VIDEO DEBUT FOR RIHANNA’S NEW SINGLE “S & M”
Rihanna’s video for her new single S & M debuted today, and already the blogosphere is throbbing with a wide range of reactions from praise and excitement to shock and disgust. I personally love the video. It is like moving pop art, raw and flirty with just the right amount of nasty. Rihanna’s signature red hair is crimped and teased out, making her look so similar to Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture show that I feel the look must be an homage to the cult classic.
And who is that dressed just like the leather clad star of Rocky Horror, Dr. Frank-N-Furter? Why it is none other than drag queen extraordinaire Morgan McMichaels from Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 2! You can see her clearly at mark 1:40. Being an avid fan of Rupaul’s Drag Race, especially of the stunning Morgan McMichaels, I find this excellent casting choice to be a huge pop culture treat. Congrats to Morgan on the incredible gig!
The video tells the tale of pop queen Rihanna having an S & M party with the press. Dressed in a gown covered in headlines, she stands before the ball-gagged journalists, smothered in plastic, literally duct taped to the spotlight as she performs for them. She then becomes a Hollywood screen siren walking her dog…her dog being that not so rare celebrity blogger breed Perez Hilton. She is training him to be a good boy, with a slight snap of a whip and then a quick kiss on the lips. Later, she plays a bit rougher with the media by becoming a dominatrix in a dungeon full of imprisoned press members.
Rihanna’s video is openly addressing the sadomasochistic relationship between celebrity and the media along with the warped codepencency between those two entities. And she is doing so with humor, style, and camp. The scene in the video where the press is dressed as clowns complete with balloon animal accessories is directly pointing out the circus that celebrity journalism has become. Rihanna by far isn’t the first female pop star to creatively lash back at negative press, an invasive public, and the dirty underbelly of fame. Just a few songs off the top of my head are Britney Spears’ Piece of Me and If You Seek Amy, Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, and Madonna’s Hollywood.
During the video, Rihanna floats along a sea of headlines that flash behind her that say things like “slut”, “whore”, “daddy issues”, and perhaps the most controversial, “Princess of the Illuminati”. At one point, a journalist is seen writing something in his notebook, and if you look closely, the page reads “Princess of the Illuminati”.
Rihanna has repeatedly been accused of being a member of the Illuminati, along with many other artists, such as Jay Z, Beyonce, Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, and countless others. Conspiracy theorists believe a slew of half-baked ideas, such as these artists sold their souls to the devil to achieve their level of stardom, that they are devil worshipers, and that they are brainwashing their listeners into following an Illuminati agenda. Such theorists also believe that Michael Jackson, Tupac, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and other deceased celebrities were assassinated to stop them from exposing the Illuminati’s plan for a new world order. There is a whole extensive matrix of material on this subject readily available with a simple google search, but to warn you, lots of weird creepy paranoid man-in-the-grassy-knoll type shit will pop up.
Instead of conspiracy theorists recognizing that Rihanna is openly mocking the accusations against her, they are now using the video to further their witch hunt. There are comments on Facebook, YouTube, and random blogs saying that the video is proof that she is with the Illuminati. I even read a comment by someone claiming Rihanna is pushing a “whore agenda”, that her good girl gone bad transformation is a message to teens to become whores. No, pretty sure the name throwers are the ones pushing a whore agenda by calling her a whore to begin with. It seems that once again we are faced with the ever exhausting double standard that a woman can not talk about sexuality or dress provocatively without being called a whore or a slut. Female artists who express sexuality are notoriously targeted for being awful impressions on the youth, while most male artists who do the same are looked at as rock and hip hop gods. It’s almost too tired of a bias that I hate to even give it enough merit by addressing the unfair yet repeated phenomenon.
But I will say this. Sexuality is messy, nonsensical, and downright freakish. And the reality is that both genders think about and talk about sex…alot. So if Rihanna wants to release a song about her love of a little sadomasochism, she shouldn’t be chastised for it. And for those who feel it is inappropriate for her to sing about whips and chains after her publicly being a victim of domestic abuse, I would have to fervently rebut by pointing out that consensual sadomasochism is NOT domestic violence. There is a huge difference between a little leather and spanking to being a victim of your supposed loved one’s uncontrollable rage. So now that she has survived that trauma and prevailed against that horror, is she now only allowed to sing about butterflies and rainbows? Maybe she doesn’t feel like having anyone stand under her umbrella after being publicly humiliated and a privately terrorized. Maybe now she wants to be the one with the whip in her hand. Maybe now she demands to be the one in control.
[Copyright Note: Once you click the play button in the video box below, you then have to click the “Watch on YouTube” link. A new YouTube window will then pull up and the video will automatically play.]