Friday, June 3, 2011

Two media projects tackle problem of violence/abuse from different angles

If you peruse the latest in entertainment, popular culture and media news, you may find some information about two very intriguing projects, both of which deal with contemporary instances of violent behavior.

The first is "Man Down," R&B recording artist Rihanna's latest video, which premiered on BET Tuesday. It has, as its main "character," a young woman who takes revenge on her sexual abuser by shooting him in the head.

The second is "Beautiful Boy," an independent film opening in theaters today. It was directed by Shawn Ku and stars Maria Bello and Michael Sheen (no relation to Charlie "Bi-Winning" Sheen) as the parents of a young man who took his own life after going on a shooting spree at college (much like the two kids at Columbine High School). As an exploration of the subject of school shootings, this film is unique in that it deals with the subsequent struggles of the perpetrator's parents.

In numerous ways, these two projects are considerably different. One is very popular, the other is more on the fringe of popular media; one is primarily a music medium, the other is a feature-length film; one has aroused the concerns of parents, the other is likely to elicit empathy from parents. But both are relevant to two very pressing issues in our culture: media influence and violence (both in the case of Rihanna's video, the latter in the case of "Beautiful Boy").

I'm interested to know what people think. Does Rihanna's video go too far in dealing with a controversial issue? As for Beautiful Boy, should we be doing more to address the experience of parents -- of both victims and perpetrators -- when dealing with bullying and violence in the schools?

My information comes from two online articles -- one from the Associated Press and one from Reuter's.

Click here for the article on "Man Down."

Click here for the article on "Beautiful Boy."

"Beautiful Boy" Trailer

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