Lizzo Calls Out Appropriation of 'Cancel Culture,' Says Term Is 'Misused and Misdirected'

The 'About Damn Time' singer tweeted about how the term has become 'trendy' through its misuse.

Lizzo shared some thoughts with her Twitter followers about cancel culture on Sunday, making waves when she said that she believes the concept of "cancel culture" has been appropriated.

"This may be a random time to say this but it's on my heart.. cancel culture is appropriation," the GRAMMY winner wrote. "There was real outrage from truly marginalized people and now it's become trendy, misused and misdirected. I hope we can phase out of this & focus our outrage on the real problems."

A majority of the responses to her tweet agreed with the artist; some noted that the term has gotten the same treatment as the concept of "woke," and pointed out how phrases popularized by groups such as Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement have become dog whistles for those aiming to demean and trivialize marginalized groups. 

Commenters argued that "cancel culture" has become so misused online that it has turned genuine concern and desire for accountability into circular internet discourse that doesn't amount to serious action being taken for grievances.

Los Angeles Magazine recently published an article addressing the rollercoaster that is Hollywood's journey with cancel culture, unpacking the concept by looking at various instances, including Kanye "Ye" West's pro-Adolf Hitler and pro-Nazi comments. The piece is aptly titled, "Cancel Culture Has Been Reduced to Time-Out for Adults."

Many celebrities have been confronted for previously unaddressed actions or divisive views -- even Lizzo herself was called out after the release of her buzzy single, "Grrrls." But in the singer's situation, she not only acknowledged her misstep, but quickly worked to rectify it when she was made aware.

Initial reviews of the song were warm and receptive of the track's uplifting lyrics and vibe, but shortly after its release, fans took to social media to call out the singer for her use of the word "sp*z" in the song's opening verse, calling it a derogatory term.

Twitter users explained that disabilities such as cerebral palsy are classified as "Spastic Diplegia," where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in one's legs. One fan wrote, "Hey @lizzo please remove the word 'sp*z' from your new song because it’s a slur and really offensive to the disabled community,” signing off with, "From a disappointed fan."

Lizzo quickly responded to the backlash in a post shared to Instagram, noting that she not only changed the lyric, but that she "never" wants to promote derogatory language in her music.

In July, Lizzo made an appearance on The Breakfast Clubwhere host Charlamagne tha God told Lizzo he was "mad" at her for changing the lyrics to suit fans' demands. "Words matter," he said, rattling off the common American definition of the word. 

"It's a nuanced conversation," Lizzo responded. "For me, everybody is talking about it now, there are think pieces everywhere. I thought, what's the best thing I can do? I can say my opinion on it and just add to everyone's opinion or I can do something about it."

She added, "And really, I wanted to be a leader in what we should be doing as a culture, making this world a better place. If they could do that for Black people, that would be amazing. When we call things out out, if they could make changes that quickly for us -- if I could do it that quickly, I did it on a Sunday night and it was fixed by Monday. They could do that for us when we call out injustices for us. So I wanted to be a leader in that."

While Charlamagne protested that Lizzo used the term in the "proper context," co-host Angela Yee pointed out that the singer was providing an example for how easily it is to course-correct when one's actions hurt people.

"I think it was a great example saying, 'People have a problem with this, it's not a big deal for me to change this one word,'" Yee pointed out. "Sometimes you can get defensive and it turns into a whole way bigger issue." 

Lizzo agreed, and also noted that intentions matter because she wasn't using the word as a slur. "I didn't use it as a slur and I think the backlash of 'you've lost a fan,' is unnecessary when someone's intention wasn't negative or harmful," she added.

But, as the star noted, words "can be used as slurs." And despite Charlamagne's insistence that the word's definition keeps it from being a slur, Lizzo insisted that she didn't regret the consuming effort it took to change the lyrics.