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Look, Here's What the Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift Thing is Actually About

Some of the headlines about this have been way, way off. As always, we're all having the wrong conversation.
Emma Garland
London, GB

If you're a popular musician in 2015 with opinions and a wi-fi connection, chances are you will have a "Twitter beef" with someone at some point during your career. And with the nominations list for this year's MTV Video Music Awards announced yesterday, the internet has been awash with even more opinions than usual. Where the hell is Kanye on the nominations list? Who are Walk The Moon? Oh god Miley is going to sit on someone's face isn't she? She's going to perform a full on sex act right there in front of Nick Jonas. That kind of thing. Mostly, though, people are talking about Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, who apparently had some sort of social media "fracas".


Let's take a closer look at this, though, because something weird seems to have happened. When I woke up this morning, these were the headlines I was presented with…

From BBC Newsbeat:

From The Mirror:

From Billboard:

From The Guardian:

From Glamour UK (Original headline "Taylor Swift shut down Nicki Minaj on Twitter and it was WONDERFUL" link):

And a final patronising blow here from Yahoo News:

By all accounts it looked as though Nicki Minaj had thrown hella shade at Taylor Swift on Twitter, and Taylor Swift responded the only way Taylor Swift knows how—she "shook it off" and invited Nicki Minaj to perform with her.

When I looked at what Nicki Minaj had actually said, though, it painted a different story:

If I was a different "kind" of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well.


When the "other" girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination.


If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year


There were loads more, but the main thrust of it seems to be: Nicki Minaj feels her output is similar to certain white pop stars, and she's getting less recognition for it. For example, Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball"—a video that became a massive talking point because of it's overt sexuality and was a key example used in the argument for YouTube imposing age restrictions on their content—won video of the year in 2014. "Anaconda"—a video with much the same cultural impact, for many of the same reasons—didn't even get nominated. It is nominated for Best Female Video and Best Hip-Hop Video, though. But also, real talk, where the fuck is "Feeling Myself," surely one of the greatest, best styled, and most Tumblr'd collaborations between the two most important women in music in the last twelve months, on this nominations list?


Anyway, as soon as Nicki mentioned slim women, Taylor Swift bowled into the conversation with this:

@NICKIMINAJ I've done nothing but love & support you. It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..

— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 21, 2015

A lot of publications seem to have left Nicki's reply out of the story, too, framing her in a negative light:

Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn't say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this. @taylorswift13


Basically, Nicki Minaj was making a point about how black women’s influence on pop culture is repeatedly approximated by white artists but not rewarded to the same degree. But we're not talking about that. Nah, we're talking about how Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift are "embroiled in a row", which they aren't even, and who shutdown who, which isn't the point. As always, it's the media pitting women against each other. Even after Nicki published some follow-up tweets and retweets emphasising that people are missing her point, that she was talking about issues of race in the music industry, not Taylor Swift - the fact that Taylor Swift is even remotely involved has meant that the dominating media dialogue will continue to be about Taylor Swift, and that in itself proves Nicki's point.

This whole time, Nicki Minaj has been speaking on behalf of unsung black female entertainers, but now that conversation isn't happening and her original point has been overshadowed by some non-existent Worldstar smackdown.

Now breathe. Watch the "Anaconda" video. And admire THAT BANANA CHOPPING SCENE one more time:

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