As I was informed by social media about the quarrel (I haven’t used that word in, how long?) between Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift over the MTV VMA nominations for Video of the Year, I really could have cared less. But I’ll proceed to explain why I am writing about it anyway.
I felt that for starters, their whole exchange derived out of an event and show that has become so irrelevant. Who is honestly checking for who and what got nominated when the network proclaimed that “Music Television” would no longer be a part of its slogan and obtain less of a purpose since 2010? MTV clearly doesn’t want to matter in the realm of music anymore. And to see videos on any MTV channel beyond an hour, you better be turned to MTV Jams or MTVu.
Bloomberg News reported on July 1 of this year that MTV, which is owned by Viacom and is its “flagship network”, experienced “prime-time ratings down [by] 21.7 percent from last season and 25 percent in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic the network targets.” (Though MTV.com is actually thriving). It’s been a few years since MTV has replicated the glory days of even the mid-2000s. And it hasn’t been a cultural force for at least the last four years. Is anyone even excited to watch the 2015 VMAs? I know I’m not. I’ve been watching the televised event since 1997, and this is the first time I have no intentions of making sure I’ll be home to witness it. #AnotherEndOfAnEra
Furthermore (drumroll: carry on). Regarding their “Twitter beef.” What went from Minaj voicing her disappointment in her videos “Anaconda” and “Feeling Myself” with Beyonce (which is exclusively held on TIDAL. It’s not even on YouTube or Vevo) snubbed by MTV, took a turn for the “WTF” when Swift responded to Minaj’s tweet that if the rapper were a different “kind” of artist, she would’ve been in the category. *shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots*
Below is the message Swift sent Minaj, thinking she was one of the “other girls” and “kind” of artists she was insinuating get all the credit for being juggernauts. (Swift’s “Bad Blood” got selected for Video of the Year).
I am #TeamNicki on that point. If “Anaconda” was say music’s of-the-moment punching bag Iggy Azalea‘s song, it likely would’ve gotten Video of the Year honors. Still, no one saw it coming that Minaj would be so deep in her agitation towards MTV not recognizing her pop cultural clout, that her tweets would be considered a part of the larger and consistently growing conversation on cultural appropriation. Still something about Minaj and Swift’s exchange came across as celebrity problems. (It’s just MTV. When was the last time the channel influenced anything?)
Minaj’s fans also weighed in.
It just got messier with every affiliated tweet. With Swift on her soapbox of female empowerment and Minaj pissed that she can win Best Female Rapper at the BET Awards six years in a row but gets no love for “Anaconda” (she has a VMA for “Starships) it was kind of a crappy night for two of pop biggest stars. Minaj then accused the media of making her look like an angry Black woman and Swift tried to mediate the beef while simultaneously running for cover by tweeting this:
Oh, no child. Swift should not have bothered with that one. She made that shit sound like charity. Chill.
Minaj blamed the “white media” and “their tactics”, but this is when I’m going to ask some honest questions about the layered problematics of this “beef” between the two. Where was Onika Maraj when Amandla Stenberg defended Black girls everywhere after Kylie Jenner thought it was cute to wear cornrows and quote Beyonce in captioning her Instagram pic with: “I woke up like dissss”? Where were the tweets from Maraj/Minaj for Azealia Banks when Banks spoke so passionately about how it was unfair that Black artists were routinely disregarded for their influence and work while artists like Azalea and Macklemore were clearly being favored by Grammy nominations and appearances on grand scales like the VMAs and festivals in representing hip-hop? We needed Minaj and her platform then and there.
Loyalty for Black women and the contributions we make shouldn’t only pertain to one’s own contributions. And Minaj didn’t retweet this either, but peeped how Stenberg was already on the media for recycling the same, old tired ass rhetoric of a Black woman with something to say immediately labeled as out of control:
But a fan did tweet this interesting photo comparison.
And Swift, for all her feminist beliefs, didn’t and could’ve showed Stenberg some kind social media kudos as she did for Ariana Grande when she blasted the media for continuing to refer to her as Big Sean‘s girlfriend. But I suppose I’m being wistful with that one. Some critics have previously accused Swift of using feminism as a marketing tool and that her stance, even if unintentionally, remains on the level of White privilege dimension.
TIME chose to title their “Twitter beef” story on Minaj and Taylor as Nicki Minaj on MTV Video Music Awards: Black Women Are Getting Snubbed. Truthfully, I still don’t know what to think about “Anaconda.” I would prefer anything that looks and sounds like “Anaconda” to not represent us women of color as a whole, getting “snubbed” anywhere. We are so much more than walking twerking demonstrations. But I completely understood Minaj’s frustration with MTV for overlooking her video. “Anaconda” for a few months in 2014 was an absolute zeitgeist. Yet women of color and especially Black women are pressured all the time to obtain or have these comic book shaped bodies, and songs like “Anaconda” only greatly exacerbated those unfair expectations. I suppose it is personal. And you know wanna know what other videos got snubbed by MTV this year and were led by Black women? Azealia Banks’ “Chasing Time.” FKA Twigs‘ “Two Weeks” and “Glass and Patron.” Tinashe‘s “All Hands on Deck.” Dawn Richard‘s “James Dean.” Amazing songs. Great videos. All bypassed by MTV. The award show doesn’t even have a Best R&B Video category anymore.
MTV is, I repeat, a super irrelevant channel now with a boring award show at this point. The channel has absolutely no leverage in determining the best of the best or in celebrating music. They’re just as bad as the Grammys sometimes.
What Minaj and Swift did was give the media exactly what they wanted. And being that I’ve written professionally for the media, today’s celebrities provide these kind of shows for the entire world to see way too often. Swift was tone-deaf in trying to hear what Minaj was saying. And I can applaud Minaj for letting MTV have it, but we all know that MTV can’t even get their Best Rock category correct. Let the VMAs continue to regularly jump with the sharks.
Oh and look at this message from Perez Hilton below: