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Nicki Minaj and the Value of Celebrity Feuding
Whatever you think of Nicki Minaj's complaints about her "Anaconda" being snubbed in the Video of the Year category of this year's MTV Video Music Awards, you must agree the curvaceous rapper and Twittermeister deserves an award for drawing attention to herself and getting people talking.
She has a point, you know. What video this past year got talked about more than her jiggly booty-filled paean to that big ol' snake? If any video should be a contender for top honors at an awards show hosted by Miley Cyrus with astronaut statuettes as prizes, "Anaconda" is the one.
Minaj did play the race card, tweeting, "If I was a different 'kind' of artist, 'Anaconda' would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well."
Hm. It's not as if the Video of the Year category is devoid of color. It includes Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar — in his own right and as part of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" — and Bruno Mars, featured on Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk."
And it wasn't as if Minaj had been left out in the cold. She was nominated for Best Female Video and Best Hip-Hop Video for "Anaconda," and was also nominated for Best Collaboration for "Bang Bang," with Jessie J and Ariana Grande.
But let's not quibble.
Things got much more interesting when top nominee Taylor Swift complained about Nicki taking a shot at her, noting that women shouldn't bring other women down — to which Minaj basically responded, "Huh?" Then Katy Perry and Camilla Belle made remarks on Twitter about Swift's complaint. Eventually, Swift apologized for thinking it was all about her.
Is anyone surprised Taylor Swift thought it was all about her?
But anyway, getting back to Minaj — she is not only a virtuoso rapper, she's a virtuoso feuder, with a long list of spats with other celebrities that dates back quite a ways.
The first Nicki feud that penetrated the consciousness of the mass audience was that trainwreck 12th season of "American Idol" featuring the judge-vs.-judge feud between Minaj and Mariah Carey.
Reports of friction between Mariah and Nicki dated back to 2010, when the two were paired in their "Up Out My Face" music video and Minaj was said to have disrespected the superstar, whom she has dubbed "her f—-ing highness." Exciting video of the two tangling over an "Idol" contestant went viral.
When Nicki complained about Mariah and Randy Jackson making comments about pop musicians, Mariah snapped back with "I'm sorry, it's just that that's what I do, Nicki. So when I'm making comments, I'm trying to help her, as opposed to just talk about her outfit."
"Let me continue to speak," Nicki said, to which Mariah responded, "Of course, you always do. Go ahead."
The exchange got hotter, ending when Minaj tossed her seat behind her and cried "Maybe I should just get off the f—-ing panel!" and Carey sniped back, "That was my move.
Carey later told Barbara Walters on "The View" that Minaj had made a comment that she'd have shot the —— if she'd had a gun. She hired extra security. Minaj pointed out on Twitter that no cameras or microphones caught her supposed gun comment — "say no to violence."
The feud was by far the most interesting storyline of the year.
It was so interesting, in fact, that former judge Steven Tyler publicly doubted its authenticity.
"Of course — are you kidding?!" he said, when asked if he thought the cat fight was more publicity ploy than organic venomous hostility.
Mariah alluded to the true nature of the fight earlier this year, on a radio show in Australia: "Let's just say I don't think they had any intentions for us to have a good experience doing that show. Pitting two females against each other wasn't cool." Asked if she'd consider going back for the big "Idol" finale show next year, she shot, "Hell no! Absolutely not. That was the worst experience of my life."
Nicki, however, had other feuds to fight. There's Nicki vs. Lil Wayne, Nicki vs. Tyga, Nicki vs. Lady Gaga, and more.
Interestingly, popular judge Jennifer Lopez returned to "Idol" after that season. Lopez herself has starred in more than her share of celebrity feuds. Consider her on-again, off- again tiff with Madonna, which dates back to a 1998 Movieline interview. Lopez soundly dissed Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder and Salma Hayek. She called herself a better actress than Madge: "Do I think she's a great actress? No. Acting is what I do."
Madonna got back at Lopez at Donatella Versace's millennial New Year's Eve dinner party in Miami. Reportedly, Lopez was shunned by the Material Mom and her posse, which included Gwyneth Paltrow. Lopez arrived an hour and a half late at the South Beach mansion. As Versace got up to greet Lopez, Madonna purportedly announced, "Dinner's over now." Her entourage followed her as she left the room.
More recently, of course, Madonna feuded with Lady Gaga, whom she accused of excessive emulation, shall we say, calling Gaga's "Born This Way" "reductive" of her own "Express Yourself" '80's song. Then Elton John jumped into the mix, complaining on an Australian TV show about Madonna's "horrible" treatment of Gaga — and adding that Madonna's career is over and that she looks like a "fairground stripper."
Now, there's a guy who knows how to do a verbal slap.
Not that Elton hasn't been word-slapped himself, for instance, by fellow vintage rocker Rod Stewart. Rod unloaded on several of his peers in Britain's Radio Times, calling Elton "Sharon" and saying he should "lose some timber."
He also complained that he'd been passed over for Grammys in favor of Sting. Said Rod, "The sun shines out his arse. ... Mr. Serious who helps the Indians."
A few days later, Sting fired back, "I think he deserves [a Grammy], I really do. I'm thinking of sending him one of mine."
Will Rod's unvarnished opinions find their way into the E! channel's new "Stewarts & Hamiltons" reality show? You'd better believe it. Like Nicki Minaj, you can be sure the folks at E! understand the audience pull of a celebrity spat.
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