February 1, 2011


For some reason or another, somebody mailed me the latest Rihanna video, S&M, which I presume stands for Small & Male or maybe Sucks to be Me.

No, actually, a friend mailed it to me, because she knows I have a great liking of things that are somewhat out of the ordinary or perhaps extraordinary, whatever, at least it isn't ordinary.

And so I watched it. And wondered once again how far we have fallen in our pop culture. Groundbreaking, this video isn't. It is an amalgam of sexualized imagery, but there is no love in it, not even lust. It is... predictably plastic, not rubber, not latex, no, just plastic, a 1950s Beaver-style atrocity, you know, like a lot of Kate Perry's videos. And perhaps that is how suburban whites understand S&M to be like. Oh, it's a whip! Isn't that groundbreaking? Oh, it's a suburban mistress wife with a little male doggie. In pink. In Barbie pink.

And here I thought I had seen scary before.

There is nothing sexual here, but everything is sexualised. The difference is that sexuality is something to be cherished, that something sexual is its own reward, it is both the means and end of the action. To sexualise something is to weaponise sexuality.

To sexualise is to use and abuse sex in order to sell something else, and in this case here, it used to sell a record. Now, now... that has been done many times before and will indubitably be done in the months and years to come, but is it just me who has a problem with that?

Not with being sexual, but with this rather silly, PG-rated way of dealing with it? Sex is dangerous (and I grew up when Freddie Mercury died and AIDS was all around and in such a way that you'd go, "I really would like to, but I can die", because in those days, AIDS was a death sentence. Try becoming sexually aware in that era, the Mid- to Late Eighties), sex is good, sex is an expression of your heart and soul, manifested physically.

And yes, it can be kinky, sometimes should be kinky, because it is you letting go and your lover letting go, while you merge in ways that leave you both breathless and sweaty. It can be kinky as hell, but this here? This is a Barbie doll playing dress-up in the rather pathetic attempt to look edgy. And it isn't And she isn't. There's the pout, there's the strut, there's the wiggle and jiggle, but it all feels staged, feels unreal and without a deeper understanding of what sex is, can and should be.

And no, I am not on the side of the religious folks, who think that sex is something you do to procreate. Sex is something you do to celebrate. And it can be quick and rough and with the right amount of perversion that tickles the last gasps of lust out of your lover, and it can be long and sweet and sensual and light as a feather that moves slowly across your skin, letting your hairs rise to the touch and heart flutter to the kiss.

Because it is just that, a celebration.

And so I look at this video, and I wonder where that is. Where that celebratory aspect went. I just can't find it. It is all superficial here, without depth, without danger, without darkness, and trust me, sex is dark, it roars and it bites and screams into your lover's soul. As she screams into yours.

And this? This here?

It looks like a commercial. For something. Maybe a shampoo.

If you compare that to Madonna's Justify My Love, there is sexuality there. It's feverish. It's dream-like. It is the thoughts we have, those dirty thoughts that are best lfet in black and white. And more than that, there is love there, because note how she is not singing about herself, she is singing (and showing) what she is going to do to you, how deep she will touch you. The ends is the means, the means are to that end.

To please and be pleased.

To celebrate. Yourself and your lover.

[UPDATE] Now this is the last damn time that I am re-linking that damn video. You know, if you don't want videos to be seen anywhere but.. where exactly? MTV? You know, that channel doesn't air music videos anymore, in case you haven't noticed. If you don't want people to discuss your videos, don't make them in the first place. And yes, I am aware that you can somehow rip the song from the video with some gadget-doo-dah, but you know what, you morons? We could do that back in our day, too! With cassettes! From the radio! No, really. We even made mix tapes. There was an entire movie about that! Based on a book! By Nick Hornby!