose that's true. But we can't help worrying.
And this CD "reconciliation" whether personal or merely professional, doesn't send a good message to young women or young men. Don't ever go back to men who hit you. And don't ever hit a woman. Period.
EVEN ROGER Moore says that Daniel Craig is the "best Bond ever"! Roger had the role of 007 from 1973 to '85. He was the most laidback of all the Bonds, probably the least like Ian Fleming's character. But he was charm personified, much more convincing sexing up various Bond girls than in the killing or fighting. Roger always seemed quite amused that he was James Bond.
Daniel Craig's "Skyfall" is still doing great at the box office, though it had to take second place to the latest "Twilight" tale. I don't get the "Twilight" movies, or the "charm" of the two famous stars -- Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart -- but maybe I should ask Anne and Mitt Romney? Supposedly, the couple caught the movie a few days ago. Well, the "Twilight" films are supposed to be chock full of Mormon agenda, dressed up as twinkly vampires. So the Romneys are keeping the faith -- with fangs.
NEVER LET it be said that director Oliver Stone is ever apologetic. He is like Rihanna, without the tattoos. Stone is a confirmed conspiracy theorist and revisionist historian. Stone's latest endeavors are a book, "Untold History of the United States" and a concurrent TV series on Showtime. Both the book and the series are fascinating, but don't expect Stone to be slotted on FOX to promote it. The "JFK" director doesn't wallow in jingoistic chat. I did catch him with Piers Morgan on CNN. Oliver did most of the talking.
Stone's history lessons might make some people uncomfortable. His take on World War II is a three-sided perspective -- America, Britain and what was once Soviet Russia; how each great power approached or did not approach world conflict, who was pushed into war, who really "won" it and who helped the Jews. (I won't give you all the answers, but as to the Jews -- very few really helped them. And that explains a lot, including current Mideast matters.)
Stone warns of the "empire-building" of the United States and our massive military spending, citing the example of ancient Rome and the eventual power of the praetorian guards, who were the true leaders, as Rome declined. They chose and disposed of emperors at will -- military power and extremism at its most destructive. I don't agree with Oliver that we shouldn't have dropped the atom bomb. But disagreement makes the world go around. (Dropping it created mutual deterrence for years.)
And when Piers asked about the David Petraeus scandal (Morgan seems simply obsessed with it), Oliver Stone said: "First of all, I don't know why everybody keeps calling him 'General Petraeus.' He is not a general anymore. He didn't resign from being a general. He was director of the CIA. And as for him being a hero, please tell me one heroic thing he's ever done. One. He didn't improve anything in Iraq or Afghanistan." Stone believes the media "needs" heroes and Petraeus was mythologized beyond all reality, more so now, in his disgrace.
Oh, and before I start getting hate mail. These are Oliver Stone's opinions. Just as Rihanna writes her own songs and lives her own life. I'm just here to report.
I don't know Rihanna. But I do know Oliver. And I like him. If you want to hate me for that, go right ahead.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)