Opinionated: Same Shit, Different Day; White Pop Star Derails Conversation

Credit: Dazed Digital

DISCLAIMER: As a white woman, I aim not to further divert the conversation from its core issues while amplifying the sentiment of various women of colour and their opinions of the matter which I have encountered via social media in the past day regarding Nicki Minaj’s misogynoir (or anti-black misogyny; a term coined by queer black feminist Moya Bailey) tweets, Taylor Swift’s derailment of this conversation and the media’s inaccurate portrayal of the call-out.

I’m not entirely sure where to begin. Dare I say I’m not surprised? Sadly, yes. This is yet another example of misogynoir within popular culture and the surrounding media. I think it’s worthwhile to recap the events before I launch into wider discussion.

Earlier yesterday, the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards nominations were announced. Nicki Minaj responded to her lack of nomination for Video of the Year for her Anaconda music video and Best Collaboration for her Feelin Myself music video with Beyoncé in a series of tweets which read as follows:



Taylor Swift interjected with the following tweet:


To which Nicki responded:


Firstly, I’d like to deconstruct some of the arguments surrounding this situation.

Regardless if you personally thought Anaconda (or 7/11 for that matter) was worthy of a nomination, Nicki is within her right to discuss her lack of nomination and criticise the VMAs and MTV as institutions.

Award ceremonies like these are notorious for snubbing artists of nominations and considering Anaconda was such a cultural phenomenon as pointed out by Nicki herself, I can understand why she was vexed. At last year’s VMAs, Nicki’s live performance of the song was a feature; the hypocrisy in commodifying its hype for ratings while leaving her off the nominations list is again, not surprising but gross nonetheless.

Earlier in the year, Taylor Swift was praised for her open letter criticising Apple Music. Macklemore even went as far as apologising to Kendrick Lamar for robbing him of a Grammy in 2014. And who could forget Beck inviting Kanye back on stage after he jokingly reminded the world of the events of the 2009 VMAs in defence of Beyoncé’s snub. Is Nicki not free to criticise the industry in a similar manner?

Too often I have witnessed the misrepresentation of black female artists in the tabloids. Recent exchanges between Iggy Azalea and Azaelia Banks as well as Kylie Jenner and Amandla Stenberg come to mind:

Azaelia and Iggy


Azaelia Banks and Amandla Stenberg are both portrayed as angry and irrational in order to dismiss valid criticism while those commodifying significant aspects of black culture are victimised. Unfortunately, similar headlines made their way around today (see Buzzfeed and Business Insider for example).

I personally can’t get enough of Anaconda. Sampling Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit Baby Got Back, Nicki built an empowering anthem off the back of an iconic and equally as sexist one. The music video satirises hyper sexuality while celebrating sexual liberation on the artists own terms; not the mention that the banana chopping frame deserves an award in itself.

The video broke the 24 Hour Vevo Record, trumping Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball which was also equally as provocative and culturally impactful. The only difference is that Wrecking Ball was not only nominated but also won the award in 2014.

Taylor was wrong to assume the tweet was directed towards her. Nicki was merely critiquing the lack of acknowledgement and blatant racism that black artists and black culture receive in all forms of media. Rock and roll, vogueing and twerking are accredited to Elvis, Madonna and Miley Cyrus respectively in mainstream culture, bastardised and popularised to the point that not many people are aware of their origins in black communities.

If it weren’t for Taylor’s interjections, the main focus of Nicki’s tweets would have been on the double standards of the industry as intended. When Nicki referred to the “other girls” in one of her tweets, it was clear that she was pointing out the privileges that come with whiteness and slimness in popular culture, an issue that desperately requires attention. Instead, click-bait media has fabricated a feud between the two artists.

Ariana and Nicki

“Pitting women against each other” is an overused and tired phrase that intends to silence those criticising misogynoir and wider racism amongst women, originally invented and perpetuated by men. Taylor’s knee-jerk response highlights her Introduction to Feminism 101 level of understanding of the issues that not only black female artists face but black women from all professions and walks of life have to deal with. Her, like so many other hyped white “feminist” celebrities (think Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Emma Watson) are perpetuating this introspective and exploitative brand of feminism that subjugates others and their deep-rooted struggles against white supremacy.

I also find irony in the fact that Taylor’s Bad Blood video (equally as hyped as her feminist-lite rhetoric packed full of celebrity cameos) is reportedly a rip off of KPOP 2E1’s Come Back Home video; her comments made even richer by the widely spread rumour that the song is about her feud with Katy Perry. She utterly misses the point on this and her final response was barely appropriate:



Nicki is so often slut-shamed and discredited because of her genre of music. Her brand of feminism may not be comfortable for everyone but it’s what the music industry needs. Nicki Minaj has taken Lil’ Kim’s legacy of empowerment and has run with it. It may be folly to read into this situation as much as I have but I truly do believe that the entertainment industry is a microcosm for greater society. Accurate representation of all people in widespread media is an essential aspect of addressing issues of discrimination as popular culture impacts all of us and has the ability to shape our behaviour more than we’d like to believe, especially for those more impressionable amongst us.

Again, while I’m not surprised, I’m still disappointed. It saddens me greatly that this situation has been derailed as much as it has. White women have never been innocent bystanders to racism and it’s important that we, myself included, acknowledge this in our everyday lives and learn from Taylor’s mistakes.