December 5, 2018 at 12:50 pm EST | by Mariah Cooper
INTO apologizes for publishing ‘anti-queer’ Ariana Grande critique

Ariana Grande in ‘thank u, next’ music video. (Screenshot via YouTube)

LGBT website INTO, which is owned by the app Grindr, has apologized for publishing a think-piece on Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” music video which deemed the video “surprisingly anti-queer.”

“thank u, next” became a viral sensation with the biggest debut ever on YouTube. People were clicking to see the references to Grande’s exes and to watch nostalgic recreations of the popular rom-com flicks “13 Going on 30,” “Bring It On,” “Legally Blonde” and “Mean Girls.”

Writer and transgender activist Eli Erlick wasn’t impressed by the video. In an op-ed penned for INTO, Erlick claims that the story is ultimately an “anti-queer/transmisogynistic video.”

“Her music video failed to support the basic dignity of queer and trans people,” the story reads. “Laden with transmisogyny, anti-queer jokes, and blackface, the video follows Ariana’s white feminist awakening through a celebrity-laden nod to several cult classics.”

Erlick cites moments from the video to validate these points. In one scene, Erlick says that a man in drag was meant to mock transgender women. In another scene singer Troye Sivan says of Grande “I heard she’s a lesbian now and dating some chick called Aubrey. It’s fucking sick.” The quote is a homage to a similar scene from “Mean Girls.” Erlick believed that the line was homophobic.

The end scene with Kris Jenner yelling “Thank you, next, bitch” was also criticized as a call out to Caitlyn Jenner.

“She simply shouts ‘Thank you, next, bitch!’ while holding a camera — the final line of the music video. As ‘bitch’ is generally directed at women and ‘thank you, next’ is in reference to relationships, this is likely aimed at Caitlyn Jenner… Perhaps this is in reference to Caitlyn’s far-right politics. Perhaps it’s a jab at her trans identity. We can’t be sure unless Kris Jenner speaks out about the line,” Erlick writes.

The take was confusing for many people including Sivan.

After the negative backlash, INTO removed the author’s name from the op-ed saying that the author had received “numerous death threats.”

“While I could go into the HOW/WHY of why the piece missed the mark and should not have been published as is, what I am going to focus on is this: We as editors failed the writer by not working with her to ensure the piece met our standards,” INTO Editor-in-Chief Zach Stafford wrote in a post.“We have decided to remove the author’s name from this piece after the editorial team was alerted that a high number of death threats were being made against the writer as a result of the opinions presented in this piece,” reads the editor’s note.“These opinions never warrant violence, and when a writer’s own life could potentially be at stake, we must take necessary steps to ensure their safety.”

On Tuesday, Stafford posted another update that the publication had cut ties with the writer over “concerning allegations.”

“Given the seriousness of these allegations, I personally spoke with the writer and immediately launched an internal investigation,” Stafford writes. “INTO was not aware of these until Monday after publishing. And the writer will not be contributing to INTO for the time being.

Stafford did not specify what the allegations are.

The Ariana Grande story is still currently published on INTO’s website.

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