Opinion: How Much Will Azealia Banks’ Use of the “F-Word” Cost Her?

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By: / January 9, 2013

Azealia Banks’ Twitter spat this weekend with Perez Hilton—who jumped in between an ongoing battle between Azealia and rapper Angel Haze—has turned ugly and may cost the her a whole lot. Over the weekend, the former VIBE cover girl tweeted a homophobic slur against the celebrity blogger during their heated exchange: “lol what a messy f—-t you are,” shot Azealia at the openly-gay Hilton and although she tried to subsequently clarify that she used the F-word in a non-threatening manner, stating “A f—-t is not a homosexual male. A f—-t is any male who acts like a female. There’s a BIG difference,” the damage was already done.

Perez and many fans quickly harangued Azealia for promoting hate and intolerance. “When a black person hurls the F word as an insult to a gay man that’s not hate speech? But if a white person did the same with the N word?” tweeted Perez, drawing the apt parallel between racism and homophobia. GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) even chimed in and chastised Azealia for using the incendiary term that has often been used in violent acts against the LGBT community. “‘Fa**ot’ is an ugly, archaic word that was used to stigmatize a population of people who suffer high rates of violence both here in the U.S. and abroad. As far as we’ve come in this society, seeing it used by an artist many young people may look up to is painful, but even more so for those young fans, many of whom GLAAD has heard from,” said Matt Kane, Associate Director of Entertainment Media at GLAAD, in an official press release.

The famously foul-mouthed spitter doesn’t seem too remorseful. “Glaad and all these others need to give it a break… Picking and choosing when to be offended….. Pfffft, as fucking if,” she nonchalantly shared. “It’s just all so hypocritical. And while I DO feel bad for using the word…. It’s kind of weird/ironic to see it all play itself out.”

Azealia has always leveraged her reputation for being brash and fiery to her advantage but this particular tweet may have gone too far. Forget the obvious issue that she is a role model and words, even when used in some bastardized context can hurt and propagate violence. With one blow, the burgeoning rapper has literally ripped off the hand that feeds her. Azealia is beloved by many in the LGBT community, perhaps more so than any other singular fan base, and this may very well alienate fans that she needs to establish her career. Azealia, though she seems ubiquitous, still hasn’t officially put out a studio album and it’s too early to decimate followers that she may not even have. Furthermore, there may be a monetary price to pay as the stunner has garnered cosigns and major checks from several fashion brands (An industry that typically embraces a variety of sexual orientations). What will designers like Alexander Wang or Karl Lagerfeld, who once backed the rapper, say now? Will high-fashion brands want to align themselves with her or do they see her as a liability that cuts into their bottom line? Designer John Galliano’s anti-semitic and racist rhetoric in 2011 got him fired from his post at Dior, so it’s not outrageous that Azealia may be handed a similar fate.

Perhaps the most perplexing part of this whole snafu is the oft-forgotten fact that Azealia herself has publicly classified herself as bisexual. Her lyrics in “212” openly talk about having a same-sex fling (“Now she wanna lick my plum in the evening/And fit that ton-tongue d-deep in/I guess that cunt getting eaten”). In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, the rapper was asked if she felt any special affection for her gay fans. “Definitely. I mean, I’m bisexual, so it makes sense,” she reportedly said. Ignorance is one thing, but to knowingly use a slur against your own minority group is downright unbelievable.

Self-denial? Short-term amnesia? Or maybe simply not giving a fuck? Hip-hop is about keeping it real and right now, it’s hard to tell who the real Azealia Banks is.

These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of VIBE Media