Pussy power

State of the art

Eda-Yo-full

“Your wife in the backseat of my brand-new foreign car.”

Cut to a shot of a perfect blonde, beautiful wife hanging — quite literally — nakedly out of the backseat of Rihanna’s still-sparkling foreign car.

“Don’t act like you forgot,” the Barbadian beauty raps head-on into the camera, her eyes slightly squinted against the glare of the sun. “I call the shots, shots, shots.”

If you’ve been around this week, you’ve probably caught wind of how RiRi has shaken up the world with a bloody, gruesome and fantastically provocative video for her single “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

There were outraged critics who challenged whether kidnapping a woman and holding her hostage against her will — often scantily clad or without clothing — was not feminist. There were other angry critics who deemed the short film an attempt to glamorize physical and sexual torture.

But at the end of a long line of critics, there was also Rihanna.

A world-renowned superstar who has surpassed 100 million singles downloaded and streamed, Rihanna took a bold step with her new video. She never once backed down from the criticism of “BBHMM’s” every gloriously controversial second, fearlessly posting photos — and even jokes — in promotion of the video amid all the backlash on her Instagram.

Pitchfork hit the nail on the head, saying Rihanna didn’t really give a shit what anyone else said. She was simply reminding us that, before all else, she calls the shots.

So when did the femme fatales of the music industry become the ones running the game?

I suppose we have the advent of social media to thank for that.

Before there were platforms on which people — in this case, celebrities — could express themselves and be validated for their thoughts and opinions, we knew a lot less about our revered famous figures.

Typically, all the personal information we could glean about our stars came from slanted interviews and inevitably biased biographies. There was not, generally speaking, a direct line from their thoughts to their fans; there was no way for our luminaires to ensure that their messages would be completely or correctly conveyed.

Then, modern technology arrived.

Rihanna, although a wonderfully relevant example, is definitely not the only female in the entertainment world to have asserted herself. We have Grimes powerfully denouncing sexism in the music industry in Tumblr posts, making herself a paragon of fighting for power for working women around the world. We have M.I.A. making a name for herself as a powerful figure for the underrepresented minority community, as she uses Twitter to stand up for herself and her contentious political views, regardless of how scathing the criticism she receives may be. There’s Nicki Minaj, who has arguably never once acted like anything less than the highest-selling female rapper in the business.

We’ve seen Miley Cyrus come out about her gender fluidity. We’ve come across Taylor Swift making some type of serious girl-power statement in her female-ridden “Bad Blood” video.

We see these musical giants — all female and all insurmountably successful in each of their respective ways — making incredibly powerful statements.

And what’s even more impressive? Going against what studies have determined to be female tendency, these stars never apologize for being who they are: badass, commandeering, impossibly robust women.

All I can say is that it’s about damn time.

Giving women in entertainment the ability to speak out is slowly but surely changing the way we perceive our fabled female starlets in everyday life.

Technology has transformed our previously mute and malleable Barbie dolls into resilient,  stubborn beings.

These women have found their own voices.

They breathe words of fire with blood of steel running through their veins. They don’t care if you agree with them or not. They don’t care about much besides demanding the respect they have always deserved every single time they walk into a room.

They are strong. They are beautiful in every way possible.

Best part? They know it, too.

 

Eda Yu writes the Thursday column on art in the modern age. Contact her at at [email protected].