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Reality TV Grapples With Racism Amid Calls for Change

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  • Several Vanderpump Rules” stars were fired by Bravo for racist behavior, including old tweets, and false criminal accusations against the show’s only black cast member.
  • Dee Nguyen from MTV’s “The Challenge” was fired after making insensitive remarks about Black Lives Matter and the death of George Floyd.
  • On top of that, Rachel Lindsay, the only black lead in the 40- season history of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” said she will dissociate from the franchise if they do not pledge to make the show more diverse and acknowledge its racism.

Vanderpump Rules Cleans House

As most facets of American culture are beginning to grapple with the racism that permeates them, reality television is no exception. Shows like “Vanderpump Rules” and “The Bachelor” are either ridding themselves of racist cast members or discussing how to prioritize diversity moving forward. 

On Tuesday, Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” fired four of its stars. Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute, who have been on the show since it began in 2013, were let go after former castmate Faith Stowers said the two called the cops on her, accusing her of being a wanted thief. Two others who just joined the show this season, Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni, were let go after old tweets with racist slurs resurfaced.

Stowers was the only black castmate when the incident happened over two years ago. She recounted the story in a discussion with Candace Renee Rice on Instagram last week. She claimed that Schroeder and Doute saw an article in the Daily Mail about a black woman who was at large, accused of drugging and stealing things from people. 

“They called the cops and said it was me,” she said. 

“It was just funny because they thought it was me because they saw a black woman with a weave so they just assumed it would be me,” she added. 

Stowers said they then called the cops who did not respond, not believing their claim. She initially learned this happened because Schroeder talked about it during a 2018 appearance on the Bitch Bible podcast, recounting the story as though she was a sleuth. 

In the podcast, Schroeder said the woman in the photo had tattoos in the same spot as Stowers. She also claimed that one of Doute’s friends had accused Stowers of stealing her credit card that night and that another “Vanderpump Rules” cast member accused Stowers of stealing his jacket. This prompted them to look through Stower’s Instagram to confirm that she was the girl featured in the article.

“We find a wig, she has a photo with the same wig that she had on because she likes her fucking wigs,” Schroeder said on the podcast. 

“So we’re like, we just solved a fucking crime,” she added. 

Schroeder said that when they called they cops, they dismissed their claim. She added that later down the line, Doute saw Stowers at a club and called the police again. According to Schroeder, the police claimed to know who Stowers was but did not feel the need to respond to Doute’s allegations.

Stowers said she left the show after all of this happened. After telling her story on Instagram, fans put a ton of pressure on Bravo to fire Schroeder and Doute for their behavior. Some claimed that their actions could have gotten Stowers killed because police have a history of disproportionately harming black people. 

The two issued apologies on Instagram. Schroeder said she “did not recognize then the serious ramifications that could have transpired.”

“What I did to Faith was wrong. I apologize and I do not expect forgiveness,” she added. In addition to being fired from the show, she has also been dropped by her agent. 

Doute stated that her actions were not “racially driven,” but she now knows they were irresponsible.

“I am now completely aware of how my privilege blinded me from the reality of law enforcement’s treatment of the black community,” she said. “It was never my intention to add to the injustice and imbalance.”

Boyens and Caprioni have both also apologized for their racist tweets, which included slurs and derogatory remarks about Black and Asian people. 

“I just want to say I’m just really, sincerely sorry. I’m not even…there’s no excuse,” Boyens said during the “Vanderpump Rules” reunion.

Caprioini echoed that statement, saying he was “ashamed” and willing to take responsibility for his actions. Bravo has not indicated what the show plans to do moving forward without four of its cast members. 

The Challenge Star Fired

“Vanderpump Rules” was not the only one letting go of stars accused of racist behavior. MTV’s “The Challenge” will now be moving forward without Dee Nguyen, who made insensitive remarks about Black Lives Matter following the death of George Floyd. 

When someone criticized her for still posting photos of herself on Instagram, she responded by saying, “People die every fucking day. U don’t know me or what I do.”

On Twitter, she also wrote “Idk why some of u think I’m anti BLM. I’ve been saying that since the day I lost my virginity.” Both of those remarks have since been deleted, but screenshots are still being shared. 

“We strongly condemn systemic racism and stand with those raising their voices against injustice,” the show said in a statement announcing that it would be severing ties with Nguyen. 

Nguyen also apologized in an exclusive story with Us Weekly and said she would take her words back if she could. Her friend and co-star Wes Bergmann also said he is trying to educate her and that she is focusing on her mental wellbeing right now. He claimed she is in a “mental health lodge” to attend daily psychotherapy sessions.

Change Demanded Within Bachelor Franchise

While there have yet to be any similar firings in “The Bachelor” franchise, there is a massive discussion among the fanbase and stars about racism and a lack of diversity on the show. The Bachelor and its spinoffs have become staples for ABC’s primetime slots. In its nearly two decade run, spanning 40 seasons, there has only been one lead of color, Rachel Lindsay. 

Lindsay wrote a blog post demanding that the show address the racism embedded in it. 

“Black people know historically and presently that the show is not formatted for their success,” she wrote. 

“It is a naive expectation to believe that leads will authentically start an interracial relationship for the first time on national television,” she added. “The sad reality is that people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor to the second half of the season.”

Lindsay elected to go on the show and take center stage as “The Bachelorette” in hopes that she could be a trailblazer and start change for the show. 

“Well, I am sad to say that after almost four years in this franchise, we still don’t have the diversity that this show needs, and that our audience deserves,” she wrote. 

“If changes are not made on the inside and outside of the franchise, I will dissociate myself from it. I am tired of asking for change and my requests have been ineffective,” Lindsay stated.

While Lindsay’s season finished airing several years ago, alumni from the franchise often come back for segments, specials, finales and reunions. Lindsay has attended several herself, often lending her voice as the show’s only black lead to conversations about the show and its impact.

Lindsay said that if the show wants to really address change, they need to cast leads who are truly interested in dating outside of their race, fix the lack of diversity on the show instead of excusing it, hire more diverse producers, and stop creating problematic storylines for people of color. She also said that the franchise needs to make a statement acknowledging their systemic racism. 

Lindsay is not alone in calling for change. Online, fans are demanding that the franchise start diversifying the cast. One petition calling for “Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchise” has over 70,000 signatures. 

“As creators of one of the most popular and influential franchises on television, ABC and Warner Bros. have an opportunity and responsibility to feature Black, Indigenous, People of Color (“BIPOC”) relationships, families, and storylines,” the petition states. “The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country–both in front of and behind the camera.”

Other leaders on the show are supporting this movement. Former Bachelor Nick Viall shared the petition on his Twitter, saying that he signed it himself. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (LA Times)

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BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Backlash After Claiming “Luther” Was Not an “Authentic” Black Lead

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  • BBC Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland sparked backlash after saying Monday that the Idris Elba-led series “Luther” was not authentic because the Black protagonist “doesn’t have any Black friends” and “doesn’t eat any Caribbean food.”
  • Many criticized Wayland’s remarks, arguing that she essentially implied the character was not “Black enough” because he did not fall into certain stereotypes. 
  • BBC defended the show and said they were “tremendously proud” of “Luther.” Meanwhile series creator Neil Cross said one of the reasons Elba was attracted to the role was because it did not center on race.

BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Controversy

The Diversity Chief at BBC sparked backlash after implying that the title character in the hit series “Luther” was not an authentic Black lead.

The crime drama ran for five seasons between 2010 and 2019, starring Idris Elba as detective John Luther. It won Elba a Golden Globe in 2012 and earned him four Emmy nominations. 

“When [Luther] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead,” BBC’s Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland said while speaking on diversity and inclusion strategies during the Digital MIPTV conference on Monday. “We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right?”

“But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic,” she continued.

Fans Defend “Luther”

Her remarks upset numerous people who felt Wayland was implying that Luther was not “Black enough” because he didn’t fall into certain racial stereotypes.

“This farcical criticism was clearly thought up out of boredom or just sheer ignorance,” one Twitter user wrote. “Luther is a brilliant series and actually shows a Black actor in a light not defined by anything but his ability to do his job. Stop using stereotypes to justify your own insecurities.”

Many pointed to the fact that even successful actors like Elba still have to deal with being labeled either “not Black enough” in some roles, but “too Black” for others. Elba has long been rumored as a potential pick to be the next James Bond. If he were cast, he would be the first Black actor to take the famous role. Despite his popularity, nothing has come of those rumors.

Others found the criticism of him not having Black friends to be especially weak because Luther did not have a lot of friends in general, as one of his character traits was his stark commitment to his job.

BBC and “Luther” Creator Respond

The creator of “Luther,” Neil Cross, told The Daily Mail that one of the reasons Elba was interested in the role was because it had nothing to do with race. Many doubled down on the fact that the show was great because his character was complex and human on his own without having to deal with racial issues, something that is often not seen in shows with Black leads.

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“I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a Black man in modern Britain,” Cross said in his statement to The Daily Mail. “ It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a Black character.”

“We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a Black character,” he continued.

A BBC spokesperson also defended the show in a statement to The Independent saying the network is “tremendously proud” of “Luther.”

“The BBC is committed to its continued investment in diversity and recent BBC One dramas ‘I May Destroy You’ and ‘Small Axe’ are testament to that,” the spokesperson continued. “Of course people can have open discussions about our shows but that doesn’t mean it’s a statement of policy.”

Elba himself has not directly responded to the situation, though some think an Instagram story he posted Wednesday may have been related to it.

“We must not pull ourselves backwards, only push ourselves forward,” the actor wrote. 

See what others are saying: (The Independent) (The Daily Mail) (The Wrap)

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Durte Dom Returns To TikTok Following Sexual Assault Accusation Levied Against Him

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  • YouTuber Dom Zeglaitis, a former member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad known online as Durte Dom, returned to the Internet less than one month after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2018 who was too drunk to consent.
  • Zeglaitis has not issued a response to the allegation, but in the past three days, he has posted a dozen TikToks that mostly consist of short sketches and jokes he filmed with friends. 
  • One post shows Zeglaitis participating in the “Bulletproof” challenge, with text in the clip reading, “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…”
  • Several people, including major creators like Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, are now calling him out for seeming to make light out of a serious situation.

Durte Dom Returns To Internet

Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, also known as “Durte Dom,” has resumed posting on social media after nearly a month of silence since he was accused of sexual assault. 

A woman told Insider in March that Zeglaitis raped her while she was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018. She said that she and her friends were hanging out with YouTuber David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad at the time. The accuser, who was under 21 the night of the alleged assault, claimed the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol. 

The fallout of this allegation has been significant. While Zeglaitis has yet to respond to it, Dobrik has issued multiple apologies and faced most of the financial repercussions as frontman of the group. Both Zeglaitis and Dobrik were later demonetized by YouTube. Dobrik also lost multiple sponsorship deals and bowed out of Dispo, a photo-sharing app he co-founded. He is now taking a break from YouTube and social media. 

Though Zeglaitis has returned to the Internet, he is still largely ignoring the sexual assault accusation levied against him. He specifically began posting on TikTok over the weekend, and since then has posted roughly a dozen videos on the platform. 

Durte Dom Jokes About The Vlog Squad on TikTok

Most of the videos are short sketches or comedy bits with his friends. In one, he and a friend are going through Omegle while Zeglaitis is off-screen. The friend asks the people on the other end of the chat “What are your thoughts on Durte Dom?” before Zeglaitis enters the shot.

Several of the videos continue to reference Zeglaitis’ sleazy, womanizing, reputation. One shows him claiming to have “smashed” adult film star Riley Reid. In another, he is sitting on a lounge chair throwing money at girls dancing next to him. 

The video generating the most attention, however, is his take on the viral “Bulletproof” challenge. That TikTok features him standing below a text block that reads “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…” while the song “Bulletproof” plays in the background.

@dominykas

bruh why they kick me out?!? 😐😵 @daviddobrik #vlogsquad #foryou #tiktok

♬ original sound – DurteDom

In the caption of that video, he tagged Dobrik and asked “bruh why they kick me out?!?”

Creators Call Out Zeglaitis for Ignoring Allegation

This specific TikTok caught the attention of major creators, including Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, who dueted that video to call Zeglaitis out. 

“Someone please make this make sense to me,” Mongeau wrote.

“This mf serious?” Klein said.

They are not the only ones frustrated with Zeglaitis. Many responded to the video in the comment section shocked he was posting at all, bringing up the sexual assault allegation, and urging him to not treat it as a joke. 

The comment sections on the rest of his videos are similarly flooded with people who are outraged that he is posting regular content as though nothing had happened.

See what others are saying: (Insider)

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TikToker Neumane Called Out for Copying Content From Smaller Creators

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  • Kane Trujillo, a comedy TikToker known as @neumane, is facing backlash after fellow TikToker Joey Bailey posted a video noting that Trujillo has risen to popularity off content copied from several, often smaller, creators.
  • Bailey also shared an alleged audio message he received from Trujillo where he threatened Bailey to take his call-out video down before sending a second message promising to pursue legal action.
  • In a clip from a TikTok live stream, Trujillo addressed the controversy by saying that “nothing’s original” and seemingly admitting to copying.
  • “It’s not who made it first, it’s who does it better,” he said in the clip. “Who gives a f*ck about some little copied content? … I’m an actor. I’m not a writer, I’m not a f*cking storyteller…You give me a script, I will f*cking nail that sh*t. And I’m not gonna think of it, no, but I’m gonna make yours better.”

Stealing Accusations

Popular comedy TikToker Kane Trujillo, who has over 2.7 million followers and is known on the platform as @neumane, has been called out by fellow creators for a pattern of stealing content.

The latest creator sounding the alarm is Joey Bailey (@joey.bailey), who posted a video to the app on March 15 that showed Trujillo’s posts next to the original versions he appears to have replicated, often word for word and with nearly identical expressions.

Similar allegations regarding Trujillo were made on March 13 in a YouTube video from thatsjustchris.

@joey.bailey

they took this down so this is the last time I repost it

♬ original sound – Joey

In a follow-up TikTok and a longer YouTube video, Bailey went on to explain that he received an audio message from Trujillo through Instagram trying to get Bailey to take the call-out video down.

@joey.bailey

I got a lot of questions about the messages in the last post so heres the final update and that’s it

♬ original sound – Joey

“You can kindly take it down and we can just, you know, be cool and move on from all this sh*t, or you could just leave it up and have a lot of enemies from here on out,” the voice that allegedly belongs to Trujillo can be heard saying in the audio.

Bailey said he privated the video after that because he “didn’t want to become the drama TikToker,” but he eventually changed his mind, arguing that he wasn’t starting drama, he was just standing up for himself.

After he unprivated the video, he said Trujillo sent him another message promising to pursue legal action.

“As of today me & my management team will be proceeding with a False Accusation lawsuit against you. I wish we didn’t have to go this far but you leave me no choice,” that message read.

Copied Creators Express Mixed Feelings

In total, at least several creators appear to have had content copied by Trujillo: @nuhchez, @ty_t.v, @brodiefalgoust, @dawson.taylor1, @licout, @lemmuelmamotsau, and @joey.bailey.

In statements to The Daily Dot, some of those creators essentially said they’ve accepted that this is something that happens on TikTok.

“This is something I’ve come to accept because sadly TikTok is an app that will push stolen content and Suppress originality!” Natchez Ballinger (@nuhchez) told the outlet in an email. “Creators have stolen from me since I’ve joined the app, I take it as flattery in a way.”

“I mean yeah he did steal my video and it became more popular but it’s TikTok,” Dawson Anderson (@dawson.taylor1) told the outlet via Instagram. “I don’t really care all that much it’s a video trend not worth crying over.”

Still, others were much more frustrated.

“The thing with him is that he doesn’t steal ideas, he steals the video word for word, uses the same sound, the same gestures, and even the same wording without giving any credit to the creator whatsoever,” Brodie Falgoust (@brodiefalgoust) told The Daily Dot via Instagram. “That is how he gained all of his following, and continues to do it still (even after being called out). I get ripped off all the time but It’s frustrating as a smaller creator who is constantly coming out with original content when a person with a big following comes and takes credit for your originality.”

“People take my ideas but any creator that has been bigger than me has given me credit!” Falgoust continued.

“There is [a] large difference between following a trend and ripping off someone’s work shot for shot and word for word,” said another creator who spoke to the outlet anonymously out of feat of legal retaliation.

“A lot of users do not understand how much work some of these creators are putting into original content. And for Neumane to hunt down those smaller creators and reproduce their successful content as his own without acknowledging credit is exasperating. The real issue becomes the money and opportunity he is being given by eating off of the backs of others.”

Neumane’s Response

In a clip of a TikTok live stream reviewed by The Daily Dot, Neumane addressed the controversy by saying, “nothing’s original.” He also seemed to admit to copying.

“Imagine showing hate to somebody on the internet,” Trujillo reportedly said during the live stream. “Like bro, just show love. Who gives a f*ck about some little copied content? Like, just make it good, and yours will get a lot of views. Do good expression, act well. I’m an actor. I’m not a writer, I’m not a f*cking storyteller. I’m an actor. You give me a script, I will f*cking nail that sh*t. And I’m not gonna think of it, no, but I’m gonna make yours better.”

A viral TikTok by @ttdramanews covering the allegations against Trujillo shared portions of that clip, which also shows Trujillo saying, “It’s not who made it first, it’s who does it better.”

According to The Daily Dot, Trujillo talked about people needing to show love, though commenters quickly pointed out that he’s the one threatening others with legal action.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Joey Bailey) (thatsjustchris)

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