ThoughtfulNotes #1: BBHMM

At Songs We Like, we happen to believe that a song is never just a song. You probably know this because what we do here is talk about songs 🙂 So you had better believe there are going to be some political think-pieces on here about music, music videos and the music world in general. Sorry if you are not into that. 😦

Kanye

This week we are going to get into Rihanna’s new video for her latest single, from her upcoming album #R8, BBHMM (Bitch better have my money),

BBHMM

But first, something on the song itself…

When I first heard it, I dug it. I actually like it when Rihanna doesn’t attempt to do the whole #saynger thing because she can’t do it. She really, really cant…

No shade. No, no. no. no, nooooo….Lol…

But when she does the talking/toasting thing, I actually quite like it. I think it’s more natural-sounding and it really works with her bad-ass persona. Just listen to this beautiful edit by Jonah LR of her otherwise atrocious original “cockiness”.

Anyway, so when I heard “BBHMM” I was here for it. Sonically it worked. A sick trap beat, with industrial screeches and a pissed Rihanna telling you to pay her what you owe. It also resonated with me as a woman, and more so, as a black woman. Hashtag: Equal pay and Reparation tingz. Turns out it resonated with a whole lot of other black women. Several great pieces were written about it. So when I heard about the video I was keen to see how Rihanna and her team would visually interpret it. And man did they interpret it…

So here’s the big hulabaloo: The video is extremely polarising because of the violence it portrays.

First, context. Consider that Rihanna conceived and co-directed this video with Mega Force. Many believe the inspiration was the very real accountant who stole from and damn-near bankrupted her a few years ago.

Haiya, let’s get into it.

Violence against women is a trope used (infuriatingly) a lot in film. People hardly blink about it normally, but because it’s a black woman doing the hurting here: UPROAR!

There are images of a white woman being kidnapped, held hostage, and even hung upside down from the ceiling while topless, and I have to say that using women’s pain as a stylistic device is really messed up. But that’s not the entire story.

White women have historically participated or been complicit in black women’s pain, degradation and suffering. Today, they continue to dismiss the hell out of black women (see Patricia Arquette and her little oscar rant). Let’s be clear: white women put their own needs and well-being above those of black women every day and call it “feminism”. In this video, Rihanna is unconcerned with the well-being of a white person (who is a woman), when her own well-being is at stake. She rolls her eyes hilariously when her hostage throws up in her bucket like, “Girl, please….so dramatic”. I understand a black woman’s rage and her nonchalance to a white woman’s suffering when it’s dependent on her survival and that’s the thing about this video that makes white feminists so very, very uncomfortable.

I am not saying it is right, not in the least, neither am I saying that it should be encouraged, I’m saying I get why a black woman would be like “Eff a white woman’s feelings” when she’s having a revenge fantasy, because that’s what this was, a fantasy. From the ridiculous fur bikini bras Rihanna and Co. wear to the different settings we find these women in, this is clearly an over-the-top revenge fantasy. If you believe that Rihanna meant everything in the video literally, and nothing metaphorically or allegorically, examine why you believe this black woman isn’t capable of creative and socio-political vision.

Anyway, 🙂 whichever side of the argument you are on, the video works. It is a compelling and layered piece of work that sparks the synapses….which is the whole point, isn’t it? 🙂

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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