Monday, February 13, 2012

We Found Love (Melina Matsoukas, 2011)

Bursting with the energy of an unapologetic rebellion, the music video for Rihanna's "We Found Love" is a worthy counterpoint to the controversies that plagued her last year, as a victim of a domestic abuse drama that also featured Chris Brown.  Although the fall out of the incident was more severe towards Brown who was (justly) crucified for his violence, Rihanna was relegated to the role of the hapless victim thrown into a circumstance she neither created nor wanted.

But I have friends who believed her complicity. "You know she must have said something..." And to an extent, the role Rihanna was painted into was an unfortunate one: the inactive participant, victim of circumstances she did not will to control.  If domestic violence is about power, she definitely did not have it.  But the video turned powerlessness on its head: she was a willing participant who went down the rabbit hole hand in hand with her abuser.  It was a path of self-destruction both took, but she ultimately left.  Comparisons have apparently been made about this video and Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, but I think the characters' agency makes the difference.  The sex, drugs and filth of Boyle's film was the circumstance that sucked everyone in, while the music video focused on the universe being created by two people madly and irresponsibly in love.  Instead of the clean narratives of protagonists and antagonists that made Rihanna's story such a sensation in the media, her video was about a woman both in and out of control, but nevertheless making her own decisions.