Beyoncé Removing a Lyric From Her New Song Makes Her Less Accountable to Critique

  • 3 min read
  • Aug 02, 2022

Beyoncé Removing a Lyric From Her New Song Makes Her Less Accountable to Critique

Beyoncé announced on Monday that she would replace the lyrics after disability activists criticized her use of an able-bodied slur in her new song. “A word that was not intentionally used in a harmful way will be replaced,” his team said in a statement. The word in question is a derogatory term for spastic biplegia, widely condemned by the disability community.

However, others have pointed out how the term does not derive from “spastic” in the context in which it is used. While slur itself is used as an insult to disparage someone’s behavior, gestures, or manner of speaking, some argue that in American English or Native African American English (AAVE) it means something else: to fight or react. Earlier this year, Lizzo was also criticized for using it in one of her songs and replaced it, prompting many to question the inherent ignorance of the cultural context behind the criticism. However, this is still a controversial claim.

However, the conversation with Beyoncé ended with her changing the lyrics, just like Lizzo. This raises larger questions about how celebrities modify their behavior after a public recall. When famous artists do or say something problematic, their response often doesn’t help further the conversation, it ends it. An apology or a correction is more of a public relations response than a meaningful engagement with the criticism. Normalizing these roughly canned responses instead of requiring a conversation only makes celebrities more immune to criticism — not less.

This has implications for what celebrities can in turn get away with. At the end of the week, Rolling Stone It pointed out how amid the backlash from celebrity private jets, data shows that Taylor Swift tops the list for the most private jet trips this year. Swift, who speaks out on sustainability and the climate crisis, is an unlikely candidate to outdo Kylie Jenner. But his team released a statement saying he was not on most of the trips the plane made. It speaks to our profoundly one-sided relationship with celebrities, where statements speak rather than dialogue., Approval to answer – allows their name to remain unblemished.


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Statements like “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone” or “I wasn’t aware of the problematic nature” of my views not only sound like a cop out (it’s 2021!) but often place the blame on the oppressed. Quint pointed out. It also speaks to the larger phenomenon of associating social justice issues with celebrities and their actions—turning what could have been larger conversations and activism into carefully calibrated public relations statements issued with the goal of preventing a bad representative General callSo, the goal is to draw attention to the problem – but many characters seek to cover it up by simply saying the “right” thing.

The New Yorker previously noted, “The current cultural moment is one whose urgency seems particularly ill-suited to the kind of trash-talking shows that usually make up the ‘socially conscious’ arm of a celebrity’s PR portfolio.” It may be a public apology, according to their nature, They are less sincere than private ones – they are theatrical and are intended to be received by a wide audience in response to something that said audience has already indicated. Researchers have discovered how this explains why we simultaneously hate public apologies but keep asking for them—putting us in an endless loop where the conversation stagnates.

Moreover, periodical reforms such as these are inherently more beneficial to the celebrity than to the public: they ensure continued patronage and, in turn, continued engagement with celebrity work. In this way, correcting one’s record or apologizing always takes attention away from the crime itself and creates social justice for an individual. In this case, conversations about disability, stigmatization and harm are left in the hands of crisis managers, publicists and PR teams – not an ideal place for any social issue.

So the current incident raises the question of how to hold celebrities accountable without losing nuance, accountability, or engagement with an issue. Should a singer-songwriter stop changing an offensive song, and is this a useful demand? Arguably, such a demand allows celebrities to wipe the slate clean, and can then prevent cultural change rather than foster it.

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