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Taylor Swift Apologizes for VMAs Comments to Nicki Minaj

Taylor Swift
Carrie Davenport, Getty Images

Hey, remember when Nicki Minaj was venting about MTV’s bewildering choice to under-recognize her “Anaconda” video (despite its enormous cultural impact), and then Taylor Swift decide to make it all about her? Well, the MTV Video Music Awards will be a more peaceful event than it was shaping up to be, as Taylor has issued an official apology to Nicki over Twitter.

“I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I’m sorry, Nicki,” she tweeted today (July 23). It’s a seemingly genuine apology, not the “I’m sorry that you heard me” faux-apology Ariana Grande issued following her doughnut crime, or 50 Cent‘s basically pointless “I’m sorry if you feel like I hurt you” to his courtroom opponent earlier this week. Taylor fully owns up to her gaffe, and hopefully her rare misstep was an educational one.

“If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” Nicki tweeted on July 21. Taylor took this comment personally, assuming Nicki was wholly directing her grievances toward her (as opposed to the also-very-tiny Video of the Year nominee Beyonce).

“I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..” Taylor offered, unsolicited. When Nicki attempted to clarify her remarks (“You must not be reading my tweets”), which were about MTV and the music industry’s tendency to borrow liberally from black female culture without rewarding the original creators, Taylor blithely ignored her and responded with a mildly condescending, “If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.” Oy.

Now, let’s set aside the irony of Taylor calling out “woman VS woman” anti-feminism, when she’s made big money with songs that take down her female rivals — Taylor’s mixed messages have already been called out by rumored bullet hole Band-Aider Katy Perry. Instead, let’s focus on some facts that evidently came as a surprise to the awards-sweeping Taylor, up until the day she found herself on the wrong side of a social media thrashing. The Fader handily gathered some stats on MTV’s historically troubling tendency to overlook artists of color, and the evidence points to the idea that Nicki was onto something with her remarks:

  • Of the 31 overall wins for MTV’s Video of the Year, just eight black performers have won — and two of the eight, Lil Kim and Mya, won the award alongside mega-popular white artists (Christina Aguilera and Pink).
  • 29 artists have won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award for lifetime achievement. Only four of those winners have been black – and Michael Jackson was one of them.
  • There is no R&B genre category, while there is Rock, Pop and Hip-Hop categories, leading some artists to get shut out despite chart popularity.
  • A video involving racial injustice has never won the Video With a Social Message category. Note that this year, Kendrick Lamar’s celebrated “Alright” video was not nominated, while an innocuous song about maybe-not wearing makeup (Colbie Caillat’s “Try”) was.
Taylor is, frankly, unused to experiencing negative public opinion, which may be why she spoke up when she felt Nicki’s social observations were a personal attack. Good on her for rethinking her initial reaction, and offering a direct apology. This has hopefully drawn more attention to a glaring failure on the American music industry’s part — which is much more important than a short-lived “feud” between two of our favorite musicians.
And, all’s well that ends well: Nicki accepted Taylor’s mea culpa.

Taylor Swift’s Songs About Other Women

Next: Is There Bad Blood Between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj?

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