Jeff Osborne Won't Apologize for Nazi Imagery

by Maitri Suhas

Welp, the fiasco deepens and darkens with regards to Nicki Minaj's "Only" lyric video which was unabashedly Nazi-fied and a huge disappointment to both her fans and to survivors of the tragedy (not to mention anyone who stands for social justice). And on Tuesday, the producer of the video Jeff Osborne issued an exclusive statement on MySpace (lol) unequivocally defending himself and the video, invoking the name of The First Amendment because All Speech is Free! His crass statement begins: "First, I’m not apologizing for my work, nor will I dodge the immediate question. The flags, armbands, and gas mask (and perhaps my use of symmetry?) are all representative of Nazism."

On Monday, Minaj herself tweeted an apology about the video, which as far as responses go, I thought was pretty watery. She used reasoning like "One of my best friends is Jewish" and "I didn't come up with the concept but I take responsibility for it." I can throw her a bone for acting accountable, but her statement also directly stands in opposition to the creator Osborne's; Minaj tweeted that "The artist who made the lyric video for “Only” was influenced by a cartoon on Cartoon Network called "Metalocalypse" & Sin City," but Osborne fully admits that he was aware of the Nazi imagery.

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Osborne's MySpace statement only deepens the wound of the original lyric video, which the Anti-Defamation League called "a new low for pop culture." He went on to say that while there WERE many Nazi images used in the video, there were also many American symbols (the Lincoln Memorial) as well as an image of a Ferrari and the Vatican pope. There you have it, folks: there's a Ferrari in the video, so that totally absolves and neutralizes the use of Nazi images.

In true and classic ignorance, Osborne was flip about the strong reaction to the video and turned the argument around to make himself a victim, arguing that his mission was to subvert the images to make a statement:

I think its actually important to remind younger generations of atrocities that occurred in the past as a way to prevent them from happening in the future. And the most effective way of connecting with people today is through social media and pop culture. So if my work is misinterpreted because it’s not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I’m not sorry. What else is trending?

I mean, the man literally says I am sorry I'm not sorry. If that's not trolling, then I haven't been using the web for fifteen years. WE CANNOT REAPPROPRIATE TRAGEDIES. You cannot tell the oppressed that their oppression is "misinterpretation." Osborne is livid that he is supposedly being stripped of his right to free speech, while he does not see the truth that he is mocking and making light of the Holocaust in order to make a buck on a record.

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I hope that Nicki Minaj distances herself from Osborne. Even though I am not happy with her response, at least it included the words "I take responsibility" (even if, when she tweeted it, she was still using an avatar that was a still from the video. But I digress). Art is not about exploiting people's suffering to "make a point." There is satire, there is subversion, there is the reclamation of painful experiences to take away their power, and then there is Jeff Osborne, who is sorry he's not sorry for making a mockery of the Holocaust.

Images: Getty (2)