Pariah or Problematic? Azealia Banks vs. Lana Del Rey

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Not for the first time, the ‘212’ rapper Azealia Banks has found herself embroiled in a raging Twitter war. This time it was with ‘Video Games’ songstress Lana Del Rey. The feud started last week when Banks came out to criticize Del Rey’s response to an Instagram post by Kanye West that appeared to be endorsing Donald Trump.

Lana referred to West’s public support of the 45th President as ‘a loss for the culture’ and inferred that ignorance and misguided narcissism could be the only possible explanation for his supporting a President that has been accused of sexual assault by upwards of 20 women and policies that have targeted ethnic minorities like African-Americans.

Seeing this, Banks quickly decided it was necessary to involve herself in the debate for she called Del Rey out for using her white privilege to ‘pretend to be an ally’, denoted her stance as a racist cry for an attention, and a ‘vapid attempt to seem politically aware.’ According to Banks, Del Rey was only interested in standing up for victims of sexual assault at the hands of the President because they were white, a stance she claims is inconsistent given a collaboration she did earlier this year with A$AP Rocky. Rocky in 2013 was accused of violence against a female fan.

Days later, the two artists still hadn’t cooled down with Banks’ threatening to use her own special brand of voodoo to burn down Del Ray’s house, attacking her appearance, and even throwing the prospect of a lawsuit into the mix as well. Mature, right?

(L to R) Lana Del Rey, Pixie Geldof, Azealia Banks, Tinie Tempah, Leigh Lezark and Lou Lesage, the Mulberry Autumn/Winter 2012 runway show, London Fashion Week. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

Recently, Azealia Banks has become somewhat infamous for her internet antics. This is evidenced by this current fight being conducted from an unverified profile of Banks. Bank’s last two attempts at a Twitter account were blocked following racist and homophobic attacks she made at Zayn Malik and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Monet X Change in 2016 and 2018 respectively. But does Banks really deserve all the negative press she gets? Or is she simply exercising her right to free speech and falling victim to media exacerbation of an ‘angry black women’ stereotype?

“While it is true that giving hate speech different treatment to free speech can be a slippery slope towards suppression, someone in Banks’ position…should be making every effort to use their public profile for better and not for worse.”

https://twitter.com/SHOPCHEAPYXO/status/1054624762926956545

Unfortunately, given Banks’ history, it is very difficult to give her the benefit of the doubt on this front. While it is true that giving hate speech different treatment to free speech can be a slippery slope towards suppression, someone in Banks’ position (particularly as a black minority woman in America) should be making every effort to use their public profile for better and not for worse.

While it seems a shame that race should even be needing to come into the debate at all, it is Banks herself that repeatedly draws attention to it. She questions the ‘blackness’ of other artists – see her disputes with Beyoncé, Zayn Malik and Pharrell Williams for reference. She is public about her controversial use of skin-whitening treatment while simultaneously trying to use her identity as a minority woman as an excuse for her behaviour.

Her recent history means that Banks has undermined her credibility as an artist by making it a secondary profession to her job as a full-time keyboard warrior. While she could have used her platform as a famous black woman in America to advocate for and inspire a historically repressed minority, Banks’ short-temper has sadly achieved quite the opposite.

Isabel Ralphs

(Main Image Credited to: Brooklyn Vegan)