The new Rihanna video “Diamonds” dropped, you guys! So let’s watch and judge what she’s saying about her relationship with Chris Brown!
Okay, first things first. The opening shot of this video is a pile of diamonds with a hand going through them. This will make you think you are watching an advertisement for Elizabeth Taylor’s signature perfume White Diamonds. You are not. That becomes particularly clear a few moments later when we see said diamonds being put in rolling paper. I will admit, I was a little disappointed in that because I feel like Liz Taylor could posthumously be a great role model for Rihanna.
Moving on. In the first 30 seconds before we even get a lick of the song, we’re overwhelmed with symbolism. The symbolism is so heavy-handed it’s like when you first learn about simile and metaphor in English and for six months everything you write you describe as “like the ocean meets the sea…” and you feel like a real poet. This video does that with pictures.
So the pile of diamonds we discussed, let’s just say that means wealth because there’s nothing else that can mean. Rihanna’s so rich that she can smoke diamonds. Cool.
We then see Rihanna floating in the water.
This is clearly an Ophelia reference because I assume every image of a woman in water is a reference to Ophelia from Hamlet. As we all know (after doing a quick Google search), Ophelia loved Hamlet but wasn’t allowed to be with him because a) people thought he was insane and b) he killed her father. So she ends up drowning. Um, RiRi, relate much to being in love with someone that has a bad public rep and maybe did something violent and unforgivable? Score one for Willy Shakes!
Then comes the image of Rihanna running down a dark, wet street away from headlights.
This feels part Carrie Underwood‘s “Jesus Take the Wheel” and part Blair Witch Project. I will read this as “Rihanna is trying to get away from it all and maybe also letting us know she hasn’t forgotten about THE night but it’s been long enough that THE night is now just fodder for artistic endeavors.”
When the song finally starts, we see RiRi in a strapless…something… looking tired and sad and skinny as she sings the the first few lyrics to the tune of an automated message telling you your prescription is ready to be picked up.
Not my favorite all around. Oh but it gets worse. So much worse.
Because then we get to the fun part where Rihanna is clutching a dude’s arm that looks a lot like that of Chris Brown.
And we hear the following lyrics:
You’re a shooting star I see
A vision of ecstasy
When you hold me, I’m alive
We’re like diamonds in the sky.
So… none of that is at all ambiguous. I mean, if someone passed you that note in high school, the follow up convo with your girlfriends would be pretty short. “Do you think he likes me?” “Yes. He’s stalking you.” And you’d agree that it was weird and you should stay away, but secretly be really flattered that someone bothered to write you poetry with a simile in it. There is no question that Rihanna is totes cool with Chris at this point.
For the rest of the video we keep coming back to these images, and the Rihanna-Chris arm clutch keeps getting closer and closer to slipping free of each other a la “I’ll never let go, Jack! I’ll never let go!” So Rihanna is being torn apart from Chris but he’ll always be a diamond in her life. Or something.
And then halfway through, the video jumps the shark. Anthony Mandel, the director, says that the idea behind the video is to create a bunch of emotions, not tell a story. And at the halfway mark, he’s really wrapping us in the cliché blanket.
You guys? There are horses in this video.
Running in slow motion. One of them even falls and we see it struggling to get up. And then! Oh and then, all ye fans of Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, Secretariat and War Horse, another horse comes and they snuggle! I mean, I can’t. I can’t even. Take the scones out of the oven, because they’re overdone!
And if that wasn’t enough (which it was) we then see a burning rose.
You guys, a red rose is on fire. And no this is not an image from The Bachelor: After the Final Rose. This is perhaps the cheesiest image I’ve seen in a long time. That is the stuff of a Kenny G‘s Greatest Hits CD you find in Starbucks.
By the final scenes we are in a post-apocalyptic world with a Chris Brown look-alike walking away from a riot on fire.
I guess this is RiRi’s way of telling us that Chris has been under too much fire and also she has a big budget for this video so played with pyrotechnics? And then we see the hands finally let go, and Rihanna floats on in the sea.
I give this video essay on figures of speech a solid C-. I don’t like the song, it has four lyrics in it, and tries to get us to think Chris Brown is more than a man, he’s a constellation. No thanks. Watch the whole thing here: