So by now most of you have seen Nicki Minaj’s music video Anaconda. Reactions I’ve heard to the video were predominantly shock, disgust and offense. I’m not even a Barb but I love it, and I’ll tell you why.
Anaconda made me realise how much of an empowering feminist Nicki really is. Don’t see it? Let me break it down.
The song samples Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Grammy Award-winning song Baby Got Back. That song itself is pretty exploitative and talks about how he’s only into chicks with plump posteriors and that his “Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun”. The song is rooted in booty politics, which discuss the idea that women’s bodies are mere pleasure for the male gaze.
Think of Anaconda as a satire parody of Baby Got Back, because Nicki included butt-slapping, gyrating and booty-hopping, all of which were in the original video, but does it almost to tease the male gaze. How is she teasing you ask? Well, that cocktail bar scene stands out for me. Where she’s wearing a revealing maid’s outfit, spraying whipped cream on her boobies, twerking, licking the cream seductively and finally a banana appears. She takes the banana, makes it seem like she’s going to eat it alluringly (like most cliché woman-eats-a-banana-and-makes-a-guy-hard gags), but instead she rips the banana in two, cuts it up into little pieces, and throws it over her shoulder. Now people, if that doesn’t strike you as a powerful statement then I don’t know what does. She’s basically taking the male gaze and literally chopping it up and tossing it. She does the same thing in her song Lookin Ass, which I thought was genius. She literally grabs machine guns and destroys the male gaze.
Then Drake shows up. What was his purpose in the video? He sits there, having a good time while Nicki gives him a show-stopping, blood-pumping lap dance. So for a while we think he’s got the upper hand. But look closely. Drake is a prop. He doesn’t drop any bars, his clothes are pretty low-key and there’s never attention to his face. He’s just there to have Nicki’s bum up all in his grill. What gives it 500 times more volume is that they didn’t pick just any model off the street for that scene; they casted Drizzy, who’s an established rapper and has probably taken part in booty politics himself.
So Nicki’s getting him all excited, but he can’t get too enthusiastic ‘cause as soon as he tries to touch, Nicki swats his hand and walks away off-screen like a BOSS. She’s in charge, she ain’t havin’ your anaconda and she got buns, hun!
Is Anaconda part of the feminist movement? I think so. Is it flawed? Definitely. Issues like skinny-shaming are included in the song, but that’s a discussion for another day. Does it make a powerful statement against the way women are portrayed in the media, and more specifically the music industry? Absolutely.
What do you think? Let me know in the comment section.