That has been the reaction from many after watching Kanye West’s latest video, for “Flashing Lights,” which premiered last week and has been generating plenty of buzz online since.
In the clip, which Spike Jonze co-directed, a sexy temptress drives to the Nevada desert, pulls over her car, drops her fur coat to the ground and sets it on fire. She walks back to her vehicle (in not much clothing), pops the trunk — and there, viewers are stunned to find a bound-and-gagged ‘Ye. The female lead then caresses West’s face, reaches for a shovel and, out of view, begins to violently pummel the boastful rapper. The video abruptly cuts to black with only the words “Flashing Lights” written across the screen.
It’s not exactly the good life.
There’s no dialogue. There’s no performance shot. The clip is just shy of three minutes (no, it’s not a preview for an extended version coming later). And, according to what West said at a Grammy afterparty, “Every piece of the video is me, what I represent now,” he said.
It’s the “Sopranos” finale all over again: What does it mean? What happened? Wait, that’s it?
“It’s so funny,” Rita G, the clip’s star, told MTV News about the clip. “This video will go over a lot of people’s heads — and it’s supposed to. I think it’s great that it does. Because Kanye is just on another level; he’s ahead of his time, in a sense. So all the third-graders who come home from school and want to watch videos and snap their fingers and all that, they’re probably gonna think, ‘That video is wack, but that chick got a fat a–.’ And that’s fine. But people in higher positions, they’re gonna see something different. They’re gonna get it, people who are thinkers.”
Rita G, a Playboy model from Houston, admits that she almost didn’t get it herself.
The finished version of “Flashing Lights” was actually the third attempt for Kanye, she said. West apparently wasn’t satisfied with the first two versions. He wanted the clip to be more about fashion, sex and life, she said.
“He told his boy, ‘Yo, I need you to call this girl called Rita G,’ ” the Playmate said, laughing. “I happen to know he’s been a fan of mine for a while, because he mentioned something about me in an interview he did for Playboy quite some time back.”
Once Kanye had his woman, Rita flew to the set and was caught off guard by how bare-bones the operation was. She said at her fitting, she saw only West and two female wardrobe stylists. West picked her outfit and accessories, and told her what he wanted.
Then when it came time to shoot, things changed … again.
“It actually kept changing all the way until the day I came to where the car was, and the director was like, ‘Oh, nobody told you the new idea?’ ” she said.
The shoot lasted under four hours, and Rita said she was surprised how excited West and his camp were with the footage afterward.
“I didn’t know exactly how they were gonna piece it together or how the final edit was gonna look, but all I know is Kanye was very happy, him and a whole group of other men, like, grown-ass men, standing outside in the freezing cold with five levels of clothes on shivering, me naked,” G recalled. “They stood out there for, like, half an hour just watching the monitor. I’m like, ‘What else is there to see? It’s only three minutes.’ They kept watching it over and over and over. He was so happy.”
For Rita, the post-video experience has been a whirlwind. Although she’s successful in her own right, the response she has received since the video debuted has been enjoyable, she said.
“I have on a wig, I have on sunglasses,” she said. “And not everybody knows every inch of my body, to be like, ‘Oh, that’s Rita G. But a lot of people, in message boards, apparently, they were like, ‘It’s gotta be Rita G!’ ”
The starlet has even glanced at online comments from viewers trying to grasp what exactly the video is about: A lover scorned? A mistress betrayed? A zealous fan seeking fame?
The answer is left to each person’s imagination, she explained.
“I just think it’s great to have a cliffhanger,” she said. “It’s great when the mother goose doesn’t have to chew the food up for you and then feed it to you. Use your mother—-ing mind. It’s abstract. It’s whatever you want it to be.”