Hello loyal Shade Court readers, I have some news that you probably will not like, but I believe will make us all stronger in the long run. I, Judge Brown, she who presides nobly over the high court of Shade, am retiring. This will be my last Shade Court post for the foreseeable future. Anything can change—perhaps there will be such gross abuses of shade that I’ll be forced to come out of retirement—but for now, this is it.
I feel that I’ve done all I can for these people. For almost a year, I’ve deliberated cases and handed down sentences and hoped that I was doing a bit of good in the world. While E! Online may never get a grip, I feel confident that you have all learned. I have trained you well to be warriors in the fight against egregious uses of shade. I believe that Dorian Corey would be proud of us.
I am hoping retirement will bring me new challenges, hobbies and shit-talking, that I promise to share with you all. Godspeed and always remember:
Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly ... and that’s shade.
The Case: McDonald’s finally introduced all-day breakfast this week, which is excellent news if you’re able to navigate a drive-through while high on marijuana.
Because it’s McDonald’s, they made a big to-do about the new service which included a lot of tweeting and the hashtag #AllDayBreakfast. In response to all this, IHOP, another price-conscious restaurant with a focus on breakfast foods, lost its damn mind.
The Defendant: E! News
The Deliberation: That first E! News tweet is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever seen on social media and I follow Drake’s dad on Instagram. The Urban Dictionary-lurking dork who wrote it should consider themselves banned from the entire concept of coolness or chill ever again and I’m not saying their thumbs should be forcibly restrained permanently, but maybe just dip them in some hard finish plaster so this individual can learn his or her lesson.
IHOP, as you can see, also behaved like a desperate trend-chasing cool mom. IHOP is basically Amy Poehler in Mean Girls—no offense to Amy Poehler—throwing around slang with a questionably offensive tone that seems to be channeling a rapper.
As always, this upholds the rule: If someone says “major shade,” is almost certainly is not shade.
The Ruling: Not shade
The Case: Michael Fassbender is playing Steve Jobs in the new Steve Jobs biopic. This may sound familiar as Ashton Kutcher played the same role in a different move just two years ago.
We now have two major Hollywood films about Steve Jobs and zero about Harriet Tubman, but like, iPhones are great.
In an interview, Fassbender was asked about his preparation for the role.
When Fassbender was asked how he prepared for the role of the late Apple CEO, he said, “I studied Ashton Kutcher.”
The Defendant: Mashable
The Deliberation: Another report noted that Fassbender delivered the line “wryly.” So we’ll assume that there was some sarcasm at play here. What’s great is that if he said it with enough subtly, you can choose to read it either way. If you’re someone who doesn’t know anything really about either film, you can just assume Fassbender was being polite or even gracious.
But if you’re Ashton Kutcher and/or you know that Jobs was pretty roundly considered to be the cinematic equivalent of a disappointing blow job, you know that Fassbender probably didn’t mean this as a compliment. But he allows for a bit of doubt and in that beautiful little crevice is exactly where the shade resides.
Also, look at Mashable getting something right for a change! Way to go out strong, guys. I’ll even choose to forget whatever the hell this was:
The Ruling: Shade
The Case: Rupert Murdoch is sort of like if Voldemort had a nose. He is a bad old man who says bad old man things. This week, he weighed in on Ben Carson and President Obama because don’t we all love when old white men try to police blackness.
He later tweeted this dumb apology.
The Defendant: US Weekly
The Deliberation: Us Weekly has made some terrible appearances here in Shade Court—some truly embarrassing assertions—but they may have outdone themselves here.
Rupert Murdoch did not shade Barack Obama. This crotchety human version of the Fremont Troll questioned Barack Obama’s blackness with some incomprehensible argument about a racial divide.
Truly, this is obtuse even for Us Weekly. There might actually not be a single thing on Earth than is less an example of shade than Rupert Murdoch’s racist, hunt and peck ramblings.
The Ruling: BANNED FROM BASEBALL
The Case: Remarkably, The Voice is coming back for a tenth season. This time, they are swapping out their singing blonde ladies with Gwen Stefani stepping down and Christina Aguilera coming back in.
When the news was announced, Christina posted a picture on Instagram of the season ten cast with an ~interesting~ caption.
The Defendant: Christina Aguilera
The Deliberation: Here’s the thing about shade that although you’ve all be diligent and willing students I feel the need to stress: Most of the time, there needs to be some sort of precedence for the shade. What I mean is that the relationship between the shader and the shadee must be such that you can reasonably assume that they would even want to shade each other in the first place.
For example, Justin Bieber making snide remarks about One Direction can be up for shade consideration because they’re basically competitors and we already know they’re not exactly friends. Although something may seem like shade, it’s important to consider whether this person would have a reason to shade the other in the first place.
Back to the case at hand: There’s not a ton of information about the relationship between Christina and Gwen. However, they do essentially have the exact same job and who knows how exactly it’s decided who will or will not return to the show. It seems a bit sexist to assume they’re in competition because they’re both blonde, female singers on the same TV show but also, all genders in show business are sort of insane, so it’s still a possibility.
In an interview, Gwen did say that she is “jealous” when the voice is filmed without her, but you can also read that as a joke.
The thing that puts this over the edge for me is that, while I love her, Christina Aguilera has been known to be a bit cantankerous at times. Plus, that caption, “Mama’s coming back,” implies that she’s the OG, the first and final and everyone would do well to remember that.
The Ruling: Shade
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Images via Getty, McDonald’s, IHOP. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.