The singer said she didn’t set out to create controversy but isn’t surprised that a trio of advocacy groups have attacked the clip, which shows her shooting a man who has sexually assaulted her.
VIDEO: Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ Video Called ‘Inexcusable’ by Parents Group
“Rape is, unfortunately, happening all over the world and in our own homes and we continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen,” Rihanna said. “Boys and girls feel compelled to be embarrassed about it, and they hide it from everyone, including their teachers, their parents, and their friends. That only continues to empower the abusers.”
She pointed out that the song’s lyrics show that her character is remorseful about the killing. However, the lyrics don’t mention a rape, but Rihanna said that part was added to the video to flesh out the story.
“Making that into a mini-movie or video, we needed to go back to why it happened,” she said. “Obviously she’s not a cold-blooded killer. It had to be something so offensive. And we decided to hone in on a very serious matter that people are afraid to address, especially if you’ve been victimized in this scenario.”
Rihanna — whose ex, Chris Brown, pleaded guilty to felony assault against her almost two years ago — added that she doesn’t condone violence or murder.
“I’ve been abused in the past, and you don’t see me running around killing people in my spare time,” she said. “I just really want girls to be careful. Have fun, be sassy, be innocent and sweet, be everything that you are. But just try not to be naive.”
The video debuted on 106 & Park on Tuesday. The next day, the Parents Television Council, Industry Ears and the Enough Is Enough Campaign teamed up to “condemn” the video because of its violent imagery. They urged BET parent company Viacom to yank it from the air.
Paul Porter, co-founder of Industry Ears and a former music programmer for BET, in a statement called the video “an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song.”
BET responded in a statement Thursday: “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. At the same time, it is clear that the ‘Man Down’ video has sparked a passionate dialogue and we will continue this conversation with our audience tonight on 106 & Park.”
Rihanna also defended the video on Twitter earlier in the day: “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! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US. U can’t hide your kids from society, or they’ll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD.”