Year in review: The biggest news stories of 2021 – The A.V. Club

year-in-review:-the-biggest-news-stories-of-2021-–-the-av.-club

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Billy Porter, Britney Spears, Scarlett Johansson, Nicki Minaj, Squid Game, Bo Burnham

Clockwise from left: Billy Porter (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images), Britney Spears (Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images), Scarlett Johansson (Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images), Nicki Minaj (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images), Squid Game (Screenshot: Netflix), Bo Burnham (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Though 2021 was still a shaky year in many ways, it was a definite improvement from 2020—and that alone is worth celebrating. Still, after 12 long news-packed months, we know that it can be tough to recall exactly which film brought people back to the theaters or which musician made outlandish anti-vaccine claims or which actor sued a media conglomerate.

But here’s where we can help. From F9 to Nicki Minaj to Scarlett Johansson, The A.V. Club has compiled a chronological list of 2021’s biggest news stories so you can sit back and remember this strange—slightly better—year. (Looking at you, 2022.)

2 / 33

Armie Hammer’s career implodes

Armie Hammer’s career implodes

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer
Photo: Noam Galai (Getty Images)

Armie Hammer’s career implodes

In January, graphic screenshots of sexual and cannibalistic DMs from what was believed to be Armie Hammer’s account surfaced on social media. In the span of a few weeks, Hammer was dropped by his publicist and team and booted from multiple projects. He was also accused of sexual assault and the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that he was being investigated in connection with those allegations. [Shanicka Anderson]

3 / 33

Gamestop’s stock soars (or Reddit vs. Finance bros)

Gamestop’s stock soars (or Reddit vs. Finance bros)

A GameStop storefront

A GameStop storefront
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Gamestop’s stock soars (or Reddit vs. Finance bros)

Less than a month after the insurrection in Washington, D.C., another meme-powered revolution took place online. In late January, the Reddit brain trust over at /r/WallStreetBets attempted to stick it to investors looking to short GameStop’s stock by collectively buying up shares. For a while, it worked, with the stock skyrocketing “to the moon.” Some won big, others held out for more and posted “stonks” in hopes of getting Elon Musk’s attention—as you probably know, he loves memes and thinks they’re [ahem] very genius.

But no lunar trips last forever. Regulators and the Robinhood trading app, where most of this nonsense went down, tried to put the kibosh on the whole thing, and by mid-February, the stock fell back to normal. Today, there are probably forgotten GameStop shares collecting digital dust in a Robinhood account. Within months, everyone moved onto something much more lucrative: NFTs. Stonks! [Matt Schimkowitz]

4 / 33

Gina Carano gets fired from The Mandalorian

Gina Carano gets fired from The Mandalorian

Gina Carano

Gina Carano
Photo: Jesse Grant (Getty Images)

Gina Carano gets fired from The Mandalorian

When people lament the authoritarian rule of so-called cancel culture, they like to pretend that the “victim” did nothing to deserve their fate—as if their actions shouldn’t have consequences. And when your boss is Mickey Mouse, like former Mandalorian-star Gina Carano’s was, freedom of speech ends at the Magic Kingdom. What can you say? The company turns IP into TV shows and movies to sell toys, theme park tickets, and Disney+ subscriptions, not to have a culture warrior comparing reasonable precautions during a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people around the world (and 774,000 in the U.S. alone) to Nazi iconography. Publicly traded corporations that make stuff primarily for children tend not to like that. Anyway, now Carano’s making a crowd-financed movie about Hunter Biden, so we must assume that she finally got the job she’s always wanted. [Matt Schimkowitz]

5 / 33

Abuse allegations are levied against Marilyn Manson

Abuse allegations are levied against Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Abuse allegations are levied against Marilyn Manson

In February, actor Evan Rachel Wood came forward and named Brian “Marilyn Manson” Warner as her abuser, alleging psychological abuse and sexual assault. In the wake of her announcement, multiple other women stepped forward with their own claims of sexual abuse and interpersonal violence involving Warner, including Game Of Thrones actor Esme Bianco. After being dropped by his record label, Warner is currently facing several lawsuits and is under investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

6 / 33

Sharon Osbourne leaves The Talk following racism controversy

Sharon Osbourne leaves The Talk following racism controversy

Sharon Osbourne

Sharon Osbourne
Photo: Rich Fury (Getty Images)

Sharon Osbourne leaves The Talk following racism controversy

The unraveling of Sharon Osbourne’s time on CBS’ The Talk was swift, and it all might’ve been avoidable if she had resisted the inexplicable urge to defend Piers Morgan. He had just been fired from Good Morning Britain over racist comments about Meghan Markle. When Osbourne leapt to his defense, it prompted her former co-host Holly Robinson Peete to resurface an accusation that Osbourne had gotten her fired for being “too ghetto” (in addition to many other accusations of racism). Plus, Osbourne allowed arguments about all of this to happen on the air, making the scandal very public. It was no surprise when she left. [Sam Barsanti]

7 / 33

Massive cargo ship Ever Given gets stuck in the Suez Canal

Massive cargo ship Ever Given gets stuck in the Suez Canal

Ever Given

Ever Given
Photo: Sanne Derks (Getty Images)

Massive cargo ship Ever Given gets stuck in the Suez Canal

Few obstructions to international trade have ever felt as relatable as the plight of the Ever Given, the utterly massive container ship that found itself firmly wedged across the Suez Canal in March of 2021. The fiscal and practical effects of the maritime disaster were even bigger than the boat itself—blocking billions of dollars in trade and delaying shipping planetwide, with major knock-on effects to who knows how many industries. The social ramifications were fascinatingly odd, as the planet (or, at least, its more social media-connected citizens) got together to revel in a problem caused, refreshingly, not by human evils, wanton cruelty, or a lethal virus, but just because a big, big boat got stuck. [William Hughes]

8 / 33

Justice League’s Ray Fisher takes aim at Joss Whedon

Justice League’s Ray Fisher takes aim at Joss Whedon

Ray Fisher

Ray Fisher
Photo: Neilson Barnard (Getty Images)

Justice League’s Ray Fisher takes aim at Joss Whedon

Shortly after the release of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League in March, star Ray Fisher offered more details about his working experience with director Joss Whedon, the Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator who replaced Snyder as film’s director, as well as other Warner Bros. executives. Now, thoroughly distanced from Whedon’s 2017 take on the film, Fisher delved into the allegedly racist and inappropriate behavior he endured on set. The explosive profile in The Hollywood Reporter arrived shortly after Buffy and Angel star Charisma Carpenter detailed her experience working with Whedon as she endured “casual cruelty” and “ongoing, passive aggressive threats.” Her claims were corroborated by fellow BTVS stars Amber Benson and Michelle Trachtenberg, who said Whedon was not allowed in a room alone with her. Later, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot came forward with her own claims about threats Whedon leveraged against her while filming. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

9 / 33

Billy Porter shares his HIV status

Billy Porter shares his HIV status

Billy Porter

Billy Porter
Photo: Amy Sussman (Getty Images)

Billy Porter shares his HIV status

For three seasons on FX’s Pose, Billy Porter played HIV-positive ball emcee Pray Tell, but it wasn’t until this year that Porter revealed he had actually been diagnosed with HIV in 2007. Porter said he kept his status a secret because he came from a deeply religious family, not even telling his mother until recently, but he had since began thinking of himself as someone who “transcended” the diagnosis due to medication and consistent doctor visits. He says he’s the healthiest now that he’s ever been, adding, “I’m going to die from something else before I die from that.” [Sam Barsanti]

10 / 33

Ellen DeGeneres takes a mighty tumble

Ellen DeGeneres takes a mighty tumble

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Ellen DeGeneres takes a mighty tumble

It’s hard to believe how quickly and ungraciously Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime television empire collapsed this year. After allegations emerged that the one-name star had cultivated an abusive and toxic work environment, the backlash was swift and firm. With the show suddenly shedding millions of viewers each week, it was announced that the upcoming 19th season of Ellen would be its last, with the show to end in 2022. The scandal helped bring one of television’s longest-running daytime shows to a close. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

11 / 33

Bill Cosby is released from prison

Bill Cosby is released from prison

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby
Photo: Bredan Smialowski/AFP (Getty Images)

Bill Cosby is released from prison

In 2018, Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, leading to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. A little more than three years later, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned that ruling, arguing that the use of testimony from a civil trial between Cosby and Constand in 2005—i.e., his public admission to giving Benadryl to Constand, and qualuudes to other women he was sexually pursuing—had violated his due process rights. Cosby was released from prison on June 30, 2021. Not long after his release, Cosby was already facing at least two other civil suits related to allegations of sexual assault. [William Hughes]

12 / 33

Mark Hoppus shares his cancer diagnosis

Mark Hoppus shares his cancer diagnosis

Mark Hoppus

Mark Hoppus
Photo: Rodin Eckenroth (Getty Images)

Mark Hoppus shares his cancer diagnosis

Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus shocked fans on June 23 when he revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. “It sucks and I’m scared,” Hoppus acknowledged on social media, even as he expressed hopes for his treatment, and as Blink fans (famous and not) from around the world offered well-wishes. Hoppus later revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, but this is one of those rare 2021 news stories that appears to have had a genuinely happy ending: Hoppus announced in September that the cancer had responded to treatment, and that he was now “cancer free,” hopefully for the foreseeable future. [William Hughes]

13 / 33

Movies, and the box office, make a comeback

Movies, and the box office, make a comeback

Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Movies, and the box office, make a comeback

Da movies. Vin Diesel is a hard guy to imitate, with a gravelly voice that also kind of sounds like he just drank a gallon of milk. On SNL, Beck Bennett nailed the man who promised to bring movies back. A month later, the man sort of did: In June, F9: The Fast Saga, broke the dam. It became one of the first major studio blockbusters since the arrival of COVID-19 to receive an exclusive theatrical release, leading to, well, the return of crowds at movie theaters.

While movies still aren’t making pre-pandemic money, theaters finally showed signs of life again, with the likes of Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman encouraging people to get some popcorn, turn off the phone, and watch some friggin’ movies. Of course, it was really the vaccine that did it. Just imagine, people were more receptive to the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers after getting the jab. Thanks, jab, and thanks, Vin, for everything. [Matt Schimkowitz]

14 / 33

Chris Harrison leaves The Bachelor

Chris Harrison leaves The Bachelor

Chris Harrison

Chris Harrison
Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP (Getty Images)

Chris Harrison leaves The Bachelor

After 19 years of presiding over Bachelor Nation shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (and, not coincidentally, both series’ ongoing, extremely spotty track records on race), blandly charismatic host Chris Harrison finally found himself brought down by: blandly charismatic host Chris Harrison. Specifically, the long-time presenter blundered into trying to defend Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for participating in an “Old South” sorority party a few years before being on the show. The final straw came when he attempted to sell Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black Bachelorette, on the idea that no one knew that sort of thing was problematic way back in the distant past of 2018. Letters of condemnation from the show’s contestants, and Harrison’s eventual ouster, swiftly followed. [William Hughes]

15 / 33

LeVar Burton campaigns to host Jeopardy

LeVar Burton campaigns to host Jeopardy

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

LeVar Burton campaigns to host Jeopardy

It seemed like the perfect blend of role and performer: LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow luminary and Star Trek alum, paired with the now-vacant position of Jeopardy! host. Although it started with simple online speculation, Burton quickly joined the chorus of voices suggesting he’d be a natural fit for the job. (Jeopardy! producers, meanwhile, remained weirdly reticent.) Burton eventually did get to host a week of shows (to, admittedly, somewhat nervous and mixed effect)—not long before his work was pretty thoroughly eclipsed by the chaos that erupted around the franchise’s eventual picks. [William Hughes]

16 / 33

Billionaires launch a Space Race

Billionaires launch a Space Race

Richard Branson and his space crew

Richard Branson and his space crew
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP (Getty Images)

Billionaires launch a Space Race

The mega-rich have everything—so they get bored easily and have to get creative with how to waste their money while also stroking their egos. So, what better way to prove who’s the top billionaire than by showing whose rocket has the best performance? (No, not that kind of rocket.) Virgin founder Richard Branson was the first to become a “space-billionaire,” traveling in the Virgin Galactic VSS Unity. But he was quickly eclipsed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his phallic-shaped spaceship. Bezos kept making trips, and he turned William Shatner into the oldest person to go to space—well, sort of, since it’s argued that Bezos didn’t actually make it to space, just close enough that it kind of counts. [Tatiana Tenreyro]

17 / 33

Ye takes his time, and tests our patience, with drawn-out Donda release

Ye takes his time, and tests our patience, with drawn-out Donda release

Kanye “Ye” West

Kanye “Ye” West
Photo: Jean-Baptiste Lacrois/AFP (Getty Images)

Ye takes his time, and tests our patience, with drawn-out Donda release

Somewhere, there’s someone who truly believes Donda isn’t finished. And that person is Ye, formerly Kanye West. Teased for a whole-ass calendar year, the impossible-to-defend rapper’s 10th album was a star-studded event, we think. Numerous names were dropped, as were their verses from the finished product, in the lead-up to the album. Ye held three stadium-filled listening parties throughout the summer, trotting out different versions of the record, which was eventually released, allegedly, without Ye’s consent. Once it was out, it was the same old story: We all pored over the record for approximately two days and never listened to it again. The rapper’s association with DaBaby and Marilyn Manson, earning them a Grammy nod for their troubles, didn’t exactly make the album a joy to return to. Another JESUS IS KING to take up space on our phones. When will we learn? [Matt Schimkowitz]

18 / 33

Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over Black Widow release

Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over Black Widow release

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson
Photo: Steve Granitz/FilmMagic (Getty Images)

Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over Black Widow release

Scarlett Johansson suing Disney was one of the most surprising news stories of the year, not because she did it but because Disney had even allowed it to happen. The suit was prompted by Disney’s decision to release Black Widow in theaters and as a premium Disney+ rental simultaneously, which probably contributed to relatively poor box office numbers, which (due to the language in her contract) meant Johansson got less money than originally promised. With Johansson backed by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, Disney wisely settled and now has her producing another movie. [Sam Barsanti]

19 / 33

Brendan Fraser enjoys a renaissance

Brendan Fraser enjoys a renaissance

Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser
Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP (Getty Images)

Brendan Fraser enjoys a renaissance

In one of the more wholesome ongoing stories of this year, Brendan Fraser received an outpouring of support following his triumphant return to feature acting, in what fans are calling the “Brenaissance.” Fraser previously opened up about the long-term harm caused by harassment that he experienced, and how it almost derailed his career and personal life. His upcoming films include Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon, Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, and HBO’s Batgirl. He also joined CW’s Professionals in addition to his ongoing role on Doom Patrol, and played a memorable character part in Steven Soderbergh’s 2021 release No Sudden Move. All of this excitement about Fraser’s return resulted in a moment where Fraser teared up upon learning about widespread online support for him. Cheers for Brendan! [Gabrielle Sanchez]

20 / 33

Producer Mike Richards’ short stint as Jeopardy! host

Producer Mike Richards’ short stint as Jeopardy! host

Mike Richards

Mike Richards
Photo: Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 (Getty Images)

Producer Mike Richards’ short stint as Jeopardy! host

Following several rounds of guest-hosted episodes, Jeopardy! announced that it had finally found Alex Trebek’s successor: Executive producer Mike Richards was chosen (with Mayim Bialik tapped to host special episodes). However, Richards’ reign was cut short after news of his past work history and related legal baggage surfaced. Richards was accused of discrimination on the set of the Price Is Right during his tenure and he was named in two legal complaints from models on the show who alleged unfair treatment. If that wasn’t enough, he was also accused of making it appear like other candidates who guest-hosted Jeopardy! had a real chance at scoring the hosting gig, when he had himself in mind the whole time. Ultimately, Richards and Sony announced that he was stepping down as Jeopardy! host. He was also ousted from his role as producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune. [Shanicka Anderson]

Squid Game plays to win

Hwang Dong-hyuk, Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon,, Kim Ji-yeon

Hwang Dong-hyuk, Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon,, Kim Ji-yeon
Photo: Craig Barritt/Greenslate (Getty Images)

Squid Game plays to win

For something first pitched more than a decade earlier, Squid Game kind of came out of nowhere: Not even Netflix seemed like it expected Hwang Dong-Hyuk’s South Korean spin on Battle Royale murder games to become a success—let alone become the most watched show in the service’s history. Squid Game fever swept the planet in the back half of 2021, influencing Halloween costumes, sports, and more. Of course, given the show’s success, it was inevitable that responses to the series (and comprehension of its deeply unsubtle themes) would be just as diverse. After all, nothing says “I have understood this brutal satire of capitalism” like throwing a party where you and your rich friends dress up like all the track-suit clad poors, right? [William Hughes]

Nicki Minaj’s BallGate

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj’s BallGate

Seemingly every year has a “gate” conspiracy theory, and this time it was BallGate. Nicki Minaj’s most viral tweet of 2021 read like one of those hoaxes that clueless family members love to share on Facebook. Minaj explained that she wasn’t ready to be vaccinated because she was still doing her “research,” as her cousin’s friend in Trinidad woke up with huge balls post-vaccination and had to cancel his wedding. Actually, enlarged balls sounds an awful lot like an STD and not like something that’s listed as a side effect for any vaccine—we’re sure anyone with a pair of balls would happily tell you, theirs likely work just fine after being vaxxed. But, because Minaj tweeted this out to her more than 200 million followers, a White House official had to address Minaj’s claims on CBS News. [Tatiana Tenreyro]

23 / 33

Bo Burnham wins an Emmy and scores a Grammy nomination for Inside

Bo Burnham wins an Emmy and scores a Grammy nomination for Inside

Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham
Photo: Rich Fury (Getty Images)

Bo Burnham wins an Emmy and scores a Grammy nomination for Inside

​​Bo Burnham set out to save the world with comedy in his musical Netflix special, Inside. In the midst of singing about white women’s Instagrams and FaceTiming his mom, Burnham also perfectly captured the overwhelming sense of dread that has permeated this capitalism-ruled life since the pandemic started. For the special itself, Burnham earned three Emmy awards, and the subsequent album recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Music Film. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

24 / 33

R. Kelly is found guilty of racketeering

R. Kelly is found guilty of racketeering

R. Kelly

R. Kelly
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

R. Kelly is found guilty of racketeering

After a month-long trial in Brooklyn, disgraced rapper R. Kelly was convicted on nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking. With charges dating back nearly 30 years, the court found that Kelly used his power and wealth to lead a sex ring that recruited young women and underage girls. The high-profile trial brought to light the many abuses Kelly doled out against children and women, including the late singer Aaliyah. He currently faces decades of prison time. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

25 / 33

Meghan McCain leaves The View

Meghan McCain leaves The View

Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain
Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

Meghan McCain leaves The View

When Meghan McCain announced that she was leaving The View, it was really only a surprise because of how long she lasted. McCain joined the show in 2017, and she spent most of that time getting into increasingly heated on-screen spats with Joy Behar and the rest of the View women. However, she didn’t completely end her tenure on a bad note. While announcing her departure, she told her former co-hosts, “You are the most talented women in all of television, hands down, and it has been so incredible to be able to do with this with you.” [Shanicka Anderson]

26 / 33

Emily Ratajkowski accuses Robin Thicke of groping her on the set of “Blurred Lines”

Emily Ratajkowski accuses Robin Thicke of groping her on the set of “Blurred Lines”

Emily Ratajkowski

Emily Ratajkowski
Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

Emily Ratajkowski accuses Robin Thicke of groping her on the set of “Blurred Lines”

The lawsuit may be over, but the frustrating story of “Blurred Lines” (a song that even co-writer Pharrell Williams realized was “rapey”) is not. This year, Emily Ratajkowski—who appears in the original video and credits it with being her “big break”—wrote a memoir, My Body. In the book, she accused Robin Thicke of drunkenly groping her during the filming. The video’s director, Diane Martel, said that she immediately shut down the shoot and that Thicke apologized, but it was “as if he knew it was wrong without understanding how it might have felt for Emily.” [Sam Barsanti]

Death on the Rust set

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin
Photo: Mark Sagliocco (Getty Images)

Death on the Rust set

Among the most undeniably tragic stories to ever come off a Hollywood set, the Rust shooting was also among the most surreal—even though its cause was banal. Headlines that decried “Alex Baldwin shot and killed someone” were later replaced with stories that elaborated on the deep-seated negligence taking place on set. There was no conspiracy, just plain old corner-cutting that got cinematographer Halyna Hutchins killed; producers looking to save money by hiring non-union, inexperienced crews contributed to her death. In the weeks that followed, stars criticized the use of real guns on sets, while others looked for someone to blame. But at the end of the day, the tragic accident was precisely the kind of thing IATSE was fighting to avoid during negotiations that averted a strike only weeks earlier. [Matt Schimkowitz]

28 / 33

Mel Gibson’s Hollywood comeback

Mel Gibson’s Hollywood comeback

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson
Photo: Jeff Spicer (Getty Images)

Mel Gibson’s Hollywood comeback

Was anyone really clamoring for Mel Gibson to come back? And will any disgraced celebrity ever have the decency to just crawl into a hole and stay there forever? The answers to those questions are evidently not every encouraging, because years after Gibson attempted a comeback as a prestige filmmaker and tried to prove his family-friendly cred, Hollywood is happy to re-embrace Gibson as a cool action guy. He’s in the John Wick spin-off TV show and might direct a new Lethal Weapon movie! Good for him! It sucks! [Sam Barsanti]

29 / 33

Dune officially gets a sequel

Dune officially gets a sequel

Timothée Chalamet

Timothée Chalamet
Photo: Jeff Spicer (Getty Images)

Dune officially gets a sequel

Poised to be one of the year’s biggest films, Dune was far from a sure thing. The David Lynch adaptation, coupled with many failed attempts at adapting Frank Herbert’s tome, scared studios from going all-in on spice. Those who assumed Denis Villeneuve’s space epic was a franchise starter would be forgiven, considering there’s an HBO Max TV show based on the thing and, well, nothing gets made unless it’s a franchise. Still, many were shocked when they saw the words “Part One” underneath the film’s opening credits title reveal. Thankfully, their nearly three-hour investment in the world of Arrakis would not be in vain; days after the film’s release, a sequel was announced. Thank God-Emperor. [Schimkowitz]

30 / 33

Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comments in The Closer spark a backlash

Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comments in The Closer spark a backlash

Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle
Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack (Getty Images)

Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comments in The Closer spark a backlash

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer was released, it was promptly condemned by GLAAD and by trans Netflix employees for Chappelle’s transphobic comments. In a leaked company-wide email sent out amid the growing controversy, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos threw his support behind the special, claiming, “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.” After the email was leaked, trans employees believed to be responsible were suspended. Between Sarandos’ statement and those employees getting punished, other Netflix employees organized a large employee walkout that was met with overwhelming support. [Shanicka Anderson]

The Astroworld tragedy

Travis Scott

Travis Scott
Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP (Getty Images)

The Astroworld tragedy

Details about the tragic stampede incident at Houston’s Astroworld festival continue to come in, but what we know is that a crowd surge happened before the headlining set from Astroworld co-founder Travis Scott. It resulted in 10 deaths and many more hospitalizations, prompting investigations into what may have led to the deadly event and multiple lawsuits against everyone involved—including one with hundreds of plaintiffs looking for $2 billion in damages against Scott, Live Nation, Apple, and more. [Sam Barsanti]

32 / 33

Britney Spears is freed from her conservatorship

Britney Spears is freed from her conservatorship

Britney Spears

Britney Spears
Photo: Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

Britney Spears is freed from her conservatorship

2021 became a huge year for Britney Spears. Her fanbase had been trying for years to get people to pay attention to the pop star’s oppressive conservatorship, which was controlled by her father Jamie Spears. It wasn’t until the documentary Framing Britney Spears came out that the public understood the magnitude of the conservatorship, as well as the effect that the media’s treatment of Spears had on her mental health. With wider support from the #FreeBritney movement, Spears decided to finally speak out, detailing the abuse she experienced under the conservatorship. Jamie—facing backlash for his alleged treatment of his daughter—filed a request to end Spears’ conservatorship. She was granted her freedom on November 12. [Tatiana Tenreyro]

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