Homophobic slurs carry different weight, depending on whom they come from. And sometimes the weight is determined by whom it was directed at as well as the implied intention. It’s complicated!
American rapper Azealia Banks recently added to this confusion. She’s no stranger to internet feuds, having kicked up dirt with fellow rappers Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj and Angel Haze, the latter of which sparked a recent brawl between her and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. That is where the “whom it was directed at” factor comes in (I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers when Hilton got clocked in the face by Will.I.Am’s manager, and as he screamed “homophobia,” we all went “meh”).
It’s tough to tell how the fight started, as many of the relevant tweets were quickly deleted, but the controversial thread went as follows:
Those two words set people off. In addition to Hilton, the Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, a former collaborator with Banks, also took to Twitter to protest her word choice.
Many gay men, including me, are not above using the term “messy faggot” to describe Perez Hilton. However, the bisexual rapper’s remark may have carried more weight because her musical genre is notoriously homophobic. She explained that she did not mean “faggot” as a derogatory term for gay men:
Adding fuel to the fire, Banks also tweeted that Perez should kill himself.
Seemingly backtracking on the blowup, Banks has since released an official apology: “my most sincere apologies to anyone who was indirectly offended by my foul language.”
But she maintains that what she said was not intended to be offensive to anyone other than Hilton himself. However, the rumour mill is still reporting that Banks has been dropped from Interscope Records over the comment. Was she at fault? Did you take offence? Let us know in the comments section, and take a look at Banks’s video for “212
,” a song that made her forthcoming debut the most anticipated of 2013. — Chris Howson