When Freedom of Speech Gets Hairy
Let’s chat about the controversy of the socially insensitive remarks made about 18 year old Disney star, Zendaya Coleman at the 2015 Oscars. It’s funny how Zendaya has been stealing the spotlight from the actual award ceremony and winners. Just to give a brief recap, Fashion Police, which airs on E! Network, were giving their normal cheeky criticism of all the fashion glory at the Oscars. The show’s cast includes comedian Kathy Griffin, celebrity fashion stylist Brad Goreski, TV personality Kelly Osbourne, and E! News veteran Giuliana Rancic. Although Kathy is famous for her offensive comedy about celebrities, it was actually the comments made by Giuliana that created a media firestorm. When it was Giuliana’s turn to give her view on Zendaya’s red carpet look, she commented that Zendaya’s faux dread locks made her look like she “smells like patchouli oil, maybe weed.” I don’t know about you all, but I’ve never heard of patchouli oil until I heard Giuliana’s comment. However, my trusty Google search led me to the definition on urbandictionary.com. Patchouli oil is an oil worn perfume often used by “dirty hippies” in lieu of showering or bathing in order to mask the smell of marijuana and/or body odor. (Hmm, interesting)
Now, I’m not quite sure why Giuliana focused so much on Zendaya’s hair than her dress or entire look as a whole, but it apparently bothered her since it was her leading critique. Any who, on Tuesday morning everyone woke up to the eloquent, honest, and mature reply left by Zendaya on her Instagram page, which put all forms of media outlets in an uproar. Bottom line, Zendaya was offended and thought Giuliana’s comments were “ignorant slurs and disrespectful.” Zendaya and members of the public have the utmost right to be offended, but we all know Fashion Police’s reputation. It’s an entertainment show that covers major celebrity red carpet events to equally celebrate and disapprove of their upper echelon fashions. I find it funny how we live in a time where shows like E! News, Fashion Police, The Wendy Williams Show, Power 105.1 Breakfast Club, TMZ, Perez Hilton, Vlad TV etc. are all hugely successful media platforms that have built their brands on critiquing all the professional and personal behaviors of celebrities. Audiences love to partake in their guilty pleasure by faithfully tuning into these media outlets that judge and insult celebrities, but conveniently trigger backlash when certain comments may spotlight a social circumstance that hits close to home.
My devil’s advocate view on this matter does not mean that I condone Giuliana’s comments. I think that she is far too grown and accomplished to make such a socially irresponsible statement that just wasn’t necessary. It’s totally fine that Giuliana didn’t like Zendayas’s hair, but she barely commented about any other aspects of her look. It was a judgmental slur that she should’ve kept to herself. I guess this was a major reality check for Giuliana where she was finally forced to think about her critique delivery in spite of her veteran status as an entertainment newscaster and TV personality. It’s also very fishy that when Fashion Police discussed the same hairstyle sported by Kylie Jenner, Giuliana loved the look and thought it was “cool and edgy.” Many people on social media found Giuliana’s contradictory comments to be racially offensive. I personally love the faux dread lock hairstyle and even wrote an older post about my experience getting the hairstyle entitled “Faux Real.” I think it’s a style when done by a professional, can look beautiful on almost any woman. Giuliana’s comments didn’t ruffle my feathers, but I did think it revealed her social ignorance, and I know it had to be embarrassing for her to get publicly schooled by an 18-year-old girl.
In full retrospect, I commend all parties in this matter. Giuliana took full ownership of her poor choice of words and openly apologized to Zendaya and audience members that were offended by her comments via social media and on E! News. Zendaya’s social media reply to this incident only made her star shine brighter. Her eloquent defense reflects a class and maturity that is far beyond her 18 years. I even respect that Fashion Police’s other co-host, Kelly Osbourne, decided to ultimately leave the show because of her disapproval of Giuliana’s comments, and to not have her reputation be associated with this recent controversy. After hearing of Kelly’s show departure, I feel that she is making herself a part of this controversy because the public is fully aware that Giuliana is the culprit. I think that Kelly honestly misses the show’s deceased legendary comedic star, Joan Rivers, and using this incident as an excuse to exit because her heart just isn’t into the show’s new cast formula.
Apart from Zendaya, Giuliana, and Kelly, I hope that we, the audience, can also learn from this situation. We have to respect that all media outlets pride themselves on operating under the freedom of press and speech. These outlets have the right to control how they disperse all forms of news to the public. However, we have the right to control our intake. We know what all these entertainment news shows are about, don’t hate the player hate the game.
We would love to hear what you think of all this controversy. Should the media strengthen their social etiquette restrictions, or are we all just way too socially sensitive nowadays? You tell us.