By Jessica McCauley
There has been a lot of clamor over Rihanna’s Man Down video. The video begins with Rihanna appearing in a doorway of a bustling train station. Her eyes are downcast; her face heavy with consternation. Her hand extends out of the entryway and shoots a man walking past. The crowd scatters; the man lies dying alone as his blood expands around him. The video then rewinds to the previous morning and shows us a much different Rihanna: a carefree, joyous young woman greeting everyone she meets with smiles and affection. That evening at a night club, she meets the man whose life she will take. Rihanna says no to his continued advances, and as she walks home, she becomes the victim and he the perpetrator. After this act of sexual violence, Rihanna runs home and finds the handgun in her bottom drawer.
Rihanna leaves a lot for us to infer.
The lyrics are saturated with remorse. They express a reaction based on emotion, and disbelief about what has occurred. Overnight we see her life, and his, turned upside down. Rihanna sings about how she will now need to run away and leave perhaps the only home she has known. Does this glorify violence, as some suggest, or does it depict a cycle?