When unwrapping MBDTF and listening to "Monster," I assumed that 'Ye would go for a horror-themed video as he did with one of the many versions to Flashing Lights. It was to be expected, especially with his known appreciation for the Thriller himself, Michael Jackson. After watching it, it's an understatement to say that Kanye took the scary thing overboard. In the new video, from beginning to end, Kanye decided to bring his song to life with mostly dead, mostly White women. Artistic freedoms be damned, there's a lot very wrong with that statement.
Some are hanging, others are lifeless and contorted. One is even decapitated. All of it is quite tasteless, gratuitous and possibly with unintended implications.
"I don't know what it is with females. But I'm not too good with that shit."~Kanye West from "Runaway"
I think that West's video makes a few statements about the position that women still find themselves in 2011. While one music video isn't dragging them back to a time before Susan B. Anthony, I think the fact that Kanye's video can contain such images - and he can get away with it - is pretty remarkable. I mean, we're talking about using dead women, more or less, as furniture to push along a video concept.
With violence against women as prevalent as it is, the treatment 'Ye chose for his latest single is downright irresponsible. According to the UN Study On The Status of Women in 2000, a woman in the United States is battered every 15 seconds. That means that roughly 24 women are battered in America in the time it takes to watch "Monster." These women are of course not battered because of West, his music, or his videos but the artist's latest endeavor represents the lowest common denominator of filmmaking - and from someone who asked us to sit through 35 minutes of avant-garde psudeo-art, by way of his "mini movie."
"I don't know what it is with females. But I'm not too good with that shit." West says on his song "Runaway." I'm inclined to believe him. That line and others on his albums, where he alludes to committing some acts of domestic violence, stick in your craw like a scream in the dark. He slapped his girl and she called the feds on "All of the Lights," which ironically features Rihanna. Also off of MBDTF, Kanye rhymes, "Been a long time since I spoke to you in a bathroom gripping you up and choking you." He even sung, with the help of autotune, "When I grab your neck I touch your soul," on 808's & Heartbreak's "Say You Will." Is Kanye trying to tell us something?
Sadly enough his lyrics are all too easy to brush off when misogyny is so widespread in Hip Hop. As a Kanye fan and a Hip Hop head, I'm ashamed to say that I often consider it the price of admission. Yea, I'll have to hear a few "bitches" and "hoes" but if I couldn't put up with that, I'd be stuck listening to just....every other genre.
Ultimately, the video proves too much to ignore. It's graphically violent, inartful, and presents some serious images with frivolity: everything that Hip Hop is accused of doing and being. It summons questions like why Kanye's visuals for his most recent projects have featured White women predominately. It also makes one consider how the objectification of these women is any different than that of the countless Black women who have their bodies exploited by the music industry on a regular basis. Even further, I'm wondering where all of the outrage is. Where are the feminists who shut down BET's Uncut and deservingly ripped Nelly a new one for Tip Drill?
Watch the video below and let me know what you think (NSFW.)
Images from the G.O.O.D. Friday mixtapes: