The Discourse

Cheating Boyfriends and Plagiarized Videos: The Lizzo Allegations Just Keep Coming

It’s been a mere week since news broke of Lizzo’s former dancers taking the “Truth Hurts” singer to court for alleged misconduct on tour, and the Lizzo truth bombs just keep coming.

Shortly after the lawsuit was made public, farmer and TikTok influencer Brooklyn Elizabeth Brown came to the app to share an unrelated story about her run-in with Lizzo some years ago. Brown tearfully explains that, while she was a huge Lizzo fan and felt she had to keep silent before the recent allegations broke, she’s now ready to tell the story of how her ex-boyfriend cheated on her—and eventually left her for—Lizzo. Brown’s boyfriend was co-hosting the MTV show “Wonderland” with Lizzo in 2018 when the affair began, and as far as Brown knows, they’re still together.

@brooklynelizabethbrown

As far as I know they are still together. I wish them peace and happiness.

♬ original sound – Brooklyn Elizabeth Brown

No sooner had Brown’s video blown up on the app than another creator broke her silence on her own dealings with the “Am I Ready?” singer.

Plus-sized singer and creator Elle Baez posted a video two days ago detailing her audition for Lizzo’s 2022 reality series “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.” But even though Baez made it to the final round and was ready to join the cast of the show, she couldn’t get past a few items on a contract sent to her by Lizzo’s team. The contract stipulated that not only were contestants supposed to essentially sign over their life stories to the show, they were also supposed to give up ownership for their own creative work. Naturally, none of that sat right with Baez, who thankfully has lawyers in her family who encouraged her to negotiate the contract.

These negotiations, however, proved too much for Lizzo’s team, and Baez was dropped. But something even worse happened…

In Baez’s two-part TikTok series, she explains, using compelling video evidence, how Lizzo and her team allegedly lifted Baez’s original concepts from several music videos Baez had used to audition for the reality show. And honestly, it looks like they didn’t even cover their tracks. Baez’s side-by-side comparisons of her work and Lizzo’s output leave very little room for doubt.

In an industry that famously thrives on plagiarism and stealing from less famous creators to build up others (see last year’s mini-controversy about Taylor Swift’s alleged theft of the “Anti-Hero” video concept from a queer Colombian creator) it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this kind of stuff is par for the course. Still, it’s giving fans a much different picture of who Lizzo is, and how she treats the people around her.

That said, there’s more to the story.

Leaving the very serious allegations of abuse and plagiarism aside, many creators are noticing more than a hint of bad faith in much of the Lizzo criticism coming out. While Lizzo’s teams treatment of her dancers absolutely crossed a line, there’s a difference between trying to hold the artist to account for poor labor practices and calling her out simply for being “mean.”

With so many takes around the Lizzo controversy seeming to hinge on a kind of gleeful fatphobia and misogynoir, it’s important to keep in mind that Lizzo doesn’t owe anyone good behavior or politeness. As many commenters have pointed out, to get to a certain level of fame, you generally have to put niceness aside and throw all your energy into making it.

The mounting Lizzo allegations pose a complex problem for fans: how much of the pile on is about genuinely wanting artists to treat their workers right and prioritizing original ideas, and how much of it comes from a need to gleefully tear down artists who don’t behave the way we expect them to?

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