Shannon Williams

For the past week I have been hearing references, reading posts and even catching glimpses of media coverage about rapper Nicki Minaj’s new video for her latest single, “Anaconda.”

Despite all the buzz surrounding the video, I wasn’t moved to check it out for myself. As a matter of fact, I didn’t give it a second thought. I dismissed it as yet another degrading thing an entertainer did to get more attention. I refused to help them accomplish their goals, so I maintained my silent protest. But my perspective began to change when I was at church and a fellow member suggested I write about Minaj’s video because it was so ridiculously shameful. And then my pastor made reference to it from the pulpit.

“Maybe I should look into a bit more,” I thought to myself as I left church still not totally convinced I would watch the video or write about it.


Nicki Minaj

This June 29, 2014 file photo shows singer Nicki Minaj performing at the BET Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Later that night as I was flipping through the television channels I ran across the Video Music Awards shortly before Beyoncé was to perform. While I think Beyoncé is an awesome singer and performer and I was previously a big fan of hers, as of late I have been dissatisfied with some of her degrading antics and blasphemous behavior. Nonetheless, I found myself curious about her performance so I stayed tuned.

There were two particularly disturbing parts of her 16-minute performance that especially bothered me. One aspect was when she had background dancers performing on various levels of bleacher-like benches. The off-putting thing was for nearly all of that particular segment the dancers were either humping the benches in sexually suggestive ways or their buttocks were fully exposed (no faces, just butts) during a multitude of dance moves.

The other disturbing part of Beyoncé’s routine was when she performed a stripper-like routine on a chair that resembled aspects of a man’s anatomy. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Beyoncé’s 2-year-old daughter was in the audience throughout her entire performance.


Beyonce performs at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

After seeing Beyoncé’s performance and watching Minaj’s video that featured same-sex groping and explicitly sexual overtures, I was finally about 90 percent sure my topic would be about the two performers.

I became 100 percent sure after pondering some news I heard from two of my friends who don’t know each other and reside in two different states. Both of their high school daughters lost a schoolmate to suicide.

That’s when I knew I had to write about over-sexualized behaviors and the pressures youth face today.

When you consider the emphasis many people place on money and material things, being accepted by the “in” crowd, the antisocial aspect of social media where candid conversations and actual face-to-face engagement is becoming less of the norm, and the pressures people feel to look a certain way; there’s no wonder so many teens are depressed. Heck, considering such factors, adults who are confident and know how to think objectively can be depressed.

Today’s society is leaning more and more toward excessive behavior – be it excessive material possessions, excessive language, or excessive sexual innuendoes. Such emphasis on excessiveness can lead people – particularly teens – to feel like they are not enough, or what they have isn’t adequate.

This is a major issue that needs to be addressed and celebrities, whether they want to admit it our not, play a role in contributing to the issues.

I’m not a prude, nor am I ignorant to the fact that certain things and behaviors excite people. For instance, many men like looking at scantly clad women. It’s not for me to judge their guilty pleasures, but why must we as women, or even society in general, publicly promote such things? Why make it so mainstream? There are adult movies and books for that. Various governmental agencies restricted such entities years ago to adults only in an effort to safeguard children and teens more effectively. As prudish as it may seem now, it was actually being responsible.

When we have children committing suicide at alarming rates we need to look at the contributing factors. Their feelings of not being good enough are certainly strong indicators, which means we must do a better job of being responsible adults – performers included.

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