Nicki Minaj in signature form at the 2014 VMAs. Photo courtesy of Getty Images. 

Nicki Minaj makes me despair of pop culture.  The video for "Anaconda"—released just last week, and featuring almost five minutes of the star’s constantly shaking backside—already has already almost 70 million views on YouTube. Last night, Minaj performed the song at the
2014 VMAswith the same amount of wit and style she displayed in the video (read: none). I could write a manifesto about why Nicki Minaj is so disappointing, starting with how she betrayed her early promise (anyone remember her wiping the floor with Jay-Z and Kanye on "Monster"?), her constantly devolving lyrics ("Oh my gosh, look at her butt" is a repeated refrain in "Anaconda"), and vapid public persona, which consists of wearing as little as possible while speaking as loudly as possible. Anyone looking to cite her as an example of modern female power should take a second look at those lyrics ("I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches"), and question, why, in "Anaconda", the video ends with Minaj crawling on the floor towards Drake, and then shaking her butt in his face. Feminism. Yep. But the thing about Minaj’s success that really surprises me is that she’s so
boring. A snake? Britney did that in 2001. Twerking? Miley took that as far as it could go last year. Wearing next to nothing while talking saucy about how you’re the one in control? Madonna built a career on it, kid. Minaj is the most cynical kind of pop star: someone who learned early that taking off her clothes would catapult her to success in a way that building on her talent never would.
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