In the final six weeks, two superstars have changedor promised to changelyrics within their songs after disability advocates criticized them as ableist.
First, in June, Lizzo re-recorded a lyric in GRLLLS, the next single off her album Special, then shared her reasoning online, with some lauding her actions for example of responsible allyship. Then, following a release of Beyoncs seventh studio album Renaissance, her team announced that she’d change exactly the same lyric after her song Heated was criticized for similar reasons.
The rare occurrence of a post-hoc lyric change has shed new light on the negative connotations of the word spaz. Heres what things to find out about why these artists made these changes.
What happened with Lizzos song GRLLLS?
The next single from Lizzos latest album is not any Truth Hurts or Good As Hell, nonetheless it is a Lizzo song: an empowerment anthem with a chorus manufactured to stick. However when GRLLLS arrived on June 10, it met with criticism.
Hey @lizzo my disability Cerebral Palsy generally is classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity identifies unending painful tightness in my own legs) your brand-new song makes me pretty angry + sad, disability advocate Hannah Diviney tweeted the very next day. Spaz doesnt mean freaked out or crazy. Its an ableist slur. Its 2022. Do better.
Diviney was discussing a lyric in the initial verse of the song, originally Can you see this sh-t? Ima spazzand her tweet was shared greater than a thousand times. Within days, Lizzo changed the line to accomplish you see this sh-t? Hold me back.
Its been taken to my attention that there surely is a harmful word in my own new song GRRRLS, Lizzo wrote in a statement she shared on social media marketing. I want to make a very important factor clear: I never desire to promote derogatory language.
As a fat black woman in the us, Ive had many hurtful words used against me therefore i overstand the energy words might have (whether intentionally or in my own case, unintentionally), she continued. Im proud to state theres a fresh version of GRRRLS with a lyric change. This is actually the consequence of me listening and taking action. Being an influential artist Im focused on being section of the change Ive been waiting to see on earth.
What happened with Beyonc and her song Heated?
Just over per month later, Beyonc released her seventh studio album, Renaissance, to great critical and public acclaim. However the pop icon, too, included exactly the same wordspazin her music.
Spazzin on that ass, spaz on that ass, Beyonc sings in the outro of Heated, the eleventh track on Renaissance.
So @Beyonce used the term spaz in her new song Heated, Diviney tweeted your day following the album dropped. Feels as though a slap in the facial skin if you ask me, the disabled community & the progress we tried to create with Lizzo. Guess Ill just keep telling the complete industry to accomplish better until ableist slurs disappear from music.
Diviney, who lives in Australia, then wrote an op-ed for Hireup, an Australian disability support provider. From there, the op-ednow titled When Beyonc dropped exactly the same ableist slur as Lizzo on her behalf new album, my heart sankgot found by The Guardian.
THE UNITED KINGDOM disability equality charity Scope shared this article on Twitter, writing, Here we have been again. Shortly after ableist language from Lizzo, Beyoncs new album features an ableist slur not once, but twice. Disabled peoples experiences aren’t fodder for song lyrics. This must stop.
That same morning, Beyoncs team responded, telling Variety that The term, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will undoubtedly be replaced.
What’s the history of the term?
The term spazwhich both artists used to mean lose control or release inhibitionscomes from the word spastic diplegia, a kind of cerebral palsy that often mostly affects motor control in the legs.
Lizzo, known for championing inclusivity, and Beyonc, known for focus on detail in her work, could have surprised fans by making exactly the same oversight one following the other. But both singers likewise have massive fan bases (Lizzos About Damn Time happens to be at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100; Beyoncs Break My Soul reaches no. 7) and wield outsize soft power in popular culture.
Lauren Appelbaum, the senior vice president of communications at RespectAbility, a nonprofit that works toward self-advocacy for all those with disabilities, said that as people, especially celebrities, take additional time to understand, many can be more aware of their language choices.
Within an ideal world, the lyric never could have been used, Appelbaum said. But we do understand it requires a small amount of time for folks to learn. So the hope is thatafter two visible types of allyship, of listening and changing predicated on feedbackothers will avoid creating a similar mistake.
On Twitter, fans remarked that a cultural barrier might exist: Spaz has its meaning in African American Vernacular English; has been trusted in historically Black genres like R&B, hip-hop, and rap; and both Beyonc and Lizzo used the term as a verb, not just a noun. Some fans took issue with the lyric changes.
The word could also have a far more deeply-rooted history as a slur in the united kingdom and Australia than in the U.S.
In any event, Appelbaum says she hopes that representation of disabled people at all levels in the music industry will improve. Exactly the same way that lots of folks are very aware of having a diverse team when it comes to different genders and sexual orientations and races and ethnicities, she says, exactly the same ought to be to be intentionally including disability.
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