Photo Credit: Youtube
Rihanna premiered the music video for her latest single "Man Down" on May 31 -- and now she's facing intense controversy for its graphic images of a premeditated murder in retaliation for a sexual assault. (Watch the video below.)
Filmed in Jamaica, the "Man Down" video opens with Rihanna shooting a man dead in a crowded train station for -- as we learn in flashback -- sexually assaulting her after a night out at a dance club.
In two consecutive tweets Wednesday, Rihanna, 23, insisted that the video's message was one of empowerment and self-awareness. "Young girls/women all over the world...we are a lot of things!" she wrote. "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."
However, representatives from the Parents Television Council and Industry Ears don't quite see it that way, and have reportedly petitioned to have BET, which debuted the clip, stop airing the video.
Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears, argued: "If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass." (Chris Brown, of course, famously assaulted Rihanna in 2009.)
Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council also slammed the video. "Instead of telling victims they should seek help," Henson says, "Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability."
Rihanna isn't taking this criticism lying down. She he has taken to her Twitter feed to retweet comments from her followers, many of whom are sharing their own stories of abuse or assault.
And, on Thursday, she lashed out at detractors with a series of exclamation-point-laden tweets of her own. "I'm a 23 year old rockstar 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. "Cuz we all know how difficult/embarrassing it is to communicate touchy subject matters to anyone especially our parents!"
She continued, "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!" Further emphasizing that she is not a parent, Rihanna closed out her argument with this tweet: "The music industry isn't exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US."
Whatever you think of the video -- and Rihanna's stance on its depiction of violence as justice -- this likely won't be the last time the singer is provocative. Music is a business, after all, and getting people to talk about your music -- even negatively -- is a way to drum up that eternally needed buzz factor. Well, Rihanna has surely done that with "Man Down."