Shade Court: We May Have Just Hit Rock Bottom

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Shade Court: We May Have Just Hit Rock Bottom

Hello and welcome to Shade Court, where week by week, as my job gets harder, the world gets better.

In this week’s shade court, Hilary Duff demonstrates the price of being friends with a celebrity, Australian politicians are stone cold and thanks to the Daily Dot, we might have just hit rock bottom.

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000127


The Case: Hilary Duff and a similarly-dressed buddy needed to wet their whistles with some ice cold aspartame recently. In case you haven’t heard, Coca-Cola started printing words and names on their cans because if your #content isn’t #hashtagable it doesn’t #exist. Hilary and friend stumbled across two such cans.

The Defendant: Hilary Duff

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: Perhaps this truly was an accident. Maybe Hilary didn’t see the word “show” out of the corner of her eye and feel that familiar palpitation in her heart: Why, I used to be on a show and I am yet again.

Maybe Hilary did not, in fact, grab two Diet Cokes from the cooler at 7/11 and deliberately turn the labels around so that her dear friend wouldn’t see which one declared it’s drinker super hot very cool showstoppaaa and which only described them as a loyal companion.

It is entirely possible that Hilary Duff didn’t pretend like she was seeing the labels for the first time and let out an unconvincing chuckle: Oh my god look how funny! Isn’t it funny? It’s so funny. Let’s take a pic.

And finally, some might believe that Hilary had nooooo idea how this would look to her 4.89 million (!!!!!!) Twitter followers.

Sure, that’s all possible if forget the fact that fame is basically a crippling disease of which the the first and strongest side-effect is hilarious narcissism.

The Ruling: Shade

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000128


The Case: Penny Wong is an Australian politician and according to my brief research, a bad bitch. For whatever reason, Wong was not interested in making small talk with her colleagues, Treasurer Joe Hockey as they met in a doorway. Wong’s delightful reaction to Hockey’s homely little “hello” was captured by ABC News and promptly posted on Vine because this is what the news looks like in 2015,

More recently Wong followed up that beautiful moment with this stone cold tweet.

The Defendant: Buzzfeed Australia

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: Oh, Penny. Because I like her, I would have given her that rude-as-hell pass by if only because she didn’t ignore the man completely. She acknowledged him with exactly the amount of energy and respect she felt he deserved and brrrr did somebody just turn off the heat in here?

However, then she went too far with that tweet. To be fair, the tweet was hilarious, but just outright hostile. I would like to give Wong some props though. Her heart was clearly in the right, shade-driven place. I look forward to many great, slightly more subtle things from her.

The Ruling: Shade-y

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000129


The Case: Clothing company Ashley Stewart tried to promote its line of denim with a truly terrible marketing email.

The Defendant: Ashley Stewart

The Evidence:


The Deliberation: Oh, now this just makes me sad. Whatever poor, probably suicidal copy writer who had to come up with this profoundly lame subject has all my sympathies.

Also WHO ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Shade needs a subject—this would have been a great opportunity to shade the hell out of say, Lane Bryant, but that would have required some originality of thought and just a smidgen of effort.

I weep for this word.

The Ruling: Not shade

Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000130


The Case: Three years ago, members of the Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala Yousafzai because she dared to stand up for the education of girls in Pakistan. Since then, she has become a worldwide hero and inspiration.

Today, her father tweeted about how well she’s done in school by posting her exam scores, as proud parents do.

The Defendant: The Daily Dot

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: Hm. Curiously, the link to this article no longer works.


Luckily for us, the internet is forever and cached versions of the story still exist.


Here’s the thing: Can one really throw shade at the Taliban? Is this writer trying to say that Ziauddin Yousafzai is throwing shade at the men who shot his daughter in the head by flaunting the fact that she’s still alive and in school? Yikes.

If this feels bizarre and sort of gross, that’s because it is. I cannot, however, say that I’m surprised. Part of slang is not only understanding what the words mean, but also knowing when they’re appropriate to use. And I don’t mean “appropriate” just sense the sense of being correct—there’s also the matter of whether or not his specific language should be used in certain settings.

For example, if your best friend’s mom died, you probably wouldn’t walk up to him or her and say: “How ya doing since your mom croaked?”

Your friend would technically understand what you meant, but you probably wouldn’t use that word because you would look like you had zero interpersonal skills and self-awareness.

We would all do well to remember that shade is, at its essence, a pretty fun word. It was born from drag queens kiki-ing with each other and generally just having a bit of a laugh at somebody who was probably a friend or acquaintance’s expense. Sure, shade can take a more serious turn, but mostly it’s just petty.

I’m not sure that celebrating you’r daughter’s triumph in the face of extreme adversity put upon her by a terrorist group is particularly petty—rather, it’s the opposite.


The Ruling: Not shade on principle

Contact the author at [email protected] .

Images via Getty, Hilary Duff’s Instagram. Top image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.

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