Online celebrity feuds becoming trendy: are they to save floundering careers?

Twitter battle ensues between Oprah Winfrey and Stacey Dash

Twitter battle ensues between Oprah Winfrey and Stacey Dash

When Twitter launched in 2006, it was launched with a singular purpose in mind; to keep users close to the information they care about. As of 2012, more than 500 million registered users were sharing everything from photos, to recipes, to status updates with their fan base. But recently, the tide of the Twitter-sphere has shifted, and gone the way of a tabloid publication.

Celebrity feuds are nothing new in the media, but here in the 21st century cyberspace has created a whole new place for celebs to vent their disdain for each other to a worldwide audience. For many of these celebs, it is a way to challenge more established stars to boost their sagging popularity. Case in point; Stacy Dash and Oprah Winfrey.

In a recent interview while shilling for her latest film work, Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” media mogul Oprah compared the recent Florida case of Trayvon Martin trial to the murder and trial of Illinois teen Emmett Till in 1955 in Mississippi. In that case, Till was abducted from a relative’s home, taken to a barn where he was tortured and murdered by the husband and brother-in-law of a woman Till had spoken to earlier in a grocery store. The case made headlines due to the decision at the trial to acquit the men accused of the crime.

Apparently, Oprah’s words set off something in Dash, who took to the Twitter-sphere to lash out at Winfrey for her comparison.

If You aren’t careful, The newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed And loving the people who are doing the oppressing ~ Malcolm X Oprah Compares Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till; Says Obama is “Smart” for Not Appearing on Fox News via @foxnewsinsider Shame on you @oprah

Dash, the “star” of such films as “Clueless” and “Above the Top,” is an unwavering supporter of the Republican Party, and supported former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the most recent election calling him “the only hope for the future.”  She has tweeted on a number of hot-button political topics such as immigration reform, requiring voter ID’s and the military presence in Syria.

KK copy

Reality celeb Kim Kardashian and journalist turned talk show host Katie Courid

In a similar vein, “celebrity” Kim Kardashian recently fired back at journalist and talk show host Katie Couric on Twitter, and Couric made a statement recently to “In Style” magazine about her thoughts on the Kardashian family, and their contribution to the entertainment industry.

“I don’t understand … Why are they so famous,” Couric to the magazine. “I think it’s mostly teenage girls that are interested.”

Attempting to make a mea culpa to Kardashian after the recent birth of her first child with boyfriend Kanye West, Couric sent a gift to the couple with an enclosed note that read as follows:

Dear Kim and Kanye
Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl!
And may I humbly suggest you continue the K tradition for names
Fondly, Katie Couric

This “breach of etiquette” by Couric apparently unleashed something in Kardashian that could be likened to a post-partum hormonal imbalance, causing her to fire back on Instagram with the following hash tag laden dig:

#IHateFakeMediaFriends #MayIHumblySuggestYouNotSendGiftsThenTalkShit

The similarity between these two instances is simple; an unquenchable desire to remain relevant. Dash, who has had little media attention for her acting as of late has chosen to take to the web to share her political beliefs about the state of the country, challenging the current administration of President Barack Obama with Tweets like “This White House is like Lord Of The Flies. Someone please! Get the conch shell and lead us!”

Rapper Kanye West and celeb baby-momma Kim Kardashian

Rapper Kanye West and celeb baby-momma Kim Kardashian

Similar can be said for Kardashian. Since her “subsidized” wedding to basketballer Kris Humphreys, and their subsequent divorce, her “star” has been a bit on the decline. The pairing with rapper with West has done little to improve her popularity, as West is no stranger to media controversy.  West has repeatedly been at odds with reporters and paparazzi; just days ago the Los Angeles district attorney’s office chose not to pursue charges filed against the rapper by a reporter he allegedly got into a scuffle with at Los Angeles International Airport. The case is currently being reviewed by the Los Angeles city attorney for potential misdemeanor charges, which could pave the way for a civil suit.

Incidentally, sales of West’s most recent musical endeavor, “Yeesus,” dropped 80% in its second week of release, the 4th largest drop in history. Could his celeb status be in jeopardy as well?

So the question remains; is launching a “celebrity feud” on the internet the way to remain relevant? In the Dash vs. Winfrey battle, Oprah has taken the high road and remained mum on the topic. Couric did release a statement, taking the high road as one would expect saying:

“I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. The gift is genuine and I’m happy for Kim and Kanye.”

From the responses of some of their own followers, these two “battle-challenging celebrities,” should keep their thoughts to themselves and off the Twitter-sphere; #zipyourlips.

What are your thoughts on the celebrity cyber wars? Weigh in with your comments.



Embattled Paula Deen finally makes delayed “Today” appearance, but no direct apology

Embattled lifestyle guru Paula Deen makes “Today” show appearance

Lifestyle guru Paula Deen has been on more of a defensive than an apology tour this week. Her most recent stop was on NBC’s “Today” show. During the interview, Deen spoke a great deal about how the scandal has affected her personally, but didn’t utter a direct apology.

“I have been overwhelmed and in a state of shock,” said Deen. “There have been some very hurtful lies said about me.”

Lauer came out of the chute by grilling Deen on how the loss of sponsors and endorsement deals have affect her, and her business empire.

“Let me say this Matt,” Deen said, “what I am here today to talk about is what I believe, and how I live my life. I believe that every creature on this Earth, every one of God’s creatures was created equal.”

Lauer pushed the financial issue by quoting a headline that touted there were millions of dollars at stake tied to the “Today” show interview.

“Are you here to stop the financial bleeding,” Lauer asked.

“I am here today because I want people to really know who I am,” replied Deen once again deflecting the question.

The scandal stems from testimony offered in a deposition by Deen about her use of the derogatory “n” word with employees at her restaurants. Deen’s use of the word was also brought up in relation to a plantation themed wedding her restaurant catered for a private client.

“I am so grateful for the (business) partners that have stood by me,” was Deen’s only response to the number of sponsors who have dropped her brand or were considering doing so.

Lauer followed up by asking the burning hot-button question…is Paula Deen a racist?

“No, I am not a racist,” replied Deen. “I was raised in a house hold with a father who would tolerate bad grades or a broken curfew, but told me ‘girl if I ever find out that you have behaved in a way like you are better than anyone else your butt is mine.”

Lauer later asked Deen about her alleged use of the “n” word in the past. He cited that Deen admitted to using the word in her sworn deposition, and included an excerpt from her testimony regarding whether using the “n” word when telling a joke was acceptable.

Deen’s response was as follows:

“I don’t know. Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks…I didn’t make up the jokes. They usually target, though, a group…I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”

“Do you have any doubt that African Americans are offended by the ‘n’ word,” asked Lauer.

“I don’t know Matt,” responded Deen. “I have asked myself that so many times because it’s so distressing to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It’s very, very distressing.”

“You never joined in on that language,” asked Lauer.

“No,” said Deen emphatically, “absolutely not!”

Later, Lauer asked Deen if upon reflection she wished that she had fudged the truth a bit.

“No,” she replied. “I am only prejudiced against two types of people; thieves and liars.”

Deen became quite emotional at the end of the interview, and while never offering an actual apology, alluded to the fact that she has apologized on previous occasions, and spoke about how the hurtful words and speculation had been damaging to not just Deen and her business but to family and friends as well.

“The people that know me, they are angry,” she said.

At the end of the interview, Deen evoked the words in the Bible regarding sin, and chalked up much of what has happened to a case of professional jealousy.

“If there is a person out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you’re out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me, please. I want to meet you. I is what I is, and I’m not changing. And, there’s someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for and they wanted it.”

What do you think of Paula’s interview on the “Today” show? Weigh in with comments.

Former NFL player Michael Strahan named new co-host of “Live with Kelly and Michael”

Michael Strahan joins Kelly Ripa for “Live with Kelly and Michael”

The wait is over. Kelly Ripa introduced her new co-host on this mornings show. Former NFL player Michael Strahan was named permanent co-host joining Ripa for “Live with Kelly and Michael.” After an exhaustive search that included 59 other men and women sharing the helm with Rips, Strahans charisma and natural chemistry sealed the deal as the new co-host.

“As a guest co-host, Michael’s chemistry with Kelly was off the charts, and continued to grow each time he visited the show,” said longtime Live EP Michael Gelman. “The interaction between the co-hosts always has been what makes this show different from any other on television. Kelly and Michael’s ability to play off of one another and just plain have a good time together creates great TV for the audience.”

Strahan made the short list of finalists with SNL’s Seth Meyers, and vocalist Josh Groban. His new gig will not effect his duties as a commentator for Fox NFL Sunday.

What do you think of their choice? Weigh in with your comments.

This week: a great week for the “L” of GLBT community, tough for others

One says she was, one won’t say she is, and one is proud to be!
Anderson, Rodriguez and Paone

It’s been a wacky week in the land of gay this week! From Chick-Fil-A and their “Customer Appreciation Day,” to the big gay “Kiss-in” the following day, it’s been a week to remember. But chin up; lesbians had a great week! Gillian Anderson of “X Files” fame announced a past relationship with a woman…posthumously. “Bisexual” actress Michele Rodriguez added more ammo to the cannon pointed at her by trying to “shake off” some of the gay innuendo about her. And comedienne Nicol Paone embraces her inner bisexual (and a particular fondness for boobs!) in a new interview. Read more by clicking this link, and enjoy!

Sally Ride’s “coming out” in obituary sparks debate, raises question of public relations vs. privacy

Sally Ride & longtime partner Tam O’Shaunessy

Let’s file this under the category of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” The late astronaut Sally Ride, who died earlier this week, is under fire posthumously for coming out. The first US woman in space “came out” in the obituary she co-wrote with her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. While family and friends were long aware of the relationship and Ride’s sexuality, the revelation came as quite a surprise to the general public.

But do celebrated individuals have a responsibility to share their sexual preference publicly?

In the grand scheme of things, an individual’s sexual preference is a relatively small portion of what makes up that person’s life. So is there an obligation to share that portion of their life with the public? Many would say yes, that it is a part of the price you pay to be a public figure. Along those lines, many feel there is an obligation to support their community by using their celebrity for the advancement of the movement.  However others say that the choice to remain quiet about sexual preference is the right of the individual.

For the famous, this is a double-edged sword, which can cut them both ways. For some, such as actors Neil Patrick Harris and Chris

Chris Colfer & Neil Patrick Harris

Colfer, the revelations about their sexuality have had little or no effect on their career. Harris’ role on the popular CBS comedy “How I Met Your Mother” as the womanizing Barney still remains a popular character on a top-ten program. And Colfer, who entered the spotlight as gay character Kurt Hummel on ratings juggernaut “Glee,” instantly became an icon for not only gay youth, but self-proclaimed “gleeks” everywhere as well. Both have managed to traverse the media frenzy about sexuality relatively unscathed. But are Harris and Colfer exceptions to the rule?

Cruise, Travolta & Tebow

Film superstars John Travolta and Tom Cruise have long since been the source of speculation about their sexuality. The same can be said to a much lesser degree for new NY Jet quarterback Tim Tebow. Whether these individuals are in fact gay or not, the press about their supposed “true” sexual preference has or could eventually have an adverse effect on their careers. But does sexual orientation really matter when it comes to how an individual performs in their chosen professions?

While society seems to clamor for as much knowledge as there is on popular celebrities, sexuality seems to rank much higher on the scale than anything else. Actors and actresses, sports stars and musicians alike face more scrutiny over their sexual preference than their abilities in their chosen field. It seems that the speculation over a person’s sexuality can often overshadow current or future accomplishments. Recently out newsman and talk show host Anderson Cooper, spoke eloquently in his message about how his high-profile job could put him at risk in some areas of the world he travels to. And while speculation over his preference has run rampant for a long time, there was not a great deal of surprise when he announced officially.

The bottom line is this; a person’s sexual preference, and their choice whether to reveal that preference, should be left up to the individual. While a well-known entity can lend support to the gay rights movement, it is important to remember that that individual is still a person first, and a personality second. Sometimes a healthy curiosity should remain just that.

For Sally Ride, the speculation is finally over. And whether she meant to or not, she will forever be an example of how little sexual preference matters in the scope of one’s accomplishments in life.

This week: not a great week for the GLBT community

Quit your crying, it will be better next week.

First it was Chi-Fil-A’s chairman coming out (as a homophobe), then it was the Boy Scouts of America officially coming out (as homophobes), next came a ’70’s TV icon sharing his opinion on gay marriage (like a homophobe) and now we hear that Lady Gaga is “making our kids gay.” In short, it wasn’t the best of weeks for the GLBT community. Read more about the low points of the week…courtesy of The Huffington Post. Don’t worry, another week starts tomorrow.

Peruvian beauty queen’s comments causes Ricky Martin to take to Twitter

But I’m pretty, right?
Miss Peru Cindy Mejia

Ignorance on what it means to be gay is a worldwide pandemic, not just confined to particular geographic areas. Some use this ignorance as a propellant to a career that never was…or may never be. Case in point; the embattled Peruvian beauty queen, Cindy Mejia.

Cindy Mejia, the lovely, talented and open-minded winner of the Miss Peru beauty title recently gave an interview to Peruvian television entity Peru21, weighing in on the subject of gays, gay children, and particularly if she were to give birth to a child who might someday come out as gay. Her comments included this gem; that “these things (homosexuality) happen perhaps because a child grew up without a father or was molested or lived with his mother and sisters became effeminate.” Her response has lit a fire in a number of individuals; most notably Latin superstar Ricky Martin. He quickly took to the Twitter-sphere to call out the beleaguered beauty queen as “foolish” and “ignorant.”

Latin superstar
Ricky Martin

Ms. Mejia quickly released an apology, claiming a “lack of knowledge” was the cause of her comments. She has vowed to speak more carefully in the future, and has anointed herself a new “champion” in the fight against homophobia; offering herself as a spokesperson again “machismo.” An amazing turnabout, wouldn’t you agree?

Homophobia exists in almost every community. Gays and lesbians in both the African-American and Latino communities endure a huge stigma from their own for coming out as gay. But do individuals like Cindy Mejia fuel the fires of homophobia? According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 57% of gay individuals have experienced significant family rejection for being gay[1]. If you were to break this statistic down into racial profiles, the percentages might skew higher for minorities.

Ms. Mejia is a prime example of what a lack of knowledge can do to not just an individual, but to a culture. It isn’t right, but it exists, and it should be addressed. Through outreach, through education, but it must be addressed.

Do you think homophobia can be eliminated? If so, how? Comments are welcome…

[1] Excerpt from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey – October 2011