Prime Minister David Thompson recently named Rihanna as Barbados’ honorary cultural ambassador. The 20-year-old singer, well known for her “Umbrella” smash hit, is also a Grammy winner.
So, what does that mean for us?
My opinions about this news are split.
Why should a country ever award a pop star with the title of ambassador? Yes. It’s nice for a country to align itself with a positive subject like Rihanna. She’s said in the past that she’d never pose nude, which is always a good thing, I guess. And, so far, she hasn’t been involved in any drug scandal. In fact, she’s been publicized for her involvement with DKMS, a non-profit marrow transplant organization, and other good deeds.
In 2006, she founded Believe, a non-profit organization that focuses on getting school and medical supplies to those who need it.
She is also the new face of Covergirl cosmetics, a title also held by Queen Latifah.
These are accolades well worth a, “You go, girl!’’
So far, so good.
But how susceptible to dishonor does a country become when its celebrity ambassador goes haywire? That’s not to mention the younger generations who look up to her, the 20-somethings who sing her songs in the car or in the club.
Imagine Brittney Spears becoming the ambassador of America in her pop-princess days? Imagine, Paris when, well, she never really had a celebratory high point. Take Whitney Houston before Bobby; or Brandy before her car accident, which killed a 38-year-old mother of two.
When pop stars become celebrity ambassadors, I think there’s a possible downfall for everyone. And if you’re thinking about celebrities like Angelina Jolie, a United Nations ambassador, then take a moment to reflect on her wild and sex-crazed younger years.
Giving kudos to an artist when they’re young might be a risky venture.
But, there is a silver lining.
When young starlets become governmental spokespeople, in fact, we do pay attention, and quite possibly, and even more importantly, we partake.
About a year ago, I interviewed Norman Wedderburn, president of Make A Wish Foundation, an organization focused on fulfilling the wishes of severely sick children. Wedderburn noted the lack of black volunteers in his organization. Ironically, there are so many black kids who need help.
So, is it possible that Rihanna’s reign can actually make waves and move people to follow in her footsteps? Will her celebrity acclaim attached with good will become a beacon for youth to follow?
We can only hope so.