We're only two days into 2015 but I'm already feeling optimistic. Might this be the year that we finally eradicate erroneous uses of the word "shade"? Might people who have never even see in Paris Is Burning stop trying to use a word they're only mildly-familar with so they can seem cool? I can only continue to do my job here at Shade Court and hold on to the belief that change is possible.

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000001

Image via Martha Stewart's Twitter

The Case: Martha Stewart spent New Year's Eve just living her life the way she wanted to because she's Martha Stewart, goddammit. Part of that experience included documenting the evening on social media. Elle covered the evening with an article titled, "Martha Stewart Had a Super Shady New Year's Eve."

The Defendant: Elle Magazine

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: This article amounts to the author giving a play-by-play of the evening and just throwing the word "shade" in whenever they felt like it. A series of back-breaking reaches were made in order to justify the author's invocation of shade. For example, describing the below photo of Dr. Oz and his daughter, she wrote:

She appeared to be party-hopping, according to her Twitter, starting the evening with Dr. Oz and his beautiful daughter (note that Oz doesn't get his own complimentary descriptor, the first subtle jab of the night) at "one of many parties."

Perhaps Martha didn't give Dr. Oz an innocuous, complimentary descriptor because she, like so many others, have been conditioned to compliment a woman's physical appearance before anything else. Maybe, since Dr. Oz already has the word "doctor" in his name, a title which connotes a series of academic and professional achievements, Martha didn't feel the need to include any additional descriptors. Or maybe it doesn't fucking matter at all.

Elle also pointed to this photo:

Ok, first of all, no shit Martha Stewart isn't into neon nipple adornments. The woman irons her sheets and has a specific technique for removing pomegranate seeds for goodness sakes. If Martha had stopped after the first sentence you miiiiight be able to argue just the slight presence of shade, but since she followed with a flat out insult, it ain't gonna fly.

The Ruling: Not shade

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000002

The Case: Complex published a 2014 round-up post awarding the "2014 Rap Superlatives." Azealia Banks was honored with the "most brilliant command of the art of shade" award for giving Iggy Azalea the now infamous nickname, Igloo Australia. Complex writes:

It boggles the mind that Iggy was able to not extract herself from the public eye entirely, let alone continue to say anything back to Azealia after this happened. Banks did more with just those two words to tarnish Iggy's name than "Takeover" or "Ether" did to that of Nas or Jay.

The Defendant: Complex

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: They pretty much shot themselves in the foot by comparing Azealia's supposed shade to "Ether." Nas' Jay Z diss track changed the game on such an extreme level that Ether is now used as a verb. An Ether is a read of catastrophically epic proportions and is nowhere near the realm of shade.

Azealia herself issued a correction with a humorous meme and Complex, being very good-natured, retweeted her. Glad we're all in agreement here.

The Ruling: Not shade

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000003

The Case: On New Year's Day, I received a call from my grandmother around 11 am to wish me well in the new year. She asked what I was doing and I informed her that I was lounging in my incredibly comfortable bed. She then tried to hurry herself off the phone saying, "Ok, I'll let you get back to sleep." I told her there was no rush because I wasn't sleeping—just laying. It is her response that I humbly submit to Shade Court.

The Defendant: My grandma

The Evidence:

Grandma: "You're in bed and you're not sleeping?"

Me: "Yeah"

The Deliberation: I recognize that it might seem like a conflict of interest for me to judge my own shading, but I am the judge so I do what I want.


There is no shade like grandma shade. As soon as her words hit me, my room grew dark and chilly and her masterful shade cast over me. I started completely reconsidering what I was doing. Why was I still in bed at 11 am when I had actually woken up three hours early? Why am I ever in my bed when I'm not sleeping? Should I stop eating my dinner in bed while watching Bob's Burger's on Netflix?

With that one line, she caused me to question all of my bed-related decisions in life and for that I bow at her shady, shady feet.

The Ruling: Shade

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000004

The Case: A group of football teams representing institutions of higher education played some games yesterday. One of those games involved Florida State University and the University of Oregon. In sports lingo, Oregon routed Florida. Over the course of their loss, Florida committed quite a few turnovers and for some reason, Arby's decided to get in on the action with this joke:

The Defendant: ESPN

The Evidence:

As the headline for an article about all the jokes being made at FSU's expense, ESPN wrote:

The Deliberation: This is a pun. It's not that a pun cannot be shade, but Arby's was not trying to be shady. They were trying to get in on action by tweeting a viral joke so that people would think they were a #coolbrand and go buy their roast beef sandwiches.


Intent isn't always everything with shade, but when Arby's thirst to be down with the youth is this obvious and, frankly, lame I cannot, in good conscious, allow shade to be ascribed to their actions.

The Ruling: Not shade

Images via Getty. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.