Was It Shade? We Investigated 7 Controversial Social Media Moments of 2016

There were several times in 2016 when celebrities' social media posts made us ask the question: "Was it shade?" Also: "What's going on, and why do we care so much?"

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The Internet is a beautiful place to vent, express frustration, show off a new haircut and, increasingly, throw shade. Celebrities must grapple with the temptation to post a tweet or an Instagram before mulling over how their millions of fans might interpret it.

There were several times in 2016when celebrities’ social media posts made us ask the question: “Was it shade?” Also: “What’s going on, and why do we care so much?”

Here are the seven social media moments that got fans super over-excited as they tried to crack the case of whether or not shade was being thrown.

1. On Taylor Swift’s birthday, John Mayer tweeted – and then deleted – a strange comment about the date.

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“Tuesday, December 13 may be the lamest day of the year, conceptually,” he wrote.


ET posted the screengrab of the tweet, which had racked up over 200 retweets by the time Mayer got cold fingers and deleted it.

Then he tweeted and again, deleted the following: “NOPE. No. Nuh-uh. People I am 39. I am deleting those tweets. Come right at me for doing so. Absolutely no shade.”

For context, Mayer and Swift reportedly dated in 2009. On The Late Late Show in 2015, Mayer poked fun at his relationship with his ex. “You can see me at the Grammy Awards doing what I do best,” he said. “Being avoided by Taylor Swift.”

Was it shade? Swift fans seemed to say yes.

Mayer fans, on the other hand, chalked his tweet up to an honest mistake.

2. Kim Kardashian West posted videos of a conversation between her husband, Kanye West, and Swift to her Snapchat account.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

In July, Kardashian West took to Snapchat to provide the proof that her husband had consulted with Taylor Swift on those controversial “Famous” lyrics. (“For all my Southside n—-s that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why, I made that bitch famous / Goddamn / I made that bitch famous.”)

The reality star shared a series of videos of that phone call between her husband and Swift, discussing the “Famous” lyrics – as well as their tumultuous history. Swift had previously denied that she’d given approval for the controversial verse.

“It’s like a compliment,” Swift is heard saying in the video after West reads the lyrics to her (which include, “For all my Southside n—– that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex”).

“What I give a f— is you as a person, and as a friend, I want things that make you feel good,” Kanye said, and thanked Swift “for being like, so cool about it” after she told him she appreciated the “heads up” on the lyrics.

The day after Kardashian West posted the snap footage, Swift took to Instagram to tell her side of the story:


Was It Shade?: The Internet gave a resounding “yes.”

Months after the incident, however, Kardashian West said she meant “no shade” by posting the videos.

“I never publicly talk bad about people,” Kardashian West said in the new issue of Wonderland magazine, reported E! News. “I still don’t feel like I have. I’m being honest.”

The reality star continued, saying, “I’m a fan. I like her music. There was no shade.”

3. Oprah Winfrey did not like the necklace that her best friend Gayle King was wearing on-air, so she had her assistant send a note to King. King then posted Winfrey’s comments on Instagram and had the whole Internet in tears.

Gayle King
Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty

The CBS This Morning anchor was wearing a blingy, oversize bib-style necklace that her best friend of 30 years literally referred to as a “circus.”

Gayle revealed her BFF’s diss in an Instagram photo caption: “plz tell Gayle I’m on treadmill & it’s hard to focus w/the circus around your neck.”

Was It Shade?: One Instagram user’s comment sums up our feelings on the matter: “Shadeyyyyyyy.”

We will add this: Friends should be honest with each other, and we respect both King and Winfrey’s honestly. Friend shade > all other shades.

4. Anne Hathaway posted a Kardashian meme, which she later removed for throwing “unintentional shade.”

2016 Guggenheim International Gala Dinner, New York, USA - 17 Nov 2016
David X Prutting/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

In May, Hathaway took to Instagram to clarify an earlier picture she posted, which many interpreted as shade thrown towards the KarJenner crew.

The original post, which she soon deleted, was a meme, featuring actress Helena Bonham Carter with the words “In a world of Kardashians Be a Helena Bonham Carter.”

Here was Hathaway’s sweet apology Insta:

Was It Shade? Hathaway said “yes,” but also insisted that it was completely unintentional. Does unintentional shade still count as shade? Another question for another time.

5. Katy Perry seemingly wades into Calvin Harris’ now-deleted tweet storm about his ex, Taylor Swift.

Capitol Records 75th Anniversary Gala - Arrivals
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Perry seemingly responded to the drama brewing between Swift and Harris in July after the producer slammed his ex on Twitter shortly after it was revealed Swift helped write his hit “This Is What You Came For.”

“I figure if you’re happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do,” Harris wrote in a series of now-deleted tweets. “I know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I’m not that guy, sorry. I won’t allow it.”

Perry – who has long been rumored to have an ongoing feud with the “Shake It Off” singer – tweeted a GIF of Hillary Clinton making a quizzical face, along with a retweet of her May 2015 “Time, the ultimate truth teller” tweet.

Fans, of course, had zero chill about it.

Was it shade? We can best answer this question by sharing the following responses from Twitter users as the whole thing transpired:


“I am actually shook by ur shade. Thank u for participating.”

6. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson calls out his “chicken s—,” “candy-ass” Fast 8 male co-stars.


In August, the 44-year-old actor took to Instagram to praise Fast and the Furious 8’s “hard working” crew, Universal studios and his “amazing” female co-stars. Then the post took a turn, and he started calling out some unnamed male costars.

“There’s no other franchise that gets my blood boiling more than this one,” he wrote. “My female costars are always amazing and I love ’em. My male costars, however, are a different story.”

“Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t,” Johnson continued. “The ones that don’t are too chicken s— to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses.”


Was it shade? Unequivocally yes … but we will never know exactly who he was talking about.

A source close to the production told PEOPLE that tension between Johnson and Vin Diesel had been “building up for months.” Make of that information what you will.

7. Calvin Harris parties with Kim Kardashian West at Jennifer Lopez’s 47th birthday bash, when the whole “Famous” lyrics controversy (along with Kardashian’s Snapchat posts) was still very, very fresh.

French Montana/Instagram

Harris joined in to party and to lip sync some Kanye West after the Internet-crashing feud between Kim, Kanye and Harris’s ex-girlfriend Taylor Swift. (A week earlier, the DJ posted a video earlier this week of himself lip-syncing Kanye’s controversial “Famous” song. Kim also posted a Snapchat singing along to the now-infamous lyric, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous. I made that bitch famous.”)

Was it shade? A birthday party is a birthday party, right?

The Internet thought differently.

Despite Lopez’s involvement (it was her party), the singer was decidedly not taking sides.

“She isn’t taking sides,” a Lopez source told PEOPLE.

A source close to the Kardashians added: “I’m sure J. Lo could care less [about a feud]. Kim always planned the Vegas trip because of her nightclub appearance. And J. Lo invited her to the show and birthday celebration because they’re friends.”

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