Free Isn’t Enough: In Defense of the Rihanna Plane Journalists
I’m really surprised at the reaction folks are having over this whole Rihanna #777Tour plane debacle. The plane, carrying 150 people (mostly journalists and some fans) descended to madness in the last couple of days of the tour. The people on it were really disappointed with how the trip went. Plus, they barely got a chance to sleep, bathe and eat. One night, their dinner was bananas and donuts. Yes. BANANAS AND DONUTS.
Yes. This is the meal of champions (-__-).
Shockingly (to me, anyway) people are calling the journalists spoiled because they complained, while the fans didn’t think it was so bad. I think that’s a foolish ruler to measure the validity of these journo’s feelings. It’s like being in a bad relationship. Sometimes, you don’t realize you were in one until you get in a good one and see the difference. And if you’ve never been in a relationship, you have no reference point. Those journalists are seasoned and the fans are the virgins. The fans might have thought it wasn’t so bad but it’s because they had nothing to compare it to.
People keep saying this was a free trip so no one has the right to complain. Yes, they got on that plane for free, BUT giving someone something for free does not excuse you from treating them with respect. Folks keep talmbout how these journos are brats because they’re not happy with a free trip around the world. Let’s talk about THAT.
1. This is not most of them’s first free trip.
b. This is their job.
iii. So what if it’s free? Free isn’t enough.
If I fly you to Chicago to do some work for ME, when you get here, I should tell you “Take the CTA and figure out your own way.” And then although I said you were gonna be staying at the W Hotel, I’m like “hope you don’t mind. You gotta lay on my couch.” And instead of the three square meals I promised you, I bring home bananas and donuts. You’d be looking at me like:
Yes, I got you there for free. But that FREE doesn’t mean I don’t hold up my end of the bargain and stay true to my word.
Furthermore, everyone’s insistence that folks should be grateful for getting anything for free is proof that too many people live a life of lowered expectations. Some of us get free things all the time, including free trips. We’re grateful for them but we also expect to be treated with common decency on these trips. Let me repeat. WE ARE GRATEFUL BUT… You might wanna call us spoiled, but I say we’re respected. When you expect someone to feed you and make sure you have accommodations after they tell you this is what they will provide for you, folks wanna call you a diva. NAWL.
Come on, dawg. When giving someone something for free, sometimes you set yourself up for failure by giving them expectations that you can’t meet. And I think that was the issue here. The journalists were told they’d have more access to Rihanna. Not to kick it with her but to see her work and get some stories from her. But their conditions on the plane were terrible partly because there seemed to be a lack of organization but mostly because they expected (and were told much) different.
It’s like you asking someone out on a date and telling them to dress nice because you’re going to the Signature Room. And then you take them to McDonald’s, and say their budget is $2 for food. Will they be upset? YES. Because you told them something different. And because of that, they left their wallet at home. And had they known, they might have been more prepared and balled out on their own.
Give people the choice to make their own informed decision by being realistic about what you can do. So they can figure out their own plans of action. I BET some of the people on the #777Plane would have chosen to just figure out their own logistics if they knew how it’d be.
Let me even use my own experience as an example. Because maybe this is why I’m so touched about this topic. This past summer, I was part of a delegate of 80 young black leaders chosen to go to Equatorial Guinea for a summit. I wrote about why I was there HERE. Now, we were flown there for free on a chartered flight. YAYYYYY FREE TRIP TO AFRICA.
And then we got to EG and it was endless drama for the first 3 days. Including the part where it took three hours for us to check into the Hilton because… I don’t e’em feel like going into the reasons. We were basically treated like we didn’t matter. Our time wasn’t respected and we were often kept waiting FOR HOURS at a time. For a number of reasons. Many of us were NOT pleased about it and expressed this. But on more than one occasion, I heard the “be happy you got a free trip. Be grateful.”
It wasn’t my first free trip. And even if it was, three hours of my time wasted in ONE day is a lot. And having it happen multiple times is annoying as hell. I coulda been doing work and other things. To be made to feel like we didn’t have a right to feel some type of way made me want to fight the air. It wasn’t until we took control of our own time that we finally did something worth talking about.
I will repeat: Free is NOT enough and when you accept bad treatment, you’re positively reinforcing disrespect. Stop it and demand better from people. Someone might give you something for free, like a trip, but your time is worth money. Every hour they waste of it is money you’re losing.
So this trip on the #777Plane was NOT free. The people who were stuck on it lost valuable time they could have spent doing other things. Being on a plane with 150 other people who have barely slept, bathed or ate for 7 days does not sound remotely close to enjoyable.
AND… Necole Bitchie, who was on the flight twitpiced THIS picture of a meal they were served. I want you to look at this and say (with a sound mind) that these people were being ungrateful. Can you even identify half of the foods on this struggle plate??
The moral of this story is: free is not enough. If you accept crappy treatment because someone gave you a handout, I ask you to demand better. Stop living this lowered expectations life!
If you want to read a REALLY good piece from one of the journalists on the plane, read this one on Billboard.com. So worth it to see what they were told to expect and what really happened.
So, I’ma open up the floor and wait for folks to disagree with me.