As the ridiculous and quotable moments piled up over the hour-and-a-half-long third and final debate, the jokes nearly wrote themselves. Aside from the instant meme factor of "bad hombres," the other standout phrase of the debate was unsurprisingly not one of political substance, but another demeaning remark from Trump, referring to Clinton as a "nasty woman." Of all the fantastic and rapid responses to Trump's insult, this Trumped-up remix of Janet Jackson's "Nasty" has to be one of the best.
Just as necessity is the mother of invention, so must memes originate in real life, and indeed there is a story — albeit a short one — behind this Jackson remix. Towards the tail end of Wednesday night's debate, as Clinton was answering a question about her plans for social security and Medicare, Trump interrupted her. In and of itself, Trump's interruption is not news by this point in the election cycle — Trump speaks just because he feels like it and someone gave him a hot microphone — but this time, he leaned into his mic only to say, during Clinton's answer, "Such a nasty woman." While a TV audience might typically expect some veneer of concealment of Trump's inner monologue, this debate was different, and it shocked millions of viewers.
Now written jokes are all fine and dandy, but in 2016, some cultural moments are beyond the scope of the written word and require something just a bit more sophisticated. Enter film, in particular, or the music video. And no era is more ripe with parody music video material than the 1980s. Janet Jackson's song "Nasty," released as a single in 1986, speaks from Jackson's own point of view as a woman experiencing street harassment. The most famous line of the song is as follows:
No my first name ain't baby, it's Janet — Miss Jackson if you're nasty.
The remix, originally posted on Twitter by Buzzfeed, features a clip from Jackson's dance-heavy music video, spliced with Trump's "nasty" and Jackson sings the lyrics.
While this remix is fantastic just for humor purposes, it takes on deeper meaning with a brief look at Jackson's story behind the song. In 1993, the singer told Rolling Stone that "Nasty" is about street harassment:
The danger hit home when a couple of guys started stalking me on the street. They were emotionally abusive. Sexually threatening. Instead of running to Jimmy or Terry for protection, I took a stand. I backed them down. That's how songs like 'Nasty' and 'What Have You Done for Me Lately' were born, out of a sense of self-defense.
Considering the instantaneous connection many Twitter users made between Trump's comment and Jackson's song in particular, the rude comment is in some ways a fortuitous coincidence for Clinton, as it reinforces her feminist stance.
While Trump's derogatory message was uncalled for, it did evoke Jackson's song, and Jackson's message is most certainly aligned with Clinton's feminist campaign, which she defended strongly at the debate.
Yes, the power of live-tweeting made this fantastic remix possible, but it wouldn't have existed if it weren't for so-called "nasty women" like Janet Jackson and Hillary Clinton. So raise a glass and toast to the "nasty women" in your life — Mrs. Clinton, if you're nasty.