Melina Matsoukas isn’t surprised the clip, which sees Rihanna tied up, sucking on a banana, and whipping men, has stirred up controversy around the world – because it was her aim to shock viewers.
Matsoukas tells MTV.com, “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. 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. 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. I mean, the song is called ‘S&M’!”
Matsoukas reveals the Bajan beauty herself initially worried about causing offense but felt victorious after bosses at music network MTV agreed to air her video uncensored.
She adds, “I haven’t talked to Rihanna about the controversy … 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.”
He also explains in an interview with MTV, how she and the singer wanted to create a “fun romp through an alternate universe.” The director reveals inspiration as wide-ranging as Japanese anime porn, pop art and Post-Its