Fall of Roman: An outrageous performance, all the wrong reasons

Surprise. Surprise. A pop star has tried to use the hallowed imagery of the church to grab headlines and dollars. Madonna? Nope. Lady Gaga? Nope. It was hip-hop Barbie Nicki Minaj scraping the bottom of the communion cup for every last religious cliché.

There were the scarlet monk robes, the geriatric pope-for-hire on her arm, the faux exorcism, the satanic levitation, the sexualized dancing altar boys and monks – lots and lots of monks popping and locking monks. Offended yet?

Yawn. So what, Miss Minaj? Are Christians supposed to rise up and condemn the performance? Offending Christians for publicity is a horse that has been beat to oblivion. Catholic imagery in “Like a Prayer” by Madonna, while highly sexual, was at least approached with a more adult tone and not sketched out by a committee of 14 year-olds that want to see monks breakdance and flames.

If we were to be offended by anything it would be the awful, pitchy singing from a rapper who needs a vocal coach and bizarre song trying desperately to be artistic. What a pathetic attempt at being creative.

We miss the days when competent artists would rip off the image of Christ for art. While offensive, it was at least executed well. Lady Gaga, while also strange and controversial, is a completely different character. Her costumes and stage personas, the result of dozens of creative minds, have become iconic. The concepts are striking and fresh. And Gaga has a fantastic voice and is a powerhouse on the piano.

Minaj’s performance looked hardly creative and more like “The Exorcist,” a cheap copy of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and the cast of “So You Think You Can Dance,” put through a food processor and served cold. She screamed a lot, grunted a lot and tried to let her literal smoke and mirrors distract from her lack of talent.

She claims it is the result of a stage alter ego she created called “Roman Zolanski,” much like Eminem’s Slim Shady. Except Eminem used Shady to vent the pain and anger of growing up in Detroit and to challenge the limits of censorship. Minaj’s Roman is an excuse to do elaborate stage productions and write easy concept songs.

Fellow Christians, getting upset about her use of religious imagery is like buying her CD – it’s not worth it. Let’s hope Minaj’s next offering is a more honest and earnest creative offering. Or, better yet, hope Minaj gives Katy Perry her wig back and go back to doing true hip hop and not conceptual glam pop.