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Lizzo Proves That Accountability Is All People Want From Celebrity Mistakes

15 June 2022 | 2:44 pm | Parry Tritsiniotis

Attempts of so-called cancel culture rarely strive to end a career, people simply want celebrities to recognise their mistakes.

Last week, Lizzo released a song titled GRRLS, which featured a term that in many communities is deemed as ableist and problematic. 

The term which was used caused an uproar on the internet, with many advocates for those with cerebral palsy, autism and other disabilities stating firmly that the word had been used hurtfully towards them for years, pointing out how unnecessary it was for that term to be used.

It’s a word that we don’t want to see return to the limelight given its harmfulness and the stigma attached from it and has been removed from consciousness for more than a decade as many have realised its harmful nature by default. 

Twitter user @morecowbella spoke on the issue incredibly, stating, “It’s traumatic. Nobody will ever know what it’s like until they experience their muscles and limbs moving and jolting uncontrollably. The fear of going out in public and not knowing when your spasm will come on and therefore being afraid to witness the stares and the looks that people will turn your way whenever you have a spasm.

“They are painful, they are annoying, they are the one part of my disability that I can’t stand the most. And now celebrities and abled people want to use the term without even knowing what a real spasm is like? I absolutely love Lizzo, but she made a mistake and can learn from it. And again, I hope this inspires people to educate themselves on ableist terms that are widely used in society today, even though there are simply other words to use instead of them."

Many people are quick to say this is toxic cancel culture in action. Calling someone out for their wrongdoing and asking for them to be held to account is not cancel culture, it’s human decency, it’s discussion and it's the power of how online discourse can make the world a better place. Lizzo is a figure with one of the biggest voices in the world and is world known for her consistent unapologetic message of empowerment against all odds and against the world’s traditional patriarchal narratives. This is a good, strong and important conversation that needs to be had.

Importantly, while many across the internet held Lizzo accountable for her actions, she also held herself equally as accountable, changing the lyrics to her song almost instantly. “It has been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song GRRRLS," Lizzo stated in a statement.

"Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I have had many hurtful words used against me so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally, or in my case, unintentionally).

"This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world." 

The lyric now has been replaced on streaming services with a new lyric "hold me back."

Accountability and Lizzo recognising the harm she has created and instantly correcting them in a meaningful way highlights that celebrities can still make mistakes and fix them. The narrative so often with the phrase "cancel culture" is that it is one weaponised by right wing activists so they can denounce any sort of social progress, coining the process of accountability as one that is toxic and career ending over the smallest mistake. Attempts of so-called cancel culture are rarely attempts of true cancellation or ending a career, people simply want celebrities to recognise their mistakes. Nobody wanted to cancel Lizzo.

Lizzo is a human and human’s make mistakes. We still can’t believe that the song made its way past a manager, producer, A&R, record label, publicist but it did, and the response critically was perfect and just. She listened to feedback, realised her mistakes and made immediate amends and a correction. She didn’t double down or centre herself in an issue that clearly was not her. Celebrities and artists are humans with some of the most powerful platforms in the world, and educating the people with these voices is critical in achieving true social progress.