Olivia Rodrigo faces backlash for using “blaccent” in old Instagram Live

Hannah Van-de-Peer
Olivia Rodrigo IG live blaccent
Instagram: oliviarodrigo

18 year-old star Olivia Rodrigo has come under criticism for using a ‘blaccent’ and elements of AAVE. An old Instagram Live of the singer surfaced on TikTok and Twitter, with users commenting on her “misuse” of the “mannerisms.” Fans are calling for Olivia to “address” and “denounce” the claims. 

The young popstar has faced a number of accusations throughout her short career. On June 24, ’90s legend Courtney Love alleged that Olivia had plagiarized her work. The ‘Hole’ founder posted an image of Olivia dressed as Stephen King’s Carrie and compared it with her own cover work. She wrote on Facebook, “stealing an original idea and not asking permission is rude… this was bad form.”

Despite this, Olivia isn’t the first young star to be accused of “blackfishing.” Ariana Grande, Awkwafina and Billie Eilish have found themselves in the firing line from fans who believed they were trying to “sound black.”

Which begs the question; what exactly is a ‘blaccent?’ And why is it so “problematic?”

Olivia Rodrigo Ariana Grande Billie Eilish
Olivia Rodrigo, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish are among the stars that have been accused of “blackfishing”

When did Olivia’s accent become a ‘blaccent?’

Traditionally known as African American Vernacular English (AAVE), the ‘blaccent’ has trended on social media since the Vine days. Staples of AAVE in digital culture include “b**ches be like,” RuPaul’s “miss thang” and Nicki Minaj-popularized “chile, anyways.”

In her Instagram Live, Olivia can be heard using the phrases “I be trending” and “we just so emotional.” Tweets from 2020 show the singer using the words “homegirl” and “crine.”

Twitter users have explained why the use of AAVE by non-black individuals could be seen as “problematic.” One pointed out that black people have been subject to bullying due to the dialect. “Black people have been made fun of for decades by (people) telling them (AAVE) is improper,” they said. The same user highlighted the fact that it has now become a “trend,” and most people now know it as “internet speak.”

Olivia fans came to the singer’s defense

A number of ‘Livvies’ have replied to these threads, defending their favorite star. One fan Tweeted, “she just talks like most Gen-Z (people) do on the internet.”

A dedicated fan account said, “this isn’t an issue y’all are cancelling her, stop this.”

Fans are yet to see whether Olivia will make a statement on this. In the meantime, she was spotted attending Billie Eilish’s album release party.