Before the “Man Down” video was even released, its director teased that his latest collaboration with Rihanna was bound to “flip people’s minds.” Anthony Mandler wasn’t wrong.
“Man Down,” which depicts Rihanna shooting a man in the head as retaliation for sexual assault, elicited an incredibly visceral from some camps, who said the clip glamorizes violence.
“It’s doing exactly what Rihanna and I hoped it would do, which is shine a light on the very dark subject matter,” Mandler told The Hollywood Reporter.
He explained that the video harks back to the ’80s and ’90s, when most videos had a message, and said that the reaction to the video has been “knee-jerk.”
“The fact that there’s an argument to ban this because this will make girls retaliate from abuse with murder is skipping over the point,” he added. “We obviously have a huge issue to deal with as a country.”
While some are criticizing the videos, others have come to the defense of Rihanna’s message . “It strikes me first and foremost that she is working out personal issues through her art,” said Terry O’Neill, national president of the National Organization for Women.
But, the response is still very much split. “One of the main messages it leaves you with is violence breeds more violence and everyone can see that and also detect some problems with that,” said Stephanie Nilva, executive director of Day One, a New York organization focused on teen relationship abuse. “I respect the fact that Rihanna is trying to draw attention to these issues, but I don’t think viewers are necessarily getting healthy messages from it.”