How Rihanna sparked a Gonzo revolution by doing nothing

A few weeks ago, pop superstar Rihanna set out to play seven shows, in seven countries, in seven days. Joining her on this £3.5m 777 tour private jet were 150 journalists, all ready and waiting to ask questions, get quotes and take pictures – all while partying with one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.

Spirits were high to begin with as Rihanna introduced herself by making her way down the aisles and pouring alcohol down the throats of her fellow passengers. However, as the days went on, Rihanna grew more and more elusive, staying at hotels as the plane waited on the runway for her, or hiding in a private area of the plane, explaining afterwards that it was protect her voice so that she could perform well at her shows (which was the only time most of them saw her).

Rihanna på Kollenfest 2012

Credit: aktivioslo

My first reaction? Why invite 150 journalists to document your seven day trip around the world and then give them nothing to work with? As a journalist, I immediately put myself in their position and felt the same frustration they must have from not getting what they were sent out by their editor’s on this rare and amazing opportunity to get. On top of this, they were stuck on a private jet for seven days and with anxiety growing and cabin fever taking over, things got a little bit crazy.

With no sign of the Rude Boy singer, the journos took to making their own entertainment. There was chanting, there was an Australian streaker and people even began handing out spoof ‘Missing’ Rihanna posters. It all got a bit silly but the weird thing is, they still had a connection to the world below via social networks and an ability to upload content online so, with no RiRi story, it became all about them and, in a way, it turned out to be a whole lot more entertaining than anything Rihanna may have had to say.

We were looking for a story and we’ve turned out to be the story.

This was the reaction of’s Esteban Serrano and I think he got it spot on.

In a way, it reflects the Gonzo journalism ethos adopted by Hunter S. Thompson, in that, they used themselves and their own surroundings and experiences to tell the story. Unlike Thompson and his busy narcotics schedule, this wasn’t exactly what they had planned but, nevertheless, they had a story and it spread across the internet like wildfire (particularly the clip of the naked Australian).

The most hilarious part is that the only time Rihanna was directly involved in the coverage of the entire fiasco (besides the brief introduction) was when she was apologising for not being around. I bet their editors just loved that.

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