"Get on your knees," would've been more troubling had Roman Zolanski said it.
For the most pearl-clutching of feminists, the line is at minimal a reminder of the era in the mainstream when there was greater balance in the female hip hop voice. Back then, there were a range of questions ("Who you calling a b***h?"), comments and suggestions (like what could be done with a Sprite can).
However, when it was put in wax, not just on it, it became something different.
Two announcements came for the Barbs this week: that she has a new mobile gaming app releasing soon and also a permanent display in Madame Tussauds Las Vegas.
Not that we expected a Las Vegas attraction to be Disney-esque, but, it was shocking when it was unveiled: Nicki Minaj, on hands and knees, scantily clad in a jungle, but with make up on.
"YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO did they rlly do this???!!!!!! Omgggggggg," was her first Twitter response.
It took six months to remake the "Anaconda" scene, 20 people's hands carefully sculpting her lips, hips and thighs. Such dedication. And it launched with a campaign that could only be described as tongue-in-cheek (#mtnickiselfie ... Get it? "mt" like the abbreviation for Madame Tussauds or, say, "mount."). Were we not in the midst of a rape culture discussion, it'd be almost negligible.
Instead, it was another reminder of the way Black women have been mounted, told to repeatedly bend over (not for the woman's pleasure, but for men's), for centuries.
Perhaps that's why Nicki called it "iconic."
Her entire popular presence is one that provokes further the much needed discussion about voyeurism and the historic hypersexualization of the Black female body in iconography while remembering that she has a voice. Nicki's videos, especially, do that well (her tweets, not so much). But with Nicki (unlike with, say, Saartjie Baartman) there is at minimal the accompanying voice, a glimmer of hope for the movement, unless it's in a museum.
To be fair, the opening of the MT display did include her song as background music, and a spokesperson somewhat explained, saying inspiration for the figure was drawn from her video due to the number of online views. Still, such a claim shirks the responsibility that we shouldn't forget the human interest for the sake of calculated human "interest." (Seriously, she could've been standing.)
What's most concerning now is that the unveiling was not far from the news about her video game. Sort of like Donald Trump gaining popularity in the polls. We hope everyone understands that the extreme provocation makes for good chats, but even Nicki will put on a dress for the red carpet.
Since we won't know for sure, though, until the app drops where our collective allegiances are, if the distributor Glu Mobile gets it or if we need to take cover (pun intended), we may, perhaps be better off hoping this: the Vegas exhibition was the pinnacle.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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