Nicki Minaj stopped by LIVE! with Regis & Kelly to promote her record-setting album, Pink Friday, and proceeded to charm the hosts with her powerful lyrics. Oh wait, that didn’t happen. Instead, her booty gave 79-year old Regis Philbin a woody.
After performing her hit single “Right Thru Me,” the 25-year-old rapper went over to chat with Regis and Kelly about Pink Friday. Kelly complimented her hair, while Regis was staring at something else. He checked out her outfit and blurted out, “I love the way you dress, this looks like you’ve got a little strap around you there.” After feeling the strap, he then gave Minaj a tap on the booty. Stunned, Kelly shrieked, “Regis! What just happened?”
Regis followed up the ass tap by asking Nicki what advice Lil Wayne has given her. “Wayne tells me to go hard,” she said, to which he replied, “Go hard? I wish I could.” Nicki Minaj played it cool on the show but later tweeted that she was “in shock” after Regis tapped her.
It’s convenient to blame Nicki Minaj for the sexy, form-fitting costumes she wears in public. But I’ve never bought into the excuse that a sexy outfit is an invitation for sexual harassment. Ugly women are raped and molested all the time. Regardless of a woman’s fashion, it’s a man’s responsibility to conduct himself in a reasonable fashion. I’m sure Nicki’s been around male hosts that didn’t make her feel uncomfortable.
I know what you’re thinking: “Well, Rihanna groped her at the AMAs and no one complained.” Regis barely tapped her thighs, so what’s the difference? No, this isn’t a case of “if it’s cool for Rihanna, it should be cool for Regis.” Nicki and Rihanna are probably friendly like that offstage. By that logic, the groping in Rihanna’s case could be classified as consensual. Also, if you replace Regis with Drake or Lil Wayne, two men who are much younger and well-known associates of Nicki’s, I doubt that people would’ve perceived it as inappropriate. What does that say about the way people are reacting to this thing? I don’t know, but I do know that it makes it less of a sexual harassment issue as Nicki Minaj’s “OMG! I was in shock!!” reaction would lead us to believe.
Also, this doesn’t strike me as a race issue. Don’t make that face, I’m serious. It’s not a race issue. Folks are already calling for Regis Philbin to apologize or be fired. Seriously? Should Rihanna also apologize?
But since we’re pointing fingers, let’s point one in Kelly Ripa’s direction. Just as Regis acted inappropriately by tapping Nicki’s thighs, Kelly Ripa should also be yelled at for keeping the conversation squarely focused on her curvature and her fashion. In fact, Kelly Ripa should also apologize for comparing waists with Nicki Minaj. How dare she?
What I’m trying to say is that none of this would be possible without Nicki Minaj’s cooperation. There’s a reason why people seem to only want to quiz her on her style as opposed to her substance. I don’t remember people constantly discussing the size of Lauryn Hill’s hips during interviews or the color of MC Lyte’s hair. If a sexualized barbie is what Nicki Minaj presents herself as, a sexualized barbie is exactly how people will treat her. She can’t have it both ways.
My main criticism of Nicki has always been that she allowed the industry to force her into the traditional route female celebs take to success. Surely, women still have a hard time surviving in the male-dominated music industry.
Look no further than the latest Grammy nominees for Album of the Year and you’ll see how pop success reflects certain career choices. For example, no one wanted Lady Gaga when she was an average brunette with mean keyboard skills. It took dying her hair blonde and getting nekkid in damn near every photoshoot to finally break through. Katy Perry’s first musical foray was via a gospel album. Success eluded her until she kissed a girl and liked it. This is the predicament of women in the music business. The ones who endure have had to make some tricky decisions.
Nicki MInaj just posted the highest sales numbers for a female rapper since Lauryn. The fact that she did it by sexualizing her image at the expense of quality music betrays the sexism still entrenched in our culture. But it’s still a choice. And bootygate is a symptom of the problematic nature of this choice, not its cause.