Personally, I think Rihanna’s new video is puerile, sexist, race-bait nonsense. It’s the millionth in a long line of calculated-to-shock schlock videos. It’s like someone made a big list of bad-taste-boxes to tick and then ticked them all. Of course, in this sense, it’s not shocking at all. In fact, it would be far more shocking to find her not courting controversy-by-numbers.
For what it’s worth, I don’t really blame Rihanna here. She and the video are just the products of an industry that has no regard for the public or anyone else. It’s all part of the industrial-entertainment complex – and, in some ways, pretending Bitch Better Have My Money has anything worthwhile to say is no different to pretending that Iron Man 17 is a film worth seeing.
But it is different in other ways. My wife does her morning training in front of whatever music channel it is she watches and, recently, after she’d finished with the yoga mat and the Swiss ball, she forgot to turn the TV off and left BBHMM on. I walked past it and found myself transfixed.
It was like watching porn. Actually, it wasn’t like watching porn. It was porn. The video is a seven-minute-long softcore snuff film. Here, I suppose it’s interesting to cast our eyes back and look at how the porniness of videos has ratcheted up over the years. How tame Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball video (2013, demolition frontage) seems now. How tame Sia’s Elastic Heart video (2014, cage fighting with paedo overtones) seems now. How positively wholesome Madonna’s Like a Prayer (1988, underwear, blasphemy) seems now. I can hardly wait to see what 2016 brings. I mean, where do you go from snuff-lite. Simulated granny sex? Faux necrophilia?