If someone a few years ago tried to say that a Nicki Minaj tweet ended up becoming the subject of a White House press conference, ended up sparking a feud between the rapper and the British Prime Minister, and ended up being commented on internationally, including by Trinidad’s minister— they would’ve been labeled as insane. However, this is exactly what has taken place over the span of the last few weeks, after Nicki Minaj faced fierce backlash for tweeting about her cousin’s friend’s balls.
Yes, you heard me correctly. The Tweet in question was posted on September 13th, and read: “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with your decision, not bullied.” The Tweet, which has now accumulated over 150 thousand likes and over 119 thousand retweets, has sparked tremendous controversy, and has since been dubbed by the rapper as ‘Ballgate.’ It has since been commented on internationally, including by Trinidad and Tobago’s own health minister, who said two days later that the claim was debunked after being investigated.
The tweet has also garnered swift backlash from the medical community, who have pointed out repeatedly that there is no scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause impotence or testicular swelling. It has also made its way across the pond, into a British health conference. When asked about the tweet during a news conference, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said that Minaj “should be ashamed” of spreading such misinformation. And when asked about Nick Minaj’s work, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he wasn’t as familiar with it as he should be. He then continued: “But I am familiar with Nikki Kanani,” a reference to the medical director of primary care for England’s National Health Service. “(Kanani) will tell you vaccines are wonderful and everyone should get them.”
Within a few hours of the press conference, Nicki Minaj, much like the American colonies in 1775, fought back against the British, accusing Professor Whitty of dissing her and releasing a recording of herself mocking Prime Minister Johnson in a fake British accent. Back at home, Nicki Minaj’s tweet raised eyebrows in the White House, and officials were so concerned that they offered to call the rapper to discuss vaccine safety. Minaj then misconstrued this offer and believed that she was getting an invitation to the White House. She then tweeted that she was going to visit the White “dressed in all pink like Legally Blonde so they know I mean business.”
The White House had to clarify the extent of their invitation in a press conference, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters that officials had proposed “a very early stage call” that amounted to an “offer to have a conversation” about the safety of the vaccine. As the COVID vaccine in America becomes more and more politicized, Nicki Minaj has become the unlikely hero of anti-vaxxers, and has amassed a new following. As the drama continues to play out, it is fascinating to watch this intersection between popular culture and international politics. Although I must’ve missed The Twilight Zone episode in which Nicki Minaj becomes a political martyr.