updated 18 Feb 2014, 19:50
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Mon, Dec 16, 2013
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Kiwi singer Lorde gets racist abuse over Asian boyfriend
by Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman

At the tender age of 17, New Zealand indie pop singer Lorde has accomplished much.

She recently chalked up four Grammy nominations, after her breakout single Royals reigned on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for nine straight weeks.

But the initial fawning over her precocious talent has given way to the nastiest form of attention a pop star can get.

Lorde and her rumoured boyfriend have become victims of ugly and shocking racial online abuse, after a photograph of her with 24-year-old Asian photographer called James Lowe made rounds online.

The photograph captured a bikini-clad Lorde hugging Lowe while at the beach.

Granted, the poor, scrawny guy is not the best-looking of men.

Decent and harmless, maybe. Regular, even. But to netizens, apparently not someone you would expect pop's current It Girl to date.

Fans of English-Irish boyband One Direction and Canadian pop star Justin Bieber also joined in, ready to lash out at the singer who supposedly called their idols "ugly".

Comments are largely insults, calling Lowe "ugly", "disgusting", "an Asian monkey", "the Chinese sort of ostrich boyfriend" and "a deformed Asian Jackie Chan" who "looks like he should be delivering Chinese takeaway".

A blogger, writing for the Los Angeles Times, spoke up for her, saying: "We should be grateful for people like Lorde, who openly challenge how we look at dating by being unapologetic about who they love. For Asian men like James Lowe, it's a necessary reminder that they exist too."

But Lorde seems to have chosen to keep mum in the wake of this tirade and not speak up against the racial stereotyping by all her haters, opting to focus on promoting her music instead.

Which is how it should be, considering the heights she has scaled.

Of her four Grammy nominations, she's up for one in the Best Pop Vocal Album category for her successful debut album Pure Heroine, up against the big names Justin Timberlake (The 20/20 Experience - The Complete Experience) and Bruno Mars (Unorthodox Jukebox).

She is also rolling in money after she recently signed a reported US$2.5 million (S$3.13 million) deal with music publisher Songs Music Publishing.

Lorde was also just named Woman of the Year by college channel mtvU, joining past winners Pakistani social activist Malala Yousafzai and Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sure, she owed it mostly to her successful music career, but her firm beliefs and lack of fear in showing them have a role to play, something that at times overshadows her musical abilities.

The singer, born Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor, has drawn quite a bit of flak for mouthing off and expressing her grievances against other pop conventions.

She once dismissed music by US rapper Nicki Minaj, Canadian rapper Drake and American singer Lana Del Rey as "completely irrelevant" to her age group, described picture-perfect US singer Taylor Swift as "flawless and so unattainable" and expressed disdain at Disney star-turned-singer Selena Gomez's hit Come & Get It, suggesting that it was anti-feminist.

To me, she is just speaking her mind and is a breath of fresh air from the manufactured pop fakery we are used to.

Unfortunately for her, she has set herself up as public enemy because of her comments and has unknowingly given haters ammunition to bring her down. But even so, there is no justification for the spate of hatred, whether the subject is famous or not.

Netizens, leave her alone.

Share your view with Ashikin at [email protected]

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