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Rihanna under fire for duets with Chris Brown

Rihanna arrives for the Brit Awards 2012 at the O2 Arena in London, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.

Jonathan Short/Jonathan Short/AP

They could sing the sweetest duet and it still would be hard to find anything beautiful about the music Chris Brown and Rihanna make together.

But their new collaborations are particularly unpalatable.

Three years after Mr. Brown brutally beat Rihanna, threatened to kill her and left her with a black eye and bloodied nose, the pair have released two remixes that include each other's vocals.

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In Rihanna's Birthday Cake, Chris Brown announces, amid aggressive, explicit language, that he wants to, "Give it to her in the worst way. Can't wait to blow her candles out." Rihanna, in her contribution to Mr. Brown's Turn up the Music, sings, "Turn up the music. Turn me up and take me down." The song closes with her coy giggle.

The songs have prompted mixed reaction from the industry and fans, with some saying it's time to move on and others condemning Rihanna's decision to work with Mr. Brown.

(To say nothing of his continual defensiveness over what is an indefensible act after continued criticism of his performance at the recent Grammy Awards – and the alarming response from some teenage female fans.)

"Deleted Rihanna off my iPod. Not being associated with that imbecile in any capacity," one Twitter user wrote today. "Ladies, don't be like Rihanna … if a man beats you stay away, call the cops, get help. Don't let him remix your face or your song," read another tweet.

It's been less than a week since the police report detailing just what Mr. Brown did to Rihanna hit the Internet. (Try reading it and then imagine your daughter or son humming those lyrics without feeling sick to your stomach.)

While at least one psychologist defended Rihanna's free choice to associate with a man who abused her, others suggested that the singer is still under Mr. Brown's unhealthy control. (It's not clear whether the couple are actually dating again.) The argument from women's groups and critical fans is that Rihanna is a role model for young women and that she has a responsibility to set a better example.

That may be true, but ultimately it's up to the parents and teens themselves to have a real discussion about the issues of domestic violence and how they should respond to Rihanna's choices.

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Brown has already tweeted his thoughts: "You are not GODS to judge us. U have no say! Positivity & LOVE! My fans make a difference."

At least he's credible on that latter point: Fans do make the difference. And maybe that means, as the aforementioned tweet suggests, they hit delete on their iPods.

How do you feel about the Rihanna-Chris Brown collaboration?

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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