08.06.2011 update: The official version of the video is here: http://www.twitvid.com/BBBAX (WARNING: the video is extremely offensive and graphic. I do NOT recommend watching it.) They have taken out the young girls from Jay-Z’s scene, but the video remains absolutely sick. The written message at the beginning of the video states that its 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.” The video’s message is strongly misogynistic and negative towards women, and is in no way to be considered ‘art’. Our petition now stands at 15k+ signatures and when read by Universal, they agreed to not broadcast the video in its current form (ie: the leaked video version). This is an ongoing battle. Please sign if you haven’t already done so.
From 12.01.2011: Hip hop fans were thrilled when Kanye West and Jay-Z announced the release of a joint album which, following the musical track record enjoyed by both of the artists, promised to be a fresh and exciting offering.
But the track that is now destined to be the most talked about is Monster, which the two involve Rick Ross and newbie Nicki Minaj in. Because of its catchy riffs? Intricate raps? Pumping beat? No. The video for the song – which I won’t comment on until the final cut has been released – was leaked on Dec 30th; a preview of which has been making the rounds, catching the attention of many over its disgusting material.
I held off from blogging immediately after viewing the video because I wanted to avoid a solely emotional response at the material Kanye and his friends promote. Also, as an important aside – please do NOT go and watch the video after reading this. The last thing we need is to make it more popular than it is.
The ‘hookline’ of the song is ”everybody knows I’m a m-f-ing monster”, a line repeated by the artists throughout the length of the track. Appropriate. The way they act in the video and the people they show themselves to be in through being involved in the video is monstrous.
“- Dead women, clad in lingerie, hang by chains around their necks.
– West makes sexual moves toward dead or drugged women propped up in a bed.
– A naked dead or drugged woman lays sprawled on a sofa.
If that’s not enough, a behind-the-scenes clip of the video includes a semi-naked dead woman laying spread eagled on a table in front of Rick Ross as he eats a plate of raw meat. It is likely we can expect more brutal images in the full-length video.” (From Sharon Haywood).
The dangers of this video are numerous and great. For women, for men, for children, for victims of prostitution, trafficking, and violence, for our society and all those who are exposed to such influences. One critic suggested that all involved in this video do indeed have ‘blood on their hands‘. That’s not ‘art’.
I have been privileged to be involved with Mel Tankard Reist and Sharon Haywood & Pia Guerrero as they have put together a petition asking the CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Group (Doug Morris) and CEO of MTV (Judy McGrath) to stand against the release of the video. Excitingly, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia, Collective Shout and Adios Barbie are sponsoring this initiative.
The letter is as follows:
Dear Mr. Morris and Ms. McGrath,
We the undersigned write in response to the leaked video teaser of Kanye West’s video “Monster,” released by HipHipConnection.com. The shocking and demeaning images of slain women, fetishized and eroticized in the video clip, suggest that violence against women is sexy. The 30-second clip sends the message that women as lifeless and passive objects are sexually appealing.
As one critic has written, “Women are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even in death. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women. Men enjoy dead women as sex and entertainment. The female body is to be devoured, reduced to the same status as meat. Female bodies should be displayed before men as a great feast for their consumption.”
The mainstreaming of videos of this nature, combined with accessible and repeated exposure contributes to desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women, which is a scourge around the world. Becoming numb to violent images makes violent acts easier to commit and condone.
We ask you to consider the fact that much of West’s fan base is comprised of young people in the formative stages of their development. Possibly millions of them globally will absorb and potentially internalize the unhealthy and harmful messages that women are playthings and objects of male pleasure – even if dead or drugged – and that they do not deserve basic human rights.
We hope you will agree with us that the music industry portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.
An official release date of the full-length video has yet to be announced. We respectfully request that you take a stand against the official release of “Monster” by refusing to promote, support, and/or give it airtime.
We await your response.