the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
Mmm, baby: The very best in food porn
April 27 2013
Alternatives to Butler
April 19 2013
Red Bull and relaxation
April 17 2013
Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
April 12 2013
Bikinis and big booties, y’all
April 8 2013
Azealia Banks Did What?
April 5 2013
More stories from Columbia’s military veterans
April 3 2013
Sing, O Muse, of some sappy story
April 1 2013
Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
Believe it or not, one of my particularly political friends was actually concerned when Nicki Minaj “endorsed” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Lil Wayne’s track “Mercy” with the line, “I’m a Republican, voting for Mitt Romney/ You lazy bitches is fucking up the economy.” “How does this makes sense?” she asked via frantic text. My response: “Girl, I’m just as confused as you are.”
It seems we weren’t alone: Minaj’s stray verse was pervasive enough in pop culture that The New York Times political blog “The Caucus” felt the need to post an article titled, “No, Nicki Minaj Did Not Endorse Mitt Romney” when her true intentions were finally revealed. Indeed, the whole cacophony finally died down when the president himself addressed a question about it in a press conference and introduced the idea that Nicki might just be kidding around. Apparently, he got the message of the lyrics pretty fast. Granted, Obama is a pretty smart guy—but many intelligent people, including my aforementioned friend, were simply dumbfounded by the statement.
Looking back on my own experience, I can see that what made Minaj’s assertion so puzzling to me is that I took it at face value. She said what she said, and that’s what I heard. But of course, with Nicki Minaj, it can never be that simple.
Anyone who has ever seen a Nicki Minaj music video knows that she does not do ordinary, she does not do minimalist, and she especially does not do what most people would deem sane. Always pushing the limits of what should be acceptable in mainstream pop culture (she has at least three different alter egos), she is a perfect example of someone from whom we should expect the unexpected. And apparently, the last thing that anyone expected was Nicki’s endorsement of the GOP presidential candidate.
What’s strange is that everyone seems to accept Nicki’s antics when she confines herself to crazy wigs and enumerating the many ways in which she’s a “bad bitch.” But when she ventured into the big bad world of politics, even just for a few beats, she was suddenly taken seriously— which seems at least a little arbitrary, if not just silly. Because honestly, if someone came up to you on the street and said, “OK, first things first, I’ll eat your brains/then I’mma start rocking gold teeth and fangs,” as Minaj does in Kanye West’s “Monster,” the typical reaction would be to write them off as either kidding or mentally imbalanced.
But I guess when people talk about politics, that’s the ultimate trump card in turning things serious—even though, perhaps ironically, political fare these days can be just as ridiculous as a woman in a leopard-print leotard shaking her butt on all fours in a cage (see: Minaj in her video for “Stupid Hoe”). By making a throwaway reference to the presidential race, the acceptably outlandish Nicki Minaj suddenly became someone we took seriously. I mean, who, including Nicki herself, expected that?
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