Welcome to Shade Court. In the tradition of this honorable column, I ask that we all take a moment to remember that I'm just trying to do a service here. Not knowing the hell you're talking about isn't cool. Let's begin.
The Case: Howard Stern was doing whatever the hell it is he does on his radio show when British singer Sam Smith was mentioned. Stern, in his ever-grasping attempts to shock and seem cool, said a bunch of rude shit about Sam Smith for seemingly no reason at all.
You know what I like about the guy? He's an ugly motherfucker. He's fat, I love it.
Oh is he gay? He looks gay to me. He does seem effeminate. I like that he's chubby and gay, that's why I love him. He's really good, but I feel like ["Stay With Me"] will be his only hit song.
The Defendant: Stereogum
The Deliberation: People, the words you use matter. Sure, I'm all for pushing the boundaries of language, but sometimes a word just means exactly what it fucking means. I almost hope that the author meant that Howard Stern pulled out an umbrella or a tent and literally provided Sam Smith with some shade. That's much better than suggesting that Howard Stern calling Sam Smith fat and ugly exists anywhere in the same universe as the colloquial meaning of shade.
This is why I got in the game, my friends. These are the wrongs that I so desperately want to right.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: While accepting an award at the 2015 BET Honors, Kanye West talked about his personal life. (He continues to think that any of us care.) In the speech, Kanye went on a tangent about how his wife is not a gold digger. Now, I have to pause for a moment to ask the question: Does anyone seriously think of Kim Kardashian as a gold digger?
An extreme narcissist, yes. Opportunistic to the point of insanity, sure. But not only is Kim super rich, she's pretty much always been super fucking rich. Not sure this was the best battle to fight, Kanye.
During his speech, Kanye basically said that not only is she not a gold digger, but Kim Kardashian loves black guys so much that she'll date them even if they're broke. That's how much of a gold digger our girl isn't!
"At the barbershop...I used to hear people always talking about, 'Man you know when an entertainer get on, of course you know he gon' go and get a white girl and blah blah blah and a white girl gon' get a rich black dude.' But I wanna say that my wife has dated broke black dudes," he clarified. "It got nothing to do with the money."
The Defendant: E! Online UK
The Deliberation: Lack of any sense in Kanye's words aside, this is an interesting case. You'll notice that he didn't name any names. Since Kim Kardashian exclusively dates black guys—at least that we know of—one could reasonably assume that he's referencing her entire dating history instead of just two of her more high-profile relationships.
Listen, he's obviously talking bout Ray J and probably Kris Humphries. Kris isn't anywhere near broke, but Reggie Bush and Kanye aren't tweeting about using Uber for a check.
Theoretically, he's talking about all the black dude's Kim's ever dated, so of that group, only the guys who feel insecure about their net worth are going to think he's talking about them. You know Ray J knows good and well that Kanye is talking about him, but I love the idea of Kris Humphries staring at his bank account, trying to convince himself that Kanye wasn't referencing him this time around.
Not bad, Kanye, not bad. I'm also a bit more inclined to label this as shade largely because this is about as subtle as Kanye is ever going to get.
The Ruling: Shade. Look at that, E! Online—you finally gotten one right! Too bad your British sites understand American slang better than you.
The Case: As a result of New York City greatly overestimating the severity of winter storm Juno, Louis CK's show at Madison Square Garden was canceled. The comedian was unhappy about the cancellation and apologized for it in a letter to ticket holders, in which he repeatedly cracked jokes about the storm being "historical":
They are calling this storm "historic," which.... Well, I didn't know you could call a thing "historic" if it hasn't happened yet. But I'm not one to defy future historic events. And I have to be respectful of the responsibility I have to the 15,000 people who are holding tickets to the show and could be stranded somewhere historically trying to get to or from my show. I think it's clearly better that I alter history in the name of safety and cancel.
The Defendant: Mic News
The Deliberation: I see what the writer was trying to do here. Meteorologists suggested that New York would receive two feet of snow, so she changed it to "two feet of shade" to stay on topic and pithy. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as clever as I'm sure she thought it was.
I understand what Louis CK is saying, but meteorologists were saying that in theory, and based on the snowfall projections, the storm would be historic—which was true. At the time, nobody knew that the storm would be a bust. Had New York actually gotten two feet of snow, his letter would have looked pretty dumb.
He really takes the whole idea of the storm being historic and runs with it. In fact, he drops three history-themed jokes. His letter just contained a bit too much obvious sarcasm to be considered shade. Perhaps if he had stopped after the first joke, we might have had something.
This was closer than I thought it was going to be but, no dice.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: Joe Biden, Aaron Rodgers, and Olivia Munn were all backstage at The Ellen Show (yeah, I don't know either). Biden and Munn were chatting and, as Munn tells it in an Instagram caption, the Vice-President abruptly stopped talking to her when her boyfriend and Green Bay Packers quarterback Rodgers showed up.
The Defendant: Perez Hilton
The Deliberation: Perez, what the fuck? "Shade equals thrown"? What in the name of all that is decent is that supposed to mean? Was he trying to say "this story equals shade thrown"? That's stupid as hell.
Let's be honest: how well did Joe Biden really understand who Munn was? There's a good chance Biden didn't even realize that he was talking to anyone other than the person who is Aaron Rodgers' girlfriend. Shade can be unintentional, but generally, the chief justice of shade (me) believes you have to have a certain degree of intent. In her post, even Olivia understands why Joe Biden would rather talk to her boyfriend.
Besides, wouldn't it have been weirder for Biden to not stop talking and introduce himself when a new person entered the room? Sounds like Joe was just being polite. Vice-presidential, even. Much like Kanye, I have my doubts about Joe Biden's ability to shade. Shade is like an airy, softly-landed pirouette. Joe Biden is twerking. And there's nothing wrong with twerking—twerking is great and personally I prefer it to ballet—but I think we can all understand the difference here.
The Ruling: Not shade and an affront to the entire concept of shade
Have a Shade Court submission? Email me.
Images via Getty. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.