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The GEM Debate: Is Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ Video Suitable For Kids?

Rihanna - Man Down

You gotta give credit where credit is due; the woman sure knows how to push buttons.

As you may have heard, Rihanna is out with a catchy new song and a shocking video to go with it. ‘Man Down’ debuted last night on BET and features Rihanna shooting a man in cold blood after he sexually assaults her.

As you can imagine the clip’s been met with a predictable response. The Parent’s Television Council howled outrage as did former BET music programmer Paul Porter. But are they missing the forest for the trees? Here’s the video and a heads up it IS graphic.


So here’s my take…

I really like Rihanna; her voice and funky sense of style appeal to me. But I’ll be the first to admit some of the things she sings about give me cause for pause and make me feel as though I’m condoning the lyrics because I’m bee-bopping along with her. But surely I can’t be the only person who wondered why, as perhaps one of the most famous domestic abuse victims in the world, RiRi would team with Eminem for a duet about domestic violence? Is it part of her healing? Is it exploitation? And now, here’s another layer with Man Down.

Now, I’m gonna be honest with you, I’ve very conflicted about this video. I don’t think the answer to violence is more violence. But when I watch the video, as Rihanna sings about the day before her attack, walking through the street with her cute outfit and carefree attitude, I can’t help but see my daughter. And God forbid she fall victim to violence! I can tell you it would take a Herculean effort and the grace of God for me NOT to take matters into my own hands if someone, in search of their own pleasure, stole my kid’s innocence. But should this be seen on TV?

My feeling is this. Man Down aired at night and on cable and yes, that does make a difference. But you know what? I WANT my daughter to see this video. Not to scare her but to make her aware. Rihanna tweeted her followers after it aired, with this warning, “We always think it could NEVER be us but in reality, it can happen to any of us.” And she’s right. If this video brings awareness to that fact, is it not worth some outrage?

Okay, time to debate. Do you think Rihanna’s video, Man Down, goes too far? Would you let your kids, your daughter, watch it? What would your cut-off age be?

Sound off!



  1. Nat

    June 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I hope it plays. It tells a story, unlike most videos.

  2. Devessel

    June 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve watched the video, and re-read your post. I’m curious as to where, specifically, the outrage is being laid: upon the artist? That’s interesting. In a society where the head of an international financial NGO has recently had to step down due to assault allegations? Was it really cold blood? Like Nat states, it tells a story. Much of the other songs and videos out there can barely say the same. To me, it’s an important, and very real story worthy of discussion.

  3. Carrie

    June 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I personally don’t think any music viedo’s are good for kids.

  4. m.e. johnson

    June 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I agree with the posters. Children witness and sometimes suffer shots/death for a lot less. Not just in ‘the ghetto’ either. And I think there is no age limit. Up to about age 3, children won’t understand it or even care. Children 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 on up ARE being raped (well, babies too even). Maybe if some young boys see it, they’ll get the message.

    There is one problem, the same as when the death penalty for rape was suggested: Rapists will kill their victims more often.

  5. Kimberly Lewis

    June 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Here it is from my perspective: Rihanna is intentionally seductive, deliberately sensuous, and always invitingly ‘taunting’ throughout the video. No one deserves to be raped!!! But the ‘appearance’ of her being overly sexy in this video raises a lot of questions. In the end, she does shoot her offender down- only after her ‘seductivness’ has been violated. Your question: Is it appropriate for children to view? My answer is absolutely NOT- but you already KNOW that the kids today will find a way to access it anyway. SMH.

  6. Irene

    June 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    whoa…I have to think about this one…she is so talented but….I don’t want my kids seeing this even the ones a little older.

  7. DawnKA

    June 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I think it’s an exploitation of this serious matter as it relates to many. The video is obviously made to tell a story in a sort of sympathetic yet empowering sort of way. I give it a thumbs down as it seems that Rihanna is now trying to be the spokeswoman through her videos but the messages are not helpful at all (or perhaps lost in translation).

  8. MzMomie

    June 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I have to agree with Kimberly Lewis (reviewer #5). First of all, NO ONE deserves to be raped or assaulted. It is a complete violation that SHOULD be punished but I guess the outrage is coming because she took it in her own hands instead of showing the police being involved. . . . .

    But I do know that when you are “intentionally seductive” and “teasing” in a very overtly sexual nature, it will draw the wrong person to you and a lot of young girls try to emulate people like Rhianna and they don’t realize that there are men out there who see it as invitation and if they aren’t willing to give “it” up those men will try and take it. So, I think the real message here is be very careful about how you come across and portray yourself because you never know who is watching and waiting. . . although I suppose a true predator could careless to how you dress or act.

    Not a big fan of Rhianna’s but I think the provactive nature of her video opens up a much needed dialogue.

  9. Eric Ayers

    June 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Great post. I’m not the biggest Rhiana fan, but I actually think this is one of the few times the music video will help families. This is a good discussion point for teens, boys and girls. Should be late night viewing though.

  10. Tania

    June 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I’m not a Rihanna fan. Actually, I could careless about her. With that said, I would let my teen look at this. It sends out a warning not just to girls of what could happen but to the boys too. Yea, she’s sexy, girating and all that jazz but no means no and there’s a consequence to violating my personal space.

  11. Polly Kahl

    June 2, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I’m conpletely turned off on her at this popint. The words to her song S&M were the final straw for me.
    I feel it’s irresponsible in any case because of course young (and even not so young) girls want to be just like her, and more so because she was a domestic violence victim. She’s participating in normalizing this crap in our society. She’s beautiful and talented but she’s like a standup comic who only knows how to get laughs by using bad language. It’s a real shame after Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly magazine named Disturbia as the best song of 2009. I’ve lost all respect for her as an artist.

  12. Jacki Marie

    June 2, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    You asked, is it appropriate for kids? My answer in one word–no. I have the kind of my relationship with my daughters that would make this video a conversation starter.But then the youngest of the three is 18, so they aren’t kids anymore.
    I don’t think my boys(12 and 15) are interested in or have seen her music videos, but I wouldn’t want them to. I’ll have to ask them now, of course. This would definitely give us something to talk about and give me an opportunity to teach. I wouldn’t deliberately show them at this point.
    The bottom line is, whatever you think about Rihanna and others who create this type of controversy, they do it for one purpose… to sell records. We could debate about the appropriateness and domestic violence etc… but I think this is simple. As for me and my kids, we have a choice.

  13. Amanda

    June 2, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    I normally don’t like Rihanna at all, but this video is interesting. I’m not sure why it’s inherently inappropriate since I’ve seen worse on shows like CSI. Is it because she’s an “idol” because I can think of a million celebrities that are better role models than Rihanna. I also don’t find it particularly surprising of Rihanna, seeing the content of the rest of her songs.

    Also, just noting some of my fellow commenters are saying no one deserves to be raped, but well Rihanna IS being seductive. In my opinion, she’s not being overtly sexual. She didn’t do anything in the video that I didn’t see at my high school prom (well besides kill a man, but, you know, at the party). And I think that saying that no one deserves to be raped but she’s being too sexy is kind of contradictory. (No disrespect to anyone! Just my opinion!)

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