OPEN THREAD: Beyoncé’s New Music Video – Run The World (Girls)

On American Idol this week Beyoncé premiered the music video for “Run The World (Girls)” — the very first single from her anticipated upcoming album, 4.

The video is directed by Francis Lawrence, who also recently directed Water For Elephants and borrowed some of the circus animals for Beyoncé’s shoot. But remarkably the threatened species are the least weird inclusions. Brace yourself for some riverdancing, vehicle explosions, a Mozambician dance troupe, awkward product placements, killer thigh muscles, male militia and girls, hundreds of girls. Let’s watch!

Does the song seem familiar? It should, as it samples Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor” and is co-produced by Switch, a frequent collaborator M.I.A. although probably not anymore.

Last night Riese and I shared some profound thoughts about this video on g-chat. We want to hear yours too, add them in the comments section below.

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me: i don’t really like this song or this clip
but i don’t hate them enough to write about it
Riese: this sounds like MIA
like hard core MIA
me: uh huh. it samples Major Razor
and strangely puts Flo Rida in my head
Riese: this video is hilarious
i really like Beyoncé
mostly her body, but also her music
this isn’t her music! it’s someone else’s
me: in some scenes she sorta looks like J-Lo
like J-Lo dressed up as lady gaga for halloween
Riese: this song and this video are both really funny
i think by “girls” she means “Beyoncé”
me: i know right
it ends a weird one-sided dance off
Riese: omg the finger
it’s blurred out!
me: beyonce is too classy for the finger
Riese: this is great
me: but not really, right
sometimes i think less is more
Riese: it’s so bad it goes all the way past bad back to good again
me: like all videos that end with a dance off
Riese: let’s do open thread

OPEN THREAD!

Crystal is a 33-year-old Australian living in Chicago. Founding member, does HR stuff, writes now and then.

Crystal has written 329 articles for us.

60 Comments

  1. me: in some scenes she sorta looks like J-Lo
    like J-Lo dressed up as lady gaga for halloween

    Yes! I was trying to think of a way to say that lol This video seems to be heeeeeeeeavily influenced by Gaga in the realm of: “Let’s have the most INSANE DANCING EVER with lots of weird costumes and accessories and not have anything coherent.” Seriously, that’s some fierce dancing. And did you see those nails?? Did she jack them from the Judas set or something?

    Anyways, at work, I don’t have sound, so I made up my own song in my head. It was like Mad World by Tears for Fears with an intense dance beat.

  2. the lyrics are troubling. Her theory seems to be that girls run the world, but only because of their sex appeal, ie, they can make men do anything for them.
    Plus although she was singing somewhat empowering lyrics she was still performing for a crowd of men. hmm.

    • I totally agree! She is also speaking of empowerment while she and her backup dancers are in outfits that are lingerie. While dancing provocatively. There’s basically so much wrong with this message I can’t even write about it.

      Remember when she and Lady Gaga did a little music video called Telephone? Where did those days go?

      (PS Totally thought it was an M.I.A. song when I first heard it.)

      • seconded. my feelings too.

        message: you too can run the world if you look good in a unitard and crawl around on the floor. those boys won’t be able to resist your demands!

        ick.

        Also I did think this sounded like someone else’s song. Good to know the source.

        • “With this waistline, ladies, you can do or be ANYTHING, as long as it has a penis and stands vewy, vewy still while you hump-y dance! GIRL POWER!”

    • What else is new. I feel like years of analyzing women’s empowerment songs put to sexy video has made my brain turn to mush. It feels SO cliche, and SO over done that I’m almost apathetic about it all.

    • Here’s what I’ll do; I’ll analyze the video while it’s on mute and maybe I can focus on what she’s actually trying to do w/o being so upset that this song could have changed lives with a radically different musical arrangement…How am I supposed to take feminism seriously when I’m trying to concetrate on my perfecting my fucking dutty wine?

      i hate beyoncé now. really. thanks for just fucking up womanism and the PON DE FLOOR BEAT WHICH IS NOT TO BE TOUCHED EVER.

      she’s still sexy though.

  3. She seriously just won me over. Never liked her much before because I felt like she was a bit of a waste. I feel like she has such amazing power in her voice, and up until recently, her songs have been so blah. I want more soul, power and range out of a woman I feel has to be a bad ass bitch. Also, her man is a damn fine rapper in pa op-gangsta-rap world of too few good ones, so come on, right?
    Anyway, this video is amazing, and I love her power here. Also, she is being more creative, which may have been triggered after working with Gaga and also in a recent interview she said she worked with African musician, Fela Kuti. Gaga is opening the doors for more collaboration and for some serious raw creativity for women, and it’s clear that Beyonce is jumping on it. I do feel like the message is a bit off, but shit, women still don’t actually have power, so if it’s with their bodies, maybe it’s a step forward. Delusional, yes, but I’m trying to make room for the fact that this video is hot and it ruled my world, no matter how hard I tried to deny it;)

    • It made me want hyenas on leashes.

      I’m gonna try to read into it, though, since you pointed it out. This is probably way more than they intended, but:

      Hyenas are matriarchal (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/hyena.html), so Beyonce holding them on a leash might be a visual metaphor for taking charge of your own wild feminine awesomeness. There might also be another layer about hyenas as the oppressed. Wait with me here: Hyenas are often unfairly maligned in popular culture (see also: Lion King, idk), perhaps due to their reputation as scavengers (truth: lions scavenge more than hyenas). So Beyonce isn’t only grabbing hold of a matriarchal power, but also an animal that people might think of as less-than. It’s sort of like that shot is saying, “You see this feminine power that you think is ugly and kind of gross? Bitches, I am owning it, and will take on the world with it.”

      This has been your drive-by ramble about hyenas, and way too much attempted analysis for a video that I paused halfway through.

      • i really like your analysis on this!

        i wasn’t looking for so many thoughts behind the shot because well, it’s beyonce and it’s a music video that was weirding me out anyways. if they intended what you’re saying it might be a good metaphor.

        idk, i only liked the part with the dancing in the yellow dress anyway 🙂

      • My theory is it’s just a reference to the Hyena Guy photos that did their rounds on the internet awhile back.

        I’d argue that if she was making a statement about feminine power, hyenas don’t really synch up with her depiction of it. Hyena females have false male genitals, and high levels of male hormones. She’s focusing more on the separatist elements of feminism (women deriving their power from the ways they differ from social perceptions of masculinity). A hyena would be a more appropriate symbol if the song was about women taking on male roles (a sort of, “What? You thought your penis, and everything that comes with it, was just for MEN?”).

        • They don’t have false male genitals. The big, dick-looking structure is an enlarged clitoris, which they give birth through. It also means they can’t be impregnated against their will.

          I dunno, it still seems to fit, to me.

  4. Yeah, I can’t care about this, either. It’s ridiculous, and I can already see the drunk ass lesbians gyrating sloppily to it on the dance floor, G A G. That or this Kreayshawn business, can we talk about that instead? Because I have feelings.

    But mostly I want to know what a White Girl Mob is. Seriously.

  5. um. does the horrible irony of this video and its setting not scare anyone else? beyonce’s singing about female empowerment while dancing with a bunch of ethnic girls for a militia in some sort of african country in flames. because all the countries in africa right now support women’s rights and never use military violence against women and view women as powerful and beautiful, right? RIGHT. got it, beyonce. got it.

    • O_O
      Yea because when Westerners look at Africa the country (not the continent) that is what it looks like. The ire and military with ethnic girls dancing ironically because Africa, the country HATES them, right, right?

  6. Saw this during American Idol (VOTE HALEY REINHART) last night. Halfway through I had to seriously ask myself whether I had done any hard drugs that day.

  7. 1. Girls run the world…but wait! Is that before or after the ring is put on “it”? Do I get to run the world until someone likes me (it) and consequently puts a ring on me (it)? Or is it after someone puts a ring on me (it) that I can commence world running? THIS IS NOT CLEAR BEYONCE! Your objectification of women is clashing horribly with the (grammatically incorrect) lyric: “Who run the world? Girls.”
    2. re:Lady Gaga: I’ve actually felt that Beyoncé has been dressing up as Lady Gaga for awhile. Beginning, perhaps, with her 2010 Grammy performance…

  8. god damn it… the first minute in, the MIA sample throws me off. and then it makes me not want to listen to it. the major lazer sample, also. then i watched the rest, and it was kind of boring…

    does anyone know where this video was actually shot? was it just in the californian desert, or was it really in tibilisi, georgia??

    i’m really, really not used to songs that heavily sample x___x

  9. ugh, I cannot make myself like Major Lazer. At all. blehhhh. Gave a free concert at my school and much as I love free things AND concerts, I only stayed for like 20 minutes and booked it out of there to go eat PB&J instead. Better experience.

  10. Next time I’m accosted by a group of misogynistic boys, I’m going to shake my furry shoulder pads aggressively like Beyonce does. I’m pretty sure I’ll get the same look the guy gave her at 1:04, too.

  11. Once again this is ANOTHER dance video from Beyonce. Granted it’s on a grander scale and more visually interesting than her other 25 dance videos but at its core it’s still a dance video.

    Beyonce is just the biggest hypocrite. I can’t think of any of the lyrics, only heard this once (it was too much), but I agree with your comments on mixed or wrong messages. Let’s empower women by showing them the power of sex, then the power of sex in relation to men.

    But do I like the river dancing in the beginning, can;t lie.

  12. As a self-identified WOMYN OF COLOR, these are my thoughts:

    Bleached hair on bleached skin, Surrounding herself with darker women in darker clothing to create a contrast, and my god the EGO! All them other women and she can’t share the camera focus for half a second. Dark womyn run the world! Fat …womyn run this world! Fuck your limited concepts of beauty. When I heard Ms. Franklin sing, you make me feel like a natural woman, I used to ask what an unnatural woman felt like? Thanks for answering.

    we know that in our society- sexualization of womyn isn’t looked at as empowering. Especially when there is no educational component happening when “Stars” release new videos. & fuck us having to educate everyone, and “we have these conversations to educate others” it’s fucking corporate america. sexualizing women of color to make bank. ’cause women=money.

    These lyrics and video contain a lot of content… that would not even be here if beyonce was more of a socially conscious person. 1)she uses the word “girls” instead of “women/womyn” 2)the only way she exemplifies her power is through sexuality, which shows her lack of knowing what power is (despite her phenomenal financial situation) 3)she chose/allowed the choice of a man directing this video 4)the dancers with the most close ups and camera time are MEN. this list could go on forever.

  13. at first this video reminded me of a mix between rihanna’s “so hard” video & the jay-z/rihanna/kanye “run this town” video. which i guess makes sense? BUT THEN around 34 seconds, it made me think of the wedding scene in “coming to america”…which is about the only good thing i can say about this video really.

    the actual music did nothing for me. obvs.

  14. it’s belitting that she uses the world girls, wouldn’t women be more appropriate in this context? i’m sure no men would walk around saying “boys rule the world.” and it’s a little bit ironic that she speaks of these “girls running the world,” but has to hope that that it’s okay with the “boys” by saying “i hope you still like me.” this really bothers me; we might be in charge (which is kind of a joke), but i hope you approve.

    and why is she starting to look more and more like a white “girl”?

  15. I totally get where she’s coming from! If I was a man in an army of men with riot shields and massive guns, I’d be scared shitless by a group of women in skimpy costumes humping the ground. *sarcasm*

  16. Not really impressed, the overall look of the video is quite cool but the song seems rather disjointed – although “who run the world? girls girls” has got definite being-stuck-in-my-head/shouting-along-in-a-club potential.
    The harmonies on the slower ‘persuasion’ part just really made me think of Destiny’s Child, ah, happier times..

  17. Dear Beyonce,

    If I’m wearing a blonde wig, a bra and panties, crawling between the legs of a man holding a baton, while three other men (also holding batons) prowl and kick up dirt behind me, I’m not feeling very empowered. I’m actually quite frightened, if I’m honest with you.

    Yours,
    A young black woman.

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