On Sunday, Demi Lovato tweeted that memes about rapper 21 Savage, who was arrested Sunday by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were her “favorite part of the Super Bowl.”
The swift backlash apparently has prompted the singer and former Disney star to deactivate her Twitter account.
Lovato wasn’t the only social media user enjoying jokes at the expense of Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the Atlanta-based rapper better known as 21 Savage, who ICE officials say was actually born in the United Kingdom and is in the U.S. illegally after overstaying his visa. (“We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings,” the rapper’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, told the Washington Post in a statement.)
But many pointed out that Lovato herself had recently been the subject of cruel jokes – following an apparent drug overdose last summer.
One of Lovato’s most prominent critics was rapper Wale, who tweeted “Why is somebody freedom funny … I don’t get the joke,” before reminding Lovato that many supported her during a difficult time.
Lovato later clarified in an Instagram story that she wasn’t making fun of the rapper’s possible deportation – ICE officials say he has been placed in “removal proceedings” – but at memes poking fun at his reported British roots. She shared one such meme, which jokingly implies that the rapper writes his raps with a quill pen, before displaying some of the backlash she’d received in response – a host of tweets making light of her public struggle with addiction.
“Wasn’t laughing at anyone getting deported. I know that’s not a joke … not have I EVER laughed at that,” she wrote, adding: “Sorry if I offended anyone. But it’s no excuse to laugh at someone’s addiction let alone their OD.”
She also invited Wale to discuss their disagreement, which found its way to the Instagram account of the Shade Room, where Lovato commented that the rapper was “salty I never replied to his desperate tweets years ago.” Wale responded that he was “still praying” for her. “Glad u seen my old tweets,” he added. “Hopefully you seen the ones providing comfort and prayer when you were down.”
Many of 21 Savage’s fans and peers showed him support on Twitter. Rapper Offset, of Atlanta-based Migos, tweeted his disgust at the memes mocking his arrest, “Praying for my dawg,” he wrote, before adding, “His family depending on him.”
A number of people came to Lovato’s defense. “It seems like Demi Lovato was bullied into quitting twitter for laughing at the same meme’s everyone else was laughing at,” one Twitter user wrote.
This isn’t the first time Lovato has distanced herself from Twitter. She took a 24-hour break from the platform in 2016 after she angered Mariah Carey fans with comments on an Instagram meme comparing the singer to Ariana Grande.
She returned a day later with a pointed message, documented by Billboard. “I’m back,” she wrote. “And I’m coming back more honest than ever.”
A rep for Lovato did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.