What to do about Azealia Banks? A homophobe or misunderstood?

1991In the latest round of Twitter wars rapper Azealia Banks is tussling with blogger Perez Hilton because he criticized Banks’ musical feud with fellow rapper Angel Haze. Banks, offended at what she saw as Hilton’s “meddling” called Banks a f*ggot. The post read:

“@perezhilton lol what a messy faggot you are.”

Presumably after being called on her asshattery, Banks followed up with her nonapology:

“My most sincere apologies to anyone who was indirectly offended by my foul language. Not sorry for Perez tho. Lol”

She also posted:

“If u listen to my music and are not offended by the word n*gga…We’re not gonna go here with this f*ggot shit…We’re just not. Lol”

And then she goes on to explain, “A f*ggot is not a homosexual male. A f*ggot is any male who acts like a female. There’s a BIG difference.”

Note – I edited the racial and sexual slurs – Banks tweeted the slurs in their entirety.

Now, I’ve gone over celebrities not being able to use Twitter responsibly before – most notably when Patricia Heaton showed her ignorance over Sandra Fluke. And time and time again, I don’t understand what celebrities think will happen when they unload their awful thoughts on social media.

But, back to Banks – I have to admit I’m conflicted, mainly because I’m a huge fan. Her 2013 EP release, 1991 was one of the best released in the past year. She’s a fantastic talent in a still male-dominated genre. But her talent doesn’t excuse her filthy language.

But there are two interesting points Banks made in her Twitter posts. First we’ll discuss the point she’s made about the lack of furor over her using the n-word in her music. And she’s got us there. I guess we’ve become desensitized to rappers using the racial slur in records – it’s not that a lot of us aren’t offended by the word, we just simply give rappers – particularly black rappers an out when the word is used. Is that wrong? Well, depending on who you ask, yes and no.

The second point Banks raises is that she differentiates between f*ggots and gays, saying gay men aren’t necessarily f*ggots – Eminem made a similar point earlier when he was criticized for using the anti-gay slur in his music. And Banks insists that when she uses the word, she doesn’t mean it as an anti-gay slur.

And I believe her. But she’s still wrong.

This is a classic example of private versus public language – a moment when Banks decided to use private language in a public sphere, and therefore her intent is ignored by the public. Banks should’ve known better. In her private sphere, f*ggot may not be necessarily an anti-gay insult. Think about it, how many time gay folks will call each other f*ggot (or how many black people will refer to each other by the n-word)? But again, this all goes back to private vs. public. Banks clearly either forgot, or just doesn’t understand the concept.

I don’t think Banks will suffer too much because her target’s Perez Hilton, a man who’s made a career out of gossip, and who once lobbed the f-word at Fugees rapper will.i.am when the two got into a fight. Hilton’s not exactly a sympathetic figure. But that shouldn’t matter – calling one gay guy a f*ggot is basically calling every gay guy a f*ggot. And if Banks doesn’t know that yet, this incident will hopefully teach her…

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Filed under Celeb, commentary, music

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