Update: “Only” lyric video director Jeffrey Osborne has said he will not apologize for the clip.
Nicki Minaj‘s lyric video for “Only,” which also features Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown on the track, sparked the ire of the Anti-Defamation League recently when the organization’s director, Abraham H. Foxman – a Holocaust survivor – called it “a new low for pop culture’s exploitation of Nazi symbolism.” The animated video shows a horde of soldiers all with red armbands assembling around long, red banners displaying a Young Money logo that have been compared by some to a swastika. Minaj, who is depicted as a leather-clad dictator in the clip, replied to the accusations via Twitter.
“The artist who made the video for ‘Only’ was influenced by a cartoon on Cartoon Network called Metalocalypse and [the non–Cartoon Network-affiliated movie and graphic novel] Sin City,” she wrote. “Both the producer and person in charge of overseeing the lyric video (one of my best friends and videographer: A. Loucas), happen to be Jewish. I didn’t come up with the concept, but I’m very sorry and take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I’d never condone Nazism in my art.”
Foxman condemned the video not just for its imagery, but for the tactlessness of releasing the video on the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” pogrom in which tens of thousands of Jews were brought to concentration camps and more than 1,000 synagogues were burned, signaling the beginning of the Holocaust.
“It is troubling that no one among Minaj’s group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release,” Foxman wrote. “This video is insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler’s Nazi juggernaut.”
When Vevo tweeted out the video on November 10th, the video streaming service played up its controversial overtones. “Too far or far from it?” the company asked. The video’s director, Jeffrey Osborne, has not commented on the video, but retweeted the Vevo tweet.