- Vanessa Hudgens faced backlash after downplaying the severity of the coronavirus in an Instagram live, saying, “people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable?”
- After Hudgens apologized, Chrissy Teigen defended her, arguing that everyone has made or will make insensitive comments and should be able to learn from them without having their lives destroyed.
- Some agreed, noting that Hudgens threw her support behind those impacted by the virus before this scandal.
- However, her comments also came at a time when dozens of celebrities have been using their platforms to stress the importance of taking the virus seriously.
What Hudgens Said
Actress Vanessa Hudgens came under fire on Tuesday over “insensitive” comments she made about the coronavirus during a recent Instagram live.
A clip taken from her Monday live stream shows Hudgens telling her fans, “Um yeah, till July sounds like a bunch of bullshit. I’m sorry.”
“Like, it’s a virus. I get it, like, I respect it. But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable? I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this,” she added.
The backlash came pretty quickly as the video spread across social media, racking up millions of views.
In response to all the outrage, Hudgens issues the first of two apologies. In an Instagram story video, she told the Internet what they love to hear in situations like this: “I realized today that some of my comments are being taken out of context.”
“It’s a crazy time. It’s a crazy, crazy time and I am at home and in lockdown, and that’s what I hope you guys are doing too — in full quarantine and staying safe and sane.”
“I don’t take the situation lightly by any means,” the actress continued. “I am home. So, stay inside y’all.”
That post was then unsurprisingly met with some more anger, with many slamming her for focusing so much on herself.
Holy shit this chick is self centered. Both her videos screams “Me, me, ME!!!!!” She has no moral compass and makes even the apology about herself. How hard is it to say: “No, I am not taking lightly the fact that thousands upon thousands of people are going to die.’. Awful chick— Hanner (@GangstHannah) March 17, 2020
@VanessaHudgens Your comments were not taken out of context. A very ignorant and selfish comment. Good luck getting any work. People won’t forget this. Btw, what was the context? Do you have a medical degree I’m not aware of?— Kristen Wiltse (@kwiltse) March 17, 2020
The continued outrage prompted Hudgens to try again, this time with a notes app apology. “I’m sorry for the way i have offended anyone and everyone who has seen the clip from my Instagram live yesterday. I realize my words were insensitive and not at all appropriate for the situation in our country and the world we are in right now,” she wrote.
She added that this situation has been a “huge wake up call” for her about the significance of her words and sent well wishes to everyone during this time.
Chrissy Teigen Steps In
While many continued to slam Hudgens over her remarks, Chrissy Teigen took to Twitter with a different opinion writing, “sometimes people, especially famous people, are gonna say really stupid shit. & so are you. and they, and u, will learn from it & hopefully their history says they’re good. it’s ok. and at the same time, wow they really had a dumb fuckin moment. but u don’t have ruin their lives”
Teigen then replied to several people, including those who criticized Hudgen’s apology. She essentially agreed that the comments were insensitive and said Hudgens will grow from this experience, but suggested that no apology the High School Musical star issues will ever satisfy everyone.
“What can I say. Kids and online torture have made me a much more empathetic person. May you never be on the end of everyone hating you,” she concluded.
Celebs Using Their Platforms For Good
Many of Hudgens’ fans agree with Teigen’s perspective, noting that the actress has been staying home and has been supportive of those impacted by the virus. Before this scandal, Hudgens threw her support behind the organization Feeding America, donating money herself and encouraging others to do the same.
View this post on Instagram
It’s a crazy time out there in the world. School closures, job disruptions, lack of paid sick leave and the coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on adults age 60 and older and low-income families are all contributing to the demands placed on food banks across the country. Join me in supporting @feedingamerica today. Let’s help each other out rather than freaking the fuck out. Kk? LINK IN BIO
Some fans even compared Hudgens’ mistake to that of Rudy Gobert, the NBA player who prompted the NBA shut down when he tested positive for the virus after jokingly touching microphones at a press conference and reportedly acting “careless” around other players.
“It is good to put your hand up and say, ‘I’m sorry that I hurt people and got it wrong.’ Rudy Gobert has learned. Looks like @VanessaHudgens has too,” one Twitter user wrote.
But for many others, the comments were especially frustrating because they came at a time when dozens of other celebs are using their voices for good. Stars like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Hilary Duff have been calling for people to stay home. Meanwhile, others, like John Legend and Chris Martin, have been putting on free concerts via live steams to encourage and entertain those following social distancing recommendations.
Just last night, Billie Eilish posted a lengthy video urging her fans to take the virus seriously but warning against hoarding food and panic buying. So while Hudgens may have apologized, many are still having a hard time forgiving the star for her remarks at this time.
N.Y. State Senate Passes Bill Championed by Jay-Z That Would Restrict Use of Rap Lyrics in Court
A companion bill currently sits in the state’s assembly.
“Rap Music on Trial” Passes Senate
The New York State Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would curb prosecutors’ ability to cite rap lyrics and other creative works as evidence in legal battles.
Dubbed “Rap Music on Trial,” the bill aims to “enhance the free speech protections of New Yorkers by banning the use of art created by a defendant as evidence against them in a courtroom,” according to a statement from State Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-Queens).
“The legislation will protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors,” the statement continued.
Right now, all forms of creative expression, including rap lyrics, can be used as evidence in criminal cases. Rap lyrics, however, are more likely to be weaponized against those who wrote them in trial, experts say.
“The use of rap and hip-hop lyrics in particular is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” Bailey said in a statement.
Hoylman agrees that there is a double standard.
“Nobody thinks Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, or that David Byrne is a psycho killer, but routinely rappers have their lyrics used against them in criminal trials,” he tweeted.
The bill would not fully ban the use of rap lyrics in court. If made into law, prosecutors would need “clear and convincing proof that there is a literal, factual nexus between creative expression and the facts of the case” in order to use these works as evidence.
Major artists including Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Kelly Rowland, and Robin Thicke previously signed a letter in support of the legislation.
A companion bill currently sits in the New York State Assembly.
Rap Lyrics in Court
The use of rap lyrics against their artists is not an uncommon tactic. Earlier this month, an indictment charging Young Thug, Gunna, and two dozen others over alleged gang activity and conspiracy to violate racketeering laws used lyrics of the aforementioned artists.
While the case is in Atlanta and would not be impacted by the New York bill, the use of their lyrics has stirred controversy. In a motion requesting that Gunna be released from jail, his lawyers argued that it was unfair to cite these works.
“It is intensely problematic that the State relies on song lyrics as part of its allegations,” his lawyers said in court documents. “These lyrics are an artist’s creative expression and not a literal recounting of facts and circumstances. Under the State’s theory, any artist with a song referencing violence could find herself the victim of a RICO indictment.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis defended the indictment’s use of the lyrics and argued it did not violate the artist’s free speech.
In the letter signed by numerous recording artists, the authors said this kind of tactic “effectively denies rap music the status of art and, in the process, gives prosecutors a dangerous advantage in the courtroom.”
“Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry,” the letter, which was written by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro and University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson, said.
YouTube Touts MrBeast and Mainstream Appeal in First Upfront Presentation
According to Nielson, over 230 million people in the United States used the video service in just one month.
YouTube Presents at Upfronts
During its first Upfront presentation on Tuesday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company said it was joining staple broadcast and entertainment companies “because YouTube is the mainstream.”
“Viewers have more choices than ever about what to watch or where to watch it,” Wojcicki said while speaking at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. “And they continue to use YouTube.”
The company had previously done its Brandcast presentation at the NewFronts. This was the first time its pitch came alongside television competitors during the busy Upfronts season.
Many of YouTube’s primary talking points were highlighted in a company blog post. In its address, it marketed itself not just as the future of media consumption, but as the modern-day leader, too.
It said that over 135 million people watched YouTube on Connected TVs, representing every age demographic from toddlers to viewers 55-years-old and up. It also cited Nielson data that said YouTube has over 50% of ad-supported streaming watch time on TV screens.
Nielsen also found that YouTube reached over 230 million people in the United States in just one month.
YouTube Offers Up Its Talent
MrBeast, one of YouTube’s top creators, attended the presentation. The company boasted that if MrBeast were his own streaming service, he would “would have more subscribers than the next three most popular ad-supported streaming services.” In other words, with 95 million YouTube subscribers, MrBeast is ahead of HBO and HBO Max’s 77 million, Paramount’s 33 million, and Hulu’s 54 million in the United States.
Or course, subscribing to a YouTube channel is very different from subscribing to a streaming service, as YouTube subscriptions come at no cost. Viewers can subscribe to as many or as few creators as they please for free, while each streaming service has a monthly or annual fee to gain access to its content.
YouTube didn’t only show off its homegrown talent. Popstar Lizzo also took the stage to sing her praises of the company, along with a few of her biggest hits.
But the company’s most important appeals came from the strengths it offered to advertisers. It claimed that 2020 Nielson analysis showed that YouTube on average had a 1.2 times greater return on investment than television.
It also announced a frequency optimization tool for advertisers that would allow companies to control how many times viewers see their spots in one week. In its blog post, YouTube said this allows for “more efficient” spending and “a better experience for viewers.”
It touted this optimization as “a solution only YouTube can provide.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (TubeFilter) (Variety)
“Saturday Night Live” Faces Backlash for Sketch Mocking the Johnny Depp Amber Heard Trial
Many fear that jokes about the case could hurt the everyday domestic abuse survivors that see them.
SNL Mocks Trial
After “Saturday Night Light” parodied the ongoing defamation trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in its cold open this weekend, many are criticizing the show — and media at large — for making a mockery of the case.
Ever since the trial began in April, there has been an onslaught of TikToks, tweets, videos, and other posts turning the happenings in the courtroom into clickbait content. Most of the posts use Heard as a punchline as the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp narrative prevails online.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” While she never mentioned Depp by name, many believed the piece referred to previous abuse allegations she had made about him. Depp, however, alleges that Heard was actually the abuser and concocted the claims to ruin his career. She countersued for $100 million.
In its most recent episode, “Saturday Night Live” aired a sketch starring Kyle Mooney as Depp, Cecily Strong as the judge, and Aidy Bryant and Heidi Gardner as lawyers in the case. The sketch took place in the courtroom as the involved parties discussed allegations that Heard defecated in her and Depp’s bed. They then watched “video evidence” of house staffers, played by Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Melissa Villaseñor, and Chris Redd, finding the fecal matter.
At various points, Strong’s judge said they should continue watching the video “because it’s funny” and she and Mooney’s Depp both said they find the trial “amusing.”
“This trial is for fun,” the judge proclaimed at one point.
Many online did not see the humor in SNL’s parody, arguing that a case involving domestic abuse accusations should not be a punchline. Some said the sketch was “disgusting and desperate.”
“Domestic violence is not a joke. Rape is not a joke,” writer Ella Dawson tweeted. “Abusers using the legal system to continue to terrorize their victims is not a joke. Abusers using accusations of defamation to silence their victims is not a joke.”
“In twenty years people are going to look back at this trial and all of the media coverage and be disgusted,” Dawson continued.
“You’re free to have absolutely no opinion on the Depp/Heard trial, but thinking it’s ‘for fun’ is for someone with a diseased heart and brain,” Meredith Haggerty, the senior culture editor at Vox, wrote.
Many felt that regardless of how someone feels or who they support in this case, those making fun of Heard are “making a joke of victims everywhere.”
Criticism of Media’s Trial Coverage
Others argued this sketch was part of an overall disturbing trend in the media’s coverage of this case where serious allegations were being played up for laughs.
The hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp has trended on Twitter several times throughout the trial as fans defend the actor. Many also use it to mock Heard, share clips of her crying, and in some cases, spread misinformation about her courtroom claims. The tag is also popular on TikTok, where it has been viewed over 11 billion times as of Monday morning.
Many of the videos involve jokes about the case, memes, fan cams, and other content meant to belittle Heard. On TikTok, the tag #AmberTurd has raked in over 1.6 billion views. Some videos involve animated renderings of courtroom videos meant to make Heard look careless or dumb. Others use audio of Heard alleging that Depp hit her along with silly imagery to make those claims look like a farce. Many involve people making fun of the way Heard has cried on the stand.
Experts have told numerous media outlets that by ridiculing Heard, Depp’s supporters are potentially harming abuse victims that may come across these posts.
“I can’t imagine what this might be doing to someone who may eventually want to seek safety and support,” Ruth M. Glenn, the chief executive officer of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told NBC News. “Whether it’s Amber Heard or Johnny Depp, how dare us make fun and make light of someone who is sharing something very personal — no matter how we feel about that person.”
The trial is being broadcast live so interested parties can watch it unfold in real-time. The viral clips have allowed the case to become a massive entertainment spectacle.
Public discourse of the trial has sorted people into either “Team Depp” or “Team Heard,” and just a quick glance online will show that Depp has so far won a good portion of public favor. Still, no matter how one views the trial, many think jokes at the expense of Heard’s claims are a bridge too far.
“In the commentary, it’s almost as if people are forgetting that this is real life, that this is not a show that we’re all watching,” Laura Palumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told USA Today. “Many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will go into a courtroom at some point and have an experience that is largely outside of their control, in a setting like this.”
“There’s such a strong desire in the public discourse for [Heard] to be the villain, for her to be the example of the fact that there are victims who have ulterior motives, that there are victims who are not telling the full truth,” Palumbo continued. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of folks thinking critically or wanting to understand the nuances of abuse or of unhealthy relationships.”