The Ballad Of Chris Brown and Rihanna: All We Are Saying... Is Give Us a Break

Today's self-serving, social media-obsessed pop stars are a far cry from the original power couple in bed -- John Lennon and Yoko Ono -- who had something to say.
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It could be said that an Instagram is worth a thousand words, and in the virtual world of R&B hitmaker Chris Brown and pop star Rihanna, suggestive images tweeted on New Year’s Day basically implied, “We just got it on!”

The evidence came by way of bedding -- specifically: an identical-looking black and white polka-dotted comforter seen in the pair’s respective photo journals, leaving fans and critics alike to speculate once more about their seemingly on-again relationship.

It's clear that the two have been trying to rehabilitate their image as a couple since Brown’s scandalous assault of Rihanna on Grammy weekend in 2009, for which he was sentenced to five years probation and 1,400 hours of comunity service. The duo's sometimes-shrewd use of social media as well as a recent appearance at a Los Angeles Lakers game has certainly kept them in the news -- not that either of them need any help -- adding fuel to the firestorm over their controversial (abuser-abusee) rapport.

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Sadly, all this self-serving personal effort and grand media manipulation is a far cry from the original “power couple in bed” scenario. I refer, of course, to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who in 1969 coordinated two well-publicized “bed-ins” for peace. In stark opposition to the Vietnam War, John and Yoko used their marriage and honeymoon as a tool to promote world harmony by holding press conferences in bed for a solid week at the Amsterdam Hilton (March 25th through March 31) and then again in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal (May 26 through June 2).

Unlike the semi-estranged/semi-devoted and spotlight-addicted Chris and Rihanna, John and Yoko appeared together between the sheets and made themselves available to the media and others from morning to night. They conducted interviews, hung out with famous friends, and spoke with curious fans, all in the name of World Peace. Lennon even wrote and sang the song “Give Peace A Chance” during the course of their now-famous bed-ins.

While these well-publicized appearances were made viable by the newlyweds’ celebrity and the overwhelming popularity of The Beatles, John and Yoko weren’t taken very seriously at the time and more often than not treated as a comic punch-line. Their controversial travails were then duly documented in The Beatles’ hit single, “The Ballad Of John and Yoko” (and it must be noted: the couple's whirlwind travels -- from Southhampton to Paris, then Amsterdam, Vienna and Gibraltar -- could easily rival Rihanna's recent "777" tour).

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Regardless of the lukewarm reception to their maudlin plea for peace, the couple managed to stay on message and concluded that year by posting billboards in eleven cities across the world stating “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It ... Happy Christmas From John and Yoko.”

In the time since John Lennon’s tragic assassination in 1980, Yoko Ono has continued to keep the dream alive with more billboards, a documentary entitled Bed Peace on YouTube, a commemorative Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland and regular holiday advertisements in the New York Times.

Yes, even on the same New Year’s Day that Chris Brown and Rihanna were playing hide-and-seek with the media and teasing their ambivalent -- and many might say unhealthy -- relationship with tweets and Instagram photos, Yoko Ono placed yet another full-page ad in the Times saying only, “Imagine Peace.”

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That's not to say that Breezy and RiRi, as each is affectionately called, don't have their causes. Chris Brown recently launched his Symphonic Love Foundation while Rihanna has contributed her voice to many charities, from organizations that fight cancer to those that benefit sick children and others in need.

And, even while separated by four-plus decades, one could imagine the chorus to “The Ballad Of John and Yoko” applying to Chris and Rihanna -- at least the line when Lennon sang, "Christ you know it ain't easy / You know how hard it can be / The way things are going / They're going to crucify me."

But where John and Yoko showed us all that there’s a better way to use celebrity than simply to promote one’s self, it seems the contemporary couple -- with its instant access to tens of millions -- has a lot to learn.

In other words, all we are saying… is give us a break!

Twitter: @THRMusic