A lot has been going on with Nicki Minaj, vaccines, swollen testicles, the White House, Tucker Carlson, Twitter, sexual assault, etc., this week. Below, four Slate staff writers attempt to make sense of the situation.
So here’s my understanding of things as they are: Nicki, who uses (used?!) Twitter quite a bit, had been replying to fans who were upset about not seeing her out and about, explaining that she has a little baby and no child care because of the virus, and that she got COVID at one point and it was stressful because she couldn’t be around him. Then in a separate tweet, she said that she wasn’t going to the Met ball because they required a vaccination and she wasn’t going to get vaccinated for that, but advised everyone to wear a good mask. THEN in ANOTHER tweet, honestly an all-timer, she said her cousin’s friend in Trinidad got the vaccine and his testicles swelled up and his fiancée called off their wedding. At some point, she said she would get vaccinated to go on tour. Then she asked her fans (???) which of the vaccines she should get (???). Then she got mad at Joy Reid and Meghan McCain for scolding her publicly for not getting vaccinated; then she retweeted Tucker Carlson approving of her recent tweets with the bull’s-eye emoji; then she said the White House had asked her to come talk to them about the vaccine; then it turned out that no, she was just getting to talk to a doctor about it or possibly have some kind of White House phone call; then, she said she was suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation (even though she wasn’t).
Julia Craven: Somehow, despite how comprehensive this is, you did miss that the White House offered to connect her with a doctor to talk about her tweets.
Heather Schwedel: There were a few smaller things. … The health minister in Trinidad said that they checked, and there is no person that happened to in the entire country. Nicki also mentioned that Drake told her he got COVID despite being vaccinated.
Onion: Ah yes, Drake. So, to turn to deciphering this, do you guys think she is trolling? Or is she really up in the air about the vaccine and trying to figure out how to handle it?
Nitish Pahwa: I think it’s two things: that she legitimately is skeptical about the vaccine, but could also be actively playing this up so as to distract from certain … developments in her life and career, like her manager switch and troubles with her husband. She’s always been very good at directing the narrative, especially for her stans.
Craven: I won’t say she’s trolling or up in the air—like Nitish said, she could genuinely be skeptical—but I will say the timing is convenient. Her husband, Kenneth Petty, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender in California last week. And now he’s potentially facing up to 10 years in jail.
Onion: This has worked with her in the past, right—are there other examples we can think of, of times when she has gotten particularly … uh … viral on social media while things are going poorly in other areas?
Craven: Yes! In March, the Daily Beast published an article about how she’s essentially bankrolling the harassment of her husband’s accuser. That story, if I remember correctly, continued getting a lot of traction throughout the spring. And, in May, Nicki rereleased Beam Me Up Scotty, the mixtape that put her on the map as an insanely talented rapper, on streaming. Again, no direct connections or gotchas on the timing of this, but it’s all very convenient.