2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is noted for its portrayal of evolution and the progression of technology and its effect on mankind. “Where Have You Been,” by Rihanna, has been similarly noted for its portrayal of evolution, as well as the progression of synchronized dance and its effect on people who hang out with Rihanna.
The video opens in the midst of the Paleozoic era, as we see a mother Rihannaleocanth in her home swamp, most likely searching for prey. However, a great change is taking place under the water. Whereas, for thousands of years, the Rihannaleocanth could only use her front limbs and toned abdominals to hunt smaller, weaker animals, she has now grown powerful back legs. She slowly emerges from the murky depths with inhuman confidence, and exits the primordial pool. Her purpose is unclear though. Is she leaving her home to hunt? To breed?
To dance. We jump forward millions of years to the desert, where ill-fitting pants and rhythm have been invented. A Rihannapithecus leads her small tribe in what is likely a rain dance mixed with a mating call. The Rihannapithecus seems stand-offish, unsurprising considering that this primeval society is most likely extremely matriarchal in nature. The other members of her tribe attempt to display their bodies as best they can, since, if they don’t mate with the Queen, they will most certainly be devoured by her.
We then cut to the bridal chamber of a recent ancestor of the modern Rihanna. Here, the dance moves have gotten very intricate, often requiring more than one person. Dance steps that would lead to the invention of modern Yoga are shown as well. Also, in the bridal chamber, Rihanna seems slower and less energetic than her predecessor, the Rihannapithecus. Is this evolutionary? No. As it turns out, the Rihanna is about to give birth. In between shots of the bridal chamber, are shots of Rihanna lying in what looks like a large nest, a birthing bed. A tree with beautiful red flowers has been planted beside the bed, to comfort expecting mother Rihannas. Soon, that birthing bed will be filled with hundreds, maybe even thousands of Rihanna larvae.
The next few scenes are hallucinatory in nature, to symbolize the otherworldly agony that the Rihanna goes through when giving birth to her many children. She dances among smoke, sees cloudy visions of herself and even, for a brief time, grows a multitude of extra arms as she sings among the caverns of her own pain-induced illusions.
The video ends with a Rihannaleocanth returning to her home in the swamp. She seems full and satisfied, but also unaware that, in her midst, there are hungry male Rihannaleocanths in the water around her, waiting to possibly mate. Are they rude boy enough to take it, baby? The video ends before we can find out, but, as the female Rihannaleocanth submerges once more, when we consider the Rihannaleocanth’s fighting prowess, they probably aren’t.