Remember the days when music videos were mostly party scenes, choreographed routines and boy bands dancing in the rain? Well times have changed and in recent weeks we’ve been introduced to some shocking, and arguably pretty darn offensive music videos. Thanks to Kanye West and Jay-Z we can now enjoy (or be appalled by) their “Monster” music video that has recently hit the airwaves and raised more than a few eyebrows. So here, for your consideration, are some preliminary impressions of “Monster” by Kanye, featuring Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and Bon Iver. Be warned before you click on the link, this is probably (most definitely) not safe viewing for work.
I want to like Kanye. I really do. But I’ve never quite been able to forgive him after his Taylor Swift VMA microphone thievery. While I think that he’s extremely talented musically, I can’t say that he’s done much to impress in the personality department lately. And this video does not help his cause. Monster starts out with a written warning that the following content is not intended to be misogynistic; it is an art piece and should be taken as such, which is basically like saying: You’re about to see some hard-core woman-hating imagery, but my lawyers and PR-team strongly advised me to include this warning so that you won’t make a big deal about it. So yeah, enjoy this “art”.
Anyway, we immediately move in to a shot of a bunch of women who appear to be dead, hanging by their necks in their underwear. Then we get to the shot where Kanye is in bed with 2 probably-dead women whose limbs he is adjusting in to various poses. We also get to see Kanye holding a woman’s severed head, various sexy-lady monsters, a guy with his guts being eaten, and a double-shot of Nicki Minaj (who has just as much screen time as Kanye or Jay-Z, and is quite enjoyable). At the end of the almost 6 minute video, you’re just kind of left wondering “Ok, so you’re a monster, that part is cool, but why on earth did you have to put so many dead girls in there?” I’m simultaneously kind of offended and underwhelmed. Does a semi-nude, deceased female really pass for art these days?
So here’s the plus side – the song is not bad. Assholery aside, Kanye can certainly put together some clever lyrics, and the same can be said for Jay-Z. It stands to reason that when their powers combine, they’re going to come up with some pretty good tracks (although I had to cringe at the rhyme-pairing of ‘sarcophagus’ and ‘esophagus’, and the less than pleasant phrase in which the words are delivered). I understand that the video was intended to shock and spark discussion, because that’s what good “art” does. But they were trying to walk a fine line between controversial and offensive, and ended up somewhere closer to simply distasteful. Although maybe that’s just my bias, as a woman. Ultimately, the video ends with the lyrics “I crossed the line, and I’ll let god decide.” Crossed the line indeed. I know I’m no expert at video directing, and far be it from me to try to stifle anyone’s creative process, but here are some words of advice for next time: more monsters, less dead women.