Sunday night’s BET Awards promised a special sneak peek of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” video, out July 2. Before the above clip was aired, though, they threaded a running gag alluding to the Rihanna kidnapping theme through the broadcast.
The first clip showed Rihanna, duct tape in hand, sitting next to Floyd Mayweather, his hands bound and his mouth gagged. Because it was the first part of the bit, it was more than a little uncomfortable ascertaining whether BET was making light of a known domestic abuser being joke-napped by a person who was famously abused.
The second part of the gag, later in the show, featured a “Rihanna dressing room” hashtagged with #BBHMM. As it panned down, we saw real-life spouses Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker tied up together, back to back. Cut to commercial.
Finally, after a three-hour-long ceremony that actually had three performances after the presentation of the “Ultimate Icon Award” to a very spectacular-looking Janet Jackson, Rihanna was allowed to close it out and show one minute of her forthcoming video.
But here’s where the conclusion of the joke maybe went a little wrong. When the camera cut behind the curtain just before Rihanna took the stage, she’s seen waving a stack of money in the face of Stephen Hill, BET’s executive vice president, before throwing the whole thing into his face and walking the hell off. At first it seemed as just part of the running theme—Rihanna’s so badass she pays BET to go bye—but as the clip emerged on Twitter, it seemed she may have not been so jokey. After some sleuthing, @SheSeauxSaditty figured out by lip reading that Rihanna was saying:
This is not a joke! Rihanna is out for blood! Or... is it actually a joke?
We kissed and made up. #BETAwards. What a night!
Whether Rihanna was expressing her unbothered disdain for the way operations were handled—thinking it would be cute to pair her with Mayweather, perhaps? just a thought—it is also true that the “Bitch Better Have My Money” clip looks incredible. Even the trailer is an exciting expression of what Hannah Giorgis eloquently pegged as Rihanna’s carefree blackgirl-ness (here, booted and beret’d in Patty Hearst liberationist chic) as she seems to be flexing on the kind of privileged white woman one-percenterism that would seek to tamp that down (if not directly, then by mere occupation of space). How can we wait three more days for this?