Kanye West‘s unfinished video for “Monster” has leaked online and it’s a disgusting display of gratuitously sexy dead women. In the opening shot, dead women in lingerie hang from nooses made of chains; the camera lingers on one’s stiletto heels. In a later scene, Kanye lies in bed with two lifeless models, moving one’s hand to her crotch like a rag doll. Later, Jay-Z raps with a woman lying lifeless on a couch behind him, ass up, and the camera lingers on her red patent leather f**k-me heels. But the most disgusting part of the video is when Kanye raps while holding a dead woman’s severed head in his hand.Let me clear a few things up first: I love Kanye West’s music and I looove “Monster.” Like, I’ve been listening to it on repeat for weeks. And I also love horror movies, the more grisly the better. “Let The Right One In.” “The Descent.” “Quarantine”: that’s my s**t. The rush of adrenaline, the thrills of the scare make me feel alive.
This “Monster” video that has been released is supposed to be art, but also an advertisement for “the Kanye brand,” whatever that means these days. But what’s he selling, really? How gross and provocative he can be? How far he can push the envelope to piss feminists like me off? Um, congratulations, Kanye. You’re provocative. The other day I watched the documentary “Smash His Camera” about the paparazzo Ron Galella, who famously stalked Jackie O, and there is a lawyer in the film who says, “Ron Gallela is the price tag for the First Amendment.” That line pops in my head about Kanye, too. Of course Kanye should be able to make whatever art/advertisement he wants and all that First Amendment s**t. But seriously, Kanye, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Have a freakin’ sense of responsibility for erotically glorifying violence against women. Frankly, for a self-styled “provocateur,” that’s not that original of an idea — eeeeeveryone else does it.
A hundred defenses will be made about how the song is called “Monster,” the various rappers personify different monsters in the song — think of it in context. I’ll also be told I’m taking my criticism of “Monster” too literally. (Feminists are always told the things they analyze should not be taken “too literally”; we are apparently a very figurative culture.) Those excuses are missing the point: I don’t give a flying f**k about the monster theme; as I said, I’ve watched dozens of horror films in my life and I know for a fact there are ways to portray zombies/vampires/monsters without the camera lingering on the f**k-me heels. On the whole, this “Monster” video is a gross piece of work because the sexualization of women who have been violently killed. Women hanging on nooses, a severed head, dead women in their lingerie: it’s gratuitously violent towards women and gratuitously eroticizing that violence. How many dead men are in this video? I counted only one, lying dead, it seems, on a kitchen counter as he is eaten alive by a woman. Everyone else who is dead or disembodied in this video is a woman.
I don’t even want to have to repeat the statistics about violence against women again. How many women die each year at the hands of boyfriend and husbands, ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands. How many women are raped each year. You cannot tell me — you cannot tell me — that music videos like this don’t desensitize us. Everyone who participated in putting the “Monster” music video out into the world has blood on their hands.
And to quote my boyfriend, who watched literally the first five seconds of the music video before announcing he had better ways to spend his time: “Kanye’s got issues.” [You Tube]