Kanye West premiered the music video for "Famous" last night in Los Angeles, and it's absolute clickbait in the most congratulatory meaning of the word. Because lots of people are going to click on headlines like:
- Kanye West puts naked Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Trump, Cosby in new 'Famous' video
- A 'Who's Who' guide to the naked celebrities in Kanye's new NSFW music video
- Kanye West nuzzles naked Taylor Swift, Donald Trump & Bill Cosby in Famous video
- Kanye West's Famous video boasts bizarre orgy with Donald Trump and Taylor Swift
West told Vanity Fair that the video is "a comment on fame," and it definitely delivers on the fame. "Famous" includes 12 celebrities laying naked in a very long bed, with Kanye West at the center. The scene, originally imagined by American painter Vincent Desiderio, "directly inspired" West. The cast of nudes is deliberately controversial, from Taylor Swift, who is referenced by misogynist lyrics in the song, to Bill Cosby, who West appeared to defend on Twitter earlier this year, to Rihanna, who is depicted laying next to her abuser Chris Brown. West said that he took great care to avoid a sexual vibe, though whether he's successful there will depend on how much viewers will be able to suspend their knowledge of the overt sexual drama between the video's characters.
Its politics aside, "Famous" is a spectacularly bizarre and enthralling experience. Unlike The Life of Pablo, which is a messy, protean album, everything about the video for "Famous" feels obsessively deliberate. The night-flashlight camera look is eerily voyeuristic, almost predatory, and the video pores over the models like an amateur clinically documenting a crime scene. The figures themselves vary in appearance of realness, like Madame Tussauds models that can occasionally be seen breathing — an effect that's amplified when the music eventually cuts out but the filming continues. You can see it for yourself right now, exclusively on Tidal.
As for the commentary on fame, West is probably wearing a Kevin Spacey-in-Se7en-sized grin, as his master plan to stoke public voyeurism and dominate search engines for the next month unfolds.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote describing the video to Kanye West.