Recording artist Nicki Minaj attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Ca.
Frazer Harrison—Getty Images
By Charlotte Alter
October 21, 2014

Apparently, the banana featured in the kitchen portion of Nicki Minaj’s video for the song “Anaconda” is no coincidence. The sexy nature of the video inspired a thousand opinion pieces when it debuted in August and has since racked up more than 200 million views. And now, in a new interview, the singer addresses some of the symbolism, or lack thereof in her performance.

The rapper told GQ writer that she intentionally included the banana as a symbol of female empowerment:

“At first I’m being sexual with the banana, and then it’s like, ‘Ha-ha, no.’ ” I ask if she’s referring to how the Drake scene immediately follows the kitchen scene. “Yeah, that was important for us to show in the kitchen scene, because it’s always about the female taking back the power, and if you want to be flirty and funny that’s fine, but always keeping the power and the control in everything.”

But that’s about the only explicit gender comment Minaj says she makes in the video. Apparently, the singer fell asleep four times over the course of the interview, and didn’t give writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner very much to work with. Aside from the banana moment, she repeatedly denied any overt gender politics in any of her work. Brodesser-Akner writes:

You heard it here first. “Anaconda” is about a snake, and also about a woman’s ex-boyfriends, and the video is just one big slumber party. You can release a record cover into the atmosphere that makes all who see it so shocked and discomforted that their only way to metabolize it is to turn it into the world’s fastest-spreading meme, to the point where her squatting form ends up on a polo shirt, right where the little crocodile usually goes. You can do all this, and still you can look someone in the eye and say that it’s not cynical in the least, that it’s not a comment on gender or sex or the culture or anything. Double shrug.

Shrug.

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