As soon as Rihanna’s music video for “S&M” hit the Web on Tuesday, it sparked a wave of controversy for its sexually charged imagery. Not only did it raise eyebrows among some viewers, but YouTube enforced an age restriction and 11 countries have banned its airplay altogether.
The video’s director, Melina Matsoukas, wasn’t too surprised by the reaction.
“When I go out to make something, I kind of go out with the intention to get it banned — [well] not to get it banned, I always want my stuff played — but to make something provocative,” Matsoukas told MTV News. “So when you do something that’s provocative, that’s usually a repercussion. It’s gonna be talked about or banned or slandered in some way. But it’s making an effect and people are having a dialogue about it, so, to me, that’s successful.”
For Matsoukas, it’s the video’s harshest critics who are the most amusing.
“I mean, the song is called ’S&M’!” she laughed. “So I think that the imagery follows suit with what the song is. I wouldn’t play down the imagery for a song that’s so strong. It makes sense to develop it further and really take it there. So if they don’t want to play it, [fans] can watch it somewhere else.”
One of those places airing the video uncensored is MTV. Matsoukas, who previously directed Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” and “Rockstar 101” clips and Beyoncé’s “Why Don’t You Love Me,” said it’s the first time MTV hasn’t requested changes to one of her videos.
“I haven’t talked to Rihanna about the controversy,” Matsoukas said. “But she was happy that MTV had no changes, and she was definitely like, ’See? We made it through!’ Because the whole time we were like, ’If we use ball gags and we show this, are they gonna play it?’And we just went for it and didn’t care, and people seem to be embracing that.”
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