Here’s Why Doja Cat Was “Cancelled” Over the Weekend
There's *a lot* to unpack
If you checked Twitter this weekend, chances are you noticed that someone was being cancelled—and no, it wasn’t Lana del Rey (this time, at least). It was Doja Cat. On May 22, videos of the singer interacting with people in racist, incel chatrooms emerged on social media. This news not only prompted people to be royally pissed off, but to recall earlier instances of racism involving Doja Cat, like her 2015 song “Dindu Nuffin.” Pretty soon #DojaCatIsOverParty started trending on Twitter, with the singer finally issuing an apology on May 24.
For the record, “cancelling” a person—as in, culturally blocking someone from having a prominent public platform or career or contributing anything to society after a misstep—can be pretty toxic. Not only does it disallow people from engaging in discussion and learning or growing from their mistakes, but it also firmly places people in a dichotomy of “good” and “bad,” without any room for nuance, or taking into account that people aren’t defined by one mistake. That said, people are pretty rightfully upset with Doja Cat. Here’s why.
First of all, who is Doja Cat?
For those who may not know the name Doja Cat, you’ll definitely recognize some of her most famous songs, especially if you’re on TikTok. The American singer and rapper, whose real name is Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini, is well known for songs like “Say So” which has become super popular partly in thanks to the app, with users across the world making choreographed dances to the song.
While Doja Cat has been in the music scene for awhile, becoming well-known for her quirky aesthetic online, the singer really gained mainstream notoriety and success in starting in 2018, when her song and video “Mooo!” went viral on YouTube.
Since “Mooo!” the singer has released a commercially successful album, Hot Pink, had songs featured on major movie soundtracks, like the February 2020 Birds of Prey soundtrack, performed on several late-night TV shows and collaborated with *big* artists like The Weeknd and Nicki Minaj. Oh, and she was also low-key dragged by singer Lana del Rey. So she has *a lot* going on right now.
Why did the #DojaCatIsOverParty start on Twitter?
And it’s Doja Cat’s success and rise that makes her recent behaviour even more upsetting, because TBQH, you never want to knock a woman down when she’s succeeding in *any* industry, but especially the music industry, where stats show that it’s still incredibly hard for women—and especially women of colour—to succeed.
But, there are some things that just can’t be overlooked…and chatting it up online with incels is one of them.
On May 22, #DojaCatIsOverParty started trending after video clips of the singer participating in what many online are calling “racist incel chat rooms” emerged.
According to The Daily Dot, the singer was socializing in a TinyWebs chatroom with people known to make racist remarks. Several social media users say there are clips showing Doja Cat in these chats, laughing along to racist remarks and saying that she wishes she wasn’t Black. (The singer is half South African. Her father Dumisani Dlamini is a South African actor and producer.)
ICYMI, incels (or involuntary celibates) is a term used to describe “disaffected, young white males who often [vent] their frustrations on online forums,” according to Maclean’s. As University of Toronto Sociology professor Judith Taylor told CityNews in April 2018, incels use the internet “as a mechanism for talking about their resentment and hatred. Their resentment against socially successful men, their resentment against women who were withholding sex…” Typically, Taylor continued, the terms applies to white man between the ages of 19 and 30. “This is a population that is anticipating a particular kind of social standing that real life isn’t offering them and they are looking for things to blame. These are also young men that have felt themselves victims of bullying and who haven’t reached the kind of success or popularity that they had hoped for.” And often, they take it out on women.
In short: It’s not a great crowd for Doja Cat to be involved with.
And all we have to say, in the now iconic (and, as of late, much debated and re-contextualized) words of Tyra Banks, is:
And what’s this about a controversial Doja Cat song?
As if conversing with potentially racist incels wasn’t enough, people also took this bad behaviour by Doja Cat as an opportunity to bring up another instance of racism from the singer. Many people online pointed out the performer’s 2015 song called “Dindu Nuffin,” which, to some, may sound innocuous—but it’s anything but. According to The Source, “Dindu Nuffin” plays on racist themes and mocks victims of police brutality. Specifically, the phrase is a stylized pronunciation of “didn’t do nothing.” As writer and activist Feminista Jones shared on Twitter, “Dindu Nuffin” is a phrase used by people in alt-right spaces to describe Black victims of police brutality, derived from their assertion that when caught, Black people say “I didn’t no nothing.”
“Dindu” or “Dindu Nuffin” is a racist slur short for “didn’t do nothing”, which white racists use to describe Black criminals. It derived from their assertion that when caught, Black people always say “I didn’t do nothing”.
— Feminista Jones™️ (@FeministaJones) May 22, 2020
And, as many people online pointed out, “Dindu Nuffin” isn’t your a well-known racist phrase (of which there are, unfortunately, many), but rather something that only people deep in the subculture—or who had looked deep into the subculture—would know.
And dindu nuffin is a DEEP cut of racism. You gotta dig deep in the depths of #father #husband #patriot twitter to reach dindu nuffin territory. Like if they dropped a Now That's What I Call Racism Vol 34 album you'd have to fast forward for 3:34 after the last track to get to it
— America is musty (@DragonflyJonez) May 25, 2020
Which is very clearly *not* a good look for Doja Cat.
Is this the first time Doja Cat has been cancelled?
While in theory the goal of cancelling an artist is decrease the public’s support of them, that’s not necessarily always the case—especially for white men in positions of power who, when accused of things like sexual misconduct, often take some time away from the spotlight only to re-emerge later with, say, a sold-out comedy show like Louis C.K.. It turns out this isn’t the first time Doja Cat has been cancelled in her fairly short career either.
so ya telling me ya finna UNCANCEL this woman who didn’t apologize or address shit… until she explain her self she’ll remain cancel to me💅🏽 #WeAreSorryDojacat #dojacatisoverparty pic.twitter.com/gc1UDhlPBP
— ƚɿɘV iƹU |i⅃ (@momsversace) May 24, 2020
In August 2018, social media users online unearthed a problematic tweet from 2015 in which Doja Cat used a derogatory slur against artists Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt.
The singer would have been a teenager when the tweets were written (which, of course, does not condone it at all). In response to the tweets—and fans’ dismay over them, with calls to cancel the singer as she was really getting her start—Doja Cat pretty much doubled down on her sentiment. Per The Ringer, the singer first deleted the slur-ridden tweet, then issued a Notes app apology (which she then deleted), before deleting all of her tweets except one announcing her 2018 tour. At the time, Doja Cat also tweeted out: “I called a couple people faggots when I was in high school in 2015 does this mean I don’t deserve support? I’ve said faggot like roughly 15 thousand times in my life. Does saying faggot mean you hate gay people? Do I hate gay people. I don’t think I hate gay people. Gay is ok.”
Which honestly isn’t much of an apology…
Has Doja Cat apologized for her latest misstep?
On May 24, after a weekend of criticism, Doja Cat took to Instagram to issue an apology of sorts, sharing a typed message. While the performer says that she’s used public chat rooms to socialize since she was a child, “I shouldn’t have been on some of those chat room sites,” the singer wrote. “But I personally have never been involved in any racist conversations. I’m sorry to everyone that I offended,” she continued.
The singer then went on to say that she is a Black woman and she’s proud of where she came from. Addressing the “Dindu Nuffin” controversy as well, Doja Cat wrote: “As for this old song that’s resurfaced, it was in no way tied to anything outside of my own personal experience. It was written in response to people who often used that term to hurt me. I made an attempt to flip its meaning, but recognize that it was a bad decision to use the term in my music.”
“I understand my influence and impact and I’m taking this all very seriously,” the singer continued. “I love you all and I’m sorry for upsetting or hurting any of you. That’s not my character and I’m determined to show that to everybody moving forward.”
While it’s great that the singer did apologize, fans weren’t exactly thrilled, especially at her comments regarding these actions being not within her character. While it might be easier to separate herself from her past homophobic slurs (with the passage of time and the excuse of age or immaturity on her side), telling people that something you did literally a week ago isn’t within your character isn’t only a lie, it’s just factually incorrect.
Of course people will assume it’s within your character…you just did it! It takes *way* longer than a week to break a habit.
I would actually take Doja cat seriously if not for the fact that she was seen i this chat less than 6 days ago. U can’t change that fast my love so with no respect at all fuck off pic.twitter.com/btn3cGIAde
— yossy.o (@yossyol) May 25, 2020
And as music and culture writer Nicolas-Tyrell noted on Twitter, contrary to her statement that she hasn’t been involved in racist conversations in the chatrooms she likes to frequent, in a December 2019 Paper interview, the singer said that instead of leaving chatrooms where she was called horrible names, she often “joined in on the fun via her own ‘offensive’ rhetoric,” telling the magazine: “So I became the person who would make offensive jokes and do things sort of out of the box.”
Does Doja Cat not know that she did an interview with PAPER in December where she admitted to using “offensive langauge” in order to fit in in those explicitly ignorant chat rooms on tiny chat? Unless the interviewer is misquoting her on PAPER, she’s lying in her apology
— Nicolas-Tyrell Scott (@iamntyrell) May 25, 2020
Only time will tell if Doja Cat truly learns from her missteps and *actually* makes a meaningful change. But for now, the performer should stick to singing about “Cyber Sex” and probably refrain from engaging online with men who *hate* the opposite sex.