Only four days after its release, Rihanna’s video for her latest Kanye West-produced single "Bitch Better Have My Money" (which you can watch above) has already inspired controversy. Although this isn’t the Barbadian singer’s first brush with infamy based on her music videos—2011’s "Man Down" featured a sexual assault survivor murdering the perpetrator, while the same year’s "We Found Love" depicted a turbulent and explicit relationship with a man who was a dead ringer for her ex-boyfriend and abuser Chris Brown—the new seven-minute longform video (co-directed by Rihanna) takes lurid imagery to a new level. Almost resembling a grindhouse film-level of lurid imagery, the video features the singer and two accomplices kidnapping the wife (played by model/"S1m0ne" actress Rachel Roberts) of Rihanna’s accountant (played by "Casino Royale" and "Hannibal" actor Mads Mikkelsen) and taking the wife on a "Weekend at Bernies"-meets-"Saw"-esque ransom trip before killing her, and returning to kill the accountant.
While some might not find the imagery to be all that intense, the video has already inspired debate about whether or not the imagery is empowering or misogynistic. A piece in The Guardian argued the latter while questioning who’s allowed to embody misogyny in pop music:
"Moreover, just because, in Rihanna’s musical sphere and beyond, there are misogynistic male artists, this doesn’t automatically give her the same ‘privileges’. Not only is reversing gender roles very pat and tired, BBHMM doesn’t even follow through properly."
On the other hand, a piece by Mia McKenzie on her Black Girl Dangerous site interprets the backlash from white feminists as hypocritical while saying the video offers a vision of black female empowerment:
"Imagine if instead of kidnapping the accountant’s wife, Rihanna and her crew kidnapped his brother? Would White Feminists™ be so upset? I doubt it. Because they understand that revenge fantasies wherein women hurt men are pushing back against the harm men do to us. But here’s what white feminists don’t get (and what has them fucked up): black women often see white women as the same as white men. The harm done to us by white men and white women isn’t vastly different to many of us. White women have been unapologetically violent towards black women for centuries…So, for many of us, kidnapping the white brother or the white wife is all the same."
What do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments!