This week in Shade Court, New York Magazine is still having a difficult time with the entire concept of shade, some woman named Iggy Azalea makes an appearance and one reader looks back at a shady incident that occurred twenty years ago.
Even on such an important national holiday as Halloween, your defender of shade does not take the day off. This week I received some wonderful tips from readers, so please do keep that up. Whether you have a question about shade that was personally inflicted upon you, or you simply spot an egregious misuse, I will happily hand down a verdict. Now, to this week's cases.
The Case: In a recent interview, Michael Jordan decided to be a total dick to President Barack Obama for no good reason. It seems that the general theme of this interview was golf, (exciting!) and when asked about the possibility of playing with Obama, Michael Jordan said:
"No, that's OK," Jordan said. "I'd take him out. He's a hack ... I never said he wasn't a great politician. I'm just saying he's a shitty golfer."
The Defendant: The Huffington Post
The Deliberation: Right off the bat, Huffington Post writer Avery Stone deserves a stern talking-to for the line: "Consider that shade thrown and slam-dunked."
SWEET JESUS. The lameness of it all.
Now, back to the issue at hand. Michael Jordan, excellent basketball player as he may be, is a tactless jerk. We know this. Shade requires you to exercise a certain amount of self-control and editing because you're trying to deliver an insult without actually delivering a flat-out insult. Michael Jordan wouldn't know how to throw shade if I personally walked him through it.
The Ruling: Not shade—and I sentence Avery Storm to as many viewings of Paris Is Burning as it takes for him to learn his lesson.
The Case: This case was submitted by a reader who came across the following article and wanted her suspicions of ill-used shade confirmed.
Sinuous Magazine,which bills itself as "a diverse mixture of culture and perspectives on art, film, music, fashion and more," published an article regarding a rumor that has been circulating around the internet that Betty Boop was based off of a black woman. That aside, the author rounded out her argument with an Iggy Azaela reference that she self-identified as shade.
The Defendant: Sinuous Magazine
If someone makes a cartoon character of a white Australian female rapper who copies the exact style or several styles of black American female rappers, and that character becomes an icon, that doesn't make the character black. The character simply represents appropriation. And yes, that was Iggy Azalea shade.
The Deliberation: Lord knows I'm a fan of calling out the utter bullshit that is Iggy Azalea's entire career, but this particular execution was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. The entire paragraph is incredibly heavy-handed as far as shade goes. Truly excellent shade calls for a light touch—like that gentle, yet seemingly impossible "flick of the wrist" that makeup artists are always telling me to use for my winged eyeliner.
However, what really threw things off was that last line. If you're saying the word "shade" in your shade, you're probably doing it wrong. Because I am the benevolent upholder of shade justice, I shall strike that last line from the record. A bit graceless, yes, but I'll give it to her.
The Ruling: I shall grant this the title of Shade, minus the last line.
The Case: Our friend and reader Frank is looking back on an incident that occurred 20 years ago between him and his cousin. Frank is now asking "Did I get shaded?"
The Defendant: Frank's cousin
So when I was 16 or 17 my upper east side cousin was driving with me in Kansas City and I was tearing around like a crazy teenager and she said to me, "I like your driving. You drive with purpose."
The Deliberation: It's nice that Frank is able to admit that he was driving like a crazy person. That's important to the case because it indicates that he probably deserved to be shaded. The appearance of shade here hinges largely on the cousin's tone. Was there a sneer? Perhaps an eye roll that accompanied that line? Judging by Frank's confusion and the fact that he's still thinking about it twenty years later, something tells me she did it correctly.
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: Looking back on a 1964 speech by Ronald Reagan, writer Jonathan Chait calls attention to a particularly ridiculous joke made by the former president where he makes light of the fact that 17 million Americans are going to bed hungry. Chait writes:
Somehow missing from the excerpts is Reagan's finest moment, a classic dis of the 17 million Americans too pathetic to obtain enough nourishment [...]
Reagan wasn't just charmingly funny here — he was prophetic. A dozen years later, he was running for president, and by then America had become a place where you could find a "strapping young buck" using food stamps to buy steaks.
The Defendant: The Daily Intelligencer/New York Magazine
The Deliberation: I'm about 90% sure that Chait was being sarcastic here, because making fun of hungry people is not especially hilarious. Regardless, the fact is that he still referred to what Reagan said as shade.
With that joke, former President Reagan is laughing at the idea of 17 million Americans not having access to food. Ronald Reagan is being an asshole.
In the set up of the joke, he basically tells you that he's about to make fun of these people before he goes on to plainly laugh at them. This is nothing more than a cruel joke, which is not the same as shade.
The Ruling: Not shade. I would also like to take this time to offer a remedial shade course to the entire New York Magazine staff because GOOD LORD when will these people learn?
Images via Getty. Sacred seal of Shade Court by Tara Jacoby, featuring a portrait of our Shade Judge as a young woman.