Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ video lands gunslinging singer, BET in hot water with advocacy groups

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Rihanna has found herself in the center of controversy again over one of her music videos.

Before premiering the video to her latest single, the reggae-tinged revenge ode “Man Down,” on BET’s ‘106 & Park’ on Tuesday, the singer took to Twitter to say it would have a ‘very strong underlying message 4 girls like me.’

It’s that message -- which shows her killing a man who’s assaulted her -- that has drawn the ire of a collective of advocacy groups that work, in part, to combat violent imagery in media.


The Parents Television Council, along with Industry Ears and the Enough Is Enough Campaign, joined together to “condemn” the video and urge Viacom, BET’s parent company, to pull it off the air.

In a statement, Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears and a former music programmer for BET, described ‘Man Down’ as ‘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.” The statement continued: “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.”

The clip begins with the singer shooting a man, who is shown dead in a pool of blood, before flashing back to the previous day, where she hung out with friends, went clubbing and on the way home was accosted in a dark alley by the same guy. It is implied that he sexually assaulted her.

Although the video easily conjures a rather gruesome narrative of revenge, and quick speculation that it was inspired by Brown’s assault on Rihanna, the council specifically blasted BET after it premiered the clip.

“ ‘Man Down’ is a clear violation of BET’s own programming guidelines shared with the public by Debra Lee, the chairman and CEO of BET Networks. I join with the Parents Television Council and Industry Ears in calling on Viacom executives to immediately pull the video from programs that are targeted to youth and teenagers,” said Pastor Delman Coates, founder of the Enough Is Enough Campaign.

BET previously banned Kanye West’s “Monster,” Ciara’s “Ride” and Teairra Mari’s “Sponsor.”


Despite Rihanna’s clip for “S&M” getting the ax in 11 countries, BET didn’t cut it -- though Lee said in a recent interview that the network was “working” with the singer on her videos. Though Rihanna didn’t address the fallout, she thanked fans for ‘getting’ the video.

‘Young girls/women all over the world...we are a lot of things! We’re strong innocent fun flirtatious vulnerable, and sometimes our innocence can cause us to be naïve! We always think it could NEVER be us, but in reality, it can happen to ANY of us! So ladies be careful and #listentoyomama! I love you and I care!,’ she wrote.

Watch the video below and tell us what you think:

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy / gerrickkennedy