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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.

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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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Chrissy Teigen’s Team Says Direct Messages Shared by Michael Costello Were Fake

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Teigen’s team accused the designer of faking the screenshots a day after a report from Insider found several “technical inconsistencies” in the photos.


Chrissy Teigen Accused of Bullying Michael Costello

Model Chrissy Teigen released a statement from her team on Friday denying the authenticity of screenshots designer Michael Costello shared last week depicting Teigen bullying him and threatening his career.

Costello’s claims against Teigen came just after she apologized for past offensive social media remarks she made. Those remarks included hateful comments directed at then-16-year-old Courtney Stodden, who received an onslaught of negative press for marrying a 51-year-old man a decade ago. Hours after posting her apology, Costello said he, too, was a victim of Teigen’s online persecution in 2014. 

Costello wrote that Teigen attacked him online when a screenshot allegedly showing him making a racist comment was circulating. He claims that the screenshot was fake, but even after he told Teigen this, he alleges that she and her stylist Monica Rose continued to berate him and threaten his career. In his post, he said this drove him to have suicidal thoughts.

He also shared alleged screenshots of direct messages that depicted Teigen telling him his career was dead and that he deserves to “suffer and die.” His post ignited a swift round of backlash and outrage against Teigen and caught the attention of several major news outlets. 

Source: Instagram @MichaelCostello

Investigations Finds That the Screenshots Were Faked

A Thursday report from Insider alleged that those conversations had been doctored. The investigation found “technical inconsistencies in the purported DMs that could suggest they are manipulated.” 

“Several visual identifiers in the images appear to come from various iterations of Instagram and Teigen’s profile throughout the years, which is oftentimes a signature of manipulated imagery,” the article continued. 

According to Insider, the screenshot looks like it was taken in 2014, as Teigen did not have a verified check, a status she received early in 2015. However, the message backgrounds in the image have a purple and blue gradient, which did not exist in Instagram until 2020. There is also a video chat icon on top of their chat, a feature that was not introduced until 2018. The photo that appears for Teigen is also her profile picture from 2014. If Costello had gone back and taken that screenshot recently, her current profile picture would have been visible instead of her old one, and again, her verification would be visible.

Teigen shot back on social media Friday, sharing a statement that addressed the inconsistencies noted in the Insider article. The statement, which was written on Teigen’s behalf, also claimed that in early iterations of the screenshots, Teigen’s name had been spelled incorrectly.

“Chrissy is completely surprised and disappointed by Michael Costello’s recent attack, which includes fictional ‘screenshots’ from 2014 of supposed private messages that Chrissy did not send,” the statement said. 

According to the statement, Teigen did comment on one of Costello’s posts in 2014 after he was accused of making a racist remark, but she deleted that comment upon learning that the remark was photoshopped. It also claims that Teigen did not work with Rose until 2016, two years after Costello claims he was victimized by her. 

Teigen went on to share screenshots of messages the two had exchanged online, which were largely complementary. In one message, Costello praises her lipstick choice. In another, he admires a meal she cooked. Teigen claimed she was under the impression she had a cordial relationship with him. 

“Chrissy has acknowledged her past behavior and the pain she has caused but will not stand for anyone spreading false accusations to further demean her name and reputation,” the statement continued. “Chrissy will continue to do the work she needs to do to be the best person she can be. She hopes Michael Costello can do the same.”

“Chrissy has every right to correct the record and defend her name. She is not interested in making Mr. Costello the target of harassment or abuse for anyone claiming to support her.”

Teigen’s husband, singer John Legend, also defended her, saying he had no idea why someone would insert themselves into an already complicated narrative.

“I encourage everyone who breathlessly spread this lie to keep that same energy when they correct the record,” he wrote. 

Costello Doubles Down

Since he came out against Teigen, several people have accused Costello of misconduct. A makeup artist who was undergoing chemotherapy said he was sexually harassed by Costello, singer Leona Lewis said he body-shamed her, and a woman who sold him something online said he called her the n-word.

Costello has deleted his original post accusing Teigen of bullying him, which included the allegedly doctored screenshots, though he doubled down on his claim that Teigen tried to ruin his career in a post shared Friday.  

“The fact that Chrissy Tiegen and her crisis team are working so hard, so strategically, to come out against the DMs she sent me, and to downplay the comments she publicly posted on my Instagram, only proves that she is the same bully she always has been, despite her fake apology to the public,” he wrote.

He said this will be the last time he speaks on the issue and announced that he is taking a break from social media to aid his mental health.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Variety) (Entertainment Weekly)

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Victoria’s Secret Drops Signature “Angels” for a More Inclusive Rebrand

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Stars like Megan Rapinoe and Priyanka Chopra will be the new faces of the company as it begins a major rebranding effort.


Victoria’s Secret Ditches Angels

Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret announced Wednesday that it is phasing out its signature “Angels” for a more inclusive campaign that will feature “accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change.”

The initiative is called Victoria’s Secret Collective. In a statement, the company introduced a slew of new partners, including soccer star and gender-equity activist Megan Rapinoe, actress and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra, body positivity advocate and model Paloma Elsesser, photographer and GirlGaze founder Amanda de Cadenet, and many others. In addition to appearing in advertising for the company, they will also advise the brand on its messaging. 

This rebrand marks a stark change for Victoria’s Secret, whose tall and thin Angels have become the hallmark of their business.

Victoria’s Secret Angels Catered to Male Gaze

Since the ‘90s, some of the world’s most iconic models — including Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, Adriana Lima, and Gigi Hadid — have dawned the famous wings. In doing so, they also set impossible female beauty standards that catered almost exclusively to the male gaze. 

The company has faced no shortage of criticism for using its models to promote what is ultimately a dangerous and unrealistic fantasy. It has had to change its slogan from “The Perfect Body” to “A Body for Every Body.” It also canceled the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2019. Still, “sexy” was the goal of the brand, and even though the products are for women, many argued that it used a man’s definition of the concept. 

“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, the company’s new chief executive, told The New York Times. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

Waters told The Times he has long known that Victoria’s Secret was overdue for a shift, but the company has just now gained the control to do so. Now, he says he does not see the old approach, or the Angels in particular, “as being culturally relevant.”

Rapinoe told The Times that Victoria’s Secret’s old messaging was “patriarchal” and “sexist.” She also said that it was trying to achieve sexiness “through a male lens and through what men desired.” 

“And it was very much marketed toward younger women,” she continued, saying this was “really harmful.”

Victoria’s Secret has found itself wrapped in a handful of controversies over the past several years. In 2019, it was revealed that its former chief executive Les Wexner was closely tied to Jeffrey Epstein. In 2020, a report uncovered that men at the top of the company built its culture upon misogyny and harassment. 

The store’s sales have also been falling. According to The Times, the company’s share of the women’s underwear market in the country dropped from 32% to 21% in 2015. 

Company Will Have New Focus On Real Women

Now, more women will be in charge of the company and its major effort to rebrand. The brand’s new chief marketing officer, Martha Pease, released a statement saying its new goal is to develop deeper relationships with the women it caters to. 

“We’re bringing new dimensions to our brand experience,” Pease said. “In marrying our new partners’ energy, creativity and perspectives with our network and scale, we can transform how we connect with and show up for women.”

On top of replacing Angels with outspoken and accomplished women of all sizes and backgrounds, other changes include expanding mannequins to a variety of sizes, replacing the Angels imagery that currently appears in every corner of the store, and expanding products in areas like sportswear. 

The company will also focus more on depicting and servicing real womanhood. Up until this year, the store had never celebrated Mother’s Day, as it did not mesh with the “sexy” brand image. Last month, for the first time, the company celebrated the holiday and featured a pregnant model in its campaign. The store will also soon begin selling nursing bras.

Rapinoe told The Times that while she was initially shocked the brand wanted to work with her, she was convinced to do it because the company was committed to owning up to its past errors and changing its narrative, and she liked that she could be a part of creating that change. 

Elsesser was likewise excited to use her voice to shape the company’s messaging and reach a large audience. 

“With platforms like VS, where you enter the living rooms of all people, that’s where you make radical change,” she told The Times. Her goal is to use her role to push the company to expand its sizing

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Insider) (People)

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Rita Moreno Defends Lin-Manuel Miranda Amid “In The Heights” Colorism Criticism

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“You can never do right, it seems,” the actress said during an appearance on “The Late Show” Tuesday night.


Lin-Manuel Miranda Addresses “In The Heights” Controversy

Actress Rita Moreno defended multi-hyphenate Lin-Manuel Miranda on Tuesday after the film “In The Heights,” which is based on his Tony Award-winning musical, faced criticism for its lack of representation within the Afro-Latino community. 

While the musical has been met with wide critical acclaim, it has also faced backlash for its casting. The story takes place in the predominantly Latino New York neighborhood of Washington Heights, however many were upset that it largely represents lighter-skinned members of the Latino community and excludes darker-skinned members of the Afro-Latino community. 

Miranda, who was also a producer for the film, addressed the controversy in a Twitter statement on Monday. He said he wrote “In The Heights” because he felt he had never been seen and wanted that to change for others who felt the same way. 

“I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling unseen in the feedback,” he wrote. “I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” he continued. “I’m truly sorry…I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.”

Rita Moreno Defends Miranda

Moreno — whose stage and screen credits include “West Side Story,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “The Ritz” —defended Miranda during her Tuesday appearance on “The Late Show,” implying that the playwright had nothing to be sorry for. 

“You can never do right, it seems,” she told host Stephen Colbert. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.” 

“I’m simply saying, can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone?” she continued. “There’s a lot of people who are Puerto Rican who are also from Guatemala who are dark and who are also fair. We are all colors in Puerto Rico. This is how it is.”

“It would be so nice if they hadn’t come up with that and left it alone, just for now. They’re really attacking the wrong person.”

Her response ignited backlash on Twitter, where she was a trending topic on Wednesday morning. Many were upset that she not only brushed the criticism aside but seemingly told Afro-Latinos to “wait a while” when it comes to representation.

Cast and Director Speak Out

Since “In The Heights” came out last week, issues of colorism have dominated conversations about the film on Twitter. Members of the cast have addressed the situation in an interview with Felice León at The Root. 

“I didn’t realize until making this movie that I didn’t really get to see myself or people that looked like my siblings, that are darker than me, onscreen,” said Leslie Grace, who plays Nina in the film and is Afro-Latina. 

“I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies,” she later added. 

Melissa Barrera, a Mexican-born actress who plays Vanessa told León that during the audition process, there were many darker-skinned Afro-Latino people being considered, but production ended up going with the actors they felt aligned most with the characters. 

“I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles,” she explained. “For the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent.” 

Director Jon Chu, who previously faced similar criticism regarding colorism in his film “Crazy Rich Asians,” acknowledged that he learned a lot in the process of making the film and is open to learning more.

“That’s a fair conversation to have,” he said. “I mean listen, we’re not going to get everything right in a movie. We try our best on all fronts of it.” 

Chu’s response received some criticism, as at one point he mentioned the diversity of the background dancers to León.

“Those are roles that historically, we’ve been able to fill,” León, who is Black and Cuban, explained. “Right, we’ve been able to be the dancers and we’ve been able to be in the hair salons, and this and that”

“But a lead, that’s the breakthrough,” she continued. “You want to see Black people in the Heights. We want to see Afro-Panamanians, Black Cubans, Black Dominicans. That’s what we want to see and that’s what we were yearning for and hoping for.”

“I hope that at least encourages more people to tell more stories and get out there and do it right then,” Chu added.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (NPR) (HuffPost)

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