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8 Lessons We Can Learn from The Nicki/Taylor Twitter Debacle

8 Valuable Lessons We Can Learn from The Nicki / Taylor Twitter Debacle

8 Valuable Lessons We Can Learn from The Nicki / Taylor Twitter Debacle

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but tweets will mess you up forever.


It was the tweet that launched a thousand tweets. Or, more factually, over a million over the course of the last few days. Chances are, if you have just about any type of social media, there's no way in hell you missed the Nicki Minaj / Taylor Swift Twitter 'War'/(misunderstanding) of 2015. It all started when Nicki expressed her disappointed in her "Anaconda" video not being nominated for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards. She then reflected on why this happened, discussing the unequal celebration "other" artists get for making videos with similar imagery and equally overwhelming (if not less, even) cultural impact. After breaking down stats about "Anaconda"'s record-breaking effect, her thesis ultimately boiled down to these four tweets:





Many believed Nicki was referencing Miley Cyrus and her video for "Wrecking Ball," which had a similar substantial impact on the entertainment culture and which went on to win the Video of the Year in 2014. However, Taylor Swift, whose "Bad Blood" video is nominated and does heavily feature "women with very slim bodies," jumped to the conclusion that she was being called out and decided to interrupt Nicki's discussion of race and culture in the music industry to talk about herself. Thus, our lessons begin...


8. Think before you tweet


The first red flag in Taylor's response was that all Nicki wrote was "if your video celebrates women with very slim bodies..." and Taylor responded as if it referenced her specifically. Now, to be fair to Tay, her video is a central celebrator of women with very slim bodies. However, why she'd want to see those words and leap to claim them as her own identifier isn't entirely clear, or really a great choice on her part at all. Essentially, she responded with, 'Why, yes, my video does celebrate women with very slim bodies, and what about it???' And maybe even that's fine to declare as well. But without being specifically identified, Taylor's interjection was just a little too random and veered way off the original point Nicki was making. Thus, a 'feud' was born.


7. Think before you then continue tweeting...

Perhaps what was even more cringe-worthy was when Taylor announced that if she won, Nicki could come on stage with her. A truly well-meaning sentiment that was a completely out of line for this occasion. Taylor, Nicki doesn't need your stage! Also, Nicki's talking about racism in the media, not getting a chance to stand with you in the spotlight. Very different issues. Now, few really believed Taylor was actually trying to come off as inappropriately "generous" as this tweet implied, but she was quickly torn apart for these two interactions. 



6. If you see something, say something

Janet Mock noticed that in Entertainment Weekly's post about the feud, Nicki was being portrayed as wild-eyed and off-kilter while Taylor was featured as prim, proper, and red carpet-ready. Janet proceeded to call EW out on perpetuating the "Angry Black Woman" stereotype and offered up a solution in which Nicki got the glamour and Taylor got the candid crazy look. EW apologized shortly after and took that imagery down, but the damage was done. Nothing on the internet dies, but at least you can take ownership of your mistake so that it hopefully doesn't happen again. This, of course, is the general theme of the day. 


5. Respond respectfully

Nicki calmly pointed out that her tweet had nothing to do with Taylor, that she loves her, and that maybe Taylor should have a voice in this conversation as well. Some of Nicki's chosen retweets got a little more vicious, but Nicki herself was always calm, cool, and collected. She had every reason to be. With sites like Marie Claire, Time, and many others passionately writing thought pieces in support of Nicki, she had a lot of people on her side. Most people, in fact, but she never blew her interaction with Taylor out of proportion. These articles are completely worth reading, and use examples like Britney Spears' Toxic and Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines to emphasize the realism in Nicki's point, and the fact that maybe, just maybe, this is not all about Taylor Swift.


4. Check your own receipts

What many people found interesting, especially Katy Perry and Camilla Belle, was that Taylor told Nicki "It's unlike you to pit other women against each other," when the video Taylor was nominated for is heavily rumored to be about a feud with Katy Perry over stealing her tour dancers. She also famously wrote a song believed to be about Camilla Belle ("Better Than Revenge") for her album Speak Now in 2010, although Taylor did essentially apologize, noting she was younger when she wrote it and now has a different set of understandings and values. But seriously, Taylor, coming for Nicki with the argument that women should stick together when your nominated video is all about girlfights was big blow to your own argument. And as we all know, bandaids don't fix bullet holes...



3. Try to understand that maybe you don't understand (as emphasized by this Nicki retweet)

Taylor Swift is considered a "conventionally attractive" white blonde girl who's been rich and famous since she was a teenager. It's not surprising that she doesn't have much experience with Nicki's points about the media putting down women of color for content that is applauded when portrayed by white women. No one wants to feel ignorant or wrong, but we are all born with different life experiences, and accepting that it may be difficult for you to see someone else's perspective without doing the proper research is a must in certain arguments. Many people used the phrase 'stay in your lane' when Taylor interjected, but it's not just about staying in your lane. It's about learning what's going on in other lanes before you steer into them, and then trying to drive safely. Drive safely, Taylor Swift. 


2. Then, definitely try to understand

Nicki encouraged Taylor to speak on these issues, which likely implies Taylor do a bit of research into the history of award shows like these as well as the statistics and common outcomes that support Nicki's points here. Additionally, Taylor tried an 'all women should stick together' angle of feminism, but missed the fact that feminism is more complicated than grouping 'all women' together for a general greater good. Women in a more priviledged position need to understand that there are many issues and struggles for women of different races and cultures that need to be addressed and acted upon. Hopefully, Taylor will do the research, continue to expand her view of feminism, and look into what she as a major media figure can do to maybe change the way media sees, portrays, and celebrates race. Hell, she made Apple change their mind, surely she can tackle MTV by Nicki's side!


1. Apologies are a shortcut to a happy ending


Taylor ultimately apologized on Twitter and gave Nicki a personal phone call. The two women talked it out, and when Nicki appeared on Good Morning America on Friday it seemed as though they were on even better terms then before. Nicki acknowledged, "It takes a big person to do what Taylor did," and it can be equally difficult to accept an apology, so we're thrilled that both of these ladies really came together to smooth things out. They even discussed a potential collaboration, which we can probably all agree would break the internet with its awesomeness if it ever did happen. Really, this all boils down to a simple formula. You realize you made a misstep, you figure out why you were wrong, you make an apology, and things return to normal. Or, um, you make a music video about how much you dislike the person you're fighting with and get nominated for lots of awards. Whatever works. 

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