Azealia Banks is the definition of offensive. In a series of now infamous tweets, commencing on Tuesday night, Azealia unleashed a foul torrent of racist and homophobic hatred towards One Direction star Zayn Malik.
Yesterday evening, she partially apologized, claiming she had been drawn into an unpleasant debate. However, she didn’t apologize for what she said. I am pleased that a lot of her tweets have been deleted, swiftly followed by Twitter suspending her account. But it is hard to reverse the offence she has caused.
Azealia seeks to perpetuate numerous grotesque stereotypes. She accused Zayn of copying one of her music videos, before calling him a ‘faggot’ and using the n-word.
She displayed contempt for refugees, using the term as an insult to describe Zayn. Azealia then went on to exchange furious tweets with Skai Jackson, a 14-year-old Disney star who defended Zayn. British rappers were the next to be criticized, for lacking talent and originality.
Azealia takes pleasure in the controversy. After attacking Zayn she began to trend worldwide on Twitter. Despite the apparent pleasure Azealia takes in her notoriety, I think it’s important to continue pointing out how disgusting her remarks are.
Zayn has largely refused to interact with her, which has probably helped to limit the obscenities flowing from her Twitter account. Azealia is now more known for her Twitter outbursts aimed at, among others, Iggy Izealia, Lily Allen, Rita Ora and Sarah Palin than her music.
At the end of 2014, she started her argument with Iggy Izealia. Some commentators supported her stance and there was a discussion about cultural appropriation and loss of identity. Since then, empowered by the credibility they gave her, she has become more extreme in the expression of her opinions. There is little left now apart from hatred.
Azealia is setting a terrible example to her followers.
Twitter guidelines specify that making threats ‘on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease’ will not be tolerated. So I am pleased Twitter has taken action and suspended her account to make it clear that such behaviour is inappropriate.
I am pleased too that the Rinse FM Born & Bred festival decided to remove Azealia from the line-up in response to the Twitter storm she generated. The festival emphasised that they are about ‘inclusivity and equality’.
These are values Azealia clearly does not represent. Although now deleted, she responded with a defiant tweet to the news she had been dropped, saying she would be paid for the cancelled performance anyway. Azealia seems not to care about the fans who pay to watch her or buy her music.
I find it disgusting that Azealia is using racist and homophobic language. But it is heartening she has been challenged on this, as the Twitter backlash demonstrates.
Her racism and homophobia has not gone unnoticed and may well represent career suicide in the long term.