Well, here we are.
Almost eight months after Lily Allen released Hard Out Here, the debut single from her latest album Sheezus, comes URL Badman, a song written about me. The song is a takedown of nerdy keyboard warriors, callow blog-toters who blindly follow trends and viciously abuse from the safety of their parents' basement.
My first reaction was to feel flattered; to have got on someone's tits so much that they would commit my memory to tape was a monumental achievement. But on reflection the events leading up to it told a much more complex story. My glee at being some kind of arch piss-taker turned to pity for someone who, after belligerently denying all counts of potential racism and sexism in a supposed feminist anthem, had chosen to focus on me, a relative nobody.
How did this happen? The video for Hard Out Here debuted last year on the same day I was scheduled to appear on Radio 1's Review Show with Edith Bowman. It was a parody of hip-hop culture, and had Lily singing "Don't need to shake my ass for you/'Cause I've got a brain" and pouring champagne on the rear of a black dancer, while a white dancer stuffed money into another black dancer's underwear. Lily is too good for that, you see. Too good to take her clothes off like these women, who painstakingly train their bodies for gigs such as this. She's too special.
Charges of racism beamed from all corners, not just mine, but Lily stayed defiant. On Twitter, she challenged me to come up with ideas to battle misogyny, as if a video of her rolling her eyes at scantily clad dancers whom she lyrically demeans was the musical equivalent of Emily Davison getting her chest cavity crushed by a speeding horse.
I moved on with my life. One night, drunk, I tweeted about a pizza delivery being late. Author John Niven retweeted it, and Lily called me an "entitled little shit". I pulled up something she said about Addison Lee not picking up a takeaway for her, and called her a racist again, in an admittedly unnecessarily caustic way, though this time not with the video in mind but a picture she once tweeted, in relation to rapper Azealia Banks, of a penis dressed as a golliwog. A spat ensued in which she spuriously claimed that a recent breakup of mine had spurred my hatred of women. It continued like this for a while.
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This anecdote, or any anecdote in which I have to use the word "tweet" more than once, isn't one I like telling. Part of the reason I'm writing this is so I don't have to tell this story again. It should be that it's a quirk, a laugh, that Allen has written this song. URL Badman is, obviously, terrible: outdated references to rappers who don't even make music any more, and clothing brands that have been around for more than 20 years; the notion of a blogger as a bespectacled spotty oik laying waste to any and all musicians who cross their Wotsit-dust covered paths. She is pop's answer to someone who has just come out of a coma and is desperately trying to make up for lost time by Googling "trendy clothes and music".
But that is not what is sinister. Why has she ignored the real guts of the controversy? After tweeting a non-apology over the video, in which she claimed the dancers had no problem with it, she has opted to take down "trolls" like me. "Trolls" with legitimate concerns over her behaviour and actions, who don't like seeing women of colour exploited for cheap, off-the-mark satire. Why not write a song about the controversy, as opposed to the stirrers? Why not address the meaningful part of the argument, and not the petulant bit? Because that would require some thought, some bravery, some integrity. These are things Lily Allen lacks, and no amount of celebrity-baiting or entry level lampoonery will ever change that.
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