*The director of Rihanna’s controversial new video “Man Down” is refusing to apologize for depicting the singer shooting a man who sexually assaults her.
“It’s doing exactly what Rihanna and I hoped it would do, which is shine a light on the very dark subject matter,” Anthony Mandler tells The Hollywood Reporter in his first interview since watchdog groups called for the clip to be banned from BET.
After debuting last week, the video has been viewed on YouTube more than 12 million times, with many taking sides on whether it promotes violence or addresses the issue of abuse against women.
Mandler, 38, describes the outrage as “knee-jerk” and says it’s been too long since videos like Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” and Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” routinely tackled social issues.
“This medium used to be a great medium of messages,” says Mandler, a veteran video director (Usher’s “OMG,” Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up,” Christina Aguilera’s “You Lost Me”) who is also attached to helm the Zac Efron vehicle “Die in a Gunfight” for MRC and a Dracula origin story at Summit. “I grew up in the era of Madonna releasing videos and sparking controversy. I think most people are wasting this medium.”
Watching the video, some might wonder the fuss is all about it. It’s not bloody or gory, and the assault is left to the imagination. Mandler says he and Rihanna purposely held back so people wouldn’t overreact.
“The fact that there’s an argument to ban this because this will make girls retaliate from abuse with murder is skipping over the point,” he says. “We obviously have a huge issue to deal with as a country.”