If you've watched Kanye West's new video for "Monster," a raw cut of which leaked back in December, you might find it a bit misogynistic, what with all the dead women everywhere. Some of the ladies are lynched, while others, their eyes glazed over like a rotting fish's, sit lifeless in West's bed while he manipulates their limp arms. It's a bit rapey and a lot creepy, and it makes sense to think that West, or at least the video's director, Jake Nava, have some serious issues with women. But then there's the disclaimer.
Just before the camera opens up onto piles of ladies' corpses, the screen reads: "The following content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and it shall be taken as such."
One would think that West, an artist who at least claims to take his craft very seriously, would know enough to understand how dumb that disclaimer is. Probably the greatest thing about art is that it means different things to different people, and nobody—not even the artist—gets to tell someone how to interpret a piece. If art can be compared to anything, it should be compared to a Rorschach test: Just as a psychologist doesn't get to tell you what you're seeing in the inkblot, no artists gets to tell you what you're seeing in their work.
Kanye West can make as many videos of lynched and decapitated women as he'd like—artists should always feel free to push the limits as they see fit. But from where I'm sitting, those videos will always be misogynistic, disclaimer or no.