Scene: Kanye West in bed with two women. One appears to be dead, or drugged beyond recognition. Second is drugged beyond the point of consent, Kanye kisses her, sings to camera and arranges the limbs of both women to his amusement and satisfaction. Later in the video as he sings, “I’ve crossed the line” the girl appears to be dead.
Scene: Jay-Z raps as a dead woman lays practically spread eagle on a chaise behind him.
Scene: Kanye West holding the severed head of a young women, her eyes open.
B-Roll: lots of dead women, a few androgynous men. Lots of blood, gore, hyper-sexualization of brutality and death.
Voila! This is what you get with the video for Monster by Kanye West. Many have lauded West as a creative genius, as the next coming of rap and cultural transcendence. Many of us have his tunes on our iPods. Since he has another single getting ready to hit the airwaves this song may not make the impact that he’s hoping for.
Maybe West really saw this as a 21st Century brutal counterpart to Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller. Whatever fueled this “creative” endeavor, the result is nothing short of a glorification of brutality and total degradation of human beings. Some will say “omigod” it is so hateful towards women. That assessment might be correct but – and this is a big caveat – what does this also say about MEN? That men like Kanye enjoy a little sexy-time with a corpse? Because the woman would then – obviously – do whatever you wanted. Except of course, be a participant.
There is a difference between mutual surrender between two consenting adults and lack of consent, due to drugs or death. What West has achieved is nothing short of cinematic rape for no purpose, no illumination of consciousness. Instead he is sanctioning the use of Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) or whatever drug & alcohol combo elicits the dazed, near-dead or all dead submissive female. The perception of West will now be colored by this video. Instead of him being a creative genius, many will (and should) wonder what such a vision says about the man himself.
The blood, gore and repulsive behavior of all the others in the video begs so many questions. Among them: is that really the only gig you could get to pay your bills this month???
Unfortunately, Jay-Z appears all too comfortable in the video. I sure hope Beyonce and her mother get a glance at this video. Anyone who participated in the creation of MONSTER… it would be a deal breaker. At some point, redact yourself. Check yourself. Edgy is fine, wonderful, encouraged. Thought-provoking is good for expanding our cultural conversation. This video isn’t any of those things.
The implicit moral decay as expressed by Kanye West, Jay-Z and Rick Ross in MONSTER is monstrous indeed. This video, for me, bypassed the last painful-to-watch scene that provoked pop-culture dialogue for me. Arguably, Blue Velvet‘s brutal scene between Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini evoked cries of too far. However, Director David Lynch had the last word because it was a real cinematic gem. As was his Wild at Heart with Nic Cage and Laura Dern, a movie that bore one of the first NC-17 ratings. There are wonderful, brilliant creative men and women who are capable of exploring mankind’s darkest impulses without resorting to the lowest common denominator.
West’s exploitation of women and men, body image and the heroin chic rock-and-roll cliché disappoints. In a world with rampant human trafficking, sex slavery, mass rapes in Congo, female genital mutilation, Afghanistan’s dancing boys, and genocide… it shows how low a sheltered,desperate, ignorant and pampered diva is willing to go to maintain street cred.