We start out with Rihanna at some military camp, at night, where she is trouncing around in front of some soldier types and apparently barking out orders in Swahili or some such. I suppose she might be informing them of the details on their stealth mission, but it’s really hard to pay attention because her outfit has shoulder pads shaped like the Sydney Opera House. There’s no telling what this means. Maybe she has a crush on Hugh Jackman?
Then we start flashing to some scenes where Rihanna, looking really overheated yet tired at the same time, prances around in her panties sporting bits and pieces of military gear. None of these pieces would actually protect her in any way on the battlefield, but she’s definitely aiming for some type of look. Enlisted Erotica? Curiously, she’s got strips of electrical tape over her nipples, even though she’s wearing a shirt and there’s no need to hide the little critters. What is this all about? Do her nipples sometimes fall off if she dances too hard?
Complicating the plot even further is that Rihanna appears to be doing the panty-dance in some trashy shed that houses some serious-looking industrial weapons. It’s a little hard to see what’s going on, because the lighting is really dim and spotty in an effort to make Rihanna look mysterious and naughty. I’m thinking the panties and the electrical tape already took care of that angle.
Now we start cutting back and forth from the soldier training camp, where Captain Rihanna is making the men perform aerobics of some kind, to the sex shed where Enlistee Rihanna is gyrating and jacking around with the helmet on her head. It seems that she might be having comfort issues with the headgear, because she keeps glancing all over the room while tugging on tufts of her hair sticking out of the helmet. Is she looking for her wardrobe assistant? Did no one explain to her that you don’t get to have one of those in the military?
Oh, look at that. Now we’ve got some new scenes, with Rihanna marching across some desert while unseen planes try dropping bombs on her. She’s wearing this mind-boggling outfit that appears to be made entirely of very long and very skinny pyramids, so that she looks like a porcupine on acid. This would explain the planes that are trying to kill her. If something like that came strutting toward me, I’d get someone to authorize a military airstrike as well. (“Hi, is this Colin Powell? Yeah, there’s a situation you need to know about…”)
It takes Rihanna a very long time to make it across the desert, not so much because she has to avoid the exploding shells all around her, but more because she stupidly keeps stopping to twirl around in her futuristic outfit and sparkly makeup, staring into the camera with pouty defiance. Girl, get your ass off that field or you’ll never make it to the Grammys on time.
Then we’re back to more scenes of the dancing cadets, where they have picked up some special moves while we were gone, most of them sexual in nature. And we revisit the slut shed where Rihanna is showing us that she picked up some moves as well, and most of them emphasize the fact that she has breasts. Other than that, nothing new is really going on here.
Whoops, I lied. Captain Rihanna suddenly pulls out a machine gun (where the hell was she storing that?) and she starts firing it into the night sky while the cadets stand completely still in perfect formation right behind her. (I wouldn’t move either, not when Grace Jones is anywhere near me and has a weapon.) Then we have more of the slut shed, where Rihanna has discovered that she also has lips and is showing those to us as well.
Okay, now we’re cutting between Porcupine Rihanna still not done crossing the desert, and a new personality that we’ll call Mud-Wrestling Rihanna. This new prototype spends some of her scenes thrusting her pelvis while standing on sandbags, surrounded by armed and muscled soldiers, and the rest of her screen time wallowing around in some pigsty that appears out of nowhere. (Do the army people have to breed their own food now? What’s up with that?)
Mud Girl spends a lot of time rubbing the oozing muck all over her barely-clad body, helping us understand that she has womanly curves, in case we hadn’t noticed before or didn’t get the Twitter post. Perhaps the pig-mud scenes are supposed to be symbolic of how war is dirty and messy, but I’m thinking it has more to do with both Rihanna and the video director misunderstanding a lot of things when they went on that fifth-grade field trip to a local farm.
As Slut Shed Rihanna is singing and showing us that she doesn’t care for small penises, we get shots of another personality where she’s playing cards in some tent with a lot of swarthy-looking men in t-shirts. I guess this version of Rihanna gets bored with the card game, because she suddenly kicks over the table and then makes the men arm-wrestle each other, with hints of homoerotic subtext, as she walks out the door with all their money. Is that how she got her record contract?
Now we have Minnie Mouse Rihanna. (Not making this up, I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t have to do so.) She’s still in panties, but she’s also wearing a Mouseketeer hat and standing on top of a tank that has been painted pink. Since she can’t just ignore the huge cannon sticking out of the front of the tank, she decides to hop on the gun and squeeze it with her legs while still managing to look sweaty and unsatisfied. (Um, did anybody clear this with the Disney people? Because those folks have lawyers, and they don’t play.)
Then Rihanna is in another military outfit, this one involving netting of some kind over her head but still does not involve pants or even a nice skirt to cover up her business. The netting covering her face is also trailing behind her, making her look like a widow and a bride at the same time. (It’s slightly possible that Rihanna is making a political statement, but more likely that she just thought the look was cool and would probably trend on social media.)
Then here comes guest rapper (isn’t there always one of those these days in music videos?) Jeezy. He does his bit of the song while stacks of tires are smoldering nearby and extras are driving jeeps to stir up the dust and make everything look gritty and realistic. (I don’t know why we’re going for realism now, since that didn’t seem to be a factor in the video up until this point.) Then Jeezy jumps on a tank that is not pink and helps liberate a village or something, with extras running here and there and aiming guns at things we can’t see. Like those Iraqi WMDs that were never found.)
Toward the end of his guest-appearance segment, Jeezy, who has been chomping on a cigar to show that he’s all macho and stuff, throws that lit cigar butt on the ground and just walks away. Dude, do you not understand how dry this desert is? This whole place could go up in flames faster than a Republican politician can lie about his voting history. Besides, Rihanna is around here somewhere, probably still wearing all that dried-out netting. One spark and she might really have something to sing about.
Then we have more scenes jumping around to all the Rihanna personalities, so I guess she survived Jeezy’s irresponsible use of his butt. Just to keep things interesting and up the chances for this video to win an MTV award for costume design, there’s one final outfit for Rihanna to show us. This one is some kind of Mongrel Warrior versus Cher-on-the-aircraft-carrier getup, where only very thin strips of leather are keeping us from an FCC ruling. This version of Rihanna performs some type of flag-corps drill routine where it appears that the rest of her squad did not show up. Just guessing, but something tells me that Rihanna had never waved a flag in her life before she did this scene.
And that’s about it. We run through all the Rihanna incarnations one more time to make sure we’ve seen all her cute outfits, because somebody has to justify the budget to the Accounting Department. She’s still barking orders at cadets, trudging across the desert and dodging bombs, and straddling a gun turret with gusto and military precision. We end the show back at the slut shed, with Rihanna making more of the Swahili vocal noises to indicate that she is still unsatisfied and sure could use something hard so she can end her tour of duty.
Somewhere, in a lonely VFW post in a very small town, a veteran pushes pause on the video and wonders if he should be offended by all this mess. Then he hits the rewind button because that electrical-tape on the hoo-hoos business is worth another look, just to make sure he didn’t miss something patriotic…
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.
Originally published on 01/31/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.