If you didn’t watch the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, chances are you’ve probably heard about what you missed — Nicki Minaj’s bizarre performance of “Roman Holiday.” I’m not going to take the time to describe the performance except to say that it resembled my idea of a lavish musical production of the 1974 Italian demon possession film Beyond the Door (which was a quick, tacky rip-off of the far superior 1973 film The Exorcist) as directed by Baz Lurhmann. If you haven’t seen it, please watch the video here.
I rarely watch the Grammy Awards because music is something I prefer to listen to rather than watch on TV, and much of what makes up the show holds no interest for me. But I watched this year because there were some performers I wanted to see — Adelle’s return after throat surgery and performances by Paul McCartney, Glenn Campbell (who won’t be with us much longer) and the Beach Boys. I’m not a fan of Nicki Minaj, and in spite of its theatrical and pyrotechnical extravagance, I found the performance to be a big steaming bowl of nothing. But as I watched it, I laughed loudly, turned to my wife and said, “Boy, this is going to infuriate people!”
I was right, of course, because as I began writing this only two hours after the west coast broadcast of the 54th Grammy Awards, the wailing and gnashing of teeth had already started on the internet. The first sign of it I encountered was in the Washington Post, which listed several comments from Nicki Minaj fans on Twitter. Here are a few samples:
“I don’t like the fact that Nicki Minaj brought religion into her song #notokay”
“I was expecting LL Cool J to do another Prayer after Nicki Minaj’s demonic performance. I still wish he had.”
“Open with a prayer to the Lord, end with an exorcism? SMH #Grammys.”
From there, I went to a website called DividedStates.com for an article titled “Nicki Minaj Performs Satanic Ritual No. 2 at Grammy’s to Top Satanic Superbowl Show.”
Wait … you didn’t know that Madonna’s halftime show at the Super Bowl was a Satanic ritual? Whether or not the Super Bowl was Satanic probably depends on which team you were rooting for. But it also depends on whether or not you embrace the notion that the music industry — like all of mass media in the United States and elsewhere — is (and has been for some time) under the control of the Illuminati — the deeply secret, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-controlling, ultra-wealthy elite who either worship Satan, Moloch, or are reptilian aliens from outer space, depending on who you talk to — and is using the music industry to brainwash the masses and condition them for the coming antichrist dictatorship using subliminal messages, music videos filled with Satanic imagery and rituals, and songs that promote sex, drugs, sadomasochism, mind control, and check kiting … or something like that. If you’d like to learn more about all of this, I refer you to The Vigilant Citizen, which is one of the most readable websites on the subject.
Back to the article on DividedStates.com. It wastes no time in making precisely the kind of claims I expected:
“Nicki’s disturbing performance at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards was a blatant attack on the Catholic church. No one is sure why she has such disdain for the Church but many actually believe she is simply evil and it [sic] reflected in everything she does and every song she sings and every performance she gives.”
Never mind that it’s the 54th Grammy Awards and that what “many actually believe” is given the weight of factual information here and that the article quotes people overheard at the Grammy Awards by an unidentified source (Catholic spies? A spectral virgin Mary?). The significant part of that paragraph is “a blatant attack on the Catholic church.” That leads us to this later paragraph:
“If the stage was [sic] set as a Jewish Holocaust, or a black slavery set or some kind of mockery of Muhammad and Islam glorifying slave owners, there would be outrage. But because its [sic] the Catholic church that Minaj is mocking, somehow it’s allowed.”
Now “outraged Catholics” are calling for a boycott of CBS because of Minaj’s performance. Beneath the linked article at IndustryAllAccess.com, there is a comment from a reader identified as Dolores Ziga:
“shame on cbs..i would like them to put something offending muslims or another religion on ..i bet they wont..boycott cbs and nikki [sic].”
As expected, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League disagrees. An article on the Catholic League’s website asks, “Is Nicki Minaj Possessed?” In it, Donohue states:
“It’s bad enough that Catholics have to fight for their rights vis-à-vis a hostile administration in Washington without also 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. … Whether Minaj is possessed is surely an open question, but what is not in doubt is the irresponsibility of The Recording Academy. Never would they allow an artist to insult Judaism or Islam.”
Because as we all know, it’s practically illegal to be a Catholic in the United States today. And if you think that, I have a bridge to sell you. On Neptune.
As I traveled around the internet reading the reactions to Minaj’s performance, I was curious to know what else these websites had to say about religion. I was especially curious to see if they had any coverage of the seemingly endless sex scandal in which the Catholic church had been mired for so long. The open question in my mind was not whether or not Nicki Minaj is possessed, but whether or not the same outrage expressed over her performance had been expressed over the fact that the Catholic church has been protecting child rapists and even blaming everyone from the victims to gay people in its ongoing efforts to dodge responsibility for it horrifying actions for decades now (that we know of). Guess what I found. That’s right. Not a damned thing.
Pay no attention to that child rapist behind the curtain! We are the Great and Powerful Catholic Church and we have been OFFENDED by a musical performance!
Probably the most commonly found word in the responses to Minaj’s song is “disrespected.” She disrespected Catholics. That was her big crime.
The other common response is to claim that if the show had offended Jews or Muslims, if it had mocked the Holocaust or the slavery of black people in America’s past, it would not have been allowed.
This isn’t the first time such baseless and, frankly, crazy claims have been thrown at something that offends Catholics in particular or Christians in general. It seems a lot of Christians believe that when someone disrespects or insults their religion or simply does something that they don’t like, it is an offense on the same moral level as mocking genocide and human slavery. This boggles the minds of those of us who do not share that belief.
Expressing a negative opinion about a religion is not even in the same galaxy as mocking the systematic slaughter of millions of people, even if millions of people express that negative opinion. That’s because it’s an opinion and not a network of gas chambers. Having no respect for a religion does not breathe the same air as mocking the selling of human beings into slavery to live as cattle owned by other human beings.
And that performance does not make Nicki Minaj evil. Hey, I know absolutely nothing about Minaj — for all I know, she tortures kittens and trips old people on the sidewalk. If either of those were true, then that would make her a bad person. Performing a musical number in which she portrays a young woman possessed by a demon while a priest and altar boys cavort on stage, no matter how weird or spooky or even bad it might have been, does not.
Let’s all keep in mind exactly what allegedly has been “disrespected” here. We’re talking about the biggest organization of child rapists and their protectors on. The. PLANET. Unlike the secretive cabal of Satanists that some believe have covertly taken control of the music industry, the Roman Catholic church’s apparent fondness for child rape is pretty much out in the open these days. The pedophile is out of the bag now and we all know what the Catholic church is up to, and that is only made worse by its appalling attempts to dance around responsibility for its crimes. None of this is speculation. We now know — thanks to a damning 1997 letter from the Vatican — that the Catholic church enforces a global policy of protecting its child rapists from the law.
Right now, AIDS is leaving a swath of dying and dead people in its wake in Africa. It is strangling the continent. The Catholic church, however, has decided to keep telling African people not to use condoms because that’s part of Catholic dogma. According to a 2010 article in the UK Guardian, this means the Catholic church is not just a religion — it has become “a major global health problem.”
Right now, the Catholic church in particular and Christianity in general is engaged in an all-out war against women — not Catholic or Christian women but all women. In addition to its constant efforts to oppose legal abortion, Christians are actively fighting the availability of affordable birth control and health care for women. They don’t care that not all of these women believe as they do — they insist that all women of all religious beliefs — and no religious beliefs — bend to their religious laws.
In return for its demands that everyone live according to its beliefs, the Catholic church in particular and Christianity in general also demand that everyone remain absolutely respectful of everything they do, that everyone refrain from questioning or criticizing their activities, no matter how illegal or horrifying, because they have god on their side. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in their god — if you have nothing to good to say about their religion, you are expected to remain silent. This attitude is found throughout Christianity in the United States, where Christians are currently in a perpetual state of being butthurt because everyone in the country simply refuses to behave precisely as they wish.
Remember the comment by Dolores Ziga at IndustryAllAccess.com? She wrote, “I would like them to put something offending Muslims or another religion on.” This is a common attitude. If Christians are offended by something, they then express a passionate desire for other religions to be offended by something — after all, that would be the fair thing, right? — and they get angry if they aren’t. It’s kind of a “do unto others as we think you’re doing unto us” thing. They’re keeping score. Of course, this attitude of fairness vanishes in a puff of spoiled, whining, righteous indignation whenever an attempt is made to be inclusive of all beliefs in the United States. The law requires that religious displays on government property — during the holidays, for example — be open to all religions or no religions. That pisses Christians off. They see themselves as the rulers of the roost in the U.S. They believe this is their turf and they don’t want it sullied by any false religions with their false gods, or by secularists with their godlessness.
Robert A. Heinlein wrote, “Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.” Preventing that requires constant vigilance in a free society — vigilance that, over the decades, has not been maintained here in the United States of Jesus, where Christians are still — in 2012, for crying out loud! — trying to control everyone, whether they are Christian or not. They are still able to ask, out loud and with a straight face, if someone is possessed by demons. They are still oblivious — intentionally or otherwise — to the problems and pain their religion causes for so many, of the lives it damages, and even the lives it ends in certain parts of the world.
This is due in part to the unwritten law that still remains in effect in the United States. It is slowly weakening, but it has not yet gone away. That unwritten law states that it is absolutely forbidden to question or criticize religion, that blind faith in unprovable invisible beings and forces, alternate histories, and anti-scientific explanations for the origins of human beings, the earth and the universe is a virtuous and sacred thing that must always be shown the utmost respect and remain above reproach. According to this unwritten law, religious believers are like sleepwalkers and it would be wrong to wake them in the course of their somnambulistic wanderings.
Look where this unwritten law has gotten us. We currently have Christian presidential candidates who openly believe that birth control should be outlawed, that sexual activity should be legally regulated, that gay people should be jailed for their sexuality, that women should shut the hell up and stay in the kitchen where they belong, that miscarriages should be investigated to see if they were induced. This isn’t just annoying. This isn’t just troubling. This is fucking insanity! The United States is a nation currently undergoing what appears to be a nervous breakdown! And it’s a breakdown that might have been prevented had it not been for that unwritten law.
I do not recognize the authority of that unwritten law and I have no problem questioning, criticizing and even ridiculing the most destructive and dehumanizing force on the face of the earth. So I would like the attention of outraged Christians for a moment. I would like to have a word with you about Nicki Minaj’s performance.
There is a very good reason why Minaj did what she did Sunday night, why other artists have done similar things in the past and why others will continue to do them in the future. She did it for attention, to cause controversy, to sell records, and to get publicity, and to achieve those things, she focused her performance on Catholicism because Christians are one of the most effective free marketing tools in the world.
Immediately after Minaj’s performance Sunday night — hell, during her performance! — Christians began promoting it on the internet. Oh, sure, they were complaining about it, venting what they perceived to be righteous indignation. But in doing that, they were promoting the performance. One of the most beloved singers in the world died the night before the Grammy Awards, but what was everyone talking about? Nicki Minaj. Why? Because Catholics in particular and Christians in general made sure of it.
Although you don’t seem to be aware of it, your religious beliefs combined with your attitude of entitlement in the United States make you extremely easy to manipulate and use. Even I do it — just for amusement! For example, I have, in the past, calculated my purchase in a store to total $6.66 just to watch the cashier freak the hell out because — well, I don’t know, maybe because he or she thinks the cash register is the antichrist. I was raised a Christian. I know where all your buttons are and how to push them, and so do a lot of other people, because your belief not only makes you easy to manipulate and extremely predictable — it makes you pretty damned funny. That’s right, funny. If you don’t want people to mock your religion, quit being so damned funny.
How can you do this? By wising up! Stop taking the bait! Stop doing what most people know you will do when your buttons are pushed. This requires a little more than just wising up — it requires growing up.
You are not the only religion in the world. You are not the biggest religion in the world. There are many other religions and they are no funnier or sillier than yours. To those of us with no religious beliefs, it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart. Even your religion is not unified — there are over 30,000 different versions of Christianity because even you can’t agree on what you believe. Only in the last thirty years or so have you decided to take a break from your constant in-house feuding to band together and instead turn on everyone else — but you’re still accusing some among you of being “un-Christian” or “cults,” like the Mormons.
If you don’t like what Nicki Minaj did on Sunday night, the most effective thing you possibly could do would be to IGNORE HER! If you ignored the Nicki Minajes and Lady Gagas and Madonnas, they would have to find another way to stir controversy, get attention and promote their work, and they most likely would leave your beliefs alone.
But you won’t do that because you enjoy your outrage too much. You actually seem to get off on the idea that your religious rights are being smothered and you are being persecuted, even if those things aren’t happening — and despite the claims of your religious and political leaders, they aren’t. Because you seem to enjoy your outrage so much, I have a few suggestions. First of all, try focusing your outrage on some real problems.
Get outraged about the fact that your priests, bishops, pastors, deacons and teachers keep raping children and your churches keep protecting them. The Catholic church gets most of the attention in this particular field of endeavor, but the fact is that all religion is prime hunting ground for child predators because the predators know if they’re caught, the church — whether it’s Catholic or Baptist or Methodist or Seventh-day Adventist or Mormon — will protect them rather than letting unflattering news about the church go public.
Seriously, doesn’t that outrage you? If not, why not? Why are some of you still sending your children to Catholic schools, for example? Why are you handing your children over to Child Rapists R Us? Why are you still putting money in the offering plate to fund this systematic rape of children and protection of the rapists?
Get outraged about the fact that so many teenagers who are gay or are perceived as gay are bullied and tormented to the point of suicide because Christian leaders keep spreading outright lies about gay people! Get outraged about the fact that so many Christian churches and organizations are adamantly opposed to any efforts to address and quash this behavior! They claim its an attack on their religious rights when really, it’s an attack on their right to bully and torment gay people! If you think homosexuality is wrong, then don’t engage in it. Stop trying to control others who don’t feel the same way about it.
Get outraged because so many people are dying in Africa because the Catholic church and other Christian organizations keep lying about condoms!
Get outraged about the fact that so many Christians in the United States rant and rave about Sharia law while simultaneously trying to overthrow the American government and install Christian law!
You’re angry about a single stage performance that offended your religious sensibilities when your very own religion is engaged in some pretty appalling activity, while people are suffering and even dying because of the actions of your religion. If you can’t get outraged about the horrible things your religion is doing, then I have one more suggestion.
Get the hell over yourselves!
You are not being persecuted. Your religious rights remain intact. You are still free to believe in the religion of your choice, to worship as you choose and to express your beliefs freely. However, it’s important to remember that, despite the ongoing efforts of many of your fellow Christians, you still live in free society. The United States Constitution does not protect your right never to be offended.
The Constitution was not written by Jesus Christ for Christians alone. It was not copy-pasted out of the bible. It was written by men who feared the very things that are being said and done in the United States today by people of your religious faith. The same Constitution that protects your freedom of religion and expression also protects the freedom of expression of people who do not agree with you. It protects their freedom from your religion. It does not guarantee that everyone will embrace, agree with or respect your religion.
Your behavior is only making you look worse, turning more people against you. You have no special rights. You have the same rights as everyone else. And you are abusing them. You are your own worst problem.
You want people to show your religion respect? Then your religion is going to have to do what every other organization on earth that wants respect has to do.
Stop being such a monumental, obnoxious pain in the ass and earn it.