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So the Weeknd’s ‘Pretty’ Video Obviously Contains Tasteless Sex, Violence, and Nudity

The Weeknd, "Pretty," 'Kiss Land,' video, Abel Tesfaye

The Weeknd is singing sweetly about how beautiful you are. Anyone familiar with the work of Abel Tesfaye, whose arty R&B exists in a chilling netherworld of joyless drug-sex, knows this can’t possibly end well. When Tesfaye performed “Pretty” with a backing band recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the abbreviated take made it an in-hindsight obvious single from his new album as the Weeknd, the bigger/darker Kiss Land. But the smooth performance didn’t erase the song’s underlying menace, and this combination of sex and violence is what director Sam Pilling (Usher’s “Climax,” SBTRKT’s “Wildfire,” Juicy J’s the Weeknd collaboration “One of Those Nights”) explores in his video. Tesfaye arrives in an airport, a woman is objectified in a creepy way, and then, well, is it really possible to give away the ending? Some may rightly be offended by the objectification here; calling it “cheap” and “obvious” also fits.