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Rihanna's 'Man Down' Video: He Says, She Says

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RIHANNA

Paul Says...

It's not a great piece of music, but it does send a message... a strong one! Abusive men could pay the ultimate price.

R&B/hip-hop artist, Rihanna has released a new video that has media watchdogs screaming foul.

The title of the video is 'Man Down.' In it, a woman (Rihanna) approaches a man in a crowd, points a gun and shoots him in the back. With the man's body lying in a pool of blood, horrified on-lookers scatter for cover.

As the story unfolds, and the woman belts out a confession to her mother, we learn the motive for the shooting. Revenge. The man, apparently her boyfriend, had assaulted her the night before.

Shortly after "Man Down" premiered on Black Entertainment Television, the 'guardians of good' were all over it, demanding that BET pull it off the air.

One who sounded off was Paul Porter, former BET programmer and co-founder of Industry Ears. He described the video as "an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song." He said "I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in prime time."

I can only assume Mr. Porter doesn't watch a lot of television.

Personally, I didn't find the video all that shocking. But then again I've always believed that men who abuse women deserve what they get. While I don't condone vigilante justice (in most cases), I have little sympathy for bullying cowards who prey on the weak.

Abused women have every right to protect themselves when the system can't. Restraining orders don't stop bullets, deflect knives or fists.

Fortunately, most abusive men, like Rihanna's ex, rapper Chris Brown, get the message and stay away.

I see 'Man Down' as a heads up, a warning to all the heroes out there who take pleasure in slapping their women around. If you do it, you're taking a chance.

She may prefer to be tried by 12... than carried by six.

Carol says...

Believe me I wouldn't be holding any pity parties for an abusive spouse who meets a nasty end, but that's not the way we do things. We have laws that are there to punish the perpetrators and a system that is there to help rehabilitate them. For the most egregious of offenses, if the system does its job offenders won't be out on the streets for a very long time.

Obviously Rihanna knew this would get attention for her. Her history with Chris Brown guaranteed it.

This video has trivialized the situation some women have endured for years before they are pushed to the point of killing their partner. When their children are finally threatened, or a restraining order hasn't worked for the third time and they know the police won't be able to offer them full-time protection, their fear overcomes the reluctance to take the law into their own hands.

This may be a case of Rihanna working through some very difficult times and putting it to music. Artists often do that. It may be cathartic to envision your abuser dead. But, she sent out a tweet saying it would have a strong underlying message for girls like her.

What does that mean? Her character had regrets for killing him, or that killing him was the right thing to do? You may want to kill him, but don't? That was a cold-blooded premeditated murder when there was no threat against her. If that video were the whole story, the woman portrayed would end up behind bars.

With anger management, some abusers have changed their behaviour. Sometimes just being out of a relationship with a person who brings out the worst in you makes all the difference. So there are a number of steps in advance of killing the abuser. And when you leave, you don't go back like Rihanna did. There is a responsibility on the part of the abused to get out and stay out, as difficult as that may be.

To take a song like this (all of three minutes showing one instance of assault) and use it as an anthem for battered women is dangerous.

The debate continues....

Paul and Carol Mott can be heard discussing the issues weekdays from 11 a.m. until noon, streamed through their website www.themotts.ca.

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