My topic for this paper is about Nicki Minaj and how she, as a popular icon, is considered “lowbrow” due to the fact that she represents an active and subversive threat to certain “power blocs. ” She represents a threat because she exhibits and acknowledges explicit female sexuality, is a successful female artist in a male-dominated enterprise, and is a black artist. Minaj utilizes her body in way that is considered “inappropriate” and “out-of-control” by the establishment and as an attempt to minimize the threat she poses, Nicki Minaj is discredited and marginalized as “low-brow” culture.
Nicki projects sexual aggressive imagery that defies the established notions of a complacent, female, black body. In this essay, I’ll analyze and critique one of Minaj’s most controversial videos, Anaconda, and how the underlying meaning of all of Minaj is ultimately a struggle for power. The household name and icon that we professionally know as Nicki Minaj was born Onkia Tanya Maraj on December 8, 1982, in Saint James, Trinidad, an island just off the coast of Venezuela. Shortly after she turned 5, her family moved to Queens, New York y.
Unfortunately AGE TIME, Minaj’s father became an abusive drug addict and, in an failed attempt to murder Minaj’s mother, burned their house down (http://www. biography. com/people/nicki-minaj-579574#synopsis ). He died in She claims that her past motivated her to succeed, saying that “I’ve always had this female-empowerment thing in the back of my mind because I wanted my mother to be stronger, and she couldn’t be. I thought, ‘If I’m successful, I can change her life. ‘”
In an attempt at being heard, RAP IS HOW NICKI BECAME NICKI In BLANKITY BLAMKITY Minaj started to post on Myspace, where she was noticed by Lil Wayne(http://www. iography. com/people/nicki-minaj-579574#synopsis).. He produced her first album NAME THE ALBUM in 2010, which also had Minaj’s iconic swagger and bold style, that were inspired and “influenced by the unpredictable rhymes of Missy Elliot along with the sexually charged attitudes of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown” (http://www. allmusic. com/artist/nicki-minaj-mn0001013175/biography) . From there, she instantly became a popular icon, noted for her distinctiveness and assertive persona. However, the one aspect that often creates controversy about Nicki
Minaj is her explicit, and often aggressive, sexuality. To put it simply, Minaj purposely violates the established female codes of civility. Her outfits are often implicit or explicitly sexual, and are purposely revealing. Often in media and in culture, females are limited by how we’re able to express our body and our “ladylikeness” or how “proper” we are. The origin for this limitation of conduct originated sometime during the late eighteenth century; so in order for women to be proper, they had to avoid what was (and is) considered the “male gaze” (Kasson).
The male gaze purposely brought attention to a woman, and more importantly, her body, which was inseparable from her as a sexual creature. Bringing attention to a female’s body was intrinsically an attack at her sexuality, so women hid their bodies, and therefore, their sexuality. Media then promoted this ideal. In “advice for the young bride”, it’s obvious to deduce that sexuality was a home object, it was only meant to be shown and expressed within the confines of a male gaze. Essentially, the female body was (and is) only allowed to be seen as sexual under the male gaze. Females are not allowed to enjoy, morph, or transition that male gaze
TRANSITION, so when Minaj brands herself as a sexual woman, often those in the media critique her for playing into the male stereotype/gaze. However, this is a dangerous misconception. In most of Minaj’s songs and videos, it’s obvious to see that she is unapologetically sexual. Minaj says “QUOTE”. But simply because Minaj is sexual, does not automatically make her sexuality for the sole purpose of the male gaze and male satisfaction. In “Anaconda”, Minaj’s most (im)famous video, it is very obvious to see that the video was meant to be sexual, as the video heavily focuses on female assets in order to imply a sexual act with male genitalia.
Be that as it may, Minaj is still in control of her body and, more specifically, her body language. Her eye contact rarely breaks from the camera (or the viewer) and even while she’s moving her body, the movement isn’t random. Minaj maintains eye contact throughout the video and throughout her sexual movements, so it can be inferred that her expression of sexuality is in her control; the purpose of prolonged eye contact is typically to establish dominance.
In spite the fact that Minaj does give a lap dance, which is also sexual, she refuses to let the man (Drake) touch her. As soon as her sexuality is subject to be infringed on without her approval, she rejects them. In this way, her dominance is also established by the power she holds over her sexuality, in spite of the obvious male gaze. Minaj even addresses her position as a sexual female in a male-dominated enterprise in her video of the song “Lookin Ass. ” In this video, there is only two people: Nicki and a male, whom we can only see the eyes of.
Moreover, the only thing that we see in the male’s eyes is Nicki, who is in a revealing outfit and is moving suggestively; this is supposed to represent how the culture of typical male views and objectifies Minaj. In response to this, Nicki shoots the man; this is representative of the inherent struggle between Minaj’s image as a sexually powerful women and the cultural attempts to police and objectify that image. This isn’t to say that what Minaj typically depicts isn’t adhering to established female objectification, this is to say that she takes the established social “law” of female sexuality and changes where the power lies.
In her case, her power is her own, more specifically, it does not rely on male satisfaction/ standards to be validated. However, in an attempt at understanding the underlying struggle between Minaj and how her image is perceived, we must also look at how race may affect how Minaj is perceived and received. According to the ROSE reading, it’s known that hip-hop and black bodies are more policed than their white counterparts. It can be inferred that the same logic applies to Minaj and her image as a popular icon.
An example of the difference between how black females are interpreted and how white females are interpreted can be the MEGAN FUCKING TRAINER rise (and hopeful fall) of Iggy Azalea, despite her being racist, homophobic, and xenophobic, or how Miley Cyrus twerking at the 2013 VMAs suddenly made twerking acceptable even though black women had been doing it years beforehand, or how problematic videos, or how when Zendaya wears dreads they’re considered “gross” and “disgusting”, but when Miley Cyrus does it, she’s simply “expressing herself” or how when Taylor Swift makes a video romanticizing Colonial Africa it’s simply seen as a form of expression rather than glorifying a bloody and gruesome.
And by no means in Minaj silent in this process. Another integral reason as to why Minaj is debased as low-brow culture is because of her outspokenness and her brashness towards the establishment. Time and time again articles appear about how “Nicki feuding with *insert celebrity name here*” In a recent twitter argument between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus According to the rose reading, the hip hop enterprise is misconstrued by popular and is apparent of the issue of a larger systematic process of racism and the policing of black bodies. Because she is black, her body would have to be more controlled than a white woman.
Regardless of what she does, her body will not be celebrated. Rather Black bodies, in this case Nicki Minaj, has her voice silenced and her experiences invalidated by the power bloc. While the lines of the constituents of the power bloc are a bit blurry, the presumed members of the power bloc can fit two categories 1) those who do not approve black media 2) those who do not approve explicit female sexuality. By process of elimination, those that support Minaj as a popular icon is limited to intersectional feminists and the media. On the other hand, the media can also be part of the power bloc, depending on the forces behind that form of media.