April 16, 2015


The Good & Bad in Rihanna's Politically-Charged "American Oxygen" Vid

In Rihanna's new track "American Oxygen," she sings, over and over, how "We are the new America." Now we get to see what the "Bitch Better Have My Money" singer considers the American dream in the anthemic track's video. In a politically charged visual, Rih sings on music video sets as iconic shots from U.S. history flash across the screen. For the most part, it's all good and inspiring, but some of it's giving us pause. 

Watch above for a scrapbook of American highs and lows, including the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, recent immigration protests, Ku Klux Klan demonstrations, the moon landing, September 11th, President Obama's inauguration and much more. RiRi offers some sharp visual juxtapositions from history as well, from shots of men trading on Wall Street to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or fireworks on the Fourth of July exploding next to an atomic bomb. 

There's also a heavy handed look at police brutality, with loads of recent and vintage footage of officers attacking citizens, but at the end we get a lovely shot of two African American officers smiling for the camera.

Probably the coolest commentary comes from the only images of musicians—the Beatles and Bob Marley, who made lasting impacts on our country's culture despite being born elsewhere. (Just like...Rihanna!) Do you really need to be American to be a part of American history?

But while Rih sings "we are the new America" and shows protesters holding "We Are in This Together" signs, the diva is very clearly alone on expensive music video shoots. The message would have hit so much harder if she filmed with, you know, actual, regular people. Hey, Rih could have even staged a protest of her own!

For such a moving visual, we're a little disappointed Rihanna didn't take the extra step to be an actual part of "the new America," opting instead to stay on a closed set looking fly. There's a lot of questions to consider—maybe her schedule was packed? Maybe the director added in all the historic shots later?—but we hope Rih puts her money where mouth is with "American Oxygen" soon.