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There’s never really a good time to release a Nazi inspired music video. But leave it to Nicki Minaj to decide to drop one on the 76th Anniversary of Kristallnacht:

Kristallnacht was a nationwide, state-sponsored pogrom (a spree of violence directed against Jews) conducted throughout Germany and Austria (which had been annexed by Germany in March 1938) from the evening and night of November 9 through the following afternoon… The pogrom’s name comes from the German word for beveled plate glass (Kristallglas) and refers to the broken shop windows of the Jewish stores, hence Kristallnacht, or Night of the Broken Glass.

Predictably, the outrage started pouring in almost as soon as the video dropped. The Anti Defamation League issued a statement, saying in part:

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.

But raising a red flag is exactly what the creator of the video intended to do.

Minaj took to Twitter to apologize for the video as soon as objections appeared. Initially, she tried to deflect the Nazi angle:

The artist who made the lyric video for “Only” was influenced by a cartoon on Cartoon Network called “Metalocalypse” & Sin City.

Then she used the “but I have Jewish friends” approach:

Both the producer, & person in charge of over seeing the lyric video (one of my best friends & videographer: A. Loucas), happen to be Jewish

When that didn’t fly, she offered an apology:

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.

But, the video’s actual creator, Jeff Osborne, blew all those excuses out of the water by admitting that yes, indeed, the video was inspired by Nazi Germany:

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.

I actually give Osborne a lot of credit for not only owning his decision, but for coming right out and saying it. It’s better than the mealy mouthed excuses Minaj gave. The problem is that he kept talking:

I think its 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.

That initial response was not well received. So, presumably after having his chain yanked by his Young Money clients and their PR teams, Osborne tried to clarify his position by saying:

The reason I’m not apologizing is because neither I nor the video are anti-semitic. I can’t be sorry for something I’m being falsely accused of. The video represents Young Money as a generic totalitarian regime, which takes images and symbols from several countries and time periods, one of which is Nazism.

By his own account then, if Young Money represents a totalitarian regime, then in this video Nicki Minaj represents Adolf Hitler. Just look at the visual similarities between Nicki in the video and Hitler’s actual speech in Berlin.

He continues:

People think it’s trivializing the Holocaust because the song talks about sex, but I have no control over the lyrical content.

But this is a cop out. People don’t think it’s trivializing because the song talks about sex. They think it’s trivializing because you KNEW it talked about sex, and chose to dress it up in a Nazi uniform. The way he writes it, it’s as if Osborne made the video without ever hearing the lyrics. The truth is he knew exactly what the song was about before he conceived the video, yet he chose to do it anyway.

He explains his choices by saying:

I made this creative decision to show the juxtaposition of the most iconic form of totalitarianism and ways it still exists today, specifically in politics, the military-industrial complex, censorship, and intense monitoring and tracking of our citizens. It has nothing to do with glorifying Hitler or the Holocaust.

But again, the problem is not the juxtaposition of the images with each other, it’s the juxtaposition of the images with a banal song about how everyone wants to have sex with Nicki Minaj.

As someone who makes music videos that warn people about atrocities, I know the difference between criticizing something and glorifying it. And despite his protests to the contrary, Jeff was definitely glorifying the subject matter.

Editor’s Note: This is probably the worst song ever produced. Proving once again why “artists” like Manaj need controversy to sell records.

5 Responses

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