By Lucas Williams, Staff Writer
America’s biggest booty advocate has returned with a controversial lyric video. Nicki Minaj’s animated video for her song “Only” featuring (in order of relevance) Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown has warranted a statement from the Anti-Defamation League condemning its use of Nazi-alluding imagery.
The Anti-Defamation League is a prominent nongovernmental organization created to combat global anti-Semitism and bigotry. The League’s press release calls Minaj’s video a “a new low for pop culture’s exploitation of Nazi symbolism.” Though “exploitation of Nazi symbolism” doesn’t seem very common in today’s culture, parallels between the Third Reich and the “Only” video are pretty clear.
The video, which plays out like an animated 1940s propaganda film, sees a cartoon Nicki Minaj positioned on a throne in front of countless robotic soldiers. Drake is a priest, Lil Wayne is a businessman, and Chris Brown is a military official. Very telling roles. The most prominent Nazi imagery comes from the giant banners beside Minaj that display an insignia representing Minaj’s record label, Young Money, in a similar fashion to the swastika during World War II. What’s more is that the only colors used in the video are black, white, gray and red. Someone should have thought this out more.
The only other references to the Holocaust are hard to find if you ignore the tanks, warplanes, bombs, explosions, machine guns, cemeteries, red armbands and gas masks shown throughout the video. This blatant reference to the Holocaust may seem distant to Americans, considering World War II’s genocide ended almost seventy years ago on another continent. But referencing the Holocaust for the sole purpose of entertainment trivializes its events and the actions of those involved.
I think Nicki Minaj is an excellent entertainer (I’m still raving about her allegorical “Anaconda” music video), but as a celebrity, she needs to admit fault for this video. And she did. Minaj tweeted that she takes “full responsibility” for any offense caused by the video. Congratulations to her for being a responsible celebrity. She deserves a cookie. Of course, this apology comes after she tweeted that she didn’t come up with the video’s premise, implying the backlash is only partially her fault. It’s also important to note that the video hasn’t been taken down from YouTube.
The person who was in charge of the video, director Jeffrey Osborne, will not apologize for his work on the grounds that it’s “important to remind younger generations“ of tragedies so they don’t happen again. This seems interesting to me, because I don’t recall Nicki Minaj ever being an evil dictator in a post-capitalist cyborg society.
The video isn’t an obvious satire or parody, nor is it an educational film. Furthermore, Minaj isn’t rapping about the Holocaust or even tragedy in general. The song is about elitism and power. It’s one thing to show kids an actual video of the Holocaust. It’s another to allude to the Holocaust in a video for a pop star’s promotional single.
Fortunately for Nicki Minaj, the Anti-Defamation League accepted her apology. What’s important is that she sincerely apologized for her work and acted like a mature adult. What a wholesome role model for celebrities everywhere. Hopefully she’ll be more careful (but just as fierce) with her future output.