A couple of days have passed since the Grammy’s, giving me time to think and compose my thoughts about Nikki Minaj’s “controversial” Grammy performance. I’ve seen several blog posts and articles from the usual “foamers” upset about her performance, so I thought I’d add my voice to the din.
Let me start by acknowledging of my presuppositions:
1. The Church – Specifically the Catholic Church Is A Target
The church has long been a target of many artists because it’s iconoclastic imagery and because of what it stands for. This was true when Lady Gaga released “Judas”, when Madonna released “Like A Prayer,” when “The Last Temptation of Christ” was released, or when art installations depict Jesus or Mary a disgusting manner. The Catholic Church has become an even greater target in the wake of the child abuse allegations and cover ups.
2. Islam and Other Religions Are Not Attacked The Same Way
I heard this argument when it came to NFL players “Tebowing” and “mocking” Tebow’s faith – that if Tebow were Muslim, they wouldn’t mock him the same as they do a Christian. And there’s some truth to that. It is socially acceptable to mock the church and Christianity. It is not socially acceptable to publicly mock Muslims and other religions. I would add though, that because Christianity is generally accepted in the US, Christians don’t face the day-to-day bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination that Muslims face on a day to day basis. In short, Christianity in the US is the front runner that everyone else can take shots at. It doesn’t make it right, or fair, but it is the current reality.
3. Nikki Minaj’s Grammy Performance Was Tasteless
And before I get into my full comments on Nikki Minaj’s Grammy performance, I’ll state my opinion: it was tasteless. It was offensive to many Catholics and Christians.
4. I am a hypocrite.
I am not outraged by Nikki Minaj’s performance. I’m mostly underwhelmed and saddened. But I might get outraged about something else. And I might choose to “foam” about that. I am a hypocrite. And so are you.
Ok, with that boilerplate out of the way, here are my thoughts on her performance: It was dumb, not demonic. It was poorly executed, not a well-crafted attack on the person of Christ. It was done purely for shock and commercial value. Nikki Minaj has a new album coming out next month and needs to get people talking about her – this was her shot at doing that.
Minaj tried to out-Gaga Lady Gaga, and was largely unsuccessful. The truth of the matter is that Lady Gaga has taken performance art to a new level of shock and awe with everyone wondering what she’s going to do next. This makes other commercial artists like Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and Nikki Minaj try to duplicate that success by becoming more controversial, and more shocking. But Nikki Minaj dragged out the raggedy old “naughty Catholic” routine, and it was more “been-there-done-that” than shock. It was a pathetic grab at attention. And what’s worse for her – the performance was almost universally panned as being out of step with the rest of the show, weird, and incoherent.
So she’s getting 938 words on my blog, and thousands of others. Maybe she is getting what she wanted after all – a little buzz. What I really despise about these “controversial” shots taken at the Church, is that the Church pours gasoline on the embers with our outrage. What would have been commentary the morning after the Grammy’s will now stretch on for months because groups will boycott, pundits will take to the airwaves, and people will picket. All the while, album sales will get a boost because of the continued publicity – even though most thought the song wasn’t very good. She performs this act because the controversy sells albums. So stop foaming at the mouth if you want to halt sales.
The other thing I often hear is that we have to protect our children from such imagery. Yes, we do. As a Christian, I believe it is our responsibility to protect our children from seeing, hearing, and experiencing things that will negatively impact them. I believe we should teach our teenagers to filter and know right from wrong and make those decisions based on God’s Word. But I don’t expect a V-chip, a ratings system, CBS, the Grammy’s producers, the advertisers, or Nikki Minaj to do that for me. It’s sad that our society doesn’t have a higher bar set for our morality, but society never dictated that anyway. I stand on God’s Word alone.
Yes, I believe Christians need to stand up and defend their faith. Yes, I believe the performance was tasteless and offensive to many. But why do we keep expecting non-believers to carry our values? Why do we expect one who is “sinner” to look reflect anything but our broken world?
Why not spend our time doing things that actually matter? Let’s take care of orphans and widows. Let’s put an end to abuse of children in our churches instead of covering it up. Let’s feed the hungry and help the poor. Let’s love our neighbor as ourselves.
If you really want to put an end to these tasteless, anti-Church performances, take the power out of their hands. What if instead of boycotting Nikki Minaj, we chose to feed a child for every album she sells. What if the church’s response was to drill a well in Africa every time we’re inclined to take to the air with our latest outrage? What if we made a difference instead of just making noise?
Anyway, just my thoughts…