Some fans are glad to see Rihanna and Brown mend their differences; others are shaking their heads
With their mutual collaborations released on Monday, Rihanna and Chris Brown have taken an important step forward in mending their relationship, following the savage beating that Brown gave Rihanna in 2009.
The rest of the world, however, seems to be bitterly divided over their decision to make music together.
Also read: Chris Brown to Grammy Critics: "F— Off"
Almost immediately after the tracks — Brown's "Turn Up the Music," which features Rihanna, and her "Birthday Cake," to which Brown contributes — hit the Internet on Monday, fans and the famous alike have weighed in en masse, with wildly divergent opinions.
Some wonder how Rihanna could extend a musical olive branch to her former attacker, while others hailed the collaborations — which are remixes not released by the singers' record labels — as proof of the healing power of song.
"I just can't get enough #CAKE !!!!!!!!!!!,," Gossip blogger Perez Hilton tweeted. "Music heals! It really does! #MusicHeals!!! It has the ability to turn what was something destructive into something creative and positive!"
Despite the grim root of the controversy, some used humor to express their surprise at the unlikely musical partnership. Dane Cook, shockingly, went for the obvious joke, tweeting, "Rihanna & Chris Brown are together on two new songs. I'm sure they'll be a smash hit."
Similarly, comedian Arsenio Hall worked the humor angle, harkening back to another infamous instance of domestic violence.
"Breezy and Rihanna seem to be cool these days. Singing, hanging out. Who would have thunk it?" Hall wrote on his Twitter account. "Next OJ will be calling his … Oh never mind!"
Fans of Rihanna and Brown were divided, with some expressing joy, others disappointment. Of the latter, one former admirer tweeted, "i should unfollow rihanna…im not here for her no more."
No word on whether he followed up on his threat, but according to TwitterCounter.com, neither artist has suffered follower fallout from the collaborations. Both Rihanna and Brown have shown a net gain of followers this week, with "Rude Boy" singer Rihanna gaining 40,000-plus followers on Tuesday and Brown gaining more than 33,000 followers on that day.
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons offered his support directly to Brown. After Brown reached out to Simmons to complain of the criticism he'd received, Simmons tweeted back to the "I Can Transform Ya" singer, "Don't waste Your energy big brother Let God handle em and let God sort em out."
Not surprisingly, the collaborations don't seem to be sitting well with domestic-violence groups. Rita Smith, the executive director of the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, told MTV.com that she's "not particularly surprised" that Rihanna should work with her attacker again, but suggested that the singer — born Robyn Rihanna Fenty — has fallen into a common pattern for abused women.
"[M]any victims get back with their abusers, even after an assault," Smith said. "They love them, they think they change, and abusers are particularly good at convincing you they've changed."
Based on Brown's reaction to the criticism he received over his Grammys performance this year — the singer went on a Twitter rampage against his detractors following the show — Smith is disinclined to believe that the R&B star has changed.
"I'm still concerned because his reaction to people's criticism of him being on the Grammys was fairly belligerent, and that didn't give me much of a message or sense of hope that he had made changes since that assault," Smith said.
In case you haven't had a chance to react to the collaborations yourself, check them out below.
Where do you stand on Rihanna and Chris Brown's reconciliation? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.