- 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.
Great thing about Luther is that his skin colour isn’t the core of his identity.— Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) April 14, 2021
He’s fighting many battles. An example that we’re all human, we all struggle, but our ethnicity doesn’t always play a part in that.
That’s diversity, @MirandawTV. Equality!https://t.co/sIDc7c0pnL
“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)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”