Kanye West is no stranger to controversy. In fact, the rapper appears to thrive on it — especially since he married the always polarizing Kim Kardashian. Now he’s under fire for lyrics in one of his songs — the same song he’s expected to perform with Rihanna and Paul McCartney at the upcoming Grammys. The Irish Mirror reports that his rap in Four Five Seconds contains a lyric that has a multiple sclerosis charity upset.
“Then I heard you was talkin’ trash, hold me back I’m bout to spaz.”
That song lyric doesn’t seem like much at first — at least, not to many people. However, to the chief executive of Scope (a MS charity) the lyric is anything but harmless. Richard Hawkes feels that the line is offensive to disabled people. In particular, he’s offended by the word “spaz.”
“Kanye West is a huge star, listened to by millions of young people who might be influenced by his songs. It would be such a shame if the word became commonplace again.”
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition and usage of the word“spaz” has evolved since its original use — which was indeed an offensive term for someone who is “spastic,” which would describe someone who suffers from any number of disabilities. However, this original usage of the word originated in the 1960s.
Now, over a half-century later, the word is most often used to describe the loss of physical and emotional control, i.e., to “lose it.” This is a far different usage of the word from its 1960s definition, so is it still an offensive term if Kanye West is not referring to disabled people at all while using it in his song?
This isn’t the first time Kanye has attracted scrutiny regarding disabled people. Back in September of last year he reportedly told a wheelchair-bound concert goer to stand during his performance. This attracted numerous media reports, and even more satire stories that painted West in a negative light. Of course, he treated the backlash to that situation the same way he addresses all of it.
“I’m a married, Christian man with a family, pick another target.”
Do you think the song lyrics are offensive, or is the chief of the multiple sclerosis charity making a lot out of nothing? It’s not the first time he’s used a word that some people don’t like. He’s also used the word “retarded,” which some groups want to be referred to as “the r-word.”
[Photo credit: Huffington Post]