In the video for “Man Down,” which premiered on the BET network this week, the popular songstress is involved in an implied rape scene with a man she later guns down in an act of premeditated murder, and then flees the scene.
However, the Parents Television Council (PTC) has joined forces with the Industry Ears and the Enough Is Enough Campaign to publicly denounce the video, and the groups are urgently calling on BET’s parent company Viacom to stop airing it.
“‘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,” Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears and a former voice of BET, said in a statement. “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.”
Viacom/BET did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Adding fuel to the fire, the 23-year-old music star even tweeted to her 5.5 million followers this week that the explicit video contained, "a very strong underlying message 4 girls like me."
But Melissa Henson, Director of Communications and Public Education for the PTC, said that the graphic portrayal of Rihanna seeking revenge on an attacker by murdering him in cold blood is far from an empowering or appropriate message to be sending to young, impressionable audiences.
“Once again BET has chosen the low road over the high road. Violence is a pervasive problem in all corners of our society and today’s youth need more positive strategies for dealing with conflict than those portrayed in the Rihanna video,” Henson explained. “This video is one among several frequently played on Viacom music video networks that lyrically or graphically glorifies violence and other behavior inappropriate for teens and youth.”
Relationship coach Marc Rudov, founder of TheNoNonsenseMan.com, was also appalled by the “reprehensible video of gratuitous, confessed murder,” but indicated that it is yet another example of Hollywood’s double standard.
“She sings that she killed a man when she ‘lost her cool’ because ‘he was playing her for a fool.’ This garbage from the same woman who publicly bragged to Rolling Stone recently that she likes to be spanked and tied up,” he told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “Rihanna gets to have it both ways – accuse Chris Brown of domestic violence and be violent herself – because she's a woman.”
However, not everyone is outraged by the video.
“Rihanna is able to take a stance through her music and speak to social injustices or things that just flat out disgust her. In this new video, she channels her anger at a rapist, which for a lot of women is empowering,” said Los Angeles-based entertainment expert Kelley Carter. “I don't think that Rihanna is advocating murder, I do think that she is saying it's time for women to speak up and out against abuse targeted towards women. Should she be under fire right now? No. The most important thing this new video does it that it has opened a dialogue, and that's not a bad thing in my book.”