Just seconds into Britney Spears’ new music video for her song “Work Bitch,” something felt familiar to me. Between the desert setting, the sexy clothes, the wavy hair, and the all-female dance number, I couldn’t help but be transported back to Beyoncé’s 2011 “Run the World (Girls)” video. And then the moment came when Britney whipped out the metal leashes, and suddenly I was smacked in the face by both the similarities and differences between the videos.
At first, all I was working with was the leash visual. In “Work Bitch,” Britney has women on the end of her leashes, and in “Run the World (Girls),” Beyoncé has hyenas, and immediately, those images send two very different messages in terms of female empowerment. So then I started to look at Britney’s video as offensive to women. Where Beyoncé seems more like a leader, Britney seems more like a master, with girls getting whipped in their all-leather attire.
However, the more I thought about the songs and watched the videos, the more I realized that even though Beyoncé’s song is all about the power of women — girls do run the world, after all — Britney’s is too. Sure, Britney is a little more blunt in finding a way to, er, “encourage” women to work hard, but the song is about the fact that women can and should work hard and find success. It quite literally tells women to keep their heads high. Now, you might get whipped by Britney Spears on your way to the top, but we’ll just call that motivation.
It’s almost like “Work Bitch” is the prequel to “Run the World (Girls).” The lesson: If you work hard, there will come a day when you get to reign.
But looking at the videos side by side, they are very similar in a number of ways: The desert, the skimpy clothing, the crazy mammals — hyenas! sharks! — the powerful female, and so on. So which video do you prefer? Watch them both below and sound off in the comments: