I haven’t gotten the full grasp of just how fleeting the public’s attention span or just how voracious their appetite for stimulus has become until this week. This past weekend, Azealia Banks dropped her debut album a full four years after the release of her first single. Thankfully for her, the music on the album’s has captured the hearts of ever-patient fans and near-instantly placated the demands of impatient haters. I never realized how much of an indiscretion it was to make people wait for art. You would think that the album was a 2-piece meal deal from the chicken place.
At the same time, I can’t quite believe how quickly messages and imagery can be released, absorbed, reacted to and discarded. Sometimes maybe you should examine the contents of what you’re consuming. Sometimes you don’t even realize the full weight of the messages you take in.
Everyone has chimed in on the glaring allusions to Nazi imagery in director Jeff Osborne’s new lyric video of Nicki Minaj’s “Only,” a bragadocious anthem about dominance through sexuality. Minaj is a latex-clad approximation of Hitler as she stomps amidst rows of soldiers in a video that borrows heavily from Nazi-era animated propaganda. Lil Wayne, Drake and the singer Chris Brown all make their cameos as her cohort puppetmasters: a corporate baron, a religious demagogue not unlike the Pope, and a high-ranking general.
The video seems to want to make light of the four artists and their power in the rap game. It comes out making them look like they think totalitarian, New World Order-like dictatorships are cool. For most observers, the strong Nazi symbolism was enough to cause outrage. The real message to me wasn’t just the Nazi aspect, although to make that allusion positive was truly disturbing.
Minaj apologized, claiming that her intent was not to offend anyone through the video, but Mr. Osborne came out to defend his work. He honestly wanted to create a discourse about a society of surveillance and the public’s unwitting subjugation to corrupt government and corporate interests.
To me, the only thing that hasn’t been addressed is why did he choose to cast the artists in such sinister roles? Why would the artists agree to this? Wouldn’t this damage their image; to appear as if they are supporting some kind of manipulation of the masses? Are they that clueless? Over 4 million YouTube views later, neither the artists nor the director have bother to comment on this aspect of the video. The controversy was merely a flare in the public’s stream of consciousness that got eclipsed by the power of Kim Kardashian’s oiled rump on the cover of a magazine.
We’ve got to be cautious with what we absorb in this amazing age of information. Some of it just isn’t good for us.