Beyoncé’s Renaissance is shaping up to be one of the most beloved albums of the year, but some fans were left heartbroken after hearing one lyric on “Heated.” On the track, Beyoncé, 40, sang: “Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass.” After disability advocates called out the use of the term as being ableist, Beyoncé’s team told Variety that the lyrics will be changed. “The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” Bey’s camp said in a statement.
The term originates from the medical “spastic,” which refers to a disability that makes it difficult for an individual to control their muscles, specifically in the arms and legs. The term carries more weight overseas in England, and that’s why The Guardian writer Hannah Diviney said that their heart “sank” after hearing the “ableist slur” on the song. “Beyoncé’s commitment to storytelling musically and visually is unparalleled, as is her power to have the world paying attention to the narratives, struggles and nuanced lived experience of being a black woman – a world I can only ever understand as an ally, and have no desire to overshadow,” wrote Diviney. “But that doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language.”
Diviney was the commentator who called out Lizzo over using the same slur on “GRRLS,” a song off her new album, Special. “Hey @lizzo, my disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad. ‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better,” tweeted Diviney. Lizzo responded by saying she would remove the term.
“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song,” Lizzo said in a statement. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me, so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or, in my case, unintentionally). I’m proud to say there’s a new version of ‘GRRRLS’ with a lyric change. This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist, I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”