Even when it comes to music videos that are mostly ass-shaking, nuance is important; “Booty” has made this clearer than ever. In our defense of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” we said that “it would be easy to see this video as the ultimate realization of music’s harmful objectification of women” before listing all the reasons why it wasn’t. They were subtle reasons, relying on the framing she uses to present sexual self-empowerment while teasing Drake, and rejecting the patriarchy through phallic banana symbolism. But it’s also worth noting that Nicki’s tone throughout is light and self-aware — she twerks with a wink and a nod. I’m not sure we needed a counterpoint for our defense, but here JLo and Iggy have provided one unasked for.
In all the ways “Anaconda” is fun and knowingly referential, “Booty” is clumsily on the nose. It’s painfully direct, maximizing every harmful music video trope without challenging or dismantling them. Though it might just be ill-fated timing, it’s also hard not to see this as a wan and desperate attempt to latch onto the momentum Nicki’s created, and to monetize the rap beef between her and Iggy — a beef that Nicki has used to highlight important issues of appropriation and authorship, and that Iggy has used as an excuse to don a bodysuit and rub up on Jennifer Lopez.
Not that she doesn’t have that right. Feminism makes room for self-sexualizing, as demonstrated with raucous and careful abandon in “Anaconda.” But with great ass comes great responsibility, and with “Booty,” two of music’s least-consistent songstresses have shown themselves to be clueless, clumsy, and careless, without empowering anyone or having any fun doing it.