Smack My Bitch Up!

Directed by Jonas Akerlund, this music video was one of the first I’d seen that was banned from almost every major music channel that existed. Only once (not including the reruns, which severely edited the short film) did MTV allow the full, uncensored version to air (after midnight of course). It is my favorite music video of all time. It never gets old. It always excites me.

If you’ve seen the music video before, then you understand what I’m talking about. But, for those of you who haven’t, I suggest watching it right now in its entirety (NSFW, by the way), and then reading the rest of what I wrote when you’re done. You just may be surprised at who this womanizing, drug-addled, violent asshole actually turns out to be.

Now, is it so hard to believe that a woman can pull this off? Sure, because while a woman can “fuck like a man” (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean), she certainly can’t act like one… even as I say that, the director blows that last assumption out of the water by giving us a first-person perspective of this lady painting the town red… with her puke.

There are a few dead giveaways, I suppose. She never gets into a real fight with a guy (only women) and she’s always sitting on the toilet (presumably taking a dump). But, when I saw her reflection in the mirror, I felt so vindicated. Throughout the music video, I felt myself wanting to reach out and punch the DJ, spray champagne over big-chested strippers, and take one home with me to fuck however I choose. It was the ultimate power rush, a thrill that made me wonder if other women went on these sort of adventures. Could we pick a drunken fight with every guy we see? Could we snatch a bottle of voddy and drink it whole before getting thrown out? Could we smash a brick window through a parked car, driving it home to fuck that hot, slutty stripper with the spider tattoo?  Sure. But, it’s rare to see it depicted in the way Akerlund did.

The Hangover, It’s Always Sunny… these are hilarious movies and I’m a fan of both, but the whole “it’s a guy thing” is so boring! Fuck that shit! Who cares? Guys do it all the time; I’m sick of seeing men “being men” while women, well, remain boring, bland, and not as funny or amusing or cavalier as her male counterparts.* Our gender is represented through “Gossip Girl” and “Sex and the City.” Lame. As. Shit.

    • Shannon
    • September 12th, 2010

    I know this was posted a while ago, but I’ve been trying to dig up info on this video for a while – for educational reasons, believe it or not. As a woman I feel compelled to agree with the NOW, with all the critics and people out there campaigning for this video to disappear from history, but I just can’t. I completely and totally (though perhaps minus your actual articulation of the subject) agree with your post. I find it incredibly interesting that people were so offended by this video when in actuality we see this a lot on television, movies, in our culture, though when it involves a woman as the offender it suddenly becomes even MORE offensive. I kind of see this video as a really explicit and literal translation of how we perceive gender roles and how we stereotype without even thinking. In a lot of ways, it’s pretty brilliant if you’re willing to look outside the box. Shock value? Sure, of course, but how many of us were taken by complete surprise to see it was a woman at the end? Does that make all her actions ok? Does it make them less or more excusable? Do we hold women to a higher standard because we are so used to seeing them in a victim context? It really does raise a lot of questions if you’re up for the debate. Thank you for offering a different side to the story!

    • Hi. I no longer write on this blog but I do have a new one – there are newer posts there that might also interest you, especially if you were drawn to this one in particular.

      This music video came out over a decade or so ago… before The Bad Girls Club or when fighting amongst the young and semi-wealthy was entertaining (although I suppose it always has been). My point is before reality shows you wouldn’t really see something like this. In fact, this was banned and was only on MTV after midnight, which, if you ask me, actually implies that what you see is not only offensive but is rather degrading.

      It’s all about interpretation. Remember this isn’t a reality; this is a story being told in a specific narrative, a voice that belongs only to the filmmaker. If he wanted to go in the direction of making something in which her actions are socially acceptable, then it wouldn’t have the same effect. The song, “Smack My Bitch Up!” may seem literally sentence but isn’t (figuratively-speaking) but, obviously, it connotes some sexist undertones which further complicates the story. If it was a pop song or something similar, then maybe we’d get another depiction of this particular plot with a twist. But, this isn’t the case here.

      Also, step back a minute. No one ever implied that her actions were acceptable, or the hypothetical guy we assumed her to be. In fact, from beginning to end it’s a rather disturbing piece not because the question of her actions being cool or okay are on the line. Common sense will tell you there’s nothing cool about half of the things s/he did. Again, it’s one narrative that depicts a certain type of person.

      My point was that good or bad, right or wrong, this “type” of person is always in the male narrative. And the comparisons I use are indeed not good ones, but are slightly effective. The guys on “It’s Always Sunny…” maybe do stupid shit, but almost all of the time they get their just desserts in the end, whether by acquiring a horrible crack addiction or going to jail, etc. It’s a comedy, so yeah no one is going to see it that way because they’re too busy laughing. But, bottom line they aren’t rewarded for being jerks. I didn’t see The Hangover but I use this as just a comparison on how it’s always the guys getting in trouble, while the women are crutches to their humor or hijinks, or hot babes… props, pretty much. This is comedy, far different Akerlund’s video, which is far dirtier and unforgiving but it’s purposefully set up to make you believe that the narrative is the same. And, in a rare moment, he changes it. He breaks the rules and stops us from for a brief moment from making assumptions about what we see.

      I do believe we hold women at higher standards because they’re assumed victims. Here that dynamic is obliterated and, for better or for worse, it at least pushes another point of view into our traditional means of visual storytelling. Essentially, viewers will pick and choose what speaks to them. For me, I know puking in a bathroom would suck, getting into a fight might suck but it’s realistic… unacceptable, but realistic… but to see a female narrative take another stripper home for a quick fuck… there’s nothing like that on television and even if there is it isn’t done in the same fashion.

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