Why Was Bill Maher Picked to Gush Over Rihanna as 'The Voice of Our Time' on ABC Awards Show?

It's weird enough that ABC's "American Music Awards" Sunday night included an "Icon" award for Rihanna, who's...25. It was weirder that the celebrity offering this "Icon" tribute was...Bill Maher? He puffed her as the voice of our time, like she was the Prime Minister of Pop: “Now here’s my opinion: She has become the voice of our time, providing the soundtrack to our 21st century years and that is why tonight, we are very happy to present a very special award to Rihanna.”

The entertainment blog Zap2it.com blogged about this mystery:  "No, we're not sure why, either. Hearing Maher gush over RiRi and her music felt beyond odd. Was there really no one with even a faint connection to the singer available for the gig?"

They added: "When Rihanna eventually joined the "Real Time" host on stage, their unfamiliarity with one other was so evident that it bordered on uncomfortable....the decision to include Maher just left us scratching our heads."

This "icon" first hit the charts with "Pon de Replay" in 2005 when she was only 17.

Brent Bozell wrote about a previous ABC awards show appearance in 2011:

In 2009, the pop star Rihanna told ABC anchor Diane Sawyer she finally broke it off with her violent pop-star boyfriend Chris Brown. For the children, of course. "When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. I couldn't be responsible." She added "I just didn't realize how much of an impact I had on these girls until that happened. It was a big wake-up call for me."

On Sunday night’s ABC broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards, the show began with the spectacle of Rihanna writhing around the stage floor dressed like a dominatrix in white leather. Coming up from the floor were grabby gloved male hands circling between her legs.  Then came the sexually explicit song. It’s called "S&M." It looks like Rihanna’s gone back into a long sleep when it comes to the children.

The Billboard Music Awards are watched by millions upon millions of impressionable youngsters. So before the little ones headed off to sleep, parents nationwide had the educational opportunity of explaining what "S&M" stands for. Perhaps they could also answer why this woman was singing "Now the pain is my pleasure ‘cause nothing could measure" and "The affliction of the feeling leaves me wanting more."

I Have Such an Impact on Young Girls Rihanna repeatedly sang the chorus: "Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it / Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me."

Later in the song, Rihanna was joined by the ridiculous Britney Spears in a black leather outfit and a matching mask with bunny ears. As they each sang about "sex in the air," they circled around stripper poles, and Rihanna kissed Britney. Then they concluded the song with a pillow fight. See? Sadism and masochism are really harmless, painless child’s play. This ending was probably ABC’s signal to critics to lighten up.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis