Welcome to Gag Metropolis, the pink metropolis inhabited by stans and types alike.
Within the days main as much as the discharge of “Pink Friday 2,” Nicki Minaj’s fifth studio album and sequel to her debut report “Pink Friday” that dropped on Friday, Twitter was flooded with AI-generated pictures of pink-toned cityscapes. Gag Metropolis, the dreamy false utopia dominated by Minaj and her Barbz, broke by stan Twitter and have become a viral meme that model accounts instantly used for their very own advertising — selling Minaj’s album without spending a dime.
Is it an genuine stan-led marketing campaign to construct hype for Minaj? Is it a plant to recreation engagement for each the album and types? What’s clear is that the viral second is a win for Minaj, manufactured or not.
It began in September, when Minaj teased the album’s cowl artwork on-line. The picture options Minaj on a pink subway automotive, drifting by pink clouds with a futuristic (and clearly, pink) metropolis skyline within the background.
She and her Barbz started referring to the album’s launch as “Gag Metropolis,” NBC News reports, referencing homosexual slang for being so amazed that you simply’re perplexed. One is perhaps gagged by witnessing a surprising outfit change, or by listening to an ideal report, like “Pink Friday 2.” Main as much as the discharge, stans began posted AI-generated pictures of a pink concrete jungle, joking that fictional characters and celebrities have been arriving to Gag Metropolis in anticipation of Minaj’s album. In one of many first, posted on Dec. 1 in accordance with Know Your Meme, a fan account shared an image of a pink airplane labeled “Gagg Metropolis” flying over a equally pink skyline.
Within the days earlier than the discharge, Minaj informed followers to “put together for touchdown” and teased an outline of her pink utopia. Barbz replied with AI-generated renditions of the descent into Gag Metropolis.
X (previously Twitter) customers started crafting elaborate narratives about Gag Metropolis’s inhabitants and authorities. One posted a picture of Barbz storming the Pink Home, which another user described because the fandom’s personal January sixth. Another posted a picture of pink-clad residents protesting within the streets of Gag Metropolis, calling for Minaj to launch the album’s monitor checklist. Although some could imagine that Gag Metropolis is a utopia, one account posted an image of a matronly Minaj handing out CDs of her album to impoverished kids “on the outskirts of Gag Metropolis,” implying that the pink society additionally has a category divide downside.
Gag Metropolis can also be riddled with stan wars, as followers of rival pop stars posted pictures of their faves vying for Minaj’s seat on the head of her metropolis’s authorities. In a nod to Greek mythology, one account posted an image of a Computer virus embellished in Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” disco motif.
By no means one to overlook out on a straightforward development, model accounts began becoming a member of in on the Gag Metropolis hype. Chili’s posted an image of rosy smoke billowing from its restaurant, which makes me surprise if air air pollution exists in Gag Metropolis. Wheat Thins, Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Oreo, Bing (??), the Empire State Building and numerous others posted their variations of Gag Metropolis.
On one hand, memes are likely to die the minute model accounts begin co-opting them — nothing is extra tiresome than seeing a enjoyable joke flip right into a corporate-friendly advertising ploy. AI-generated pictures are already ethically fraught, and critics have raised issues over AI mills educated on paintings with out the consent of the work’s artists. Artists have additionally criticized manufacturers for utilizing AI-generated artwork as a substitute of commissioning work from an actual, human artist. Although utilizing AI-generated artwork for industrial use is authorized, as copyright legal guidelines pertaining to AI are nearly non-existent, it’s generally seen as a shitty move by many within the artwork world.
On the opposite, it’s free promotion for Minaj, and as a lifelong Barb who spent her adolescence operating a stan account for “Pink Friday,” I take into account it a win.
Nicki Minaj is an artist who’s been embroiled in controversy all through her profession, from posting bad takes about Covid vaccines to defending her husband Kenneth Petty, a convicted sex offender. She could also be an excellent artist, however her problematic historical past makes her removed from the family-friendly public determine that manufacturers usually tend to endorse.
However with Gag Metropolis, Minaj has manufacturers doing all of her advertising for her. “Pink Friday 2” is a creative marvel in itself (although I’m in all probability biased), however the free promotion that it’s been getting as a viral meme is especially astounding. Artists have spent the previous couple of years attempting to drum up engagement for his or her work by making their songs development on TikTok, which audiences have started to resist. Gag Metropolis doesn’t financial institution on being the viral track of the summer time to drive streaming numbers — the bit is eliminated sufficient for non-stans to get pleasure from it, whereas nonetheless revolving across the album it’s selling.
Model Twitter tends to show enjoyable traits into promoting alternatives, taking natural group interactions and spitting out contrived variations clearly made to go viral. It might be grating, however on this case, it’s working in Minaj’s favor. This week, everybody needs to go to Gag Metropolis.