- 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.
Mark Ruffalo, Jameela Jamil, Kristin Bell, and Other Celebs at Odds Over Ellen-Bush Friendship
- Ellen DeGeneres was spotted laughing with former President George W. Bush at an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
- Critics slammed the apparent friendship online, referencing their opposing political views. Ellen responded on her show Tuesday, telling her viewers to treat everyone with kindness no matter their opinions.
- Celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon condemned her response while others like Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Bell supported her message.
- The comedian’s defenders faced their own backlash, including Jameela Jamil who reversed her initial praise.
Bush and DeGeneres Spotted Laughing at NFL Game
Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has prompted a national debate about kindness in the face of political differences after she was seen laughing with former President George W. Bush at an NFL game on Sunday.
DeGeneres, who faced a heavy amount of online criticism following the event, addressed the backlash directly on Tuesday’s episode of Ellen.
“People were upset. They thought, why is this gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” she said. “But a lot of people were mad and did what people do when they’re mad: they tweet. But here’s one tweet that I loved. This person says, ‘Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.”
Other tweets directed at DeGeneres were less praiseful, with many people taking issue with Bush’s association with the Iraq War and his policies on LGBTQ rights.
“Ellen hanging out with her buddy G.W. Bush the war criminal and guy who called for a ban on same sex marriages…,” one user wrote. “Really, really low standards there Ellen, and pretty pathetic…”
In her response, DeGeneres explained that she didn’t know Bush would be at the game or sitting next to her, but she also said that was beside the point.
“Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush,” she said. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different.”
DeGeneres then continued, emphasizing her point by saying she didn’t agree with her friends who wear fur but that they were still her friends, another comment that eventually resulted in backlash.
“But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” she continued. “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean everyone.”
Celebrities React to Ellen’s Explanation
Even after Ellen addressed the concerns, many still criticized the comedian for boiling down the issue to a difference in opinions.
“George Bush, his administration, and his colleagues actively discriminated and worked against the LGBT community, of which you are a member,” one person tweeted.
Some of that criticism even came from fellow celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon.
“Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly),” Ruffalo said, “we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.”
On the other side of the argument, celebrities such as Kristen Bell and Blake Shelton praised DeGeneres for her commitment to kindness.
“She’s my [Queen]” Bell said in an Instagram post.
Reese Witherspoon also thanked DeGeneres, calling her message an important reminder; however, soon after receiving backlash of her own, she deleted her tweet.
“The privilege reaks,” one person said in response to Witherspoon. “There are thousands of people in the middle east who don’t get to be friends with people with “different views” because they’re dead thanks to [Bush]. And he spent his presidency trying to strip away LGBT rights, so nah. This monologue is pure class privilege.”
Jameela Jamil Defends DeGeneres
In a somewhat similar situation to Witherspoon, Bell’s The Good Place co-star Jameela Jamil backtracked her praise of DeGeneres after “learning” from criticism directed at her.
“I’ve never seen someone in the public eye handle something like this, in this way,” Jamil, 33, said in the Tuesday tweet. “And use it to make what is actually an incredibly necessary point in our society. It was just very strong and interesting.”
The following morning, Jamil deleted her initial posts and followed up by saying:
“Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency… we weren’t taught much about him at school, we just heard he was stupid…(we were dealing with our own epic nightmare of a prime minister back then). What a monstrous leader. I now understand the rage..”
Jamil, who is British, still faced backlash following her second tweet, this time from people pointing out that she was 23 when Bush left office. The criticism then prompted Jamil to once again respond.
“Very interesting to see some pompous responses from people because someone from the other side of the world didn’t learn about a president in your country when they were a teenager,” she said Are you experts on all world leaders from back then? Ridiculing learning and growth is weird.”
“I love learning and growth and massively applaud anyone who says they don’t/didn’t know the answer and seeks it out,” she continued. “I personally think that’s cool and hope that we all feel safe to do that, so we can all evolve together. #progressnotperfection”
See what others are saying: (USA Today) (Fox News) (The Independent)
BTS Fans Slam Article for Misrepresenting K-Pop
- BTS was on the cover of the Hollywood Reporter, and fans were not happy with the article that accompanied it.
- Many accused the story of being xenophobic by playing into negative stereotypes about K-pop.
- They also believe that the story misquoted BTS member RM and were upset that the story mentioned the death of a member of another K-pop band.
- Some believe this speaks to gaps in the ways Western media covers K-pop.
Fans React to The Hollywood Reporter’s Article
BTS fans are criticizing The Hollywood Reporter after they were upset with the magazine’s representation of K-pop in Wednesday’s highly anticipated cover story.
Both The Hollywood Reporter and BTS were excitedly teasing the release of the story, which was written by Senior Writer Seth Abramovitch. Once it went live, however, fans were not happy with what they read.
Twitter users accused the article of painting a xenophobic picture of K-pop by describing it as a cut-throat genre that dehumanizes its artists. Abramovitch compared K-pop to the Hunger Games and said that the artists are kept on “leashes.” Some readers then thought this played into the Western stereotype that K-pop artists are worked to such an excessive degree that they’re being viewed more like robots than people.
While writing a laundry list of complaints about the story, one user said they were tired of the “narrative of the K-Pop machine, as if the Western world does not also carefully curate talent in an industry peppered with the same issues.”
Another said that the stereotypes don’t just exist about K-pop but Asian culture in general.
Fans then thought this narrative crossed a line when it brought up the death of artist Jonghyun, a member of the band SHINee. His tragic passing is a sensitive topic among K-pop fans.
“Only the best of the best wind up in an actual K-pop band — while some don’t survive at all,” the article reads. “In 2017, the industry drew intense scrutiny after a member of SHINee, another popular K-pop band, took his own life, writing in his suicide note that he felt ‘broken on the inside.’”
Many were frustrated his death was used as an example to fuel the narrative that the K-pop industry is toxic. Some noted that his death was connected mainly to his depression, not just his work.
Others called it xenophobic to paint K-pop in an incriminating light, something they claim writers often do intentionally.
Fans Accuse THR of Misquoting
Their criticism of the story did not stop there. Many fans also believe that BTS member Kim Nam-joon, also known as RM, was falsely quoted or that his quotes may have been misinterpreted or taken out of context.
“We have to consider ourselves not just better [than other K-pop acts], but the best,” RM is quoted saying in the story. “When we’re out there on that stage, we’re there to conquer. We think we’re the ones.”
Many fans believe RM would not say something so confident or cocky in a major interview because in past interviews, he has been humble about BTS’ success. In one clip he said, “We are not the kings of pop.”
While there is no audio recording or tangible proof that he was misquoted, fans think that presenting this quote plays into yet another stereotype about K-pop as a genre. They believe it makes the artists look arrogant and smug. Some thought the band had grounds to sue for defamation.
Fans were not alone in their critiques of the piece. Some journalists also took to Twitter to express their frustrations with the article.
“Imagine wrangling dream access — dinner! soju! — with the biggest band in the world to write………..that,” said Senior Writer at Vulture, E. Alex Chung.
He also joked about the trend of reporters who don’t speak Korean being sent to cover Korean bands like BTS.
Jae-Ha Kim, who has written for the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and various other outlets said it was clear the writer did not know enough about K-pop, BTS, or Korean culture and that this often shows when Western reporters cover K-pop stars. She specifically referred to a line in the article that says “maknae” is a K-pop term used to refer to the baby of the band and adds that this is not fully true.
“It is an actual Korean word that predates K-pop,” she said.
“There’s something to be said for getting a fresh perspective, but offer Korean artists the same respect you would a Western artist,” she added. “Would you fly a reporter who doesn’t know anything about Adele to England to interview her?”
Abramovich has not responded to the backlash, though, not all BTS fans were upset with his story.
“What was inaccurate? What was offensive? What is the problem?” one fan asked.
Cardi B Hits Back at People Who Said She Made Up Her Sexual Harassment Claims
- Cardi B furiously condemned people online who accused her of fabricating an incident where she said she was sexually harassed by a photographer who exposed himself at one of her shoots.
- The rapper shared the story on WE TV’s Untold Stories of Hip Hop, which aired Thursday night, emphasizing how many women in the entertainment industry face such forms of harassment.
Cardi B’s Instagram Live
Cardi B blasted people on Instagram Live Wednesday who accused her of lying about being sexually harassed by a photographer during a magazine photoshoot.
“When is there going to be a #MeToo movement in the urban world, where this shit really be happening?” she said. “And then you got these dusty, crusty fuck ass bitches on the comments like, ‘Oh, she’s lying.’ Bitch, lie about what? Lie about what? What I got to lie for? N****s really try to take advantage of girls.”
Cardi B defended her claim by saying she was not looking for sympathy. The rapper continued, saying that female strippers and Instagram models have experienced similar instances of sexual harassment. Additionally, she highlights similar issues pertaining to young women “in the hood.”
“N****s will go to [the] stripclub hit you up on the internet and try to finesse you out your pussy if you don’t have the proper representation for a dream they sell,” she also said in an Instagram comment. “I be saying this shit cause there’s ma young girls that have the young mentality I had…”
Alluding to her own experiences, she details how she’s seen men take advantage of women, first asking for pictures then promising favors like photoshoots in return for other sexually explicit acts.
The Harassment Claim
In the pilot episode of WE TV’s Untold Stories of Hip Hop, the rapper opened up about her harassment claims.
“I will never forget how I went to shoot for this one magazine,” she said to host Angie Martinez, “and the photographer, he was just trying to get close to me. Like, ‘Yeah, you want to get in this motherfucking magazine?’ Then, he pulled his dick out. I was so fucking mad, and it’s just, like, ‘This is crazy.’”
“I was like, ‘You’re fucking bugging,’” she continued, saying she left the shoot and told the magazine owner about the situation.
She goes on to say the owner was apathetic to her complaint, replying with comments like “So…? And..?”
“When I see the Me Too movement, there’s girls from the hood, I know that they went through the same type of treatment,” she said.
When asked if she still experiences that kind of harassment, Cardi B said, “Oh, hell no, I put you on blast on my Instagram Live. I hope the fuck you would.”
Cardi B previously opened up about that incident to Cosmopolitan last year, telling the magazine, “I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, ‘So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.’”