Fans ask Lizzo to remove song over offensive lyric

Fans are asking US singer Lizzo to delete and re-record her new single, ‘Grrrls’, to remove an ableist slur from the lyrics.

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Fans ask Lizzo to remove song over offensive lyric- BPN TODAY

The song was released last Friday and almost immediately received criticism from disability advocates.

Lizzo prominently uses a derogatory term for cerebral palsy, also known as spastic diplegia, in the first verse.

“It’s absolutely shocking, It really made me flinch,” said talent agent Abbie Hills, who has cerebral palsy.

“Why you would choose that word when there’s so many other options? It’s just completely wrong.”

On social media, other fans have said there is “no excuse” for using the “derogatory and harmful” slur.

But although people are upset by the lyric, there’s an unusual element of compassion in the online discourse.

“I don’t want to cause any harm and I don’t want to cancel her, as is the common reaction on the internet,” said Hannah Diviney, a writer and disability advocate in Sydney. “I just want her to learn gently.”

“I’ve seen a few comments about cancelling Lizzo and that’s not what we want,” added model Shelby Lynch, who has spinal muscular atrophy, on Twitter. “We want to educate her and have the word challenged.”

The BBC has asked Lizzo’s record label for a response, but has yet to receive a reply.

Some fans have pointed out that the insult used in ‘Grrrls’ has a different connotation in the US – where it is often used to mean “freaking out” or “going crazy” (although those terms can themselves be insensitive to people with mental health conditions).

But Hills stressed that, regardless of its usage, the slur still originated as a term of abuse for people with cerebral palsy – a brain condition that affects movement and co-ordination.

“Cerebral palsy isn’t just a UK disability,” she said. “There are so many people with it, particularly in America. Even famous actors like RJ Mitte from Breaking Bad, who is a huge sensation over there and does so much work for disability rights.

“I bet, for him and people within our community, this is just such an insult from someone who is meant to be a diverse voice.”

This feeling of disappointment was a common theme among Lizzo’s critics.

The Grammy-winning singer is a passionate advocate for the plus-size, queer and black communities. Her biggest songs, including ‘Good As Hell’ and ‘About Damn Time’, typically celebrate body positivity and good mental health.

By using an outdated insult, targeted at another marginalised group, many felt she had let herself down.

“I don’t understand how you can be selective with diversity, Hills said. “This happens so often. Why does disability get left off the ‘checklist’?”

“And how could [this term] slip through the net of the writers, her studio team, the producers, Lizzo’s entourage. the label? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Diviney said: “For her to unintentionally use that word, or still be in a place where that word is considered OK is really upsetting, because she’s a pioneer of inclusion and acceptance in the music industry.

“So if we can get her to stop doing that, that would be great.”

Diviney, who also has cerebral palsy, messaged Lizzo on Twitter over the weekend to explain why the term is so offensive.

“Cerebral palsy is literally classified as spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, which basically means that like I have spasticity, or tightness, in my legs specifically,” she said.

“It’s something I can’t control and it makes my life quite difficult and painful. Seeing that word used to suggest someone has lost control or had an emotional outburst is really weird because that’s not at all what it’s like; and that’s not at all what my life as the disabled person is.”

‘Remove the s-word’

Although Lizzo has yet to acknowledge the criticisms, Diviney was hopeful she would respond with sensitivity.

“I feel like it would be pretty easy to go in and rework the song,” she said. “Maybe throw in a different phrase, or communicate the context of what she’s trying to say, in a less offensive way.”

Fans across social media have been clamouring for Lizzo to re-upload ‘Grrrls’ to streaming sites like Spotify and YouTube with new lyrics.

“Please remove the s-word from your song,” posted actress Abigail Lea on Tik Tok. “Re-record it and apologise,” added Sinead Reid on Twitter. “It’s the only option here.”

It’s certainly possible. Lady Gaga erased and replaced R Kelly from her duet ‘Do What U Want’ since his sex trafficking crimes came to light while Michael Jackson re-recorded his single ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ to remove an anti-Jewish slur word.

But Hills said Lizzo might not be able to undo the damage her song has already caused.

“I’ve seen it all over Tik Tok. I’ve seen kids dancing to it, which for me is the biggest problem because she’s got this status with teenagers who don’t know the word, and don’t know the associations it has.

“So when they hear it on Tik Tok, they’re going to dance around, screaming at the top of their lungs and that is a problem because they are the next generation.”


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