Rihanna's "Man Down" video gets advocacy groups riled up

Rihanna performs during the 2011 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena May 22, 2011, in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ABC
Rihanna, May 22, 2011, in Las Vegas.
Getty

(CBS) In the opening scene of Rihanna's "Man Down" video, she shoots and kills a man. By the end of the clip, we see that this man had sexually assaulted her.

Pictures: Rihanna

(Scroll down to watch the video.)

Rihanna's no stranger to controversy and this video has generated plenty of it. The L.A. Times reports, "[t]he 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 reacting to the violent content, Industry Ears said,

"If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop," said Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears and a former voice of BET, in a news release. "Rihanna should not get a pass and BET should know better. The video is far from broadcast worthy."

Of course, Chris Brown has a criminal record for assault. As far as we know, Rihanna doesn't. (He pleaded guilty in 2009 to felony assault against Rihanna. The two had been dating at the time of the incident.)

One would think groups would be upset because "Man Down" isn't a better song; the music is derivative and uninspired, the vocal is auto-tuned and the message, such as it is, is ambivalent at best (if she didn't mean to end his life, why shoot him?).

But this is more important: Rihanna's been the victim of assault by someone close to her. Isn't it a little much to condemn her for a music video - which is fiction and, more importantly, a music video - in which a character she plays kills a man for assaulting her?

On her Twitter page shortly before the video's premiere, Rihanna wrote, "ManDownTOMORROW on @BET @106andpark its #Gritty #GULLY #Emotional #JAMRock Very strong underlying message 4 girls like me! #listentoyomama"

What do you think of the video and its message? Let us know in the comments.