Hundreds of tweets about Nancy Reagan went viral this weekend. If you're like me, you were super confused. But don't fret, because I've got you covered with an explainer of WTF is happening.
This weekend, a Twitter account tweeted side-by-side pics of Madonna and Nancy Reagan. "This is Madonna at 63. This is Nancy Reagan at 64. Trashy living vs. Classic living," they wrote.
This is Madonna at 63. This is Nancy Reagan at 64.Trashy living vs. Classic living.Which version of yourself do you want to be?
The original tweet was ratio'd* by comedian and writer Zach Heltzel, who tweeted an article detailing journalist Kitty Kelley's biography of Nancy Reagan. The excerpt claimed that Nancy was "renowned in Hollywood for performing oral sex" before marrying Ronald Reagan.
Kelley's biography explained that she would give blow jobs "not only in the evening, but in offices. That was one of the reasons that she was very popular on the MGM lot."
The comedian also followed up with this important point: There's nothing wrong with Madonna posting revealing pics, and there's nothing wrong with Nancy allegedly being good at oral sex:
@classicallyabby For the record, there is nothing wrong with Nancy Reagan being promiscuous in her youth, just like there is nothing wrong with Madonna being provocative in her 60s.If you really want to find ways in which these two women are different, look at how they responded to AIDS.
But it's important to note that during the time, women were often coerced into performing sex acts in Hollywood, as podcast host Molly Lambert points out.
“Studios were all rape factories. The execs had girls line up under the table at lunches and the only reason it was blowjobs was so they wouldn’t give syphilis to their wives”
According to History.com, "The Hollywood dictatorship [of Nancy's time] had a clear underclass: women. From casting to production to their private interactions with stars and studio heads, women were barraged with propositions, assaults, and assumptions that they were sexually available."
OK, so, TL;DR, someone tried to shame Madonna by posting scandalous photos of her, and then compared them to photos of a more conservative-looking Nancy Reagan — however, it backfired when a Twitter user revealed that, according to a biographer, Nancy was really well-known for being good at oral sex.
Ultimately, this became a huge meme:
It’s really devastating to find out you have something in common with Nancy Reagan
Coronavirus please let us out of the damn house. my ppl are talking about Nancy Reagan’s throat game and I can’t escape the tweets…
Oh, Nancy Reagan is trending. Good to see people taking an an interest in history. Let me look at what they are saying about her....
And on a more serious note, people also pointed out how if there's one thing we should be comparing, it should be Madonna and Nancy's very different responses to the AIDS crisis. Madonna has raised millions of dollars for AIDS awareness and research, and continues to advocate for AIDS awareness today, while Nancy turned down actor Rock Hudson's plea for help just weeks before he died of the virus in 1985.
madonna raised millions of dollars for AIDS research when it was still too taboo to talk about while nancy reagan let thousands of people die because they were gay https://t.co/kTr7WCxI37
Madonna risked her career to spread awareness about the AIDS epidemic while the woman on the right and her husband refused to even say the word and let a whole generation of queer men die. Don’t ask me stupid fucking questions. https://t.co/hOQCicBfsm
In conclusion, this sums up how I feel about this entire pop culture/political moment:
Someone tweeting about Nancy Reagan being a paragon of morality and then getting quote-tweeted into oblivion about her being the blowjob queen of Hollywood is objectively the funniest thing to happen on this site in years. Good job everyone, let’s pack it in for the night