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‘The Bachelor’ Cast And Fans Push Franchise To Reckon With Its Race Problem

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Rachel Lindsay is “f**king tired.”

The former “Bachelorette” has spent the years since her 2017 run as the franchise’s first Black lead as the spokesperson for the long-running dating show’s many issues around race. She co-hosts the official podcast of the franchise, “Bachelor Happy Hour,” and often takes on the burden of educating the show’s white viewers about race and racism. In 2020, she publicly stated that she would cut ties with the franchise if production didn’t meaningfully address their race and diversity problems. 

Less than a year later, Lindsay was in the midst of interviewing franchise host and executive producer Chris Harrison for “Extra” when things went sideways. Lindsay brought up the latest “Bachelor” scandal: Rachael Kirkconnell, one of the women cast to date Matt James, the first Black Bachelor, had attended a plantation-themed formal in 2018 and had liked posts of pictures containing Confederate flags. During a 15-minute conversation, Harrison defended and asked for grace for Kirkconnell, excoriated “the woke police” for attacking her, and repeatedly talked over Lindsay. 

On the next episode of “Higher Learning,” a Ringer podcast Lindsay co-hosts, she was clear: Enough was enough. “I’m contractually bound in some ways,” she said. “But when it’s up, I am too. I can’t do it anymore.”

For years, the Bachelor franchise has faced criticism for its parade of mostly white leads and contestants, for its poor edits of people of color on the show and for its failure to protect them from racism on set and from viewers. During Lindsay’s historic season, for example, one contestant was revealed to have made racist comments on his social media prior to casting; during taping, he was embroiled in a multi-episode arc in which he provoked conflict with a Black castmate — prompting critics to wonder whether the drama-seeking franchise knowingly cast someone with racist attitudes to date a Black woman. Season 25, starring the show’s first Black Bachelor and featuring more than 50% women of color, was poised to demonstrate production’s commitment to diversity.

But less than two months into the season, the show is yet again engulfed in controversy over racist behavior. With current and former contestants, recappers and fans coming forward to condemn Harrison’s comments to Lindsay, Harrison apologized and announced that he would be stepping aside, at least briefly, and would not be hosting this season’s “After the Final Rose” special. (A source close to ABC told HuffPost that no decisions had been made beyond Harrison’s choice to step away for an unspecified amount of time.) 

After years of excuses, defensiveness and underwhelming commitments to change, the franchise seems to be facing some sort of tipping point: With fans and popular contestants demanding accountability, even Harrison, the longtime face of the Bachelor brand, is no longer untouchable, and casting a lead of color is no longer enough to satisfy critics. As cast members, alums and outside critics demand that production reckon with the show’s deep race problem, the question that remains is whether the franchise will actually heed them.

Though the show has faced criticism over its handling of race for many years, one notable difference in the outcry following the “Extra” interview has been the wave of statements from current, recent and high-profile cast members.

Many “Bachelor” alums put out individual statements denouncing Harrison’s words. That group included frequent critics of the franchise’s treatment of race, like Taylor Nolan and Ashley Spivey as well as Becca Kufrin, Sharleen Joynt, Vanessa Grimaldi, Chris Randone, Natasha Parker, Ben Higgins, Jubilee Sharpe, Nick Viall, Mike Johnson, Becca Tilley, Wills Reid, Clare Crawley, Jillian Harris, Tayshia Adams, Demi Burnett, Joelle Fletcher, Katie Morton and many more. 

Not all of these statements were perfect, and Spivey, who was on Season 15 of “The Bachelor,” told HuffPost this week that she’d like to see even “more white contestants challenge the show to do better.” But at least this time around, “Bachelor” alums of color were not the only ones speaking up.

Even more significantly, the casts of “The Bachelorette” Season 16 and “The Bachelor” Season 25 (the two most recent seasons) put out collective statements. Both statements denounced racist behavior and the defense of it, as well as stating plainly that they all stood hand in hand with Lindsay. 

“The addition of more people who identify as BIPOC has opened up the conversation on race, community, and who we are as people,” wrote the men of Season 16 of “The Bachelorette.” “A conversation that has been long overdue.”

These group statements, posted by the majority of both casts, felt like a form of unionization. Many of the best-known “Bachelor” alums and current contestants are still tied to the franchise through contractual agreements, the possibility of appearances on future seasons, and the intangible brand benefits of remaining within the show’s ecosystem. This led to an atmosphere that encouraged and even rewarded contestants staying silent instead of publicly criticizing the franchise. And because, for years, the majority of alumni were white, there were even fewer incentives to say anything. 

It is much more difficult to silence an entire micro-generation of “Bachelor” alums, many of whom identify as BIPOC. 

Meanwhile, a new generation of progressive “Bachelor” commentators from outside the franchise, like the podcasts “The Blckchelorettes” and “Date Card,” have pushed hard for Harrison to face real consequences. (Full disclosure, the authors of this piece also host a feminist “Bachelor” podcast, “Here To Make Friends,” and have publicly criticized Harrison and the way the show deals with race.)

Progressive “Bachelor” podcasters, recappers, fans and contestants are calling for more than Harrison’s temporary resignation and promise to “educate” himself. Many say they want to see real accountability in the form of Harrison’s permanent departure, as well as other structural changes within the production and leadership teams that would ensure that BIPOC cast members and viewers would be protected from racist behavior. 

Harrison has long been tasked with holding cast members’ feet to the fire for their behavior on-screen via sit-down interviews during the seasonal “Women Tell All” and “Men Tell All” specials. Now Harrison, who has spent years making veiled comments that suggest his commitment to racial and gender equity isn’t exactly firm, finds himself in the proverbial hot seat. 

Soon after the “Extra” interview began making the rounds online, Luan Martinez started a Change.org petition calling for ABC and WB to #FireChrisHarrison. (The petition has more than 40,000 signatures as of Feb. 15.) The hashtag was then boosted by “Bachelor” Twitter and Instagram accounts with sizable followings, like the accounts for “Date Card,” a recap show hosted by queer comedians Jenna Vesper and Danicka McClure. On Feb. 10, an eight-minute video made by Mikayla Bartholomew, co-host of “The Blckchelorettes” podcast, went viral on Instagram.

In it, she delivers a basic U.S. history lesson while expertly picking apart the racist fallacies embedded in Harrison’s rant. 

“Discourse on racism did not begin in 2021,” says Bartholomew in the video, which has now been watched more than 1.6 million times. “It did not begin in 2020, 2018, 2016, 2017. It did not begin in 2013 when we first heard of Black Lives Matter. It did not begin in the ’60s. We could argue that the discourse on racism, the lens through which we can see inequity in this society, we could argue that it’s been available to us since the moment white folks came onto stolen land with stolen bodies and raped, killed and pillaged their way into Black and brown communities, using their labor for free to build the country that we have today.”

Predictably, she says she has received a torrent of racist backlash as a result.

Bartholomew told HuffPost that if the franchise is truly committed to equity (not just diversity), they need to start by making their efforts clear, public-facing and long term.

“It’s not going to be resolved overnight. Chris Harrison [being fired] doesn’t solve the problem of racism within the franchise. Even if we were to replace him with Rachel Lindsey, the franchise can still be racist,” she said. “[‘The Bachelor’] is built for a very specific white demographic ― a white demographic that is commenting under Chris Harrison’s apology, telling me to shut the fuck up and close my legs after I challenged him to ‘do a little more than that.’” 

She also pointed out that despite the franchise’s promise to hire a diversity consultant and casting of a Black Bachelor, we still ended up with a season in which white women have gotten the lion’s share of screen time and attention. 

Vesper of “Date Card” echoed Bartholomew’s call for a clear action plan, starting with Harrison’s dismissal. “Racial diversity on the show is not just casting more BIPOC contestants, it’s providing a safe and supportive environment for them,” Vesper told HuffPost. “As it stands, Chris Harrison has shown publicly, by the ‘Extra’ interview and other moments, that he is not a safe person to be around for the Black community. That is why firing him is the next step towards change.”

The franchise’s trouble with race has drawn notice for many years. After a stretch of almost entirely white seasons, two Black men led a class-action racial discrimination lawsuit against the franchise in 2012. Though the suit was dismissed on First Amendment grounds, the question of the show’s disproportionately white casting lingered. Over the past decade, Harrison, show creator Mike Fleiss and ABC executives have been repeatedly pressed over the long wait for a Black lead. In a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fleiss claimed that production worried about tokenizing. “Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there!” he joked. “We always want to cast for ethnic diversity,” he added. “It’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.” 

Harrison made similar excuses in a 2015 NPR interview, saying, “we don’t get the same cross-section of casting.” He also suggested that casting more diversely might hurt the show’s ratings, arguing, “we have hundreds and thousands of people trying to work. So what justice are we doing anybody by taking a great social stand, and then five months later, going, ‘OK, that was great, nobody watched the show.’”

After several years of tentative steps toward diversifying the profoundly white dating franchise — all taken under significant outside pressure from fans, commentators and former stars — the franchise came under renewed scrutiny in the summer of 2020 amid the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation after the killing of George Floyd. The show’s executive producers released a statement in June promising “to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward,” and saying the franchise would be “taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television.” 

The show cast James to be the first Black Bachelor in franchise history, and later that year introduced Tayshia Adams, the second Black Bachelorette, after Clare Crawley left the next season of the spinoff to pursue a relationship with one of her contestants just a few weeks into filming. But as the current uproar demonstrates, a belated attempt to cast diversely doesn’t go very far toward addressing the show’s deep race problem.

“This absolutely is a tipping point that the higher-ups need to be paying attention to,” said Nolan, who was a contestant on Season 21 of “The Bachelor.” “If they continue with the way that things have been after this, they will be sending a very loud and clear message to the entire BIPOC community.”

It remains to be seen whether the franchise will continue to lean on small, surface-level steps toward the vague goal of “diversity” or whether they will finally be compelled to do more to ensure that contestants, leads and viewers of color don’t have to endure racist stereotyping, bullying and harassment — and that their safety, rather than the comfort of white cast and fans who have engaged in racist behavior, will be of central concern for the franchise. 

Who is centered will be the key measure of the franchise’s commitment to equity, Bartholomew told HuffPost.

“Are you making room for the people who have been affected by racism within your franchise, behind the scenes and on camera?” she asked. “Are you giving them the opportunity to speak about what they think is needed and what they think is necessary? That is centering the directly impacted.” 





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Joe Rogan Admits He’s A ‘F**king Moron’ After Offering Selfish COVID-19 Vaccine Advice

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Wildly popular podcast host Joe Rogan admitted he’s a “f**king moron” and “not a respected source of information, even for me” when he addressed his selfish comments about young, healthy people not needing to get vaccinated from COVID-19.

Rogan, whose audience is in the hundreds of millions, drew backlash — and a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert — when he said on an episode of his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast released on Spotify last week that “if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”

On Thursday, Rogan clarified in a video shared on YouTube that he was “not an anti-vaxx person.” “In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated,” he explained. “I just said, ‘I don’t think that if you’re a young, healthy person that you need it.’ Their argument was, you need it for other people.”

“So you don’t transmit the other virus,” said his cohost.

“That makes more sense,” agreed Rogan. “But that’s a different argument. That’s a different conversation.”

Rogan, whose show was snapped up by Spotify in a $100 million deal last year, later attempted to explain away the comments by saying how he doesn’t plan what he says on air.

He’s often high or drinking alcohol during the shows, he said, before accusing “clickbaity” journalists of blowing his comments out of proportion.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed but I’m not a respected source of information, even for me,” he said.

“If I say things, I’m always going ‘check on that Jamie, I don’t know if that’s true,’” Rogan added. “But I at least try to be honest about what I’m saying.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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Gabrielle Union Talks Baby Kaavia’s Free Spirit: ‘Shade Is Her Super Power’

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Gabrielle Union recently talked about her daughter, Kaavia James, and her funny “shady” moments, characterizing those times as her 2-year-old’s “super power.”

“Shade is her super power because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like,” the actor told People in an interview published Wednesday.

Union and her retired NBA star husband, Dwyane Wade, welcomed Kaavia in November 2018.

The couple has since poked fun at the toddler’s occasional adorably shady facial expressions — and hilarious side-eyes — like when a photo of Kaavia seated on a couch looking pensive and slightly unbothered became a meme last year.

Or when the little one looked less than pleased with the outcome of her face paint design at her second birthday party:

Inspired by Kaavia’s witty personality, Wade and Union created an Instagram account for the little girl, often using the hashtag ”#Shadybaby” in the posts’ captions. The couple also collaborated to write a Kaavia-influenced children’s book titled “Shady Baby” due for release next month.

Union explained in Wednesday’s People interview that she celebrates Kaavia’s freedom to be her authentic self amid a long history of harmful ways Black women and girls have been treated in society.

“The main takeaway is that she’s free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women,” she added.

In addition to Kaavia, Wade is father to Zaya, Zaire and Xavier. Union and Wade also parent his nephew Dahveon Morris.

Wade told People that he and Union make a point to encourage their children to be their true selves.

“If we allow our kids to be their true selves we don’t have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we push our kids to be their authentic selves?”

Last month, Kaavia took a side-eyeing break to enjoy a sweet play date with 2-year-old Cairo, the daughter of actors Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict.

After some hugs, Kaavia generously took Cairo for a spin in her toddler-sized electric car:





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Anne Heche Says Ellen DeGeneres Didn’t Want Her To ‘Dress Sexy’

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Anne Heche took an unexpected swipe at former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres this week during an online fashion retrospective.

In a short TikTok video Tuesday, Heche looked back at some of her favorite looks from years past, including the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards and a memorable “Dancing with the Stars” routine from last fall.

The actor’s enthusiasm for nostalgia, however, notably dipped when she came upon a photo of her and DeGeneres from the 1998 Golden Globe Awards. The pair appear to have color-coordinated their outfits, with DeGeneres in a navy suit and Heche in a blue velvet gown and matching coat.

“Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy,” Heche, who has starred in films like “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights,” declared. After giving the look a zero out of 10 and a thumbs down, she added, “Bye, no!”

Heche and DeGeneres dated from 1997 to 2000. During their time together, the women were among Hollywood’s most-buzzed-about same-sex couples.

The former couple has remained mostly tight-lipped about the specifics of their relationship in the media. Heche, however, touched on her ex in a number of interviews timed to her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” last year.

Chatting with Mr. Warburton magazine last year, she recalled angering Hollywood executives when she brought DeGeneres as her date to the premiere of 1997’s “Volcano.”

“I was told by Fox Studio executives that if I brought Ellen to the premiere, my contract would be terminated,” she told the publication. “I brought Ellen despite those threats, and we were escorted out of the theater before the lights came on by security and not allowed to attend the premiere party because they did not want any photos of us together.”



Ellen DeGeneres (left) and Anne Heche at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards.

“I was a part of a revolution that created social change,” she added, “and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last October, Heche noted that she hadn’t spoken to DeGeneres “in years,” but would be open to a reunion under the right circumstances.

“With relationships, I think many of us have [been there], you come to a fork in the road, ‘What do you want and what do I want?’” she said. “Those goals, that intent in life, is determined by the individual. Her intent and my intent were different and that’s why we separated.”



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Elliot Page Emotionally Shares What’s Given Him The Most Joy Since Coming Out As Trans

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Elliot Page is sharing the moment that has brought him the most joy since he announced he was a transgender man in December 2020.

In a peek at an interview with Oprah Winfrey slated for release on her Apple TV+ series “The Oprah Conversation” on Friday, the 34-year-old said that he’s found “the most joy.”

“Getting out of the shower and the towel’s around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, ‘There I am.’ And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked,” he said, before breaking down in tears. “It’s being able to touch my chest and feel comfortable in my body for the — probably the first time.”

The actor added his tears were “tears of joy.”

Earlier this year, Page talked to Time magazine about his decision to get top surgery and described the experience as something that allowed for him to recognize himself. Page recalled puberty as “total hell” and told the publication that the surgery “has completely transformed my life.”

He also told the publication that he spent much of his energy being uncomfortable with his body and the surgery has helped bring that energy back.

Page notably came out to fans last year with a heartfelt Instagram post, sharing that he would be using the pronouns “he” and “they” and said: “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

He went on to say: “I love that I am trans,” Page wrote. “And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”  



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‘Bachelor’ Matt James Is Seeing Final Rose Recipient With Racist Past

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It isn’t over.

Matt James, who became the first Black lead of the dating reality series “The Bachelor,” told People on Wednesday that he’s been seeing Rachael Kirkconnell, the woman he chose but then rejected after her past racially insensitive social media posts were unearthed.

“I’ve seen Rachael a handful of times,” James said. “I’m not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it.”

Kirkconnell received James’ final rose on ABC’s reality series. After the season was in the can, pictures emerged on social media showing Georgia native Kirkconnell attending a slavery-era plantation-themed party and liking photos containing Confederate flags.

Kirkconnell apologized and said she “will continue to learn how to be anti-racist.” James said in the “After the Final Rose” episode last month that they broke up and that Kirkconnell had work to do on her own.

As for her progress, James told People “that’s something you could talk to her about.”

A report last week said the two were not speaking to each other, but that does not appear to be the case.

Stay tuned.





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Halle Berry Reacts To A Joke About Her Blunt Bob Debut At The Oscars

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Halle Berry joined the fun on Twitter after she debuted her new bob hairstyle at the 2021 Oscars on Sunday night.

The Oscar winner responded to a Twitter user who linked her new ’do to a popular lighthearted video from rapper Saucy Santana, who channels Nicki Minaj from the B.o.B. song “Out of My Mind” while rocking a bob.

“Halle Berry tonight,” the user tweeted on Sunday alongside the video. Berry retweeted the post on Tuesday and playfully responded with two emojis, including a laughing-face one:

Berry stunned on the Oscars red carpet in a pink-toned Dolce & Gabbana gown that featured a prominent bow. She showed off her new bob with bangs after she teased the hairstyle on Twitter earlier in the evening with a photo that only showed her hair chopped off.

Her hairstyle sparked a lot chatter on Twitter, with people sharing memes and all sorts of opinions of the ’do.

The legendary actor and style icon, who made history becoming the first (and still only) Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2002, apparently wasn’t phased by the blunt-bob-detractors.

Berry arrived at the ceremony with her Grammy-winning musician boyfriend Van Hunt.

Hunt posted photos on Instagram Monday of him and Berry getting ready to attend the ceremony. His caption said it was the couple’s first date night. The two publicly confirmed their relationship on Instagram in September last year.





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Kate Middleton, Prince William Mark 10th Anniversary With New Portraits

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Kate Middleton and Prince William are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary with brand-new photos.

Kensington Palace released two portraits on behalf of the couple on Wednesday, one day before their anniversary. The new pictures were snapped earlier this week at the palace by photographer Chris Floyd.





The two appear to have recreated the official photo William and Kate released for their engagement, which was taken by Mario Testino:

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have been together nearly 20 years, officially tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. Millions lined the wedding procession route, while an estimated 2 billion tuned in from around the world.

Celebrities including Elton John, Guy Ritchie and David and Victoria Beckham made up some of the 1,900 guests invited to the ceremony. Ellie Goulding performed at the couple’s evening reception, an honor she called quite “scary.”

“I did their first dance and like, talk about scary,” the singer told Vanity Fair in 2016. “I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, in London.



The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, in London.

Ten years since their wedding day, the duke and duchess now have three children: Prince George, 7; Princess Charlotte, 5; and Prince Louis, 3.

William and Kate celebrated Louis’ birthday last week by releasing a brand-new photo of their little one taken before his first day at nursery school.

Louis’ birthday is just two days after his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s big day.

The queen turned 95 on April 21 and released a statement thanking people for the tributes to her late husband, Prince Philip.

“My family and I would like to thank you for all the support and kindness shown to us in recent days,” she said. “We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”

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Kate Middleton’s Most Memorable Looks Of 2019



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