Why Did the Media Side with Nicki Minaj Over Taylor Swift?

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj | Source

When she didn't receive the MTV VMA (Video Music Awards) Video of the Year (VOTY) nomination for her song 'Anaconda' rapper Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to complain. Based on her tweets, Minaj felt she deserved a slot. She seemed to imply that she should have received a nomination instead of Taylor Swift. Anyone who pays attention to award shows know that there are usually only 4 to 6 slots per category and many deserving nominees will be overlooked. Minaj didn't see it that way and felt she had a right to be there. Anaconda was nominated for both Best Female Video and Best Hip Hop Video, so it's not like the song was ignored.

Taylor Swift became aware of the tweet that seemed to imply her slot wasn't deserved and called Nicki Minaj out on it. After claiming she wasn't directing her comments at Swift, Minaj claimed her tweets had:

"nothing to do with any of the women, but everything to do with a system that doesn’t credit black women for their contributions to pop culture as freely/quickly as they reward others.”

I looked up the nominations to see if black women were not credited "for their contributions to pop culture as freely/quickly as they reward others” at the VMAs. It's true that many award shows overlook black contributions by having just a few token black nominees. At the Grammys pop rapper Macklemore beat out the critically acclaimed and very influential Kendrick Lamar for Best Rap Album. So, yes this is a problem. However, this wasn't the case for the VMAs, which completely invalidated Minaj's claim she was speaking out against discrimination rather than being butthurt that she didn't get a VOTY nomination.

There are 75 total nominations for the 2015 VMA Awards. Six white women and five black women received nominations. Overall, 30 of those nominations went to black artists making up 40% of total nominations. And that was just when black artists were the lead on the songs. Black artists were also featured in several other nominations. That includes Taylor Swift's Video of the Year nomination 'Bad Blood,' which features rapper Kendrick Lamar. Two out of 5 of the VOTY nominations went to black artists Kendrick Lamar for 'Alright' and Beyonce for '7/11'. 4 out of the 7 lead and feature artists in the VOTY category are nonwhite.

I concluded after seeing this that Nicki Minaj was in the wrong for bringing up racism when there clearly wasn't any. I thought the media would call out Minaj for trivializing racism as well as calling Swift out for her faux-feminism. To my surprise, that's not what happened. While some articles claimed Minaj was starting a feud with Swift, many actually sided with her. They claimed she was bringing up an important point about racism against black artists. She was credited with "starting a conversation about racism against black women in the music industry." Many commenters on these articles pointed out the obvious fact there was no racism based on the high number of black nominations, including Nicki Minaj who got 3.

Even YouTube personality Kingsley who's very outspoken on racial issues and a Nicki Minaj fan felt the rapper was in the wrong to bring up race.

"Nicki's point about race would have been far more well received/made more sense if Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Kendrick were not sitting in the Video of the Year category she is upset she is missing from...When a woman was just shoved into the ground, arrested and mysteriously found hung days later after a routine traffic stop, amidst a year of other horrifying and eye-opening events, please forgive me if I don't see racism in Anaconda not being nominated for Video of the Year."

Taylor Swift apologized to Nicki Minaj after being berated by many in the media
Taylor Swift apologized to Nicki Minaj after being berated by many in the media | Source

Calling someone racist is a serious claim to make. Nicki Minaj's tweets seemed to imply that the people behind VMA nominations were racist despite black artists making up more than 40% of the nominees. In America, racism is very real. For many black Americans, routine traffic stops can turn into frightening and sometimes deadly encounters. In Texas black kids were attacked by neighbors and a police officer for having a party at a swimming pool in their own neighborhood. The unemployment rate for black college graduates is almost double the rate for white college graduates.

Nicki Minaj's trivializing of racism should have been condemned by the media. Yet it wasn't. Most articles on the topic sided with her and berated Taylor Swift for missing the larger point about racism in entertainment despite the fact that racism played no role in Minaj not being nominated. Those articles also indirectly implied that MTV and the people behind the VMAs were racists refusing to acknowledge the contributions of black artists when that clearly was not the case.

Why did the media react this way? I think maybe because of the speed with which these articles end up online. When the spat started, I'm sure many writers rushed to their computers to write about it. They had to get their articles up ASAP when many people were rushing to Google to get more details. I think it's possible that none of these writers went through the VMA nominations list to determine if black artists were underrepresented or not. Although many posted the five VOTY nominated videos and should have realized that 4 out of 7 nonwhite nominees undermined the very argument they were trying to make. But I doubt any of these writers had the time to do any meaningful research or think through the issues. They probably just assumed the VMAs ignored black artists because it's happened with other award shows including the very controversial 2015 Oscars. The Washington Post backed up their argument supporting Minaj by bringing up the 2013 Grammys rather than addressing the VMA nomination list at issue.

Unlike with newspapers where writers may have hours to research and write their stories or opinion pieces, it's probably to be expected that online publications aren't going to spend much time getting their stories right or ensuring that they're being fair and accurate. Their main focus will be to get their articles and opinion pieces up as quickly as possible to take advantage of the potential money-making clicks that will flood in when a story breaks. In that environment it can be left to people in comments sections, online forums and social media like Twitter to set the record straight. One commenter on the popular pop music forum ATRL complained:

"It's actually disgusting how she is praised for pulling the race card in such a stupid and ignorant way"

Another mentioned:

"the current misguided first articles that have been blogged"

You know the media has gone downhill when a YouTube personality like Kingsley made more intelligent and better thought out arguments on Twitter than many professional writers for publications like Time and The Guardian were capable of doing.

YouTube personality Kingsley's thoughts on the Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift feud
YouTube personality Kingsley's thoughts on the Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift feud

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Comments 6 comments

WR 19 months ago

I've seen lots of badly written online news articles with bad sentence structure or missing important details so the article makes little sense. And yeah people in the comments section trying to explained to other confused people in the comments what's going on. If an article has few trolls or ignoramuses the comments sections can be more useful than what the paid writer wrote. But this is the price we pay for real time news over magazines and newspapers. We get the news when it's happening but the quality of the writing or reseach is often poor.

Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 19 months ago from California Author


I'm guilty of preferring to get my news online because it's current but it's definitely true that the quality of online reporting is inferior to print publications.

Millie 19 months ago

She so obviously pulled the race card I didn't get why the media failed to pick up on it. She mostly got bashed on music forums for waht she did. You could be right the writers "assumed" based on similar situations with other shows that there was discrimination rather than doing the research to see if her complaints about the vmas were valid. They weren't.

Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 18 months ago from California Author


I saw mostly negative reactions on forums as well. She had a few supporters but most commenters thought Minaj was in the wrong.

ptosis profile image

ptosis 18 months ago from Arizona

The anaconda video which I saw was worthy of only derision. Minaj going about how woman bodies should be accepted the way they are - coming from a woman how been under the knife more times that a filet mignon and than acting like a ingenuous hypocrite tell me that there are much better thing to pay attention to.

Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 18 months ago from California Author


Her argument was that the video had a lot of cultural impact or something along those lines, so that's why she claimed she deserved a VOTY nomination. The video did have impact but mainly for the controversy it generated not necessarily because people thought it was great. She still got two nominations for Anaconda, so I really don't get why she was upset.

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