The NSFW video for Kanye West‘s feature-packed single “Monster” premiered on kanyewest.com yesterday, largely unchanged from what was seen in the unfinished cut that surfaced five months ago. One notable addition: the disclaimer “The following content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and it shall be taken as such.”
What a joke! The song remains one of the highlights of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but every music video is an “art piece”—some just happen to be more self-conscious about it—and interpretation is the task and privilege of the viewer, not the creator. Besides which, this disclaimer, preceding six minutes of sexualized “dead” models, is the most absurd non-apology for the treatment of women since R. Kelly’s “When you say ‘teenage,’ how old are we talking?” in Touré’s interview with him on BET.
The tracks’ guests have varying levels of complicity in Kanye’s sexist aesthetics. Rick Ross portrays some sort of serial killer, complete with chainsaw, whose victims just so happen to be female models. Jay-Z raps in the foreground while a nude model is half-buried under the cushions of a couch in the background. Nicki Minaj (who, musically, steals the show on this track) portrays one of her personalities mildly torturing another of her personalities. But mainly this is Kanye’s problem.
Considering the appearance of zombies in the video (and his self-proclaimed idolatry of Michael Jackson), we have a pretty good idea of where Kanye got the idea for a disclaimer, but it goes without saying that “Monster” is no “Thriller.”