Like Lizzo a few months ago, Beyonce had to re-record one of her songs because it contained a word that people with disabilities find offensive. For Lizzo, it was a song Grrrlswhich appears on the album Special and for Beyonce it’s a song Heatedtaken from Renaissance.
In both cases, the same word caused the problem: ‘spaz’, a slang term derived from the pejorative word ‘spastic’, which in the UK can refer to someone with cerebral palsy. In a statement, Beyoncé’s spokeswoman announced that the singer would re-record the problematic word, assuring in an email that “the word was not intentionally used to hurt.” Lizzo said she “didn’t mean to promote offensive language” and was “proud that she listened and acted.”
Monica Lewinsky is asking that her name be removed from the song Partition
Steevy, who runs Musicfeelings, a YouTube channel dedicated to R&B and hip-hop, doesn’t necessarily agree with the re-recording decision: “It’s blown out of proportion. I understand that people get offended by the use of words, but on social media you always lose context. Beyoncé used the word in an American context, where the word means “out of control.” I understand that in the English context it is perceived as a kind of insult to people with disabilities. But the context in which Beyonce wrote is different. »
After this controversy, Monica Lewinsky took to Twitter to ask Beyoncé to remove the lyrics from the song Partitionin which she is named (“He tore all my buttons and tore my blouse/He’s Monica Lewinsky all over my dress”).
“I have two problems with that,” replies Steevy from Musicfeelings. The first is that music is art whether we like it or not. You can criticize art. But asking people to re-record every time scares me. My other problem is where to stop? Monica Lewinsky is asking us to re-record a song from 2013. But maybe we could also re-record a song from 2003? We have to admit that we live in a society where art is not perfect, that it can hurt, that we learn from our mistakes and thus evolve. »
Devoted women specifically targeted?
If it often happens that the public or associations protest about the lyrics of the song, rarely do the artists go back to the studio to solve the problem. Do we demand more from Beyoncé or Lizzo because they are women who are committed to the rights and recognition of minorities, whatever they may be?
Steevy from Musicfeelings sees things from a different perspective. “I think we’re in an era where we’re asking everyone to do that. They, they give in because they already talk a lot with this public attention on these issues. Others will be attacked, but since they are less concerned with this public, they will not retract their words. I’d be surprised if a rapper involved in this sort of thing would re-record songs. »
According to Guardian, the British association Sense, which criticized Beyoncé’s use of the word “spazz”, also acknowledged that the singer “has been committed to inclusivity for a long time” and that she did not use the word “to cause harm” but that “words have power and can reinforce negative behaviors faced by marginalized groups”. Sense thanked Beyoncé for changing her lyrics and encouraged everyone to listen to the album now.