I mean it! The new video for Rihanna's moody, mid-tempo, cursing salutation of her adopted country (a song co-written with X Ambassadors' Sam Harris) pulls the cheap yet wildly effective trick of montage juxtaposition, all in the palette of American strife and striving: a protestor throws a Molotov cocktail, a receiver catches the ball. There's Occupy pushed up against JFK, Jr. as a toddler, mid-saluteā€”there's a train of migrant workers, an astronaut boarding the shuttle, cops pepper-spraying protestors, the boarded-up houses of the Ninth Ward, a West Point class in all white throwing caps up in the air.

The video is being called "political," but it doesn't make a straight point, other than getting you to remember the mutable delineations of the American Dream and all that: the interchangeability of gunfire and fireworks; the flag signifying on the one hand Rihanna in red lipstick, a white tee and denimā€”on the other, blood, supremacy, and the sky above the World Trade Center on a beautiful September day. Really makes you think.

But actually, it does. "American Oxygen" is interesting to me as another example of America's particular brand of fat stacks populismā€”the way everyone wants to be rich and also disavow it. 87 percent of Americans call themselves middle class in some way; Rihanna made a song and a video about The People but then blocked it off for a week on Tidal, the streaming service so obviously out of touch that a member of Mumford and Sons called its ringleaders a group of "new school fucking plutocrats." Mumford and Sons is a band comprised of young men who went to expensive British private schools. But sure, have it both ways, everybody; it's pretty easy when the masses you're (externally) siding with are making you super rich.