The Mariah Carey 'I Don't Know Her' Meme Explained

Trust Mariah Carey to launch a meme with a single throwaway line. The pop star was being interviewed by German outlet Taff (via YouTube) in 2009 when Jennifer Lopez came up. "I don't know her," Carey responded, shaking her head and smiling sweetly. 


As the Evening Standard points out, there was no way Carey didn't know Lopez, who was hugely famous for both her singing and acting careers by then as well as being a fellow New York native. The "Heartbreaker" hit-maker subsequently told a radio interviewer, "I don't know the woman," before hinting at underlying issues between the two.

Vanity Fair details how the moment caught fire years later, in 2016, with everybody from Martha Stewart to Alex Rodriguez, Lopez's former flame, seemingly partaking. More often than not, celebrities aren't actually throwing shade, but, in the case of Carey, it's tough to argue she wasn't, especially since the singer repeatedly reiterated her position. 

Per the Standard, she also teased it out with TMZ in 2016 by telling reporters, "I still don't know her," before hopping into a car. During an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live" that same year, Carey expressed irritation at the fact that people still care about an off-the-cuff comment she made years ago. 


It wasn't enough, though, and the superstar singer was soon tasked with explaining herself more fully. 

Mariah Carey wasn't trying to be shady about Jennifer Lopez, she says

Everything Mariah Carey does is iconic, so it stands to reason that an offhand comment she made about Jennifer Lopez would become a meme. 

As W magazine notes, the legendary singer's hilarious response to a question about Lopez was swiftly adopted by the internet and has lived on in the years since in a way that even Carey herself probably didn't envision. She's mostly taken it in good humor, though, shouting out a fan who was wearing an "I don't know her" shirt at one of Carey's gigs.


When Pitchfork asked whether she's aware of the memes, the "Fantasy" hit-maker responded, "Some of them, yes. It is what it is. You have to embrace it." As for what she actually meant about Lopez, Carey explained, "I really was trying to say something nice or say nothing at all. I really was." 

Although it's tough seeing the moment being endlessly picked apart, Carey tries not to get too swept up in it, admitting, "I don't know how people read comments all the time and then survive."

Thankfully, she has a strong "support system" around her, she says, which helps Carey differentiate between what really matters and what doesn't. At the same time, though, stories of a beef between the two singers have circulated for years, per The U.S. Sun


Do the pop stars actually know each other?

Although Mariah Carey swears she wasn't trying to shade Jennifer Lopez with her "I don't know her" comment, there have long been rumblings of a feud between the two superstars. 

In her memoir, "The Meaning of Mariah Carey," she hinted that the issue between them began with the release of her 2001 movie "Glitter" and accompanying single "Loverboy." According to Carey, her ex-husband and former Sony Music CEO, Tommy Mottola, purposely sabotaged the release and put J-Lo's "I'm Real" above it.


In an extract published by TooFab, Carey revealed, "He was angry about the divorce and my departure from Sony, and he used all his power and connections to punish me." Carey sampled "Firecracker" by Yellow Magic Orchestra in "Loverboy," and, as she tells it, "After hearing my new song, using the same sample I used, Sony rushed to make a single for another female entertainer on their label (whom I don't know)." 

Suffice to say, then, Carey does know Lopez even if, as Bravo's The Daily Dish reports, she claims to not know several other pop stars, including Madonna and Ariana Grande. 

Moreover, per the Evening Standard, she used the "I don't know her" defense in relation to Demi Lovato, who described Carey's treatment of Lopez as "nasty." Lovato argued: "She should come up, introduce herself to me, say, 'Here's my opinion, what do you think about it?'"


J-Lo has nothing but nice things to say about Mariah Carey

For her part, Jennifer Lopez has remained reticent about discussing their alleged feud in interviews. When the subject was brought up by Wendy Williams, Lopez acknowledged (via E! News), "She's forgetful I guess! We've met many times. I don't know ... I don't know her that well." 


Elsewhere, Lopez told Andy Cohen in an interview on "Watch What Happens Live" that they weren't close. She also explained the origins of their feud, sharing, "I think it's kind of from word of mouth of things that have happened in the past that I'm not really aware of."

The "Jenny from the Block" hit-maker remains hopeful that the two could work things out eventually, though. Lopez confirmed she has no issue whatsoever with Carey. "I would love to be friends with her," she stated emphatically. "I think she's incredibly talented and I've always been a fan of hers." 

She added that it upsets her to hear negative things about the two of them, particularly all these years later. Per Showbiz CheatSheet, nowadays, both women are on the same page in the sense that just because they aren't BFFs doesn't mean they hate each other.