This week saw the long-awaited return of the Met Gala, a chance for celebrities (A-list and otherwise) to wear cool clothes and suck up to Anna Wintour after a year and a half of pretending that the pandemic has affected them as much as anyone else. While the primary purpose of the annual gala is ostensibly to raise money for The Met’s Costume Institute, this year’s event provided something unique for those of us watching from home: a lengthy list of which celebrities are definitely vaccinated.
Few celebrities have spoken out publicly against the COVID vaccine, but with a vaccine mandate in place at the Met, there were no doubt some DL antivax celebs who were forced to quietly hang up their couture looks and spend the night in bed watching Fox News. But Nicki Minaj chose a different strategy, revealing she’s not currently vaccinated and candidly explaining on Twitter that if she gets vaccinated, it won’t be for an event like the Met Gala. Rather, she’ll only get vaccinated once she feels she’s “done enough research,” and that she’s “working on that now.” Given the fact that vaccines have been widely available for several months now, I’d love a bit more information on what type of research Minaj is doing, and why it’s taking so long. Something tells me she’s not conducting a peer-reviewed study.
But Nicki didn’t stop there, and added in a subsequent tweet that one of her biggest concerns about the vaccine stems from an anecdote about her cousin’s friend in Trinidad. According to Nicki, this man became “impotent” from receiving the vaccine, and his testicles also “became swollen.” As a result, the man’s fianceé called off their wedding, so Nicki cautioned her followers to “pray on it” and make sure they’re “not bullied” into getting the vaccine.
Wow, so uh, lots to unpack here, huh? Nicki’s questionable anecdote spread like wildfire across the internet, with many people suggesting that the cousin’s friend’s affliction sounded more like symptoms of an STI than a vaccine side effect. Either way, Nicki’s story instantly became the subject of some *chef’s kiss* memes.
Gutted. Was supposed to be attending a wedding in Trinidad, but it’s just been cancelled. Family won’t say why.
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) September 14, 2021
— Tom Zohar (@TomZohar) September 13, 2021
Nicki’s cousin walking down the streets of Trinidad after he got the vaccine: pic.twitter.com/W4OsLX0NFU
— Brian Jimenez (@BrivnJimenez) September 13, 2021
And by Tuesday afternoon, Nicki’s far-fetched story had been addressed publicly by Dr. Fauci, who cautioned Minaj and others against letting “one-off anecdotes”
that are made-up deter them from getting vaccinated in a CNN interview. In a news conference, UK Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were also critical of Minaj. Whitty chastised her for “peddling untruths on social media” while Johnson noted that he is “not as familiar with the works of Nicki Minaj as I probably should be,” but that he’d rather listen to experts saying vaccines are safe and effective.
Minaj took the bait—because of course she did—and responded to the Prime Minister with a Twitter voice memo as her British alter ego Roman, where she claimed that she attended Oxford and studied with Margaret Thatcher. Right.
Watching all of this unfold on social media from the initial tweets to the hundreds of memes that followed to the global political discussion, I had to wonder, what the hell happened here? How many wrong turns did the human timeline have to take for us to be down this bad as a society? I mean, this situation is so messed up that, for a brief moment, I was forced to agree with Meghan McCain, who replied to Minaj’s tweet about the cousin’s friend in Trinidad “That’s entirely enough internet for today.”
The thing is, if Nicki Minaj really isn’t sure about getting vaccinated yet, whatever I guess. She’s probably hard at work doing her own research, and as long as stays home and isn’t eating at restaurants or attending indoor events or traveling until she gets the jab, that’s her prerogative. (I’m sure she’s not actually doing any of that, but whatever, let’s imagine she is.) She even acknowledged that she’ll likely get vaccinated eventually so she can work and go on tour. The bigger problem here is the way she’s using her massive platform to spread misinformation and uncertainty about vaccines. For everyone trolling Nicki and making memes about this Trinidadian dude’s allegedly massive balls, there are probably also some people sending the tweet to their friends and saying it’s a legitimate reason not to trust the vaccine.
Among her cascade of vaccine tweets, she included one where she polled her followers about which vaccine is best. In this deeply scientific study, Pfizer ran away with around 64% of the more than 300,000 votes, which obviously means a great deal more than a full FDA approval. As a recipient of the Moderna vaccine myself, I’m a little regretful that I didn’t receive the vaccine with the Barb seal of approval, but thankfully I’ve avoided any swollen body parts so far.
Images: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com; daraobriain, tomzohar, brivnjimenez / Twitter