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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 On top of that, many felt this was already an outdated education strategy that people have warned against.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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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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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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