In 2009, the pop star Rihanna told ABC anchor Diane Sawyer she finally broke it off with her violent pop-star boyfriend, Chris Brown. For the children, of course.
"When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. I couldn't be held responsible."
She added, "I just didn't realize how much of an impact I had on these girls' lives until that happened. It was a big wake-up call for me."
On Sunday night's ABC broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards, the show began with the spectacle of Rihanna writhing around the stage floor dressed like a dominatrix in white leather. Coming up from the floor were grabby gloved male hands circling between her legs. Then came the sexually explicit song. It's called "S&M." It looks like Rihanna's gone back into a long sleep when it comes to the children.
The Billboard Music Awards are watched by millions upon millions of impressionable youngsters. So before the little ones headed off to sleep, parents nationwide had the educational opportunity of explaining what "S&M" stands for. Perhaps they could also answer why this woman was singing, "Now the pain is my pleasure 'cause nothing could measure" and "The affliction of the feeling leaves me wanting more."
"I Have Such an Impact on Young Girls" Rihanna repeatedly sang the chorus "Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it / Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me."
Later in the song, Rihanna was joined by the ridiculous Britney Spears in a black leather outfit and a matching mask with bunny ears. As they each sang about "sex in the air," they circled around stripper poles, and Rihanna kissed Spears. Then they concluded the song with a pillow fight. See? Sadism and masochism are really harmless, painless child's play. This ending was probably ABC's signal to critics to lighten up.
This is not the first time the Billboard Music Awards have caused controversy. In 2002, when the show was on Fox, Cher used the F-word. The next year, Fox "reality" star Nicole Richie deliberately dropped several unbleeped "fleeting expletives." Both were central to a long court fight where the networks fought for the right to broadcast expletives on TV at any time of day.