I watched with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe the scenes of the latest Rihanna video, “B*+$H Better Have My Money”. So many thoughts ran through my mind and I wasn’t sure what to tackle first. My initial thought was, “Okay … she is really crazy.” My second thought was “This is so disturbing! Why am I watching this?!” Then I thought, “Wow, this seems so real. It’s like a movie!” That’s one thing that people couldn’t deny at all was how amazing the cinematography was in the video.
Yet, that was not the only focus of the criticism. Social media was buzzing with some people praising her for the genius vision with the creative and others were spouting usual Illuminati theories, threatening to unfollow her and showing their opposing views through comments such as “This made me kind of sad. I miss when singers didn’t get naked for attention” or describing it as “satanic and a glorification of violence.” Some even included race into the conversation with algorithms like “black woman kidnapping white woman and slaughtering white guy = empowerment.”
Who was right in their opinions? Any of them? All of them? I must be honest, at first viewing I went on this long 30 minute rant about feminism and violence against women. I couldn’t understand what the wife had to do with accountant at the end. Why wouldn’t she kidnap the man instead of kidnapping the woman? I mean wouldn’t that have made her feel a bit more empowered? (No offense guys). I mean the torture. The humiliation. We have enough men treating women this way in reality, especially those in the public eye. We have enough movies and music videos depicting how women aren’t valued, respected, protected and cherished.
My husband referred to the Bible answer one of my questions with the conclusion, “A wife is her husband’s crown. Rihanna took her to tarnish her, and essentially tarnish her husband’s crown, to get what she wanted.”
While that was a good synopsis and one that I could be satisfied with as far as her character’s reasoning and the story line, but that still didn’t explain why Rihanna would want to depict that in her video.
Wait … maybe that’s the point. Is Rihanna really a genius? Let’s take it a little deeper.
Women are too often painted as objects or symbols of possession, especially for men. We are “things” that they cherish for how glamorous we are, pretty we smell and how much other guys envy them for having us. We are pieces of meat that are only at our prime based on how we are naked and seasoned. Using women as trophies and bait of revenge must stop. I mean we do that in real life right? “That’s why I could get your girl” or “That’s why I had your girl last night”. We have to stop doing that as well. In theory, this is the same as what’s occurring in the video.
The other theme that people may ignore is the fact that although Rihanna was torturing and humiliating his wife, it wasn’t enough for him to pay the price or do what he had to do to get her back. It showed how much men, husbands, may not cherish the women in their lives as they should. Did he value his money more than her? What is your man putting before you? I believe, in part, that was the message. The other obvious message was for anyone who chooses to mess with her, understand how powerful, assertive and badass she is. Do not mess with her or be prepared to be messed with.
Now why would Rihanna choose an explicit and gory video such as this one to develop these themes? Well when have we ever known her to follow the rules versus push the envelope? When have we known her not to go against the grain and judgment of others? Simmer on that and you will find your answer. Yet younger girls will watch these images and may not see any of those themes. They will believe the negative perceptions to be true and also believe that their role models such as Rihanna endorse this behavior. Who’s responsibility is it to dissect these perceptions? Ours. That’s what makes visions such as this risky, but yet it doesn’t diminution how powerful their underlying potential themes are.