Happy Friday, and welcome to our “People We Regret To Inform You Were Cancelled This Week” series. It’s exactly what it sounds like, though there is a disclaimer: These wrongdoers by no means exist on the same spectrum of moral corruption.
Some are worse than others. Some are individuals and some are groups and some are brands. Some committed crimes so heinous they deserve to be shipped off to another planet, whereas others just… kinda blew it. Some are cancelled for a day, and others for eternity. This is subjective.
1. Barbra Streisand
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Barbra Streisand last week found herself the subject of condemnation for her remarks about the documentary Leaving Neverland, and particularly the two men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually assaulting them as children.
In an interview with the Times of London published last Friday, Streisand said:
“His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard say [the adult Wade Robson and James Safechuck], they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
Streisand went on blame the parents rather than Jackson, adding “It’s a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him.”
There’s…a lot wrong with Streisand’s statement, not least of which is her use of the term “thrilled” to argue that Robson and Safechuck’s encounters with Jackson were consensual simply because Jackson was the most famous person in the world.
The singer-songwriter apologized at length following an onslaught of criticism, posting the following statement to her website:
“I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims, because the words as printed do not reflect my true feelings. I didn’t mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way. Like all survivors of sexual assault, they will have to carry this for the rest of their lives. I feel deep remorse and I hope that James and Wade know that I truly respect and admire them for speaking their truth.”
The pivot from “thrilled about being molested” to “like all survivors of sexual assault”—a full reversal from gaslighting rape victims to standing in solidarity with them—makes me feel as though Streisand’s response was disingenuous, a panicked mea culpa in response to criticism rather thanany sort of legitimate understanding of the grossness of her accusations.
But what can you expect from a woman who installed a shopping mall in her basement so she wouldn’t have to mingle with the ~normal~ people?
Does Babs’ old age (76!) and sixty-year career as an American icon make up for her horrifying attitude regarding the atrocities endured by Wade Robson and James Safechuck? I don’t know. I don’t know if we cancel her. I don’t know the length of cancelation if we did.
2. Michael Avenatti
You may remember Michael Avenatti for his gorgeous facial structure and his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last May, where he laid out evidence
that President Donald Trump had sent his client, adult film star Stormy Daniels, $130,000 in hush money.
As of this week, Avenatti will be remembered for other things.
The lawyer was arrested in New York on Monday for allegedly attempting to extort $10 to $22.5 million dollars from Nike. That SAME DAY, he was charged with embezzling a client’s money and falsifying tax returns to pay for “his own expenses and debts—as well as those of his coffee business and law firm” in California.
According to the IRS documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Avenatti earned $1.9 million in 2009 but neglected to pay the $570,000 he owed in taxes. The following year, he earned $1.2 million but did not pay the $282,000 in taxes to the IRS. Prosecutors say Avenatti has not filed personal income tax returns since 2010 despite having earned $18 million in that time.
GQ details the vast amounts of money Avenatti spent on watches, houses, private jets, and shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus—”He allegedly spent $216,720 at Neiman Marcus between 2011 and 2017, and $277,236 on Porsches between 2015 and 2016,” notes the publication, adding that Avenatti’s wife “also divulged that she spent $20,000 per month on clothing, and that the couple owned his-and-hers private jets, each worth roughly $4.5 million.”
So, yeah. F—k super rich people who fly around on private jets and don’t pay taxes. Michael Avenatti is CANCELLED.
Let me start off by saying PETA has never not been cancelled.
PETA, which stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” sounds totally rad but in fact sucks ass. The organization’s history of supremely bad takes include encouraging Ben and Jerry’s to use human breast milk, stealing and killing family pets, and suing a wildlife photographer for taking a photo of a monkey
The organization is more radically anti-human than they are pro-animal. And to make everything worse, they posted this sacrilegious image on Friday:
Looks weird right?— PETA (@peta) March 28, 2019
It's what you're doing if you drink cow's milk ✋ Raise your hand if you know that humans shouldn’t be drinking cow’s breast milk. It was made for their babies—not you!
Art by @choicebison @freebison ???? pic.twitter.com/D8QcJnyfUG
The borderline pornographic image raised more questions than it answered. Is PETA endorsing furry porn? Why give the cow double D breasts and human hands? More importantly, why would the cow be fooling around with an old bald dude when she’s clearly way out of his league?
PETA remains cancelled.
4. *Those* newscasters
A clip of newscasters in Toledo, Ohio, went viral on Wednesday for reasons that will become instantly clear to those fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to have missed it.
This week, students across Ohio took tests they needed to pass to graduate high school. WTOL’s morning news team decided that the best way to give the teens an extra dose of encouragement would be to speak ~hip teen lingo~ throughout the segment.
“Good morning, TPS students, it is testing week and it’s time to slay all day,” newscaster Melissa Andrews begins. What follows is…worse. Much, much worse.
A heavy wave of second-hand embarrassment may already be hitting you, but I’m sorry, it gets wor
“YEEEEEEET!” Tim Mille responds. “Stay woke, be on fleek and get that Gucci breakfast.”
“GOOOAAAAALS!” Andrews retorts, apropos of nothing, before adding that students need to “say ‘Bye, Felicia’ to that testing stress.”
It’s honestly worth watching the entire clip yourself:
I was gonna cancel these fine folks, but honestly, who TF do I think I am, anyway? Give this entire team a promotion. I hate them, but promote them. The WTOL morning news team falls very squarely in between “stanned” and “canceled.” They are stancelled.
5. Cardi B
A three-year old Instagram Live video of Cardi B saying she used to drug and rob men resurfaced this week, and the Internet is conflicted over whether to “cancel” her or not.
“I did it myself. N—-s must of forgot, my n—a. The s–t that I did to motherf—–s survive. I had to go strip. I had to go. oh yeah you wanna f— me? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s go to this hotel, and I drug n—-s up, and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do. Nothing was motherf—ing handed to me,” she said.
In response to the swift backlash, Cardi posted a statement explaining that she did what she had to do to survive, and raised the (very valid) point that the outrage is at least partly indicative of a double standard. She belongs to a a hip-hop culture where “there are rappers that glorify murder, violence, drugs and robbing”—yet has never done so herself and in fact feels “a responsibility not to glorify it.”
All I can do now is be a better me for myself my family and my future. pic.twitter.com/VlPJW20thN— iamcardib (@iamcardib) March 26, 2019
What Cardi B did was unequivocally f—ked up. But the #SurvivingCardiB crowd—who seek to conflate Cardi B with R. Kelly and Bill Cosby—not only falsely accuse Cardi of rape, but simultaneously seek to delegitimize real victims who have come forward in the #MeToo era simply because one woman admitted to (non-sexually) taking advantage of men.
The issue here is that drugging people leaves them open to danger. But drugging someone to steal their cash and drugging someone to rape them are in no way on the same level of wrongdoing.
This column is devoted to cancelling people, but this controversy proves it isn’t always that simple. Would we tolerate this same exact (non-sexual) crime from a man? How about a celebrity we don’t collectively adore as much as Cardi? Kevin Hart got dropped as Oscars host because of “joke” homophobic tweets he’d written years ago. Where does this crime stack up against Cardi’s? Difficult to say.
Cardi may not be a rapist, but she was at one point a predator. “I have a past I can’t change,” she concludes her apology, “We all do.”
Amen, sis. I’m not condoning Cardi’s behavior but I, for one, am not ready to give her up.