Rihanna's "Man Down" Video, and the Irrelevance of the Parents Television Council

A couple days ago, Rihanna released the music video for her latest single, “Man Down,” a pop-reggae song that tells the story of a young woman’s guilt and regret after murdering a man that deeply wronged her. Check out the video below.

The cinematic clip fleshes out the song’s storyline, conveying that the root of her actions is a harrowing sexual assault in an alley after a house party. The video is expertly directed and paced for maximum impact; Rihanna is effervescent and gorgeous, interacting with friends and neighbors in her small, island town. She is innocently enjoying her life until tragedy literally emerges from out of the darkness and forces itself upon her, utterly breaking her spirit.

“Man Down” is a heartbreaking, complicated and brilliant music video.

And so of course the Parents Television Council and other useless, opportunistic, media-watchdog groups are “pissed.” Go figure.

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way": The Review

Lady Gaga’s second full-length album Born This Way opens with “Marry The Night,” one of the most epic pop songs you will ever hear. Clearly aimed to kickstart the album with the kind of massive statement MJ nailed with Thiller‘s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Marry The Night” opens with somber church organ and decidedly pensive vocals before erupting into a blast of synths, and never lets up. It sounds like classic Whitney Houston produced by Max Martin, and it is arguably the best song Lady Gaga has ever released. It’s that good.

Born This Way should crumble under the weight of such a masterful opening salvo (not to mention unbelievable hype), but it doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

Lauryn Hill Plays Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Lauryn Hill shows up in the darnedest places these days.

Out of absolutely nowhere, Ms. Hill appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and performed not once but twice with her current touring band. Decked out in a flowing and (very) colorful outfit, Lauryn performed two exquisite covers Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” and “Chances Are.” You can view those performances here and here.

Tyler Perry Is Full Of Sh*t….

This past week, at a press conference regarding his latest Madea flick, Tyler Perry told Spike Lee to go straight to hell. Clearly fed up with discussion of Lee’s comments a few years ago regarding the “coonery and baffoonery” that is Tyler Perry’s film career, Mr. Madea finally took a stand:

“Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that. I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, ‘this is a coon, this is a buffoon.’ I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: ‘you vote by what you see,’ as if black people don’t know what they want to see.”

Now Perry actually has a point here. To somehow frame his work as “the problem” is actually condescending to his audience. People pay money to see what they want to see. End of story.

But then Perry went too far.

“Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois went through the exact same thing; Langston Hughes said that Zora Neale Hurston, the woman who wrote ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’ was a new version of the ‘darkie’ because she spoke in a southern dialect and a Southern tone…”

Ummm…no.