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Grammy Awards Renew Discussion About Transparency and Diversity

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  • Women made history at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, with Beyonce breaking the record for most Grammys won by any woman or singer ever and Taylor Swift becoming the first woman to win Album of the Year three times.
  • Still, the night was clouded by renewed calls for the Recording Academy to address its lack of transparency and inclusion.
  • Singers Zayn Malik and The Weeknd recently joined the list of stars who have called out the Academy’s “secret committees,” who vote for the show’s most prestigious awards.
  • The Weeknd took it a step further by promising to boycott the show indefinitely after he was snubbed with zero nominations despite breaking chart records with music from his critically acclaimed and top-selling R&B album, “After Hours.”

Beyonce’s Record Breaking Win Prompts Discussion

Beyonce and Taylor Swift’s record breaking wins stole the spotlight at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, but criticism from major stars and fans still poured in ahead of and during the telecast. 

Swift’s quarantine-recorded album “folklore” took home Album of the Year, making her the first woman to win the award three times. Beyonce went into the night with 24 Grammys to her name and left with 28, making her the woman and singer with the most wins in the award show’s history. She is now tied with producer Quincy Jones for having the second-most Grammy statues, behind only conductor Georg Solti.

However, her win prompted discussion about how the Recording Academy awards even its most celebrated artists. Of Beyonce’s 28 trophies, just one comes from a major category, her Song of the Year win for “Single Ladies” in 2010. Most of her wins come from genre categories like R&B. 

Compare that to the career of Allison Krauss, who Beyonce overtook as the woman with the most Grammy Awards. Of Krauss’s 27 Grammys, three came from top categories. Even Swift, who has 11 wins to her name, has three awards from major categories.

The gap highlights one of the Grammy’s largest issues: diversity and inclusion. The show has a history of awarding Black artists in scattered below-the-line categories, but it often looks them over when it comes to top prizes. In recent years, Beyonce has been snubbed by artists like Beck and Adele, the latter of whom devoted a portion of her speech to the matter. A similar moment occurred last night when Billie Eilish devoted her Record of the Year win to Megan Thee Stallion, who was a favorite to win for her song “Savage,” which featured Beyonce. 

“You deserve it, honestly. Genuinely this goes to her,” the “Everything I Ever Wanted” singer said while accepting the award. “Can we just cheer for Megan thee Stallion?” 

BTS Fans Slam Show

This familiar pattern of white artists acknowledging the successes of their Black peers on the stage of the show that snubbed them was not the only reason the show faced backlash. BTS fans in particular felt the Recording Academy used the band for its popularity while neglecting to reward them for their massive achievements.

The in-demand K-pop boy band was nominated for just one award last night: Best Pop Duo or Group Performance for their song “Dynamite.” Before the telecast even began, they lost to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me,” which marked the first time a duet by female artists won the category.

Still, for the more than three hours that the show ran, the Grammys repeatedly teased BTS’s performance, which it saved for the end of the program. Fans argue that if BTS is important enough to the show that it was designated such a coveted performance spot, the band also deserves recognition in major categories like Record and Song of the Year. The hashtag #SCAMMYS trended on Twitter as fans vented their frustrations.

Grammys Called Out for Secret Committees

Anger at the show started well before it even began airing. The Recording Academy has long been accused of being an unprincipled organization. Last week, The Weeknd even promised to boycott the show indefinitely because of its alleged deception.

The Weeknd was expected to be among the most nominated artists for the 2021 Grammys. His album “After Hours” and single “Blinding Lights” received critical acclaim and even broke Billboard records. Reports say he and the show engaged in heated talks with ultimatums regarding his Super Bowl performance before he wound up with a whopping zero nods. 

After nominations came out, he tweeted that the show was corrupt. On Thursday, he told The New York Times he would no longer allow his label to submit his work to the show because of the “secret committees” in the academy. 

Hours before the show aired, singer Zayn Malik joined critics in slamming the Grammys for not making enough progress on transparency and inclusion. Last week, he also called the show out for allegedly making their nominations based on gifts they receive from artists and producers.

The Recording Academy appears to be aware of these issues. During the show, the organization’s president, Harvey Mason Jr, took to the stage pledging to listen to marginalized voices. It also aired a statement condemning racism, sexism, and all forms of hate and vowed to work towards unity.

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Esquire) (Associated Press)

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Chris Pratt Denies Association With Hillsong Church: “I’ve Never Actually Been”

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The church has been accused of having anti-LGBTQ ties, something Pratt has taken a hit for. 


Pratt Addresses Hillsong Controversy 

After several years of facing criticism for his alleged ties to the controversial Hillsong Church, actor Chris Pratt said he has “never actually been” to the church and is “not a religious person.”

The Hillsong Church has been condemned for being anti-LGBTQ. The issue received increased attention in 2019 when actor Elliot Page tweeted, “If you are a famous actor and you belong to an organization that hates a certain group of people, don’t be surprised if someone simply wonders why it’s not addressed.” 

“Being anti LGBTQ is wrong, there aren’t two sides,” he continued.

At the time, Pratt responded to the allegations by saying that “nothing could be further from the truth” and that he believes “everyone is entitled to love who they want.” He doubled down on his denial in a profile published Tuesday in Men’s Health.

 “I never went to Hillsong. I’ve never actually been to Hillsong,” he told the outlet. “I don’t know anyone from that church.”

Instead, Pratt said he attends Zoe Church in Los Angeles, though not exclusively. According to Men’s Health, Zoe Church is not without its issues. The church was founded by a pastor who produced a film that equated “sexual brokeness” to “same-sex attraction.” Other outlets have also described it as a Hillsong affiliate. 

Pratt faced his biggest wave of backlash in 2020 when Internet memes declared him the “worst” Chris compared to other actors with the same first name, including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pine. A slew of celebrities quickly came to Pratt’s defense, arguing the criticism was unjustifiably mean. Their speedy responses only heightened the online conversation and many of the celebrities who spoke out were eventually mocked for doing so. 

Pratt Says He is Not Religious

As for why the Internet has become increasingly anti-Pratt, his alleged association to Hillsong was a major factor. Some also speculated he was a supporter of Donald Trump as he did not join his “Avengers” co-stars for a Joe Biden fundraiser, though Pratt is not usually politically outspoken in either direction.

Pratt believes the backlash against him started when he gave a speech at the MTV Movie Awards in 2018 where he said, “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.” He understands why those remarks may have rubbed people the wrong way. 

“Maybe it was hubris. For me to stand up on the stage and say the things that I said, I’m not sure I touched anybody,” he told Men’s Health. “Religion has been oppressive as fuck for a long time. I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person.”

He went on to explain that in his eyes, there is a difference between adhering to certain customs and believing in God versus using God to control and harm people and justify hatred.

“The evil that’s in the heart of every single man has glommed on to the back of religion and come along for the ride,” he said.

See what others are saying: (Men’s Health) (The AV Club) (People)

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Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”

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“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.


Actress Pushed at Protest

After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights. 

Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”

Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.

Sweetin Addresses Incident

Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over. 

“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.

“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.

According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter. 

“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him

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“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.


Theater Named Announced

Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title. 

The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. 

A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”

Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”

Chappelle Defends Controversial Special 

According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students. 

“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.

Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda. 

“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said. 

“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special. 

According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)

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