‘Anaconda’ snakes into mainstream conciousness

So, I had kind of a revelation the other night.

After spending like three or four days thinking about how I should best criticize (read: completely destroy) Nicki Minaj’s new video for her single, Anaconda, notorious for its depiction of ~30,000 twerking butts, I realized something that basically every single person at CHS needs to know: this video is not for us. This video is not for us; the only people for whom it’s intended are black women and Nicki Minaj herself.

Let me elaborate. Even now, in our supposedly liberated America, women of color are still over-sexualized far more than white women. Take the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue as an example. The cover for this year was a depiction of three white girls showing quite a bit of booty, but (of course) nobody called it pornographic or disgusting, while Minaj’s album cover ( which is also pretty butt-tastic) has been publicly condemned more times than I would care to list. In my humble opinion, while the video incorporates a lot of sexual imagery (e.g., nudity, sexual lyrics and twerking), it is done with the intention of reclaiming black female sexuality.

Minaj owns her sexuality throughout the video and is surrounded by fellow women of color. I think I saw maybe one white woman in the entire video, which affirms my beliefs that Minaj stands with her sisters and is reclaiming her sexuality (expressed by twerking), as black bodies have been appropriated and objectified for centuries, usually under the guise of “respecting the culture” and “being colorblind.”

Guess what, folks. People who have been oppressed usually don’t like it if you masquerade as them and pass it off as being accepting. Furthermore, I see “Anaconda” as a reclamatory effort in that there is only one male in the entire video, and while he is witnessing Minaj’s sexiness, he is a passive onlooker. In fact, when he tries to touch her, she slaps his hand and walks away (paws off, Drake)!

In conclusion, “Anaconda” is very much a video that someone like me (i.e., someone who is white) cannot adequately describe. It’s definitely NSFW, and I probably would not let a child under the age of 14 watch it because I am a killjoy. But it is also a video that is intensely important, as it is reclaiming something that has been appropriated by the white mainstream (if you haven’t been paying attention, I’m talking about twerking here) and reclaiming the sexual autonomy that all women, regardless of class, race or ethnicity deserve.

-Elizabeth Harrison