LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A new Rihanna music video, in which the singer guns down a man in retaliation for an apparent sexual assault, was condemned on Wednesday for encouraging young women to turn to violence.
“Man Down”, which debuted on the Black Entertainment TV (BET) network on Tuesday, shows Rihanna firing in cold blood on an unarmed man at a rail station, and killing him.
The reggae style song by the 23 year-old R&B singer features the lyrics “Momma, I just shot a man dead...I never been so proud.”
Rihanna, herself the victim of a violent 2009 physical attack by her then boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, said in Twitter messages to her fans that the theme of the video was female empowerment.
“Young girls/women all over the world...we are a lot of things! We’re strong innocent fun flirtatious vulnerable, and sometimes our innocence can cause us to be naive! We always think it could NEVER be us, but in reality, it can happen to ANY of us! So ladies be careful,’ she wrote.
The Parents Television Council, the Enough is Enough campaign, and entertainment think tank Industry Ears called on BET and its parent company Viacom to stop airing the video.
“If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass,” said Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears, which campaigns against negative images in the media.
Porter said that in 30 years he had never witnessed “such a cold, calculated execution of murder in prime time.”
Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council said that “instead of telling victims they should seek help, Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability.”
BET and Viacom did not immediately return calls for comment on Wednesday.
“Man Down”, the latest single from Rihanna’s “Loud” album , was released last week.
Brown, 21, pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in February 2009, setting off a national debate about young, abusive relationships. He publicly apologized, underwent court-ordered domestic violence counseling and spent six months performing community service.
Rihanna has referenced domestic violence in several other hits, including her 2010 duet with Eminem “Love the Way You Lie”.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney