What Lizzo’s hangry Postmates tweet reveals about celebrity clout and precarious work
18 Sep 2019
Lizzo can’t seem to catch a break these days. She’s been accused of stealing the lyrics “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” from the much less famous black woman musician Mina Lioness. Now she’s being blasted for trying to publicly shame a delivery service worker on Twitter for failing to deliver her food order. The since-deleted tweet publicised the name and appearance of the Postmates staff member to her nearly one million Twitter followers. For as long as that tweet was up, the delivery worker, who appeared to be a young black woman, was put in very real danger.
We all get hangry sometimes and do irrational things, but as a celebrity with a strong Twitter following, Lizzo has a responsibility not to use her immense clout to massively fuck up someone’s life over a takeaway. She’s since apologised and deleted the offending tweet but the entire incident still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as it turns out it was actually Lizzo who missed the Postmates delivery window.
That’s right, that poor worker got put on blast for something that was never her fault to begin with. As it happened, she showed up with Lizzo’s delivery but was unable to get in touch with Lizzo or anyone else to collect it, and after waiting a few minutes, she moved on to her other deliveries.
Lizzo’s actions are made worse considering the numerous difficulties Postmates workers face on the job. Postmates, a US on-demand delivery service that couriers food and other goods from shops and restaurants to its customers, is similar to Deliveroo here in the UK. Despite co-founder Bastian Lehmann describing the company as the “anti-Amazon”, Postmates still doesn’t have the greatest track record on workers’ rights.
“With the average Postmates driver earning as little as $4 an hour, every penny counts”
The company still relies on precariously employed gig economy service workers for the base of its operations, delivering food to people’s doors. Their workers were in the news this May for protesting a change that would have seen them endure a 30% decrease in wages. With the average Postmates driver earning as little as $4 an hour (£3.20), every penny counts. On the other hand, the company also relies on celebrity endorsements to help grow their user base, so when Lizzo tweeted her discontent with the service they were quick to respond.
This is the crux of the problem – it’s more than fair for Lizzo to expect timely delivery for her food, but she responded to the issue in a way that most of us don’t have the power to do. Why didn’t she just get in touch with customer service like any regular person would have? It’s almost as if she wanted to make it known that she deserved better treatment by virtue of her celebrity status. Also, since it turns out Lizzo was actually making the delivery worker’s job harder that day by holding up the queue, it looks massively bad that she acted as rashly as she did. This all touches on a larger conversation on holding people with large platforms accountable for the things they share.
A part of me wants to give Lizzo the benefit of the doubt; maybe she didn’t realise the strength of her platform. As a person who only started charting in 2017, she may be having trouble adjusting to the fact that she’s properly famous. But I’m reluctant to buy into that narrative, because how can you forget your fame when you have hundreds of accounts screaming praise every time you so much as breathe?