Just in time for Thanksgiving, patron saint of gratitude Ariana Grande is saying thank u, next to Piers Morgan, a crusty old misogynist masquerading as a journalist.
In recent years, Morgan has clung to relevancy by “feuding” with celebrities; these spats usually consist of Morgan picking on a star for wearing revealing clothes, with her “clapping back” by saying that she can wear whatever the fuck she wants. The disgraced former tabloid editor’s high-profile targets range from the Kardashians to Chrissy Teigen and Emily Ratajkowski. His triggers include naked bodies and women who talk back to him (or just talk?). Now, it’s not ridiculous to have a healthy skepticism toward beautiful, thin celebrities who tweet out nudes under the guise of radical self-love and female empowerment. There’s potential for an interesting, nuanced conversation there. But tweeting at a grown woman “It’s time for @KimKardashian to put her clothes back on” ain’t it.
This month, England’s estranged inappropriate uncle took aim at the girl group Little Mix for a promotional photo in which they posed naked with insults written across their bodies. On Good Morning Britain, Morgan attacked the image, which is part of a larger conversation that Little Mix is trying to facilitate about empowerment and body confidence. “What is empowering about this?” Morgan ranted. “I mean seriously—get your kit off, airbrush yourself to within one inch of your lives and put a bunch of horrible words on yourself.” Next, in a strong bid to make me learn the name of an individual member of Little Mix, singer Jesy Nelson called Morgan a twat on the radio. When the girl group was asked during an interview if they were surprised by Morgan’s remarks, Nelson responded, “Of course not, he’s a silly twat.” Morgan proceeded to demand a public apology from Nelson, and tweeted the controversial photo shoot next to the Dixie Chicks’ iconic Entertainment Weekly cover, accusing Little Mix of stealing the idea.
And it was this very specific accusation that the women of the Grande family could not abide. Family matriarch Joan Grande fired up her iPad and decided to spark a worldwide mini-scandal, tweeting, “Honestly what is wrong with you @piersmorgan?” She continued, “Didn’t your mother ever teach you, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it! You came for @TheEllenShow yesterday which was disgraceful, she is an angel. @LittleMix today, did you ever hear of paying homage? And..well never mind.”
For a little bit of context—although this entire story is so much better without it—Little Mix opened for Ariana Grande on a recent tour. Morgan, who is obviously not above getting in a Twitter spat with your mother, penned a particularly unctuous response. “Hi Joan, my mother taught me to speak my mind & never be afraid to express honestly held opinion. Ellen’s a hypocrite—and as for Little Mix, I’d just prefer they use their talent to sell records rather than their nudity. As your own daughter does…!”
You know when you go to your parents’ house and they want you to fix something weird they did on the computer? Ariana Grande took one look at this Piers Morgan shit show and decided to end it once and for all. She began, “Ellen is an incredible & kind human being.. I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because i choose to. women can be sexual AND talented. naked and dignified. it’s OUR choice. & we will keep fighting til people understand. i say this w all due respect but thank u, next.”
While there were a number of tweets exchanged, including some healthy mockery of Piers Morgans’ 2009 nearly-nude photoshopped-to-hell Burger King ad, this Ariana Grande gem is the only one that really matters: “Also @piersmorgan, i look forward to the day you realize there are other ways to go about making yourself relevant than to criticize young, beautiful, successful women for everything they do. i think that’ll be a beautiful thing for you and your career or what’s left of it.”
This definitive takedown is a beautiful product of the thank u, next era. It all started not so long ago, when Ariana Grande began dating and then quickly got engaged to SNL’s Pete Davidson. Their whirlwind romance touched us all, introducing big dick energy into the national lexicon and giving us memes for days. Unfortunately for the comic, the red flags against Davidson quickly started piling up (not funny, said weird things about Grande on TV, proposed after just a month of dating). Eventually, Grande had to ask herself the age-old question: Is he the love of my life, or just 6’2”?
Long story short, Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson break up, Scorpio season starts, and Grande drops an absolute banger, “Thank U, Next,” half an hour before SNL. The track, named after a tweet she directed at Davidson, runs through all of Grande’s exes. “One taught me love / One taught me patience / And one taught me pain,” she croons, insisting, “I’m so fuckin’ grateful for my ex.” The hit breakup single also features the iconic line, “Least this song is a smash,” placing Grande in a proud tradition of women who broke up with comedians only to realize that they were actually the funny one all along.
Announcing that you’re definitively over a relationship via extreme performative gratitude and scoring your first-ever number one song in the process is next-level. Grande is literally profiting off of her broken engagement, and that’s the energy we should all be bringing into the new year.
Thank u, next is the perfect burn because it makes you sound really magnanimous while you’re cutting someone out of your life forever. Instead of an icy cancellation, decreeing a thank u, next optimistically opens the door to better things to come. The next fawning boyfriend who’s twice your size, or the next British journalist who isn’t totally patronizing and uncomfortably fixated on female nudity. Thank u, next says, it’s not about you—it’s about me, and how bored I am of you. It’s about taking time for yourself, to prioritize your career and/or put together an epic music video reenacting Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, 13 Going on 30 and Bring It On. Because if Ariana Grande can eviscerate Piers Morgan, get over her ex, top the Billboard Hot 100 and drag that heavy ponytail extension through an entire Toros routine, what can’t she do?