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We Sound Off On The Nicki Vs Taylor Feud

Nicki and Taylor Main

Team Nicki
By Melody

I must preface my argument with the fact that I absolutely love Taylor Swift, but as the internet is so prone to point out: even your faves are problematic sometimes.

Look, you can call Nicki Minaj ungrateful for her three MTV VMA nominations this year (for last year’s hit video, Anaconda), but the rapper also has the right to express her thoughts and opinions, and in this particular case, her (very justified) confusion over the omission of her fabulous collaboration with Beyoncé this year, Feeling Myself, and Anaconda’s lack of nomination in the category of Video of the Year.

It all started there, really: Nicki took to Twitter to thank MTV for her nominations, but simply wanted to know the answer to this question: “Did Feeling Myself miss the deadline or…?” Seeing as how it was released within the same week as Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video, it’s safe to say Feeling Myself was well within the realms of eligibility. This then prompted some very valid points from Nicki regarding race and body representation. No names were named, Nicki didn’t point specific fingers at anyone (but MTV perhaps), but then Taylor stepped in.

“I’ve done nothing but love & support you,” Taylor wrote, in response to Nicki’s tweet that claims “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.” Taylor continued: “It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..”

I’m not here to definitively say Nicki wasn’t aiming her tweets at Taylor; sure, Taylor might’ve been in Nicki’s line of critique, but Nicki was talking about something far bigger than Taylor. Nicki was mad at an idea and perception more than she was made at specific people. Her frustrations aren’t focused on one single example; it’s directed at years of institutionalized discrimination.

For Taylor, though, that didn’t fit into her ideas of feminism and therefore she felt the need to step in because women need to always “love & support” each other. But here’s the thing: everyone’s feminism is different, that’s what makes feminism so diverse and complicated and layered. Some feminists believe in a love all, support all sense of positivity, but that’s innately flawed. If you want to see women succeed, you need to be able to give constructive criticism and allow for a dialogue to open up instead of just coming to a conclusion that a valid critique is automatically an attack on women, or as Taylor says, Nicki “pit women against each other.”

“Huh? U must not be reading my tweets,” Nicki then responded. “Didn’t say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this. @taylorswift13”

There: an invitation to open up a dialogue. As someone who benefits off of pop culture’s instilled preferences towards physically fit, often white, women, Taylor is now given a chance to show Nicki she understands her frustrations and can vocalize support for women of colour and different body types. Yes, her video for Bad Blood features only skinny, flawless-looking women, but Taylor can now take this opportunity to acknowledge this fact and still further extend her support to those who don’t fit that mold. This was Taylor’s in since she has so clearly decided to insert herself into the conversation. Just as women need to extend the discussion of feminism to people of other genders in order to have a fruitful discourse, people of colour need a diverse pool of participants to have a fully formed dialogue.

But, this is what Taylor had to say: “If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.”

Not only does that come from a strange place of privilege and entitlement but, like, that was just kind of rude? I hope Nicki crashes the stage on Aug 30 (I also hope her collaborator Beyoncé wins) and teaches everyone, including Taylor, a very important lesson.

Team Taylor*
By Allison

I know that we’re technically supposed to be picking sides in this blog post, but let me be very clear – *I’m team Nicki with an asterisk. Also, I think it’s Nicki vs. society much more than Nicki vs. Taylor or MTV.

I think most people would agree, me included, that Nicki Minaj is on point with her comments regarding the VMA nominations. I don’t think Nicki is really taking aim at MTV alone, either, but rather commenting on society as a whole. Did Anaconda deserve more nominations, including video of the year? Sure. Probably.

I’m not trying to be flippant, but what are the deciding factors that go into picking Video of the Year? Are we judging videos by originality? Or by YouTube views? Or by set design?

If you look at all five of the Video of the Year nominees there aren’t many similarities besides five very popular artists. Beyonce’s low-budget 7/11 is in stark contrast to Taylor Swift’s big budget Bad Blood. Kendrick Lamar takes a political and social stand with Alright, while Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are at the other end of the spectrum with their bubble gum video for the contagiously catchy Uptown Funk. And Ed Sheeran learned to dance.

Should Minaj’s Anaconda replace one of these five videos? Totally! Or not. Unless the nominees are based on something concrete like YouTube videos, it’s pretty subjective.

Minaj began tweeting about the snub last night and attracted the attention of fans, the media, and Taylor Swift. Most notably, this caught Swift’s eye.

As you can see, Swift quickly went on the defensive, assuming that Nicki was talking about her. Well, she was. This is where my support of Nicki drops for just a moment. Yes, I think overall Minaj was reacting to societal racism and discrimination against women of colour and yes, these are issues that need to be brought up every damn day and especially by artists (including Swift) who have a huge platform. But those tweets were for Taylor and for Nicki to pretend they weren’t is whack.

Who else would Nicki be talking about? Sheeran’s video features one thin white woman, singular, not plural. Uptown Funk is pretty much a Dudes Day Out. Larmar’s video hardly features any women and Minaj is not coming for her Feeling Myself collaborator Beyonce. She’s just not.

Bad Blood was one long stream of 8 foot tall models under 100 pounds. It broke records. It affected pop culture. I find it hard to believe that Swift is not the “other” Minaj was tweeting about.

Do I support Swift’s cringe-inducing invite for Nicki to join her on stage if she wins? Oh lawd, no. For all the good Tay Tay has done for feminism, she still needs about four years of daily counselling from Betty Friedan (in all fairness, so most celebs).

Do I think it’s messed up that most of the reporting by mainstream media on this Twitter exchange has Minaj poised as the angry black woman? Yes, although it’s more of a seesaw between anger and just sadness that this response is so predictable.

Would this have been a great opportunity for Taylor to chime in and use her social media following to support Nicki’s frustration over how women of colour are treated in society? One hundred per cent.

But were those tweets aimed at Taylor? Yup.

Hopefully Taylor will take Nicki’s advice and continue her quest for girl power in 2015 that includes all girls. Keep speaking up, Nicki. But damn Barbz, you know that tweet was for T Swift.