Thursday, January 13, 2011

Should Kanye's "Monster" video be barred from official release?

A handful of posts about Kanye West's leaked video, "Monster," were waiting for me yesterday morning as I checked my newsreader. Full disclosure: I am not a Kanye fan, nor am I a Kanye apologist (but I'm not not one either). But when something causes enough of a stir within the blogosphere, I feel obligated to check it out. Here's a short description of video via Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory:
The 40-second clip shows Kanye lying amid blue satin sheets, petting his own face with a woman's pale, lifeless fingers and later placing her hand on the crotch of the other unanimated woman sharing the bed. Although I wasn't able to spot it, the Wall Street Journal reports that there is also "the disturbing image of West holding what appears to be the decapitated head of a woman." Kanye's guest MCs get in on the necrophiliac fun, too: Rick Ross smokes a cigar while reclining in an ornate chair covered in protective plastic; and lingerie-clad women dangle lifelessly from the ceiling, their necks wrapped with industrial chain. In a behind-the-scenes video, we see Ross sitting at a table sipping red wine and feasting on a plate of bright-red raw meat that is placed right between the legs of a lifeless woman in thigh-highs and heels. The backdrop is straight out of "Dexter": There's a large plastic sheet splattered with blood and what looks like a tray of surgical tools. Jay-Z is shown spitting a verse in front of a naked woman lying on her stomach -- body limp, mouth agape and the purple "postmortem stain" setting in.
The blog Adios, Barbie posted a link to a petition to prevent the video's official release. This might get my feminist card revoked, but I'm not sure this is a good idea.

While I don't relish the idea of decapitated women, and I don't plan on seeking out "Monster," an outright ban of the video isn't the answer. To be honest, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of censorship in general. Judging from the screenshots, "Monster" is undeniably disturbing, but we need to be discussing what these images mean, and preventing the video from being shown at all shuts down that discussion making it even more scary and taboo.

One of my favorite comments on the matter comes courtesy of this Jezebel poster:

I'm curious how other women are responding to this. What do you think? Would you sign a petition to have a video barred from release because of its content? (Are we even watching videos anymore?)

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