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This paper analyzes one of the most popular and controversial music videos today titled ‘Anaconda’ by Nicki Minaj. The video has over a 100 million views on YouTube and they are steadily increasing, especially as international audiences get attracted by the hype and controversy surrounding it. The main course for the controversy is that the film is decidedly raunchy, and this has resulted in its opposition by many people who feel it is both immoral and misleading, especially to younger generations.
Summary of the story
The video, like many rap songs, does not have a solid plot. However, there is a recurring image of Nicki Minaj tewrking in a most suggestive way. These lines are not very coherent when one reads them in isolation, but there is a direct suggestion of a man who lives rich and sells drugs. It is shown that he fights it out with the cops is funding the singer’s lifestyle. He buys her Alexander McQueen clothes and even lets her sample some of the drugs on sale.
The general idea from the title and chorus is that a person’s “anaconda”, which is an indirect subtle representation of a penis, does not want skinny girls. The song tries to justify the sex appeal of plus-sized women. Throughout, there are numerous images for sex glorifying bigger girls. While not all the dancers are remarkably big themselves, they all have sizeable buttock that they gyrate in acrobatic ways.
Minaj has a scene where she is in the kitchen playing suggestively with food, most noticeably bananas and applying cream on her chest in a manner to suggest she is preparing herself for “consumption”. In another sequence, she is teasing Drake, who is sitting as she gives him a lap dance and engages in several erotic moves on her knees on the floor before him.
The video has been criticized and praised almost in equal measures. Some people feel it is a defense for plus-sized girls who have in the past been discriminated in music videos and Hollywood, where they have often been depicted as unsightly unappealing. According to some, Minaj has made a very strong feminist point of taking a stand and portraying the beauty and sex appeal of a black plus sized-woman, mocking the skinny look in the selection of obvious portrayals of the power of having a “fat ass”.
Defenders of the song claim that she critics the age-old standards designed to objectify women who were engendered by Mix-a-Lot in his Grammy winning song back in 1992. In this video, black women were portrayed gyrating their backsides and spanking each other to give the impression that they existed primarily for the pleasure of men. Minaj’s supporters claim that the song is more empowering than derogatory since it allegedly encourages women to own their “curves” and not to let them be used against them.
On the other hand, the video has been bitterly criticized for its promotion of the hypersexualization of women. In fact, several critics have accused it of defeating the same principles it is trying to engender. Critics claim that the video is a moral disgrace on gender since it simply lives up to the age-old rap music video model in which women are shown while near nude and men as always fully dressed enjoying the show. The overt hypersexualization of the female body, expressed in the numerous suggestive images such as Minaj gyrating her backside, lap dancing for Drake, and many others, have been lambasted for being potentially misleading.
The risk is high for young impressionable girls who will view the video and try to live up to the example set by Minaj, who is, after all, one of the most successful female rappers. Whatever its bigger picture intentions, the video achieves them through the objectification of women, although in this case mostly in the absence of men. While such may be viewed positively by some, critics claim that the fact that women have now taken to disrespecting themselves is even worse than when men were doing it for them. At the end of the day, irrespective of her objectives, the lyrics are grossly misleading, especially the parts about drug and sex. She literary encourages her listeners, the majority of whom are young girls, to admire violent men who break the law and even sell drugs.
There are parts that contain “Come through and f*** him in my automobile…Now that Bang! Bang! Bang! I let him hit it cause he slang cocaine.” Clearly, Minaj’s priorities are reflective of a culture of immorality and disregard for social standards, and even laws. When children treat her as an icon, it is worrying indeed. It would be expected that children would watch such videos would not become morally upright citizens.
Flipped version of the story
If the story were to be flipped, it would ideally involve several white men with sizeable backsides singing vulgar lyrics not to mention spanking each other. Clearly, this would not be in any way indicative of the original video since it is specifically tailored with the presented gender and race in mind. The truth is if men did this video, the focus would not be so much on the message, but the plain homoeroticism that barely gets a raised eyebrow in the real one.
In any case, flipping the story would make it implausible in view of the fact that the main “assets” that the women are flaunting are not seen as such in men. Thus, the song would make little sense. In addition, the association of generously endowed backsides with black women would make it illogical if white people were to be used regardless of their gender since the objective of the original video was to promote the sex appeal of big black women. In the end, for the message in ‘Anaconda’ to be put across, the characters have to remain exactly as they are since much of the story is based on stereotypes and assumptions that are limited to the original adaptation of actions and events.
In conclusion, the video ‘Anaconda’ remains controversial as some claim it is empowering while others insist it is derogative to women. There is proof of the former because women seemingly take control of their sexuality and curves, which have been often been used to portray them negatively or even discriminate them in the music and film industry. However, to a large extent, the video seems to apply imagery that, despite possibly being meant to empower women, will most likely end up misleading impressionable young girls who look up the artist for mentorship.