Kardashian Kontroversy

Kim Kardashian has the solution for creating your best body, and it’s no longer shape-wear but “solution-wear.” In 2019, Kim Kardashian released the name of her new “solution-wear” line Kimono, which is a riff on her own name “Kim.” Kimono was meant to be a line of undergarments that shape and flatter the female form. But it’s not the clothes that have landed Kim in hot water, but the name itself.

Many people are not a fan of her solution. They are calling cultural appropriation on Kim’s new clothing brand, saying that the name Kimono is not appropriate for her line. Many claimed that Kim Kardashian chose the name not based on the cultural significance behind it, but rather that it sounded good and included her name.

Kim Kardashian West celebrates the launch of her line at Nordstrom

Kimono is a traditional garment in Japanese culture. It is worn for special occasions and celebrations. It is typically a long robe made of silk with intricate detailing or embroidery.

People were even more outraged when they learned that Ms. Kardashian had applied for trademarks for her Kimono lines. She has applied for different trademarks surrounding the variations on the name and its design, as well as advertising, business and retail rights. Many were outraged at the idea of their traditional garments being overshadowed and sharing a name with undergarments.

A petition was created on change.org that called the brand a “horrible cultural disrespect.” There was also a trending hashtag on Twitter #KimOhNo to show people’s disapproval of the name. 

Initially, Kim defended the name and claimed that she couldn’t change it. She later changed her mind after the mayor of Kyoto, Japan wrote a personal letter to Kim Kardashian to explain the significance of the Kimono garment and how important it is to Japanese culture. 

On her Instagram she released this statement:

“I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture,” Ms. Kardashian West said. I am always listening, learning and growing… When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind. After careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name.”

Kim later announced that she would be changing the name of the brand from Kimono to Skims. 

Is the solution to her culturally appropriated “solution-wear” acceptable?

I believe that Kim did everything in her power to correct the issue. If she hadn’t changed the name after this controversy, her brand would not have been as successful. She had to change the name for the sake of her brand and to appease the people she offended. Changing the name was like hitting 2 birds with one stone, however I believe she only threw that stone to save her sales, not to make people feel better. 

Many argue that since this isn’t the first time Kim has been accused of cultural appropriation that she hasn’t really learned her lesson. In the past, Kim has been accused of this before by wearing cornrows in her hair, wearing other clothing and jewelry that is traditional to other cultures and has even been accused of “black-fishing,” which is when someone tans their skin to appear mixed-race or black.

So was this whole incident a big accident or just another incident in Kim Kardashians list of culturally insensitive acts for attention? We will see.

By Katie Bonney

Be famous, get robbed…you’ve earned a Halloween costume!

By: Samantha Puleo

Love the or hate them we all know who the Kardashians are. Their problems and scandals may not be of great importance to you, but one thing that I’m sure we can all agree on would be that trauma is nothing to joke about and it’s definitely not something to base a Halloween costume off of. This may sound confusing, so let me explain.

Snippet from show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, where Kim opens up to her sisters about the Paris robbery

The Kardashian family has dealt with many controversies and scandals through the years. One of the most significant events that has happened to them would be when Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint in Paris on October 3, 2016. When she was attacked all she was wearing was a bathrobe and the perpetrators bound her wrist and ankles, taped her mouth, and placed her on the bathroom floor. A lot of people had a lot to say about what happened, many believed that Kim was targeted because of the constant social media posts that she had made, one particular post showing off her $4 million 20 karat diamond ring. And of course, with this family being so famous, this story blew up. Memes were made mocking the event and there were countless articles written with all kinds of different opinions about the subject. Which in these types of situations is normal, but something else happened that wasn’t so normal. A Halloween costume called “Parisian Heist Robbery Victim Costume” which showed a model being tied up, gagged, in a bathrobe, with a huge diamond ring, had come out on a website called Costumeish. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Parisian Heist Robbery Victim Costume from website Costumeish.

There’s just so much ethically wrong with this whole situation. It’s definitely hard to defend the Kardashian family for some, mostly because of just how wealthy they are. But even more so because of what I mentioned previously about how during this time Kim was constantly promoting her lavish lifestyle on social media. But, if we look at this from the angle of deontological ethics, which say that “acts are morally obligatory regardless of their consequences for human welfare”, basically what’s wrong is wrong, we start to see how inappropriate this costume really is regardless of what your opinion is of Kim Kardashian. When you think about it, something so hurtful like this costume would never come out if this robbery had happened to an average person, but since it happened to someone so famous like Kim, people feel the need to capitalize on the issue in order to make a profit and publicity. In fact, Costumeish Vice President, Johnathan Weeks made a comment about why the costume was made, Weeks said:

“…the costume is meant to incite a strong reaction and that Halloween is a holiday that calls for some humor. It’ll make people either cringe or laugh”

Quote credit: TIME

Right away this statement tells me that this costume is for publicity purposes, to get the website’s name in the public’s mind and that there’s virtually no concern for the Kardashian families feelings or welfare. Which brings me to then look at large amounts of negative loyalties that this company has towards itself. In most cases, having a loyalty to ones self is a positive thing. But here we have the complete opposite, where a company has a loyalty to itself where it does not care about the harm they inflict onto people, they only care about outcomes that can benefit them. There is the saying that “all publicity is good publicity” which I truly think is a key strategy of this website. But when it all comes down to it, if there’s too much bad and you’re dealing with a powerful family like the Kardashians, it’s only a matter of time before you’ve got to bow down. Which is exactly what Johnathan Weeks did by issuing an apology to the family. I think what we can learn from all of this, is that everyone eventually in their lives goes through trauma and absolutely does not deserve to have that trauma used a device to benefit someone else. As a society we need to have loyalties to each other, to ensure and maintain respect always.

Gucci Family vs. Hollywood: Warranted Criticism or Unethical Judgement?

By Colleen Mearon


Poster promoting the film House of Gucci

Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci premiered in theaters Nov. 24th, but despite a killer cast and rave reviews from viewers, the film lacked approval from the very people it’s based on- the surviving Gucci family. A statement was first issued by ANSA, an Italian news agency, and translated by Variety news:


“The production of the film did not bother to consult the heirs before describing Aldo Gucci – president of the company for 30 years – and the members of the Gucci family as thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them, attributing to the protagonists, events, a tone and an attitude that never belonged to them. This is extremely painful from a human point of view and an insult to the legacy on which the brand is built today.”

Despite claiming they were inaccurately portrayed in the film, there has been no legal action taken from the Gucci family. As producer of the film, Scott has been very dismissive in his response to these allegations. Understandably so, as criticism from the family dates all the way back to April of 2021-and was very offensive to the cast.

Aldo Gucci’s granddaughter Patrizia Reggiani Gucci, played by Lady Gaga in the film, expressed her frustration with the casting to ANSA. “I am rather annoyed at the fact that Lady Gaga is playing me in the new Ridley Scott film without having had the consideration and sensibility to come and meet me. It is not an economic question. I won’t get a cent from the film. It is a question of good sense and respect.” Gaga responded to this claim, expressing that she wanted to take a journalistic approach and build the character on her own, without guidance from anyone else.

Patrizia’s critiques didn’t stop at just Gaga though. She told the Associated Press that “Pacino appeared in on-set photos as ‘fat, short, with sideburns, really ugly’ and not resembling her ‘very handsome” grandfather “at all.’”


Gaga and Pacino pictured while filming for House of Gucci

It’s hard to take the claims and critiques from the Gucci family seriously when their criticisms have been nothing but superficial and judgmental. Although the film is telling the story of their family’s history, and they very much should have a say in how it’s told, it seems as though they’re quick to judge anything. Consultation from the family would have resulted in a completely different film, one that might not have been as entertaining and successful as what was released.

The issue surrounding the release of House of Gucci in theaters displays a very intricate media ethics issue. On one hand, the offense taken by the Gucci family is warranted, being that they are the center of the story and the reason this film even exists. On the other hand, their rude critiques and the judgemental tones of their criticisms minimize the importance of their opinion. From an ethical standpoint, one has to take into consideration the Gucci family’s criticisms of the film, however their handling of the situation was just as unethical as the production of the film itself.

What’s Trending: First Amendment Rights?

by Ashley LoPresti

Pixabay.com, Social Media Keyboard Icon
https://pixabay.com/photos/social-media-social-keyboard-icon-4140959/

Facebook’s fourth quarter reports declare that as of December 2020, they had 2.80 billion monthly active users utilizing their social media platform. Among those users, posts were made ranging across different topics, however the ones I’d like to bring light to are the posts litigants bring into the courtroom. In a Time Magazine article titled “Facebook and Divorce: Airing the Dirty Laundry”   written by Belinda Luscombe, Luscombe goes into detail about the frightening access users have for information that can be used against them in court trials, specifically Family Court. 

Luscombe mentions a specific example of a husband, Patrick, and wife, Tammy, who after Patrick informed Tammy he wanted a divorce, Tammy took to his FaceBook page and began leaving comments regarding their personal life. After Patrick blocked Tammy, he received messages from friends who told Patrick that Tammy was using a friend’s account to find women he was conversing with, and send them emails telling them his marital status. Luscombe concluded her article with a piece of advice, stating that “It seems everybody — except perhaps some lawyers — would be better off if divorcing spouses gave each other some space on MySpace. But when confused, anguished people look for ways to work through their feelings, a social-networking site can be an almost irresistible venue.”

Wikimedia.org, Facebook logo
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Facebook-76536_640.png

The ethical issue at hand is the typical First Amendment violation we see in most cases regarding social media – we are using our freedom of speech, and those words should not be used against us. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we are held to the standards of our words and actions, and the Congressional Research Service had published a congressional report in 2014 authored by attorney Kathleen Ann Ruane titled “Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment” which lays out a multitude of examples where the Supreme Court has ordered exceptions to this violation, which there are plenty of. Notably, these exceptions range from topics of obscenity to defamation. If there are exceptions that range through the everyday exposure we face, what about social media exceptions?

The Congressional Research Service has published a more recent report in 2019 titled “Free Speech and the Regulation of Social Media Content” that specifically focuses on the aspect of social media being governed by the First Amendment. The report raises the issue of federal law being strict when it comes to social media owner’s own regulation of their media sites, and speaks about how lawsuits that intended to have content removed were “largely unsuccessful, facing at least two significant barriers under existing federal law.” The First Amendment actually makes it harder for any governmental intervention, due to the possibility of the government stepping upon our First Amendment rights to regulate what is being said over social media.

Flickr.com, First Amendment Rights in cloud
https://www.flickr.com/photos/182229932@N07/48390896207

The Congressional Research Service broke down the topic of First Amendment protections with regard to online behavior and speech by explaining to the reader there are a few steps that need to be taken first in order to decide what protections are available for use in court. Speech versus conduct is the first layer of diversity, then it pertains to whether the content in question is for personal usage or commercial use, which advertisements are considered to be. Commercial content actually has less protection than our personal content does. If the content is promoting or advocating for violence, like the issue raised in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969), the Supreme Court decided that “advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”. This decision can be interpreted as if social media users are advocating online for violent actions or behavior, then the user’s state has the right to prohibit the speech without violation of the user’s First Amendment rights.

As with most issues that pertain to our First Amendment rights, there are grey areas which require the court’s intervention, however it is fair to assume that there are no legal issues with utilizing a user’s social media content in court trials. The age old reminder of “be careful what you post!” stands true to this day, especially in the current digital age where our virtual footprint is so easily accessible to others. Think twice before you post that rant about your husband to your followers, it might be used against you later!

Cuomos in Cahoots

by Nicholas Paolino


FILE – New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appears during a news conference about COVID-19 at the State Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Dec. 3, 2020, left, and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo attends the 12th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Dec. 9, 2018. Transcripts released Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, shed new light on CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s behind-the-scenes role advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in the face of sexual harassment allegations that forced him from office. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo via AP, left, and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The last name Cuomo has been in the news cycle what seems to be quite often in the past year and for nearly nothing positive. Andrew Cuomo, the now ex-governor of New York, resigned from his position as governor this past August due to allegations of sexual misconduct. As of yesterday, Chris Cuomo, Andrew’s brother, and host of “Cuomo Prime Time” on CNN has been suspended after the New York State Attorney General’s Office released thousands of documents and messages that showed how the host was helping his brother to avoid the scandal. CNN acknowledged that they appreciated the position that Chris Cuomo was in due to his relationship with his brother as any news outlet would have loved to have the brother of the then governor of NY as one of their hosts. However, it was not until the release of all of these documents that CNN then took action in suspending Chris. 

In some of these messages, Chris Cuomo was asking his brother’s assistants for “all the best facts” (NPR) to offer reporters and news outlets. He would also ask around for information regarding his brother’s case in an effort to “help” him. Now, this also becomes a larger problem as Chris Cuomo had previously told investigators that he “was not on his brother’s team” (NPR). However, the documents released can prove otherwise. The overarching issue here is that Chris Cuomo disregarded the conduct of journalists by feeding information to his brother and his team that he was privy to. Chris Cuomo should have made a decision to either be a journalist or be a political advisor, not both because at that point you’re both creating the story while also telling it.

Chris Cuomo | CREDIT: THEO WARGO/GETTY

There is something to be said about the distorted familial loyalty that Chris Cuomo demonstrated however it does not excuse him from acting in an unethical way. When you have as much influence and access as someone such as Chris Cuomo it is unethical to use that influence in order to feed someone else information that they may not be privy to. A lot of times news outlets, journalists, and reporters have access to information about politicians that the politicians may not have access to, and for good reason. If politicians were aware of everything that was about to be said about them in the media then there would be an attempt to control that and lead to media that was even more opinionated. Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, said “journalists must understand they’re working for the public, not politicians.” This statement by Kirtley stood out because it simply defines the duties that journalists have to the people. Although Chris Cuomo continuously noted that he never reported on the situation his brother was in or tried to influence the coverage it was not the forward-facing actions that were the issue but rather the action of Chris Cuomo gathering information of what other allegations may be heading his brother’s way as if to give them the chance to squash them before the press got wind of it. This is an example of a journalist displaying a complete disregard for their duty of informing the public. 

When the Extreme Could Be the Golden Mean: Ethical vs. Legal Burden of Protecting Celebrities’ Children’s Privacy and Whether Strict Laws Should Be Enacted To Ensure Their Safety

BY LARA GUVELIOGLU

Jan 2015 – Multi Grammy winner, Adele, and her son Angelo spotted by the paparazzi. Adele, who is very private about raising her son, can be seen visually upset and distressed as she is trying to shield her son from the cameras and flashes while trying to navigate through.

Photo Creds (right): https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/adeles-ill-fated-marriage-simon-14436436.amp
Photo Creds (left): https://www.theplace2.ru/photos/Adele-md4468/pic-752414.html

Merriam-Webster’s legal dictionary defines the age of majority as “the age at which a person is granted by law the rights (as ability to sue) and responsibilities (as liability under contract) of an adult.” Also known as the legal age, age of majority is set at 18 for most of the states in the U.S.. Unless granted emancipation, minors rely on their parents to provide them with basic needs, and protect their social and legal wellbeing. When these rights are threatened, however, it is the most natural thing for parents to advocate for what’s best for their children.

Such is the battle many celebrity parents are fighting today, and have been for the past few years. Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, John Krasinski, Blake Lively, Gigi Hadid to name a few of many, these high profile parents are growing more concerned each day with protecting their children’s privacy in the face of this exploitative world of tabloid journalism and the ever growing demand for a closer look into celebrities’ lives prompted by the ease of social media.

May 2014 – Actor and director, John Krasinski (and wife Emily Blunt), introduced their daughter to the world with the above tweet with the hashtag #NoKidsPolicy to show his support of fellow celebrities and their stand against their children’s privacy being invaded by tabloids.
Photo Creds: Screenshot from Twitter -https://twitter.com/johnkrasinski/status/466245487968808960
March 2014 – Actor Dax Shephard, and spouse, actress, Kristen Bell, sat down with “AKM/GSI photo agency owner Steve Ginsburg and celebrity/entertainment reporter Christian Zimmerman to discuss the issues raised by few celebrity parents in the past year or so” on Access Hollywood a month after launching a campaign to protect children of celebrities from the paparazzi.

Photo Credits: https://fstoppers.com/photojournalistic/kristen-bell-and-dax-shepard-confront-paparazzi-agency-over-photos-celebrity

As I’ve mentioned in my earlier blog post, Reaching the Golden Mean in Tabloid Journalism: How do we shift “Celebrities vs. Paparazzi” to “Celebrities & Paparazzi”?, there is a certain level of transparency and sacrificing privacy that comes with being a public figure. While most celebrities try to put on a polite face when faced with the consequences of this unspoken social contract, offer a professional smile, a quick wave, or a short Q&A session at abruptly being confronted by paparazzi during the simplest of days, one milestone changes the rules of the game: having children.

Historically, members of the tabloid journalism community have been criticized by celebrities and the public for their tendency to fail to practice ethical journalism in obtaining their content. In most cases, however, these actions are often justified by the rhetoric that celebrities signed up for this position, it comes with the profession, and that they are more than fairly compensated for the invasion of their privacy. Some might even argue that celebrities’ kids are celebrities by association and therefore the same rules apply. Unlike their parents who have willingly accepted a life in front of the public eye, however, celebrities’ children don’t have the legal or social standing to make an informed decision on giving consent or legally fighting for their privacy. Their legal status combined with their parents’ cries for privacy, the tabloids’ continued disregard for journalism ethics, especially when children are involved, is quite concerning.

May 2015 – Actor, Ashton Kutcher, shared his frustration on the paparazzi invading the privacy of his daughter he shares with actress, Mila Kunis, with the above tweet.

Photo Creds: Twitter Screenshot – https://twitter.com/aplusk/status/600739048513150977
July 2017 – Two years later, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were caught by the paparazzi and can be seen trying to shield their daughter’s face.

Photo Creds: https://www.contactmusic.com/ashton-kutcher/news/ashton-kutcher-paparazzi-kids_5762158
Same day – Kutcher took his frustration to social media with the above tweet asking fans and members of the media to respect their daughter’s privacy and choices.

Photo Creds: Twitter Screenshot – https://twitter.com/aplusk/status/887075095117791232

Now you might be thinking, “Well that must be illegal! Children should be protected by the law!” Unfortunately, the only state that has laws protecting celebrities’ children against paparazzi is the state of California which passed a bill in the fall of 2013 “that restricts photographers’ right to photograph the children of celebrities” as well as any kid targeted/ taunted by photographers, a movement led by Sen. Kevin de Leon, Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, and supported by many others.

September 2013 – Actress, Halle Berry (left), and actress Jennifer Garner (right), giving their testimonies in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee to get bill SB 606 passed in efforts to protect children of celebrities from tabloids.

Photo Creds: https://www.today.com/popculture/jennifer-garner-halle-berry-get-emotional-plea-protect-kids-paparazzi-6C10916515 – (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

While this bill, SB 606, was a big win for the celebrity families of California, and created national legal precedence in this battle for ethical preservation of minors’ privacy regardless of who their parents are, it’s far from victory: celebrities who reside in any of the other 49 states continue to struggle with the issue.

July 2021 – Actress, Blake Lively, took it to Instagram to criticize Daily Mail Australia for editing her pictures to narrate it as Lively and her three children sending smiles to the camera when in reality, Lively felt attacked and taunted by the paparazzi and was forced to pose for the photo so the tabloid journalists would leave her and her daughters alone.

Photo Creds: Instagram Screenshot – https://www.instagram.com/p/CRaYEhsNowN/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=f634467d-adb7-4b3e-bf2d-3e1435c02a95
July 2021 – Super model and new mom of a baby girl she shares with singer Zayn Malik, Gigi Hadid shared this emotional message on Twitter, asking fans and tabloids to respect her daughter’s privacy by not posting about her daughter on social media or by blurring her face if they have to use photos of her.

Photo Creds: Twitter Screenshot – https://twitter.com/GiGiHadid/status/1412218548592726017?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1412218548592726017%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.insider.com%2Fpaparazzi-shouldnt-photograph-celebrity-kids-opinion-blake-lively-gigi-hadid-2021-7

So what’s the solution? A common dilemma in the world of communication, media and ethics is that not everything that is legal is ethical, and not everything ethical is legal. I believe to eliminate the gray area in this specific situation is to enact federal laws that clearly state the limits when it comes to the exploitation of children. Of course there are certain cases where celebrity parents consent to having their children included such as when they agree to take their kids to red carpet events or other instances where they are aware there will be paparazzi presence. While these controlled environments where everything is monitored, and necessary precautions are taken, offer a positive experience for everyone involved; paparazzi hiding in bushes, stalking children, causing physical disturbances just for a photo opportunity is dangerous, and, in my opinion, requires clear legal guidelines to eliminate the gray space between ethical and legal to protect children who depend on adults to advocate for them.

Friends: The One Where We Make Millennials “Uncomfortable”

Millennials and cancel culture have found their next target, and it may be one that most people would never think of. The ’90s hit sitcom Friends has come under scrutiny of late for some of the show’s storylines. The star-studded cast consisted of David Schwimmer, who played “Ross Geller”, Courtney Cox as “Monica Geller” (the sister of Schwimmer on the show), Lisa Kudrow as “Phoebe Buffay”, superstar Jennifer Aniston as “Rachel Green”, Matt LeBlanc as “Joey Tribbiani”, and Matthew Perry as “Chandler Bing”. Friends is a show that many reminisce about and tended to binge on Netflix before moving to HBO Max, where it is still highly watched and rated. Many think of Friends as a comfort show and one that they can relate to their everyday lives.

However, as millennials have been re-watching the show, more are noticing problematic storylines that are occurring such as how they portrayed specific situations. One example is that nowadays, some millennials found the LGBT plot points in the show left them feeling “uncomfortable”. An example of this was when Perry’s character was paranoid about being perceived as gay. According to Jukes, “over 70 countries continue to criminalize homosexual activities, and five of these countries carry the death penalty” (2016). Along the lines of Perry’s character, many millennials did not appreciate the mean-spirited jokes Chandler made about his father on the show, who was essentially a drag queen, which creates a second “uncomfortable” issue facing the show as of today. This portrayal was okay in the ’90s due to a different time with a different level of awareness of these problematic issues. Given the standards of today, I think people would find these jokes tasteless, but the audience in the ’90s was different; many issues portrayed in this show may not have been aired had the show premiered in the mid-2000s or later.

Image of Chandler Bing’s Father on Friends from Entertainment Tonight. Image Address.

Another issue that millennials are picking out of Friends in this day and age is that Monica played by Cox was constantly reminded of how she was at one point in her life extremely obese. Cox’s character was never allowed to forget about this as it was always brought up between the friends on the show. At one point, Joey, played by LeBlanc, when first seeing how obese Cox’s character was, yells, “Some girl ate Monica!” I do not think this would be able to fly today with a lot of talk around eating disorders and the big push to end obesity in the United States. However, I think that in the ’90s it was all in good fun, and many issues were not as publicized as they are today. For instance, both transphobia and fat-phobia were still around and it affected those who identified that way the same way it does today, but more allies have become available as more people have become vocal about these issues.

Image of “Fat Monica” on Friends from BuzzFeed. Image Address.

Even though it was all fun and games in the ’90s, the times have changed, and many shows have updated their constructs. According to Petrucci, “no one wants to admit that some of their favorite old sitcoms were problematic or offensive … TV from 10 and 20 years ago made a lot more insensitive jokes…” (2021).  These are only a few instances that make today’s generation “uncomfortable” while watching the show as there were many problematic themes spread throughout the 10-year series.

Written by Cara Cahill

Protecting Their Own in the NFL: Using Media Could Have Changed a Broken Culture

By Max Newton

The National Football League (NFL) has a history of protecting its own. Time and time again they have been pushing certain issues with players or team personnel under the rug in hopes of not tarnishing their reputation. There is a sense that the NFL is an old boys club and with that, they will do what they have to in order to protect their own no matter the situation at hand.

This type of culture was once again brought to the forefront when 15 former female employees of the Washington Football Team came forward accusing team staff of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. After both an internal investigation and an external investigation done by the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell decided that a 10 million dollar fine was to be assessed to team owner Dan Snyder, the fine was stated as being “unprecedented” by Roger Goodell but is $10 million really that substantial to someone worth 4 billion? I would say not really.

Pictured is Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner since 2006 https://www.forbes.com/sites/terencemoore/2020/01/30/theres-a-16-billion-reason-why-nfl-bosses-want-roger-goodell-to-keep-sounding-clueless/?sh=392c3d567a37

There are plenty of issues that could be discussed on how this whole process was handled. Personally, the biggest issue is how the media team working with the NFL handled the outcome. The NFL has not released any of their findings from the investigation and there is a major push for that information to be released and rightfully so. As of right now, there are only rumors of what happened, especially surrounding the owner Dan Snyder and his major role in the creation of this toxic culture and how he has failed to hold his employees and himself accountable. Not releasing the investigation that was conducted, allows for this type of culture to be continued not only in this specific organization but the sports world as a whole. This was a giant missed opportunity for the NFL and the media to show that they are taking a stance on this unacceptable behavior and provide examples (anonymously) of the specific behavior that needs to be completely eliminated from this industry.

Dan Snyder, Washington Football Team Owner and at the forefront of the sexual harassment claim from his former employeeshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Snyder

By not releasing the report, or at the very least, explaining the nature of the issue and giving the public more of an explanation the NFL basically protected their own and let them off the hook with a slap of the wrist. Was there a possibility for the NFL to use this poor decision making by one organization as an example for the rest of the sports world by releasing their findings to the public, allowing their media team to share this information, knowing it will be a black eye on the league but in the long run it will allow for growth because the media can raise awareness by being able to speak about the issue? Absolutely there was. The PR team that is involved with the NFL, along with the NFL executives were clouded in their judgment and focused on protecting their own instead of using this incredibly disappointing situation for a chance to change the culture that has been created through sports by entrusting the media and their team to pass along crucial information. To further show this, business academic Paul Nutt’s was quoted as saying “the NFL executives are checking every box in Nutt’s analysis of “debacles” and “blunders””

The NFL and the sports industry as a whole have primarily worried about protecting their own, while there has been a slow change in the sports industry in terms of accountability in recent years, there is still plenty of room to grow. This situation specifically presented the NFL an opportunity for growth in terms of the culture but was missed because of their lack of awareness on how media could properly address the issue at hand. Using a negative situation and finding ways to ensure it never happens again should be at the forefront of NFL executives anytime a situation like this arises, hopefully, that is the case in the future.

Facebook Aims to Target a Younger Audience

Meghan Barrasso

With the growth of social media platforms, comes the growth of companies aiming to influence users through these platforms in hopes of creating lifetime users. Facebook, now known as Meta, is one of the biggest social media platforms along with Instagram. The company was created back in 2004 long long ago when social media wasn’t the household term that it is today. 

No one ever imagined that social media would flourish into the pivotal instrument that it is in today’s world. The convenience of cell phones and social media apps has basically exposed us to be influenced right in the palm of our hands.

When reading Facebook’s “About” page, the minimum age to sign up for a Facebook and Instagram account in the United States is 13 years old. Seems young right? Well, not really. According to a CNN article discussing a Media Census Report, 56% of children between the ages of 8 and 18 have a social media account; with the average age of signing up for an account being 12.6 years old. So in actuality, children seem to be the majority of those who are on social media, which makes them susceptible to be easily persuaded by whatever is being published through these means.

With companies having such direct access to consumers, especially young children, comes a number of ethical issues.

Recently, Facebook has been under fire for hiring a new department of employees to create products that target an “untapped audience” of children under the age of 13. Back in 2018, a “confidential” document revealed Facebook’s plans to create a new social media platform exclusively for children under the age of 13, broken down into different age groups.


Outline of Facebook’s proposed platform for children obtained from NBC News https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/facebook-documents-reveal-company-targeted-children-young-6-rcna4021

This idea was in the process of being developed even though recent research showed that social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have negative effects on users’ mental health. 

So why would such a large influential company do such a thing? For the profit of course.

Phones, iPads, and tablets are largely used products by young children, so the exposure and influence are at an all time high. This is where the ethical issue comes into play: taking advantage of an easily persuaded audience. 

CEO of Common Sense Media, James Steyer said in an interview with NBC: “They [Facebook] need to focus on cleaning up their existing platforms instead of trying to hook more children to their addictive platforms at younger and younger ages.”

Facebook responded to this backlash by essentially stating that since the industry they’re in is so competitive and other companies would do the same thing, they stand by their decision to pursue this platform.

Companies have every right to get to know and target their customers, but if they are identified as too young to even use the platforms, they should not have specific services geared toward them. Instead of working to create a new platform for younger children in hopes of creating lifetime users, social media platforms like Facebook need to gear their focus toward creating safer platform for teenagers and young adults to use.

Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace: a Case Study in Victim Shaming

By Meghan Schweizer

In 2017, the #Metoo movement gained momentum, bringing new focus on workplace sexual harassment, even though protections were already in place in the fifty states . Why do more than half of victims of sexual harassment never report or file a complaint? Is it fear of retaliation? Shame? Or does the victim often encounter victim-blaming attitudes when they do report it?

#MeToo Rally, Baltimore, MD January 20, 2018

Let us be clear…There is no room for sexual misconduct in the workplace or educational institute. Unfortunately, it continues to be a problem. Committed without consent, the act may come in the form of force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation, often between individuals with different levels of authority.  The perpetrator may retaliate or victim shame. While men experience sexual harassment, many of the victims are women. In 2020, more than 6,500 sexual harassment claims were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) . This federal agency, established via the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, administers and enforces, civil right laws against workplace discrimination .

Attitude and empathy rank as top reasons sexual harassment does not get reported. As reviewed in the case study, Why Women Are Blamed for Being Sexually Harassed: The Effects of Empathy for Female Victims and Male Perpetrators, researchers focused on men’s lesser empathy towards female victims . Two studies were performed among university students. The first surveyed students who received the perspective of the male’s perpetrator’s harassment of a female student. Results found men blamed the woman and had greater empathy for the male. The second study the students were given either the male or female’s perspective. Regardless of gender, those who took the male perspective had lesser empathy for the female. In conclusion, the case demonstrated the belief, women sexually harassed are in part blamed due to their provocative behavior towards men. This further aligned with no matter what the outcome, women victims gained nothing by reporting or not reporting the harassing behavior. Theory and research suggested negative attitude towards disadvantaged or stigmatized groups and a failure to consider the perspective of the victim.

“The belief, women who are sexually harassed are in part blamed due to their provocative behavior towards men.”

What happens when people of power, in the media, abuse their power and commit sexual harassment? This couldn’t happen, as the Society of Professional Journalists believe in a conduct code, one that treats sources, subjects, colleagues, and member of the public as human beings deserving respect...or could it?  Journalist and former co-host of the Today Show not only found himself at the center of attention for sexual harassment accusations in 2017, but after an investigation determined credibility of the claims, Matt Lauer, the perpetrator, responded via a 1,300-word open letter sent to Variety magazine. He rebutted the accusation as “categorically false, ignoring the facts, and defies common sense.”  Lauer claimed this was all part of an effort to sell books, describing his sexual relationship as “consensual,” not aggressive and “she certainly did not cry.”  He further shamed his victims, by indicating the “women did not share the responsibility and shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations”. News flash Matt Lauer…Public shaming is a form of punishment or abuse and regarded as unacceptable behavior.

The perpetrator further shamed, by indicating “women did not share the responsibility and shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations.

Instead of showing empathy, NBC News executives communicated the Matt Lauer incidents were never formally reported to their human resources department nor to executives. Investigators found “Lauer ‘frequently engaged in sexual banter or joking in open working environments” . Investigators believed Lauer’s behavior created a hostile environment where employees impacted may have not felt comfortable to report it. Implying there may be victims yet to come forward, Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer Prize winner, contradicted NBC’s stance, indicating a team of investigators spent several years fact-checking and following the paper trail with documents. He further clarified that over a 7-year period, NBC had multiple secret settlements and nondisclosures with women victims at NBC, including Lauer.  Lauer was later terminated

Matt Lauer, former co-host of the Today Show

NBC had multiple secret settlements and nondisclosures with women victims at NBC, including Lauer.

What is being done to prevent and protect victims?  States are looking to prevent workplace sexual harassment beyond the federal regulations in place. While fifty states prohibit sexual discrimination, only eight states go beyond these practices, requiring employees to attend sexual harassment training.  The National Conference of State Legislatures reported a decline in reported sexual harassment claims, unable to confirm if related to the onset of the global pandemic (people no longer in the workforce or working remote). This reviewer agrees additional legislature is required as well as campaigns to change the stigmatisms

Loopholes still exist!  Legislation work must be done on the use or abuse of non-disclosure agreements. NBC News is not alone regarding media companies opting to pay settlements to avoid the aftermath of scandals.  Twenty-First Century Fox paid $50 million in settlements in their fiscal 2017 year. This settlement included one of the network’s biggest stars, Bill O’Reilly, of Fox News.  Additional business contributors were suspended, such as Charles Payne and Eric Bolling, leaving as they settled multiple allegations of sexual harassment

Protocols, training, and laws should be standardized across all fifty states to prevent discrimination and harassment and protect all victims.

The multi-national technology company, Google, recently paid a $310 million settlement. Their parent company, Alphabet, agreed as part of its settlement to make more than eighty updates or changes to its policies and procedures around sexual misconduct and harassment. Google took a different approach to re-gain the trust of its employees. Its CEO emailed all employees encouraging them to read the settlement highlights. This reviewer believes organizations should take heed to Google’s approach and provide a corporate stance, not to make excuses, but acknowledge there is a problem, and not allow it to continue.

Without consent,