Source: LM Otero/Associated Press
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell condemned racism, apologized for not listening to black players in the past, and said “black lives matter” in a video released Friday.
- The apology came after an NFL producer reached out to several players before putting out a now-viral video asking the NFL to make such a statement.
- President Trump joined the conversation, first criticizing New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees for apologizing after saying it is ”disrespectful” to kneel in front of the American flag.
- Trump then targeted Goodell specifically on Sunday.
NFL Players Release “I am George Floyd” Video
For the first time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has condemned racism, apologized for not listening to black players’ concerns about racial injustice, and said, “black lives matter.”
Goodell’s statement, made in a video Friday, represents a massive change in stance for the league, which has largely opposed kneeling during the national anthem since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did it in 2016.
Goodell reportedly recorded his video after watching a now-viral video from multiple black NFL players, who themselves were responding to comments made by New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance Wednesday, Brees said he believed kneeling was “disrespectful” to the American flag. Soon afterward, his comments went viral, and he became the subject of intense criticism.
That same day, Bryndon Minter—a creative producer at the NFL—messaged Michael Thomas, a teammate of Brees on the Saints. Minter said he reached out because he was embarrassed by how the league had been silent and not condemned racism or said “black lives matter.”
Minter then pitched working together with Thomas to help make players’ voices heard. Thursday evening, joined by a number of NFL players, they released a video now known as “I am George Floyd.”
In it, the players ask, “What if I was George Floyd?” before ultimately saying that because racial injustice could just as easily happen to them as it did Floyd, “I am George Floyd.” The players then followed that “I am” statement with the names of about a dozen more black people killed by police or others, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin.
Those players also urged the NFL to condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people, to admit it was wrong in silencing players from peacefully protesting, and to say, “black lives matter.”
Goodell Condemns Racism, Says “Black Lives Matter”
For many, that video was a powerful moment of black players standing in solidarity to hold their organization accountable. It was also one that seemed to pay off as it was later reported that Goodell himself was also moved by the video.
In fact, according to an executive close to Goodell, “Roger felt like they were speaking directly to him. There’s been a lot of self reflection going on across the league.”
The next day, Goodell released a video statement where he answered many of the requests made in the players’ video and said, “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
Notably, that is is the first time Goodell has publicly said “black lives matter.” It’s also the first time the NFL has apologized for how it’s responded to black players.
In the past, Goodell condemned kneeling, saying that players should stand for the national anthem. At one point, he even endorsed a short-lived policy that would have forced them to stand.
Still, Goodell’s response did not fully satisfy many because while he apologized for how the NFL responded to black players, he did not apologize for the NFL’s stance on kneeling. In fact, Goodell never makes a specific mention to kneeling. He also never mentions Kaepernick.
“The NFL should explicitly say Colin Kaepernick’s name,” sports journalist Taylor Rooks said. “Can’t acknowledge the right to protest & not have his actions stated.”
Rooks also noted how much power those players in the “I am George Floyd” video have, saying, “SO much more to be done, but a lot can be accomplished when players speak as one.”
Goodell’s statement comes after a May 30 tweet where he said, “The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.”
“We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as a part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”
That tweet also received heavy criticism for not making any mention of racial injustice and for not addressing the NFL’s history with Kaepernick, who at one point, sued the NFL for allegedly colluding to blacklist him.
“@NFL what actual steps are you taking to support the fight for justice and system reform?,” NFL players like Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr said. “Your statement said nothing. Your league is built on black athletes. Vague answers do nothing. Let the players know what you’re ACTUALLY doing. And we know what silence means.”
Trump Blasts Brees and Goodell for Apologizing
President Donald Trump was among those criticizing Brees and Goodell for changing or seemingly changing their stances on kneeling during the national anthem.
“I am a big fan of Drew Brees,” the president said on Friday. “I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag.”
“NO KNEELING,” he followed up.
Sunday night, Trump then took aim at Goodell.
On Instagram, Brees directly responded to the president’s criticism, saying, “…this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”
“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform.”
“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”
Whether Goodell’s comments signify a serious change for the NFL remains to be seen as it won’t just require changes to executives and policies; rather, it will need to address whole teams, their players, sponsors, and even fans.
For example, last week, the Washington Redskins supported the protests by tweeting #BlackOutTuesday. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) then responded by calling the team out for the controversy around its name and mascot, saying: “Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name.”
See what others are saying: (Yahoo Sports) (The Wall Street Journal) (ESPN)
Marvel Stars Slammed for Defending Chris Pratt But Not Women or Actors of Color
- Twitter users have dubbed actor Chris Pratt their least favorite Chris in Hollywood, with many doing so because they believe he supports President Donald Trump or is at least a conservative.
- Some critics said that he attends an anti-LGBTQ church, follows right-wing figures on social media, and did not join his Marvel castmates in a fundraiser for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, among other controversies.
- However, Pratt has never explicitly shown support for Trump and has previously said he doesn’t feel represented by either of the major political parties.
- Marvel figures like Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Zoe Saldana, and James Gunn each expressed support for Pratt online. That then prompted backlash from fans who asked why similar support was not shown to women and people of color like Brie Larson, Zendaya, Anthony Mackie, and others who faced sexist or racist harassment online after joining the MCU.
Internet Picks Their Least Favorite Chris in Hollywood
Members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are facing backlash for how quickly they jumped to defend actor Chris Pratt after internet users dubbed him Hollywood’s worst Chris.
Pratt’s name has trended on Twitter several times since Saturday when one user asked people to pick a famous Chris to get rid of and many selected him.
While some admittedly just don’t like his acting, many actually chose him because they believe he’s a supporter of President Donald Trump.
Is He Actually a Trump Supporter?
However, his political views are not exactly clear, though many believe that he is at the very least a conservative.
Several people pointed out that he was notably not on the list of Avengers stars who hosted a virtual fundraiser to support Joe Biden. That event featured the likes of Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, and Zoe Saldana.
Other people said Pratt supports an anti-LGBTQ church.
That claim actually picked up last year when actress Ellen Page famously accused Hillsong Church in Los Angeles of being anti-LGBTQ.
The backlash later prompted Pratt to call the claim “absolutely untrue” and say that his church “opens their doors to absolutely everyone.”
“My faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or group of people,” he added.
Some also looked at who he follows on social media, suggesting it proves he has right-wing views.
Then there was that whole controversy surrounding a shirt he wore last year featuring the Gadsen flag, which has a coiled snake and the text “Don’t Tread On Me.”
That flag was created by American general Christopher Gadsden during the Revolutionary war but it has developed more political connotations in recent years.
According to Dictionary.com: “In the 2000s, the phrase became associated with a variety of libertarian, conservative, gun-rights, or far-right political groups as way to express their beliefs.”
Others pointed to a recent controversy he had when instead of urging people to vote in the upcoming election, he posted a joke about voting for “Onward” to win at the People’s Choice Awards. Many interpreted this as him mocking celebrities who are using their platforms to promoting voting. Others said he was downplaying the seriousness of the election.
View this post on Instagram
With all that’s going on in the world it is more important than ever that you vote. Just ask any celebrity. They will tell you. Every day. Several times a day. To vote. But me? I will tell you EXACTLY who to vote for. #onward The heroes before us did not spill their blood only to have their sacrifices wasted by your apathy. The upcoming 2020 People’s Choice Awards is the most consequential vote in the history of mankind times a million infinity. Vote for #Onward for family movie of the year. Or else. You WILL die. No hyperbole. Click the link in my bio. Let your voice be heard.
However, on the other side of this, CNN reported that he donated money to Democrat and former President Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2012.
On top of that, others looked to his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger-Pratt, daughter of the former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.
She has notably shown support for Biden, but it’s unclear if her husband shares the same views.
Still, he is also on record saying he doesn’t support either political party.
In 2017, he told Men’s Fitness, “I don’t feel represented by either side.”
“I really feel there’s common ground out there that’s missed because we focus on the things that separate us.”
Basically, there’s really not enough evidence to say that Pratt is a Trump supporter, but he hasn’t come out to confirm or deny it either way.
Avengers Assemble to Defend Pratt
Even so, the internet eventually turned their dislike for Pratt into somewhat of a meme.
Many are making jokes at his expense and generally referring to him as the worst Chris.
All of this backlash eventually prompted a number of his Marvel costars to come out and defend him.
Mark Ruffalo, for instance, said Prat is “as solid a man there is.”
“I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life. He is just not overtly political as a rule. This is a distraction. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, friends. We are so close now.”
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said Pratt, “is the best dude in the world. I’ve spent hours & hours sharing my deepest truths with this man, as he has with me. Please stop assuming what he believes, politically or in any other way, because he’s a Christian.”
Zoe Saldana followed up with a Tupac quote, “No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it.
“You got this @prattprattpratt,” she added. “Your family, friends, colleagues & everyone who’s ever crossed paths with you knows your heart and your worth!”
Even Robert Downey Jr. shared a photo with Pratt on Instagram.
“What a world,” he wrote in the post caption. “The “sinless” are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt… A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude… AND he just married iznto a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value.”
“If you take issue with Chris, I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of #character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness… @prattprattpratt I #gotyerbackbackback”
View this post on Instagram
What a world… The “sinless” are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt… A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude… AND he just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value. If you take issue with Chris,,, I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of #character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness… @prattprattpratt I #gotyerbackbackback (📸 @jimmy_rich )
Internet Users Accuse MCU Stars of Hypocrisy
Of course, many on the internet took issue with that swift display of support, especially since some women and actors of color in the MCU were met with silence from many of their costars when they faced bullying or harassment online.
For instance, some noted that Brie Larson faced a ton of harassment last year when she advocated for diversity in Hollywood.
She was regularly hit with a ton of sexist remarks at the time and “Captain Marvel” was flooded with negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before the film was even released.
Others said stars like Anthony Mackie, Tessa Thompson, Zendaya, and more actors of color have endured bullying, racist remarks, and even death threats without the same quick support Pratt received.
where was this energy for zendaya? brie larson? don cheadle? chadwick boseman? & anthony mackie? tessa thompson? when they were actually being harassed— wasteland, baby! (@ughhmedusa) October 21, 2020
Pratt has not comments on any of the backlash as of Wednesday afternoon.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Fox News) (CNN)
Fans Defend Billie Eilish From Body Shamers After Paparazzi Photo Goes Viral
- Billie Eilish was recently photographed wearing a tight tank top and jogger shorts, a departure from the usual baggy clothes she wears in an active effort to prevent people from commenting on her body.
- However, tabloids quickly spread this photo around and people ended up body shaming her on Twitter.
- Fans came to her defense, saying people should not critique anyone’s body or hold them to unrealistic standards. Some also pointed out that the world in general needs to normalize the fact that most people do not look like models.
- Billie posted a TikTok on her Instagram expressing a similar point of view. The TikTok was made by Chizi Duru, who said: “Y’all gotta start normalizing real bodies…Guts are normal…Instagram isn’t real.”
Billie Eilish Gets Body Shamed
Billie Eilish fans are calling out body shamers who made comments about the singer after she was photographed wearing non-baggy clothing.
Eilish was essentially wearing the unofficial outfit of quarantine, a fitted tan tank top and comfy jogger shorts, while out and about in Los Angeles on Sunday.
While most people get away with wearing something like that every day, the young Grammy winner was met with a tabloid frenzy. Eilish has become known for wearing baggy clothes and has even said she wears looser outfits intentionally to prevent people from making unprovoked comments about her body.
Photos of her in the relaxed attire went viral and made headlines, with gossip magazines quick to gawk at the pictures. Body shamers soon followed with their remarks. One Twitter user said she had a “mid-30s wine mom body.”
Fans Slam Body Shamers
Elish’s fans quickly ran to her defense, slamming those who body shamed the 18-year-old.
“There is nothing greater in this world than billie eilish being confident in her body,” one Twitter user wrote.
“To anyone who is body shaming Billie Eilish please stop putting unrealistic beauty standards on women,” another fan said. “She doesn’t deserve that and no one else deserves that either.”
Many also pointed out the fact that offensive and uncalled for comments like that are what stop the young singer from usually wearing fitted clothing.
Others called out tabloids for making a big story out of her wearing a normal casual outfit to begin with.
Billie Eilish Responds Responds
Eilish eventually issued an indirect response on her Instagram Story Tuesday night by sharing a TikTok from influencer Chizi Duru.
“Y’all gotta start normalizing real bodies, okay. Not everyone has a wagon behind them, okay,” Duru says in the video. “Guts are normal. They’re normal. Boobs sag, especially after breastfeeding. Instagram isn’t real.”
Eilish also posted a video of her walking past her Grammy awards, which many thought was a subtle clapback to body shamers.
This is not the first time she has addressed body shaming and other remarks made around her appearance and wardrobe. During some of her concerts, Eilish has played a short video where she recites a spoken word poem about her experiences with her body image and the media.
“Some people hate what I wear. Some people praise it,” she says in the video. “Some people use it to shame others. Some people use it to shame me.”
“The body I was born with is it not what you wanted? If I wear what is comfortable I am not a woman,” she continues. “If I shed the layers I’m a slut. Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it. Why?”
Some also shared this video as a reminder that body-shaming Eilish or anyone else is not okay. Her fans specifically pointed out that Eilish has been dealing with these kinds of issues for a long time and should not be subject to these repeated attacks.
See what others are saying: (Cosmopolitan) (Uproxx) (Glamour)
BTS Faces Backlash in China Over RM’s Korean War Comments
- Kim Nam-Joon, the head of the K-pop group BTS who is better known as RM, made comments during the Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala that prompted a boycott against the band in China.
- Kim emphasized the role both the U.S. and South Korea played in the Korean War, saying, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”
- Chinese fans said the comments were insensitive and didn’t acknowledge the 200,000 Chinese who died fighting against South Korea during the war.
- Companies like Samsung and Hyundai have distanced themselves from the group in China, removing them from branding.
What Was Said?
The K-pop sensation BTS has found themselves facing boycott calls in China after group leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made what Chinese fans are calling insensitive comments.
The remarks causing outrage were made during the Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala earlier this month while the band was accepting the Van Fleet award.
“We are very honored to receive the Van Fleet Award, presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of the relationships between Korea and the United States,” RM said at the ceremony.
“The Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala is especially meaningful, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War,” he continued before adding, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”
Backlash and Boycott Calls Emerge
It may be unclear to Western audiences why those remarks were viewed as so inflammatory. The Korea Society is a U.S.-based non-profit that promotes the relationship between South Korea and the U.S., so it’s not surprising that BTS would make a comment like that given the event.
However, on Sunday, the clip went viral and reached #3 trending on Weibo, a Chinese website similar to Twitter, where people were clearly upset. The issue, in particular, was the fact that 200,000 Chinese “volunteers” died fighting for North Korea during the war.
Users on the platform wrote things like, “Nearly 200,000 Chinese troops died in the war. Every Chinese person must remember this number.”
Meanwhile, others equated being a fan of BTS to betraying one’s Chinese nationality. “If you still fan them, get out and change your nationality! There is nothing wrong with liking Korean idols, but if your idols insult your country, if you continue to fan, then you are not worthy of being a Chinese!” One user wrote on Weibo.
Many users wanted BTS to consider Chinese losses during the war, despite the fact that China fought against South Korea and saved its long-time nemesis North Korea during the conflict, directly leading to the 70-year cease-fire and today’s current political climate in the region.
On top of this, Chinese fans were critical of BTS seemingly playing favorites with Americans, with one writing, “Chinese fans give you so much money each year, and you turn around and give it to the United States. What are Chinese fans then?”
Most notably, there were call for boycotts. One user asked, “when will NetEase Cloud Music will remove the song of the anti-Chinese boy group BTS?”
State-run papers also waded into the drama. The hyper-nationalistic Global Times the headline: “BTS hurts feelings of Chinese netizens and fans during speech on the Korean War.” That same piece played up the controversy by calling RM’s comments “a one-sided attitude.”
Korean Companies Step back
The backlash was so large that Korean companies began to distance themselves from the group. Companies like Samsung pulled a BTS-branded smartphone and earbuds from its stores and Chinese website, while Hyundai Motor also removed any BTS branding from its Chinese ads.
Together those companies make up around 22% of South Korea’s GDP.
In the past U.S.-Korea relations have led to a major backlash with China, like in 2017 when the U.S. and Korea agreed to put THAAD missiles in Korea. The backlash led to an economic downturn in Korea after China started boycotting and banning certain activities with Korea. Tensions eventually cooled and economic trade returned to normal.
It’s unclear if the Chinese government will officially respond in a similar manner to the 2017 THAAD controversy. When asked about the new controversy on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian only said, “I have noted relevant reports as well as the reactions from the Chinese people online. I want to say that we all should learn lessons from history and look forward to the future, hold dear peace and strengthen friendship.”
Experts like John Delury, a Chinese studies professor at Yonsei University – one of the major universities in Korea, told The Washington Post that the Global Times seems to have had a role in whipping up anger.
Even if that was the case, the controversy has already had a real-world impact since removing BTS branding in China will likely hurt the band’s image in that market.