CULTURE

How Celebrities Are Donating to Australia (and Where They Fall Short)

Climate change is turning small fires into cataclysmic events like the one that the world is witnessing in Australia.

Celebrities are rallying around Australia, which is currently engulfed in wildfires that have killed nearly a billion animals and have destroyed over two thousand homes.

Many have expressed their support for Australia and shared their wealth and calls to action. For instance, you may have seen these posts:











Other stars who have offered assistance include Lizzo, who volunteered at a warehouse in Australia during time off from her tour. Kylie Jenner donated $1 million, and Phoebe Waller-Bridges also auctioned off her Golden Globes suit in support of the cause. Actress Yael Stone said that she's giving up her green card and moving back to Australia to reduce the environmental impact of constantly flying overseas.

It's incredibly important that celebrities are raising money and donating to Australia, and it's even more vital that some are connecting what's going on to climate change. But it's also tragic that it took a calamity like this one, in a first-world country, for large-scale and widely publicized action to occur.

Though small actions in response to the Australia fires are important, everyone—celebrities, ordinary people, and particularly governments around the world—need to be taking preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of this happening again.


Australian Bushfires: A Climate Change Issue

After all, though bushfires are natural events in Australia, human-caused climate change has significantly worsened the intensity of these fires—and the science is there to prove it. "Climate change is increasing bushfire risk in Australia by lengthening the fire season, decreasing precipitation and increasing temperature," said the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Essentially, climate change is turning small fires into cataclysmic events like the one that the world is witnessing in Australia. This is, of course, far from an isolated incident. Climate change is contributing to the emergence and destructiveness of natural disasters across the world. Flooding, droughts, storms, and fires are already decimating the livelihoods of millions, leaving impoverished and vulnerable communities at extreme disadvantage and costing billions of dollars in repairs. Natural disasters have occurred in the 21st century at five times the frequency they occurred in the 20th century, and things will only worsen as the climate rises if we do not take extreme preventative actions.

Celebrities and ordinary people finding themselves panicking about what's happening in Australia would do well to follow in the footsteps of people like Jane Fonda, who have actively been putting their bodies on the line in order to persuade governments to take the threat of climate change very seriously.

If you're wondering how to help Australia, and if you feel your heart is breaking upon seeing the tragic photos of orange skies and dead kangaroos, then by all means, follow in the footsteps of Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman and donate to wildfire relief funds. But consider also donating to movements that might prevent or reduce the likelihood of events like this one. Consider joining a climate change protest movement. Consider taking action. Consider supporting organizations that will not only stop the bleeding but that will prevent new wounds from opening.

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

TV

The "Lizzie McGuire" Revival Is Getting Closer, but Where's Miranda?

Will she rejoin the cast after her long absence, or will the show go on without her?

Lizzie McGuire, the classic Disney Channel series starring Hillary Duff, is officially being given new life on the Disney+ streaming service, to the delight of nostalgic fans.

More than 15 years after the original show's run, pictures of Duff reuniting with co-star Adam Lamberg—AKA Gordo—have sparked excitement across the internet, but the fanfare has tended to overlook one critical question. Where is Miranda?

In the core series, you would not find Lizzie and Gordo hanging out at The Digital Bean without the third member of their group, Miranda Sanchez. That is, up until the last six episodes, from which she was entirely missing. Miranda's sudden absence was attributed to an indefinite family trip to Mexico; but in reality, Lalaine Vergara-Paras, who portrayed Miranda, was doing other work for Disney—touring with Radio Disney and shooting the Disney Channel movie You Wish! in New Zealand. Her absence extended to the 2003 Lizzie McGuire Movie, but will she still be missing for this long-awaited revival?

miranda annoyed

The answer is....unclear. She has previously expressed interest in the concept of a reunion show, but she hasn't yet been confirmed for the Disney+ project. Does her fraught legal past factor into Disney's plans for the show?

Like so many child stars before her, Lalaine's early fame and success led to some bad decisions in what she now refers to as her "dark years," culminating in a conviction for possession of methamphetamine in 2007. She and Hilary Duff lost touch during this time, leaving behind their real life friendship. Is that estrangement to blame for the fact that Miranda is still missing, or is Disney just protecting their brand? This is hardly the first time their squeaky-clean image has come into conflict with one of their star's personal lives—they are, after all, in the business of making child-stars—but with a reunion show starring the original cast now in their 30s, concerns about presenting good role models seem like a bit of a stretch.

Another possibility is that Vergara-Paras' recent comments about whitewashing in Hollywood were not well-received at Disney. When she wrote this April that throughout her childhood she was "forced to look as 'white' as possible," it was hard not to see that as a criticism of Disney, where she worked from a young age under the mononym Lalaine—having dropped Vergara-Paras as "too ethnic." If this was perceived as an accusation of misconduct, it may have ruffled some old white feathers at Disney.

Then again, all this scandalous speculation is overlooking a more innocent possibility. Maybe Hilary Duff and Disney are just teasing us. As recently as October, Vergara-Paras was sharing screenshots of texts from co-star Adam Lamberg. It's entirely possible that she is already signed on and getting ready to reprise her role, but we won't find out until they want us to know. If they think they can get some more press by spreading out their news and their cast reunion photos as they ramp up for the new show, then they will use our nostalgia against us and keep adding drips and drops of news until all of pop culture is consumed by the wild speculation of Lizzie McGuire fandom.

Will Clayton Snyder be spotted next week wearing Ethan Craft's signature surfer necklaces? Are Matt and Lanny going to perform "Long Tall Sally" at the Grammys? Are we doomed to get one step closer each and every day? Curse you, Disney! You have used me in your nefarious plots for the last time!