- More than 70 female MPs signed a letter headed by Holly Lynch in support of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, calling tabloid reports against her “outdated” with “colonial undertones.”
- Markle thanked Lynch for the letter, which comes after she and Prince Harry filed lawsuits against groups of the British press for bullying and invasions of privacy.
- The Duke of Sussex’s lawsuit accuses outlets of hacking while Markle’s lawsuit says The Daily Mail unlawfully published a private letter she wrote to her father, which she claims is part of their larger effort to regularly post negative coverage of her.
MPs Pen Letter Supporting Meghan Markle
Members of Parliament have signed a letter in support of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, after she filed lawsuits against British media alleging bullying and invasions of privacy.
The letter, published Tuesday, was written by Holly Lynch, a member of the House of Commons, and was signed by 71 other female MPs.
“As women MPs of all political persuasions, we wanted to express solidarity with you in taking a stand against the often distasteful and misleading nature of the stories printed in a number of our national newspapers concerning you, your character, and your family,” the letter reads.
The women said they wanted to call out “what can only be described as outdated, colonial undertones” on the press’ coverage of Markle.
“With this in mind we expect the national media to have the integrity to know when a story is in the national interest, and when it is seeking to tear a woman down for no apparent reason,” the letter continued. “You have our assurances that we stand with you in solidarity on this. We will use the means at our disposal to ensure that our press accept your right to privacy and show respect, and that their stories reflect the truth.”
Lynch further commented on her motivations for writing this letter to ITV on Wednesday. She called reports on Markle xenophobic and added that this is “unacceptable this day in age.”
“She’s here, she’s married our prince, they’ve got a young son, we really want to welcome her to our society and I’m afraid not all of the articles in our national press really reflect that and it’s time that that stops,” Lynch said.
She also said that Markle had called her and thanked her for her support.
Meghan and Harry File Lawsuits
At the beginning of October, both Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, filed lawsuits against groups in British media. The Duke of Sussex’s suit alleges that The Sun and The Daily Mirror have engaged in phone hacking. Markle’s claims that Associated Newspapers, which owns The Daily Mail unlawfully published a private letter in part of their larger effort to report negative things about her.
The Duke of Sussex wrote a statement about this suit, describing these attacks from the press as painful.
“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been,” he wrote.
“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives,” he continued. “Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level.“
He then compared his wife’s relationship with the press to that of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in 1997 attempting to flee from paparazzi.
“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” he wrote. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
British Tabloids’ Coverage on Meghan Markle
Markle has been the subject of incessant and often negative press since her relationship with the Duke of Sussex went public in 2016. The Daily Mail faced criticism for publishing racist headlines about her, including one that said she was “almost straight outta Compton” and another that said her family went “from cotton slaves to royalty.”
Once she married into Britain’s Royal Family, coverage around her grew. Markle has been criticized for her presence supporting her friend Serena Williams at Wimbledon, sending “demanding” e-mails to her staff in the morning, and for not being as good at social media as Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, would have been.
Recently, she and the Duke of Sussex were criticized for taking a private jet. When Markle later flew commercial, however, she made more headlines for arriving an hour late. She also saw a recent wave of attacks after guest-editing British Vogue. Reports from The Daily Mail and The Sun were eager to condemn the issue, though others pointed out that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, once guest-edited The Huffington Post to much less backlash.
The press has been particularly unrelenting when it came to Markle’s pregnancy and now role as a new mother. Tabloids thoroughly covered the cost of her baby shower, one article criticized way she holds her son Archie, and another column accused her of suffering from “American Wife Syndrome.”
Markle’s family has also been the subject of constant headlines. There is no shortage of reports on her father, whom she no longer speaks to, as well as other reports tying Markle to members of her family after incidents having nothing to do with her.
The impacts of this coverage became a major point of public conversation after a clip from an ITV documentary went viral. A reporter asked her about how these new pressures have impacted her mental health. She said that during pregnancy and now as a new mother, she has been in a vulnerable state.
“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mum or trying to be a newlywed. It’s um… yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she said.
“And the answer is — would it be fair to say ‘Not really OK’?” the reporter followed up. “It’s really been a struggle?”
“Yes,” she responded.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (BBC) (Town and Country)
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.”