Kanye West has had his fair share of planned and unplanned controversy. His latest misdemeanour comes from the leaked video teaser of his song, ‘Monster’ from his latest album, My Dark Twisted Beautiful Fantasy.
The teaser, from HipHopConnection.com, is only 40 seconds long but still gives a pretty vivid impression of the general tone of the video. In it are dead women, stripped down to their underwear, hanging by chains around their necks. There are also women who appear to be either dead or drugged sprawled out on the sofa.
I am all for freedom of expression as much as the next creative but what kind of message is being sent out in a video where Kanye makes sexual advances to dead and drugged women propped up on a bed? If this was done by anyone else in any other capacity, would we be as forgiving or as passive? Why is it somehow OK if you’re a rapper and have a gold tooth? Kanye’s derogatory views about women are well noted in his songs but as Kanye holds the decapitated head of a woman in this video, I can’t help but think this is chillingly dark new territory which does nothing but create gratuitous controversy.
Latoya Peterson writes a brilliant and insightful piece about this and how the video links in to racialised gender politics. Although it’s clear that Kanye’s video comes from a long stream of misogynistic music videos built on derogatory values, Peterson picks up on another interesting point. All of the dead women in the video are white whereas the black women in the video tend to fulfil fearsome, beast like roles in which they mimic werewolves and eat live flesh. This disturbing video not only unearths the time old depiction of black women as one-dimensional and barbaric but is also unapologetic in its sexualisation of violence.
Frankly, if this is just a glimpse of Kanye’s dark and twisted fantasy, heaven help us.