This video makes me gag. It makes me want to vomit all over my copy of The Documentary. And it hurts me. It really disturbs me that two of the rising superstars in contemporary music, not to mention one of the top video directors, couldn't come up with a better idea than this debacle. Everything about this production reeks of misogyny, ignorance and falsity. But more than anything it's smothered in the utterly ridiculous arrogance of The Game.
The song "Wouldn't Get Far" is taken from his recent Doctor's Advocate album, and it features one of the best melodies and beats on the entire record. Kanye produced it, so naturally it has a vibrancy to it, but The Game infuses it with woman-hating verse after verse - to the point where it's almost unbearable to listen without grimacing. But despite the fact that The Game isn't funny at all, the song is able to coast by on the buoyancy of the beat.
Unfortunately rather than focusing on the strengths of the track (granted it would be a difficult task), The Game and director Barber choose to emphasize the ugly themes of the song. While it begins strongly with a wardrobe mix-up that finds Game dressed in Kanye's signature back-to-school garb, it quickly becomes clear that there is little hint of self-mockery in this piece (aside from a jibe about rap stars being late). There's nothing wrong with a little confidence, and especially in hip-hop - where bravado sells more than sex. But Game isn't calling out other rappers in order to promote his own skills ala "100 Bars," he's simply attacking a group of women who have no possible opportunity for rebuttal.
The real glibness of it is that The Game isn't calling for an end to video vixens either, in fact his production reveals how much these guys rely on attractive models to sell their image (the entire video is based around the women, just like every other rap video). Instead he is exerting his power over women like Melissa Ford by openly discussing the degradation that takes place in the very system he controls. He's pointing fingers and laughing at a process he basks in. This is the essential difference between this production and every other objectifying hip-hop video that comes out weekly on MTV (and all those we've derided in the past). Most of the time these girls are trophies on the wall, eye-candy, but here Game is directly questioning their lifestyle - for no valid reason. He is blaming the women, while simultaneously continuing to use their bodies for his own benefit - without identifying his own hypocrisy.
But his abuse runs deeper than that. The little pop-up video-like comments are jabs at the intelligence and even moral definition of these women. Not only calling them "clueless" but also claiming "give 'em an inch they take a mile." The offensiveness of this comment is more than apparent, but it's just ridiculous of Game to chastise someone for unabashedly seeking fame when he himself has built an entire career on the same sort of mooching. Every other line that comes out of his mouth involves a reference to someone else.
Furthermore, a few years ago if someone came to a then unknown Jayceon Terell Taylor and offered him an opportunity at stardom, to what extent would he pursue it? Kanye flows, "the only dream of a ghetto prom queen was to maybe make it to the screen," and isn't that exactly the same dream of ghetto prom kings? The position of video girls is a complex issue, but one has to consider the options for fame and wealth in the hip-hop community for females. I'm not just talking about becoming a rapper (which is still predominantly a male profession), but those women interested in the hip-hop life are not likely to find jobs as managers, producers, executives or video directors either. They are, with few exceptions, completely shut out of every major area of the business except music video roles such as these - and even then it's an arduous task to acquire longevity in the profession.
Kanye, who is nearly as complicit here as the Game, at least highlights the struggles of these women in his verse, before lambasting them. In any other song it would be typical K-West confused hypocrisy, but here he comes out looking like he's on the side of The Game - which isn't the side you want to be on. But the thing about Kanye is that he can't finish the verse without laughing at himself a bit. He paints himself as a man fed-up with the fake attention of money-seeking women, but one who is so desperate that in the end he'll take as many as he can get.
Though it doesn't redeem anything, offensiveness is far more digestible with a sprinkling of self-deprecating humor. In the end it's precisely this that the rest of the song and video lack - particularly The Game. It seems like these men need to put down women in order to feel good about themselves. The Game and his director spend the entire video placing folks beneath them, from the crew member who's about to get fired to the topless girls dancing around Kanye. In his blind pursuit to establish his manly presence and degrade all others, The Game actually comes off looking the most vulnerable. It further reminds us that he has nothing worthwhile to say as an artist. Only someone completely insecure with themselves would make something so masturbatory. Afraid of losing his status, his money and even his manhood - he resorts to defensive jabs at everyone he can reach.
Or perhaps The Game is simply confused about his own misgivings in regards to perpetuating a corrupt and unfair system, and this is the only way he can deal with it. But I think even that's giving the man too much credit. He knows what he's doing, and he just doesn't care. And unfortunately, he will still sell records and people will still watch this video all over the world. Sigh.