Kobe Bryant Was Probably a Rapist: That Doesn't Mean We Can't Mourn His Death

The Washington Post should be ashamed of itself for suspending Felicia Sonmez.

Kobe Bryant

Photo by Dean Bennett (Unsplash)

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic description of sexual assault.

On Sunday, January 26, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, perished in a helicopter crash along with seven other individuals, two of which were Gianna's age.

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Culture Feature

Why We Shouldn’t Cancel Cancel Culture: We Need Transformative Justice

To cancel cancel culture—and to write off the impulses that motivate it—would be to miss a valuable chance to learn.

Photo by Markus Winkler (Unsplash)

Kanye West is canceled.

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Lizzo Is Bonnaroo's First Solo Female Headliner

She's also one of the first women of color to ever headline a major festival in the U.S.

Lizzo at the 63rd Grammys

Photo by Jordan Strauss-AP-Shutterstock

The lineup for the 2020 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has been unveiled.

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Survivor's #MeToo Incident Ruins the Whole Season

When sexual harassment is shoved under the rug, the veneer of strategic gameplay breaks down completely.


Anyone who hasn't watched Survivor since the first few seasons might not realize that the show as it exists now is very different from the show that first aired nearly 20 years ago.

Perhaps the most meta-reality show on television, modern Survivor doesn't even pretend to be about outdoor survival anymore. Rather, it's all about the social gameplay, kind of like a massive, high-level game of Werewolf. Everyone on the show is a superfan, well-versed in the strategic intricacies of past seasons, and while some might still try to pitch Survivor as a "social experiment," the vast majority of viewers and players realize that everything is part of the game...at least until it's not.

A few times in the show's history, incidents have occurred that crossed the line of making everything in Survivor a part of the game. The most recent situation took place during Season 34 when Jeff Varner, a middle-aged contestant trying to avoid elimination, outed another player, Zeke Smith, as transgender during Tribal Council. The backlash was instantaneous, with players holding a public, unanimous vote (normally votes are held in secret) to kick Varner out of the game. Afterwards, Zeke insisted on airing everything on TV and worked alongside CBS and GLAAD to transform the experience into a teaching moment.

Now, during Season 39, we're once again witnessing an incident that transcends the gameplay of Survivor––except this time, the takeaway is much less positive. In fact, Survivor's foray into #MeToo territory is so uncomfortable and so disappointing that it might warrant giving up on the entire season.

In short, one of this season's players is a middle-aged man named Dan Spilo who, even in the most lenient terms, embodies that patently male boomer mentality of completely disregarding the wants and needs of women around him. As such, he touches women without permission in a way that some of them deem creepy. One of the female contestants on the show, Kellee, felt particularly uncomfortable around Dan, and she confronted him after he played with her hair. Afterwards, Dan took a step back from Kellee but continued touching other women around camp.

Kellee and Dan were put into separate camps earlier this season, but during this past week's episodes, the two camps merged together, bringing Kellee and Dan back in contact. During this time, Kellee bonded with another female contestant, Missy, whom she hadn't interacted with before. Missy confided in Kellee that Dan's touching had made her and a number of other female players uncomfortable, too. Kellee also spoke to Janet, an older female contestant who had been allied with Dan in-game but who also viewed herself as a mama bear, of sorts. Janet was incredibly empathetic, and promised Kellee that if she saw Dan doing anything around camp, she would confront him.

survivor kellee missyMissy (left) and Kellee (right)CBS

Kellee went on to give an incredibly emotional one-on-one with the camera, addressing the real-world machinations that prevent women from speaking up:

"It's super upsetting, because it's like you can't do anything about it. There are always consequences for standing up. This happens in real life, in work settings, in school. You can't say anything because it's going to affect your upward trajectory. It's going to affect how people look at you.

"The fact that it makes me, Lauren, Elizabeth, Missy, Molly—it made all of us uncomfortable. This isn't just one person. It's a pattern. It takes five people to be like, 'Man, the way I'm feeling about this is actually real. It's not in my head. I'm not overreacting to it.' He's literally done these things to five different women in this game. That sucks. That totally, totally sucks."

Even though player one-on-one's with the camera are always presented as the player monologuing, the show broke form and aired the producer's response. He asks Kellee if she wants him to get involved. She says that she thinks the tribe can handle it on their own, but the producer gets involved anyways, contacting CBS, which ultimately results in Dan receiving an official warning to stop touching women without permission.

survivor dan spiloDan SpiloCBS

Unfortunately, during this time, Missy and another female player, Elizabeth, met up together and conspired to play up their feelings about Dan for an in-game advantage. During this time, despite the fact that both of them had complained about Dan's touchiness in the past, they essentially admitted that neither of them really actually cared, but they could use Kellee's emotions for an in-game advantage.

The situation ultimately plays out with Missy and Elizabeth siding with Dan and rallying a majority of the tribe against Kellee to vote her out. Dan's former in-game ally, Janet, votes against Dan in solidarity with Kellee and against what might be in the best interest of her own meta-game. So the following week, the rest of the tribe treats her like a pariah, too. At the following tribal council, another male player, Aaron, accuses Janet of playing a victim and also discounts Kellee's experiences with Dan.

Then Dan gives an empty, half-assed apology ("If Kellee ever felt that in the freezing cold rain, or in tight shelters…or in all the ways we have to crawl around and through each other in this game—if I ever did anything that ever even remotely made her feel uncomfortable, it horrifies me, and I am terribly sorry...I couldn't be more confident in that I'm one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. I have a wife, I have been married for 21 years, I have two boys, I have a big business, I have lots of employees"), and Janet expresses a desire to leave the game due to everything that happened, which ruined her life-long dream of playing.

It's all, quite frankly, disgusting. The whole situation makes for an incredibly upsetting two hours of television. You can watch some of it play out in the following videos:

Survivor - DISGUSTING Tribal Council On #MeToo Discussion Part 1www.youtube.com

Survivor - DISGUSTING Tribal Council On #MeToo Discussion Part 2www.youtube.com

Janet is right, but this whole situation doesn't just damage Janet's dream of playing Survivor. It ruins season 39 of Survivor as a whole. In spite of Survivor's reputation for devious gameplay full of double-crosses and backstabbing, the players tend to become genuinely close throughout their experience and stand up for one another in situations that transcend the bounds of gameplay. The Varner/Zeke situation is a great example of this in practice.

Now, here's a situation where a woman came forward about sexual harassment, and she had that used against her by two other women on the tribe who lied to her about their own experiences and then rallied around the man who harassed her. Moreover, the other woman who stood alongside her ("strategy" be damned) and stuck with her morals became an in-game pariah.

At this point, it doesn't matter who wins or loses Season 39. A few genuinely rotten players, namely Dan, Missy, and Elizabeth, have spoiled the lot. The whole fun of Survivor is watching people strategize against one another through gameplay and social manipulation, but as soon as it crosses the line into both minimizing sexual harassment and using that trauma against an accuser, the veneer of strategic gameplay breaks down completely. Instead, it simply becomes an awful reflection of how women who come forward about sexual assault are treated in the real world.

Even worse, Missy's and Elizabeth's actions have real-world consequences, as they give credence to a position often taken by sexual abuse deniers who claim that women often lie about assault, even though statistics prove how rarely that actually occurs (only between 2-10% of claims are misleading). They even went so far as to attempt to gaslight Janet.

Currently, Missy, Elizabeth, and Aaron are taking an apology tour on Twitter (in fairness, Aaron's apology does seem very genuine, and I have a lot of respect for his ability and willingness to take responsibility for his actions), but it hardly matters at this point. For many, this season is ruined. For now, the magic of Survivor has been broken, and the fun is over.


5 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Cancelled

It's Almost Like They're Still Getting Away With Stuff...

Cancel culture has gone absolutely crazy.

You can't say anything these days without "triggering" a bunch of SJWs to get together and collectively cancel you. I mean, that's the contention of half the comedy specials on Netflix, so it must be true. They will dig through past comments and behavior to find any excuse. Even after you're dead, you can still get canceled! The whole situation is getting so out of control that it's getting hard to keep track of who is and isn't canceled, so here's a helpful guide to remind you of some of the celebrities whose cancellations may have escaped your notice.

Mark Wahlberg

Everyone knows Mark Wahlberg as the star of the Ted films, and Mel Gibson's son in Daddy's Home 2, but did you know that in his teen years, he was also the perpetrator of a string of brutal, racially motivated assaults, and that he has never acknowledged the racial component of his violent past? But who hasn't permanently disfigured and partially blinded a man while shouting racial slurs? Still, as a result of this normal, not-at-all upsetting history, Mark Wahlberg was officially cancelled in February. Since then, Wahlberg's once flourishing film career has collapsed to the point that he is only starring in five major motion pictures currently in production.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld with Shoshanna Lonstein

What a normal-looking couple


Jerry Seinfeld made himself a target of cancel culture when he called out college kids for not laughing enough at his brilliant "gay French king" joke, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that, at the age of 39, when Seinfeld was the star of America's favorite sitcom, he was also dating a seventeen-year-old high school student named Shoshanna Lonstein. And yes, he absolutely looked like her awkward father in every picture they took together, but what man in his late thirties hasn't spent some time outside a high school looking to pick up chicks? Unfortunately for Jerry, the cancel cops got a hold of this info, and officially blacklisted him in August, resulting in Netflix only paying an estimated $500 million for the streaming rights to Seinfeld.

Whoopi Goldberg

Speaking of men and teenage girls, did you know you can be cancelled just for defending someone? That's what happened to Whoopi Goldberg in response to her 2009 comments on Roman Polanski, in which she said of Polanski's 1977 crimes "I don't think it was rape-rape," despite the victim's testimony that she continuously resisted his advances as Polanski gave the thirteen year old alcohol and drugs, and proceeded to rape her.

As a result, Donald Trump Jr. headed the team that cancelled Whoopi last October, which is why she has since appeared on The View only 5 days a week. Goldberg joins the ranks of Quentin Tarantino and a host of other prominent Hollywood figures whose careers have been absolutely tanked by impassioned Polanski defenses that are not at all indicative of a horrible culture that values talented men too much to punish horrifying crimes. Besides, it was only 8 years after Sharon Tate's murder! You can't be held accountable for anything you do in the decade after a loved one dies, even raping children!

John Lennon

Remember when people used to really idolize John Lennon and The Beatles? Their music used to be really popular, and people would even say mean things about Yoko Ono, blaming her for breaking up the band, not anymore. That all went out the window in July of last year, when a Twitter user reminded the world that John Lennon was a serial abuser, and then cancelled The Beatles. Sure, Lennon abused multiple partners, and at least one of his sons, but ever since Lennon was struck with the same post-mortem cancellation that Michael Jackson received, his solo music and The Beatles' entire catalogue have dropped completely out of cultural relevance, and is now valued at only around a billion dollars. "Imagine" that.


Footage recently resurfaced of Drake from a 2010 concert in Denver, in which he brings a girl onstage to dance with her, then takes the opportunity to drape his arms across her chest and kiss her neck before asking her age. When she answers that she's 17, Drake reacts as any 23 year old would when coming to terms with the fact that his behavior with an underage girl was suggestive and inappropriate. He says, "Why do you look like that? You thick. Look at all this," and follows that up with, "I like the way your breasts feel against my chest." Cool.

At any rate, that was nearly a decade ago, and Drake was pretty young himself, there's probably no reason to look further into the now 33 year old's tendency to befriend teenage girls who he ends up dating once they're of age. That's what the people who cancelled him in January—resulting in him being only the fifth richest rapper on earth—want you to focus on. They want you to be concerned about his friendship with Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown but let's just talk about his grooming habits instead.

On second thought, maybe the hysteria over "cancel culture" attacking any and every tiny misstep is a little overblown. Sure, Kevin Hart didn't get to host the Oscars, but he definitely still has a career, and James Gunn's brief cancellation was revoked. Maybe it's justified to call people out when they screw up, to push for apologies for minor offenses, and to stop giving money and awards to people who've done truly monstrous things. Maybe cancel culture should actually be going a lot further...