‘Couture military’ and a queer aesthetic curiosity: music video aesthetics, militarised fashion, and the embodied politics of stardom in Rihanna’s ‘Hard’


  • Catherine Baker




Music, Politics, Militarism, aesthetic strategies, Rihanna, Female military masculinity


Music video is an underappreciated type of audiovisual artefact in studies of the aesthetics of world politics, which typically privilege linear narrative storytelling and struggle to communicate how sonic and embodied practices also constitute world politics as sensory experiences through which individuals make sense of the world. Yet the ways in which music video invites spectators’ senses to work together, and to filter meaning through their knowledge of stars’ own ‘meta-narratives’, expose an intimate and affective continuum between the politics of stardom and attachments to collective projects such as militarism. This paper explores that continuum through a study of Rihanna’s video ‘Hard’ and the aesthetic strategies it used to visualise her performance of a ‘female military masculinity’ in a fantasised space employing signifiers of US desert war.




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Baker, C. (2020). ‘Couture military’ and a queer aesthetic curiosity: music video aesthetics, militarised fashion, and the embodied politics of stardom in Rihanna’s ‘Hard’. Politik, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.7146/politik.v23i1.120308