Music

Defending Rihanna From the New Culture Police

Her "Bitch Better Have My Money" video is a slick, seven-minute slice of all of Rihanna's glorious pop toxicity-and that's "problematic."

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Screenshot/BBHMM/Vevo

Rihanna, the best and sexiest thing to happen to popular culture in a decade, has had her fair share of run-ins with the morality cops. She gets the Moral Majority hot under their starched collars with her refusal to wear many clothes. That she has a tattoo of a gun, smokes weed, and relishes having loads of money—she's Instagrammed pics of herself standing on piles of cash in stilettos—doesn't sit well with the anti-fast living crew. And she riles the finger-wagging wing of modern feminism, as well. When she got back with singer Chris Brown in 2012, despite the fact he beat her up in 2009, the sisterhood effectively cast her out as a dumb-as-shit broad who doesn't know her own mind. Now, not content with having caused gnashing of teeth among the religious, the feminists, and the anti-drug crowd, Rihanna has rattled another constituency: what we might call the new policers of culture, the growing army of online warriors who think nothing of judging art and entertainment not by whether it's good, but by whether it says the right thing.

Rihanna's video for her new song, "Bitch Better Have My Money," has caused just about everyone to have a fit of Victorian vapours. Co-directed by Rihanna, it's a Tarantino-esque, blaxpolitation-style mini-movie in which Rihanna plays a woman screwed over by her rich accountant who decides to get revenge by kidnapping his beautiful, blond wife. Said wife is shown hanging upside down from a rope in a warehouse, being hit on the head with a bottle, and suffering other abuses at the hands of Rihanna and her all-female crew, all while Rihanna sings: "Bitch better have my money!" Look, it won't make Werner Herzog feel threatened, but it's a slick, seven-minute slice of all of Rihanna's glorious toxicity. Unless you're one of the new culture-policers, that is, in which case it's an outrageous glorification of misogyny, racism, violence, blah blah blah.

Ours is an era in which no piece of popular culture escapes the Media Studies pontification of those sad people whose favourite word is "problematic." And to them, everything is problematic. As Drew Magary says, "There's a whole black hole of the internet that spends all day up its own ass, endlessly worried about approving of pop culture rather than actually fucking enjoying it."

So it has been with Rihanna's most recent video. Instead of enjoying it—or not, if it ain't their kind of thing—people are think-piecing the video to death.

"It seems traditional to apologise for being too white and past-it to comment on any video by a young black artist," says a white and past-it columnist, before unapologetically branding Rihanna's video "crude" and "pure misogyny." Another writer (whose piece comes with a trigger warning) says Rihanna's video is "not very feminist." To which the only response is: so what? Neither was the work of the Marquis de Sade or J.G. Ballard's Crash or Robert Palmer's video for "Addicted to Love"—still all brilliantly entertaining, though.

screenshot/BBHMM/Vevo

Yet others have accused Rihanna of "internalized misogyny." It's one of feminists' favorite tricks: to suggest that any woman who thinks differently than them must have thoughtlessly imbibed male hatred for women and allowed it to frazzle their brain cells. Ironically, this may be the most anti-female idea around today, that women are so easily brain-fried by the culture that (allegedly) surrounds them.

Whatever critics' particular beefs, this branding of Rihanna's video as "problematic" speaks to one of the ugliest strains in the West today: the moral policing of pop culture. Whether it's movies being branded insufficiently feminist (Gone Girl), computer games being called out for featuring sexual violence (Grand Theft Auto), or pop songs being banned by students for being too dirty (Blurred Lines), we seem to have lost the ability simply to enjoy culture—its drama, its thrill, its tunes—and instead now say: "Ah, but does it conform to my political and moral viewpoint?"

As the "problematic" lobby grows, we should heed the words of Ray Bradbury. He once received a letter from an earnest liberal-arts student suggesting he rewrite his Martian Chronicles to include more female characters. Such an attempt to "interfere with aesthetics" was intolerable, Bradbury said.

"There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches," he later wrote. "The real world" is the place where you can make your moral case and try to reshape politics, suggested Bradbury—"but the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where [your] rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run, and rule."

Today's constant branding of certain forms of pop culture as "problematic" is the book-burning of our era. It creates a climate in which artists feel under pressure to make their work more morally palatable and politically acceptable, to water down their "territorial imperatives"— that is, their artistic freedom—at the behest of the new culture-policers.

We once thought pop culture would be slayed by old-style moralists, or that it would eat itself. In fact it's being killed in slow motion by a new generation of observers who seem to think culture should not only entertain them but also embody their moral outlook. What extraordinary arrogance. Rihanna, like Ray Bradbury, should tell them to get fucked.

NEXT: 'Dozens' of Commutations Are Good; 'Thousands' Would Be Better

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  1. “””””the growing army of online warriors who think nothing of judging art and entertainment not by whether it’s good, but by whether it says the right thing.””‘

    So I can no longer judge things by what they say?

    Also, I have heard the song, it is neither good or entertaining.

    1. I have heard the song

      See, that’s your problem right there. Mute button is your friend.

      1. Fortunately, the video will not play, at least not on my computer which is set up to block all triggering language that twists words and stirs up controversy. Whenever I click on a link to any sort of triggering “free expression” material, my computer instantly redirects me towards the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. Yup. Judging or expressing an opinion isn’t allowed unless it doesn’t apply to actual content or superficial stylistic flare. Just mindlessly approve.

      It’s so, good it’s easily ascribable to a well-aged genre (Blaxploitation) that’s already been revived once by the cultural avant-garde (Tarantino) and mimicked repeatedly.

  2. I personally hate rap and hip hop. But not because of any messages or because it doesn’t embody the correct “mindset”.
    I just prefer my “stick-it-to-the-man” musical outlet be of the metal variety (All That Remains, FFDP, Amon Amarth, etc.)

  3. The pissy-pants brigade are wrong on this, as they are about nearly everything. That said, Im not sure I agree with the authors assertion here that pop culture droppings shouldnt be analyzed for political signifigance. Shows like COPS and CSI have popularized the toxic notion that police are a force for good and that forensic hoodoo is cutting edge science. There is a whole genre of film now that I like to think of as fictionalized documentary – movies like Zero Dark Thirty that attempt to portray recent events and that claim they do so in an accurate way. At their best such films disrupt the historical narrative and at best they are over propaganda (as Zero was).

    1. “and at worst” … f’ing typos.

      Anyway, the modern juror is more familiar with Law & Order than the Constitution. There are millions of voters who, when they think of the Bin Laden assassination, think of the guy from Parks & Recreation in night vision rather than what they read in a newspaper.

      Deconstruction is one of the few weapons we have against propaganda. Its a weak one, but its not somehow intrinsically incoherent as ONeill suggests here.

    2. So the real pop culture corruption are things that promote things you don’t like?

  4. This column might have benefited from including some of the specific charges against Rihanna, since “anti-feminism” is a pretty broad umbrella. From the Guardian:

    Nice. Thanks for co-directing that, Rihanna, and for demonstrating how female-on-female torture and murder are just as “SEXY!” as the male-on-female versions. We were all a little unsure before ? but now we know.

    Perhaps more than Rihanna knows herself, because the BBHMM video also serves as a study in celebrity delusion: take away the skin colour and the “white spoilt bitch” has far more in common with real Rihanna than the gangsta Rihanna she’s portraying, whatever she likes to think of the state of her street cred. But I digress.

    The main issue here is surely: misogyny, who’s allowed to do it?…

    …BBHMM’s plot (I’m angry with an accountant so I’m gonna kill his chick) has no nuance no artistry. 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.

    So…killing a woman is always and only misogynistic? Is that all? Yes, that’s all. Weak.

    1. With a very little editing that entire screed might could have been published by a conservative commentator as an example of morally corrosive themes in rap. Didn’t we kill off the Tipper Gore mentality in the 90s?

      1. Didn’t we kill off the Tipper Gore mentality in the 90s?

        Nope. And we never will. Too many people enjoy getting up on their moral high horses for that sort of thing to ever fully go away.

      2. “Didn’t we kill off the Tipper Gore mentality in the 90s?”

        Yes, because Gen-X vehemently rejected that sort of puritanical, finger-wagging horseshit, but nowadays, a good chunk of brittle, helicopter-parented Millennials revel in it.

    2. The subject is harmed in some way.
      The subject is a woman.
      Therefore, it’s misogyny.

      I know it’s not controversial to say that there’s not a lot of critical thinking being used in these accusations, but I’ve noticed more and more how it can all be reduced to a simple checklist. The context of the art doesn’t matter. Does it have X, Y or Z? Then it is problematic, deserves scorn, and should have been done differently or not at all.

    3. In the end, the wife is left alive and the accountant is the one killed, so how is that misogynistic?

      The Guardian stuff is nonsense. Let’s see, no woman has every experienced murderous rage because she’s been robbed, so no revenge porn is ever appropriate.

  5. That video is filmed at the Fox Residence in Chatsworth. Former home to Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Monroe and JFK banged it out in the guest house. The home was also featured in Mad Men. Most importantly, I shot a video for (Toni Braxton??) out there back in 2002.

    Classic example of mid-century modern architecture. Love it.

  6. The New Statesman, meanwhile, is maybe okay with pop culture not being feminist (so maybe a poor example for this piece?):

    not every action can, or has to be, feminist???I hate this stupid fashion for asking “are high heels feminist”, “is the hijab feminist” , like those are binary categories and you can just bang your gavel and declare one way or the other.

    But there’s still a problem:

    This video uses one of the most tired tropes???using a woman’s pain to hurt a man. There was once a noble tradition of this in newspaper stories…MAN FORCED TO WATCH WIFE’S RAPE. The poor bloody guy, eh?

    So…are you suggesting rapists haven’t done that to hurt the man who was watching? That it’s not “something that really happens in IRL,” using a woman to hurt a man?

    …the ultimate object of Rihanna’s ire is the man, but she uses his woman to get to him. …what a tired trope it is, particularly since it implies that only men have feelings worth bothering about, and women’s pain is only interesting insofar as it makes men’s lower lips go wobbly to think about their delicate little flowers being hurt.

    But…that is the only thing that makes this woman’s pain interesting to Rihanna’s character in the video. Why wouldn’t it be?

    Plus sexualized violence is bad, minus possible points for turning a racial script on its head, blah blah boring.

    1. I am glad you mentioned that about the woman’s pain hurting the man. For men who try to embody the more noble aspects of masculinity, watching someone hurt their woman IS worse than any physical pain inflected on themselves. That isn’t to ignore the woman’s pain. It is, rather to show how immoral the actions of the villain are, in that they want so bad to hurt a man, they are willing to hurt the woman to get to the man.

      1. I can see the point in saying: there’s something wrong if you have a society that tells stories about women’s pain, but those stories are only ever about that pain affecting a man, and never about it affecting the woman herself. That would be a society that ignored the woman’s experiences except as the means to other ends. But we don’t live in that society, and it’s okay to tell both kinds of story.

        1. And I can understand women wanting more stories to be about the women’s pain rather than how it affects a male. But I’d also argue that, as BearOdinson states, there’s some inherent sociobiological programming in a lot of men that make women suffering particularly horrible, and that it will always ultimately influence the culture in some way due to that.

          The thing I tend to not get about this is that there are so many people complaining about this, but very few attempts at creating new intellectual property that has the story structure/gender and race quotas/whatever they want. There’s plenty of attempts to co-opt old properties into some new model a la all female Ghostbusters, but I haven’t seen much trying to present this as anything beyond preachy. Hell, I’m not a Christian, but I’m still able to enjoy a well presented Bible story; why can’t the ‘social justice warriors’ do the same?

    2. This guy strays dangerously close to slagging that indispensable stalwart of American cinema, Taken.

      1. Actually, in a line I cut for space, he mentions Liam Neeson.

      2. Taken is hilarious because a woman is pumped full of heroin and used as a sex slave but by the end of the movie she doesn’t seem to really care and is just excited to meet a pop star.

        I imagine in real live getting continuously raped for like 5 days would have left some more serious emotional scars.

        1. She wasn’t raped in the movie. Remember she was “certified pure” according to the sleazy slave auction, and Liam Neeson shot the fat sheik in the head before he could rape her. Although you would still think the ordeal of being kidnapped and pumped with heroine would still be pretty damn traumatic, but also keep in mind it’s a movie. For all we know the scene at the end could have been several months later, after getting months of therapy and treatment for any lingering drug addiction.

          1. being kidnapped and pumped with heroine

            Kinky.

      3. I’m pretty sure the film you are referring to is titled ThroatPunch. Not Taken.

    3. I think the problem is that these people can’t criticize or think about anything without bringing politics into it. The problem with this video is not that it shows violence against a woman or a woman committing violence or any of that. The problem is that it sucks. It is not creative, its not funny and it is not particularly interesting.

      The only thing political about it is that it is mildly racist. It portrays the white woman as a prissy, ice queen, which is about as interesting and stereotypical as portraying a black women as a street hooker.

      1. lol I agree! damn John this is two issues now we agree on. crazy!

      2. Both columns strongly implied that if it were better?specifically, more “artistic”?the content would be okay, i.e., that art is allowed to do things mere entertainment is not.

        1. It is all art. It is just some of it is better done. Them saying “it would be okay if it were better done” is actually really appalling. Good art doesn’t get a pass on morality. Sure Triumph of the Will is by any objective measure an amazing piece of film making. It is however Nazi propaganda and thus is horrible no matter how well made it is. Its being well made doesn’t make it being Nazi okay.

          The opposite is true as well. If it is okay to show women doing acts of violence against other women if it is well done, then it is okay for some crappy pop video to show it too. The problem is that it is a crappy video.

          1. Well, I think the idea is that if it were better, it would be more nuanced. I haven’t watched it and I doubt I will; it doesn’t sound very good to me either.

      3. Not only that, the sound track sucks and the lyrics are vulgar.

  7. Rihanna has a nice rear. That is all I can add to this topic.

    1. She’s no Mexican meteorologist

      1. +1 Yanet Garcia

      2. I said nice… not epic or car-crash inducing.

      3. That was . . . awesome.

        I mean, excellent from the front, but the turn to point at the map . . . [swoon]

  8. Joke is on the whiners. Celebrities since Sinatra have been playing the outrage card to their advantage, and frequently quite profitably. Keep ’em screaming and the bank account will never be empty.

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity.
    –Keith Richards

    1. Didn’t PT Barnum say that first earlier?

  9. Why is the accountant and his wife ‘white’? Missed one.

  10. It’s interesting to think about how differently people would react (not just the SJWs, but everyone else, too) to this video if Rihanna were white and her victim in the video were black.

    I suspect the video never even would have been financed or made. The ability to make videos specifically because of your race–videos you never would have been able to make if you weren’t black–what do you want to call that? Black privilege?

    Another video that does more or less the same thing is Prodigy’s “Smack my Bitch Up”, which tries to justify its apparent misogyny by using what I guess we should call “female privilege”.

    Totally NSFW

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoURQz1_c0U

    We see the video through the eyes of the protagonist, who’s getting ready to go out at night. Showers, shits, and shaves, then drinks to excess, does a few lines, and then proceeds to go out, start fist fights for the fun, then sexually assaults women in a club, picks up a stripper, brings her home, and then…like I said, it’s NSFW.

    It isn’t until the end that you see the protagonist in a mirror and realize that she’s a woman, too. Somehow, that’s supposed to make it all okay. Again, female privilege? You can’t get away with making a video like that about a guy.

    1. If popular culture seems to have become increasingly hostile toward and intolerant of white, heterosexual males–even as it has become more inclusive and tolerant of other groups–then that isn’t ironic. We should expect to see “tolerance” turned into a zero sum game of competing interests when it’s focused on the progress of groups rather than individuals.

      I don’t think it’s necessarily on purpose. I think they’re just stuck in a zero sum game worldview. Maybe free market capitalism is the beginning of all wisdom.

      1. I think there is some ambiguity in the Prodigy video. Isnt it also possible to read it as a finger in the eye to SJW’s? Imagine a pissy pants brigade member watching the video and taking angry notes about the male gaze and hetero rape culture for a TOTALLY ANGRY BLOG POST OMG. Then the last scene plays – what does the pissy pants do now? Its like in the old scifi serials when someone would make a computer explode by typing a zen koan.

        1. Prodigy was being inflammatory for the publicity and for fun.

          But even if they were using irony, here, it’s still the same dynamic at work.

          They’re trying to justify the misogynistic words in “Smack My Bitch Up” by making it about a woman in the video.

          Does being a woman make sexually assaulting other women okay in the public’s imagination? This video seems to be depending on that assumption. It’s an independent reference to what I called “female privilege”.

        2. High level AI’s that live in the Van Allen Belt speak almost exclusively in zen koan.

          1. +1 Ummon

    2. Of course. If Taylor Swift tried to make a video where she kidnapped and tortured a black woman, they would run her out of the industry. It would be the end of her career.

      If the video does anything, it shows Rhianna degrading herself for white audiences. The entire thing is nothing but a giant stereotype of black people as violent animals. Rhianna gets away with acting this way, where a white performer wouldn’t, because white audiences and critics see her as less of a full human being.

      1. One argument that has been made (and doesn’t seem persuasive to the New Statesman columnist) is that that is, in fact, an important reversal of the normal racial dynamics: that it is normally black women who are abused in the way the white woman is abused in the video. So this flips that power dynamic.

        1. I suppose it does. But it also in showing her as the abuser portrays Rhianna as a violent animal who can’t be expected to adhere to the same level of behavior white people are.

          To the extent black women are normally shown abused, the abusers are always black men. I can’t imagine any video or movie showing a white man taking revenge on a black woman ever being made. So to the extent it reverses the power dynamic it does so by showing black women are violent animals just like black men, which is still pretty degrading.

        2. Back in the .90s, there was this film Higher Learning, where they effectively switched the races of the characters to make a point.

          The story was about two guys. One of them was a college student on the six year plan, partying all day. College for him didn’t really matter. He came from a wealthy enough family, he’d eventually graduate and become middle class.

          The second guy comes in to be the first guy’s roommate. He’s the first person in his family to ever go to college. He has a really hard time adapting to the culture at school and eventually drops out. By the end of the movie, he’s joined a gang and is shot by the police.

          They switched the races, and the first guy was black, and the guy that gets shot at the end, the gang he joins is a skinhead gang. There was this point where when he’s dropping out of school, his skinhead leaders tells him not to–that their movement needs positive role model, says all the thing you hear black civil rights organizations say to their youth.

          I am somebody!

          I saw the film in a theater with an audience that was probably 80% black. When the white kid was shot at the end of the movie, they all jumped up and cheered. The applause went on and on. Talk about irony!

          Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and love thy neighbor as thyself? That’s the heart of real tolerance, and the real shit don’t fly when people are all about group identities.

          1. Gee Ken, it is almost as if the mass media and culture constantly screaming about how racist white people are has had an effect or something. Who could have thought that white Progs spending decades accusing any white person who disagreed with them of being a racist could have caused black people to not like whites?

            1. In their defense, he was a Nazi skinhead.

              Again, I think that zero sum thinking is behind a lot of it. It’s the same Malthusian kind of thinking that drives a lot of the environmentalism on the left. No, black progress does not depend on white sacrifice.

              The group thinking grows out of that, too. I was talking to a guy the other day that was blaming being unemployed on white people and racism. For all I know, he may be a victim of that, but it’s hard to tell because he won’t bother applying for any jobs until his unemployment runs out.

              Teaching individuals that their own individual choices and efforts have no impact on their own futures is evil. Teaching them that they can’t succeed unless people of another race fail is evil, too. Like I said, I think it all starts with free market capitalism. If we don’t understand the benefits of it and how and why it works, we end up being wrong about all sorts of things.

              1. Telling black people they have no hope of making it in society because white people hate them so much is pretty much the definition of evil.

              2. I think you hit on something rather profound. There is so much shit on the left about free speech is great, but govt should manage the economy (single-payer, nationalize oil industry etc.)
                Like freedom to spout off is more important than the freedom in deciding how and with whom to trade.
                Free market capitalism seems to me is a pre-requisite for all freedom, rather than being an afterthought to be discarded at the whim of the mob.

                1. Bear,

                  The best way to breakdown barriers between people is to have them trade and work together. Whenever one group wants to maintain supremacy over another group, it always restricts trade between the two groups, lest the rank and file figure out there is no reason to hate each other.

        3. Abused by tall blond white women? Really?

    3. Leave it to the SJWs to ruin a perfectly good critique of cultural corruption by narrowing it down to race and sex.

      If the summary is accurate, it’s about torturing an innocent person – who cares about the race or sex of the torturer/tortuee?

      1. I mean, at least Jack Bauer and the *Taken* guy tortured kidnappers and slavers, but even then, the vigilante message is fairly dubious.

        But extorting money by torturing some person who never did anyone any harm? That’s a real dark place, and I don’t mean racially.

        1. But extorting money by torturing some person who never did anyone any harm? That’s a real dark place, and I don’t mean racially.

          Your analysis of the situation and video is as morally simplistic and questionable as the analysis by feminists.

  11. Feminists gonna feminist. Who cares? It doesn’t mean that anything they criticize is OK. Feminists criticize rape, after all.

    If the plot summary is accurate, that video seems sick.

    Art can degrade as well as uplift. If we admit that, say, the Ode to Joy can bring us up to contemplate noble things, then a video about torturing your accountant’s wife (or torturing anyone, for that matter) can drag you through the gutter.

    Never mind the nonsense about a video turning the viewer into a torturer or a serial killer. I doubt that very much. But what about the idea of desensitizing the viewer to nasty behavior – maybe he won’t be encouraged to do the behavior, but maybe he’ll grow numb to it.

    1. Remember how offensive Al Jolson was when he put on blackface and sang a sentimental song about his “mammy”?

      Nowadays he’d put on blackface and sing about how his b____ can s___ his d___.

      And I admit to sometimes enjoying this dreck. I think it actually may have had the desensitizing effect I’ve mentioned, though I try to balance it out with better art.

    2. the Ode to Joy can bring us up to contemplate noble things

      I find the Ode to Joy offensive for its cloying collectivism. It could be the national anthem of Brave New World. I’m suspicious of the political leanings of anybody who thinks that there is something “noble” about it.

      a video about torturing your accountant’s wife (or torturing anyone, for that matter) can drag you through the gutter

      Contemplating the morality of the different actors in Rihanna’s video is a far more “noble” exercise than your exultation of Ode to Joy.

    3. “But what about the idea of desensitizing the viewer to nasty behavior”

      Art is not to be misunderestimated. It is serious business and is worth fighting over. Art fails when it doesn’t move you to take a stand.

  12. The woman is crass and lacks class… I get that rich people do not have to behave like the rest of us because they can always buy their way out. But those of us who have to live in the real world, where there are (dare I say it) standards of dress and behavior…

    I am not a consumer of her product so I really don’t care, Shucks, I cannot even figure out what people see in her…

    1. Shucks

      Oh, I hope you’re real.

      1. Here, Warty…in here????

        I should think not.

    2. Um, she’s got a great body and walks around naked everywhere?

    3. Standards of dress and behavior in the real world? You should visit an airport sometime.

  13. The Marxists have somehow gotten even dumber than when they were starving tens of millions to death.

  14. The thing about online controversies is that they don’t really exist if you don’t listen to them. Just like this post. So I’m wondering if we are delving into the meta more than is warranted.

    I have to hand it to writers like David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Vernor Vinge, and Dan Simon. They all predicted the maelstrom of opinion, outrage, and constant monitoring of culture through online artifices.

  15. Here is one thing to consider about this video. It is not uncommon for gangs of teenage black girls to attack white women and often inflict serious injury. Given that fact, it seems in pretty poor taste for Rhianna to make a video that is nothing but a revenge fantasy against a pretty white girl. Again, flip the races and imagine if after Ferguson some country artist had done a video in which he took revenge on a black man by kidnapping his wife.

    1. Rihanna is the only black girl in the video though. Her little gang is her, a white girl and a vaguely ethnic girl with some kind of facial piercing chain.

    2. Even if everything you said were true, so what? Are you saying that art should only depict things that are morally right? That art must be unambiguous in its moral message, clearly disapproving of what is wrong and clearly approving of what is right?

      1. Art can be whatever it wants to be because the person performing the art is being who they want to be!

      2. Art can be whatever it wants to be because the person performing the art is being who they want to be!

      3. Art can be whatever it wants to be because the person performing the art is being who they want to be!

        1. Sorry about that-I think this browser is screwed up!

  16. Misogynist – a man who hates women as much as women hate each other.

    1. Hey now. I don’t think you are being fair to misogynists. Sure they don’t like woman but not that much. I am not sure anyone could hate women as much as they hate each other.

      1. Most of the lesbians I know would put even the most misogynistic patriarchs to shame.

        1. Same with me. I used to think a lot of lesbians were just that way because they hated men and some do. But later I realized that none of their hatred for men even came close to their hatred for other women.

  17. i dunno how broad your definition of “pop” is but TV on the Radio is a million times better. Gnarls Barkley is as pop as it gets and st elsewhere was also incredible. I was really excited about that album, like “if this is what pop music is gonna be like now we’re in for some good stuff” but everyone decided to try and sound like skrllex instead

    1. The problem with pop music is that very few pop artists can sing today. What makes pop music good is that it can be melodic and mawkish and emotional. It is not high art. It is middlebrow and that is okay. Being middlebrow gives it the freedom to be over the top and kitschy or mawkish or overly sentimental and all of the things that are fun and enjoyable sometimes that high art can’t do. You can’t do music that is any of that if you can’t write good flowing melodies. And you can’t write good melodies if the singer sucks and can only pick off the notes. If you notice very few pop songs have any kind of flow or crescendos or any of the other musical attributes that are necessary to be any of the things that make pop music great. This is because the singers can’t sing those things. They suck. They can only pick off the notes and sing jerky note by note shit that matches the beat. The hide this by calling it hip hop or R&B or “dance music”, but that is bullshit. You can have great singing and melody in any of those forms of music. We just don’t because the quality of singers is so poor. You try writing a great pop song that someone like Kayne West or Katie Perry could sing. Even with auto tune it can’t be done.

    2. sound like skrllex instead

      whomp whomp whomp…

    3. everyone decided to try and sound like skrllex instead

      Probably because that was easier.

  18. “Today’s constant branding of certain forms of pop culture as “problematic” is the book-burning of our era. It creates a climate in which artists feel under pressure to make their work more morally palatable and politically acceptable…”

    I submit that anyone who caves to this shit is not an artist but rather a creator of decor.

    1. I took O’Neil’s statement as self-Godwining.

  19. After watching the video, I can confidently state the following:

    1)Rihanna is hot as hell
    2)The kidnapped wife has excellent tits
    3)The song itself sucks ass
    4)The Eric Roberts cameo was awesome

    1. 1) Agreed
      2) I guess you’re complimenting her surgeon?
      3) Not a fan
      4) When is a cameo by him not awesome?

  20. “”….and that’s a problem

    – the lazy-Millenial’s substitute for intellectualism. Its only purpose, like (and sometimes unlike) intellectualism, is to signal social-status via more-moral-than thou posturing over something utterly fucking meaningless and inconsequential. Noted: they almost never take these postures about anything of actual moral consequence: like human life, property rights, financial moral hazard, imposing limitless costs on society through lazy resort to the precautionary principle, etc..

    1. It is all they have ever been taught to do. They were never given the tools to contemplate serious moral issues and lived such special snowflake lives never had to confront them. This generation has been totally betrayed. I hate it that they are so ignorant and shallow but our education system and parents did everything to ensure they turned out that way.

      1. I don’t think their entire generation is doomed to this sort of thing. Just that its amazingly popular within a subset of them.

      2. John: I’m not sure they were given those tools! The ones who should have passed them on did not want them to have them. Now, they have to figure that out on their own! The last several generations have been betrayed!

  21. Meh… I liked that song better when it was a pimp poem recited in the Wayan Bros “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S6vk9K2Cwo

    1. I liked it better when AMG did it.

  22. “Ironically, this may be the most anti-female idea around today, that women are so easily brain-fried by the culture that (allegedly) surrounds them.”

    Spare a thought for the advertising industry which makes a lot of money brain-frying the culture, both men and women, that surrounds it.

    “we seem to have lost the ability simply to enjoy culture”

    We? I for one haven’t lost this ability. And I haven’t lost the ability to question culture, or even enjoy questioning culture. If Brendan has, let him say so.

    “In fact it’s being killed in slow motion by a new generation of observers”

    In fact, Brendan’s hang-wringing aside, pop culture is in no danger of being killed by ‘kids these days.’ Culture is constantly changing. It’s the old men who are dying off.

  23. Though the primary message of O’Neill’s screed is that all of pop culture is “culture” and must be luxuriated in without demurral, he does blink at one point and admit that we don’t have to like this shitty video if it’s not our sort of thing. But apparently we don’t have the right to dislike it for those reasons he has a political hard-on against. How does this make him less of an ideological policeman than the other internet trolls?

    Sure, if Barbara Ellen (to use O’Neill’s own example) had the power to ban everything she regards as “misogynistic,” she’d probably use that power, and that would be terrible. But she doesn’t have that power, and does have every right to point out various mostly-true things that stink about the video. How is this worse than pretending that anything that might possibly turn on someone somewhere is great pop, because you can always throw something like “glorious toxicity” into your description and float above it all? Anyone who retains the ability to make aesthetic distinctions knows that the Marquis de Sade is not “brilliantly entertaining,” and that among Robert Palmer videos that give SJWs fits, “Simply Irresistible” is far sexier and more artistic than “Addicted to Love.” But neither creator is relevant to Rihanna anyway.

    Rihanna has a right to make crap videos, which harm no one, and it is on that right, not their non-existent gloriousness, that any real defense must depend.

  24. I’m confused. How is a video featuring a powerful independent black woman and a rich white male as a villain “misogynist”?

    1. Well, if the “powerful independent black woman” is a psycho sadist who spends most of her torture efforts on the villainous male’s blameless wife, either because that’s more fun for her or because she thinks that’s more fun for her audience — you can obviously make a case for misogyny. I do agree that wading through this sewer of torture porn and seeing only misogyny to object to is pretty silly. But it’s there.

      1. It seems that a PIBW is a felon who’s going to spend some time in the slammer, possibly getting the same treatment her captor was getting if she doesn’t join the right prison gang.

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  26. I’m reminded of a progressive acquaintance of mine who, when we were talking about my music taste, smugly said “you ever listen to their lyrics, they’re huge liberals.”

    I guess the thought that libertarians can enjoy the music of non libertarians is alien to leftists. It probably has something to do with pop culture being saturated with people having progressive “values”

    1. Your answer should be: yeah but these artists like to get paid like the Koch brothers. Mo $ mo $ mo $…

    2. I enjoy Rise Against, yet they are fucking Marxist tools. I just think of their lyrics and spin them against govt masters rather than “corporate” masters.
      OTOH I can’t fucking stand RATM. They just push it so far I can’t get past it (plus I hate rap, and nu-metal and all of that nonsense.)

      1. There is some good libertarian metal out there (All That Remains) and rather anarchist stuff (FFDP, don’t know if personally they are anarchists, but there music makes it sound like it.)
        But I can appreciate the spirit of someone, while not agreeing with their philosophy. Likewise I can think a person is intellectually right on, but think personally they are a complete dud, or that I dislike their art (see Country Music).

        1. *their music

          FUCK!

    3. ” It probably has something to do with pop culture being saturated with people having progressive “values”

      I’m sure that it also has something to do with the fact that a leftist can listen exclusively to the music of leftists, from Beethoven to the Beatles, and not miss out on much.

  27. Rihanna: An over-rated idiot.

    Is that Brown character still beating her?

  28. Why should we care about whether the song is “right?” It sucks.

  29. I could care less about the content moral wise. But art hardly!

  30. This author seems to confuse “policing” with critique. Ironically, his assertion that “it creates a climate in which artists feel pressure…” is a tactic right out of the SJW playbook.

  31. Look everyone. Rihanna is a woman who was beaten by a man.

    She has a pass on anything she does. We should be forced to applaud and buy her “art” whether we like it or not. Rihanna can do as Rhianna pleases and you should applaud and not critic unless you are a racist woman hating with teathuglican.

    1. She’s one messed up bitch, y’all. But that’s…ok.

  32. Needs MOAR woodchipper!

  33. To the article writer, Brendan O’Neill: While quoting Ray Bradbury is appropriate for an article on censorship topics, I can tell you with absolute authority that Ray would not have defended the use of foul language or gratuitous sex or gratuitous violence as an integral part of free speach and creative freedom. Rihanna represents utter trash, while Bradbury had class, sophistication, and education. Bradbury defended important ideas and ideals, not decadence, and evoking his name to defend Rhianna is suspect at best.

  34. How does it fare with the culture-policers here at Reason?

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  36. Dear author,
    Have you really read a work by the Marquis de Sade?
    I’ve attempted it, and “brilliantly entertaining” is about the last way I would describe it.
    Not even because it’s not PC; to me it was just boring and depressing.
    I would venture even a big fan of “Crash” would have difficulty with most of his works.
    Looking forward to hearing back from you,
    Me

  37. Of course the unintended consequence of such arrogant, manipulative moralising is that it recreates the opportunity to shock in a world we all assumed would be weary and jaded of such tactics by now.

    A small silver lining to an oppressive cloud.

    1. The people offended by this aren’t the ones buying the mp3’s.

  38. It isn’t trash. It’s compost. Big difference.

  39. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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