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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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Kellyanne Conway Accused of Posting Topless Photo of Her Underage Daughter

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  • A topless photo of Kellyanne Conway’s 16-year-old daughter Claudia was shared as a Fleet on the former Trump counselor’s Twitter page Monday.
  • Claudia later confirmed that the photo was of her but claimed she never sent it to anyone. She said she believes her mother made a copy of the photo after confiscating her phone in the past.
  • The incident sparked a new wave of concern for the teen, who has repeatedly accused her parents of abuse and unsuccessfully filed for emancipation last year.
  • Claudia changed her tone in a new statement Tuesday, suggesting that her mother would never post such a photo of her online, though some fear her comments may have been recorded by force.

Conway’s Account Posts Nude Photo

Kellyanne Conway, an ex-counselor to former President Donald Trump, is facing intense backlash after a topless photo of her underage daughter Claudia was shared on the elder Conway’s Twitter account Monday.

The photo was posted as Twitter Fleet, which is analogous to Instagram and Snapchat’s 24-hour stories features. It has since been deleted; however, before its removal, it was easily accessible to all of Twitter. Even now, it still exists in the form of screen captures.

After the photo was initially shared, Claudia took to TikTok to confirm that the picture was, in fact, of her.

“The picture’s from months ago, and I’m assuming when my mom took my phone… she took a picture of that, so that was on her phone, and I guess she accidentally posted or somebody hacked her but nobody would ever have any photo like that, ever,” Claudia said, noting that she had never sent the photo to anyone.

Claudia went a step further and accused Kellyanne of keeping the photo to one day use against her. 

Notably, on Tuesday, Claudia adopted a much different tone in another series of TikToks.

This isn’t force,” she said. “This is coming completely from me: Claudia. I have faith and I know that my mother would never put something like that on the internet, as well as me. We would never do that. My mom and I, we fight like mothers and daughters, but we also love like mothers and daughters, and I do love her. I will be taking a break from social media because we are really tired of being [featured in] headlines.’

Shortly after that video was posted, a number of people online pointed out that recently, Claudia said she wouldn’t leave social media on her own accord. Because of that, many think she was forced to record the message.

Conway Accused of Posting Child Porn

Online, many have accused Kellyanne of posting child pornography. 

Many have also reignited conversations of emancipation for Claudia, something the teen unsuccessfully pushed for last year. 

The posting of this photo comes one week after Claudia posted now-deleted TikToks that appear to show Kellyanne physically and verbally abusing her.

In one of those videos, a woman who seems to be Kellyanne can be heard screaming at Claudia while hurling a barrage of explicit insults at the girl. Other moments appear to depict Kellyanne throwing things at Claudia and even hitting her. In one, Claudia is crying and seems to be trying to ask Kellyanne to stop but is unable to get a word in. 

The New York Post reportedly reached Kellyanne by phone Tuesday morning for a statement about the incident. “We have no comment,” she told the outlet while also noting that she was “sitting here with Claudia.”

According to Variety, Twitter is investigating the matter. It is still unknown whether Kellyanne posted the photo herself or if her phone was hacked.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (New York Post) (Vulture)

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JoJo Siwa Swatted After Coming Out as Member of LGBTQ+ Community

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  • In an Instagram live on Saturday, YouTube star JoJo Siwa confirmed that police were called to her house on a false report, a dangerous trend commonly referred to as swatting. 
  • The incident happened hours after Siwa publicly confirmed that she is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Siwa believes members of the media may have called the police in an effort to force her out of her home so they could photograph her amid the excitement surrounding her announcement. 

JoJo Siwa’s House Gets Swatted

JoJo Siwa, the 17-year old YouTube star who is massively popular among kids, was swatted at her home on Saturday, hours after coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

During an Instagram Live with her videographer Nate Javier, Siwa confirmed that officers from the Los Angeles Police Department were called to her house on a false report.

Everyone inside had to step out with their hands up. As this happened, Siwa says paparazzi came out from around the corner.

She believes the media called the police to force her outside so they could photograph her while there was so much excitement surrounding her coming out. 

She called the incident “really scary” but said that she is safe and fine. 

“For me it was no big deal to walk outside my house. I’m okay,” she said. “But I feel bad because there was about 50 police at our house and those police could have had much better time spent somewhere else actually helping somebody instead of dealing with a fake claim from paparazzi.” 

Siwa Comes Out

Siwa made headlines over the weekend as fans began to speculate that she might be coming out. They were first tipped off by a handful of TikToks she appeared in, including one where she lip-synched to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. Then on Friday, Siwa shared a photo of herself wearing a shirt from her cousin that said “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.”

Many took this photo as her coming out and began to celebrate her for sharing this. On Saturday the star went live on Instagram confirming that she is part of the LGTBQ community. She thanked her fans for their support. 

“I have never ever ever been this happy before and it feels awesome,” she said.  

Siwa said she is not yet ready to specifically label herself and that right now she is just happy to be open and sharing this part of her life with the public. 

“The reason I’m not ready to say this answer is because I don’t really know this answer,” she explained. 

“I wanna share everything with the world. I really do. But I also want to keep things in my life private until they are ready to be public,” Siwa continued. “Right now what matters is that you guys know that no matter who you love, that it’s okay.”

Praise for Siwa Rolls In 

Many stars have applauded Siwa online, including actress Kerry Washington, singer Lil Nas X, and YouTubers Liza Koshy and Colleen Ballinger. 

“You’ve got our love,” Koshy wrote. “Shine on as always!”

“This is the happiest I’ve ever seen you,” Ballinger said. “You’re absolutely glowing and I’m so proud of the woman you are becoming. 

Many were also quick to point out the potential impact her coming out could have considering her large following of young people. 

“JoJo Siwa’s decision to share her truth with the world is a powerful moment,” wrote Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of GLAAD. 

“As one of the most influential young role models today, Jojo’s story is a reminder for LGBTQ youth to love who they are and to find safe and welcoming environments to speak out.”

See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (Newsweek) (Seventeen)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
  • The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
  • “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

Chappelle Tests Positive

Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.

“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.

Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle

Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.

Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.

Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.

“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)

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