- 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)
M&M Announces “Progressive” Rebrand. Internet Asks: “Why?”
The company hopes its characters will “reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in.”
M&M Revamps Candy Characters
The green M&M — the femme fatale of the candy world — is swapping her tall white gogo boots for a pair of classic sneakers as part of Mars’ new effort to make the brand more “inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.” The change sparked a swell of backlash online from those who think the plain Jane facelift is unnecessary.
“M&M’S has been around for more than 80 years and this year the brand continues to evolve to reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.
“The refreshed M&M’S brand will include a more modern take on the looks of our beloved characters, as well as more nuanced personalities to underscore the importance of self-expression and power of community through storytelling,” the statement continued.
The company said it hopes for fans to notice an “added emphasis on the ampersand to more prominently demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together.”
What fans noticed, however, was the fact that the green M&M is no longer, well, sexy. Formerly known as Ms. Green, her prefix was dropped and her poses are less flirty. The same happened with Brown, also a female, who had her footwear changed to lower her heel. The company wants the two to represent a “force supporting women.”
In character bios on M&M’s website, Green described herself as a “hypewoman” who wants to “see more women in leading roles.” Brown says she is “Not bossy. Just the boss.”
The other characters are getting new styles as well. Red, the macho leader, is going to become more friendly and collaborative. Orange is getting to lean into his high anxiety, admitting in his profile that he can’t leave the house without “panicking.”
Twitter Mocks Rebrand
But it turns out, many people were seemingly happy with the gender-normed M&M characters just as they were. Rolling Stone put out a piece asking that Mars “let the green M&M be a nasty little slut.” The Guardian accused the company of “slut-shaming” the iconic candy cartoon.
On Twitter, the redesign was met with even more criticism.
“I will REFUSE to buy m&m’s until they make the green one SEXY again,” one person tweeted.
“They told green m&m she couldn’t go to euphoria high school anymore,” another person wrote.
“Finally an M&M with mental health struggles,” someone joked about Orange.
Others mocked it as an overall small and meaningless gesture of equality from a large corporation.
“Who needs equitable pay, healthcare, voting rights?” One person tweeted. “That stuff is for chumps. What we need is Woke M&Ms to carry us through these tough times.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CBS News) (The Independent)
Jay-Z, Other Artists, Sign Letter Supporting N.Y. Bill to Block Use of Rap Lyrics in Court
The legislation aims to “protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors.”
New York Senators Introduce “Rap Music On Trial” Bill
Jay-Z and a slew of other rappers and artists signed a letter this week in support of a New York law that would prevent rap lyrics from being used as evidence in court.
The bill, titled Rap Music on Trial, was introduced in November by state Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-Queens). Rap Music on Trial aims to “enhance the free speech protections of New Yorkers by banning the use of art created by a defendant as evidence against them in a courtroom.”
“The legislation will protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors,” a statement released by the senators said.
If the law were passed, in order to submit lyrics and other creative works as evidence, prosecutors would need to present “clear and convincing proof that there is a literal, factual nexus between creative expression and the facts of the case.”
Hoylman, Bailey, rappers, and many other advocates believe that rap lyrics are often used unfairly in court.
“The use of rap and hip-hop lyrics in particular is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” Bailey explained in a statement.
Major Artists Sign Letter Backing Legislation
The letter signed by Jay-Z echoed those concerns. It was written by his lawyer, Alex Spiro, and University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson. Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland, and Robin Thicke were among the other artists who put their names behind the cause.
“Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry,” the letter said.
According to Spiro and Nielson, using rap lyrics allows prosecutors to “obtain convictions even when other evidence is lacking.” They also argued the strategy specifically harms young Black and Latino men, who are “the overwhelming majority of artists in these cases.”
Several high-profile artists have experienced this practice themselves. In their joint statement, Hoylman and Bailey pointed to a 2019 case where Tekashi69’s lyrics were introduced in court to compel him to become a government witness to avoid harsher sentencing.
Per a report from Rolling Stone, the late Drakeo the Ruler was subjected to something similar while on trial for a 2016 murder case. Before he was acquitted of the crime, prosecutors attempted to use lyrics from his song “Flex Freestyle” in an effort to make jurors think he brought a group of armed people to a party to target the victim.
In the letter, Spiro and Nielson pointed to research that “identified hundreds of cases” where rap lyrics were exploited in court, noting that the genre has the “potential to be highly prejudicial.”
In one study they cited, two groups were given identical violent lyrics, but one group was told those lyrics came from a country song, and the other was told it was rap. Members of the group who believed the lyrics were rap “were significantly more likely to view them as threatening and in need of regulation” than members of those who thought the words came from a country song.
“Nobody thinks Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, or that David Byrne is a psycho killer, but routinely rappers have their lyrics used against them in criminal trials,” Hoylman said in a November tweet.
“As these and other studies suggest, weaponizing rap music against its creators is racially and culturally discriminatory,” the letter concluded. “It is also an affront to the First Amendment protections that everyone in this country should be entitled to.”
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Billboard) (The Gaurdian)
Britney Spears Sends Cease and Desist to Jamie Lynn Over Book Tour
Britney’s lawyer claimed that Jamie Lynn’s “ill-timed book” contains “misleading or outrageous claims” about the singer.
Britney Spears Slaps Sister With Cease and Desist
Britney Spears sent a cease and desist letter this week demanding her sister, Jamie Lynn, stop “referencing Britney derogatorily during” her book tour.
The two sisters have been embroiled in a heated war of words over the last week, largely prompted by Jamie Lynn’s new memoir, “Things I Should Have Said.” In the book and during its accompanying press tour, Jamie Lynn has discussed a variety of issues, including Britney’s controversial conservatorship, their father’s struggles with alcoholism, and what it was like to be raised in her older sister’s shadow.
“We write with some hesitation because the last thing Britney wants is to bring more attention to your ill-timed book and its misleading or outrageous claims about her,” Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Variety. “Although Britney has not read and does not intend to read your book, she and millions of her fans were shocked to see how you have exploited her for monetary gain. She will not tolerate it, nor should she.”
The Spears family has been the subject of international headlines over the last year as the legal battle to free the “Toxic” singer from her 13-year conservatorship took off. Britney has been vocal about the fact that she felt largely abandoned by her family while she was in the conservatorship, claiming they did nothing to help her. A Los Angeles judge officially terminated the arrangement in November, giving the pop star newfound control over her life.
“Having endured a 13-year conservatorship that stripped her of civil rights and fundamental liberties, Britney will no longer be bullied by her father or anyone else,” the letter continued. “Britney was the family’s breadwinner and she also otherwise supported you. Publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory.”
Spears Sisters Duke it Out on Social Media
During the press tour, Jamie Lynn has conducted interviews aired on “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” and the “Call Her Daddy” podcast with Alex Cooper. Britney has taken issue with several stories Jamie Lynn told, including one where she claims Britney locked them inside a room together with a knife because she was “scared.”
“I’ve never been around you ever with a knife or would I ever even think to do such,” Britney wrote in one Twitter post denying the story.
“Hope your book does well, Jamie Lynn !!!!” the singer wrote in another post. “My family ruined my dreams 100 billion percent and try to make me look like the crazy one.”
Jamie Lynn has defended her choice to write the memoir, arguing that she is “speaking my truth to heal my traumas.”
“I hate to burst my sister’s bubble, but my book is not about her,” she wrote. “I can’t help that I was born a Spears too, and that some of my experiences involve my sister.“
Rosengart mentioned this statement in the cease and desist letter.
“You recently reportedly stated that the book was ‘not about her.’ [Britney] takes you at your word and we, therefore, demand that you cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during your promotional campaign,” he wrote. “If you fail to do so or defame her, Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action.”