Nicki Minaj incited controversy over the weekend for her alleged Nazi-appropriating “Only” lyric video – and on Tuesday the rapper apologized via Twitter for what she claims was meant as an homage to “Sin City” and the Cartoon Network series “Metalocalypse” by the video's creator, visual artist Jeff Osbourne.
I didn't come up w/the concept, but I'm very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I'd never condone Nazism in my art.
– NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) November 11, 2014
Oh, and she has Jewish friends. Just for the record.
For his part, Osbourne issued his own (far-less-diplomatic) statement regarding the uproar (via MySpace!) by confirming that elements of the video – which also features animated representations of Young Money rappers Chris Brown, Drake and Lil Wayne – were, in fact, inspired by Nazi symbolism (along with a variety of other influences):
Before I start, be clear that these are my personal views and not the views of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, or Young Money.
First, I'm not apologizing for my work, nor will I dodge the immediate question. The flags, armbands, and gas mask (and perhaps my use of symmetry?) are all representative of Nazism.
But a majority of the recognizable models/symbols are American: MQ9 Reaper Drone, F22 Raptor, Sidewinder missile, security cameras, M60, SWAT uniform, General's uniform, the Supreme court, and the Lincoln Memorial. What's also American is the 1st Amendment, which I've unexpectedly succeeded in showing how we willfully squeeze ourselves out of that right every day.
Despite the fact heavy religious and economic themes were glossed over, there's also Russian T-90 tanks, Belgian FN FAL, German mp5 (not manufactured until 1966), an Italian Ferrari, and a Vatican Pope.
As far as an explanation, I think it's actually important to remind younger generations of atrocities that occurred in the past as a way to prevent them from happening in the future. And the most effective way of connecting with people today is through social media and pop culture. So if my work is misinterpreted because it's not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I'm not sorry. What else is trending?
Along with countless angry fan reactions online, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement on Monday condemning the video:
Nicki Minaj's new video disturbingly evokes Third Reich propaganda and constitutes a new low for pop culture”s exploitation of Nazi symbolism. The irony should be lost on no one that this video debuted on the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 'night of broken glass' pogrom that signaled the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust.
It is troubling that no one among Minaj's group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release.
This video is insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler's Nazi juggernaut.
The ADL later released a followup statement in response to Minaj's tweets: “Her clear renunciation of Nazism is an important step. We hope that she will take further steps to educate herself and her fans about who the Nazis were and why we should never take genocide or the Holocaust lightly.”
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