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article imageBET continues to air violent Rihanna video, 'Man Down'

By Melissa Hayes     Jun 4, 2011 in Entertainment
Despite growing pressure from protest groups, Black Entertainment Television (BET) has chosen to keep a highly controversial Rihanna video in rotation. The artist claims the video's aim is to empower women.
“Man Down” premiered May 31 on the station’s countdown show 106 & Park, and has since caused an uproar among groups advocating against violent imagery in the media.
The latest release from the R & B singer’s album Loud, the five minute and 40-second video opens with the 23-year-old publicly shooting and killing a man who is later revealed to have sexually assaulted her.
Upon airing, The Parents Television Council (PTC) immediately pushed for the video’s removal, calling the graphic nature of the clip “disturbing,” the Associated Press reported.
The Industry Ears and Enough is Enough Campaign have followed suit, with the former’s co-founder Paul Porter—who previously worked with BET as a music programmer—describing the video as “an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song, ” as quoted in the Los Angeles Times.
“In my 30 years viewing BET, I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in prime time,” said Porter.
BET responded to the criticisms June 2, announcing in a statement to TMZ the station has no plans to pull the video.
"BET Networks has a comprehensive set of standards and guidelines that are applied to all of our content. The Rihanna 'Man Down' video complied with these guidelines and was approved for air," a rep for the company said.
Rihanna herself has taken to Twitter in response.
"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!” the singer tweeted, later directly addressing parents. "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 don’t turn out like US."
The Grammy Award winner also called into 106 & Park to defend her work, calling it “art with a message” and empowering.
“Rape is happening all over the world and we continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen,” Rihanna said in the phone call.
PTC director of communications and public education Melissa Henson said she doesn’t see how such a message is sent through violence.
“Where is the female empowerment in the video? It only comes from the point of a gun? I don’t think so,” Henson said in the Times.
This is not the first time Rihanna’s work has raised eyebrows. Her sexually-charged "S&M" video was deemed ‘too explicit for daytime broadcast’ in May and the singer’s collaboration with Eminem in "Love the Way You Lie"—a track that explores domestic violence—provoked similar reactions in 2010.
More about Bet, Rihanna, Violence, Rape, Parents television council
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