It was Mariah Carey, the Lady-Protector of High Shade from the land of the Eyerolling Careys, who once sang about the noble butterfly. The song, somewhat deceptively, is not about an actual butterfly. Rather, it is a metaphor for something resembling love. The wise chanteuse sings:
If you should return to me
We truly were meant to be
So spread your wings and fly
In this scenario, my loyal advocates of shade, I am the butterfly. You all graciously allowed me to spread my wings and fly off doing whatever it is I spend my life doing because you knew—you knew deep down, that if you love something you must let it go. And if you do that, there might a pretty good chance it’ll come back eventually. This is the return of Shade Court.
I’ve missed this high seat of power from which I judgmentally gaze down upon those who might misuse shade. Still, I cannot take all the credit for my decision to return. A few weeks ago, I received an email from one Jamaica Kincaid asking me to bring Shade Court out of retirement. Yes, Jamaica Kincaid. I briefly thought it might be a prank, so I emailed her agent to double check that I wasn’t being Catfished. But oh, it was very real.
The lesson here, dear readers, is when Jamaica Kincaid asks you to bring back Shade Court, well, you bring back Shade Court.
The Case: Ivanka Trump recently found herself on the receiving end of a social media hit job. The daughter of Donald ordered an ear cuff from the jewelry company Lady Gray. Not thrilled with her father’s shitty politics, the brand delivered Ivanka’s ear cuff with a note explaining that the proceeds of her sale had been donated to a variety of causes directly contradictory to everything Donald Trump and his awful supporters stand for.
The Defendant: Huffington Post and AJ+
The Deliberation: Lady Grey jewelry certainly deserves some credit here becuase that move was rude as hell. You could argue, as some have, about the merits of publicly shaming Ivanka Trump over a gold plated ear cuff. Some found it “mean,” which it kinda was. But then the sane among us remember that Ivanka is openly shilling for her unqualified, racist, xenophobic, sexist hateful boil of a father, so really, who the fuck cares? (What they didn’t tell you in law school is that justice, in fact, isn’t blind. It’s just nearsighted. With some corrective lenses or a bit of LASIK, justice can see clearly and make some exceptions based on common sense.)
If we at Shade Court were judging rudeness, the above publications would certainly prevail in their accuracy. But we’re talking about shade, folks. There probably was a way for Lady Gray to have executed this with more shade but it certainly would not have an involved a public Instagram post of a note carefully explaining your intentions to the target.
The Ruling: Not Shade
The Case: Computer tablets are fighting with each other... something like that.
Microsoft has a tablet and Apple has a tablet device and they are vying for tablet market share because capitalism is an uncontrollable beast. In a new ad from Microsoft, the two tablets talk to each other via tablet voices. As you can probably guess, the Microsoft tablet product does much better than the Apple tablet product with the inane tasks displayed in the ad. The suggestion being: you should buy the Microsoft tablet device product instead of the Apple tablet device product.
The Defendant: Mashable
The Deliberation: Have we not been seeing different iterations of this exact advertising ploy since the beginning of, oh, advertising? Put a thing side by side and show how one is better. They do this with toilet paper!
Not only is this not remotely clever, the ad does not possess even a suggestion of shade. They literally have the Siri voice and an iPad right there! They’re not even doing that thing were they have a computer that’s clearly a Mac but without the logos to pretend like they’re taking about something else.
Good shade requires some air of mystery—make us do a bit of work. When I witness shade, I want to fling my wrist against my chest and whisper: “Did she just?” And then I want my nearest girlfriend to chime in: “YES GIRL.”
My wrist didn’t so much as twitch at this attempt.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: DUDE FIGHT ALERT. Apparently there exists a show called Criminal Minds which airs on the artist formerly known as the Columbia Broadcasting System. The show stars two dudes, one of whom is Shemar Moore and the other, Thomas Gibson. It seems that after some testy times on set between the two dudes, Gibson has been fired from the show.
As the victor, Moore did his best DJ Khaled impression and rambled in a video posted to Instagram about karma and good people and other language used by crystal healers to the stars.
“I’ll just say this: I believe in karma. Good things happen to good people. Honest people. Hard-working people. Humble people. People who believe in basic goodness. … Treat people how you expect them to treat you. Celebrate yourself and celebrate your blessings — as you should — but just know that you’re not better than anybody.”
The Defendant: Vulture
The Deliberation: What’s annoying here is that this is technically shade, it’s just very bad, very clunky shade. Also, I don’t care about these people.
If Shemar had a bit more elegance with his shade-throwing, he would have simply posted a meme about karma or perhaps the Buddhist symbol for karma with no caption. Let us read in between the lines a little, my man! This all also would have been improved if the drama was between, say, two women from The View—not becuase I really care about The View, but at least I care more about The View than I do Criminal Minds.
Whatever, Shemar. I will give this to you because I still don’t believe you’ve been properly vindicated for the evil that was done to you at the hands of Tyler Perry and the Diary of a Mad Black Woman hairstyling department.
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: On a very slow news day, InStyle wrote a story about a jilted bride from the UK. After her wedding, the woman discovered that her husband was a cheater and in a wildly unoriginal move, she put her wedding dress up for sale on eBay along with a tirade about her idiot ex.
The Defendant: InStyle
The Deliberation: It is very possible absolutely nothing else that has ever occurred has less business being classified as shade than this. I know you’re all a bit rusty, but must I really spell this one out for you all? While I very much appreciate this woman’s go-getter attitude for dealing with her grief and achieving catharsis—shade this is not.
Let this also serve as a reminder that anything following the phrasing, “*major* shade” has about a 17% chance of actually being shade.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: Some rather curious statues depicting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have been popping up in cities around America. They depict a life size rendering of a naked Donald Trump and the title of the project is, “The Emperor Has No Balls,” which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.
In response to one of the statues placed in Union Square, the New York City parks department had this to say:
The Defendant: Many
The Deliberation: This wordplay!!!
Is the statement perhaps a tad heavy handed? Could they have gotten their shady point across without the use of the word “erection?” Am I going to overlook those technicalities due to the sheer commitment to shade Donald Trump my any means necessary? The answer to all of the above is yes.
Honestly, God bless whoever sat down and constructed that beautiful melody of shade. You are invited to my chambers immediately following court for sauvignon blanc, jalapeño poppers and a Living Single marathon.
The Ruling: Shade, oh my god