Be very careful if you criticise Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj surrounded by bodyguards at a party in New York, on Sept 7, 2017.
Nicki Minaj surrounded by bodyguards at a party in New York, on Sept 7, 2017. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Wanna Thompson, 26, has long considered herself a Nicki Minaj fan. A freelance writer living in Toronto, she posted a tweet late last month about Minaj's recent musical direction.

"You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content?" Thompson wrote to her then 14,000 or so followers. "No silly stuff, just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She's touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed."

Minaj fans were not amused, and attacked. Then, galvanising them further, Minaj chimed in, too.

In the week since publicising the acidic messages she received from Minaj, whose next album, Queen, is scheduled for release in August, Thompson has received thousands of vicious missives across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, e-mail and even her cellphone.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," Thompson said through tears in an interview, calling herself "physically drained" and "mentally depleted".

Such are the risks of the new media playing field, which may look level from afar but still tilts towards the powerful.

As social media has knocked down barriers between stars and their faithful (or their critics), direct communication among the uber-famous and practically anonymous has become the norm. But while mutual praise can cause both sides to feel warm and tingly, more charged interactions can leave those who have earned a star's ire, like Thompson, reeling as eager followers take up the celebrity's cause.

"Her fans mimic her behaviour," Thompson said of Minaj, who responded to her critique after some of the rapper's 21 million followers brought the initial tweet to the attention of their queen.

Thompson said while she stuck by her opinion on Minaj's music, she wished she had never made it public.

"If I knew it would get this much harassment and that my daughter would be affected, I don't think that I would have posted it," she said.

"Every person has a right to defend themselves and react to certain statements. But when you start to insult somebody, you've crossed a line."