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Parents Television Council and others blast Rihanna, BET

Msnbc contributor Melissa Harris-Perry shares her thoughts on the criticism surrounding the violence featured in the new 'Mad Down' video.

The Parents Television Council, a group that often takes exception with what its members consider irresponsible entertainment on the small screen, has joined forces with other groups to take aim at singer Rihanna and cable network BET over a violent new video from the recording artist.

Rihanna’s “Man Down” video premiered on BET’s “106 & Park” on Tuesday. The clip opens with a scene in which the singer is shown shooting an unarmed man in the back of the head in a public place. As the song and story unfold, it becomes clear that Rihanna’s in-video character committed the act only after being sexually assaulted by the same man.

“Rihanna’s personal story and status as a celebrity superstar provided a golden opportunity for the singer to send an important message to female victims of rape and domestic violence,” Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the PTC, said in a statement featured on the group’s website. “Instead of telling victims they should seek help, Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability. The message of the disturbing video could not be more off base.”

Co-founder of media watchdog group Industry Ears, Paul Porter, who once served as a BET programming director, agreed with the PTC’s stance.

“ ‘Man Down’ is an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song,” Porter explained in the same press release. “In my 30 years of viewing BET, I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in primetime. (BET parent company) Viacom’s standards and practices department has reached another new low.”

Joining Porter and Henson in the criticism is Enough is Enough Campaign founder Delman Coates.

“Once again BET has chosen the low road over the high road,” Coates said of the controversy. “ Violence is a pervasive problem in all corners of our society and today’s youth need more positive strategies for dealing with conflict than those portrayed in the Rihanna video. This video is one among several frequently played on Viacom music video networks that lyrically or graphically glorifies violence and other behavior inappropriate for teens and youth.”

On Thursday, the singer responded to the criticism. "I'm a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What's up with everybody wantin me to be a parent?" she tweeted. "U can't hide your kids from society,or they'll never learn how to adapt!This is the REAL WORLD!"

Rihanna then went on to defend the music business. "The music industry isn't exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US," she tweeted.

What do you think? Does the video cross the line, or are the groups simply overreacting to the scenes? Tell us on Facebook.

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