Is Ariana Grande queerbaiting?

Pop star hints at bisexuality in new track, 'Monopoly'

The Diamondback

Ariana Grande didn't have to come out as queer, but I'm glad she (kind of) did

Ariana Grande and her best friend Victoria Monét just released “Monopoly,” a fiery pop-rap anthem about success and strong friendships. It echoes the sentiments of “7 rings” — which was released earlier this year and is currently in its ninth week on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — but holds a key difference.

One simple line in the song’s post-chorus alludes to identifying as queer: “I like women and men (yeah).”

It seems silly when I type it out, but the lyric feels iconic for me as a longtime Ariana stan. It’s simple and light — much like I think the coming out process should be — and it doesn’t glue a label to the young, evolving artists who are still clearly coming into their own.

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Is Ariana Grande "queer-baiting" in her new track 'Monopoly'?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Ariana Grande has teamed up with Victoria Monét on the song 'Monopoly', released at the start of the month.

The new track contains the lyric “I like women and men”, sang by both artists - first by Monét, who is openly bisexual, and then repeated by Grande.

The pop star has been accused of "queer-baiting", hinting at her sexuality in order to attract an LGBT audience.

However, she has been praised for singing the "empowering" lyric.

The Claim

Grande "stands accused of manipulating her gay fans" by suggesting in one of her songs that she may be bisexual, the BBC reports. They examine whether the pop star is exploiting the LGBT community, or that it is actually a sign of progress.

Julia Himberg, professor of film and media studies at Arizona State University, explains that queer-baiting is "nothing new", but its implications are more powerful than ever.

She said: "This is about also targeting multiple audience demographics where you're not offending a conservative audience and you're also signalling to an LGBTQ audience that you want them as well."

Himberg, who is also the author of 'The New Gay for Pay: The Sexual Politics of American Television Production', told the BBC that LGBT identities are used for marketing - and it is offensive when someone plays with it.

She said: "Our identities have been used over and over again in popular culture to establish an edgy identity.

"There's this sense of - don't tease us, don't use us. It can easily feel like a cheap marketing tool."

Himberg adds that there is a concern that gay culture is being commodified to sell records.

The Counterclaim

However, the Diamondback's Allison O'Reilly argues that the lyrics in the song are "empowering". She says that Grande did not have to come out as queer, but she is glad that the singer (kind of) did.

She argues: "The simplicity of it all is what makes “Monopoly” and the “I like women and men” line feel so genuine — as if the two ladies were having a casual heart-to-heart and decided to take their feelings to the studio.

"It wasn’t some big production priming Ariana to gain even more clout in the gay community."

O'Reilly adds: “I like women and men” isn’t a revolutionary line, and it’s not trying to be, but it’s still empowering.

"It feels good to hear someone express in no uncertain terms that discovering your sexuality doesn’t require you to toil over what it means."

The Facts

The concept of queer-baiting is usually applied to the mediums of film, television, and music when characters and artists hint at their sexuality.

The ambiguity is used to appeal to an LGBT audience, whilst not alienating the heterosexual audience.

Out, queer characters are a minority in films and TV. According to GLAAD’s Where We Are On TV Report, which examined the television season between 2017 and 2018, they found that out of 901 main characters, 58 (6.4 per cent) identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or queer.

The Independent explains that queer-baiting can be harmful because "queer representation is not widely portrayed in the media".

They argue: "While some shows are embracing LGBTQ+ characters and audiences, others are still choosing to remain in the middle by just hinting at the presence of queerness so as to not alienate their main audience.

"Queer-baiting refrains from embracing the minority while using queerness as a way to get more viewers and money."

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