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Lizzo Sparks Ableism Debate Over Her New Song ‘Grrrls’

Singer songwriter Lizzo created waves this week over her new song, “Grrrls,” set to appear in her new album, “Special.” Only, it wasn’t the kind of response she was hoping for. Instead, intense backlash came her way due to the song containing what many have claimed is an ableist slur.

In the original lyrics, the word in question comes in the opening line of the song: “Hold my bag, b***h (girls). Hold my bag. Do you see this s**t? I’ma spaz.” Short for “spastic,” spaz’s usage in Lizzo’s song was meant to signify losing physical or emotional control. In that context, the word seems harmless.

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However, many have called it offense due to spaz being associated with people who suffer from cerebral palsy and spastic paralysis, which cause muscle stiffness and loss of movement. In the past, spaz has also been used as a derogatory term, meant to label someone uncool or weird. According to Dictionary.com, spaz is defined as “an awkward or clumsy person.”

After the backlash, Lizzo updated her lyrics to “Do you see this s**t? Hold me back.” Additionally, she posted an apology on her social media accounts, explaining that her harm was never intended, and that she can relate to derogatory statements.

“As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally),” she said. “This is the result of me listening and taking action.”

Lizzo ended her apology by saying that “as an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.” The singer’s statement was generally well-received by her audience for being understanding and supporting.

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Some have been quick to call the responses as part of “cancel culture,” the idea of holding people accountable or punishing them in some way for wrongdoings. While some pushes in the vein of cancel culture are noble, others have gotten swept up in the political discourse of the nation, ultimately being ridiculed due to sensitivity.

However, as NBC News entertainment writer Charlotte Colombo explained, the push wasn’t simply meant to “cancel” Lizzo. Instead, those hurt by the slang saw it as an opportunity to show why the word can have such a profound effect on listeners who struggle with disabilities every day.

“Calling out the use of this word in the song is important because if the word is used in a song by a widely popular artist, there’s a chance that it can become normalized again.”

The idea of race has also been discussed in the debate that’s soon sprung up, with some claiming that black singers are more likely to be called out for using derogatory lyrics in their songs more than mixed and white singers are. In 2021, country singer Morgan Waller saw his following and chart placements increase following a video of him saying the n-word surfaced.

One such Twitter user used that idea in an argument, accusing rapper Cardi B of the same actions as Lizzo, but getting away with it. The Grammy Award winner didn’t hold back in her response, stating that if she was Lizzo, she would have told people to “SMD.”

Racial Equality

Celebrities Use Blackout Tuesday To Protest Racial Inequality In Entertainment Industry

Amid the multiple Black Lives Matter protests currently occurring in all 50 states, many celebrities have begun using their platforms to speak out against police brutality, racism, and justice for black people in this country who have been abused by the system for the color of their skin. Multiple celebrities are publicly donating and sharing links with their followers as a means of spreading awareness, while others are telling their followers what not to do if they really want to contribute towards the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Most recently, musicians specifically led a call for constructive responses to George Floyd’s death after speaking up against a movement that flooded Instagram feeds with black squares and no real useful information. The social media “event” was titled by the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, which would be posted under a photo of a black screen. The blank images took over feeds and individuals quickly realized how counterproductive the movement actually was. 

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Originally, the movement was started by Jamila Thomas, a senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemand, a former Atlantic executive, “in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard” under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. 

However, individuals quickly misconstrued the original meaning and began posting the black screens with other hashtags having to do with the movement; such as #BLM, #BlackLivesMatter, etc. This caused all of those hashtag pages to be filled with useless black screens when previously it was filled with useful information and resources to help those fighting for racial equality right now. 

Artists like Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and Kehlani were quick to call out how unproductive and useless it was to post black screens, essentially “silencing” the entire movement for a day. 

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“I just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever, I don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. We don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. We need to spread info and be as loud as ever. What if we posted donation and petitions links on Instagram all at the same time instead of pitch-black images,” Nas X tweeted. 

“Please don’t use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter because it is flooding the hashtag search,” Lizzo, who’s from Minneapolis herself, said in an Instagram video.

“While I do appreciate the idea … don’t y’all think getting off our form of communicating with each other, sharing info, seeing news … for a whole day … in the middle of a war on us … is kinda dangerous? By all means don’t spend. But we need each other on HERE. Anything could go down wit no ability to warn each other/help each other,” California singer Kehlani tweeted. 

Kehlani also continued to bring up the original meaning behind the movement and how the hashtag is really meant to be #TheShowMustBePaused. Thomas and Agyemang then responded by discussing how the music industry itself is a multi-billion dollar industry that has consistently “profited from black art. The mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles, and successes of black people, accountable.” 

Other musicians joined the movement through donation and, including R&B/Hip-Hop star The Weeknd, who recently donated half a million dollars to various organizations fighting for racial equality. Celebrities with a large platform have been called on by their fans, but also their fellow musicians, actors, directors, etc. If you have a voice, now’s the time to use it. 

If you want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement and how you can directly help from home, click here for access to dozens of petitions, donation pages, and fundraising efforts specifically for those fighting for racial equality right now.

Golden Trophy

The 2020 Grammy Nominations Are Here!

The 62nd annual Grammy awards are just around the corner and the highly anticipated nominations were finally announced this Wednesday. New artists that have emerged in popularity throughout 2019 have truly taken over; Lizzo being the most nominated artist this year with a total of eight nominations! Swifties were disappointed to see that Taylor Swift only acquired a total of three nominations, Album Of The Year not being one of them. However, the year of the new artist has truly graced all of our ears this year, and the nominations uphold that. 

Following Lizzo, both Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are two more new artists that are leading the nominations with six each! All three of them are first-time Grammy nominees, making this one of the most new artist nominated awards shows to date. 

Album Of The Year includes all three of those artists with their respective albums from 2019, and additionally includes Ariana Grande for her album “Thank U, Next,” Bon Iver’s “I, I,” Lana Del Rey’s “Norman F***ing Rockwell,” H.E.R.’s “I Used To Know Her,” and finally Vampire Weekend’s, “Father Of The Bride,” making them the only band nominated in the category. 

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Alicia Keys is hosting the Grammy’s again this year after a successful job last year; this also makes Keys the first female to ever host the show twice, she’s also the third woman to ever host the show in general. Which speaks volumes to why the awards this year are so heavily saturated with newer and more diverse nominees. In the past, all of the major award shows have been highly criticized for being extremely white washed and male dominated. While improvements have been made within the past decade, there’s still plenty of room to go and grow. 

Everyone remembers in 2017 when Adele won Album and Song of the Year over Beyoncé Knowles, who dominated with her “Lemonade” album that year. Adele herself said in both of her acceptance speeches that she felt Knowles was more deserving of the awards, sparking a massive online debate over the integrity of a group of individuals deciding what music they deemed to be award worthy every year. Frankly, they’ve lost their credibility. 

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The ratings have shown it to, this year both the VMA’s and the Emmy’s saw a record low rating of viewers, for reasons similar to those listed above. People aren’t as interested in seeing people awarded for accomplishments based off one groups opinions. For this reason, many major award shows are trying to base their ranking system based on public reaction and reception. With social media being as powerful as it is now, it’s easy to get a large focus group digitally to come together and tell the academy what worked, and what didn’t. 

While this year may have been dominated by the new artists, it seems as though the public is still bothered by the fact that those newcomers knocked out more established artists in categories they felt they were more than qualified to be nominated for, such as Taylor Swift, BTS, and Bruce Springsteen, who released a live Broadway album this year. 

“The Grammy’s have long been accused of not keeping up with the times and ‘playing it safe’ by honoring the tried and true artists in the industry. But this year it appears to be mostly about the new blood, with some of the more established performers actually being snubbed,” (CNN).

While the public may never be fully satisfied by the system in which these award nominations are chosen, the Grammy’s are always one of the most viewed award shows and this year it most likely won’t be any different. 

For the rest of the Grammy nominations for 2020; click here.