Sticks, stones may break bones, ‘S&M’ ban pointless

By J_Thomas

Barbadian singer/songwriter Robyn Fenty, better identified as Rihanna, is well-known for her personal style, edgy and fierce fashion sense, outrageous and ever-changing hairstyles, increasing amount of tattoos, breathtaking looks and chart-topping music. When she first arrived in 2005, it was unsure if she would be a one-hit wonder or the next “it” girl. It’s safe to say the one-hit wonder theory can be disregarded.

If one thing is clear, it’s that Rihanna’s style changed throughout the six years she’s been in the industry. It’s been a long journey from being an unknown island girl to becoming a household name, which speaks to her talent level and her record labels’ publicity mechanisms and management.

Along with her evolving fashion and style, her music and videos have developed, too. Rihanna’s latest music video “S&M,” from her fifth album “Loud,” is causing more controversy than needed. It’s been banned in 11 countries and restricted on YouTube for viewers under 18 because, according to, it depicts Rih Rih “in plenty of scantily clad yet vibrant and fashion-forward outfits, a ball-gagged press, Perez Hilton on a dog leash, bondage, the pop songstress deep throating a banana, whips, chains and plenty of sexy moves, proving to be too hot for TV.”

In addition to this, BBC Radio in London decided to play the track only after 7 p.m. because of its “graphic content.” MTV is also considering a re-edit of the video to make it appropriate for daytime programming.

Rihanna has learned how to keep the public and media interested by constantly changing her appearance and fashion style. Her image has certainly evolved from a wholesome Caribbean girl to a celebrity femme fatale.

While the video is a bit racy in its content and visual message, it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. The vision she and the video’s director, Melina Matsoukas—who also directed “Rude Boy,” “Hard” and “Rockstar 101”—is perfectly clear.

It’s easy to see what they were going for, which was to be just scandalous enough but not too raunchy—to create just enough controversy but not too much.

I appreciate this video for the art it truly is. So what if Rihanna is walking Perez Hilton on a leash? So what if she says she likes whips and chains and loves the smell of sex in the air? Who cares if she’s tied herself up and created a contraption to spank herself? Who cares if she is portraying humiliation by being completely taped to a wall behind plastic wrap during a pretend press conference while people throw things at her? Who cares if she is depicting a dominatrix who likes to be watched on video cameras?

It’s her video. If you don’t want to watch it, then don’t. It is called “S&M,” after all. It’s a catchy song with an upbeat tempo and memorable lyrics. What do people expect to see? She doesn’t even mention “S&M” until the end of the song anyways.

Songs that don’t create some type of controversy or contain explicit content would not be entertaining and just plain boring. I can’t think of a song or a music video that doesn’t suggest something to listeners or viewers, whatever it may be. And there are plenty of other songs and videos—with more sexually suggestive material than this one—that haven’t been banned or flagged on YouTube.

The ban placed in those 11 countries is absolutely ridiculous. No full-frontal nudity is shown, nobody is having sex, there are no swear words, there’s no drug use or violence, which are a few typical requirements for banning a music video, according to the Federal Communications Commissions Regulation of Broadcast Obscenity, Indecency and Profanity.

It’s not a big deal if the video happens to be sexually suggestive because no actual sex is shown. Rihanna even responded via Twitter on Feb. 1, tweeting “not true, they watched Umbrella … I was full nude,” saying the video’s content is no more controversial than her 2007 single, which featured the singer nude in silver body paint.

There is no need for MTV to make a re-edit, for YouTube to have it restricted or flagged as inappropriate or for this creative and edgy video to be banned in 11 countries around the world. If it can’t be played or watched during daytime programming, then simply play it at night. If someone doesn’t like it, don’t look at it. People overseas need to stop being so sensitive and value artists and their music videos for what they are. If the “S&M” video is an important topic that absolutely must be discussed, try talking about how similar is it to some of photographer David LaChappelle’s work instead.