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Cardi B
Cardi B attends the Schiaparelli Haute couture Fall/Winter 2023/2024 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 03, 2023 in Paris, FrancePhoto by Marc Piasecki/WireImage

Cardi B makes compelling case for hitting fans in the face

Following an incident in which the US rapper threw a microphone at an audience member, conspiracy theories and conflicting narratives have abounded on the internet

During an open-air performance in Las Vegas this weekend, Cardi B was filmed hurling a microphone at an audience member who had tossed a drink over her. The clip quickly went viral but, as it turns out, the situation was a little more ambiguous than it first appeared. Depending on who you asked, it was a vicious assault from the singer, an example of terrible fan behaviour, or an elaborate conspiracy. 

Having spent hours pouring over the available footage, like Kevin Costner in JFK, we will try to offer an authoritative account. The first clip to go viral shows an attendee at the front of the crowd throwing liquid from a cup at Cardi as she performs “Bodak Yellow”. In response, Cardi stops rapping and hurls a microphone their direction as they are removed by security. 

So far, this seems like the latest in a long line of recent incidents where rude audience members have hurled projectiles at performers. In one of the more shocking examples, Bebe Rexha required stitches after a fan hit her in the face with a phone (he later explained that he “thought it would be funny”). Within the last year, Harry Styles was hit in the face by an object during a concern in Vienna, Pink was doused with the cremated ashes of a fan’s mother, and Adele was forced to warn her audience off trying any similar stunts with her (“I’ll fucking kill you.”) In the context of this wider trend of terrible gig etiquette, Cardi throwing a microphone seems like a righteous act, a reminder of the age-old dictum that our culture is in danger of forgetting: chat shit, get hit.

But this narrative was called into question when a second piece of footage from the gig emerged online, this one showing Cardi specifically asking audience members to spray her with water. So what is the truth? For Cardi’s haters (including a lot of racist Republicans), this clip was the smoking gun which proved her guilt. Some suggested that the whole thing was a psyop – far from being the aggressor, the drink-thrower was merely a pawn, a patsy, an innocent lamb sacrificed on the altar of a carefully-orchestrated viral stunt. But this is going way too far in the other direction. According to eye-witnesses, Cardi did ask the audience to spray water on her body and legs, to help her cool down at a specific point in the show. That’s quite different to someone throwing a drink right in your face while you’re in the middle of performing – which is presumably a shocking and unpleasant sensation. To use a consent framework, just because Cardi said it was OK at one point in the gig doesn’t mean it’s OK for the rest of it. Maybe she shouldn’t have thrown a microphone, but it’s hard to condemn her for a knee-jerk reaction.

That said, in a separate piece of footage which shows the aftermath of the incident, the woman who threw the drink appears genuinely shocked and confused at Cardi’s reaction, shouting “I’m sorry!” towards the stage as she’s hauled away. This was obviously not some sneering sociopath. It seems like she just got a bit carried away, rather than acting with malice or setting out to humiliate – Cardi had, after all, previously invited it. So the incident doesn’t really fit the standard narrative of the “entitled, obnoxious and disrespectful fan”. It’s closer to a misunderstanding, in which no one involved doing anything that bad.

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