Miley, what’s good?
At the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, Nicki Minaj asked Miley Cyrus that question, referencing Miley’s insults in the New York Times before the show. And Miley, the evening’s host, blamed it on the media.
“We all do interviews and we all know how they manipulate,” she told Nicki, before cynically congratulating her on winning the Moonman statuette for best hip-hop video.
But Miley, what you said is no fault of ours. Blame the media for twisting Nicki’s valid thoughts on the double standards of body image and how black artists and white artists are celebrated come award season. Blame click-baiters for spinning it into a Nicki Minaj vs. Taylor Swift catfight that never was. But, Miley, blame your own big mouth and salty ignorance for what you said.
The background: When VMA nominations were announced in July, Nicki’s “Anaconda” was snubbed for video of the year, and she tweeted about how it seems only women with slim bodies are celebrated. Taylor thought the comment was directed at her but later apologized for lashing out.
In her interview last week, Miley called Nicki jealous and whiny, said she was making it about herself instead of the bigger issue. The Times tried to let her know that Nicki did have a bigger point. Miley cut the reporter off, running her wrecking ball of a mouth.
“If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that,” Miley said. “But don’t make it just about yourself. Say: ‘This is the reason why I think it’s important to be nominated. There’s girls everywhere with this body type.’”
Miley, whose post-Disney success is all thanks to the black culture that she borrows from, who specifically asked her collaborators for a “black sound,” chose to shake her white finger at Nicki. To tell a black woman how to politely talk about race in America. The same Miley who Sunday night pretty much re-created D-list versions of P-Funk costumes and Lil Kim’s outfits of the ’90s.
Nicki had every right to confront Miley about her foolery during the show. She took a stand.
Whether “Anaconda” is your type of music or not, the video broke Vevo’s record for most views in 24 hours, 19.6 million clicks when it was released a year ago. It was all people could talk about, a video with beautiful full-figured, sexually empowered women in a world with no men — except Drake, who isn’t allowed to touch Nicki.
It’s a celebration and reclaiming of the female body. A year later, it’s at half a billion views. The song and video sparked such awe, controversy and worldwide conversation that in August, Madame Tussauds Las Vegas unveiled a wax figure of Nicki in a scene from the video.
In that sense, it was a shock that it got snubbed for the top award. And considering that music awards have a history of racial discrimination and a celebration of appropriation, Nicki wasn’t wrong to speak out. Even Macklemore pointed that out after he won the Grammy for best rap album over Kendrick Lamar last year.
Headlines made Nicki a bully for speaking her mind about how black women often start trends that white women get credit for. They painted it as if she attacked Taylor Swift when in fact she never once called out Taylor’s name. She didn’t even mention the fact that Taylor trademarked phrases like “This Sick Beat” that are featured in her catchy hit “Shake It Off” but undeniably borrowed from old hip-hop slang.
Reminder: Taylor was celebrated when she pulled her music off Spotify and professed its value. But Jay Z and Nicki Minaj were trashed for doing the same when they launched Tidal.
We don’t even have to get into that. Let’s just remember it was Taylor who inserted herself into the conversation, made it about her and her ever-innocent feelings and tried to accuse Nicki of pitting women against women. Taylor would later apologize and even asked Nicki to join her on stage at the VMAs if she won.
Instead it was Nicki who shared her opening performance with Taylor Sunday night so the headlines could squash the beef that never was. And it was Nicki who accepted the award for best hip-hop video from Rebel Wilson, who was dressed in a mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.
What’s good, Miley? I’ll tell you what’s not good: cultural appropriation and white privilege. Maybe if you loved black people as much as you loved black culture you could join the conversation and make a difference. But by all means, stick your tongue out and keep making a mockery of it. You’ll probably get a Moonman for it.