Rihanna‘s edgy-for-a-pop-star video for “We Found Love” might be adored by fans around the world, but there’s one group that’s not amused: the women of Belfast, Ireland’s Rape Crisis Centre. “Rihanna’s new video is a disgrace. It sends the message that she is an object to be possessed by men, which is disturbingly what we see in real violence cases,” the Centre’s Eileen Kelly told The Daily Star.
Rihanna’s camp has yet to respond directly to these charges, but director Melina Matsoukas recently emphasized to MTV that she did not intend to glorify domestic abuse with the video.
Via MTV News:
“We love, obviously, to do provocative imagery … we always try to definitely push the limits,” Matsoukas told MTV News. “I think because, in the end, it’s not really at all about domestic violence. It’s really just about it being toxic, and they’re on this drug trip and that definitely plays a part, but I think it’s also about being triumphant over those weaknesses, and she leaves him. It’s not trying to glorify that type of relationship. The bad parts of it, that’s what you don’t want. In the end, her leaving, it represents her getting that out of her life. The drugs and the addiction and the toxic — that’s what brings her downfall and brings a lot of harm.”
Ignoring the redundant comparison in the statement “it’s not really at all about domestic violence, it’s just about it being toxic” (can’t domestic violence be a huge part of said toxicity?), I can see it from both sides. It’s true that the video makes the unhealthy relationship in it look somewhat glamorous, because everything that happens in a Rihanna video looks glamorous. It’s beautiful people, in beautiful clothes, shot beautifully as they pretend to argue and do drugs. But when she leaves him in the end, it sends a strong message that this is not the kind of situation you want to be trapped in. I think this part even veers toward “Movie Of The Week” territory: somewhat facile, but responsible to Rihanna’s young fans. I’m no Rihanna apologist (here is some evidence), but I think in this case, her critics don’t really have a leg to stand on.