The rebellious Nicki Minaj finds herself in the middle of a generational, political-social adjustment that is happening in Saudi Arabia, of all places. She has cancelled a headlining appearance scheduled for July 18th at the Jeddah World Fest. The festival is part the country’s attempt to find a balance between its strictly conservative, restrictive form of Islam and a pop culture that is quickly passing it by.
In a country where there is high unemployment and rising dissatisfaction among its younger generation, the idea of bringing in entertainment as a distraction seems like an easy fix. But when the entertainment is a provocateur like Nicki Minaj, they may be getting more than they bargained for. Her rough language and skin revealing costumes are seen as double trouble for the Kingdom.
Minaj said she cancelled because “she did not want to perform in a country where ‘women have no rights.’ Though she added her intention was not to “disrespect” the Saudi government. To the New York Times she said the withdraw was “to make clear my support for the rights of women, the L.G.B.T.Q. community and freedom of expression.”
The government responded through media outlets that the Kingdom had done the cancelling due to Ms Minaj’s assault on its “customs and values.” The announcement was followed by a twitter flood from both sides of the Saudi argument. Ticketholders were sad and wanted their money refunded while conservatives saw it as good news and praised Allah. The balancing act continues.