Iggy Azalea's Pittsburgh Pride Cancelation: Why She Had To Pull Out
The "Fancy" star bowed out of another performance, but had no better options.
Iggy Azalea's 2015 is going a little differently than her 2014, huh?
A week and a half after officially canceling her Great Escape tour, Azalea has scrapped another performance: a set at this weekend's Pittsburgh Pride, amid outcries from the city's LGBTIQA community over unsavory, years-old tweets from the hip-hop star.
On Monday night (June 8), Azalea announced that she had pulled out of Pittsburgh Pride, in an effort to avoid a situation where her presence would "further distract from the true purpose of the event." Azalea also apologized for the homophobic and racist tweets she wrote years prior to her "Fancy" days — social media posts that casually tossed around words like "homo" and "dyke" have long been sticking points for Azalea's critics, and the impetus for a recent petition to have Azalea removed from Pittsburgh Pride.
"I am a firm believer in equality. Unfortunately in the past as a young person, I used words I should not have," Azalea wrote on Monday. "The last thing I want is for something so carelessly said to be interpreted as reflective of my character. ... I meant no harm and deeply regret ever uttering those words."
So, Azalea is no longer playing Pittsburgh Pride. Let's examine the three key mistakes that were made leading up to Monday's decision:
1. Iggy Azalea should not have tweeted racist/homophobic things. I mean, duh. When the tweets were posted in 2011, Azalea wasn't exactly a household name, but she was an artist trying to make a name for herself and, you know, trying not to alienate potential fans. Were the dumb jokes really worth the risk?
2. Iggy Azalea should have apologized for these tweets a long, long time ago. When her offensive jokes were first unearthed in 2013, the rapper chose to defend her words instead of apologize, in a series of Twitter posts. "There was once a time when I could crack jokes, talk about tv shows or whos record i hate and whos i loved etc. on twitter. i cant do that now. in part because you guys would make life a nightmare and in part because it would just be unprofessional," she wrote. "But remember there was a time when my twitter was just for my friends and family to see. just like yours probably is now. anyhow - to me, i feel like what you guys are doing is really unfair. thats my opinion. right now in 2013."
If Azalea had said then what she is saying now — "I meant no harm and deeply regret ever uttering those words" — would her scheduled Pittsburgh Pride performance have drawn such a negative reaction when it was announced? Probably not. Instead, she let the situation simmer — and ultimately reach a boiling point.
3. Pittsburgh Pride should not have booked Iggy Azalea as a performer. Thanks to "Fancy," "Problem" and "Black Widow," Azalea had a huge year in 2014, and scoring a major star for a pride event is typically a major coup. However, some quick research would have pointed to the friction between Azalea and the LGBTQ community that made the backlash easy to foresee. Upon Monday's cancelation, Pittsburgh Pride sponsor the Delta Foundation also apologized: "We're sorry that our headliner choice caused a division within our community but we believe that change happens through conversation. We are meeting with key LGBT leaders to start a discussion that will make our collective community even stronger." (Representatives for the Delta Foundation and Azalea did not respond to Billboard's request for comment.)
The combination of these three mistakes formed another lose-lose professional situation for Iggy. If she had played Pittsburgh Pride without ever addressing her past comments, an audible chorus of boos during her show would have been a very real possibility. If she had hastily apologized for her past transgressions this week without scrapping her set, the controversy around the situation could have still turned her set into a "distraction" during the festivities, as she wrote.
And behind door number three: a late apology coupled with a canceled performance, which appeases the protestors but disappoints the Pride members that didn't object to her participation. This option also draws attention back to Azalea's recently canceled tour and continues an absolutely brutal PR run for 2014's breakout star, following a Papa John's beef, Grammys shutout, social media reprieve and Britney Spears collaboration that has so far failed to sniff the Top 10. Buckling to Internet protestors over a bunch of ancient tweets less than a week before a scheduled performance? Yikes. Azalea's other options weren't great either, but this one makes her appear overly vulnerable to criticism, during a professional period where she should be steadily silencing the haters.
Maybe that's what will happen when Azalea returns with new music; she explained that the Great Escape tour was canceled because she wanted to focus on her next album project, and that she needs "a break to figure out what I want my sound to progress to." Perhaps the follow-up to The New Classic will right the ship for the best new artist nominee and give Azalea the career win she sorely needs. Because of a series of errors, that victory was never going to happen in Pittsburgh.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.