S&M in the mainStreaM
I would have bet on Lady Gaga to be the one to stop the not-so-subtle tease, but I suspect that she’s too busy working on her next fashion show. No, the pop singer who finally stopped hinting with lyrics and over-produced videos, and came out ended up being Rihanna. Yes, yes, I know there are dozens, if not hundreds of songs that reference whips, or leather, or some such alternative sexuality — but that’s my point. Everybody else has simply alluded to it, but Rihanna actually came out and said it: S & M
Some of you won’t be surprised, since for the last few years any number of message boards had topic threads like “Did you see her in that leather dress? I’ll be she’s one of us.” or “Did you see that video? I think she swings a whip in real life.” Yes, because the only reason for people to wear fetish-y clothing is to show off their “lifestyle” choices, right?
I’m not a huge Rihanna fan; but I have seen some of of the celebrity chatter about her, and so I should not have been surprised to see some of the comments in the media blogs from people (mainly women) who were horrified that Rihanna would even consider a song about violent sex after her stormy relationship with Chris Brown, who has been convicted of physically abusing her. And while those people familiar with the concept of “safe, sane, and consensual” know better, many of the comments around the Internet shouldn’t be ignored entirely, because they point out the mainstream perception of those who engage in various forms of sensation and humiliation play.
One interesting thing about the video, though, is that despite the blatant lyrics, she manages to be playful with the fashion. Where other music videos are filled with black leather and shiny chains, Rihanna dolls it up in colorful latex fetish gear. We’re visually treated to whites, pinks, and decidedly non-stereotypical styles, and some fast scene cutting. This is not heavy metal, it’s fun and danceable. Is this supposed to make the concept less threatening? Or is Rihanna playing with the mainstream perceptions of the kinky world?
Anyway, in case you haven’t seen it already, here’s a link (may redirect you to a Youtube channel). Enjoy!