Britney and Rihanna Debut New Videos -- and Anti-English Sentiments

Categories: First Listens
Rihanna-608x340.jpg
This week, both Rihanna and Britney Spears debuted gritty videos for their latest singles. In Rihanna's "We Found Love", we see the singer exploring sex, drugs, and horrible apartments. In Britney's "Criminal," we see her slapped in the face by a dude, shot at by cops, and naked in a shower with her boyfriend. These girls are going out of their way to prove they're not bubblegum pop stars. But interestingly, both chose a British setting to demonstrate their grit.


Britney's gun-toting video caused such an uproar in the U.K. that London's Houses of Parliament -- Britain's center of government -- felt the need to have a discussion about it before the video had even debuted. The U.K. is not a place that readily embraces guns. Rather, it's a place where guns are rare, gun licensing is tightly controlled, and the entire establishment has been in a panic about gun use on its streets for the last three years. (That's due to increased gun crime in the country -- something that has traditionally been attributable only to the mob and organized crime.) So it's interesting to see that, when going for the most low-down, dirty environments they could think of, both vocalists chose to film in the U.K. -- a place where you're far less likely to find shooting victims than America.


Rihanna's video embraces Trainspotting-esque visuals -- she's seen repeatedly in front of a backdrop of council estates (the British version of the projects); she's seen at a pseudo-rave in a field -- something that the British invented; and she has Calvin Harris, one of Britain's biggest DJs, there to legitimize it all. The voiceover at the beginning of the video is inexplicably done by someone from the north of England. Rihanna wears skinhead garb -- the Doc Martens boots, the cropped green jacket. She's seen in front of that most British of institutions -- the fish 'n' chip shop -- while constantly telling us what a "hopeless place" this is.

But she's also depicted repeatedly in front of -- or wearing -- American flags, as if to repeatedly emphasize her otherness to this horrible environment. Like she doesn't really belong there because she's American, and therefore, somehow, better. The video ends with her abandoning all the hedonism and self-destruction that England, and her English boyfriend, has inspired in her, and abandoning it for something we assume must be more positive. It begs the question: is she trying to tell us that she's better than this environment? Is she above being in this very, very British shithole -- the same place that makes Britney turn bad?

criminal.jpg

That anti-British sentiment continues in Britney's "Criminal." The start of the video features her being verbally and physically abused by the most English man on earth. It is, of course, an American that rescues her. An American criminal -- but in this context, even an American criminal is better than an upper-class Englishman. What's more, she later gets shot at by a whole army of British policemen -- even though only a small portion of the U.K. police force are even permitted to carry guns, and when they do so, they are incredibly cautious about it.

So what does this all mean? Well, it's mostly incredibly ironic. Both Britney and Rihanna have chosen to film their grittiest videos in a country with a lower crime rate than the U.S. -- one that is so aghast at gun use that its politicians feel the need to talk about the exploits of a pop star, in the context of a music video, in the highest echelons of their government. Is this racism of sorts? Or at least xenophobia? Well, pretty much, yes.

America has a tradition of portraying British people as villains, mostly in its movies, and these videos only serve to reproduce a stereotype that Britain is bad -- that it inspires the worst in everyone; that the police are gun-happy; and the people are drug-addicted arse-holes. From Star Wars, through Constantine, to the Silence Of The Lambs and beyond, the English are among the most evil motherfuckers on earth, according to American pop culture. Doesn't this seem strange, what with them being our allies and everything? As stupidly offensive as Dick Van Dyke's cock-er-ney geezer was in Mary Poppins, it was still better than the widespread idea that British people live in the most dangerous place on earth and wish to bring us all down to their level with their pernicious ways. 

Both Britney's and Rihanna's videos are accomplished visually, and as mini-movies. But in the future, artists and directors should stop hating on the British so much.

----
Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Rae Alexandra @Raemondjjjj, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
kAY48
kAY48

tottaly agrre with this. i was offended by the rihanna vid but not so much britney. cuz if americans think we are like that, i feel sorry for them

Cannon4
Cannon4

Where are you getting your crime statistics from?  Last I checked on the New Zealand government's website below were the stats:

The total violent crime rate in 2000 for the U.S. was 506 per 100k of people.  The total violent crime rate for England and Wales was a WHOPPING 2,782 per 100k of people.  So much for gun free and safe in the UK...

I see people online misrepresenting crime statistic every day.  Please check a reputable source before you make such broad statements.  Here is an archive from the New Zealand's government website.

http://web.archive.org/web/200...

Lada
Lada

What a  despicable soft porn video by Britney, how have the culture industries become so one dimensional?   No diversity in music videos, scenes of such sexual nature should be condemned to protect the dignity of our youths and our future generations. This seedy agenda has gone too far. 

Dave
Dave

nun cunt, go get a cock you need one. fucking cunt. cunt. cunt. cunt....offending you? die you religious moron.

Dave
Dave

shut up cunt.

hannah
hannah

You started your review quite promisingly, highlighting  what the video was about in a  sentence about at the beginning, with regards to Rihanna. But there was a turn of events when you started wittering about the video being anti-Britain?

I'd say this video could have been look at a deeper level. Or not. 

Typical illumunati propaganda to break the morals of our very impressionable youths. What has the world come to when a 6 year old can log on to Youtube and see a man scrawling ink on their favourite popstars butt cheek. Despite what the video's message is on the outset ; the fact that hedonistic behaviour /the drug and sex lifestyle does not equate to love , this message will actually be taken the other way by  teenagers, and other psuedo wannabe punks - that it's cool to smoke, drink, take drugs, and make a total tit out of yourself in a trolley because we're seemingly 'f*cked forever', and with videos like this no wonder we're in a hopeless situation.

Brooklyn_to_Brixton
Brooklyn_to_Brixton

Lol stop begging it mate. That Essex reality show has done way more to make the UK look dumb than Rihanna. I haven't seen Brittany's video so I can't speak on it. But Rihanna's video is just a Skins parody. Every scene was lifted right out of Skins season 4 and 5. Rihanna is simply trying to be Effy Stonem not make England look hopeless (which it truly is if you live on a council estate).

Babatundelive
Babatundelive

The council estate is in Belfast Ireland at least get your facts the estate actually was were a lot of people died in a 30yr conflict!!! The video is deep

Tommy (UK)
Tommy (UK)

 Belfast is in Northern Ireland, which is NOT part of Ireland, but is part of the UK.  All Northern Ireland citizens are British citizens.  To a degree, Northern Ireland to Britain is the same as any US state to America.

Chelsea Toxic
Chelsea Toxic

this review was pathetic, and the American guy is her boyfriend + learn how to write a decent passage without being so subjective. I assumed this was journalism not your journal.

Simon
Simon

First thing Rihanna is not from the US. She is barbadian. Second thing is the video was filmed in Ireland. Her producer suggested Ireland. She is not degrading British people. I don't know what Brittney's view are but I am pretty sure that you are over reacting.

P.S learn how to write a article that isn't stupid and attention seeking.

Babatundelive
Babatundelive

Rihanna video was made in Ireland

Tommy (UK)
Tommy (UK)

Rihanna's video was made in NORTHERN Ireland, which is NOT Ireland (aka "the Republic of Ireland").  Ireland to Northern Ireland is the same as Canada to the US.  They are two completely separate bordering countires.  Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and is - to a degree - the same as US state to America (somewhat).

Faisal
Faisal

FYI Rihanna is not American.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Drink

San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...