This edition of Pop & Circumstance is all about the “youngins” — from the tragic tales of Precious Jones in Lee Daniels’ latest film and Rihanna’s triumph over domestic abuse, to the underage vixens of Gossip Girl. Join us as we take a look at the young stars who are making headlines — and, at times, making many of us adults a little nervous
Ri Ri Breaks Her Silence
Almost a year after a violent altercation with then-boyfriend Chris Brown, Rihanna is finally speaking out about the incident of domestic violence that shocked fans of the teen pop stars and effectively stunted the career of Brown following his arrest. In the upcoming issue of Glamour, the 21-year-old Barbadian singer, who has been named a Woman of the Year by the magazine, talks about how she’s coped with the difficult experiences of the past year. “My friends and family have been extremely supportive,” she explained, “and everyone has been there for me. But at some point you are there alone. It’s a lonely place to be — no one can understand. That’s when you get close to God.” While Rihanna has been reluctant to go into details about that fateful evening and even briefly returned to Chris Brown following the news, she finally feels compelled to speak out about what happened on behalf of other young women suffering at the hands of an abuser. “Domestic violence is a big secret,” she explains. “No kid goes around and lets people know their parents fight. Teenage girls can’t tell their parents that their boyfriend beat them up. You don’t dare let your neighbor know that you fight. It’s one of the things we [women] will hide, because it’s embarrassing.” But after returning to Brown, the young star realized she was sending other abused women the message that they should return to a dangerous relationship. “My story was broadcast all over the world for people to see, and they have followed every step of my recovery. The positive thing that has come out of my situation is that people can learn from that. I want to give as much insight as I can to young women, because I feel like I represent a voice that really isn’t heard.” You can read the full interview with Rihanna in the December issue of Glamour, where she talks about her style, charity work, and her new album, Rated R, that drops November 23rd.
OMG — Gossip Girl has Officially Gone Wild
The Parents Television Council is feverishly working to convince affiliates of the CW network not to air tonight’s racy episode of Gossip Girl, in which three main characters have a sexual threesome. The tryst has been promoted in an ad as a “3SOME,” which Tim Winter, president of the PTC, is calling “reckless and irresponsible.” In his letter to CW affiliates, Winters asks, “Will you now be complicit in establishing a precedent and expectation that teenagers should engage in behaviors heretofore associated primarily with adult films?” This isn’t the first time the prep-school show has been criticized for its adult content, as the PTC and other conservative groups have regularly lambasted the show for its marketing ploys using suggestive ads and tech-savvy slang to lure in viewers. Unfortunately, as is often the case with protests, the media attention over the episode in question may be sparking more interest in the show than dissuading viewers from watching. And if Entertainment Weekly‘s Lynette Rice is correct, the CW is probably not going to air anything that gets too out of hand. CW spokesman Paul McGuire claims the network is not targeting teens, reminding critics of the show that the media viewer age is 27 years old with an overall adult target of 18 to 34-year-olds. All we have to say to that is LOL — he has to be kidding, right?
A Pair of Jordans Cost UCF $3 Million
Michael Jordan’s son better be really good at basketball. Last week, Marcus Jordan, currently a student of the University of Central Florida, apparently cost the university $3 million for his refusal to wear the requisite Adidas shoes worn by all basketball teammates. Jordan’s insistence on wearing his famous father’s Nikes violated the school’s deal with Adidas for the brand to be the exclusive shoe for the sports team. Our own Ed Gilbreath suggested that the senior Jordan might be stumbling as a parent by failing to encourage his son Marcus to commit to team loyalty above self-serving brand loyalty. While we’re surprised Michael Jordan hasn’t stepped in to fight for the team unity that brought him his own success on the court, we’re more disappointed by the message the school might be sending to all of its students. By choosing to stand behind the deep pockets and fame of one of its most popular students instead of fulfilling its contractual obligations to Adidas, we wonder if the school is giving the kids a quick education in the power of money and status. Values like loyalty, integrity and humility seem to have completely fallen by the wayside. What do you think? Should the school have just forced Marcus Jordan to wear the shoes or lose his scholarship and place on the team?
Teen Stories on the Big Screen
We’re not even going to bother to remind you that Precious, the story of pain and triumph for an urban teen, arrived in a limited number of theaters over the weekend and opens everywhere later this month (check the official website to see when it opens in your area). With Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry backing it up, and featuring stars like Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, and more, the media circus around this much-anticipated movie has already reached epic proportions. But we do want to suggest after you leave the theaters that you go pick up the book Push by Sapphire, upon which the film is based. Sapphire wrote the novel back in 1996 and her original work is as moving and powerful, if not more so than the film. Borders has online with the author as she talks about the book, how she learned to trust director Lee Daniels’ vision, and why she applauds Mo’Niques’s “artistic audacity to be evil.” If the abuse-heavy (and appropriately R-rated) Precious is a little too meaty for you, consider going to see the Nick Hornby film, An Education. Whereas Precious shines for its boldness, the restraint of this quiet British film about a teenaged girl’s flirtations with worldliness carries its own charm. I’ll warn you — it is PG-13 and probably more appropriate for an adult date night than a family viewing. But adults will enjoy this little sleeper hit about the world across the pond. While most coming-of-age tales can sink into cheesy didacticism with elementary messages like “stay in school” or “listen to your elders,” this film, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Emma Thompson, gives a fresh take on those lessons with an interesting look at the exploitation of love, no matter what age you are.