Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rihanna's 'Man Down' Video Controversy

I love that the some groups are up in arms about Rihanna's "Man Down" video. The idea of course is that teens aren't able to look at a music video and understand it's artistic expression. Or as The Parents Television Council said, "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." I know I've always had a hard time making a distinction between music videos and reality. Imagine my shock when it turned out Aqua wasn't a barbie girl and we didn't live in a barbie world.

I'm actually more surprised about the message of the song. A video just going along with the lyrics could have been really different, but it's obvious Rihanna and the director decided to do something with more meaning. Plus, the way Rihanna handled the faux-outrage was spot on.

What Rihanna had to say about the brouhaha:
“‘Man Down’ is a song about a girl who has committed a murder that she regrets and is completely remorseful about … Making that into a mini-movie or a video, we needed to go back to why it happened. Obviously, she’s not a cold-blooded killer. It has to be something so offensive. And we decided to hone in on a very serious matter that people are afraid to address.

“Rape is, unfortunately, happening all over the world and right in our own homes. We can continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen. Girls and boys feel compelled to be embarrassed about it and hide it from everyone, including their teachers, their parents and their friends, and that only continues to empower the abuser.

“I personally don’t 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. I just want girls to be careful.”

Rihanna said she wasn’t trying to stir up trouble with the violent storyline: “I didn’t go into it to make a controversial video. I wanted to make a mini-movie, something raw and artistic. If I can be a voice for so many that aren’t heard, then I win twice.

“Look at how it’s affecting people,” she explained. “Girls are empowered by this. It’s easy to turn it into something negative, but I’m just really impressed that my fans get it. That was really important to me. This is a story for them. It’s not for the critics. It’s for my fans. They need a voice sometimes, and if I can be that, then I’ve done my job.”
I also don't see how this video is any different from "Janie's Got A Gun," "Goodbye Earl" or quite a few Johnny Cash songs.

In the end this whole thing is kind of like the "Love the Way you Lie" video. Just because you talk or depict a subject doesn't mean you're condoning it or glamorizing it. So two thumbs up from me. If you think it's too violent for your children then turn off the tv. Or better yet, you can use it as a starting point to talk about rape and violence.

1 comment:

  1. Or, Jimi .

    But, the main difference between anything Johny Cash and Hendrix did, was they killed their woman. Those Jezebels, The Dixie Chicks, and now Rihianna, killed a man!

    Seriously, it kind of looked like the guy got what he deserved. The rape seemed as violent as the shooting.


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