My initial reaction to Rihanna’s latest tribute to Europop, “We Found Love,” seemed to be a lot different than everyone else’s. It’s not that I feel that it isn’t a good video. Rihanna’s videos are always appeasing to the eyes whether they’re glorified extended cosmetic ads or something like this, which shows Rih-Rih pushing herself far more creatively than in previous videos that I can recall. As a whole “We Found Love” is very well done. Still, I am a bit irritated by it.
What spawned those feelings was the initial sight of pills flying all over the screen. Worse were the shots of her and what looks like Chris Brown as a gay man (or a better looking Arnez from One on One) freebasing on camera. Yes, I get it. The song has about 13 lyrics and seven of them are “we found love in a hopeless place.” Obviously, that hopeless place wasn’t a TGI Friday’s. So don’t worry, I understand the point of the video highlighting volatile relationships, how destructive they can be, and how co-dependency can often be misconstrued for love or soil love or whatever had her looking crazy as hell in the video.
My concern is Rihanna’s 14-year-old fans, a loyal bunch constantly ready to threaten to steal your nana’s insulin should you shade their supreme being, will miss much of that. As the day passed I was ready to let that fear go and just salute Rihanna for a well-made video.
Then I saw this:
I have come a long way with my feelings about Rihanna. I used to want to call immigration on her. These days, I worry about the unnatural feelings she gives me. If I ever got into the girl thing (which ain’t happening, sorry mama, and some of y’all) I think I would have sex with her, but only because I feel like after I was done experimenting she would be cool if I said, “Hook me up with that bubble butt dancer of yours?” To which she’d say, “Which one?” and I would say in response, “One? Why are you being selfish?”
She’d laugh, offer me something I don’t do and then put me down.
Anyway, I like her a whole bunch now but a cute personality doesn’t prevent me from saying she’s got the game all wrong. When I watched Rihanna’s video I assumed it was a not so subtle reference to her ex. I also wondered what she was on (insert allegedly here). After that, I speculated with a friend as to whether or not Rihanna would be crazy enough to sniff pesticides and fuck on a farm the way she seems to constantly flock the fields in her music videos. Finally, I wondered, “No, really. Did she just fucking freebase on camera?”
None of my reactions to this was, “Oh, what a beautiful love story.” I will acknowledge that at the end of the video she leaves her bad romance and lessens the load she places on her nostrils (insert allegedly here). Unfortunately, it kind of comes across as an after thought considering the drug-induced “fun” she was having with Arnez Brown was glamorized far more in the clip than the break up. I was still hoping that some people would understand the context of the story and the message Rihanna sought to convey clearly. I now worry whether Rihanna even does.
If you watch this video and consider this to be a lesson on love, I worry for you. Tampons illustrate love better than anything in the “We Found Love” video does.
I know Rihanna’s deal: She thinks “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” is cool. I’ve always found that attitude interesting considering that like me, she is the child of an addict. Whatever, as she repeatedly states she is not a role model. I have always found that claim funny from people who have no problem taking endorsement deals — which pretty much affirms that they’re well aware of the influence they yield on their fans (you know, like a role model). But, fine: She doesn’t want to raise other people’s kids. Who could blame her for deflecting that responsibility?
At the same time, she knows her power and she knows the power she has in conveying a given message to her audience. That’s what troubles me about this video to a small degree. This video is a lot of things. Cinematic. Intriguing. Beautifully shot. Well directed. Engaging. Funny. Strong. Impressive. A lot of good things, actually. Yet as far as pushing a message goes, this clip would serve Betty Ford far better than it would Cupid.
Every single one of us is prone to finding love somewhere that could be considered hopeless, but we don’t have to. That’s my issue with Rihanna’s retweeting of that statement. This video doesn’t teach me what love is. It’s merely a reminder that many of us are willing to call something love just for the sake of saying we’ve had it. And there’s an obvious danger in that. @RiRi_LoveU might have missed that message now, though she’ll certainly get it later.