Another day, another video to push boundaries.
This time around it comes from Kanye West for the single Bound 2 off of Yeezus. The video is directed by Nick Knight and for those of you don’t know, Nick Knight is a big deal. Awarded as Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), basically, the man’s been knighted. Knight is a fashion and documentary photographer whose clients include Alexander McQueen, [Yves] Saint Laurent, Lady Gaga and the Royal Ballet, just to name a few. Knight has also worked previously worked with DONDA and directed the video for Black Skinhead.
The video has a very Americana feel to it as what appears to be stock footage showcases the majestic landscape of the rather uncharted American frontier. Kanye and fiance Kim Kardashian are seen riding on a (stationary) motorcycle as a green screen behind them plays on the stock footage with punctuated close-ups of Kanye rapping and Kim posing. Kim just happens to be topless – or rather, gives the illusion of it. No X-rated body parts are shown – and the two gyrate and embrace on the vehicle which very obviously alludes to sexual intercourse.
Folks on Twitter and the blogs are generally dissatisfied with the video to the point where I’ve seen Freudian-style psychosis analyses of their relationship. It’s no secret that I am utterly mesmerized with the work that DONDA puts out however, I personally would have kept it in the vein of the photographs featured in their joint L’Officiel Hommes spread which was also coincidentally shot by Nick Knight. I just always got a dark vibe from this love song and it would have been dope to see those still images come to life.
Anyways, the way I read the video was as follows; Kanye and Kim are mainstays in American tabloids – Kanye’s previously mentioned that in France the paps aren’t so diligent in stalking them. Thus, there’s that over-saturated and let’s face it, generic imagery of the great American outdoors. There’s an irony to this. Why is Kim topless? Well, why did you most likely go watch her sex tape? Because everyday people will forever be obsessed with the sex lives of celebrities. Kanye and Kim are simulating imagery and thus retaining control of their representations whilst simultaneously giving you what you want to see.
Do I think Kim is being exploited? No, because it’s consensual. Do I think one can consent to being exploited? Once again, no. Because to offer consent is to maintain power and power is the opposite of exploitation. Secondly, people need to stop bringing up that tape that seems to have been released two lifetimes ago. How can anyone ever evolve into a better self if the past is always thrown in their face?
There are levels to the shit Kanye and his team do. This video is no exception. Peep it below.