Quite a few brands appeared in Shade Court this week. Some did much better than others. Still, to all the brand strategists and social media managers and plucky interns out there, I have one suggestion: stick to what you know. It’s a slight spin on that ancient adage, “stay in your damn lane.” If you make underwear, make underwear. If you are a service that will forever be in second place to Spotify, be a service that will forever be in second place to Spotify. Do what you know and remember that shade is almost certainly not what you know.
In this week’s Shade Court, we have dueling angels, Jennifer Lopez comes in hot and one of my favorite shady moves is executed surprisingly well.
The Case: Jennifer Lopez was recently asked about Tidal, the new streaming service launched by Jay Z and half the Billboard Hot 100. When the reporter wondered if Lopez would be interested in being involved with the business, Her Royal Flyness claimed that she had never heard of the service.
The Defendant: Vibe Magazine
The Deliberation: JLo. Girl. Jennifer. GIRL. We all know good and goddamn well that you know exactly what Tidal is.
You know how I know JLo knows? Because Jennifer Lopez is a good businesswoman. You don’t go from being an unknown dancer in the Bronx to being worth $300 million without having an idea of what the hell is up in the industry you work in. Vibe Magazine brought up this exact point, so kudos to them for bouncing back from their last Shade Court appearance.
Also that reporter barely finished her sentence before Jennifer had her answer ready to go. That was too fast. JLo, you knew. Don’t play with us.
“I don’t know anything about it, sweetie.”
Anything? You don’t know anyyyything about a company backed by some of the biggest acts in the world? Beyoncé didn’t tell you about it after you guys took this picture?
JLo’s shade was lazy as hell but there it is.
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: Lane Bryant launched a new campaign this week called #ImNoAngel which features a lovely group of beautiful, average-sized women smiling jubilantly in lingerie. While the advertisements are clearly referencing Victoria’s Secret and their gaggle of angels, the question remains as to whether or not said reference is, indeed, shade.
The Defendant: Lane Bryant
In an interview with the Daily News, the President and CEO of Lane Bryant, Linda Heasley said: “We’re not throwing shade, but we’re definitely throwing curve.”
The Deliberation: This is a very interesting case. I would like to begin my deliberation by pointing out that the burden of proof is a tad lower for a #brand because God knows they don’t know what they’re doing.
The phrase “No Angel” is not new nor is the concept of being an angel unique to Victoria’s Secret. When someone says that they’re “no angel,” you don’t automatically assume they’re saying that they don’t identify with Victoria Secret’s brand. Therefore, I would rule that the phrase alone is just subtle enough to keep the option of shade open.
Now, the images themselves are where we start losing shady ground. They’re pretty obviously mimicking Victoria’s Secret’s ads. However, one can only be so subtle in a major advertising campaign. And, they get an extra point for not directly mentioning or naming the company.
CEO Linda Heasley’s lame-ass quote, however, is what really pulls things down especially because “throwing curve” is one of the dumbest phrases I’ve ever heard. (That’s not how his works, people. You don’t get to just run around replacing words and have that shit still make sense.) Luckily, I will disregard her statement and focus only on the campaign which is the true defendant in this case.
It’s a big heavy-handed but, for a brand, I’m impressed. The campaign has enough shady qualities to push it over the edge for me.
The Ruling: (Brand) shade
The Case: Ashley Tisdale apparently is a terrible parker. The actress did a janky job of positioning her vehicle and for some reason Andy Richter, of all people, decided to give her shit about it in this Instagram post:
The Defendant: E! Online
The Deliberation: Do we even need to deliberate this lunacy?
After posting a photo of her black Mercedes sedan pulled sloppily into her reserved spot (be sure to watch out for your side mirror on the left, Ashley!), he wrote, “Was someone late to rehearsal?”
Oh, the pure, sweet unadulterated shade.
Nobody who understands what shade is would ever call it “pure, sweet unadulterated shade,” because that sounds sort of creepy and tragically lame. Sometimes I imagine that every time shade is misused, a drag queen forgets how to contour. YOUR ACTIONS HAVE IMPACT, PEOPLE.
At this point I’m just hoping that the sheer number of negative rulings for E! Online will shame them into getting their act together. A judge can dream, can’t she?
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: The Skimm, a daily newsletter that gives succinct rundowns on the day’s biggest stories, included a quote from Cool Pope Francis in their April 6th email which they deemed to be shade.
The Defendant: The Skimm
The Deliberation: I know The Skimm is supposed to be a hip, young company but no need to stoop to this. Further, I don’t fully support the idea that shade can be thrown at an inanimate object. The primary glory of shade is seeing it hit your nemesis like a slow chill or knowing that you delivered your shade so perfectly, that just picturing their reaction is enough.
The Skimm probably believes that because Cool Pope Francis both complimented and insulted the weather that it was grounds for shade. Untrue. If you’d like to see how a compliment-but-actually-an-insult in action, direct your attention to Megyn Kelly’s recent defense of Savannah Guthrie.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: John Wall, a professional basketball player, recently had a very good basketball game. Following that game, he favorited a four year-old tweet from sports columnist Skip Bayless—who even I know is a fool—where Bayless expressed his doubt about Wall’s potential.
The Defendant: Complex
The Deliberation: Now, I don’t know how exactly Complex figured out that John Wall just favorited the tweet, but let’s assume they’re correct.
This is a good lesson. Favoriting a tweet is a great way to throw shade at someone. It’s a way of letting that person know: “OH I SEE YOU” without saying a word. It’s the internet equivalent of pointing to your eyes then pointing to someone else’s eyes and nodding ominously.
A similar tactic works on Instagram and Facebook where you simply substitute a “favorite” for a “like.” You’ll remember Drake executing this move perfectly when he liked a series of Blac Chyna’s Instagram photos in order to piss off her ex and notable man-baby, Tyga.
The Ruling: Shade and congratulations are in order for what I believe is the first Shade Court win for our friends over at Complex.
Images via Getty, Lane Bryant, Victoria’s Secret, The Skimm, Tidal. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org .