Rihanna: ‘Man Down’ Music Video Controversy


Rihanna’s “Caribbean themed” music video has been getting a lot of attention for the wrong reasons. Says the Parents’ Television Council (PTC):

“‘Man Down’ is an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song. In my 30 years of viewing BET, I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in primetime. Viacom’s standards and practices department has reached another new low,” Porter said in the statement. “If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass and BET should know better. The video is far from broadcast worthy.

The objection to the video concerns its ruthless execution of gun justice, visualized in the video and heard in the lyrics. The video shows Rihanna being physically and sexually assaulted outside of a nightclub and then later shooting the rapist.

 Now, I remember T.O. rapper, Drake’s video “Better Find Your Love” was briefly criticized by the Jamaican government for promoting gun-violence. The video shows Drake getting shot by “bad boys”  after going to Jamaica to find a woman.  Some people even compare “Man Down” to “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks, in which the Chicks and the female co-stars poisoned a domestic abuser and dump the body in the swamps without seemingly no remorse.
But, neither video is getting the criticism facing ‘Man Down.’

The upheaval over “Man Down” comes from two places. 1) Rihanna is arguably the most visible victim of domestic violence, and 2) the video’s image and lyrics are explicitly violent.

  While Rihanna has argued she’s using artistic license, and isn’t a role model, Rihanna is the FACE of domestic violence for many; and, while Rihanna has a right to express herself, it is equally true that the message she sends out has consequences.

Then, there is the timing of the video. It comes a few weeks after Rihanna was criticized for following Chris Brown on Twitter. Maybe there is a desire in Rihanna to prove herself not as a victim but as strong and tough. After all, a few weeks after the domestic violence incident with Chris Brown, Rihanna got a gun tattoo on her body, which she insists is to prove she can protect herself. It does seem Rihanna is trying to send a message: she can protect herself. Others, like the PTC, maybe concerned about the misinterpretation of that message: it’s okay to kill a rapist.
During the whole Chris Brown/Rihanna domestic violence incident, I wrote a piece about domestic violence among Caribbean people. In the Caribbean, domestic violence is tolerated. It’s not acceptable, but it’s tolerated like most things. In the Caribbean, violence, particularly gun violence, is rampant; its an easy way for people to solve their conflicts. So, in this sense, I understand how harmful this misinterpretation may be; especially in the Caribbean where Rihanna is so famous and gun violence is uncontrollable. But, whether or not it’s moral to shoot a rapist is another debate alltogether.

Sample Lyrics:

I don’t mean to end his life

I know it wasn’t right
I can’t even sleep at night
Can’t get it off my mind
I need to get out of sight
Before I end up behind bars

What started out as a simple altercation
Turned into a real sticky situation
Me just thinking on the time that I’m facing
Makes me wanna cry
‘Cause I didn’t mean to hurt him
Could’ve been somebody’s son
And I took his heart when
I pulled out that gun

It’s a 22, I call her Peggy Sue
When she fits right down in my shoes
What do you expect me to do
If you’re playing me for a fool
I will lose my cool
And reach for my fire arm

And reach for my fire arm

I didn’t mean to lay him down
But it’s too late to turn back now
Don’t know what I was thinking
Now he’s no longer living
So I’m ’bout to leave town
‘Cause I didn’t mean to hurt him
Could’ve been somebody’s son
And I took his heart when
I pulled out that gun Man down

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About TCDH

Blogger with an opinion.
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