The Mercury News
Did Lizzo wake up Tuesday morning with “irrepressible thoughts of death?” Was the singer also beset by feelings of “panic” and of being “scared?”
These are some the lyrics of the “Bad Day” version of “Pink,” Lizzo’s otherwise catchy, upbeat song for the movie “Barbie.” The song accompanies Barbie as she wakes up in her “own pink world” and starts yet another “great day.” But on one particular day, Barbie realizes that her perfect life is no longer so perfect, and her existential crisis begins.
Lizzo released the “Bad Day” version of “Pink” over the weekend, and it could provide accompaniment for any dread she felt just before her own life took a sudden and shocking turn on Tuesday. That’s when three former backup singers filed a lawsuit against her, alleging that she subjected them to a hostile workplace, sexual harassment, weight-shaming and other indignities. Within hours, the explosive allegations began doing damage to Lizzo’s image as an icon of female empowerment, inclusivity and body positivity — messages that Greta Gerwig’s female-centric blockbuster film also tries to convey.
“Ooh, ooh, girl, you OK?” Lizzo asks Barbie at the end of the “Bad Day” version of the song.
No, Lizzo isn’t doing OK. In denying the allegations in a statement released Thursday, the singer acknowledged that the “last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals, and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized.”
Lizzo also said that the “false” and “sensationalized stories” are coming from former employees “who have already publicly admitted they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.” Lizzo continued: “There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body-shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight.”
Lizzo insisted that she does not regard herself as a “victim” and will not let “the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this.”
But the overshadowing is happening. Within hours after news of the lawsuit broke, three more women who worked for Lizzo came forward to say they also had witnessed or experienced mistreatment. They include an an Oscar-nominated filmmaker hired to shoot documentary about the singer. Filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison accused Lizzo of “abuse of power” and said that she left the project after two weeks because she “was treated with such disrespect” and “witnessed how self-centered, arrogant and unkind she is.”
In a further sign that Lizzo’s “dethroning has been swift,” Vanity Fair and other outlets highlighted Beyoncé’s apparent decision to leave Lizzo’s name out of her “Break My Soul” remix, as the star chanted the names of other prominent female performers while performing Tuesday night in Foxborough, Massachusetts. A report by the site KingCasinoBonus also said that Lizzo has lost more than 123,000 Instagram followers since the lawsuit was filed.
Ron Zambrano, the Los Angeles-based attorney representing plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, hit back at Lizzo’s statement and echoed the view that her brand has been seriously hurt. But he said the damage is self-inflicted.
“Lizzo has failed her own brand and has let down her fans,” Zambrano said in a statement shared with this news organization. “Her denial of this reprehensible behavior only adds to our clients’ emotional distress. The dismissive comments and utter lack of empathy are quite telling about her character and only serve to minimize the trauma she has caused the plaintiffs and other employees who have now come forward sharing their own negative experiences.”
Lizzo’s fans have been left reeling, not sure what to believe. In response to her statement, one person, who claimed to be a former employee, said the singer “created one of the most uplifting, fun, diverse shows I’ve ever been apart of.” But another person said that Lizzo’s statement shows a failure to take responsibility for the harmful workplace culture she created.
Others said that the allegations sounded “disgusting.” Among the more disturbing claims, the suit alleged that Lizzo pressured one of the dancers to touch the breasts of a nude performer at an Amsterdam club they visited in February and encouraged all to touch or eat items handled by the club’s performers in an intimate way. The suit furthermore alleged that the singer, known for celebrating her own plus-size physique, called attention to one dancer’s weight gain, while her devoutly Christian dance captain critiqued those who had premarital sex and and publicly discussed the virginity of one of the plaintiffs.
“Please cancel her. She is trivializing sexual harassment,” someone else said. But another person had a different view, blasting “the media and the haters” for seizing on what, at this point, are just “allegations,” when there could be a more “nuanced” explanation for what happened. “The racism and fatphobia (are) coming out big time,” the person said.
It remains to be seen if the allegations against Lizzo will affect people’s perceptions of “Pink” or on the singer being part of “Barbie’s” success as a pop culture phenomenon. Prior to news of the lawsuit breaking, fans of Lizzo and of “Barbie,” said that “Pink” should be “the song of the summer” in the comments section of the track’s release on YouTube. They also said they could relate to the “Bad Day” version, with one proclaiming “irrepressible thoughts of death have never felt so cool.” Others said Lizzo “slayed” with her lines; “P, panic/I, I’m scared/N, nauseous/K, death!”
But now, fans also are thinking: “Bet that’s how Lizzo is feeling right now.”
©#YR@ MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at mercurynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.