“I’m a 23 year old rock star with NO KIDS! What’s up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I’m just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!” she wrote on Thursday. “Cuz we all know how difficult/embarrassing it is to communicate touchy subject matters to anyone especially our parents! And this is why! … Cuz we turn the other cheek! U can’t hide your kids from society, or they’ll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD! … The music industry isn’t exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! It’s your job to make sure they don’t turn out like US.”
The PTC took issue with the opening scene in the video, in which Rihanna is shown shooting an unarmed man in the back of the head in the middle of a crowded train station. Viewers later learn that the act was in retaliation for a previous sexual assault.
The PTC, the Enough Is Enough campaign and the entertainment think tank Industry Ears released a statement on Wednesday condemning the video for what the group said was an apparent enticement to young women to turn to violence.
” ‘Man Down’ is an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song,” said Industry Ears co-founder Paul Porter.
The PTC lamented that Rihanna had a “golden opportunity” to use her celebrity status to send an important message to young girls and victims of rape and domestic violence with the clip, but had missed the mark. “Instead of telling victims they should seek help, Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability,” said the PTC’s Melissa Henson.
The singer later pleaded with her fans to stop making threats against members of the PTC, writing, “We love it, they don’t … that is all, and the world keeps turning.”
She also called in to the BET show “106 & Park” on Thursday night to defend the clip, saying she didn’t set out to spark any controversy, but isn’t surprised she did.
“Rape is, unfortunately, happening all over the world and in our own homes, and we continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen,” Rihanna said. “Boys and girls feel compelled to be embarrassed about it and hide it from everyone, including their teachers, their parents and their friends. That only continues to empower the abusers.”
She noted that the song’s lyrics clearly express the character’s regret over her actions, and while the song doesn’t mention rape, that was added to the video to make the story more complete. “Making that into a mini-movie or video, we needed to go back to why it happened,” she explained. “Obviously, she’s not a cold-blooded killer. It had to be something so offensive. And we decided to hone in on a very serious matter that people are afraid to address, especially if you’ve been victimized in this scenario.”
Though she has been a victim of domestic violence — her ex, singer Chris Brown, pleaded guilty to felony assault against her in 2009 — Rihanna said she does not condone violence or murder. “I’ve been abused in the past, and you don’t see me running around killing people in my spare time,” she said. “I just really want girls to be careful. Have fun, be sassy, be innocent, be sweet, be everything that you are. But just try not to be naive. That’s not coming from a parent but from a peer.”
The video debuted on “106 & Park” on Tuesday and after the PTC demanded it be taken off the air by BET, the network released a statement on Thursday in response to the controversy. “BET Networks has a comprehensive set of standards and guidelines that are applied to all of our content. The Rihanna ‘Man Down’ video complied with these guidelines and was approved for air. At the same time, it is clear that the ‘Man Down’ video has sparked a passionate dialogue and we will continue this conversation with our audience tonight on ’106 & Park.’ ”
MTV has not aired “Man Down,” and a spokesperson said the network is currently in the process of reviewing the video.
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