Yesterday the enduring appeal of the human female rump as an object of sexual desire was reaffirmed in two separate incidents.
Rapper Nicki Minaj released a new video called “Anaconda” (NSFW) which has already been viewed some 22 million times. The video features the amply bootied Minaj shaking it in a tiny thong, tiny denim shorts, a small bikini and tight tights. It is the latter she wears as she crawls on her hands and knees to and then lap dances a visibly shaken Drake. Some have called Minaj’s butt “fake” — I’m not up to speed on hip-hop lore to know if she had implants or not, but whatever, it’s quite a thing, and the video definitely puts Iggy Azalea in her place. And as mentioned, it’s been viewed 22 million times in one day so it’s a hit!
Did Manara and Minaj somehow share drafts of their work? The resemblance is SCARY!
Manara also copied the pose from the cover of one of his best known comics, Click! in which a woman is controlled by a remote control box and turned into a sexually voracious horndog whenever someone turns the dial. This was not the basis of the 2006 Adam Sandler film, but imagine if it had been.
Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue took point on the outrage on this, proving that despite the recent changes, TMS is no man’s site:
I honestly don’t know what anyone involved was thinking. The series is being written by Dennis Hopeless with art by Greg Land, and although it appearsMarvel is attempting to draw in women with a slew of new female-led titles, this does not instill confidence. Nor does it tell women this is a comic they should consider spending money on. In fact, what the variant cover actually says is “Run away. Run far, far away and don’t ever come back.”
That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s really not. This is what we talk about when we ask comic publishers not to actively offend their paying (or potentially paying) customers. It’s important to note, Manara is known for erotic art, and there’s absolutely a place for that. But was he the best choice to promote this particular comic? I would say unequivocally no.
It appears to The Beat that after a period in which the growing female audience of comics has been wooed by Marvel, this new book is meant to appeal to the old “headlights comics” crowd. The interiors by Greg Land and variant by known erotic master Manara confirm that. Kinda simple.
Marvel’s decision to aim Spider-Woman at the male crowd is a little odd, but maybe this is the character Sony is contemplating for their female-led superhero movie and Spider-Woman needs to be made a little more man-friendly? I dunno.
I’ll be brutally honest, I’m more offended by that Greg Land cover than the Manara one. The Land one, as I tweeted a few weeks ago, is really badly drawn and makes it look like Jessica Drew is a double amputee with one shrunken leg. I’m sure he copied it from some photo that is just foreshortened but it still looks awful. It’s just DULL. You can’t say that of the Manara cover, at least.
I’d hope for better for Spider-Woman, but one franchise at a time, I guess.
As for “Anaconda” (The title refers to Sir Mix-a-lot’s line from “Baby Got Back” — “My anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hun”), I admit it’s a bit disconcerting to see someone as normally in control as Minaj crawling on all fours and objectifying and fetishing a female body part, but you can’t deny the power of the ass, and Minaj seems to be wielding her own super-power. Perhaps Spider-Woman is just doing the same thing?
Somehow it doesn’t come off quite the same.
UPDATE: Obvs. I’m far from the only person who made this connection, and most have deemed the Nicki-led video as empowering and the Manara image as the male gaze over again. Amanda Marcotte at Slate:
But really what it comes down to is who is in control of the butts in question. With Spider-Woman, we’re looking at yet another example of a man imposing his ideas about the female body and female sexuality onto a character, creating an image that feels like she’s reduced to the ass in question. But “Anaconda” is a video with a woman in charge of her own image. She’s shaking her thing because she wants to and she’s looking directly into the camera and rapping, too, making it impossible to reduce her to a single body part.
In contrast, Nicki Minaj is reclaiming a song (Baby Got Back) that was made by a Black male rapper who celebrated (but also objectified) Black female bodies. Throughout her song, Nicki raps like a man would, talking about her sexual conquests with men and the size of their dicks, almost as a way of doing to men what they have done to women (objectifying their dicks as Sir Mix A Lot objectified Black women’s asses and many other men objectify women’s vaginas). She also brags about her sexual prowess and stays in control and aggressive in the video (she goes as far as cutting a banana representing a dick and slapping Drake’s hand away—the video critiques the male gaze). The target of mockery and disparagement in Nicki’s video is men and the male gaze, and the video works to reclaim agency from it.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.