Nicki Minaj Video Causes Controversy

(From The Campus Lantern – November 13, 2014) 

On Friday, November 7th, Nicki Minaj released a lyric video for her new single entitled “Only.” The video, which features animated versions of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown, is causing an uproar on the internet because of imagery that some are considering anti-Semitic.

The video portrays Nicki Minaj as a dictator sitting on a throne with red flags behind her.  The flags bear a black and white insignia representing Minaj’s record label Young Money. The image has a striking resemblance to the infamous Swatstika.  Throughout the video, there are images of bombs exploding, tanks and machine guns, and lines of soldiers clad with the Young Money symbol.

Minaj is a feminist icon and usually an advocate for social justice.  In a 2013 interview, for example, she made it clear that she was an ally to the LGBT community when she stated she was a “girl with [a] vagina.”  The interviewer looked at her confused and asked, “As opposed to a girl without a vagina?” With a straight face, Minaj replied, “Right.”  This instance was just one of the many times in which Minaj made a stand for marginalized communities; however, the “Only” video seems to be a step back.

“This video is insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era,” stated Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry (www.nydailynews.com).

With all of the negative backlash surrounding the video, Minaj made a statement on Twitter on Tuesday: “Both the producer and person in charge of overseeing the lyric video (one of my best friends and videographer: A. Loucas), happen to be Jewish. I didn’t come up with the concept, but I’m very sorry and take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I’d never condone Nazism in my art.”

Still, the video’s director, Jeffrey Osborne, “has said that he will not ask for forgiveness for its content and admitted to being inspired by Nazi emblems” (www.rollingstone.com).  Hopefully Osborne can learn from Minaj’s willingness to admit that art can be problematic.  It is important to step up to the plate and apologize when art may be offensive, especially to marginalized groups.   

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