While some of our colleagues might be inclined to call the exchange of open letters between Lady Gaga and Sharon and Kelly Osbourne a “feud,” we prefer to take this in another light: If you read it objectively, it’s actually a fascinating exchange between some rather smart women about the nature of criticism vs. bullying — OK, with a little Mama Bear action for good measure.
Apparently, this all started last year, when Kelly said she’d been receiving negative, threatening comments from Gaga fans about her appearance and weight, with tweets like, “Kelly Osbourne needs to kill herself.” Sharon wrote a private note to Gaga’s manager Vincent Herbert, citing Gaga’s anti-bullying work and suggesting, “One tweet from Gaga can change this whole situation. I’m not asking her to deal with this directly but she if she could tweet something to her fans about being more respectful that may end this,” the talk-show host wrote. She followed it up with another email to him this week, both of which she posted on her Facebook page.
Yesterday, Gaga responded with an open letter to Kelly on her Little Monsters site. “I have empathy for you Kelly, but I feel it culturally important to note that you have chosen a less compassionate path,” she writes. “Your work on E! with the Fashion Police is rooted in criticism, judgment, and rating people’s beauty against one another. ‘Appearance’ is the most used reason for bullying in the world. Your show breeds negativity, and over the years has even become comedic in nature.” By criticizing celebrities on her show, Gaga argues, she’s setting a bad example for young girls who feel it’s acceptable to criticize others. “[W]e can all do our part in the media to set a standard of respect, compassion, and love. I wish for you to be treated with the kindness and respect that everyone deserves.”
It’s kind of all the rage to fight bullying these days — Lady Gaga, Glee, Demi Lovato, Ian Somerhalder — all our faves are taking on the mission. So is best-selling YA author Susane Colasanti, with her newest novel, Keep Holding On, about a girl who’s sick of being ostracized for being poor and stands up to her tormentors. Colasanti herself was once a bullied teen, and she, like some of us, remembers that pop culture’s battle against mean guys and girls is nothing new. Back in the day, there was a fair share of books, TV shows and movies that dealt with bullying. Here, she shares her top 5 favorites:
I was obsessed with both the book (by S.E. Hinton) and the movie in junior high. You would not have wanted to watch the movie with me. I was that annoying person who said every line of dialogue along with the characters. I slept with the book under my pillow, wishing for some sort of osmosis to transmit its magic into my brain so I could write a teen novel one day that would help readers the way that book helped me. How the greasers were always taunted by the Socs made my heart hurt. Ponyboy was my favorite character. I loved how he was into sunsets and colors and things. He hated how the Socs felt entitled to harass the greasers, especially since they were all just kids. Ponyboy summed it up best when he asked Cherry if she could see the sunset from the Southside very good. She told him she could. “You can see it from the Northside, too,” Ponyboy said.
The quintessential portrayal of a Pretty Perfect Popular girl clique. The clique includes three girls named Heather (Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker) who rule the school. These Heathers are some seriously cruel beyotches. The fourth girl, Veronica (Winona Ryder), wants the Heathers to chill. When Veronica and boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) expose their shallowness and insecurities, the consequences shatter their whole world.
Lots of us are wearing purple today, supporting Spirit Day, which started last year in response to the horrifying spate of LGBT teen suicides linked to bullying. But even if the color didn’t fit in your wardrobe, the wonders of social networking have made it possible to turn your profile pic purple, and we think that counts too. Of course, as with any cause, some of our fave celebs are lending their 140 characters to the effort. Here are some of the best so far:
“Glaad Spirit Day! I support LBGT youth against bullies! Put up your forcefields and don’t let anyone take your energy!!” — Adam Lambert
“You all better be wearing your purple skinny jeans tom for #SpiritDay – I know I will @MTVact.” — Vinny Guadagnino
“Tink! …trying to figure out how to make my avi purple….hmnn…” — Jordan Knight
Some might argue that Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video led to the biggest cyber-bullying frenzy in Internet history, but we guess there’s a big difference between mean YouTube comments, and your fellow eighth graders coming after you during study hall. TMZ reports that due to the notoriety of Rebecca’s jam, the singer had to be switched to homeschooling to escape non-stop teasing from her classmates. Despite the taunts, Rebecca still plans on pursuing her pop dreams. So if you had planned to drive her out of the music business all together, bullies, you have only hurt yourselves!
You’d think people would be satisfied by that genius Rebecca Black Katy Perry collabo the way the rest of America was, but apparently it just got to be too much. “When I walk by they’ll start singing ‘Friday’ in a really nasally voice,” Black told ABC news. “Or, you know, they’ll be like, ‘Oh hey, Rebecca, guess what day it is?'” As if Rebecca Black, of all the people on the planet, wouldn’t know what day it was, in addition to what day comes afterwaaaaaards. As if!
Harry Potter. The Hunger Games. 50 Cent’s novel Playground. Come January, young adult readers will be shoving their beloved sci-fi and fantasy titles aside for Fiddy’s semi-autobiographical book, about a 13-year-old who must make up for bullying others. Says Fiddy, “This book would have been very helpful for me growing up and now that I have a teenage son, it is my goal that this will have a positive influence on all teenagers.” So, we’re assuming he hadn’t started writing it in March when 50 Cent joked about the Japanese tsunami, right? He must have grown a lot as a person in the last two months, as well as gotten carpel tunnel from typing up an entire novel fast.
Of course, 50 Cent’s Twitter insults aren’t the only dish in his long history of beef. How about his feuds The Game, Lil Wayne, Young Buck, Fat Joe and Kim Osario, for starters?Ã‚Â And that’s just the first chapter in what could be an entire book purely of beefs. See, and that would could non-fiction. Fiddy has something for everyone in the library!
We’re glad Emma Watson denies bullying rumors about her time at Brown. It’s hard enough finishing your education without some sophomore yelling “Alohomora!” every time you go to open a car door. In a letter posted to her official website, the actress says reports that students heckledÃ‚Â Watson with Harry Potter quotes is pure fiction. “I felt the need to let you all know the reason I took a semester off from Brown had nothing to do with bullying as the media have been suggesting recently. I have never been bullied in my life and certainly never at Brown,” Emma explains. “This ’10 points to Gryffindor’ incident never even happened. I feel the need to say this because accusing Brown students of something as serious as bullying and this causing me to leave seems beyond unfair.” Besides, as soon as Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part II hits theaters, people will be screaming at her in public all day long, only this time with pure excitement. Why taint that experience?
As well-mannered and polite her classmates might be, it’s unlikely Emma will be returning to Brown, or any school, anytime soon, seeing as how she is just starting to film The Perks Of Being A Wallflower in Pittsburgh. “Please don’t try and speculate about what I might do in September – no one can possibly know because I don’t even know yet! Like my other fellow Brown students I am trying to figure out my third year and whether or not I will spend it abroad (this is common),” she writes. At least potentially hecklers aren’t likely to come up with many shout-able lines from Wallflower. Much less Hogwarts-related material in that one.
Looks like Hollywood has Jennifer Aniston to thank for a marked decrease in photos defaced by fake splooge or stick-figure fetuses. According to her new interview on Ellen, Jennifer Aniston stopped Perez Hilton‘s bullying ways. “I ran into Perez Hilton in a garage. I had finished dinner with a girlfriend and we were driving out and I saw this tall, long, lean person and I say, ‘Who is that?’ And she says, ‘I think that’s Perez Hilton.’ I said, ‘No. I have to say something to him. I have to’,” the Just Go With It star explained. We can’t imagine what we’d do if we saw an enraged Jennifer Aniston sprinting towards us, but we imagine our first instinct would be to run out into traffic.
Says Jen, “It was a lovely meeting and I was just like, ‘Why are you so mean?’ There’s something really great about putting a human being in front of another human being and then the reality that those words, even if it’s for humor or effect or whatever, there’s a human being behind all of that…And he’s kept it up too which is good.” Perez credits his encounter with Aniston with helping him cut out the cruelty on his site, according to a different interview with Ellen DeGeneres this past October. “I still want to be sassy and critical, but I can do it without being mean or nasty,” Hilton explained. While Perez was surprised Aniston talked about their meeting, he agreed it was important to both of them. “I had not talked about meeting Jennifer Aniston out of respect for her and respect for the situation. It was actually a very powerful moment, I think for both of us,” he admits. Looks like Jen has a lot more parking garages to visit before she wipes meanness off the face of the planet. It’s too bad we don’t drive…
[Photo: Getty Images]
Miley has been a bad, bad girl, and this time it’s not even salvia and/or nudity related! According to Miley’s best childhood friend Nicole Mullen-Holm, during middle school Miley Cyrus bullied other kids with homophobic and fat-hating slurs. “Miley is a liar who bullied girls and was a real b—- to everyone,” Nicole reports. And you though Billy Ray was disappointed before!
In her memoir Miles to Go (the title of which is so terrible, it basically qualifies as bullying), Cyrus claimed that she was the one who was the target of other cruel kids. “The girls took it beyond normal bullying. These were big, tough girls. I was scrawny and short. They were fully capable of doing me bodily harm,” Miley wrote. That’s not how Mullen-Holm remembers it, though. “Miley became so mean, I remember her shouting at an overweight girl calling her ‘lesbian’ and ‘d–e.’ Miley was a cheerleader and was with the ‘in’ crowd. She was never bullied in elementary or middle school. If anyone even touched her it would have been the end of the world. Her dad would own the school!” Hmmm, sounds like one of these girls must have been hitting the bong pretty hard to come up with their version of the story. Any guesses as to which one?