On Monday, Chris Brown’s plea deal in his assault on [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] signaled the close of the legal chapter of the situation. However, the impact of Monday’s news and the after-effects of the assault case will undoubtedly continue to have a long-term effect on the careers of both artists — not just for [artist id="1961441"]Brown[/artist], but also the victim in the case, Rihanna.
“I’m not sure if, later on in life, Rihanna will wish she did things differently,” Minya Oh, a.k.a. radio personality and journalist Miss Info, told MTV News. “She’s so young, and clearly it was such a traumatic and emotional time. She went back to L.A. with Chris for his first hearing, and they showed a united front. But then they ended up going their separate ways for obvious reasons. I think the verdict lets Rihanna also move on from that dark cloud, but between the vicious taking-of-sides that we see from music fans, and the explicit photo leaks … It feels like neither one of these shining stars got out of this situation unscathed. They were forced to grow up in our eyes and in real life.”
(Look back at a timeline of the five months that followed Chris Brown and Rihanna’s altercation on February 8.)
“It could be hard,” Natasha Eubanks, founder of the blog TheYBF.com, said on Monday night about the impact the situation will have on Rihanna’s career, noting that the feedback about Rihanna on her site from fans has been divided. “You’re gonna have some females that will be like, ‘You didn’t stand up for yourself.’ Even some mothers are thinking, ‘Oh, she should have been a good example for my daughter.’ Other females are saying, ‘You know what? She handled it with class.’ It could go either way. For some reason when it comes to the victim it’s a little bit harder for them.”
Shante Bacon, former senior director of marketing at Def Jam and co-founder of the marketing firm the 135th Street Agency, said Rihanna should have no problem selling records and selling out shows. Where the singer will feel the fallout from this ordeal is in her marketing opportunities.
“As a result of the events of the past four months, Rihanna’s squeaky-clean image has taken a slight hit,” Bacon said. “She is still a gorgeous woman with a talent for singing and dancing and has a great track record of delivering mainstream, pop mega-hits. She can retain most of her marketability. She has done nothing wrong in this situation and most fans and corporate marketers view her as the victim, not the villain.
“Where she [may lose], however, is when marketing opportunities arise that require a squeaky-clean, ‘Radio Disney’ type of reputation or image. She has clearly been in this serious romantic relationship and is so closely linked with Chris Brown, marketers who may be looking to use a fresh, young face to target a young, teeny-bopper audience (a.k.a. tweens) will think twice about aligning their brand with an artist who has publicly experienced a ‘loss of innocence’ by way of domestic assault.”
Still, Rihanna seems to be making all the right moves as far as who she aligns herself with. She’s maintained a close friendship with the always-viable Jay-Z, and before the Brown incident, The-Dream told MTV News he would be working on the singer’s album. Drake has confirmed that he worked on the new project as well, and we see Kanye West is a major fan of hers. West has Rihanna as the centerpiece of his new video “Paranoid.”
“I don’t think it’s gonna affect anything for her as long as she has hits,” said DJ Skee, who hosts the radio shows “Skeetox” and “Live From L.A.” on Sirius XM and “The New Music Show” on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles. “Her music speaks for itself. Good music is good music. She’s working with Kanye and Drake. I think it’s great. Kanye is huge, and Drake is the biggest new artist in years. It couldn’t be planned any better.”
(Head here for some predictions on the impact the case will have on Chris Brown’s career.)