Forum

West’s new ‘Monster’ full of murder and misogyny

Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

A clip of Kanye West’s newest music video, “Monster,” was leaked this week, quickly attracting the attention of the public and the outrage of many of the nation’s women. Why?

I’m a muthaf***ing monster.

The short, 30-second clip from the full-length video features, among other images: bikini-clad, high-heeled women hung from the ceiling by the neck with chains; two dead women in bed with one man, their eyes glazed over as he positions their lifeless arms around each other; a woman drenched in blood, crouching over a dead man, eating his guts with her bare hands; and Kanye West casually holding the blood-dripping, disembodied head of another woman.
Women hang from nooses, lie in twisted heaps, and are maneuvered, mutilated, and subjected to other morbid sexual shenanigans — it only takes about five seconds of the video to sense a theme. And I, for one, am certainly not exactly on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the short clip ends in the final video.

I crossed the line.

Arguments have been made that this is West’s attempt to cross the line, and I get that. The video is primarily about shock value, an attempt to enter back into the spotlight, recharge the debate that often follows him — whether it is sparked by calling former President George W. Bush racist, interrupting Taylor Swift’s award reception, or, now, a video that highlights dead, drugged, or decapitated women.

Others have supported the video, claiming that it also plays into a history of a genre of this type of exaggerated horror that has existed since Romantic literature. It can even be argued that, like much that falls into the category of Gothic horror, there is a sense of satire about the gruesome scenes displayed.

I smell a massacre.

While these arguments can be made, it is hard to move past the fact that West did not choose just to involve corpses; he chose female corpses, which were then sexualized, as well as being drugged, beaten, decapitated, killed, and even eaten. This is gendered violence at an extreme level.

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (Australia), Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, and Adios Barbie sponsored a petition against the release of the video. The petition states that the “music industry’s portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable,” and demands that “Universal Music Group and MTV combat violence against women by refusing to support, promote, and/or give airtime to West’s ‘Monster’ video.”

I signed the petition, and I did so because of much more than my general frustration with the violence, nudity, and over-sexualized imagery that has become the norm in much of the modern music industry. Yes, the video is incredibly violent; yes, the women are undressed and featured as sex objects; and yes, the lyrics seem to repeat the continual references to bitches and hos, and of course include the obligatory references to male power and domination.

This video, however, crosses a line. It not only glorifies women’s bodies — it glorifies women as objects deserving of pain and suffering, deserving of silence, deserving of force and violence.

As one of the best commentaries on the video, written by Melinda Tankard Reist, read:

“Expect to hear boys singing along to it soon. This is the message they are imbibing:

‘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.’ ”

Everybody know I’m a muthaf***ing monster.

The full music video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyB2JvMYFfE, while the petition against the release and distribution of the video can be signed at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/prevent-official-release-of-kanye-wests-women-hating-monster-video.