You know that feeling when you're sitting at the dinner table and your parents are fighting? And you don't know who to side with, because you love them both so much? Well that's how I'm feeling about the Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj Twitter feud that's going on right now: mom and mom are fighting. And unlike when I was a teenager, this time around I can't just keep my eyes on my mashed potatoes and power through it; I've got to get to the bottom of it. And weirdly enough, it all started when the nominations for the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards were announced, and Minaj didn't receive a Video of the Year nod for "Anaconda," and escalated from there. And now, I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I had no idea that the VMAs were still a thing artists were interested in to quite this level. I guess if I really think about it, it's the most prestigious award ceremony honoring music videos, I just didn't put it together right away. In reality, these awards are just an indicative of the music industry as the Grammys or Billboard awards.
Plus, I was dead wrong about no one caring about the VMAs, especially when Minaj reacted to not receiving nominations for "Feeling Myself" or "Anaconda" in the Video of The Year category (Minaj was nominated, however, in the Hip Hop Video category). She took to Twitter and posted the following series of tweets expressing her displeasure, which started the supposed "feud" between Minaj and Swift:
Up until that point, Minaj was channelling her frustration toward MTV itself, but in the next couple, she made it clear that other artists aren't exempt from her criticism, particularly those who have received the accolades that she's been denied.
... and that seems to be what caught the attention of Swift, who got a Video of the Year nomination for "Bad Blood." It appears that Swift thought Minaj's tweet about the "slim-bodied" type of woman that MTV likes to reward was about her. She responded:
Hoo boy. A big part of me was expecting it to get heated from there, because Swift inserted herself into an already heated topic of conversation, but instead, Minaj denied that the tweet had been directed at Swift, seemingly deescalating the situation.
Minaj clarified that her comments were more of a condemnation of the racist undertones of the industry in general, consistently rewarding one group of people while other groups with similar contributions in the same field are shunted to the side or ignored. Minaj emphasized this with a few more tweets marveling at how quickly the media — specifically Ryan Seacrest — leaped to categorize her remarks as an "attack" on Swift, when in reality, Minaj's comments had nothing to do with the "Shake It Off" singer.
For her part, Swift swiftly backpedaled from the controversy, probably realizing she was out of her depth, and instead trying to mend things with Minaj.
Unfortunately, it looks like Swift might be leaving this conversation without even realizing what Minaj was trying to actually talk about. So let's all do better than that, and try to give real time and energy to the points Minaj is making. Furthermore, Minaj is going to have big conversations — that's who she is. She is going to make some other artists uncomfortable — but that's not for her to police or apologize for. Minaj is making a point about the industry and when artists are forced to really look at the issue, it might be a little uncomfortable. Too bad, Swift & Co.
And when we register this event as one artist "attacking" another, we're totally missing the point — just like Swift did — and we're never going to make any progress toward a solution. And that is a very big problem.