Thursday, February 3, 2011
I don't know if you've yet seen the new Rihanna video, S&M, but it's already done its promo job by stirring debate and controversy across the blogosphere. Coming hard on the heels of 2010's massive singles Eminem's Love the Way You Lie and Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, its bondage/men as dogs/scenes with bananas and dolls etc effectively means that kids growing up today will come to accept obsessive behaviour and domestic violence as the norm for what were once seen as romantic relationships. Cupid is still a fat boy, but his arrows are now valued for their pain rather than for warm fuzzy feelings of love.
Love the Way You Lie was of course classic s&m: the ending especially, when the rapper warns, 'If you try to leave me, I'll tie you to the bed and set the house on fire.' Rihanna explains: "You'll stand there and watch me burn. That's all right cos' I like the way it hurts. You'll just stand there and watch me cry. That's all right cos I love the way you lie." Eminem as the sadist; Rihanna as the masochist.
On Rihanna's latest, the chorus is
"'Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it/Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it/Sticks and stones may break my bones,/But chains and whips excite me."
Yes, it's clear from the video that she's responding to her critics, putting a finger in the air to especially the media, but still the other elements disturb. Even if the video is banned worldwide (it already has been banned in some places) it is obviously going to influence teens and others. In time, nothing in this video will be considered shocking or even abnormal. Don't get me wrong: I actually appreciate Rihanna's style and talent; but February 2011 surely marks the death of romance and a quick farewell to that old gentleman once known as Mr Valentine.
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