A bad girl is a badass
Rihanna’s video for her song “Bitch Better Have My Money” has had a large amount of controversy since it was released, most of it being in response to the graphic violence directed to the woman who plays the wife in the video. One of the posts on this site had said that they did not consider Rihanna a badass for what she did, but I’m writing this to say that I disagree. While what she did was abusive and, at times, extremely distasteful, it does not take away from the fact that Rihanna is a badass. In no way would I ever condone Rihanna’s behavior, but none of this takes away from her badass persona. A good girl was never considered a badass, but a bad girl can be a badass. I am going to be using Katz’s definition of a badass from his book Seductions of Crime to prove why Rihanna deserves the badass title in her music video. The three essential traits to be being a badass, according to Katz, is to be tough, be alien, and be mean. One can find these three traits easily in the video for BBHMM. Katz says that to show toughness effectively, one one needs to show it through their appearance and their actions. I think Rihanna displays toughness by the glasses worn in different scenes throughout the video. Her sunglasses give off an unaproachable aura as she sees and judges everyone while not allowing people to read into her own thoughts. Rihanna’s dark lipstick worn throughout the whole video also contributes to her tough persona. In our society, dark lipstick has been seen on the toughest of characters, so it is no surprise that she wears dark lipstick to further instill her tough, badass persona. Rihanna also shows toughness through many of her actions from smoking and doing drugs throughout the video to simply holding her gun while relaxing in the boat scene. Her violent bursts of anger as the accountant in the video continues to not give her money further adds to her tough persona as it shows she can probably put up a fight. The next essential trait is to show off an alien persona. By alien, Katz means someone who seems foreign—the individual has a presence but one that is not familiar to the rest of society. Obviously we acknowledge that Rihanna and the rest of her crew are part of society, but we do not know where they have come from. The way they dress is also very unsual. All of the outfits in the video have components that show they acknowledge societal norms in dressing, but all of their outfits are ones most of us have never seen before. This unique sense of style shown in the video makes her seem alien, unlike the rest of us. The final component that demonstrates that Rihanna is, in fact, a badass is that she is mean. The mean persona is the most controversial aspect from the video as most cannot (and should not) condone the meanness she puts on the wife they take hostage. However, whether one condones the violence displayed in the video or not, it is this essential meanness that contributes to her being a badass. From hanging the wife, tied in ropes, forcing her into drinking and taking drugs, and drowning her underwater, no one can deny her mean persona she exudes. She also shows an obsession for weapons as her vast amount of weapons is revealed throughout the video. This obsession outwardly displays her meanness. Perhaps the most essential component Katz points out is that a badass does not back down; they show they mean business. Rihanna takes the accountant’s wife hostage, threatening to harm her if she does not get her money from him. Throughout the whole video, one can see that she is making calls to someone demanding her money, and at the end of the video, it is revealed who she had been calling and what he was doing as she continued to call. He never took her seriously, so Rihanna continued to escalate violently, showing that she meant business. In the end, he never gave her money, so Rihanna killed him, the final act to get what she demanded. I think this is the primary component that makes Rihanna a badass. The accountant never took her seriously, and she showed that he should have. Had he originally given the money, she would not have had to do what she did. Katz points out that there are unfortunate events where the badass is compelled to follow through to the end, even if it means death on one end. If Rihanna had let moral values mold her and keep her from doing what she did, her badass persona would be lost. The video ends with her covered in blood, smoking, sitting on top of a trunk of the money she had demanded. This moment craftily sums up every component that I have explained up till now. Her smoking continues to show her tough exterior, and the blood she is covered in alludes to her violent persona. Finally, the trunk of money she is relaxing on shows that she got what she demanded; she showed she meant business. Whether or not you find yourself accepting the video’s violence or not, I hope that this has proved why Rihanna deserves the badass title that she’s been given.