The following is a guest post by Marcia Forbes, PhD
Why would a pretty young woman not want close-up camera shots? Restricting press interviews (as she did) or refusing them all together was more understandable. After all, many celebrities can barely handle themselves in front of a microphone when required to answer questions from the media. Later that night at Reggae Sumfest I understood why the no close-ups request from Nicki Minaj. These shots can really mess you up when you lip-synch. A couple years ago when it was still Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues, Diva Diana Ross banned anything but a distant wide–shot camera. This drove me into fear of Phase 3’s cameras being damaged by an enraged crowd. Thankfully they booed her and spared the cameras.
Back to Minaj, like many Jamaicans I quite anticipated her performance. A young girl from the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago had immigrated to the USA and made it BIG!! As a Caribbean national, this made me proud, although honestly I’d never taken the time to read her sometimes chipmunk-sounding lyrics. I’d seen her various costumes and noticed her squirrel-like rear projection but so what if she padded her butt, all’s fair in this crazy world of music. And in any event female artistes had to be constantly upping the ante to be seen, what with GaGa making herself look cookoo!
Before Nicki Minaj’s performance I took to twitter with a few comedic tweets, making her posterior the butt of my jokes. On Friday, July 22nd, the day before her act, I tweeted, “Was putting on my Minaj bottom when @productionboxja reminder me that she’s on tomorrow night #ReggaeSumfest :-). During the day on Saturday, the fun continued, “Canna sleep so searching for my @nickiminaj prop-butt. How’s this with strings for #ReggaeSumfest? http://yfrog.com/gzd7djwj. “Could saw off this part of sofa for Minaj prop-butt. But can I cross it w the hotel after that act?” http://yfrog.com/h8u7vqkj. As tweeps are wont to do, they joined me in the comedy. “Re Minaj Butt Prop – decided against it @Lgrandison. Not fair to give Nicki such competition. She’s our guest @ #ReggaeSumfest :-)”.
The Montego Bay venue was buzzing with excitement in anticipation of Minaj. Little uptown brownings between about 10 to 12 years of age were very visible backstage. They practised their Minaj lines, repeating what must have been verbatim the lyrics of her various songs. They were totally caught up in the moment. Climbing up to the Red Stripe Bridge then escorted back down, they could barely wait to see and hear their idol. Meanwhile she was busy making changes to ensure a hassle-free stage entrance. So she changed the route and almost in a prayerful looking stance passed the Phase 3 Multi-Definition Production Unit, MD8.
Perhaps after numerous years in the business I’m somewhat jaded but Minaj failed to ignite me. Granted, my demographic and psychographic profile would put me way outside of her target market. Just as well!! My tweets reflected my views, “Unimpressed with Nicki Minaj & her badword cussing performance. Could Lady Saw, Tanya Stephens, Ce’Cile etc. do that & get away with it?”. “Nicki lipsynched poorly & was quite mediocre.” “Beef with double standard. Media & Police would be all over local artistes re expletives. Nicki was warned but went ahead cussin anyway.” “Wouldn’t say Nicki Minaj failed @ToniToneTonz but expected more. Maybe @thelockedwonder did too.” Then in response to whether I’d worn my Minaj bottom, “wanted to b good hostess @eddieanne & not compete w Minaj. Damn good thing cause w padded bottom I could lip sych her off stage. ROTFL.”
For me it was about being fair to our local entertainers, not about the pre-teens in the audience since they were clearly ahead and already quite familiar with the F**k, F**kers and Bitches which spiced Minaj’s performance, which kicked off with her Roman’s Revenge where she traces Lil Kim. As I subsequently watched her video and read the lyrics, I wondered why parents would be eager for their children to idolize Nicki, encouraging them in this by ensuring Sumfest attendance and backstage access.
My beef was about applying the rules regarding expletives fairly across the board. And we did!! Minaj was charged right after the show, represented by her attorney and settled the J$1,000 fine. If that’s what our law says then, so be it. In my view though Minaj messed up when she displayed such flagrant disrespect to Jamaica by announcing that she was warned about profanity but went ahead merrily, regardless. Guess it’s open season for all and sundry to diss Jamaica!