For an Indian-American mom, there are very few things in life more life-changing than the aftermath of watching Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video. It happened to me two weeks ago on a Saturday, with a couple of YouTube recommendations sitting in my inbox. The first one was a video from Khan Academy, inspiring me that, “I can learn anything!” and the second was THE video.
After watching Khan’s video, I copied the link to Nicki’s into my email and logged off from my work computer. Somehow, 3 million views in a matter of 24 hours did not sound right enough for me to carry on watching YouTube anywhere else but on a personal device.
And boy, was I right?! Behold the plenty of jaw-dropping amazements that lie in store! I mean, come on, you don’t have to come from a conservative background like mine to think, “Where is the rest of the outfit at?”, as you watch five girls parading in bikini-like costumes and thrusting their rear ends into your eye balls for a little over 4 minutes.
In this double entendre filled world, it should take very little to let your imagination start running wild. So it was a big surprise when it took me a while to get the essence of the video! Obviously, she has not been making human rights campaigning videos to become famous. She must have been going after the right human things!
When it finally dawned on me, I thought of the time I was filled with wonder after realizing what that mysterious word on number plate after number plate in my state of Georgia said in 2008 during election time! BAMA.
And just like that on my way to work one day, I went, “Bama, Bama, Bama, Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Obama!”
But to think of the Anaconda as anything other than a large brown snake let alone as a play thing in your hands is exhausting considering my native origins. Why Anaconda? Why not a watchman’s night stick? The coconut, the bananas on the vinyl record player, references to the Effiel tower; these allusions are very confusing.
There are not very many times a person from the Indian origin can say thank you to the British and really mean it. Enter, the knowledge of the English language and that’s when my gratitude for the great-grandfather-oppressor swells. I personally think a person has the right to use puns when he has perfected the art of the language itself. Of course, like with anything else, there is a flipside to that. Word play can be really understood by others when they can both appreciate the meaning and the context in which the words are being spoken in.
In the alternate universe that Nicki seems to live, every word and syllable – yes they are part of the lyrics in the song, is comprehensible. There has been no ubiquitous news on the subject to alert a poor suburban mom like me of the literary prose that is sweeping the world! Intended puns, I want to call them fondly. The blending of Eiffel, riffle and Nyquil* in Nicki’s song is so effortless; one might be tempted to call her a prolific poetess. Why break your head for rhyme or reason when you can look into your medicine cabinet for inspiration?
It is not easy for an English teacher’s daughter to have to explain to her kids that the Krispy Kreme donuts they are eating are actually “crispy and creamy”. I simply tell them it is a typo worried that pun-ning might get in the way of their abilities to learn the language well. Consider it a case of bad grammar giving you heart burn because it cannot be digested easily. Then there are some genuinely good puns, like with a neighborhood restaurant called “What the pho?” – Pho being a type of Vietnamese soup.
The public consumption and the subsequent reactions to the video are equally engrossing. A few skinny girls getting offended with the outro lyrics?! And the rest of not-so-skinny ones accusing them of back door bragging.
Below are a few real-life tweets mentioning #NickiMinaj.
I Like Nicki Minaj Anaconda Song Even Tho She Talk About Us Skinny Chick In It lol.
just because nicki minaj has an arse the size of mars she thinks she can insult thin girls even though she skinny everywhere else bye girl
So I finally saw @NICKIMINAJ Anaconda video or whatever. Who she think she dissing skinny chicks? Tuh All shxt FAKE Anyway. Bih BYE.
I love it when people use filler words like “Basically”, “Like”, “Anyways” and “Whatever” to sound authentic and seriously opinionated about something. And, everyone who has an internet connection seems to have a cause, an opinion or a question these days. After all, I have had a few over the years, “Why does my poop smell chalky?, “How to do better than pencil poop?” I have asked Google.
Dissing us skinny bisches on video.
This post on Twitter is yet another classic. It is sadly amusing to see how people want to avoid using offensive words for the fear of being flagged on social media, but not afraid to butcher spellings. Dissing, it turns out, is an informal short form of disrespect. Wow.
Maybe we are all missing the point here by debating about the shock value or the skinny-fat shaming purportedly intended by the video. We are raising a generation of kids telling them about the delicate topic of picking nose in public, but making them literally incoherent with the incessant use of incorrect spellings.
I understand that Nicki Minaj’s job as a creative pop artist is a difficult one. So, I want to give her some credit where it is due. She has to paint an alternate imagery to the consumer’s eyes using word and screen play. After all, without watching hip gyrations, it is impossible for the common man to relate milk oozing out of a coconut to anything remotely related to a woman’s body. For that reason, I salute Nicki!
Also, to her defense, Nicki’s target audience is not moms like me, but all those kids with raging hormones and those who quickly adapt to slang lingo they have acquired through internet street credentials!
Then, there is the amazing body image she seems to possess! I like the way she owns the space around her and how she makes the guy in the video wanting more. A little girl of my friend’s sitting in my lap a couple of days ago, looked up and asked me why I have hairs in my nose. Wait until you have hair growing out of everywhere and then embrace your body like Nicki, I had secretly blessed her. For that purpose, this can serve as a nice instructional video for teenage kids.
The list goes on…. Isn’t she also fighting for Women’s liberation via the song?! I am not sure if the video can make men blush by constantly talking to their Anacondas, but it sure has made me pink from head to toe. Personally, I will never look at an anaconda again the same way. The star of this story is not my husband, so let’s leave him out of this. The star is the Anaconda. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for feminism and everything, but bedroom is no place for a revolution. I am entitled to my fantasies, I presume.
And here is where I realize, Nicki and I are ideologically different. I go to great lengths to make sure no one can see what Google recommends to me based on my past choices of videos, and here Nicki is openly making videos I don’t want to be caught dead with.
I guess in the end, everyone is allowed at least one indiscretion. Although, there are few people who are exempt. The likes of Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian get more than their share of one fair chance. Obviously, it is not Nicki’s fault alone, but since she chose to be in the limelight, she needs to shoulder some responsibility.
In a capitalist society you can buy anything back.. Even redemption.. This is how my husband ponders about everyone’s version of the American dream. And so Nicki will survive when her story is told as self-redeeming because it promotes positive self-worth to women, especially us moms who come in all shapes and sizes. Although, as a well-meaning mom, I have just one request.
No one needs your contributions to the American Literacy Trust, hun. No pun.
Nyquil* : Cold medicine brand name.