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A$AP Rocky Charged With Assault in Sweden

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  • Rapper A$AP Rocky was charged with assault in Sweden after he and members of his entourage beat up two men who had been following and harassing them in Stockholm.
  • The rapper has been held in Swedish custody since July 3 and could face up to two years in prison.
  • President Donald Trump has tweeted several times over the last week about his efforts to free the artist, including speaking to the Swedish Prime Minister and offering to “personally vouch for his bail.”
  • Sweden does not have a bail system, and the constitution prohibits the prime minister from intervening in or speaking about pending legal matters.

Charges Filed Over Fight

American rapper A$AP Rocky has been charged with assault in Sweden, prosecutors announced Thursday.

The artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, has been held in Swedish custody since July 3 after he and others in his entourage got into a fight with two men who had been following them in Stockholm.

Footage obtained by TMZ showed that the fight broke out after the two men began following A$AP Rocky saying he broke a pair of headphones belonging to one of the men. The footage then shows A$AP and his crew beating up at least one of the men and throwing him to the ground.

Note: This video contains violence

The rapper later posted a video on his Instagram showing the lead-up to the confrontation. In that video, the two men are seen interacting with members of his entourage who are telling the men to leave them alone. 

One of the men throws his headphones at one of A$AP’s bodyguards and hits him in the face. The headphones fall on the sidewalk and appear to break.

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

The video jumps to A$AP talking to the men and calmly telling them to leave. “We don’t want to fight you all, we’re not trying to go to jail,” the rapper told them. One of the men continues to complain his headphones are broken.

A$AP later speaks to the camera, and says “We don’t want no problems with these boys, they keep following us.” 

The two men continue to follow them, ignoring A$AP and his entourage’s requests for them to leave. A woman off-camera approaches the crew and tells them that the men had groped her and her friend earlier.

A$AP and his lawyer have both maintained that he and his crew acted in self-defense.

However, in a statement to the Associated Press, prosecutor Daniel Suneson said he filed charges against him and two others in his friends who were “suspected of assault causing actual bodily harm, having come to the conclusion that the events in question constitute a crime and despite claims of self-defense and provocation.”

The charges have a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Trump Responds

The artists’ case has gained international attention over the last few weeks, especially after President Donald Trump chimed in.

In a tweet last Friday, Trump said that he had spoken to rapper and producer Kanye West, and said that he would be calling the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, “to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky.”

The next day, Trump tweeted that he had spoken to Löfven, writing, “I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail.”

Sweden does not have a bail system, and it is common for foreigners to be held in custody until their trials as they are flight risks. Additionally, the Swedish Prime Minister can not interfere or even publicly comment on an on-going legal case under Sweden’s constitution. 

A spokesperson for Löfven said in a statement to the media that the prime minister “made certain to emphasize the complete independence of the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts.”

The spokesperson also added that Löfven “underlined that in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings.”

However, Trump still appeared to be disappointed with the announcement of A$AP’s charges. Tweeting on Thursday, Trump said that he was “very disappointed” in the prime minister. “Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States.”

“Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM,” Trump tweeted shortly after. “We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around.”

Celebrities Respond

Multiple celebrities also took to social media to call for A$AP’s release.

Rapper Nicki Minaj shared a similar story of her own in a tweet and included the hashtag #FreeAsap.

Rapper Post Malone also expressed support for A$AP in an Instagram post.

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Singer Justin Bieber also responded directly to Trump, saying he appreciated his efforts, but reminded him of the crisis happening in border facilities.

Kim Kardashian West thanked Trump, as well as Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their efforts.

The trial for A$AP Rocky and the two other members of his entourage is expected to start Tuesday.

See what others are saying: (TIME) (The Associated Press) (NBC News

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Gina Rodriguez Issues Second Apology for Singing N-Word in Instagram Post

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  • Actress Gina Rodriguez reignited accusations that she is anti-black when she posted a video to her Instagram story of her singing a song using the n-word. 
  • Her apology was slammed by many as insincere, which prompted her to write and share a second apology.
  • This is the latest incident causing many to call the actress out for her behavior towards black issues.

Rodriguez Uses N-Word

Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez reignited accusations that she is anti-black on Tuesday after posting a video to her Instagram story of her using the n-word. 

In the now-deleted post, Rodriguez, a Chicago native of Puerto Rican descent, rapped along to Lauren Hill’s part on “Ready or Not” by the Fugees. “I can do what you do … believe me. (N-words) give me heebie-jeebies,” she rapped before laughing out loud.

Social Media Users React

Social media users quickly flocked to Twitter with a flood of reactions to the post, with many noting that for years Rodriguez has been criticized for downplaying black issues. In fact, many users celebrated with “gotcha tweets,” and jokes about the fact that Rodriguez gave her critics the fuel they needed to “cancel” her on her own. 

Apology Sparks More Backlash 

Rodriguez eventually deleted the post and uploaded an apology that many found insincere.

“I just wanted to reach out and apologize. I am sorry,” she said in the short Instagram story. But rather than apologizing for using the work directly, Rodriguez said, “I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love that I grew up on. I love Lauryn Hill. And I really am sorry if I offended you.”

The apology promoted another round of backlash from people who argued she was not directly addressing the issue.  

Second Apology

After likely seeing the intensified outrage after her first response, Rodriguez issues a second apology on Instagram. 

In her notes app apology, she wrote, “In song or in real life, the words that I spoke should not have been spoken.” She went on to say that she thoughtlessly sang along to a song she loved and posted it, adding, “The word I sang, carries with it a legacy of hurt and pain that I cannot even imagine. Whatever consequences I face for my actions today, none will be more hurtful than the personal remorse I feel.”

“Watching my own video playing back at me, has shaken me to my core. It is humiliating that this has to become a public lesson but it is indeed a much deserved lesson. I feel so deeply protective and responsible to the community of color but I have let this community down. I have some serious learning and growing to do and I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.”

Past Accusations of Anti-Blackness 

The incident fueled long-running accusations of Rodriguez being anti-black because, in the past, she has seemingly dismissed black issues and put her foot in her mouth when trying to advocate for Latinx inclusion.

In July 2017, Rodriguez faced backlash for a tweet she posted which was widely understood as a response to Marvel’s groundbreaking Black Panther film, which consists of a predominantly black cast.

“Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend…” Rodriguez tweeted in a post that has since been deleted. 

Critics slammed her for stepping on a profound cultural moment and many pointed out that both companies do hire Latin actors.

For Marvel specifically, two of its highest-grossing movie franchises feature actresses of Afro-Latino descent. Guardians of the Galaxy’s Gamora is played by Zoe Saldana, who is Dominican and Puerto Rican, while Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok is played by Tessa Thompson, whose father is Afro-Panamanian. Both stars also appeared in the box office smash hit, Avengers: Endgame.

Rodriguez was blasted again in September 2018 during a press junket for the animated film Smallfoot. Rodriguez and her co-star Yara Shahidi spoke with entertainment reporter Blogxila, who said Shahidi was an inspiration to “so many Black women.” 

“So many women,” Rodriguez interjected. Blogxila quickly hit back defending his previous comment saying, “Yeah for women too but for black women, we need people on a whole ‘nother level.”

Many critics interpreted Rodriguez’s comment as an attempt to co-opt a conversation about black identity and erase black issues.

Then in November 2018, during a roundtable discussion about diversity and pay equity in Hollywood, Rodriguez incorrectly stated that Black and Asian actresses are paid more in Hollywood then Latinas. At the time of her claim, the highest-paid actress on television was a Columbian actress, Sofia Vergara, who claimed the top spot for the seventh year in a row. Meanwhile, only one black woman, Scandal’s Kerry Washington, made the list of TV’s highest-paid women.

In response to the flood of hate she received after the discussion aired, Rodriguez appeared on the radio show Sway in the Morning where she called the reaction from the black community “devastating.” She then went on to describe her father as “dark-skinned,” and talked about coming from an Afro-Latin background.

“The black community was the only community I looked towards growing up. We didn’t have many Latino shows, and the black community made me feel like I was seen. To get [called] anti-black is [like] saying I’m anti-family. My father is dark-skinned, he’s Afro-Latino. My cousins — Puerto Ricans are African, Taino, and Spaniard, and it’s in my blood. So that was really devastating to me. And I know my heart. I know what I meant. And I really wish we weren’t living in a culture where we’re clickbait, because I’ve never said anything controversial about anybody.”

Her father, Gino Rodriguez, is a well-known boxing referee, and some found her description of him as “dark-skinned” to be a stretch. Meanwhile, others were frustrated at the fact that she did not admit her wrongs or apologize. 

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (NBC News) (Fox News)

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Mark Ruffalo, Jameela Jamil, Kristin Bell, and Other Celebs at Odds Over Ellen-Bush Friendship

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  • 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.

Source: kristenanniebell

Reese Witherspoon also thanked DeGeneres, calling her message an important reminder; however, soon after receiving backlash of her own, she deleted her tweet.

Source: Reese Witherspoon

“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.”

Source: jameelajamil
Source: jameelajamil
Source: jameelajamil

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)

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BTS Fans Slam Article for Misrepresenting K-Pop

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  • 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. 

Journalists Respond

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.

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