- Kim Kardashian West has focused her latest criminal justice efforts on Kevin Cooper, a death row inmate who was convicted of killing two adults and two children in 1983.
- Cooper claims he is innocent and says he was framed by police for the murders.
- Kardashian West believes Cooper and lobbied for CA Governor Gavin Newsom to order more DNA examination into the case.
- While many have praised her for supporting Cooper, others, including the mother of one of the victims, are frustrated and disappointed to see her fighting for a man who has been convicted of gruesome crimes and has separately been accused of two rapes.
Kim’s Recent Efforts
Kim Kardashian West has earned a lot of praise in recent months for her prison reform advocacy. However, the reality star turned aspiring lawyer is now facing some backlash for the latest inmate she has focused her efforts on.
Kardashian West has recently been speaking with 61-year-old death row inmate Kevin Cooper. Cooper was convicted of using a hatchet to kill Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and an 11-year-old boy named Christopher Hughes, who was sleeping over at the Ryens’ Chino Hills, California home in 1983. The Ryens’ 8-year-old son survived the attack.
Cooper, who is currently behind bars in San Quentin State Prison, has maintained his innocence throughout his trial and incarceration and claims he was framed for the murders.
Kardashian West successfully lobbied for California Governor Gavin Newsom to order more DNA examination into the case. On Friday, she tweeted a photo with Cooper and said, “I found him to be thoughtful and honest and I believe he is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted.”
In a separate tweet, she added that she is hopeful Cooper will be exonerated.
Kardashian West’s efforts to help exonerate Cooper have since been met with some criticism. Many fans were upset with her for siding with a man who has been convicted of gruesome murders and has previously been accused of rape, according to the New York Times.
He may not have committed those murders but he admitted to raping and kidnapping an underage female along with many other charges of burglary, assault and more rapes. He’s not a good person.— ProudCanadianGirl779🇨🇦 (@WWCellBlockH) June 1, 2019
He admitted to the KIDNAP and RAPE of an UNDERAGE girl, then was also accused by another female. Fuck this shit. Free people who aren’t a danger to society. Imagine if that underage girl was one of your children. But security keeps you safe, so it doesn’t matter, right?— Cat🌱 (@cattfenn) June 1, 2019
Cooper was accused of raping an underage girl in Pennsylvania about a year before the Ryens’ killings. He was also accused of raping another woman in California, weeks after the Chino Hills murders.
Despite all of this, Cooper has maintained his innocence in the Ryen family case. Last May, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office issued a 94-page denial to Cooper’s petition for clemency. In it, they called him a “brutal killer who has lead a life of crime and been convicted of numerous violent and serious crimes on both sides of this country.”
“Few cases have been subject to the scrutiny that this case has experienced,” the document says.“Cooper was convicted by ‘the overwhelming evidence of his guilt’ that was presented at his trial.’”
One of the loudest voices opposing Kardashian West’s efforts is Mary Ann Hughes, the mother of 11-year-old Christopher. Hughes told TMZ on Sunday that she was disgusted to see the Kardashian West with Cooper.
“It makes me feel sick to my stomach and I pity her. For what she’s doing to us, there’s nothing to justify what she’s doing to us, the immense pain she is causing us.”
Hughes added that Kardashian West has “obviously has not read all of the actual evidence.”
“She has bought into half-truths perpetrated by the defense. If she actually sat down and read the transcripts of all the trials and appeals, she would be sick to her stomach to be in the same room with him,” Hughes said. “He’s 100 percent guilty and the evidence shows it.”
In the interview with TMZ, Hughes also pointed to the 1982 accusation of rape against Cooper. “She portrays herself as being for women’s rights and for the women’s movement and yet she is supporting a rapist and a murderer.”
However, some were glad to see Kardashian West fighting for Cooper. Food Network host Sunny Anderson tweeted, “her dad would be so proud.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has previously argued that Cooper was framed by police, also supported the move. “Brava to @KimKardashian for meeting Kevin Cooper, a man on death row who i believe was framed for murder by the San Bernardino County sheriff’s office.“
Since last year, Kim Kardashian and the legal team she works with have successfully freed over a dozen non-violent drug offenders.
Britney Spears Asks For Privacy After Fans Called Cops to Conduct a Wellness Check on Her
Fans said they were concerned after the singer deleted her Instagram account.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to include a statement from Britney Spears
Fans Call 911
Britney Spears said her fans “went a little too far” after some called the police to conduct a wellness check on her.
The fans, many fueled by online conspiracy theories, were concerned about Spears because she deleted her Instagram account. While this is something the singer has done multiple times in the past, her fans thought she had left secret signals in her last post suggesting she needed help.
Some even posted videos of them calling emergency services on TikTok, a platform that is full of conspiracy videos about Spears.
“I love and adore my fans but this time things went a little too far and my privacy was invaded,” Spears wrote in a statement on Thursday, citing “prank phone calls” that were made to police.
According to Spears, officers did not enter her home because once they got to her gate, they “quickly realized there was no issue and left immediately.”
“This felt like I was being gaslit and bullied once the incident made it to the news and being portrayed once again in a poor and unfair light by the media,” Spears continued. “During this time in my life, I truly hope the public and my fans who I care so much about can respect my privacy moving forward.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Page Six that the department “did get calls into our dispatch” but added there was no reason to believe that Spears was “in any kind of harm or any kind of danger.”
That spokesperson declined to say if officials contacted Spears or conducted a wellness check, citing privacy and public trust issues.
The Prominence of Britney Spears Conspiracies
Just over a year has passed since Spears was freed from a highly restrictive conservatorship that controlled her life and finances for 13 years. Throughout the conservatorship, fans tried to use the pop icon’s social media to pick up clues that she was secretly struggling. She did not publicly speak about the conservatorship until the summer of 2021.
Now that she has her freedom, fans are still reading heavily into her posts. Some believe there are hidden messages in her captions and in the gestures she does while dancing. Others think she is dead, missing, or hiding and that a body double is being used in her posts. Some are so concerned that they are coordinating a mass effort to pressure the Los Angeles Times into investigating Spears’ whereabouts and safety.
In the last several years, many have reflected on Spears’ early days in the spotlight and the cruel ways she was harassed and targeted by paparazzi, news outlets, and culture at large. Often the punchline to a joke throughout the 2000s, many now sympathize with Spears, who was forced to endure heavy public scrutiny at a young age. Documentaries like “Framing Britney Spears” prompted many to see Spears as a victim of abusive media tactics, not the “crazy” woman tabloids painted her to be.
Many are now concerned that fans are only going to subject Spears to a new onslaught of harassment by calling the police to her house. Even if the conspiracy theories are technically well-intentioned and often come from a place of concern, some believe they will jumpstart a media frenzy that could harm Spears’ mental well-being.
Razzies Apologize For Nominating 12-Year-Old, Adopt Age Rules For Future Nominations
The group’s founder said the Razzies regret “any hurt” the young actress may have “experienced as a result of our choices.”
Razzies Face Backlash
The Razzie Awards revoked its “insensitive” nomination of 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong and added new guidelines banning child performers from being nominated in the future.
The Razzies, which award the year’s worst movies, included Armstrong in its “Worst Actress” lineup for her role in “Firestarter.” Bryce Dallas Howard, Diane Keaton, Kaya Scodelario, and Alicia Silverstone were also nominated in the category.
Armstrong starred alongside Zac Efron in “Firestarter,” an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The picture received a 10% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
While the film was broadly panned, many thought it was a bridge too far to nominate a child for a bad acting award.
“The Razzies are already mean-spirited & classless, but to nominate a kid is just repulsive & wrong,” child star Julian Hilliard, best known for his work in “WandaVision,” tweeted. “Why put a kid at risk of increased bullying or worse? Be better.”
Actor and podcast host Brandon Hardesty said the nomination was “completely ignorant and cynical.”
“They have no clue what this can do to a child actress who probably considered her starring role in FIRESTARTER as a high point in her life,” he wrote.
“That girl was the best part of that mess of a movie,” film critic Shannon McGrew tweeted. “And on top of that, no kid should ever be nominated for an award that punches down on them.”
Razzies founder John Wilson addressed the backlash in a statement to the press on Wednesday, calling the criticism “valid.”
“Sometimes, you do things without thinking, Then you are called out for it. Then you get it,” Wilson said. “It’s why the Razzies were created in the first place.”
“We have removed Armstrong’s name from the Final Ballot that our members will cast next month,” he continued. “We also believe a public apology is owed Ms. Armstrong, and wish to say we regret any hurt she experienced as a result of our choices.”
In addition to removing Armstrong’s nomination, The Razzies is now adopting “a Voting Guideline precluding any performer or film-maker under 18 years of age from being considered” for awards.
“Since our motto is ‘Own Your Bad,’ we realize that we ourselves must also live up to it,” the statement closed.
While Armstrong will be the last child to nab a Razzie nomination, she was far from the first. Jake Lloyd made the list for his turn as young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” Gary Coleman and Macaulay Culkin also got nominations as teenagers.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The Hollywood Reporter) (People)
SeatGeek CEO Calls to Break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation in Senate Hearing Following Taylor Swift Debacle
“A lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” Jack Groetzinger said.
Two months after technical difficulties blocked countless Taylor Swift fans from snagging seats to her tour, a bipartisan group of Senators held a hearing to re-examine the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
The two entertainment giants merged in 2010. Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of the rival ticket-selling platform SeatGeek, said during Tuesday’s hearing that the two need to be broken up to benefit consumers.
“One, a lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” he said. “Two, venues fear losing Live Nation concerts if they don’t use Ticketmaster, and three, the only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed concerns about the lack of competition, arguing that Live Nation is the “definition of monopoly.”
“Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten, because people just fall in line,” she said.
The Eras Tour Debacle
Ticketmaster has long been accused of price-gouging and complicating the ticket-buying process. Those issues made international headlines in November during the presale for Swift’s highly anticipated Era’s Tour.
Millions of fans who attempted to enter Ticketmaster’s virtual queue walked away empty-handed after experiencing crashes, price inflation, and a myriad of other issues.
According to Ticketmaster, the incredibly high demand, coupled with an onslaught of bot attacks, forced the platform to slow sales down. After the company delayed sales in certain cities and canceled the general sale altogether, Swift called the ordeal “excruciating.”
“We asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” she wrote on Instagram in November.
The controversy prompted many to accuse Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of holding a monopoly over the concert and live events industry. The U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the entertainment giant.
Ticketmaster Takes Heat
Ticketmaster has repeatedly tried to blame a number of factors for the failed Swift presale, even at one point suggesting the sale was too popular because the “Anti-Hero” singer waited so long to tour.
“May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said during the hearing.
Still, the company continued to point the finger at record-breaking bot attacks.
“We knew bots would attack at onsale and planned accordingly. We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic that we’d ever experienced,” Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold said on Capitol Hill.
“The attack requires [us] to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience we deeply regret. We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift, we need to do better and we will do better,” he continued.
Others present at the hearing were not happy with Live Nation’s bot defense. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that she has worked with companies in a variety of industries that deal with bots without these issues.
“You know what, they get bot attacks every single day by the thousands. By the thousands,” she said. “And they have figured it out, but you guys haven’t? This is unbelievable.”
“You can’t blame bots for what happened to Taylor Swift,” JAM Productions CEO Jerry Mickelson added. “There’s more to that story that you’re not hearing.”
According to Mickelson, Ticketmaster can actually stand to benefit from glitchy sales on its platform.
“The process, when it’s slowed down, increases the money that Ticketmaster makes because they make money on fees and as the ticket prices go up due to dynamically priced tickets, Ticketmaster makes more off that,” he claimed. “So it’s to their advantage to slow the process down.”
Outrage against Ticketmaster has become so widespread that Sen. Blumenthal said the company was responsible for “an absolutely stunning achievement.”
“You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”