Sending the Wrong Message

Naya Rivera, actress behind Glee’s Santana Lopez, one of the most high profile lesbian characters on TV, is dating in a very public fashion, the misogynistic, (homophobic) rapper, Big Sean.  (I can hear the groaning from here, but stick with me. This is important. Also please note, the focus here is Naya and how her actions are perceived and the much larger problem they represent.)

As is usually the case with an actor, especially actors who play LGBT characters, the actor behind favorite characters become just as special to the fans as the character themselves. Naya Rivera, because of Glee, has become one of these beloved actors, and she has, until now, returned the favor.

In interviews and the causes she supports, like GLAAD and the Trevor Project, has stated the importance of Santana’s role for the LGBT community and been incredibly supportive of the community.  As a matter of fact, Naya’s popularity and career exploded once Santana began her journey to come out and love Brittany on Glee.

Brittana

Naya’s role in Santana’s story has afforded her a passionate fan base, a large majority of whom are female, fierce LGBT allies, and LGBT people.  (Yes, she has many, many straight fans.)  Naya knows this. She has stated it many times, as recently as her appearance at the GLAAD awards this April, and she seemed appreciative of such a fan base.

But suddenly, Naya has attached herself to a rapper who personifies the homophobia and misogyny that her fans battle in their real lives, causing upset and confusion for a lot of her fans.  By dating Big Sean, her previous messages about female empowerment, equality and loving her female fans seems disingenuous. Many fans feel alienated.

For those of you not familiar with Big Sean, he is a rapper whose lyrics are on the more offensive side as far as rap lyrics go.  Here is an excerpt from one of his songs, which is dripping with misogyny and screams out the idea that women are sex objects for the gratification of men. (Rape culture). Not to mention, the lyrics are simply vile. (Warning, offensive.):

I walk up in this bitch/
Feelin like the fuckin’ man/
I might take yo bitch/
And make her fuck my mans/
I’m who to fuck, if you fuckin’ can/
Fuck this dick ho, fuck as you plan/
Fuck fuck fuck, you can fuck your friends/
Hold up, I got another “fuck you” again/
I’m a little off like a touch up/
While you gettin’ butt fucked/
Jacking off to two girl shittin in one cup/
I am with two girls, sippin on one cup/
VIP and I got one truck, and/
I got weed that’ll cough yo lungs up/
Forklift liftin’ my nuts up, because/
It’s going, to be, a very, big nut bust/

At about this point, some fans who feel celebrities can do no wrong (note: please remember celebrities are actually human), start screaming at each other that Naya can support who she wants, it’s her personal life, homophobia is just a belief (what!?), it’s just music and doesn’t mean anything, anybody who doesn’t support every decision Naya makes isn’t a fan, those who dislike Big Sean are racist, and it gets uglier and uglier.

But Naya’s actions here are indicative of a larger problem, the glossing over of beliefs that have dangerous, real life consequences.  Homophobia as a belief leads to bullying, real struggle, violence and suicides.  Misogyny contributes to the staggering statistic that 1 in every 3 women has been sexually assaulted or abused.  These aren’t just “beliefs” with no consequences simply because they show up in “just a song.”

Naya Rivera has stated she supports women empowerment and her large, primarily female and LGBT friendly fan base multiple times.  Here is an excerpt from an interview with LA Confidential.  She gave the interview in February:

LA Confidential

LA Confidential

Seemingly in the month of May alone, Naya has gone from supporting her fan base, female empowerment and the LGBT community to primarily promoting activities that involve Big Sean.  Big Sean was already offensive to a large majority of her fans (and women everywhere) before she even attached herself to him.  It might be easier to stomach if Naya kept that part of her life private, but she hasn’t.

Naya spends more time tweeting about Big Sean than promoting her own activities.  Though some of Naya’s own music is scheduled to come out in June and she is still allegedly involved as Santana on Glee this fall, all the publicity she has been doing recently has almost nothing to do with promoting her own exceptional talent.  Fans are becoming increasingly frustrated that her talent isn’t the focus of her PR activities, but the offensive rapper is.

For a fan base built in large part, in Naya’s own recognition, of “lovely ladies”, there is little to be gained by Naya promoting her relationship with Big Sean, especially  because according to interviews the genre of music she is creating is more pop in style, not rap.  As a matter of fact, she will lose fans that don’t support the culture Big Sean represents.  Even worse, Naya is hurting those same fans by promoting ideals that are damaging to a large percentage of the community that make up her fan base.  This is and should be upsetting.

While Naya herself has not said anything that directly implies she is okay with homophobia and misogyny, her silence and continued promotion of Big Sean speaks volumes.  Without saying anything on the subject, her actions demonstrate she is comfortable with everything Big Sean represents, and that has sent fans reeling, rightfully so.  Hopefully this is unintentional on her part.

Against the argument of Big Sean’s (perceived) homophobia and obvious misogyny, some have said it’s “just music”, and “that’s just how the rap culture is.” That doesn’t make it right and that does not mean it should be given a pass. Mainstream art; music of all genres, just like TV and movies, has a huge influence on society and especially on young audiences who worship these artists.

The fact that people are willing to dismiss poor behavior and harmful values because it just appears in a song or attached to a favorite celebrity is a sad testament to the ingrained normalization and acceptance of both homophobia and misogyny in our culture.  People need to speak up against homophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism, etc.; in music, in other art, in government, walking down the street, everywhere, or things will never change.  Never, ever should misogyny or homophobia get a pass because it’s “just a song”. It goes from that song, to the ears of impressionable minds, and straight to acceptance of violence and discrimination against women and the LGBT community.

The homophobia, misogyny and rape culture that Big Sean’s music promotes has real life consequences for real life people.  By promoting her relationship with and Big Sean’s activity, Naya Rivera is contributing to a culture that is the antithesis of what she claims to stand for, and consequentially, losing fans in the process.

About VersusTheFans

Amplifying and celebrating the value of popular art, especially TV, in giving a voice to women and the LGBT community, in addition to serving as a media watcher on LGBT reporting.

Posted on May 25, 2013, in All Posts, LGBTQ, Representation, TV Shows and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. excellent article, sums up my feelings very well. my guess is though that Naya simply took a cue from Jodie Foster (yes, I’m refering to Foster’s support for rapist Pollack). Hollywood isn’t about integrity and upholding values, it’s about fame and money and money and money. Naya isn’t stupid (on drugs maybe, but not stupid), and Glee has its own share of misogyny and treating lesbians like jokes. but Glee gets a pass for some reason, why? it’s all bs and it doesn’t matter how much viewers complain, as long as the dough keeps coming in that’s all that matters. Naya is clearly trying to expand her fanbase, a little negative publicity is in the end just publicity. The hand- full of people that will opt not to buy her album because of her connection to BS are fewer than the new fans she’ll gain by embracing all things sleazy

  2. You left out the part that Big Sean has a criminal record that includes sexual assault. I personally went into a state of shock when I found out Naya was dating him. Who knows what Naya is thinking. Maybe that was always her type and she was just good at concealing it before. All I know is that she clearly wanted to change her public image and she has succeeded in doing so. A lot of her Glee fans might not follow her into this new phase of her career but I doubt she ever wanted to be a lesbian icon. I mean, if you’re not actually gay and don’t feel like spending the rest of your life playing gay characters being fan-girled over by mobs of queer women isn’t going to do much for your ego or career. My guess is that she feels she would benefit more by appealing to a different kind of audience, hence her very public relationship with BS, which I suspect is more public than relationship, but who knows.

  3. Finally someone wrote something about it and this homophobic idiot.
    I just want to ask Naya why him? He’s not doing you a favor.

  4. This is completely garbage and I am a gay woman myself! I feel completely indifferent about Naya and Sean’s relationship. And Big Sean’s raps don’t offend me at all. I just see him as an ignorant rapper, who sings about his penis, women and drugs BECAUSE that is what sells! See Jay-Z, Kanye West, all went through that phase. I read and watched Big Sean’s interviews just to make an opinion on him and he himself said that he’d rather rap about other things but this is what gets him out there right now. As sad as it is. But this is not where I’m trying to get to. Naya is an independent woman. She can date whoever she likes and this is not anyone’s business. Opinions are welcomed always. But negativity and hate is unacceptable, only because we don’t know these people in person! What if Big Sean has been ignorant? Aren’t you happy now that he has Naya who can teach him by example? She plays a gay character and is surrounded by gay people. She firsthand knows how difficult it is out there for gay people. Naya has been nothing but beautifully kind to the gay community. Maybe more than half of her fans are gay. Do you guys really think she would intentionally send out the wrong message by dating a person who has been maybe ignorant but can be taught? Don’t be so hard on people. Negativity is not cute.

  5. Naya stans makes me more sick then Naya does for the simple fact they think she does no wrong and try to justify everything she does. The sickest part is most are lesbians and women. They keep buying her stuff and voting her the best icon/hottest person all the time knowing Naya in reality don’t give a flying —- about her fans no more, she only cares about is being famous now.

    • Well she hasn’t done anything to personally to offend me. I don’t care what she does in her personal life. Naya is an actress, she wants to achieve success and continue doing what she loves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I am a fan of her and her talents and I will continue to support her. If that makes you sick then so be it. I’m sure she cares about her ‘Nayaholics’ when some don’t even deserve it because all they do is send her hate for living HER life.

  6. Naya has changed so much it makes me sick. Knowing she supports the homophobic person I can not will not ever support her again. I have hard enough time in my rl trying to get rights without people judging me. I sure don’t need to follow her and her believes no more . I hate liars and fake people and Naya has become BOTH.

    • For someone who hates being judged you surely like to judge other people. Practice what you preach. You have no other solid basis of your allegations so you have no right to judge Naya solely on her actions. The saying “action speaks louder than words” is seriously over used and overrated coz certainly there reasons behind every action. Like when you scowl or frown, one would immediately think you’re a bitch or a grumpy but when in truth something is just bothering you or just having a bad day. And also, about your other comment saying Naya fans are the ones spreading the disgusting about Heather and Chord, do u have proof to that? Besides, even if such is true, why would you blame Naya for it? The actions or views of her fans are not the same as Naya’s. Also, just for the record I am both a Naya and Heather fan. And lastly, its not really much Naya’s loss if you don’t support her anymore coz frankly, I don’t think she’d want a supporter who judges her even before hearing her side. It’s a shame that u hate being judged yet you are doing the same thing to others…and you claim to be a supporter of rights. What does that make you?

    • I am not a Naya stan, I don’t like that word bcoz it connotes that I do nothing better than to stalk Naya, or Heather for that matter since I am  a fan of both. Let’s just say I am a bisexual person who argues for a living and I am sick and tired of reading these “I hate homophobic people bcoz they are bullies and judgmental” but then here they go and judge a person just bcoz she associated w/ an alleged homophobic person when YEARS before that she has been a proud supporter of the LGBT community. You see the irony? How soon can you all forget everything good the person has done after just one, albeit unfounded, issue?

  7. Big Sean is still a better voice than her last boyfriend. If you are going to come down on him for his rapper persona than its only fair you judge Naya for her last boyfriend too. Matt Hodgeson wrote an episode of Glee where Santana was outed and instead of the person that outed her getting in trouble he was treated like a hero for doing it. And at the end of the episode she thanked him. And the whole episode Santana’s girlfriend didn’t get to talk to her once. And they had Santana sing a song about making out with girls to get guys attention. Then Matt wrote an episode where Santana’s girlfriend releases a sex tape of them to teach Santana a lesson and Santana thanks her in the end. Jump to season 4 and the same writer Naya was dating writes the episode where Brittany marries Sam after dating a week and the episode where Brittany and Sam have this epic love while a school shooting is going on. What Matt Hodgeson wrote on Glee is far more damaging to the lesbian community than a few homophobic lyrics in a rap song because everyone knows the lyrics are homophobic but Matt’s writing isn’t as obvious in its homophobic. The message his writing sends however is far more damaging. It tells young viewers of Glee that its ok to out someone. And women aren’t as important as men. And Bisexuals always go back to men. And when a bisexual is in a relationship with a man she will get more screen time, more plots and more songs. Because women only matter if a penis is involved.

  8. I’m so over Naya she makes me sick anymore with her pr/or what ever pimping a homophobic and she even is ok with his sexual assault against a 17 year old. I guess it don’t matter who you step on along as you get famous huh?

  9. I think it’s sad how fast fans turned on Naya. before dating him when she would say random things or do charities we would be excited and now when she mentions any of these things people scream”PR” “She’s changed!” We’ve seen and read countless times how nice naya is to fans and how welcoming she is to new people in the business. I do not like homophobia and I don’t care for Big Sean, if there is something with both of them in it I only Look at what naya is doing. I’m a fan of Naya cause of her singing/acting talents. He does not define her. And I still see her as a great role model. She has been working hard since she eas a little girl for her dreams even when doors were slammed in her face for her mixed race, her looks and when people told her she couldn’t do it.

  10. She has completely lost me as a fan for every reason you’ve just mentioned. What hurts is people accept her as a supporter of the lgbt community. Her actions and her words do not coincide. It’s just very, very hurtful and sad that she would so quickly forget about her fanbase and how this may effect them. Sure she’s allowed to have her own life, but the fact that this guy is who she choses to be with speaks volumes. What bothers me about his lyrics is the sexualization of lesbians. It makes me feel like my sexuality isn’t taken seriously. I dont hate her, but she’s lost my respect. I hope she does loose a significant amount of her fans. It’s important for the lgbt community to set an example of how we are willing to be treated.

  11. 1. Who she dates is none of our business. She might be open about her relationship with him but we do not get to dictate what she does in her personal life.
    Naya is supports the LGBT community and has many gay friends. If he were such a homophobe like people are making him out to be then I doubt she would be dating him.
    2. If people are going to stop being a fan of her because of who she dates then you were never a fan of her in the first place. I am a fan of her singing and acting and she seems like a nice enough person so I will always be a fan unless she start being homophobic or killing people.
    3. It’s not like she is dating someone like Tyler The Creator or Chris Brown. Contrary to popular belief Big Sean is actually a well educated guy. He always talks about his love for his family and friends a lot. He seems like a nice guy to me and it looks like he and Naya are having fun. She is young, of course she would want to have fun.

    Like you said, Naya is human. She is still growing and learning so even if dating big Sean is a mistake it her mistake to make and learn from.
    Also, Her relationship with him doesn’t define her. End of story.

  12. God Naya stans are worse then Big Sean and his stuff. If this was anyone else You Naya stans would be stringing them up by their ankles but since it is your Goddess Naya who you have on this pedestal you have her on she can do no wrong ever. Like she said in that interview “I think my fans would KILL someone for me.” WTF? That shows right there she don’t give a flying — about thing but her fame.

  13. Andi_Hanzalova

    I don’t agree. Naya is not supporting Homophobia,we all know that. We don’t know Sean personally,we don’t know who he really is. Just let her be happy. I don’t like him too,if she’s happy,then ok.

    • You just proved my point that Naya does no wrong. If you think her hanging out with a known homophobic (just listen to his music that she is pimping on twitter for her “gay” followers to buy) & someone who has sexual assaulted a young woman is ok as long as she is happy, then you have her so high on that pedestal you can not see anything. What if she was hanging out with a know terrorist? Would you be ok with that too?

  14. If Naya cares about her Gay Fans she would stop pimping this asshole on Twitter and posing with him on events, she never pimped a relationship she was in so hard like she is doing now, for me it’s all pr to get her out in the music world, but why is she with that homophobic asshole? if she needs someone to get out in the music world, i bet there would be someone better like him,he’s not doing her any favors. to bad naya has gone this way,she doesn’t need a man to get her name out in the music world, she should use her talent for that and not a pr ralationship.

  15. The worst part is all of her stans saying the people who don’t support it are racist or heya fans. I just wish I could look somewhere without naya and her relationship getting shoved in my face. Then there is the ontd_glee site that is just full of naya worshipers…they actually make up rude shit about heather sleeping around and defend naya on pretty much anything and everything oh and you can only comment back if you are a member (aka naya stan) here is hoping her album flops and she get knocked down a peg or eight

    • OMG YES!! ontd_glee site is full of Naya stans and Heather bashers. They are trying to say the baby belongs to Chord, WTF?! This shows you how INSANE Naya stans are. They worship Big Sean the homophobic rapist too.

    • Oh wow… The fact that you would wish her bad luck or something shows what kind of a person you are. Was she even the one who spread those rumors about Heather, who is her friend? You’re barking at the wrong tree, put the blame where it belongs, her fans’ views are not Naya’s views, and neither are Big Sean’s views necessarily Naya’s views. Think before you speak.

  16. The fact that your so called “quest” is for “a better social media and fans” yet you have pre-judged a person without letting the person defend themself is abominable. Yes, I am a Naya fan but I’m not saying she does no wrong. She’s a grown up woman who can very well discern for herself. Let her make her own mistakes if she does, everyone makes one and we learn from those mistakes. I myself don’t like her dating Big Sean, but to say that she herself is a homophobic or mysoginist just because she associates herself with him is just stupid. And neither will I lose my respect for her just because of these. She hasn’t personally offended or hurt anyone intentionally or knowingly.

    • i’m pretty sure you gotta know that stating all the things you believe in then dating the exact opposite of those morals is going to offend and leave people confused. Everyone knows she wants to be famous but the way she is going about getting it isn’t right so even though big sean’s views may not be hers she sure does broadcast the hell out of everything he is doing and supporting it (wasn’t he feeling up a strippers vag like a week after they got together)

      • Firstly, let’s not be hypocritical here, most of us, if not all, wants to be famous one or another… But I don’t think it’s about being “famous”, I mean, I didn’t even know who Big Sean is before he dated Naya. I think it’s more about connections, just like how we want to meet more people from work, school or elsewhere.. To network and get connections, even us regular people do that so who are we to criticize? Secondly, while I do agree that what she did maybe confusing, it still is not conclusive. I’d rather wait for her personal statements first about the matter than jump to conclusions, a lot has been hurt by wrong presumptions. I myself don’t like Big Sean, but I can’t even be bothered to express my hate for him.. Hate is even a strong word for someone who I don’t even personally know.. I don’t judge people I don’t personally know. I admire Naya for her talent and her attitude towards her fans and her dedication to her work… I admire that despite the hardships she encountered she still got her dream since she was a kid she. She has been a supporter of the LGBT for YEARS, and then she dates an alleged homophobic rapper suddenly she is too? I don’t get the equation… One doesn’t suddenly just change in a day or a week. And then to wish that her album, something that she worked so hard for, flops just because of these rumors and stuff which didn’t even come from her…are you serious? Do you think that is right? How can you people be so self righteous and judgmental when you can’t even check yourselves first. All of you haters, before you criticize others, look at the mirror first.

      • In response to Felice… To express the confusion (I like the way you phrased that, Allen) in Naya’s current actions doesn’t equal “hate”. I also don’t know that people are accusing her of being directly homophobic or misogynistic herself, but what she is promoting is definitely all of that. I would love for her to make a statement about all of this and put and end to this discussion once and for all, but so far, all we have to go on are her public actions, which recently has included a lot of promoting of Big Sean, who stands for a lot of things many people will never support. The fact is, Naya has changed, and since she hasn’t made a statement as to where she really stands, all we can do is go off her current activities, which honestly, don’t look to great and are absolutely confusing. Doesn’t mean people are “hating” on her, but looking for an explanation. I love Naya. I love her talent as an actor and singer, and I really hope that she gets this sorted out.

      • In reply to Ellie… I certainly hope that they are just looking for an explanation, but from the wordings of some of the comments here, “I hope her album flops” or “I hope she loses most of her fans” certainly sounds the contrary. I dunno about you guys but I believe in hearing both sides of the parties before coming to a definite conclusion. The fact that this is a one sided trial is what irks me, it is unfair to the person subject of the argument to be adjudged before she is able to air her side. I would really like to hear what Naya has to say and so before that, I refuse to judge a person. In law, there is a belief that it is better to free 10 guilty people than to jail an innocent…just saying.

  17. Is there a “like” butto on this? If none, then can I just say…I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID.

  18. Thank you for writing this. I hope Naya will never attend yet another GLAAD or Trevor Project even because it would be really hypocritical. And I can’t do anything but laugh at the people screaming “racist” at anyone not liking this turn of events, really. I’ve been called racist because I’m black and I don’t like Big Sean and I think Naya’s doing stupid shit.

  19. I miss Naya Rivera

    I am so, so grateful for this. You put into words everything I think and feel about Naya now. I was such a fan, I praised her talent AND personality. But now? She’s become everything I despise, she’s so far gone that I can’t wrap my head around what happened. To be frank, I didn’t see that coming, and I still have no idea whatsoever about who she really is. Is the Naya Rivera I (and many others) fell in love with the real deal, or was it all an act and she’s now showing her true colors? I feel lied to, I feel like an idiot (or a really naive teenage girl although I am in my late 20s) for supporting a person like that. I hope I’ll be proven wrong and she’ll come back to her senses, bringing back the old Naya we all knew and that the personality transplant she seems to have experienced lately is not the real her. When I see some of her “fans” insulting others former fans because they put their brain to work and show critical thinking, I just feel worried that the homophobic, misogynistic, rape culture brainwashing has worked, even on lesbians which is so unreal to me that I don’t even have the words for it. They don’t even seem worried about her obvious unhealthy body and attitude. Everything’s fine. She hasn’t changed. She looks healthy, happy and awesome. Her catty, immature “music” is great. The image she is showing is perfect. Let me tell you something, “real fans”: if you really, really cared about the person we all were fans of since she satrted on Glee, you would open your eyes and stop being so full of yourselves. Naya is an empty shell lately, she looks like death warmed over, is scarily and unhealthy skinny, has done something to her face to the point she doesn’t resemble her own old pics, is venturing into Kardashian territory and puts her talent (because she has TONS) on the backburner for some crap, autotuned pop with lyrics even Ke$ha wouldn’t be jealous of. You’re not a fan if you encourage that, you’re just some blinded, brainless stans. Disagreeing with or even being disappointed in someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Sometimes it is even salutary for someone to be criticized and/or let down. Imagine Cory’s fans agreeing with his addiction because hell, why not, it was his choice and seemed happy. Jeez, take the stan goggles off for a minute, Big Sean’s girlfriend is not our Naya. Our super talented, awesome voice, awesome face, awesome acting, goofy, happy, friendly and fan caring Naya. She’s merely a +1 and Twitter supporter for BS now. Come on, people can’t be that blind.

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