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James Arthur, in case the name rings a bell but you’re not sure, is some guy from Middlesborough who won X Factor once after years of struggling as an unsigned singer in America and, as this story suggests, a rapper from Croydon.

His claim to fame is winning X Factor, which you may well call a jumped-up karaoke competition for the sole benefit of the largest record companies, but… well, I agree, actually. He’s the one with the feminine features and the sort of blonde/ginger hair. I don’t really care about that, though. There are too many famous people as it is. What interests me is Arthur’s claim to infamy, which that’s his “you fucking queer” comment in his badly written foray into hip hop.

To give some background (and that’s all you’re getting from me, because this is an opinion piece and not a news article), a Croydon rapper called Mickey Worthless said something about Arthur being a corporate puppet on Twitter (if you hate Twitter, by the way, really, fasten your seatbelt; it plays a large part in the story). Thus Arthur, ever the level-headed, replied “I’d body you in a battle”. If you’re not familiar with the rap battle scene, “body” refers to “body bag”, as in what they’re figuratively going home in. Mickey took up the challenge and recorded a “diss track”, which is terminology I take issue with, since, who the fuck says “diss” any more? It’s 2013.

The track was called Stay In Your Lane and was fairly homophobic. The chorus revolves around James Arthur sucking Simon Cowell’s, Louis Walsh’s, and Gary Barlow’s glans penes (bellends, if you’re not a fan of exoteric terms). This is arguably just a common metaphor for being submissive towards someone, but that rhyme is followed up each time with things like “faggot”, so, really, that destroys that line of reasoning. You can hear the track on the Don’t Flop website.

Arthur replied with a diss (honestly, that word is my personal “moist”) of his own titled, Hey Mickey. The chorus goes:

Mickey, please stop making your music
It is not very good
Mickey, you’re a terrible rapper
You should give it up
Mickey, please stop making your music
No one wants to listen
Mickey, you’re a terrible rapper
You should shoot yourself

Yes, it’s awful. Awful. It’s sprinkled with stock rap phrases he’s no doubt heard from Tupac songs, such as “G”, “ain’t nobody gonna”, and “ey”, which are of course phrases that originated in Middlesborough used to highlight how loyally he remembers his roots. There are one or two good lines (no cocaine jokes please), which only really serve to show his ego rather than attack anyone: “why would I drop to your Mickey Mouse league when I’m a champion?” That’s a good line because the subject of the song is called Micky. Everything else I have to say about it is in these veins, so I’m sure I don’t really need to go further into it. Arthur removed the song after Matt Lucas took issue with it and said so on Twitter, but the celebrated scholar IShagged Your Mom has since uploaded it to YouTube.

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What happened after that then? Uproar. BAFTA-Award-winning comedian and beacon of hope for depressed people, Limmy uploaded a clip of the song containing the line, “you probably want to stick your fucking sticky dick in me, you fucking queer”.

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Arthur apologised in an oddly insincere-feeling set of Twitter posts (I’m not calling them tweets) that stated that he didn’t mean “queer” as a homophobic slur.

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A lot of his fans fell for it, and let him off because he was “deeply sorry” about it. One even said, “I love you even more” because he was big enough to apologise publicly. Arthur is famous enough, though, to have fans that follow him blindly.

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Compare One Direction fans that are known to send death threats to anyone even hinting that One Direction isn’t the best band in the world. They even have a similar collective name to “one-directioners”: JArmy. Presumably they’re called that because that’s all they wear when they go out to buy their Lambrini. This begets the reasoning, however, that it’s his responsibility to be a good role model.

Matt Lucas accepted Arthur’s initial apology, which was personally tailored to him in a fewer-than-140-character format, but the statement that came after, that which explains that “queer” wasn’t meant homophobically, wasn’t taken very seriously. That was mainly due to the phrase leading up to it. You, a man, probably want to stick your fucking sticky dick in me, also a man. You fucking queer. There was also some trouble with fellow X Factor person Lucy Spraggan, to which he responded appropriately, asking if she was a gay rights activist and resorting to ad hominem arguments.

Sorry

 

That follows, then, that his statement that he’s not homophobic in the slightest is… well, bullshit is a strong word, but it can easily be deduced as such. He also mentioned the context of him calling Micky Worthless a queer; in a rap battle, it’s fairly commonplace to imply that one’s opponent sucks penes for pleasure. I suppose the implication is partly that the opponent is subservient to somebody, although, of course, this is not speaking for anyone who wants to please their dick-wielding sexual partners and has any nouse. B. Dolan of Strange Famous Records fame actually set up a tour with the intent of highlighting homophobia in hip-hop called The Church of Love & Ruin, which included acts that identify or sympathise with the LGBTQ community (the Q stands for queer, oddly enough, but refers to people of non-binary gender).

Dolan’s set included a protest song called Which Side Are You On. The anthem of a campaign to help a transgender woman who was incarcerated in a men’s prison. One of the dates was in the Kazimier last year, and it was bloody brilliant. So if one act speaks out against injustice of that calibre and is readily recognised for it, does that not say something about hip-hop in general? Since rappers are only homophobes by intrinsicality, and anti-gay defamation is only for comic effect or to play on the opponent’s fears of being associated with homosexuality, should they be exonerated?

The Gay Times raised the point that Worthless should have been slated as much as Arthur has been for his behaviour, but it seems to me that any debate to the contrary is insanely conservative in nature, akin to complaining that you can’t ask for brown sauce in case an Indian person overhears, or akin to the case of Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands, where people traditionally black their faces to give out sweets, coming under fire.

So, is it up for debate?

It isn’t. In times where olympic teams are dressing in rainbows to protest Russian policies, not all that much, in the grand scale of things, is done to reduce inequality in our own lives. I’m not saying you should entirely change how you live, but, remember next time you tell your mate that your toast this morning was fucking gay because you burnt it that you sound like a fucking ten year old.