This is not the first time a music entertainer has taken a low blow to the Catholic Church. There was Madonna, Sinead O’Connor’s ’92 SNL performance and just a year ago, Lady Gaga’s leaked release of her single “Judas” (about, you guessed it, Judas Iscariot) just seven days before the beginning of Holy Week. However, just because this has happened before doesn’t make it any less confusing, offensive or any less inappropriate.
Without recapping what she specifically did, Ms. Minaj’s Grammy performance mocked Catholic traditions including Reconciliation and the Rite of Exorcism and also included among other things a choir singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” as a Bishop attempted to exorcise a demon from Ms. Minaj herself.
As you can imagine, the reactions were just as you would expect them to be. These two are tweets from two popular Catholic artists, Matt Maher and Audrey Assad.
What frustrated me (besides her performance) was the comments on my Facebook and Twitter feeds saying that there was nothing wrong with Nicki Minaj’s performance. Some even went so far as to applaud her artistic expression. One individual wrote that they “understood why some people may have gotten offended by her performance” but seeing what Nicki’s new musical material is about they “applaud her for taking risks and going for a performance so unique”.
Hold up, I’m sorry. There is nothing that deemed Nicki Minaj’s performance to be unique or risky. She simply mocked Catholics and Catholic traditions and tried to pass it off as art. Worst of all, she was allowed to do so by those who organized the Grammys.This performance was not an accident or a sneaky last minute change by the performer. It was methodically planned, rehearsed and executed all with the approval of the sponsoring organization, The Recording Academy. Would Nicki Minaj have been allowed to perform the same song if she was mocking Islamic or Judaic traditions?
Aside from her performance, I can’t help but think of those teenagers and young girls who view Ms. Minaj as a role model. Recently on the Ellen Show, Ellen featured two girls from London, aged 5 and 8, who performed a part of Nicki Minaj’s song “Super Bass”. These girls are jumping around in their pink tutus, princess crowns and pink glittered microphones singing word for word a song about men who do and sell drugs, drink and party. I even spotted these two little girls on the red carpet of the Grammy’s no doubt there to support the rap star.
In a flurry of tweets by Catholic artists (like the ones above), blogger’s responses and numerous news articles in both secular and religious media, the Catholic League and President Bill Donohue released a press release Monday morning entitled “Is Nicki Minaj Possessed?” commenting on the Grammy performance.
It is bad enough that Catholics have to fight for their rights vis-a-vis a hostile administration in Washington without having to fend off attacks in the entertainment industry. The net effect, however, will only embolden Catholics as well as their friends in other faith communities.
He’s right. We Catholics have seemed to come under attack from all angles – the government infringing upon the rights of freedom of religion, the abortion rights debate and attacks from the entertainment industry.
But, we have to remember, that this was just one performance of a young woman seeking attention in a music industry were drugs, sex, scantily clad women and alcohol seem to be the norm. Her songs, music videos and performances are riddled with indecency and immorality. It was a childish attempt by Ms. Minaj to shock and entertain her fans and it came of as ridiculous.
In a small way, I feel sorry for Ms. Minaj, sorry that she feels the only way to gain attention and popularity is to take a stab at the Catholic Church, over one billion strong.