There’s lots to be said about the era of streaming content as opposed to purchasing its corresponding physical counterpart. More specifically, in the world of streaming, consumers don’t really own anything. While this may take a load off your mind and keep you from having to alphabetically organise your DVD collection every few months, there is a dizzying trend of creators editing content after its release. Whether that be a TV show or, more commonly, a song, artists that operate all or some of their careers in digital spaces have free rein to tweak and change their products at the whim of public opinion.
After the release of Stranger Things 4 this past summer, fans on social media began speculating that the show was being retroactively edited after several users claimed to have remembered a scene from the first season where Johnathan Beyers was taking photos of Nancy Wheeler while she was undressing. Upon revisiting the episode, fans were surprised to find the scene was gone, and accused Stranger Things creators The Duffer Brothers of removing it. While the creators denied that they removed the scene and said that audiences were misremembering, they did confirm that the show is edited after its released — such as changing Will Beyers’ birthday on a VHS tape in season one after a plot hole emerged during season four.
Beyonce’s – Renaissance (Part 1)
Beyonce’s Renaissance was released just a few months ago to much universal acclaim. Singer-songwriter Kelis did not feel the same way, and expressed her frustration with the album track “ENERGY.” “ENERGY” features of an interpolation of Kelis’ wildly popular song “Milkshake,” and Kelis explained on Instagram that she was not notified that her song would be sampled. Beyonce subsequently removed the sample from the track, but it can still be heard in the song’s lyric video.
Lizzo – Special
Some Lizzo fans were disappointed in the singer after hearing the promotional single “Grrrls” off her fourth studio album Special. The song features the word “spaz,” which some users on Twitter pointed out was an ableist slur referring to someone who has altered muscle performance. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” Lizzo wrote in a statement posted to her social media accounts. “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand [sic] the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).” The lyric featuring the word was rewritten and altered in streaming versions of the song.
Beyonce’s – Renaissance (Part 2)
Beyonce’s “Heated” from Renaissance got the “Grrrls” treatment after the singer coincidentally used the same slur as Lizzo. After a similar response from disability advocates, Beyonce’s team confirmed the artist would remove the ableist lyric from her song, explaining that it wasn’t meant in a derogatory way.
House of Hammer
House of Hammer is the Discovery+ docuseries that details the abuse allegations against disgraced actor Armie Hammer. Several women came forward to describe accounts of abuse, mentions of cannibalism, and generally creepy and aggressive behaviour. During the first episode, Courtney Vucekovich, a woman interviewed who was the subject of Hammer’s abuse, disclosed the physical abuse she experienced during her time with Hammer and provided photographic evidence of a bite mark. Except the bite mark image featured neither a real bite mark nor Vucekovich’s shoulder. Instead, the image was of a tattoo on an unknown woman’s shoulder — Discovery+ subsequently edited the image out of the episode after its release.
Taylor Swift – Lover
Taylor Swift released “ME!” as the lead single to her 2019 album Lover. The song received mixed reviews from critics, with specific attention drawn to the lyric that kicks off the bridge: “Hey kids! Spelling is fun!” However, when the full album was released on streaming services a few months later, listeners were surprised to find that the controversial lyric had been removed from the song’s album cut. The lyric can still be heard in the song’s music video, lyric video, and on some physical copies of the album.
13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why has had its fair share of controversies, seemingly covering all of the drama you might find in a high school drama series but with none of the nuance or tact. According to research published in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the rate of children and teenagers dying by suicide increased in the month following the release of the show’s first season — which also features an incredibly graphic and detailed depiction of lead Hannah Baker dying by suicide. Netflix ultimately made the decision to remove the scene of Hannah’s death, but did so over two years after the episode was released.
Kanye West – Donda
What’s a better match made in heaven than Kanye West and messy album rollouts? Nothing, and 2021’s Donda was no different. The album was finally released after a few delays in August 2021, and a little less than a month after, Complex outlined some of the changes West made to the album post-release. Notably, West removed Chris Brown and KayCyy as features from “New Again” and “Keep My Spirit Alive,” respectively. Music reviewer Anthony Fantano also outlined some of these changes in a video, and noticed that the updated album also confusingly appeared as a second version of the album with the same exact title and album artwork.
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