Who cares if Rihanna's BBHMM video is feminist or not? She's the one with the power

The people criticising this highly stylised video are happy to gush about Tarantino’s genius

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The Independent Online

Rihanna has directed the music video for her latest single 'B*tch Better Have My Money', and it is violent, intense and unnerving, raising all sorts of questions without answering any of them.

In the opening scenes we see a blonde-haired woman with a fluffy dog kissing her boyfriend (‘The Accountant’) goodbye and getting into a lift, where Rihanna is waiting with a Louis Vuitton case. The lift doors open on the ground floor, and Rihanna emerges dragging the trunk, which appears to have become suspiciously heavier.

The woman is then dragged around by Rihanna and two sidekicks, at various points she is stripped naked and hung upside down, hit over the head with a bottle, and forced to down vodka and take drugs. After Rihanna realises that ‘The Accountant’ isn’t bothered about her kidnapping his girlfriend, she dismembers him instead.

With this video Rihanna pulls off what Taylor Swift failed to do with Bad Blood: shock and awe with a display that puts herself in the position of power throughout. Swift may surrounded herself with a posse of beautiful, powerful women, and had a vast budget, but her offering was something of a damp squib.

By manipulating the media’s obsession with the beautiful blonde, white, kidnapped woman, Rihanna has played them perfectly. Just look at the outrage it’s caused –people were almost comically quick to denounce it after one viewing, as vile, sick, corrupt, disgusting, misogynist, and ‘anti-feminist’.

But in a time where we seem to be stamping trigger warnings on anything that moves, I’m glad that Rihanna shocked me. I haven’t been shocked by a music video in a long time; I yawned and rolled my eyes all the way through “Bad Blood”. In “BBHMM”, the viewer is forced to be the victim when they want to be Rihanna, or at least tag along as one of her sidekicks.

Anyone who claims to have been thrown by this new material should have been following the singer’s career trajectory more closely. Rihanna was hardly going to confine herself to singing about Umbrella-ella-ellas for the rest of her life. “BBHMM” is fuelled by real rage. She’s directed her song about getting screwed over by a man who tried to take advantage of her, and she’s taking back control.

The people criticising Rihanna for her highly stylised video are happy to gush about Quentin Tarantino’s genius and his creative vision, and controversial as he is they would rarely question his authority as an auteur. There was little fuss over the raped and murdered bank teller in From Dusk Till Dawn, the brutalised prostitutes in Frank Miller’s Sin City, or the bikini clad college girls snorting coke and shooting down pimps in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, all of which are hailed as “cult classics”. 

It’s disappointing to see such an entitled sense of moral duty from by those who so willingly consume the violence in Breaking Bad, leaping to inform young women that they’re not allowed to like Rihanna because she’s ‘Not Feminist’, she’s a Bad Role Model For Women.

Never mind that earlier this year she became the first black woman to front a Dior campaign. Never mind that she’s a musician, an actress, an entrepreneur, a director, a designer. Never mind that she’s smashed goodness knows how many music industry records, and managed to become an icon before the age of 25, controlling her career and her carving out own identity in an industry dominated by men.

Why do we reduce a woman’s work to whether it’s feminist or not? Rihanna certainly doesn’t care what you think, she’s counting the money she just got back, the Queen of DGAF.

But I do want to know what happened to the dog.