By Akiba Solomon | Colorlines
Nowadays, when I see the phrase “the controversy over” connected to a black pop culture moment, I tend to tune it out. Too often, the outcry smacks of Christian morality, bougie* respectability politics (“See, now this is what’s wrong with our community…”), and empty role model talk.
Plus, a lot of folks don’t closely watch or listen to what they’re critiquing.
Such is the case, I believe, with the video for Rihanna’s latest Loud single, “Man Down.” The video begins with a tense Rihanna perched in the upper balcony of a crowded train station. When she spots a tall man with a “buck 50” scar on his cheek (in this context, visual code for “badman” or gangsta) she shoots him in the back of the head then winces. Toward the end of the clip, we learn why the tearful singer “shot a man down, in Central Station, in front of a big old crowd”: Because the night before, at a sweaty dancehall, she sets physical limits with him and he retaliates by following her home and raping her.
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