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Man Down! Is Rihanna’s New Music Video Too Violent?

“Inexcuseable.” “Perpetuating violence.” “Bad judgement.”

This is only some of the criticism Rihanna is facing from groups like the Parents Television Channel (PTC) and individuals such as radio show co-host Sarah Lee. But is Rihanna’s new video really too violent for today’s society?

The 23-year-old musician’s video for “Man Down,” released Tuesday, opens in a crowded train station. Rihanna is surveying the scene from above and as a man comes into view, she raises a handgun and pulls the trigger. The video later reveals that the man had sexually assaulted her the night before.

As part of its “Enough is Enough” anti-violence campaign, the PTC is speaking out against the video, aiming to have it taken down. The video, the group said in a news release, is “an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song” and “gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability.”

Rihanna has been defending her music video on Twitter since the controversy began, saying that she represents the voice of youth who may not be able to discuss touchy subjects with their parents, and criticizing those opposed for “turn[ing] the other cheek.”

“U can’t hide your kids from society, or they’ll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD!” Rihanna tweeted yesterday.

In a call with Black Entertainment Television (BET), the network that first ran her video, Rihanna explained what it seems like many may be overlooking — what the song is about.

“‘Man Down’ is a song about a girl who has committed a murder that she regrets and is completely remorseful about,” she said. “You hear her crying to her mama, saying why she did it. It could have been somebody’s son. She didn’t mean to hurt him.”

The song opens with, “I didn’t mean to end his life/I know it wasn’t right,” and later, “I didn’t mean to hurt him/Could’ve been somebody’s son/And I took his heart when/I pulled out that gun.”

Rihanna claims that her fans, particularly the young female population, are “empowered” by the video.

So does the “Man Down” video speak to the feminist cause, or is it going too far? View the video below to decide for yourself and sound off in the comments!

Alice is the Senior Associate Editor at Her Campus. She graduated from Emory University in 2012 as an English major and a Dance minor. Before joining Her Campus, she was an associate editor at Lucky Magazine. She is currently located in Salt Lake City, UT, where she spends her free time rescuing orphaned kittens, whose lives are documented on Instagram at @thekittensquad! You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @alicefchen.
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