Nicki Minaj accused of cultural appropriation for ‘Chun Li’ SNL performance
The rapper was dressed in traditional Chinese garb and flanked by Asian dancers for the song 'Chun Li', a tribute to the Street Fighter character of the same name
Ahead of her upcoming album, 'Queen,' Nicki Minaj returned to Saturday Night Live for her third time as the show’s musical guest.
For her initial performance of her recent single 'Chun-Li', Minaj dressed up in traditional Chinese garb keeping in tune with the song’s Street Fighter character namesake.
She was also supported by an ensemble of Asian dancers and the stage was decorated in an Asian-style pavilion.
Though Minaj supporters will note that the rapper’s grandfather was of Japanese descent, the performance seemed to cross the fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, especially in light of the recent controversy over a high school student wearing a Chinese-themed prom dress.
Watch the video of Minaj's SNL performance below and decide for yourself:
As one would expect in a situation like this, Twitter blew up with polarized reactions. While some were quick to express their dissent over the performance, others defended the hip-hop sensation, claiming that Chun Li is a video game character and the performance was a tribute to the character and nothing else.
Check out some of the reactions from Twitter below:
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.— Megan Shitama Weston (@meganshitama) May 20, 2018
So is no one going to call out @NICKIMINAJ for cultural appropriation? Last time I checked she wasn't from any part of Asia...— Stuck (@StuckInDenial) May 20, 2018
i’m seeing that people are saying that nicki minaj is partaking in cultural appropriation because of chun-li and the music video...— daniel ♬ (@thelovelesscIub) May 15, 2018
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. pic.twitter.com/BOJM8Nwy9h
So I do not read @NICKIMINAJ's portrayal of Chun-Li as "appropriation" but as an embrace of a strong female character, both transcendent of race, but also as a nod to the long cultural connections between the African American & Asian communities. /end.— mieke eoyang (@MiekeEoyang) May 20, 2018
Thankfully, Minaj's second performance of the evening was fairly free from controversy, as she teamed up with Playboi Carti for a crowd-rousing performance of the track 'Poke It Out', which first appeared on Carti’s album 'Die Lit', released back in March.
Check out the video of their performance below: