‘The Acolyte’ Star Releases Song Firing Back at Fan Backlash

By Chanak Maduranga

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‘The Acolyte’ Star Releases Song Firing Back at Fan Backlash
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In what’s likely an industry first, a TV show’s star has written and released a song and music video — complete with dance moves — in response to racist backlash against the show.

Disney+’s The Acolyte actress Amandla Stenberg posted the track on Instagram on Wednesday and captioned the post: “Happy Juneteenth 🖤. And to those who are flooding me with intolerable racism — since it took me 72 hours on my laptop to make this song and video, u got 72 hours to respond. and I expect choreo!”

Before we get to the song’s lyrics, here’s some context for those who haven’t been following The Acolyte uproar: The latest Disney+ show is from Leslye Headland, the first openly queer person to helm a live-action Star Wars project. The show stars Stenberg in a dual lead role as identical twins Osha and Mae Aniseya in a story set 100 years before The Phantom Menace. The project earned positive reviews from critics out of the gate, with an 85 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. Since its June 4 release, however, there have been allegations of review bombing, as its audience score has plummeted to only 14 percent — lower than the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.

There has been some earnest debate among fans over things like canon consistency issues, but last week, the show’s backlash reached an intense level after the third episode introduced a coven of characters that have been described (wrongly, says Headland) as “lesbian space witches.” There was also uproar over Headland giving a playful answer to a junket question where a reporter asked whether The Acolyte was “the gayest Star Wars.” In addition, a 2018 quote from Stenberg regarding her film The Hate U Give has been taken inaccurately out of context. Stenberg told The Daily Show host Trevor Noah that “white people crying actually was the goal” of the film, but the quote has been mischaracterized in some conservative circles as if Stenberg was talking about The Acolyte.

Stenberg’s song lyrics directly address the “white people crying” quote (and also, for that matter, media outlets which have tried to capitalize on the debate in shallow ways).

Sang Stenberg: “I’m going viral on Twitter again / open up the news to find some interesting things / 20 million views / interview from 2018 / with Trevor the king when I was a teen / I was running from city to city to speak on a story / you know the one: police murdering a black boy / my people cried in theaters finding release / white people cried they could see us as human beings / Trevor ask what I want the people to know / I say white people crying was the goal / If they could take one thing what would it be? / I say empathy / ooooo that’s why they mad at me? / they splice lines make hate they recognize / make it look like the same propaganda they spew / cuz they conflate our pain with violence / and try to weaponize everything that we do / the desperation of oppressors is rising / and now they holding onto any of thing they can use / If you rely upon misinformation / that tells me you’re afraid of the truth.”

And then a chorus: “We so bored don’t fuck with yo discourse.”

New verse: “And now you listening imma tell you something fascinating / they spinning WOKE bastardize it and appropriate it / last I recall WOKE was something we created / speak truth to power / keep an eye out for you silly racists / and now they use it to describe anything they threatened by / remember when Gambino put it in the zeitgeist? / it was all about the people recognizing bigotry / the power of community / not fodder for your clickbait / speaking of which journalists I’m looking at you / did you forget it’s your job to provide the truth? / spreading divisiveness mining the metrics and date / seem you gave up all your ethics for money and views / and I can tell that the people are tired / and the kids don’t trust anything that they view / we can learn something from their discernment / the future’s coming and it’s always the youth.”

And then: “My sis said don’t let it get down my spirit / but i’m sick and fuckin tried of suppressing my rage / 400 years of taking their bullshit / to compartmentalize like my ancestors had to encage / if you don’t confront the pain that you live with / it’ll manifest as addiction disease and hate / i’ve seen the infection repressing can give ya / I’m not goin to be the next one sent to an early grave.”

Headland also addressed some of the reaction (in a more traditional manner) in a Hollywood Reporter interview this week.

“Honestly, I feel sad that people would think that if something were gay, that that would be bad,” Headland said. “It makes me feel sad that a bunch of people on the internet would somehow dismantle what I consider to be the most important piece of art that I’ve ever made.”

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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