Does Rihanna Owe Us After The BBHMM Video?

By Maddie Anandarajah

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Rihanna released her video for the soundtrack ‘Bitch better have my money’ which has been the source of a lot of controversy

Seemingly becoming a trend to have abstract gory themes in a video following Maroon 5’s bloody ‘Animals’ in which he stalks the object of his desires and ends up making out with her in a pool of blood, I am still fuzzy on the details. It must be noted that in many ways, stars today aim to trigger an immediate and hefty response from the audience in order to generate a storm of media attention which of course is profitable to the artist in question. Although it must be said that at the very least, the video relates to the lyrics; Rihanna is indeed trying to get her money back through unarguably unconventional methods unless you are a loan shark.

Artistic integrity vs desperate grab for attention (to hide the fact that the song is mediocre at best); that is the bulk of the debate. Undoubtedly this is hugely reliant on the individual’s disposition which is evident from the reactions online. On behalf of Rihanna however, she has always explored the lines between fashion and what is socially acceptable within numerous music videos, most notably ‘S&M’ which was a large factor in taking it to the American (and therefore Europe following) mainstream. The difference here is while BDSM is a set of consensual erotic practices, perhaps celebrating sexual freedom; the controversy here is that the video depicts torture and murder of a female. Feminists in particular have something to say about this as Rihanna picks her target’s wife to blackmail the accountant in repaying her as opposed to gunning straight for the guilty. The problem is not necessarily that the video is bloody and violent, we have seen plenty of that already and are becoming somewhat desensitized, it is what some perceive to be an unhealthy commentary on gender roles.

Let’s break this down. For some it can certainly be difficult to watch but what is to be highlighted is the lack of intent by the artist to depict women as inferior or a tool to be used. The point of the video is a rebellious and criminal Rihanna and her crew going out of their way to get what is owed to them. It is not a social propaganda or supposed to dictate behaviour, she is not a politician or a state leader of some sort, neither is she political activist. With artists particularly, even when they identify themselves as activists, their work is blended with art and innovation and must be therefore be for for separately. Aiming to make connections between the artists themselves and every cue their artistic content provides is not always the rational route to go. For some this comes as second nature such as Taylor Swift or Katy Perry who tread lightly regarding social controversy but bare their souls in their content. Artists like Rihanna or Lady Gaga who are known to have strong ties to art and fashion must be taken with a pinch of salt when making these connections.

Some articles have noted that the song likely relates to her previous relationship with her ex-accountant by the name of Peter Gounis who reportedly indulged in some questionable practices that hastened her plummet to bankruptcy. There was even a court dispute which was later settled for a lower fee; Rihanna sued for $35 million but took the $10 million settlement offer. Chances are she is still fuming and she took a very large pinch of imagination and vented, the product of which we see today. Does this scenario point to any form of subordination of women? Probably not.

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