Rihanna is pretty unpredictable. And I can respect that. Winning first place for having the most explicit and simultaneously cryptic celebrity Twitter handle, Rihanna is known for being, well, uh, unapologetic. Girl knows how to party, Tweeting Instagram photos on the daily that depict her smoking pot, vacationing in Barbados in a super revealing swim suit, drinking Henny, and hitting the gym in a tiny bikini, Rihanna is well known for her one-of-a-kind shock value. Slanderous yet kind of poetic Tweets such as “Blow me,” “Screaming in an empty room! #dontfeedtheanimals” and “Don’t talk to me like I’m famous #Singapore” leave me confused, but I don’t dare question the powerhouse that is Rihanna.
Except when she travels to another country and sexualizes their place of worship and makes fun of its citizens.
Several days ago, Rihanna visited the city of Abu Dhabi, the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates, and decided to have a photo shoot in front of a mosque. After the incident, the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center issued a statement saying that although the sacred area welcomes visitors of all faiths and backgrounds, the photos that Rihanna were posing for were “inappropriate, violated the ‘sanctity’ of the mosque and disrespected the religious nature of the location,” according to Gulf News.
Although Rihanna did abide by Abu Dhabi’s social norms and covered her body and hair as many Middle Eastern women do, she was not only standing in areas of the mosque that were off-limits to guests, but she was posing pretty seductively. Wearing bright red lipsticks and nail polish, Rihanna managed to sneak in some of her vivacious self during her photo shoot.
Rihanna proceeded to post these photos to her Instagram, where her caption for one of her photos was, “B*tch stole my look,” referring to a group of Muslim women standing near her that were wearing head scarves and full body garments. She also posted a picture of her basking in the sun with the hashtag, “#NoTanLines”.
In Tel Aviv, one of the many stops on her Diamonds World Tour, Rihanna changed the lyrics of her song, “Pour it Up” from “All I see is signs / All I see is dollar signs,” to “All I see is Palestine.” This is after starting the show more than two hours late. While I think there’s a time and place for politics, her concert (in Israel) shouldn’t have been one of them. Is Rihanna purposely stirring the pot? Probably. She’s doing more than just stirring the pot, but hey, Rihanna is Rihanna.
Like I said before, Rihanna is totally unpredictable. She’s a complex, confusing artist, and while I love her music, I don’t necessarily agree with her actions. I feel like she’s excessively attention-seeking, and maybe doesn’t fully understand the powerful political implications behind her actions.
One day, she’s desecrating holy Islamic land, and the next she’s kind of dissing Israel (a nation in serious conflict with Palestinians) during a concert. I’m not sure whether she meant to embody that paradox or what, but she clearly shows no remorse for its creation. The day after the mosque incident in Abu Dhabi, Rihanna posted Instagram pictures of herself taking a bath. Like everything she’s ever done, she is totally washing herself clean of any responsibility, just like that.