Singer songwriter Lizzo has rereleased her new single "Grrrls" with a lyric change after it sparked heated discussions online about ableist language.
The song, which is set to appear on her upcoming album Special, received praise and excitement from many fans upon its release last Friday. Others, especially those within the disability community, expressed concern about her use of the word "spaz," which many consider an ableist slur.
It originates from the term "spastic," which has historically been used to describe people with spastic paralysis and cerebral palsy. Often used in a derogatory way to describe people in the disability community, "spaz" or "spaz out" has also been used to refer to someone losing physical control or simply acting "weird" or "uncool." Webster's New World College Dictionary defines it as "someone regarded as being clumsy, awkward, stupid, odd, etc."
Lizzo released a statement on Monday acknowledging the "harmful word" in her song and announcing a rerecorded version of the song without the slur in it. "I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I've had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally)," she wrote in her statement.
It's no secret that I am not a Lizzo fan. I haven't fucked with her since I saw her open for HAIM in 2018. I've since eased up on the reins and even laughed at a few of her SNL skits a few months back, but I don't think it's cool to promote obesity. Therefore, I don't fuck with her entire brand. Yes, I've written about body positivity in the past, and maybe I'm just projecting some of my own self-hatred and jealousy of her confidence. Still, as someone with medical issues derived from obesity, I do not support condoning an unhealthy lifestyle. I'm not saying you should go around body shaming people, but saying it's okay to be you and all this shit to XXXXXL girls is wrong.
I touched on that in my last blog, but as a white dude who's perpetually worried about getting canceled for stepping on the wrong landmine online or unearthing something stupid I said decades ago, I want to get in front of it and say, as a fat, that I don't fuck with it from any race or gender identity. Like, the new Jackass guy shouldn't be idolized either. He's a fat slob who's gonna die before 2030 if he doesn't make some serious changes (just like me!).
Five years ago Dozie would say how fucking stupid this story is and how "you can't say anything anymore without offending somebody," but I've matured a little and don't want to make life shittier for marginalized people.
Change sucks, I get it, but IMO it's a wicked selfish and scummy move to purposely continue using outdated language. Like my friends will give me shit for calling them out about using words that I used to say without batting an eye, but IDK how else to say it other than I've grown up. I'm not perfect. I watch myself online, but I've let a few "that's r-worded" slip. But terms like that aren't part of my vocabulary and I can just say "that's dumb" instead of sounding like an 8th grader suffering from male pattern baldness. I at least consciously try to improve myself. If you're like, "I'm not changing; I've said it my whole life," you're just a dick and sound like a fucking loser. It's time to grow up. You sound ignorant. There's a big difference between a 19-year-old in 2011 saying it and nearly 30-year-olds dropping r-words (or worse) in 2022.
Admittedly, I never use the word "spaz," so this instance doesn't really affect me. It's not like getting me to stop calling things I don't like, like salads or the Yankees, "gay." That took some fucking time, but if we can have a dialogue instead of jumping down people's throats, then maybe real change can happen. You get more flies with honey than vinegar, right?
I'm sure some "outraged" people gave Lizzo shit, but that's always going to happen when you have as big of an audience as she does. Seeing people say, "oh, I didn't realize that's the root of the word," and dropping it from their vocabulary is pretty cool.
Until yesterday, or maybe the day before, definitely within the last week, I didn't realize that "spaz," used to describe a wild, off-the-wall kid, originated from spastic as in spastic paralysis and cerebral palsy. I never made that connection. I low key still don't even know what spastic paralysis is. I do find humor in the people who didn't even know the term this story is about because it's censored on many outlets, but not everybody is perfectly enlightened. Instead of "canceling" someone, teach them and give them a chance to change and grow.
When I was in either late elementary or early middle school, sometime between 3rd and 5th grade, we'd play "smear the queer" at recess and after-school care, and I didn't realize the root of the term because I was a fucking child. Then one day, one of the babysitting ladies or a teacher said something to us about using not calling it that. I don't remember it super well because, again, I was a child, but the point is sometimes people say outdated/offensive things without realizing.
Of course, there are levels to it. Legitimate racial slurs are worse. Nobody is getting canceled for saying spaz (yet), but before this story (and probably even after cause I'm sure millions haven't seen it) I think it's safe to say most people didn't realize the origin history of the term "spaz," and why it might hurt others. Apart from pulling back the curtain too far in this blog, I'm trying to express a little tiny, weenie bit of respect to Lizzo for changing the lyric and learning from the situation instead of throwing a hissy-fit about "how you can't say anything anymore." I still don't fuck with her shitty music or covering rolls with dental floss and expecting people to be cool with it.