Rihanna: Role Model or Not for Kids?

Family Matters on 06.03.11
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Image Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The video for Rihanna's latest single is sending shock waves throughout the parenting community. TMZ is reporting that the Parents Television Council is lashing out at the singer for the violent images portrayed in her music video for her song Man Down.  The video sports a murder-for-revenge plot.

TMZ goes on to dish that Rihanna defended herself and her video in a series of tweets: "I'm a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What's up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I'm just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!" "We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US."  "U can't hide your kids from society, or they'll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD."

When I first read this, I bristled. Of course it's her job to be a role model to her young fans. If they're listening, then she has a responsibility to them to make good music they can continue to enjoy, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I began to change my stance.

First, who says she's a role model? She's never claimed to be. Rihanna doesn't make children's music, and she didn't come up within the Disney ranks. Let's keep in mind that this is the same artist who has recorded songs titled Good Girl Gone Bad, Russian Roulette, S & M, and There's a Thug in My Life. Her music is directed toward pop and R&B audiences, but so is Eminem's music. And no one is accusing him of not being a good role model.

Second, it's our job to determine what movies our children see, what TV shows they watch, and what books they read. The same should be said for the music they listen to. Of course, children will always be exposed to images they shouldn't see, and when that happens, it's our job to explain to them what they saw and why it's wrong.

What do you think? Does Rihanna have a right to make any music she wants, without taking into consideration who's listening? Or should she cater to her younger fans and only make music for them, even if she loses her older audience in the process?

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