From The Bible To Cardi B: A Brief History Of Shoe Throwing
We did some real sole searching for this article.
When Cardi B threw her red stiletto at Nicki Minaj, she evoked a rich tradition of dissent, critique and cultural commentary.
It’s unclear what exactly went down — the two rappers have been arguing on-and-off for a while now, and we have video footage of some kind of scuffle this weekend at a New York Fashion Week party.
According to Cardi’s subsequent Instagram post, it happened because she believes Minaj has been threatening to blacklist producers if they worked with Cardi, and also made some sort of comment about Cardi’s ability as a mother. Minaj, for the record, denies all of the above.
But it was the alleged shoe throw that caught the internet’s attention. While there’s been no confirmation as of yet, we can tell by the paparazzi shots we have of Cardi leaving the party that she lost her shoe somewhere in the night.
Given that Cardi promises in ‘Get Up 10’ to ‘put a Louboutin where her neck at‘ and has actually done so back in her reality TV days, there’s precedent — and while we’re jumping the gun a little, we have decided to canonise the moment.
Here is the (abridged) history of shoe throwing, from the Bible to Cardi B.
Cardi’s signature move https://t.co/myf5jByqnT
— Keven⚡️ (@fructosepapi) September 8, 2018
No Sole Origin
Cardi B leaving a New York Fashion Week party 2018 // “Resurrection” by Dieric Bouts 1455 pic.twitter.com/GBDE13Lpmf
— ɹʎɐnnɹǝʎǝs (@ryannreyes) September 8, 2018
While historians struggle to ascertain whether it’s true or a dramatic embellishment, one of the first recorded shoe throws occurred in 359AD. According to historian Peter Heather, that’s when Roman emperor Constantius II was assaulted with a shoe by a group of dissenting Limigantes.
If it did take place, it’s likely the moment was inspired from scripture. Across religious texts, shoes aren’t exactly held in high esteem, which doesn’t take much explanation — they’re dirty, and quite literally beneath our feet.
In The Gospel Of Mark, Jesus told his disciples to “shake the dust off your feet” when leaving an unwelcoming town “as a testimony against them”. The idea was revived in early 19th century Mormonism, with unsuccessful proselytisers washing their feet with anger when people rejected them or their religion.
You’re probably well aware of the shoe’s status in Islam: when Iraqi reporter Muntaze al-Zaidi infamously chucked both of loafers at George Bush in 2008, commentators probably over-focused on the act’s cultural-religious symbolism.
At the very least, it was good press for al-Zaidi’s footwear of choice, Baydan Shoes: for a little while, they rebranded the pair as the “Bye Bye Bush” model.
Much like their tendency towards war, the Bush dynasty has a rich history with being on the receiving end of a shoe.
As the Guardian notes, Saddam Hussein installed a mosaic of George Bush Snr. in a Baghdad hotel back in the early ’90s, purely so the image would be trodden on by all those who entered. Comme ci, comme ca: later, when Hussein statues were torn down across Baghdad, many locals bashed it with their footwear.
Despite its dangers, shoe lobbing isn’t always an act of dissent. In 1895, James Crombie of Aberdeen outdid even the internet’s tendency towards hot takes with a treatise that in 2018 would likely be published as ‘Rice Sucks: Shoe Throwing Should Be A Tradition At Weddings’. It didn’t catch on.
The High, Then The Heel
Thanks to al-Zaidi, 2008-10 was a period in which shoe throwing was truly in vogue. (Oh, but the Cardi incident was at a Harper’s Bazaar party, not Vogue, but we’re sure it’ll bring it back in vogue.)
Anyway, in those two years, everyone from New York transport officials to Chinese premiers and even al-Zaidi himself found themselves in the firing line.
And on Australian shores, ex-PM John Howard was targetted during a 2009 taping of Q&A, when activist Peter Gray threw a pair of well-worn Volleys at him to protest Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war. When Gray passed from cancer six months later, his shoes were auctioned to raise $3650 for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
More recently, it seems shoe throwing has more or less been chucked off its cultural throne.
However, it does feel noteworthy that the biggest shoe-throwing incidents of late have been music related, as if preparing the industry for Cardi. Back in 2013, Harry Styles was assailed in the groin by a shoe mid-One Direction concert; last year, grumpy Swedes followed foot when Justin Bieber struggled to remember the Spanish lyrics to ‘Despacito’.
While we at Junkee don’t condone violence, we can only speculate that Cardi is a fresh breath to a fatigued art-form. And she probably threw the shoe, too.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and is a co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.