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Kristen Bell Responds After Critics Accuse Her of Teaching “Color Blindness” in Children’s Book

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  • Kristin Bell co-wrote a children’s book titled, “The World Needs More Purple People,” which is about a “purple person” who “looks at similarities before differences.”
  • She hopes teaching children to do this will allow them to be open-minded when hearing other people’s differences or connecting with people they thought were different. 
  • Critics say it teaches color blindness, which ignores people’s history, culture, and personal experiences.
  • Bell responded by saying the book was not intended to be a tool to teach kids about race but was meant to help kids see past political divisiveness.

Kristen Bell’s Book 

Kristen Bell is facing a slew of backlash online for co-writing a children’s book that many feel promotes color blindness rather than recognizing people’s different races and ethnicities. 

The book causing all the outrage is titled, “The World Needs More Purple People,” which she co-wrote with Benjamin Hart. In a recent interview with AP Entertainment, Bell explained her thought process behind the project.

“Adults love debate, I do, and debate talks about differences. It’s layering difference upon difference upon difference, ‘I think this’, ‘no, you should think this’, it’s just constantly pointing out divisive narratives,” she said.

“Our kids are absorbing all of that and maybe we needed a bit of a road map to show them that it’s actually great to start with similarities first.”

She went on to explain this idea that if people can find a connection to each other first, they can better hear each other out on their differences. So for this book, she created a “purple person” who “looks for similarities before differences.” 

“Hopefully that will allow kids to have a little bit more of a social identity and be able to see similarities and through that have their mind opened by some people who they thought were different.”

Responses 

While Bell may have had good intentions about unity and understanding, she faced a lot of backlash from those who argued that this wasn’t the best way to teach kids about race. 

In general, people felt this was essentially promoting an “I don’t see color” message, which ignores people’s history, culture, and personal life experiences. On top of that, many felt this was already an outdated education strategy that people have warned against. 

One user said, “Purple people don’t exist. They aren’t oppressed and actual BIPOC aren’t asking for white people to find the similarities with them in order to be humanized. Also BIPOC don’t get to dance around the topic of race to their own kids.”

And another user gave a personal experience, saying, “As a brown kid who grew up in an all white community, I remember trying to fit so that I could feel more similar to the white kids around me. It made me shrink myself. When we tell poc kids to look for similarities it makes them think their differences are wrong.”

That same user was also frustrated by the fact that Bell equated “differences” with “divisive narratives,” calling that gaslighting. 

Fans Defend Bell

This is not the first time Bell has come under fire for trying to address racism in America. Last week, she also faced criticism for participating in the #ITakeResponsibily campaign video. That movement calls on white people to stand up for the black community through education and action, but some found the style of the PSA disingenuous since it featured trained actors passionately reading a scripted message. 

That PSA was even spoofed by the white actors from the Netflix series “Dear White People,” who filmed a similar black and white video with slow piano playing in the background.

But even with all this recent backlash, many have defended Bell for at least trying to use her platform for good, pointing to how vocal she’s been about racism on social media. 

She’s been similarly vocal on television. When appearing on CBS to talk about her book Friday, she continued to call on white people to not let these conversations about race fade away. “It has to be stated it does not fade away for Black Americans. This is the reason why white Americans need to choose to keep it at the forefront of their mind.”

So with all this in mind, fans noted that she may have missed the mark, but is clearly trying to educate herself and be a good ally. 

At the same time, however, people argued that she doesn’t seem to understand the subject she’s trying to tackle, calling at an example of how good intentions can cause harm.

Bell Responds

After seeing the backlash, Bell took to Twitter Sunday night and Monday morning to respond to several people who were confused about the book, saying, “Its being looked at like [a] book intended to teach kids abt race, which its not at all,&I am also not qualified to teach on. Its a book abt kids finding things in common, being inclusive, being kind,&being uniquely themselves.”

In other replies, she said she wrote the book two years ago to help kids see past political divisiveness and apologized if her words were confusing. “I think through the lense of today my sameness was interpreted as colorblindness, which I do not believe in or condone,” she said.

When asked if she consulted with any black people about the book, she said, “random house participates in ‘authenticity reads; as part of the editorial process. Those readers were asked to evaluate with an eye toward inclusion and to help us recognize any blind spots.”

Ultimately, she said her book is about standing up for what you believe is right and she’s been actively trying to explain that message in conversations with people online.

Bell’s book is already on sale, however, she also uploaded a free read-along version to YouTube in partnership with PBS kids.

See what others are saying: (Complex) (The Independent) (Vulture)

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Quinta Brunson Says This Country is “Not Okay” Following Requests For School Shooting Episode of “Abbott Elementary”

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“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this,” the writer and actress tweeted.


Quinta Brunson Calls Out “Wild” Requests

“Abbott Elementary” star and creator Quinta Brunson shut down requests for her to make an episode of the hit comedy series involving a school shooting. 

“Wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write,” Brunson tweeted “People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment.’ I can’t ask ‘are yall ok’ anymore because the answer is ‘no.’”

Her message came one day after 19 children and two teachers were killed during a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It marked the 27th school shooting of 2022, just 22 weeks into the year. The news of the massacre has rocked the nation, dominating the cultural conversation with calls for change

Brunson believes those calls should fall on the ears of politicians, not television writers. 

“Please use that energy to ask your elected official to get on Beto time and nothing less. I’m begging you,” Brunson said to fans, referring to Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D), who publicly confronted Gov. Greg Abbott (R ) about gun control legislation during a press conference the same day. 

“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this. We’re not okay,” she continued. “This country is rotting our brains. I’m sad about it.”

“Abbott Elementary” is a heartwarming sitcom following teachers at a public Philadelphia elementary school. Brunson plays Janine Teagues, a passionate and optimistic second-grade teacher. Despite a lack of resources and funding, Teagues and the rest of the staff are deeply committed to helping their students learn and succeed. 

Brunson Shares Example of Suggestion

Brunson shared an example of “one of many” messages she received suggesting a school shooting episode for “Abbott Elementary.” The anonymous fan said a shooting should happen in the “eventual series finale” to “highlight the numerous ones in this nation.” 

“Formulate an angle that would get our government to understand why laws need to pass,” the message continued. “I Think Abbott Elementary can affect change. I love the show.”

In response to Brunson’s thread, many were shocked that viewers would want to watch something so devastating happen on a largely uplifting show. Some followed Brunson in questioning why those fans were not directing their focus on politicians instead. Others were frustrated that these requests were being pointed at a joyful show depicting a predominantly Black school.

“I look to Abbott Elementary for a laugh, not a reminder about how black kids will never be safe,” one person wrote. 

Having just finished its first season, “Abbott Elementary” is currently being credited as one of the few series saving the network sitcom. It raked in ABC’s highest ratings for a comedy since the series finale of “Modern Family” in 2020. It also became the first ABC sitcom premiere to quadruple its ratings since its initial airing.

“Abbott Elementary” is highly acclaimed by both critics and viewers and is considered a favorite for Emmy nominations this year. It is expected to return in the fall. 

See what others are saying: (People) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Washington Post)

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Ricky Gervais Criticized For Jokes About Trans People in New Netflix Special

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The backlash comes less than a year after Dave Chappelle received similar criticism for his most recent stand-up special on Netflix. 


Ricky Gervais Aims Jokes at Trans Community

Comedian Ricky Gervais is facing backlash over transphobic remarks he made in his latest Netflix stand-up special “SuperNature.”

Less than five minutes into the program, which was released on Tuesday, Gervais began aiming his jokes specifically at trans women. 

“Oh, women. Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones,” Gervais said. “The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those fucking dinosaurs. I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately. The ones with beards and cocks!” 

“They’re as good as gold, I love them,” he continued. “And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies, look at their pronouns. What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore?’” 

He then bemoaned cancel culture and “woke comedy,” claiming the surest way for someone to get canceled is to tweet that “women don’t have penises.”

Gervais is no stranger to prompting controversy and outrage with his comedy. He likely anticipated that his remarks would cause a stir, especially given that he carved out time in his special to defend his jokes about trans people. 

“Trans people just want to be treated equally,” he said. “I agree. That’s why I include them.”

Gervais noted he made jokes about a variety of groups and people, arguing that these remarks are not a window into his soul or beliefs. He said he would “take on any view” to make a joke as funny as possible, even if it does not reflect his own opinions.

“In real life, of course, I support trans rights,” he said. “I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns.”

Moments later, he joked that ladies should still “lose the cock.” The audience erupted in laughter. 

Gervais Faces Backlash Online

Gervais was met with swift criticism within hours of “SuperNature” debuting on Netflix. Many said they would cancel their Netflix subscriptions because of the transphobia on the platform. 

“Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today,” one person tweeted. “[Five] minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking & raping people in public bathrooms. To him we exist only as a punchline, a threat, something less than human.”

“Ricky Gervais is a disgrace, he is going to cause hate crime and ultimately the death of Trans folk,” another person added.

Some further claimed that on top of it being offensive, it is lazy to take shots at marginalized communities in the name of comedy. 

“This isn’t comedy. This is making cheap, nasty stereotypes out of a minority group,” one person wrote. “Please, if you’re Transgender or Support Trans lives, don’t watch this.”

Others accused Gervais of riding a wave of transphobia that has recently popped up among major comedians. Last year, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer” sparked a wave of backlash over the comedian’s jokes about trans people. Netflix staffers staged a walkout in protest, demanding that the company do more to help LGBTQ+ creators and stand against anti-trans content. 

Terra Feld, a former Netflix employee who helped organize the protests, encouraged subscribers to ditch Netflix over Gervais’ recent remarks. 

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (AV Club) (IndieWire)

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Halsey Says Her Label Won’t Release Her New Song Unless They Can “Fake” A Viral TikTok Moment. Artists Say This Points to a Larger Issue in the Industry

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Artist Sizzy Rocket said that record companies are forcing musicians “to fit into this box of virality” in hopes of landing a quick hit.


Halsey Calls Out Record Label

Over the last several years, TikTok has changed nearly every aspect of the music industry by sending viral songs to the top of the Billboard charts. Even major artists like Halsey say they cannot escape the pressure to go viral, sparking concern over how the app is influencing music.

On Sunday, Halsey, who uses she/they pronouns, posted a TikTok saying they had a new song they were eager to release, but their label said they “can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok.”

“Everything is marketing,” Halsey wrote, adding that this issue is impacting “basically every artist” right now. 

Countless songs, including chart-toppers like “Old Town Road” and “drivers license” first soared to success on TikTok. Labels are eager to recreate that path in whatever ways they can.

Halsey’s label, Astralwerks-Capitol, gave a statement to Variety claiming its “belief in Halsey as a singular and important artist is total and unwavering.”

“We can’t wait for the world to hear their brilliant new music,” the statement said. 

In response, Halsey noted that Astralwerks was the company that signed her before upstreaming her to Capitol. She said this statement in particular “came from the company who believed in me from the jump” and not the company she is “wrestling with now.”

Artists Speak Out

Nearly eight million views later, Halsey’s TikTok prompted fans and people working in the music industry to criticize the practice of forcing songs to go viral.

“Halsey has sold over 100 million records and she is having to put up with this nonsense?” musician Rebecca Ferguson tweeted. “Artists and creatives should be ‘free.’”

“halsey’s tik tok only scratches the surface of what’s happening in music right now,” singer and songwriter Sizzy Rocket added. 

While speaking to Rogue Rocket, Sizzy Rocket said that labels and producers don’t understand that making a song and going viral on TikTok are two different art forms. The pressure of going viral often puts artists in positions where they feel their creative integrity could be compromised. 

“Artists like myself and Halsey, who require a little bit more time and space to craft our messages, are sort of being forced to fit into this box of virality and so, it’s a big problem,” Sizzy Rocket said.

“As an artist, I can’t just do something to go viral.”

Sizzy Rocket said that labels have approached her to write songs for their more viral artists, oftentimes offering no pay for the session. 

“It’s taken me four albums, I just released my fourth album, and ten years to develop this melodic and lyrical style,” she explained. “You know I have a thing, I have a je ne sais quoi, and so to ask me to just give that to a brand new artist who just went viral overnight is truly offensive.”

Smaller Artists Face Bigger Issues

As Halsey’s call-out TikTok has spread online, the “Closer” singer denied that the video was a promotional stunt of its own, arguing she is “way too established to stir something like this up for no reason or resort to this as a marketing tactic.”

But whether it be intentionally or inadvertently, Halsey has drummed up attention for their new music. Smaller artists don’t have the luxury of being able to instantly reach the masses. Sizzy Rocket said that up and comers like herself have to struggle more to get the spotlight, while mainstream artists have a larger fanbase to fall back on. 

“I feel like smaller artists are more affected because we’re getting buried, right?” she said. “There’s so much content, there are so many people trying to go viral.” 

“I feel like larger artists, because they have a more established and bigger audience, they sort of have access to that attention already,” Sizzy Rocket continued. “But for smaller artists, we sort of have to like, dig, dig through the pile of everyone else sort of grabbing for that trend.”

While Sizzy Rocket does not consider herself a viral artist, she said she did at one point try to go viral on TikTok. After filming the video, she felt it would be of no benefit. 

“I just couldn’t post it because I didn’t understand how that sort of cheap grab for attention would help me deliver the message of my music,” she said.

With that said, Sizzy Rocket said she does not blame any TikTok artists who went viral on their own. Instead, she pointed the finger at labels who are trying to drive inorganic viral success while lacking an understanding of how art and social media interact with one another. 

“I don’t want to place any blame on the actual TikTok artists who did go viral. I feel like they deserve to make their art as well,” she said. “It’s more about the label prioritizing the platform over the art itself.” 

Other artists like Zara Larsson and Florence Welch have bemoaned the pressures they face from their record companies to be active on TikTok. Many agree that the expectations labels have in this arena are unfair to artists. 

“labels all want a dove cameron ‘boyfriend’ moment (which i’d argue was rather organic) but how sustainable is that kind of traction as it’s v fleeting + how can artists even replicate that kind of virality,” culture writer Zoya Raza-Sheikh asked on Twitter.

For Halsey, it remains unclear when their new song will see the light of day. In a tweet, they claimed their label was impressed by their TikTok’s traction, but only said “we’ll see” when asked if the song could be released. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Rolling Stone) (Entertainment Weekly)

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