Music Video Review: Rihanna's "Hard"

1/02/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Anna Weiland

Rihanna has had an odd year, to say the least. The scandal surrounding her relationship with (the now thankfully disgraced) Chris Brown drew such attention as to make it impossible for her to avoid addressing it, both as a symptom of her fame and a catalyst for her new music. The music video for “Hard,” her new single featuring Young Jeezy, indirectly summarizes her new, tough persona by setting her up as a military commander in charge of an all-male battalion. The message is clear--Rihanna is now in control.

“I can’t just let you run up on me like that,” she sings (perhaps to Brown himself), asserting her authority and her lack of fear as the song continues with assurances like “while you’re getting your cry on, I’m getting my fly on.” This song, and the video, is about expressing power. Rihanna, no stranger to a lack of subtlety, spends the video dressed in spiky leotards and jackets, shouting at soldiers, firing guns and strutting across deserts while bombs explode behind her.

A cameo from Young Jeezy takes place amidst tanks and hunkered down soldiers, seemingly in the midst of combat. Rihanna struts through the middle of it, a stark contrast to the gritty explosions occurring on either side of her. The video shifts between these desert images, close-up shots of her in adapted military gear, and scenes of her dancing on tanks wearing a necklace of bullets. There is a particularly interesting sequence in which she walks among a row of soldiers, supervising a rigidly choreographed marching routine not unlike a dance she herself has performed.

The video is an intriguing amalgam of stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. In half the video, Rihanna assumes the traditional role of commanding a battalion of soldiers, and in close-ups, we see her wearing men’s clothes and repeatedly grabbing her crotch--perhaps in mockery, perhaps in simple imitation. Later on, she writhes in a bikini in the mud, her face a perfect replication of the come-hither supermodel expression.

The video ends with Rihanna dressed in what appears to be a vaguely Roman-inspired costume, waving a flag with the initial “R” emblazoned in the center. It’s a call to arms for herself, her fans and even her haters. The new Rihanna is all about representing strength and confidence, and it’s up to the viewer to decide if it’s just a phase meant to publicly address her personal life, or the beginning stages of a refashioned pop icon. Either way, people are paying attention: “That Rihanna reign just won’t let up,” indeed.

View the video for Rihanna's "Hard" below. What are your thoughts?

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