Man Down: The Many Sides of Rihanna
Earlier this year, singer Rihanna released her new fragrance, Reb’l Fleur, creating a stir with a novel online advertisement.
The embedded ad is known as an interactive palindrome, requiring the viewer to pull Rihanna along in one direction or another, as she acts out in pre-determined ways, according to your whims. Depending on the direction you move her, Rihanna can appear soft and sensuously inviting, or dark and mysterious, albeit forbidden.
What is even more unique, is that the palindrome’s soundtrack never loses rhythm as it is played, melodically, in all directions. Everyone who hears it has their own opinion, their own favorite part of the song.
It’s been little more than two years since Chris Brown was arrested for assaulting Rihanna, sparking open discussion on domestic violence and messages played out in music. The effects of the beating still linger on talk shows, morning news channels, and in the music world, haunting Brown recently as he angrily attempted to get the subject dropped during a new album release.
Even after photos were released of a badly beaten Rihanna, some spoke out against the singer, suggesting that perhaps she had done something to deserve it, had provoked Brown in some way. Many applauded Rihanna’s strength, as she recovered her life and career.
The newly red-headed singer was the center of yet another controversy just last week, and many had no difficulty thinking, once again, about Rihanna’s rocky relationship with Brown, violence against women, and how to properly express important messages through music-related media.
Rihanna’s reggae-themed song “Man Down” began fanning the flames of discourse, as it played out the melodic story of a woman dealing with both her guilt and the consequences of having shot a man in cold blood. Her follow-up music video caused an unexpected explosion.
The video begins with Rihanna’s character drawing a gun on an unarmed man walking in a crowd, and shooting him in the back of the head. From the dying man lying in a pool of blood, we are brought through the days before the murder, with the woman happy, playful, carefree. A night of dancing in a local nightclub leads to a chance encounter with a man who, we learn from the video, simply can’t take no for an answer.
After Rihanna’s character leaves the club, the man follows her, and through the video it is implied that he sexually assaults her, changing her forever. The retaliatory shooting, although not entirely impulsive, can be seen as the act of a woman who has been left emotionally damaged. Click to watch Man Down VideoContinued on the next page