Shade Court is in session and I hope everyone is feeling good and woke up this morning with the spirit of justice pulsing through your veins.
In this week’s Shade Court, Shady Barry is back, the Washington Post missteps, and Rihanna is so good it hurts.
The Case: On Wednesday, a bunch of Islamophobic racists in Texas came together to scare and humiliate a 14 year-old boy. Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after bringing a clock he built himself into school. His racist, Islamophobic teacher was suspicious of Ahmed’s creation. She called the racist, Islamophobic police in Irving, Texas who, in addition to being racist and Islamophobic, are so unskilled at their jobs as to not be able to tell the difference between a BOMB and a damn clock.
To complete their terrible, discriminatory sundae, the mayor of Irving, Texas, a notorious racist with a crusade against Muslims, named Beth Van Duyne, doubled down and defended both the school and the police.
When the sane, less hateful members of the American population became aware of Ahmed story, it blew up, in large part due to the Twitter hashtag, #IStandWithAhmed. Not long after, a tweet was sent out from the Twitter account of the President of the United States.
The Defendant: President Barack Obama
The Deliberation: Barack Obama is in the, “I no longer give a fuck” phase of his presidency and I hope everyone is basking in this glow. Would he have approved a tweet like this back in 2010 when he still had another election in front of him? I have my doubts, but I’m glad it’s happening now.
The translation of these tweet: Did you clowns seriously arrest a kid who built a clock?
What I love so much about this tweet is the economy of the language. Every line packs in so much shade.
“Cool clock, Ahmed,” making it VERY CLEAR that Ahmed built a CLOCK and not a BOMB.
“We should inspire more kids like you,” driving home the fact that Ahmed is a child and we probably shouldn’t accuse children of being terrorist and take them to jail and question them without alerting their parents.
“It’s what makes America great.” Ahmed and his ingenuity is one of the few reasons this country isn’t crumbling to the ground since we have grown ass adults arresting kids for being smarter than they are.
The Ruling: Shade
Many watched with terrified amazement as the Republican candidates for president spent the time either talking in circles about absolutely nothing, personally insulting each other, or pushing actual untruths as facts.
Naturally, Hillary Clinton’s team took this opportunity to talk shit about all the people they’re probably going to beat in the general election.
The Defendant: The Washington Post
The Deliberation: Poor Anne Rumsey Gearan tried. She tried to pass off these sad little examples as shade:
Now, no, of course neither of these tweets are shade. These are marginally funny political jabs by people who think they are quite a bit more clever than they actually are. Hillary and Company please see your Commander-in-chief if you would like to learn the art of political shade.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: Rihanna appeared on the first cover of something called NME magazine. In the interview, she was asked if she would ever go on stage for Taylor Swift’s performative, “I have soooooo many cool friends” schtick.
The Defendant: Rihanna
“I don’t think I would. I just don’t think it makes sense.”
She continues: “I don’t think our brands are the same, I don’t think they match, I don’t think our audiences are the same. In my mind she’s a role model, I’m completely not.”
The Deliberation: Something important to remember here is that Rihanna is close friend with Katy Perry who has some very famous bad blood (uugggghhh) with Taylor Swift. Also consider that Taylor Swift dragging all those people she doesn’t know onstage is lame as hell.
At first glance, the fact that she said she would turn down the opportunity makes it seem like this might be a bit too pointed to be shade. However, the fact that she buries her response under a mountain of vague platitudes—forcing the reader to fill in the blanks—is where her shade shines through.
Rihanna is positioning herself as far away from Taylor Swift as possible, but is making it seem like she’s giving Taylor a compliment, or at least, not outright insulting her. Rihanna employs an excellent shade tacit here. She’s not saying that Taylor Swift is bad, she’s just saying that she’s different. The shade here is bolstered by the universal fact that anything different from Rihanna is probably bad.
What I particularly love about this is that the full wrath of this shade can only be fully felt by Taylor Swift herself. Taylor knows what her relationship with Rihanna is or is not, so only she can completely understand what exactly Rihanna means by calling her a role model. This is straight from the Book of Dorian Corey: “I don’t tell you you’re ugly but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly.”
Taylor knows what Rihanna meant.
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: Former Google honcho Eric Schmidt wrote an op-ed for BBC about artificial intelligence because I guess that’s something people want to read. In the piece, he talks specifically about digital music services—one of which is assumed to be Apple Music.
To give just one example: a decade ago, to launch a digital music service, you probably would have enlisted a handful of elite tastemakers to pick the hottest new music.
Today, you’re much better off building a smart system that can learn from the real world - what actual listeners are most likely to like next - and help you predict who and where the next Adele might be.
As a bonus, it’s a much less elitist taste-making process - much more democratic - allowing everyone to discover the next big star through our own collective tastes and not through the individual preferences of a select few.”
The Defendant: Billboard, Engadget, Pigeons and Planes
The Deliberation: Tech nerd shade is fun, isn’t? Well, just sorta.
Obviously that bit about “elite tastemakers” is a reference to Apple—who recruited Drake to launch their service—and probably also Tidal, who threw everything but the kitchen sink out onstage to sell their streaming service. Although, sorry, if we’re being honest, he’s probably only really talking about Apple Music.
This is actually some solid shade on Eric’s part. He keeps things vague, yet leaves no question as to who he’s talking about. He calls Apple’s strategy outdated under the guise of simply giving an example.
I also very much like how he calls it “less elitist,” which is an icy sort of backhanded compliment.
However, Eric’s victory aside, we have a major loss of points to all three outlets for including a bunch of unnecessary words. “Not-so-subtle shade” is redundant. “Thinly-veiled shade” is redundant. Billboard called this, “a thinly-veiled dig,” ALSO REDUNDANT. They made it out of Shade Court safe this time, but with flagrant language like that, I expect to see them back in the court soon.
The Ruling: Shade
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Images via Getty, Beth Van Duyne’s Facebook. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.