Remember when you were young? Your skin was probably going through something major and, to be quite honest, you were very likely problematic as all hell. Thankfully, most of us have moved past our problematic phase and straight into our financial struggle phase. But what if every stupid thing you tweeted, facebooked, or wrote in your myspace bio came back to haunt you?
At the moment, we seem to be wedged at a crossroad where many of us have adopted progressive ideas and beliefs, but our social media profiles still hold record of problematic things we may have said or done.
Rising star Halsey is the perfect example of this. The New Jersey native has spoken openly about her sexuality, her support of LGBTQ issues and has gone out of her way to make sure her videos represent more than just normative standards of beauty and sex. At 20 years old, I'd say she is well on her way to being the least problematic pop star we have. And yet, people have still managed to dig up things from her past.
The tweet has been deleted from Halsey's twitter account, but some intrepid soul has ventured back 6 years (to when Halsey was 14) in order to track down "receipts" of her being transphobic.
There is no denying it. Halsey's use of the slur is startling and upsetting at first glance. But if you think of all the things you said when you were 14 years old, does it make much sense to apply it to your character now?
.@matuychich I was quoting Cristian Siriano from Project Runway & at 14 had no idea it was a slur. I'm terribly sorry and I've learned since— HALSEY (@halsey) August 29, 2015
Halsey is right to address the accusations but anyone reaching to label her as "transphobic" has completely missed the point of the maturity and education that comes with age.
You simply cannot hold someone accountable for something they said over half a decade ago when they were literally a child. BREAKING NEWS: kids say stupid shit.
The same thing goes for Paramore front woman, Hayley Williams. When she was confronted with charges that she was a "bad feminist" because of the lyrics: "once a whore, you're nothing more, I'm sorry that will never change", she responded thusly.
Misery Business' is not a set of lyrics that I relate to as a 26 year old woman. I haven't related to it in a very long time. Those words were written when i was 17… admittedly, from a very narrow-minded perspective. It wasn't really meant to be this big philosophical statement about anything. It was quite literally a page in my diary about a singular moment I experienced as a high schooler.Hayley Williams
It feels like a reach when you try to apply these lyrics to and platitudes to adult women who are doing great things for feminism and issues they may not have fully understood as teenagers. Because stardom comes to people younger and younger, these things are certainly having knock on effects on their adult lives--sometimes in some pretty damaging ways.
Rapper, Tyler the Creator's latest drama is an intriguing one. Aged just 17, he put out his first album in 2009. Two years later (still not even 20 years old) Tyler released Goblin, a record that would be responsible for really setting his career in motion. On that album, Tyler raps some of the most unsettling, violent, and homophobic lyrics imaginable.
He spent the few years after that getting into medium sized trouble and learning to control his online persona. Now, at 23, the novelty has worn off on the vitriol of Tyler's former lyrical inclinations and even he admits that his new music is nothing like Goblin.
But the rapper has been told he cannot enter the UK due to lyrics he wrote when he was underage. Can we really justify punishing someone six years after a phase they went through as a teenager? It's all a bit of a reach.
Social activism is important because it helps create new standards of how we speak to each other, treat each other, and identify with one another. It's key that we confront people when they have been unfair or exhibited behaviour that is problematic or hurtful. It is not productive, however, when we go after people who have now exhibited changed behaviour and become important allies. We shoot ourselves in the foot when we go after receipts from six, ten, or even 15 years ago that prove to be nothing more than flippant remarks from children.
Maybe it's time to stop hunting for these old receipts and bring us the new ones.