So I’m sure most of you all have heard or read the recent twitter battle between Onika Tanya Maraj and Taylor Swift that took place over the last several days or so. I hope you all know that there’s a larger issue at play.
Onika Tanya Maraj, better known as rapper, Nicki Minaj posted what many understood to be venting after a disappointment (emphasis on diss) with an overall disproportionate system. Particularly, the powers that be at MTV in failing to give nomination of ‘Video of the Year’ for the upcoming 2015 MTV Video Music Awards for “Anaconda” and possibly “Feeling Myself”, the latter a collabo-hit she did with diva-extraordinaire, Beyoncé. Minaj effectively felt MTV’s snubbing of these video were more related to race and body-image politics, as her contemporary and lily-looking, media-darling, Taylor Swift made away with yet another ‘Video of the Year’ nod.
Her tweet, “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for video of the year” (several smiley faces included).
Minaj’s tweet and smiley face emojis definitely struck a raw and yet familiar nerve. A nerve and smiley face that most people of color (POC) have to put often on their faces in situations where their White/Caucasian counterparts get the credit, visibility, and accolades for prior, actual, exact, or similar work done by them. In a barrage of tweets, Minaj commented how having a certain body type and look (Slim, White girl) can certainly place one in an advantage to receive recognition and ultimately be lauded as innovative. Oh and you’ll be a show in for a ‘Video of the Year’ nomination… Ding, ding, ding!!! However, many of Minaj’s tweets, either alluded or dropped Swift’s name, for context in breaking down the issue. And therein led the spark to eventually what ignited this whole superficial yet in-depth look into race/body-image politics in the entertainment, more specifically the music industry and concerning women.
Swift, not only read Minaj’s tweets, but dove headfirst equally as fast in the shady ocean that is Twitter to respond to the perceived diss from Minaj. Her response was something that many POC, especially Black women, may have experienced in interactions with their White/Caucasian counterparts; ‘personalization’ of issue, disregard or indifference, and/or deflection.
Swift fired back, “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…”
Swift deflected Minaj’s frustrations and boxed it into a feminist cat-attack against her. MEOW.
So NOT the point, Taylor… Let us all shake our heads collectively.
Minaj cannonball tweeted, “I’m so glad u guys get to see how this stuff works. Taylor took her music off Spotify and was applauded. We launched Tidal & were dragged…”
Minaj’s tweets resonate in the realization of just how far the race/body-image political rabbit-hole can go. It becomes ever more blatant and egregious the way music/entertainment industry and media praises White/Caucasian performers for the exact same thing that it criticizes its Black/POC originators for. Examples such as the recent trend in exercise courses inspired by Miley’s new dance (twerking). In 2014, Vogue asserted that the Kardashian family, with their infamously curated rumps, along with Blond, Australian Rapper [can’t believe I actually typed that word] Iggy Azalea, have ushered in the ‘dawn of the butt’. Least we NEVER ever forget, the tragedy that is Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman was ostracized, brutalized, and utterly victimized for this exact body shape. And then there’s Serena Williams, who is the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), at the apex of athletic brilliance and influence for any woman let alone young person. And yet it is her far less successfully and slender contemporary, Maria Sharapova, who has been the highest-paid tennis player for the last decade….due to her many sponsorships. A feat that the New York Times seems to subtly imply is due to Sharapova’s more feminine appeal (dainty, thin, Siberian-aesthetics).
Although, individually, Taylor was mention in some of Minaj’s tweets for context on this issue at hand, it was actually the entertainment/music industry and media in large that Minaj venting about. Swift, it seems, intentional or unintentional, further took a feminist yet indifferent response to the matter by ending with:
“If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.”
[Here’s 2nd place girl-friend… No hard feelings, RIGHT?]
To say that the larger collective blogosphere, the fandoms (Swifties and Barbiez), a former VMA Video of the Year nominee/winner (Katy Perry), and Black Twitter WENT IT would be the biggest understatement so far of 2015. Swift had what we like to call in blogosphere, a bad week. It was so overwhelming, that Swift for issued an direct and immediate apology to Minaj via Twitter, pretty much confirming that she jumped the gun and rushed to respond without fully grasping the full context and larger issue at play. For what it’s worth, my musical taste (between the two) lie more with Swift than Minaj, however Minaj’s made a valid point regardless. Since mending their relationship, reputable (and predominantly White) entertainment magazines and press such as: Marie Claire, Time Magazine, Complex, New York Times, etc. have lauded Minaj for broaching this subject on this scale and placing the necessary visibility on the startling discrepancies on the issue of race/body-image politics in the music and entertainment industry.
Only time will tell if this subject matter will stop being [lost] on tone-deaf ears….
In the meantime, I guess I’ll continue listening to my Taylor Swift
playlist with the windows rolled up 🙂