Rihanna Shoots Her Rapist in Music Video for “Man Down”: Tell Me Why We’re Mad?

10 Aug

The latest single from American pop star Rihanna’s album Loud is “Man Down”. You can watch the music video below if you haven’t seen it already, but be forewarned: there are graphic depictions of violence.

 

 

This video generated a LOT of controversy in only a few months, with Rihanna herself speaking out to defend it on the social networking website Twitter. Organizations like The Parents Television Council, Industry Ears, and a campaign called ‘Enough is Enough’ went straight to work against Viacom, the company that owns the BET channel that premiered “Man Down” during one of its programs aimed at urban youth, to take the video off the air. People were calling in to their local radio stations outraged that Rihanna could get away with such a violent music video that could influence young people to mimic what they saw.

Then we had people, including her fans, applauding Rihanna’s video for being so empowering to women.

My two cents are late to the conversation (hey, the video premiered in June), but I want to ask: why is “Man Down” the absolute WORST video young people are ever going to see?

Stop B.S.-ing

I’m not going to pretend that murder is okay, but I think some people need to be real with what they’re trying to say. The PTC (Parents Television Council) and Industry Ears said that:

“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.”

and I, for one, think that’s ridiculous. If you listen to the lyrics and/or watch the video with just half an attention span, it’s not difficult to hear that Rihanna was singing about her guilt over paying back evil for evil by killing someone who hurt her. How is that a “cold, calculated execution”? As she approaches the man to shoot (in the video), it’s obvious that she’s distraught. She looks dazed and like she’s been crying, not like somebody who’s itching to try their hand at assassination.

Violence is everywhere in the media – again, not that it’s right, but I’m just stating what I think we all know. Kids’ movies and TV programs have depicted violence all the time, and there’s a whole genre of ‘violence porn’ films created solely to engage American youth: teen slasher flicks. But I can’t remember the last time I heard of anybody rallying against the release of Final Destination or Saw. THOSE are arguably “shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme” movies, right? So where’s the outrage? If we’re going to condemn one shocker, shouldn’t we be condemning them all? Rihanna’s character was raped in the video. Where’s the outcry in showing that?

Could it really be that some people are mad that Rihanna dared to act as a character who retaliated after being viciously attacked – even if it wasn’t the moral way to go about it? I think so.

Let’s just say…

What would happen if young people actually DID follow Rihanna’s example, and suddenly anytime you heard of a rape in the news, the headline in the paper would read something like: “Teen Victim Fatally Shoots Attacker after Alleged Rape”? That would be a problem for a society that feels best about keeping rape and sexual abuse a “hush hush” topic, never to be talked about, and never to be acknowledged as something serious that damages lives almost the same way that murder does. Potential rapists wouldn’t get away with so many crimes, and be hidden by their communities, never facing criminal charges, or serving jail time that amounts to a slap on the wrist whenever they were actually charged and tried. They wouldn’t want to try raping anybody – a crazy young’un out there could just shoot them up for it. I’m not saying anyone should go out and pick up a gun. I’m saying that we need to be honest – rape is real violence, too, but a lot of us don’t care.

You might think I’m a Rihanna stan after reading this post. I like some of her songs (really liked “Only Girl in the World”) and bits of her personal style, but apart from that she’s cool to me, not much more. I’m not defending Rihanna’s video because I’m in love with her or anything. I’m defending it because I identify.

2 Responses to “Rihanna Shoots Her Rapist in Music Video for “Man Down”: Tell Me Why We’re Mad?”

  1. shantel October 4, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    your ryt.having been in that position myself being raped at 12 years old and later as i grew up im now 19 iv wanted to kill the people who did it.and thats a normal reaction but its not the best.rihanna song is basicaly a message not to kill.they have the easy way out while you go to jail with both murder and rape hunting you

    • E. A. April 24, 2014 at 1:59 am #

      I agree, but isn’t it sad that as the victim, you’ll go to jail for murder, but before you killed your rapist (hypothetically), your rapist was free without consequence? 😦

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