Slick 7-minute story of revenge attacked as gory, racist piece of misogyny— and viewed 15 million times.

The first frame of provocateur Rihanna's latest video warns "Language. Nudity. Violence." What follows lives up to the billing.

Depending on which commentator or social media spat you choose, the video - viewed 15 million times since release and at the time of publishing- is either an empowering challenge to music industry stereotypes or a racist and gory piece of misogyny.

Bitch Better Have My Money (BBHMM) is a slick 7-minute film, co-directed by one of the few black women in America who has managed to get right to the top of a male-dominated pop industry.

The plot is simple - an accountant has defrauded the singer out of money so she kidnaps his wife, a spoiled, wealthy white woman complete with chi-chi dog and diamonds. With two friends, she bundles her into a trunk, strips her, swings her upside down from a rope, knocks her out with a bottle, then lets her almost drown in a swimming pool.


When that doesn't work, Rihanna straps the accountant to a chair and shows a collection of knives presumably used to finish him off as he's then shown blood-covered and naked in a trunk of money.

A show of sisterhood it isn't, although the homage to girl power blockbuster Thelma and Louise, with Rihanna and her accomplices riding off in a 1960s blue convertible, suggests the artist might think differently.

In 13 minutes!!!! #BBHMMvideo #VEVO

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

The song is based on Rihanna's grievance against accountant Peter Gounis, who she sued in 2012 claiming he gave her "unsound" financial advice that led to a loss of US$9million in 2009 alone. She won a multimillion settlement.

Predictably, BBHMM ignited a furious debate. A headline on online publication Refinery29 declared the video "Not Safe for Work or Feminists" while Twitter accused Rihanna of glorifying violence against women, and condemned the "kidnapped female" trope. Rolling Stone was attacked for praising the video and crediting the two minor male roles while not even giving a name to the lead actress.

Rachel Roberts, who has made several Vogue covers, said the offer of her part was "irresistible" and the video was Rihanna's concept.

Screenshot from the new video Bitch Better Have My Money.
Screenshot from the new video Bitch Better Have My Money.

"The whole thing was an insane thrill ride. Helicopters, boats, gunfire, stunts ..."

In the New Statesman, Helen Lewis was less gushing: "It was not very feminist - not even very hashtag feminist - of Rihanna to 'torture that poor rich lady'. That is because it is not very feminist to torture women. Even if they are white. Even if they are rich. Even if you are a woman yourself. Sorry if this comes as a surprise."

But Rihanna's co-directors, Leo Berne and Charles Brisgand, said her intention was clear. "From the beginning she was like, 'I don't care if it's not aired on TV'," Brisgand said. "She wanted something that people don't expect from her."


- Observer