- Actress and activist Jameela Jamil came out as queer after social media backlash for being cast as a judge on an upcoming HBO Max LGBTQ+ dance show.
- Jamil said she was scared to come out because she was worried she would be accused of “performance bandwagon jumping.”
- Jamil has faced additional criticism because the show will focus on the ball scene, a type of dance that originated in African American and Latinx communities in New York. Jamil is of South Asian descent.
Jamil Cast in HBO Voguing Show
Following social media backlash for being cast on a show that will explore a popular LGBTQ+ dance subculture, actress Jameela Jamil announced that she is queer.
On Tuesday, Deadline, reported that Jamil was set to be both an MC and a judge on the new show, Legendary.
Legendary, which will launch on the upcoming streaming service HBO Max, will be a reality competition focused on “highlight[ing] modern-day ball culture.” Ball culture is a style of dance that originated among LGBTQ+ circles New York, many of which were also predominantly African American and Latinx.
The ball scene is also known for voguing, a highly stylized form of dance associated with drag queens and LGBTQ+ performers. Voguing was also popularized to mainstream audiences in 1990 when popstar Madonna released the aptly titled track, “Vogue.”
Jamil Faces Accusations of Cultural Appropriation
The news of Jamil’s involvement sparked criticism, with many calling the actress’ casting a form of cultural appropriation because she is of Pakistani and Indian descent. Jamil is also not associated with ball culture, and prior to her coming out, she was assumed to be straight.
“I think Jameela is great, one Twitter user said, “but this show raises eyebrows because this could very well lean into the appropriation of ball culture. I am trying to be open to it until we get more details, but the fact that this is on a major streaming platform is raising some red flags…”
wait so Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Rupaul, Indya Moore, Angelica Ross (literally any drag queen/ lgbt icon) wasn’t available???? pic.twitter.com/r5A6hd7Yga— ms.versace if ya nasty (@DVerscace) February 4, 2020
Also following the announcement, trans actress and ball scene dancer Trace Lysette, who’s appeared in shows and movies like Transparent and Hustlers, criticized the casting while expressing her disappointment for not landing a role on the show.
“Lol.. I interviewed for this gig,” she said. “As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it’s kind of kind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers”
The terms “houses” and “house mothers” refer to small communities typically found within the LGBTQ+ communities. Houses are formed of an “alternative family” that provides sanctuary and shelter to LGBTQ+ individuals, especially youth who have been kicked out of their original homes. The roles of house mothers and fathers are usually taken up by older members of the ball scene who help guide and support their “children.”
Following Lysette’s tweet, Jamil responded by trying to clarify the situation. Notably, she also said that, unlike Deadline’s report, she would not be the MC of the show, only one of several judges. Instead, openly gay voguer Dashaun Wesley head the MC role.
Hey trace. I think you auditioned to be one of the house mothers. I’m just one of the judges. Not a house mother. We weren’t up for the same thing. @deadline are wrong. I’m NOT the MC. The brilliant @DashaunWesley is. I think you’re fucking amazing, in every way. And send you ❤️— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Lysette soon responded back to Jamil, saying she had not applied for a house mother position but a host/producer one instead.
I don’t have audition to be a house mother… I am one. I remember the convo well. It was a convo in regards to be a host/producer. At least that’s what my manager at the time worked out. I never heard back. I send you love too. But I will always speak my truth.— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) February 5, 2020
In a separate post, Jamil then worked to prop up the show’s other judges, which include: Leiomy Maldonado a transgender dancer also known as the “Wonder Woman of Vogue,” stylist Law Roach, and rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
I’m a judge, alongside @leiomy @theestallion and @LUXURYLAW with music from icon @TheOnlyMikeQ I know some of us aren’t from ballroom, but we are here to bring our followings, press and new audiences to the show, to support and celebrate the ballroom community. That is all. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/1H1J5hXi3K— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Jamil Comes Out as Queer
In a message titled, “Twitter is brutal,” Jamil continued to explain her relationship with her casting, opening up a lengthy message by coming out as queer.
“This is why I never officially came out as queer,” she said. “I added a rainbow to my name when I felt ready a few years ago, as it’s not easy within the South Asian community to be accepted.”
“But I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid,” she added. “I didn’t come from a family with *anyone* openly out. It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties. This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out.”
Jamil goes on to say she is leaving Twitter—which she calls a “hell app”—for a while because she is afraid people will just dismiss her coming out.; however, before she leaves, she directly addresses her casting.
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” she said. “But I have the privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show…”
“I’m not the MC,” she continued. “I’m not the main host. I’m just a lead judge due to my 11 years of hosting experience, being fully impartial, newcomer to ballroom (like much of the audience will be) and therefore a window in for people who are just discovering it now.”
Response to Jamil’s Coming Out
Unsurprisingly, as Jamil predicted, some remained critical of her casting and others accused of her lying about her identity to skirt criticism.
“Being queer does not make you ballroom,” Lysette said on Twitter. “Being any number of marginalized identities does not make you ballroom. The only thing that makes you ballroom is if you are actually from it. And most of us who are from it, sought it out when we had no one else.”
However, many others online praised the actress for coming out while criticizing the extent to which social media pressures stars to come out before they’re ready.
“And this is why I’m ALWAYS so weary of people hating on presumed “straight” people going on LGBT shows,” one Twitter user said. “No one should EVER have to come out to avoid hate. This is horrifying. Is there legitimate criticism of her being on the show? Yes. But this shouldn’t have had to happen.”
And this is why I’m ALWAYS so weary of people hating on presumed “straight” people going on LGBT shows.— Celine 🍊 (@minytrash) February 5, 2020
No one should EVER have to come out to avoid hate. This is horrifying.
Is there legitimate criticism of her being on the show? Yes. But this shouldn’t have had to happen.
Additionally, several of Jamil’s castmates have also defended and supported her while addressing the backlash.
Anti-Vaxxers Spread Conspiracy Theory Claiming Bob Saget Died From COVID-19 Booster Shot
This comes less than a month after anti-vaxxers spread a similar false rumor about comedian Betty White.
Anti-Vaxxers Spread Unfounded Theory About Bob Saget’s Death
Anti-vax and right-wing conspiracy theorists are spreading unfounded claims that comedian Bob Saget died as a result of receiving his COVID-19 booster shot.
Saget, best known for his role as Danny Tanner on “Full House,” died this week at the age of 65 in Orlando, Florida. The Orange County Sheriff’s office said they were responding to “a call about an unresponsive man in a hotel room” and pronounced Saget dead on the scene at the Ritz-Carlton. They found “no signs of foul play or drug use” and some reports have since claimed that it appears Saget may have died in his sleep. No further cause of death has been released.
Not long after the news of his death, anti-vaxxers begin circulating baseless claims that a COVID-19 booster shot killed Saget. Saget said he received his booster shot on a Dec. 13 episode of his podcast. Many have shared a clip where he talks about the booster to suggest that was his cause of death.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have been proven to be both safe and effective. That, of course, has not stopped conspiracy theorists from endlessly touting false assertions about unproven side effects and responses.
Claims about Saget’s death being vaccine-related can be found on Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, Telegram, and other social media platforms. Many of the posts, despite containing clear misinformation, have remained on these sites for several days without being taken down.
Candace Owens Promotes Booster Theory
The conspiracy found a large platform this week when conservative news personality Candace Owens discussed it on her Daily Wire talk show. Owens has repeatedly spoken against COVID-19 vaccines and uses her platform to regularly share all kinds of political and cultural misinformation.
During the Jan. 11 episode of “Candace,” which was flagged by Media Matters, Owens said the public has a “right to demand answers” about the circumstances around Saget’s death and the booster.
“I’m just not on Big Pharma’s payroll and I refuse to peddle in their lies. And so to that end, today, I’m going to point out another truth and it will likely be deemed a conspiracy theory until it’s not,” she said. “There are too many healthy individuals, like Bob Saget, who we know have received their vaccinations, who are dropping dead, suddenly and unexpectedly, with no further explanation. Healthy athletes, young students in their physical prime — the majority of them males — dropping dead suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of games from heart issues.”
Owens continued to peddle anti-vax rhetoric regarding the media and vaccine mandates. She also spewed unsubstantiated suggestions that “healthy men are dying” because of vaccines.
“All of this to say I don’t know why a healthy man, who was in the middle of a comedy tour, suddenly and unexpectedly drops dead in his hotel room,” she continued. “But I do know that we have a right to ask the question. All of us do. In fact, when the entire world has suddenly and unexpectedly been prescribed an injection that we don’t need, it is not only our right to ask questions but also our right to demand answers.”
Anti-Vax Misinformation Has Found A Large Platform
Not even a month before Saget’s death, anti-vaxxers likewise falsely claimed that comedian and actress Betty White died from receiving her COVID-19 booster. White passed at the age of 99, just weeks before her 100th birthday. According to her death certificate, she died from a stroke she had six days before her death on Dec. 31.
After people started falsely claiming the booster caused her death, White’s agent released a statement clarifying these rumors were not true.
“Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home,” Jeff Witjas told People Magazine. “People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.”
Media platforms have struggled to control the swelling amount of misinformation users constantly spread, specifically regarding the pandemic and vaccinations. While many sites have promised to remove, flag, or fact-check incorrect posts, anyone who wants to find anti-vax information will have an easy time doing so.
This week, a group of doctors and medical workers urged Spotify to lay out a misinformation policy, citing the false claims Joe Rogan has repeatedly made about vaccines on his podcast. Several international fact-checking organizations also recently demanded that YouTube do more to fight disinformation on its service. Over the last year, citizens and politicians have asked that Twitter, Facebook, and Google do more to slow the spread of pandemic-related misinformation.
“While we understand that your companies have implemented policies regarding the removal of vaccine-related misinformation and dedicated resources to stop the spread of misinformation, we believe more must be done,” a group of Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the three company’s CEOs. “It is imperative that you be transparent about the amount of harmful misinformation that appears on your platforms and the effectiveness of your efforts to remove this content, so that public health organizations and experts can respond appropriately.”
See what others are saying: (Insider) (The Daily Beast) (The Daily Dot)
Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather, and Others Sued Over Alleged EthereumMax Crypto Scam
EthereumMax executives and partners are being accused of sharing “misleading promotions and celebrity endorsements” in order to “artificially increase the interest in and price” of the coin.
Lawsuit Alleging Crypto Scam Filed in California
Reality star Kim Kardashian, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and former NBA star Paul Pierce are among several celebrities and executives being sued for allegedly misleading investors into a pump-and-dump crypto scam.
The class-action lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by New York resident Ryan Huegerich. Huegerich brought the complaint on behalf of himself and others who claim to have lost money after investing in the coin EthereumMax between May 14, 2021 and June 27, 2021.
Kardashian, Mayweather, and Pierce are among a slew of people with substantial followings who promoted EthereumMax in the spring and summer of 2021. Pierce tweeted about the coin, saying he “made more money with this crypto in the past month” than he did with ESPN in a year. Kardashian touted the cryptocurrency in an Instagram story post that included a link for her followers to “swipe up to join the E-Max community.”
Mayweather drew attention to EthereumMax during his highly-anticipated fight against YouTuber Logan Paul, which accepted the coin as payment for tickets to the event. During the match, he wore shorts with the coin’s name and logo. Mayweather also endorsed the coin during a Bitcoin conference in Miami, Florida.
Plaintiffs Allege Stars Participated in Pump-And-Dump Scheme
The plaintiffs argued that the three stars, along with several others, promoted the coin with false information. According to the lawsuit, the defendants touted “the ability for investors to make significant returns due to the favorable ‘tokenomics’ of the EMAX Tokens” in order to sell their portions for a pump-and-dump profit.
“The Company’s executives, collaborating with several celebrity promotors, (a) made false or misleading statements to investors about EthereumMax through social media advertisements and other promotional activities and (b) disguised their control over EthereumMax and a significant percent of the EMAX Tokens that were available for public trading during the Relevant Period,” the lawsuit said.
“The misleading promotions and celebrity endorsements were able to artificially increase the interest in and price of the EMAX Tokens during the Relevant Period, causing investors to purchase these losing investments at inflated prices,” the suit continued.
The plaintiffs slammed the EthereumMax coin as a “speculative digital token created by a mysterious group of cryptocurrency developers.” According to the lawsuit, the coin “has no connection” to the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum, but uses the name in an effort to “mislead investors into believing that the EMAX Tokens were a part of the Ethereum network (when they are not).”
A spokesperson for EthereumMax condemned the allegations in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
“The deceptive narrative associated with the recent allegations is riddled with misinformation,” the spokesperson said.
Kardashian, Mayweather, and Pierce have not responded publicly to the lawsuit.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (CNBC) (BBC News)
Cardi B’s Defamation Suit Against YouTuber Goes to Trial
Cardi B claims the YouTuber “became obsessed with slandering and harassing” her.
Cardi B Alleges YouTuber Harmed Her Reputation
The trial for a defamation case rapper Cardi B brought against an entertainment YouTuber began Monday in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the lawsuit, Cardi claims that Latasha Kebe, who is known online as UnwineWithTashaK, repeatedly made false statements in an effort to destroy the “Up” singer’s reputation. The suit alleges that Kebe told her YouTube following that Cardi had worked as a prostitute, used cocaine, cheated on her husband, and had contracted STDs like herpes and HPV.
Kebe reached one million subscribers last week. Her videos get anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 views.
Cardi has called the purportedly unfounded statements “degrading and harassing.” She says that Kebe began spreading the misinformation in 2018 and has since made dozens of videos furthering those claims.
“Kebe became obsessed with slandering and harassing [Cardi],” the lawsuit says per Rolling Stone, which obtained a copy of the document. “In the 16 months preceding the filing of this lawsuit, Kebe put out at least 38 videos regarding [the rapper].”
What Will Be Argued in Court?
Kebe has denied the accusations and previously countersued, alleging that Cardi encouraged her fans to harass her online. A judge dismissed the suit over a lack of evidence.
According to Billboard, the trial is expected to last two weeks. It is unknown if Cardi will have to take the witness stand herself.
Michael S. Overing, a lawyer and defamation expert not involved in the case, told Rolling Stone that Cardi has good odds of winning her case.
“Cardi probably has a pretty good shot at this one,” he said, noting she had provided “very specific factual statements” that could potentially be “readily proven false.”
“But the problem with these lawsuits, traditionally, is that it’s very hard to prove that you suffered actual damages,” he continued. “This is where the question of actual malice comes in.”
Overing, among other experts, believes that much of this case will come down to whether or not the jury believes that Kebe acted with ill-intent. This means that in order to win the case, the musician’s team will likely have to prove that Kebe knew the claims were false when she spread them.