Last Friday, Nicki Minaj released a new lyric video for her song "Only." Almost immediately, viewers started to notice something. The images in the video felt awfully similar to ones from Nazi Germany. The video portrays Minaj as a dictator on a throne in command of massive armed forces. She's flanked by red banners containing a swastika-esque symbol in a circle. Her soldiers wear red armbands with the same motif.
Minaj tweeted a series of responses to people who took offense to the video early this morning.
It's great that Minaj is making some sort of statement about the outrage over the video, but is she actually apologizing? We turned to Marjorie Ingall, the co-creator and co-editor of SorryWatch, a site that analyzes mea culpas, for a closer reading of Minaj's statements.
"A good apology has to 1. take responsibility for one's sin, 2. acknowledge the impact of one's actions, 3. explain how and why the offense won't be repeated, and 4. offer reparations," Ingall explains to us. "Minaj does none of those things — with bonus points for, essentially, 'Some of my best friends are Jewish.'"
Ingall also notes that Minaj does the dreaded "Sorry if." "A good apology says, 'Sorry that.' The word 'if' is apology poison. It's not a question of 'if' the video offended anyone. It did."
The fact that the apology appeared as a series of tweets also makes it hard for Minaj to come off as sincere. Since she only has 140 characters with which to work, the stark contrast of "I didn't come up with the concept" and "[I] take full responsibility" sends a confusing message. "Why would she take full responsibility if she was a passive player in this drama?" Ingall wonders.
The artistic explanation for the video doesn't hold up, either. "Sin City is classic noir. Metalocalypse is a parody of heavy metal culture," Ingall says. "These influences emphatically do not explain the swastika-like symbols, the SS-style uniforms, and the imagery of the stage with long hanging red curtains featuring the swastika-esque logo and an audience of soldiers that is SO CLEARLY influenced by triumph of the will and old Nazi newsreels."
Basically, "Her apology fails on every level."
The next celebrity apology may very well be coming from Eminem. In in a new lyric, he threatens to punch Lana Del Ray in the face "like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance."
Oh dear. When and if that apology arises, be sure to see how Slim Shady scores in SorryWatch's Bad Apology Bingo.
The saddest part of all of this is that despite the Nazi imagery and extremely offensive lyrics, Nicki Minaj's "Only" and Eminem's "Shady CXVpher" still may not be the most offensive videos released this year.