It all started with a tweet. Nicki Minaj, despite her music video Anaconda breaking the VEVO record for most views and working its way into mainstream culture through memes and body positivity think pieces, was not nominated for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards. Minaj tweeted about the snub in an attempt to highlight the undercurrents of racism and sexism in the pop music awards, pointing out that music videos with similar track records by Caucasian artists (with Caucasian beauty ideals) have nearly always been nominated. Her larger point was that the artistic achievements of black people are frequently coopted and commodified by white culture, with the white celebrity praised as edgy or groundbreaking (Elvis is a classic example). However, it’s difficult to have a meaningful discussion when you’re limited to 60-character chunks, so it was almost inevitable that someone would misunderstand what Minaj was getting at. That someone happened to be Taylor Swift, who thought Minaj was taking a shot at her Bad Blood video that was nominated. It wasn’t long before the media dramatized the “feud,” even though Swift quickly realized that she misunderstood the message and apologized to Minaj, who accepted and reiterated how much she respects Swift.
They say there is no such as thing bad publicity, and maybe in the 1940s that was true, but in the era of social media and real time marketing it doesn’t seem that way anymore. Continue reading