White guilt, apologies and why Hollywood is a cauldron of race issues at the moment

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If it seems like there are more apologies from celebs these days when it comes to matters of race, it’s because there are.

Despite complaints about “cancel culture” and racist insistence that people who talk about these important issues are “playing the race card,” Hollywood can’t seem to get away from conversations about race and diversity.
    And while hopefully those discussions can lead to progress, lately they have led to controversy for some.
      Take for example:
        Sharon Osbourne: “The Talk” co-host got into it with her colleague Sheryl Underwood after Underwood, a Black woman, probed Osbourne’s support of her friend Piers Morgan after his negative comments about Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were criticized as racist.
        Osbourne said she didn’t necessarily agree with Morgan’s comments, but defended his right to make them. She herself was accused of being less than respectful when she berated Underwood for appearing to get emotional and insisted that if anyone should be crying over the conversation, it should be Osbourne herself.
          Her perceived “victimhood” not only didn’t go over well, but the incident led to both an apology from Osbourne and an investigation by CBS into happenings on the set of “The Talk.”
          Chris Harrison: “The Bachelor” franchise and its issues with race have long been discussed.
          From its lack of diversity to last year’s outrage over “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown using a racial epithet while jamming to a song, it’s safe to say the reality show has generated some headlines on matters of race.
          But things came to a head this season after the casting of the first Black “Bachelor,” Matt James.
          Longtime franchise host Chris Harrison has had to step aside from his duties after controversial comments he made during an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black “Bachelorette,” who has been working for the TV show “Extra.”
          During the chat, Harrison appeared to defend contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for being photographed at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal event in 2018.
          Harrison apologized, and James ended up giving Kirkconnell the final rose but then broke up with her over the controversy.
          Billie Eilish: This instance was not so much an apology aired but rather yet another time a White artist has felt compelled to acknowledge a Black artist when an institution — in this case, the Grammys — did not.
          Last Sunday, Eilish took home the final award of the evening, the prestigious record of the year, and used her acceptance speech to explain why rapper Megan Thee Stallion, one of her fellow nominees, really deserved it.
          “You are so beautiful, you are so talented,” Eilish said. “I root for you always. You deserve it, honestly.”
          If the moment felt familiar, it was because we had seen it happen before.
          Adele tearfully gushed about Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album deserving to win album of the year in 2017, instead of her album “25.”
          Three years before, White rapper Macklemore apologized to rapper Kendrick Lamar for winning rap album of the year instead of the Black artist.
          Race and identity politics can be complicated, but what’s not hard to understand is that these incidents happen because disparities and a far-from-level playing field absolutely exist in this world and in Hollywood.
          Until that changes, someone is going to end up feeling sorry for it, or at the very least need to acknowledge it publicly.

          For your weekend

          Three things to watch:
          ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’
          (From left) Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and Ray Fisher star in "Zack Snyder's Justice League."

          Calling all superhero geeks.
          The time is now to finally see how the Justice League film fared in the hands of Zack Snyder, thanks to the release of this extended director’s cut. Joss Whedon had stepped in to complete the 2017 film after Snyder left the project due to personal tragedy.
          “The result of this fresh take, strictly from a creative and filmmaking standpoint, is fascinating: How did two different directors — Whedon, who birthed the ‘Avengers’ franchise on screen; and Snyder, who tackled adapting the famously unadaptable ‘Watchmen’ — approach the same material?” is how my CNN colleague Brian Lowry described the project.
          The movie premieres Thursday on HBO Max (which is owned by CNN’s parent company).
          ‘Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal’
          Matthew Modine (right) portrays William "Rick" Singer in "Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal."

          Ripped from the headlines, as they say, this film uses re-enactments to tell the story of the college admissions scandal that landed several wealthy parents — including celebs Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — in legal trouble.
          The story dominated the news for months, and now you can relive it all by heading over to Netflix, where it’s currently streaming.
          ‘Minari’
          Alan S. Kim stars as first-generation Korean American David Yi in "Minari."

          Now that the Oscar nominations are out, you may want to check out some of the nominees.
          “Minari” is up for six categories, including best picture. The drama draws on director Lee Issac Chung’s childhood to tell the tale of a Korean American family trying to survive in rural Arkansas in the 1980s.
          The film is currently available to stream on several services including Apple TV and Amazon Prime.
          Two things to listen to:
          Justin Bieber's upcoming studio album, "Justice," will be released Friday.

          Justin Bieber recently told Billboard there is a message behind his new music.
          “I just want to be somebody who can say, ‘Look, I did some things that I’m not too proud of, but I took a look in the mirror and decided to make some changes, and you can too,” he told the publication. “There was a time where I really did have my identity wrapped up in my career, but I really do have an overflow of feeling like my purpose is to use my music to inspire.”
          His sixth studio album, “Justice,” drops Friday and is Bieber’s second album release in 13 months. (“Changes” came out on Valentine’s Day 2020.)
          With marriage to model Hailey Bieber and more private time — thanks to quarantining and no cellphone to limit who can get a hold of him — the now 27-year-old former teen idol appears to be at a new stage in his life and career.
          Lana Del Rey's new album "Chemtrails Over the Country Club" is also out Friday.

          Last year, Lana Del Rey announced she would be delaying her new album, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” for a few months.
          Now, we get to see if it was worth the wait.
          The studio album from the singer is the much-anticipated follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2019 collection, “Norman F**king Rockwell,” and expectations are high that she will continue to deliver her special brand of artistry when it drops Friday.
          One thing to talk about:
          (From left) Daniel Kaluuya, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Dominique Thorne and Lakeith Stanfield are shown in a scene from "Judas and the Black Messiah."

          It’s not breaking news that award shows and their voters appear to be out of step with the general public.
          But this year’s best supporting actor category for the Oscars is even more confounding.
          That’s because the two stars of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya, are both nominated in the category.
          Which begs the question: “Which one is the actual star of the film if neither scored a best actor nod?”
          I reached out to the Academy about this and a rep declined to comment. So we’ll just have to be content with the fact that the two won’t have to compete with the late Chadwick Boseman, a best actor nominee who is favored by many for what is believed to be his final on-screen performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

          Something to sip on

          Looking for something to watch? We asked some of our friends around CNN what they binge-watch to decompress.
          Fredricka Whitfield, CNN Newsroom anchor
          Not at all uplifting, nor did they help me decompress, yet I indulged in “Killing Eve,” “The Undoing” and some “Lovecraft Country.”
          Michael Smerconish, Smerconish anchor
          “Call My Agent!” Who’d have thought I’d get hooked on a French TV show with subtitles — but I love it.
            Kate Bolduan, At This Hour anchor
            How can I limit it to just one?! Now, a year into Covid, here are some of the favorites that have gotten me through — “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Succession,” “Billions,” “The Spy,” “Kids Baking Championship (seasons 1-9),” “The Men Who Built America” and “The Mandalorian.”

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