Welcome to Shade Court. Before we begin, I would like to call attention to a moment that highlights the reason I started Shade Court in the first place. If you'll remember, back in January, our friend Chris Hayes appeared in Shade Court and lost handedly. However, Hayes seems to have taken his loss and turned it into a victory with his correct identification of shade earlier this week.
A Shade Court success story: Let me soak it in. This is why I'm here folks—this is why it's all worth it.
This week in Shade Court, Jessica Lange puts on a Hall of Fame performance, VH1 sort of gets it, and Nicki Minaj takes on IHOP.
The Case: The relentlessly glorious Jessica Lange graced Paleyfest with her presence to discuss, among other things, her departure from American Horror Story. Lange was asked if Lady Gaga's upcoming role in the series convinced her stay on for another season. Her answer:
The Defendant: Gawker
The Deliberation: Jessica Lange gets it.
Notice how she weaves in just a few key comments with that symphony-like body language: "What does that mean?" she seems to say. "I don't understand the question." Probably because Jessica Lange cannot fathom a world where her career decisions are based off of Lady Gaga's involvement. She has such a knowing look on her face and yet continues to giggle flightily.
This all works so perfectly because Jessica Lange doesn't give a fuck. Look at her face. That is not the face of a woman with concerns. This trumps that time she straight up ignored Lea Michele on a red carpet because she is Jessica Lange, goddammit. And who are you?
In his post, my colleague Rich Juzwiak described the moment thusly:
I want to luxuriate in her luxuriating in that moment for the rest of my life.
This is what exceptional shade does to a person. It is a moment to be relieved and gif'd into eternity. This, my friends, is what we must teach our children.
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: As usual, IHOP tried to get too clever on a social media platform by switching up the lyrics of Rae Sremmurd's "No Type" to make a pancake pun. Nicki Minaj—and her very strict intolerance for nonsense—was not playing IHOP's game. She tweeted the only appropriate response:
The Defendant: Billboard
The Deliberation: As we all know, brands are not your friends and they need to chill the entire fuck out with acting like they're human beings just kicking it on Twitter. IHOP, you are a corporate entity. Stop mishmashing rap lyrics. (And I say this as someone who unironically loves IHOP.)
I'm glad Nicki Minaj threw some cold water on what you know some social media intern called "a fire hot tweet" because that's the only way they're ever going to learn: public shame.
All that said: Billboard, no. Telling someone to "sit dat ass down" is literally never shade.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: Shailene Woodley, star of The Hunger Games knockoff, was asked by VH1 to give her best "Kylie Jenner selfie face" which is a hard enough thing to do without access to Botox and fillers. Woodley apparently didn't know what fuck they were talking about, answering: "I have no idea who that is, I'm sorry."
The Defendant: VH1
The Deliberation: Shailene took a very simple approach here by insisting that she doesn't know who Kylie Jenner is. Now, like it or not, that family is like traces of fecal matter in New York City—they're everywhere. I find it very dubious that one can be a 20-something working in Hollywood and have no idea who Kylie Jenner is. That's not to say that Kylie Jenner is relevant; she's just annoyingly ubiquitous. Shailene Woodley definitely knows who she is.
"I don't know her" is an old Mariah Carey standard and I'm happy to see Shailene taking it out of the closet for a twirl. Sometimes shade is like Italian food: best when it's simple and straightforward.
What's interesting about this case is that VH1 dubbed her comment with a "no shade" label. Oftentimes when someone says something is "no shade" they mean that it definitely is shade. I don't really have enough faith in VH1's shade knowledge to assume that they knew that. Still, it worked out for them anyway. Look at that, VH1: you won by losing.
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: One of the messiest relationships in the history of buckwild millennial relationships ended recently when Karrueche Tran learned that Chris Brown is the father of a nine-month-old girl. The couple broke up, again, and this time Karrueche claimed that it was going to stick. The jury is still out on that one, but by the looks of things, Chris Brown isn't taking the breakup as well as you'd expect an emotionally stunted, 25 year-old millionaire would do.
Karrueche posted a picture on Instagram showing off her "beach body," as US Weekly would call it.
Chris Brown was caught leaving a salty comment on her picture, which read:
Thirst trap 101. continue to be a lady beautiful…. U are perfect… Don't let the Thot form from anger
The Defendant: Global Grind
The Deliberation: First of all, I would like to say that I hope we can all just let Karrueche live. Girlfriend has been through enough fuckboy bullshit for 10 lifetimes by now, and if she wants to show off her adorable butt on the beach with her girls then that's exactly what she should do. With any luck, she and Rihanna can finally put all this shit behind them and post pages of sexy pictures mocking Chris Brown for being such a clown.
Anyway, no. Chris Brown was not throwing shade. Rather, he was being a giant man-baby who realized that he had finally (probably) fucked things up for good with a woman he cares about.
The Ruling: Not shade
Images via Getty. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age
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