Updated: Dec 13, 2019
By Ashlie Castaldo
Daily Show correspondent. Peabody Award winner. Political advocate. Growing up in Davis, California in an Indian Muslim home, Hasan Minaj never saw himself obtaining such titles. In his Netflix special Homecoming King (2017), Minaj tackles the pain of experiencing bullying and racism, as well as the allure of just passing enough that you can fit in and achieve normality. His comedy special and styles evoke not just cultural displacement, but generational as well. He reminisces over 9/11 being a crucial event where he tackled personal fears and vulnerabilities as a young man in the face of a judging yet ever globalizing world. Hasan uses his marriage to a Hindu as an example of the increasing acceptance of younger generations. And all from a millennial viewpoint.
It wasn’t just his ability to get people to laugh that made powerful critics take notice. After hosting the U.S. Correspondents dinner in 2017 he testified in front of the United States House Committee on Financial Services in Sept 2019 asking that “predatory, for profit loan servicing companies be reined in” (Slate, 2019). This is indicative of the issues that millennials find most important and a prominent policy discussion point for many Presidential candidates. There is a definitive awareness that we are on the edge of a bubble and a system that has blockaded an entire generation out of financial stability. It would make sense to have the face of that generation present to create an emotional undertone that would force urgent action. A loveable personality can go a long way toward convincing change.
After the 2008 recession, millennials have had to deal with a certain amount of desperation when it comes to finances. As the forefathers of the gig economy, GoFundMe and even viral campaigns to reach out to the rich and famous, millennials have had to be creative when it comes to the hustle. For his show Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj, he polled his own 200 member audience on what they owe in student loan debt. The collective amount was $6 million (Slate, 2019). Minaj’s grassroot survey is an example of not only youthful ingenuity but also the lax research and controls in place for economic studies within this topic.
As a final note during his testimony, Minaj brings up the fact that tuition rates steadily increase as wages “have only gone up 16 percent in the past three decades” (Slate, 2019). A strong economic future for millennials has to include a living wage and either ethical rules and processes for how loan companies function, or to drastically minimize the space loans hold within our markets. We need to free up money that can be spent investing in community start-ups and parental leave programming so that we have continuing generations that can continue to prop up our society. Hasan Minaj is a joker, but his points are no laughing matter. He is the Court Jester placing a mirror in front of a system, showing its corruption as laughable. But when he empowers the youth to become politically involved and empowered, it becomes clear that his truthful nuggets are more than just a punchline.