Piers Morgan's racist, sexist Nicki Minaj rant, and why we shouldn't tolerate it
Here's a couple items from British television personality and writer Piers Morgan this morning, in the wake of Nicki Minaj's VMAs commentary on Twitter last night.
Warning to Black Twitter: I don’t think you’re going to like my column about @NICKIMINAJ.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 22, 2015
Here is the Do Not Link link to Piers Morgan's article on the Daily Mail.
A few notes:
1. "Black Twitter" is not a monolithic, singular concept. To deny the black voice its multitudes is bigotry.
2. LOL Piers Morgan thinks he knows what a Black Twitter is, and what it does and does not like.
3. "Warning to Black Twitter" is baiting, and a phrase that is frequently an apt substitute for "I'm not racist but..."
4. The term "stroppy" means difficult or belligerent, a term that is often used at or toward women -- much like the term "shrill." It is then compounded by a long history of "angry black woman" cliches.
4.a. Maybe the copy chief changed the headline to be more troll-y? Those phrases are ripped straight from the body copy. And have a look at these other colorful terms: "brat," "race card," "precious," "raged," "sneered," "flounced."
5. Considering Morgan does not expound on the term "little" in his "essay," one can assume his usage of the term "little" is used diminutively -- literally, to belittle.
6. Minaj's issue with the size of women's bodies isn't strictly about beauty norms but of norms between races as well as among women. Piers may think, then, that the belittling term "little" is actually clever. It is not.
7. "Piece of work" is a term of reduction and -- at times -- dehumanization, a term meant to turn a human person into a singular piece of work, similar to the term "hot mess" or "a handful." A handful of human? A mess of human experience? A piece of humanity?
7.a. "Piece" is also interchangeable with other reductive gendered terms -- "piece of ass," "piece of that," "saucy piece." The dehumanizing effect here is to categorize a woman by her sexuality and sexual availability. A "little piece" rings especially of slut-shaming.
8. As previously established, Taylor Swift mistakenly thought these Tweets were about her. They are not. They are about institutional racism and sexism, "kind." Even Swift herself hit the rewind button. Morgan -- who is quickly, apparently becoming a Black Twitter expert -- would still like to cash in on Taylor Swift SEO gold. It is tacky.
9. Morgan asserts that Minaj's music video for "Anaconda" "wasn't as good" as, say, "Bad Blood." He supports this claim by first asserting that Minaj was fired from her job at a chain restaurant in a primarily African-American New York borough God knows however many years ago. This has nothing to do with whether or not "Anaconda" is good.
10. Morgan further supports "Anaconda's" inferiority to other videos by not at all talking about other videos.
11. Unnecessarily posturing one woman's complaint as being a specific attack on another woman (another dehumanizing term -- catfight!) is sexist and reductive.
11.a. Alotting two women's body types into binary "schools of physical beauty" is sexist and reductive.
11.b. Furthermore publicizing a preference of this A versus B type -- "Or because I prefer skinny women to more voluptuous women (for the record, I don’t…)" -- is also irrelevant.
12. Morgan is upset that Nicki Minaj wouldn't take a photo with his children in her dressing room. Not only is this petty bit of groundbreaking news irrelevant, it also inadvertently turns focus on privilege (in this instance, white male), that to be a "fan"/recognize celebrity is to "own" that celebrity, that the celebrity owes you. There is historical precedent of white males claiming ownership of women's bodies, and specifically black women entertainers' bodies. She said "no" dude, she doesn't owe you or your kids a "yes."
13. Piers Morgan furthermore explains he does not understand how #alllivesmatter is undermining to the #blacklivesmatter social movement. And how this lack of understanding has furthermore enraged "Black Twitter" (not to say at the least, all other Twitter). Again, with the privileging and the whitewashing.
#BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean other lives don't. Like people who say "Save The Rainforests" aren't saying "Fuck All Other Types of Forests"— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) July 18, 2015
14. Piers Morgan is retweeting and eliciting responses of assent from his fanbase, that he is "saying what we're all thinking." The phrase "Saying what we're all thinking" is -- pun intended -- a pretty telling phrase.
15. There are many things to be said about "difficult," outspoken women and "playing the game" in entertainment, or about Tidal versus Spotify versus Apple and publicity advantage. There are many things to be said about the artistic and entertainment value of "Anaconda," and its female-driven contemporaries. There's a lot to be said about Taylor Swift; piling-on Taylor Swift; and Taylor Swift and the people who hate her. Hell, there are many things we can say about Nicki Minaj's body, her agency over body, and the loss of control over one's body once fame is factored in. Piers Morgan would rather just not. He would rather tout his gun-control bonafides than do the work and engage with these obvious and lingering issues that Minaj and others have brought repeatedly to light.
16. Just as Morgan couldn't be bothered to Minaj's actual qualms with Institution (that of awards shows, sexism and industry, institutional racism and commerce, power in capitalism, people of color in art, feminism versus femininity, beauty norms, cultural appropriation, "girls" in the music industry, etc.) you should not bother with the rest.
17. Why give this behavior additional attention? Not only is it important to engage with popular culture -- to understand why things are popular, and why pop music is a reflection of corporate and individual self -- but it is important to engage with pop culture and pop criticism with respect. Race and gender are ever-present in popular music, but give easy way to racism and sexism, which belittles our A&E. Pop culture deserves better.
UPDATE: Piers Morgan has responded to this critique on Twitter.
I will admit, I was being glib when I "favorited" his Tweet.
1/3 @piersmorgan As a writer and performer, you know that language can be oppressive, and words can be violent. Recognizing precedent, power— Katie Hasty (@TheKatieHasty) July 23, 2015
2/3 @piersmorgan and privilege of your words can be a step to diminishing the ills of sexism and racism. I'm genuine when I say it's an— Katie Hasty (@TheKatieHasty) July 23, 2015
3/3 @piersmorgan exciting potential learning moment, for you and your fans, to engage with the clout of your vocabulary and perspective.— Katie Hasty (@TheKatieHasty) July 23, 2015
And now, to the part where he exercises his grasp on coded, gendered and insulting language.
Just read your 3 response tweets @TheKatieHasty. My apologies, you’re obviously completely barking. Sorry to have bothered you.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 23, 2015
.@piersmorgan barking is slang for crazy. Unless you meant dog? Or that I’m from Barking?— Katie Hasty (@TheKatieHasty) July 23, 2015