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VIDEO: Rihanna Steps Up To Defend Man Down

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Jun. 3 2011, Published 8:45 a.m. ET

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By Adam S. Levy

Radar Staff Writer

When controversy comes calling, Rihanna’s not hiding under her umbrella.

The Barbadian beauty on Thursday night  called into BET's 106 & Park to discuss the hubbub swirling around her new video Man Down, in which she plays a rape victim who stalks, targets and eventually shoots her attacker.

"I didn't go into it to make a controversial video: I wanted to make a mini-movie -- something raw and artistic," the gorgeous singer said of the Anthony Mandler-directed clip.

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The 23-year-old S&M crooner, calling in from a rehearsal in Baltimore, shot back at criticism from the watchdog group, the Parents Television Council, who said in a statement that the video "gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability."

In response, Rihanna called her latest work "art with a message" and said that she's a voice for her fans, adding she's never one to "play it safe" in her art.

She described Man Down as "a song about a girl who has committed a murder that she regrets and is completely remorseful about," and that in "making that into a ... video, we had to go back and see why it happened.

“Obviously the character is not a cold-blooded killer. It has to be something ... and we decided to hone in on a very serious matter that people are afraid to address.”

The Grammy-winning singer, who was famously beaten by her ex boyfriend Chris Brown in February 2009, said she refuses to put a vanilla spin on serious issues.

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“Rape is happening all over the world, and right in our own home, and we continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen,” she said. “I personally don’t condone violence or murder -- I’ve been abused in the past, and you don’t see me running around killing people in my spare time -- I just want girls to be careful.

"Have fun, be flirtatious, be sassy, be innocent and sweet, be everything you are: But just try not to be naive."

The Umbrella singer said her message is "not coming from a parent, it's coming from a peer.

"And if I can be a voice for those who aren't heard, I win twice," she said. "Look at how the video is affecting people -- girls are empowered by this ... this is a story for them, it's not for the critics, it's for my fans.

"They need a voice sometimes, and if I can be that, then I've done my job."

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