Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their whacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
The Games Soap Opera
The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games had a rough start in media coverage, and things haven’t really improved. First, there was the announcement that spectators would not be allowed and the recommendation that bars and restaurants close. Then, one day before the event started, the Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Kentaro Kobayashi was fired for a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show way back in 1998. The comedy act, called, “Let’s play Holocaust,” drew outrage. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean and global social action director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement:
“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide. The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics.”
The rocky start to the Olympics continued as a Korean broadcast network ended up apologizing for its “totally inappropriate” graphics during the opening ceremony. Intending to make it easier for viewers to determine which countries athletes were from, MBC used images to represent each nation. Some choices, however, were unfortunate, to put it lightly. An image of Chernobyl represented Ukraine, and the Haitian athletes were accompanied by the caption “The political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president.” Italy was represented by pizza, and El Salvador was introduced with a picture of Bitcoin.
And the hits kept on coming. Two members of BBC’s Olympic commentary team, Ed Leigh and Marc Churchill, were criticized for refusing to call a non-binary athlete by their preferred pronouns. Team USA skater Alana Smith, 20, was knocked out of the Women’s Street Skateboarding semi-finals after failing to score three tricks at Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. On the skateboard, Smith had “they/them” written twice; also wearing a “pronoun pin.” Still, the commenters continued to refer to the athlete as “she” and “her.” BBC said it was an honest mistake and that things happen during live broadcasts while other announcers sided with the commentators, saying they didn’t notice the gender writing on the board either.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the Olympics so far is the developing story of the gymnast who decided to drop out of competition due to mental health concerns. Simone Biles is considered the star in the world of gymnastics. The 24-year-old has been hailed as “The Greatest of All Time” in her sport, but the athlete decided the pressure was too much and withdrew from the competition, setting the stage for Team Russia to win the gold medal for the first time in nearly 30 years. “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too,” Biles said. “So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
While many were supportive of her decision, lauding her for the courage to publicly display her mental health issues, others were not so compassionate. On Monday, July 26, the athlete posted on social media that she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. This was after she had a less-than-perfect qualifying that gave the Russians a better shot at the medal. When it came time for her vault performance, Biles didn’t do the intended routine, further damaging the Team USA’s score. She finished the routine, hugged her teammates, and then withdrew from the competition. Critics were appalled that someone would drop out of the Olympic Games because they couldn’t handle the pressure.
“And you know, there’s more to life than just gymnastics,” she said.
Biles was scheduled to defend her title in the all-around final on July 28, but she withdrew from that as well. She is still qualified for four other events later on, but has yet to say if she will compete.
Cheers And Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinseltown.
Britney Spears Gaining Popularity With Politicians
Britney Spears has gained a lot of attention recently for the fight against her father’s conservatorship. The pop star testified that she wanted to get the IUD birth control device removed because she wanted to get married and have children. Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) took issue with that problem, telling the Daily Mail:
“One of the other things that upset me about it was the IUD issue. Being forced to be put on birth control – an IUD that’s so invasive, inside your body, preventing you from having kids – that’s something that communist China does, not something the United States of America does. It’s truly a nightmare. If it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.”
Mace is co-sponsor on Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-FL) bill to allocate $250 million to provide caseworkers for those abused by conservatorship situations. If passed, Mace said it would allow Spears and others “to petition a judge or a court to request for a public guardian. Someone, perhaps, who doesn’t have any conflict of interest, financial or otherwise in this case.”
The Jan. 6 House Select Committee held its first meeting on July 27. Most of it was emotional testimony, especially by police officers. Fox News’ Laura Ingraham decided to give out mock “best performance” awards during The Ingraham Angle, suggesting those testifying were being overly dramatic. She said Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn gave the “best political performance” while Officer Michael Fanone gave the “best action performance.” She did not receive the best feedback, however, even from Republicans.
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) wrote on Twitter:
“We’ve always had a choice: We can attack those who attacked our democracy that day, or we can attack those who defended our democracy that day. Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and so many others chose the latter. Despicable.”
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.