An announced lawsuit against singer Lizzo has the press behaving in an uncharacteristically well-behaved fashion.
Last week some jarring news was announced when a number of former performers for the pop singer Lizzo filed a lawsuit against the celebrity and her management. According to reports, three former backup dancers were suing over sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. The details included claims of racial intolerance and body-shaming experiences – some rather surprising claims as this involves a notable POC performer who is demonstrably corpulent herself.
The dancers are accusing the star and her handlers of abusive behavior, and some salacious details are involved, but the amusing aspect here is seeing the rather reserved approach to things by the widespread media complex. While news outlets have been diligent in reporting on the suit and providing the details, there is one deeply familiar element missing in almost all of the reports. Absent is any level of lecturing; there are no long-winded passages about where we are as a country nor exploratory features about “what it all means.”
Instead, we have been treated to mostly level-headed approaches without presumptions being made and with all of the correct language used, such as “allegedly,” “suspected of,” and “claimed to have done…” This is the press operating in a controlled and professional manner, for the most part. Which is really strange.
But there is a very valid reason we are seeing these proper, even applause-worthy reports; it is because those on both sides of the suit are from protected categories, and thus no harsh lectures can be properly delivered. Usually, sexual harassment charges are met with outrage from the media, but with females involved on both sides, the “believe all women” mantra instead delivers a true paradox. Likewise, the claims of racial harassment since the plaintiffs and the defendants are POC individuals. Normally this would be an automatic outrage generator in the press; consider the hyperactive think pieces if this were, as an example, Taylor Swift being sued by black backup dancers.
Even the body-shaming accusations carry their share of challenges, given that Lizzo has long been heralded as a performer who is bringing body positivity and dignity to the arena of plus-sized performers. She has been defended in the press over the perception of being overweight. This development that others in her orbit may have been on the receiving end of that very kind of image-based scorn leaves many a journalist scratching their cranium to come up with appropriate approaches to this component.
All of this balanced demographic content in the lawsuit has brought about a very subdued reaction in the press. One could not even tabulate all of the checkboxes filled in on either half of this case to come up with a more aggrieved side. What is a reporter/pundit to do when faced with a lawsuit involving sexual harassment, racial aggression, and body-shaming, but not being able to lash out with social hectoring in an acceptable fashion?! They are reduced to plain old professional reporting.
One can almost hear the groans of disappointment in newsrooms when faced with the reality that in taking up the mantle of an oppressed people, they would end up attacking the very same type of individuals. It is highly amusing to look over the reports of this lawsuit and come across none of the expected high-minded proclamations of workplace intolerance or systemic harassment.
This case is a wonderful way of exposing how the press normally looks at these instances. While avoiding true declarations of guilt, the assumed innocence is usually dispatched as the weight of the accusations is said to be sufficient. We usually get treated to thinly veiled language along the lines of, “If true, this would serve as yet another example of…” and then the writer feels free to expound on the inequities involved in the case. It is a craven little dodge, but it has become the accepted approach in the press.
So here we have an alignment of individuals that precludes the use of these practices. As a result, we are granted some rather proper and professional reporting. The pathetic aspect is that it requires some unsavory activity seen from the members of the protected classes on one side or the other in order to have the press behaving in a manner that is finally professionally acceptable.