'Ellen' Tries to Turn Nicki Minaj's Butt Into a Joke & No One's Laughing

nicki minajEllen DeGeneres isn't one of those comedians known for having a borderline offensive sense of humor -- far from it, in fact -- but a skit about Nicki Minaj on yesterday's Ellen definitely has a lot of people up in arms. Presented as a "sneak peek" at ABC Family's upcoming sitcom about Nicki Minaj's early life, the "butt" of the joke is, well, just that.


That's right, the entire parody is all about Nicki's notoriously generous rump. Aaaaand that's it. Which means a little girl with outrageously padded pants playing young Nicki, and two adult actors with outrageously padded pants playing her parents, all bumping into each other and knocking stuff down and hahahaha, everybody's butts are so big!!! Even the dog!! (Yes, they padded the dog too. You can watch the skit here.)

An oddly tone-deaf offering from the usually sensitive Ellen, to be sure, and one her fans seem to be deeply disappointed by. In the hours following the broadcast, Twitter erupted with sentiments like these:


Critics are saying the skit veers uncomfortably close to minstrelsy, and that it embodies the kind of casual racism that's so insidious in our society. Which is understandable -- particularly the super icky part where they make the little girl bend over by way of introduction. Like, really?? 

Still, while the bit is truly inane and not at all funny, I don't think that Ellen was being intentionally racist here. She's a huge Nicki Minaj fan, for one thing, and has expressed admiration for her, um, assets in the past, even asking Nicki for advice on building up her own backside (which Nicki seemed to think was pretty funny at the time). That said, I also don't necessarily think Ellen herself found this skit all that amusing.

“They have big butts, that’s the joke,” she said to the audience afterward, as if to acknowledge there really wasn't much of a joke at all. 

More from The Stir: Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus's VMA Showdown Is All Sorts of Embarrassing (VIDEO)

But apart from being potentially racist, "jokes" like this one also sort of take away from all the body-positive messages Nicki tries to send. Yes, she's turned her own butt into a sort of cartoon character or mascot, but she's also said stuff like

I want people -- especially young girls -- to know that in life, nothing is going to be based on sex appeal. You've got to have something else to go with that.

As well as this:

I want to show little girls that the possibilities are endless.

Point is, Nicki's not just a caricature, but this skit reduces her to one -- and not a very flattering one, at that. Do I think Ellen did it on purpose? No. I think this is just an example of lazy comedy writing. But that doesn't really make it any better.


Image via T.Jackson/INFphoto.com/Splash News

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