As the singles seem to keep coming from Rihanna’s ANTI album, which has seemingly had a renaissance after a lackluster release, the Barbadian chanteuse continues to make it clear that 1) she has no problem showcasing her nipples and 2) she’s all about female-empowering violence.
For her third video and single from the record, Rihanna–in an unlikely pairing–teamed up with Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine, who jizzes his distinct aesthetic of sex and violence all over the narrative.
In addition to the fact that Korine returns to Florida (specifically Miami) for the backdrop of Rihanna’s joint-smoking, boat-driving, strip club-filled tale of personal vengeance, there is also a similar Spring Breakers vibe in that the hero of the story is unapologetically feminine as she goes on a rampage that our society still deems solely appropriate for men.
And, as with Korine’s mainstream opus, emblems of Florida appear at every turn–from old women so orange they look charred to gun-toting, face-tattooed gangbangers who do their best to intimidate the camera–but certainly can’t do any such thing to Rihanna, so effortlessly cool and collected as she struts through her expensive beachfront home wearing a gold Africa-shaped necklace and see-through garb that somehow looks classy rather than trashy when she does it.
As two scarily masked men take Rihanna to her ex’s club on their motorcycle, her aura of calm intensifies, with the gun she’s been holding for most of the video coming across as a natural part of her hand. Sauntering through the strip club presumably owned by the former object of her affection and current object of her hit list, Rihanna parts the curtain to find her ex getting a lap dance, smirking at her as he throws money in her direction while she aims the gun. With the first shot, she wipes the smirk off his face, claiming the revenge she sought for all the ways he took her for granted, making the mistake of assuming it was she who needed him when, as the song iterates, he needed her.
With Korine’s Spring Breakers aesthetic and plotline, Rihanna reinvents the entire movie in a mere three minutes and fourteen seconds. And, yes, Florida looks a lot more alluring in this incarnation.