Nicki Minaj has faced accusations of cultural appropriation, after she donned an Asian-inspired outfit for her performance on Saturday Night Live.
As she debuted new single ‘Chun-Li’, the 35-year-old wore a traditional East Asian outfit that was believed to be in keeping with the ‘Street Fighter’ character that the song was named after.
Minaj was also flanked by Asian backing dancers, and the backdrop of the stage featured an Asian-style pavilion.
But the performance soon proved problematic for viewers, who questioned whether Minaj was appropriating Asian culture.
“I wouldn’t care as much about appropriation of Asian culture if Asian culture was represented in American culture by Asian actors more. Instead, it’s used as set dressing (and frequently fetishized). Nicki Minaj’s performance on
@nbcsnl is a prime example”, one Twitter user wrote.
Another said: “How come Nicki Minaj isn’t being accused of cultural appropriation?! Or is it only white people can appropriate cultures? I thought the idea had merit but now I have my doubts after seeing
#NickiOnSNL lampoon Chinese culture and provoke no outrage.”
Others were quick to jump to Minaj’s defence, noting that her great-grandfather was Japanese.
“I’m seeing that people are saying that Nicki Minaj is partaking in cultural appropriation because of chun-li and the music video… chun-li is about a video game character and the music video is alluding to that character. it’s not mimicking a culture. also nicki is part asian”, one user wrote.
Another argued: “As an Asian American I have no problem with Nicki Minaj’s performance. Everyone is so overly sensitive. Appropriation is a part of art and expression.”
‘Chun-Li’ is the first single to be taken from Minaj’s forthcoming forth album, which will be released on June 15.