Did Rihanna miss the mark with her latest music video?
The Parents Television Council believes so, condemning the R&B artist for her recent “Man Down” video, where the singer is shown committing premeditated murder to retaliate against a man for sexually assaulting her.
Joining hands with Industry Ears and the Enough Is Enough Campaign, the PTC is calling on Viacom to stop airing the video, which premiered on BET’s “106 & Park” on May 31.
In a statement, Paul Porter, the co-founder of Industry Ears and a former voice of BET, said, “‘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,” he added.
Further fueling the criticism from the media watchdog group, Rihanna told her Twitter fans that the video contained a “very strong underlying message 4 girls like [her].”
“A graphic portrayal of the singer getting back at an attacker by shooting him in cold blood in a crowded train station and then fleeing the scene is potentially the worst possible message that could be sent,” Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the PTC, expressed.
With what appears to be lyrics resonating close to home, “Man Down” follows the story of a woman who was assaulted by a man she met at a club, whom she later gunned down in public.
“What started as a simple altercation, turned into a real sticky situation. Me just thinking on the time that I’m facing makes me want to cry,” the lyrics read. “I didn’t mean to lay him down, but it’s too late to turn back now.”
The Grammy Award winner was herself, a past victim of domestic violence. Back in 2009, news of her physical assault from then boyfriend Chris Brown surfaced just after her scheduled performance at the Grammy Awards was canceled. A leaked photo obtained by TMZ revealed that she had sustained visible injuries.
Brown, who was charged with assault and making criminal threats, pled guilty to the felony assault and received five years’ probation, ordered to stay 50 yards away from the singer.
Two years later, Henson stated that instead of using her celebrity to send an important message to female victims of rape and domestic violence, Rihanna releases a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability.
“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,” Porter further noted.
Additionally, Pastor Delman Coates, founder of the Enough Is Enough Campaign, pointed out that “Man Down” was also in clear violation of BET’s own programming guidelines shared with the public by Debra Lee, the chairman and CEO of BET Networks who had previously rejected Rihanna’s “S&M” clip for being too raunchy.
“We’ve gotten more strict on what we allow on air,” the CEO told FOX Business. “We used to live by broadcast standards, but as the hip-hop industry got a little more risqué we actually had to bring that back some and say just because it can be on the air doesn’t mean it has to be on the air.”
In regards to BET’s decision to decline airing Rihanna’s “S&M” video, Lee commented, “Rihanna, we’ve been working with. And that sort of amazed me a little bit, that I had to say ‘no’ to women, but someone had to be the grown-up in the room. I didn’t ask for that job but someone had to say ‘no’ in looking at it from our young audience’s perspective.”
Holding the BET accountable for their own selective broadcast decisions, Coates joined the PTC and Industry Ears in calling on Viacom executives to immediately pull the video from programs that were targeted to youth and teenagers.
“Once again BET has chosen the low road over the high road,” Coates added. “Violence is a pervasive problem in all corners of our society and today’s youth need more positive strategies for dealing with conflict that those portrayed in the Rihanna video.”
“No one questions that female pop stars can be profoundly influential in the lives of young girls,” Henson also stressed. “A new study in the Journal of Children and Media serves to further underscore that point, especially among girls [from] ages nine to 11. We call on Viacom to immediately stop airing the video.”
The PTC, Industry Ears, and The Enough Is Enough Campaign all work to curb the flow of negative and harmful messages targeted to children, individuals, and communities alike.