How John Legend Showed Hollywood Likes Only Comfortable Change

The tepid response to John Legend’s Oscars speech — in contrast to his co-winner Common — was indicative of the way that Hollywood likes to deal with racism.

Craig Sjodin / ABC via Getty Images

After Common and John Legend won the Oscar for Best Original Song for their hit “Glory” from the civil rights film Selma, both men decided to use their acceptance speech to address injustice in the contemporary world as a parallel to the subject matter of the song and the film. But the way each of these artists addressed these issues — and the audience’s response to their words — reveals how Hollywood embraces only change that makes everyone comfortable.

Common spoke about the legacy of the Selma marches and the infamous bridge where marchers in 1965 were assaulted by officers and civilians as they attempted to cross. It was a speech about common struggle, one that attempted to tie together disparate conflicts around the globe. It garnered a wave of applause from the mostly white crowd.

“This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation but is now a symbol for change,” Common said. “The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, sexual orientation, and social status. The spirit of this bridge connects a kid from the South Side of Chicago dreaming of a better life to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong, protesting for democracy. This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion.”

Selma is now because the struggle for justice is now,” Legend said. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised in this country today. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”

Legend’s words led to awkward silence and some scattered applause, a very telling reaction from the awards show crowd on a night where political and social issues seemed to be mentioned or referenced almost everywhere.

Common’s words pulled everyone under the sense of false togetherness that informed slogans like “All Lives Matter,” the comfortable-but-disingenuous belief that everyone is fighting for and against the same evils. Sure, there are oppressors — but not you guys, Oscar audience.

Common, the Chicago-born rapper who debuted in the early ’90s as the wisecracking wordsmith Common Sense, spent most of that decade releasing music that generated critical acclaim but was almost completely removed from mainstream visibility. An almost underground emcee known for political and social commentary with songs about everything from the exile of Assata Shakur to the abortion debate, Common didn’t gain much visibility outside of “conscious” hip-hop circles until he released hits like “The Light” and landed high-profile acting gigs in films like American Gangster in the 2000s. And he’s often referenced Marcus Garvey, The Last Poets, and other figures of black empowerment in his music and conversations. On the other hand, Legend’s early music was largely apolitical, with huge hits like “Green Light” and “All of Me” and his nine Grammys defining his public persona.

But recently the two seem to have modified their positions, with Common softening his positions on race and politics, and Legend becoming more outspoken with his. In a recent interview with Rolling Out magazine, Common said, “The fight isn’t a race thing. The fight is overcoming injustice and letting love prevail and fighting for peace. So music does exist like that. Other artists have a lot to say. That’s why I don’t focus on one aspect. People are going to be who they are. [Just] present the whole spectrum.”

It’s likely that Common is as passionate about the struggles of black people as he’s ever been, but it also seems that his perspective is becoming more defined by a sense of all people coming together — as opposed to directing his focus at the specific institutions that have hampered the social standing of blacks in America and abroad. Ultimately, that’s a safer and less controversial stance for him to take.

Legend, on the other hand, seems to have become much more direct and outspoken about those same institutions. For an artist who initially seemed to limit his advocacy to philanthropic causes like helping impoverished people in Ghana and Somalia and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, he’s become much more politically vocal in recent years — especially over the past year — regarding everything from the controversies surrounding the rash of police killing unarmed black men in 2014 to the conflict in Gaza.

During the wave of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Mike Brown, Legend made it clear how he felt about the killing and its aftermath. “I believe these cops are intentionally trying to inflame the situation. They want an excuse,” Legend tweeted at the time. “Recall the local cop telling those ‘animals’ to ‘bring it’ on CNN…He wants a fight.”

When followers responded with accusations that Legend was fanning the flames of hostility and that Ferguson wasn’t “about race,” the singer was swift to correct them. “This is about racism,” he tweeted. “I hate to break it to you, my friend.”

In December, Legend also wrote an op-ed for Billboard where he addressed the current racial climate in America. “African-American communities are being crushed by a criminal justice system that over-polices us, over-arrests us, over-incarcerates us, and disproportionately takes the lives of our unarmed youth because of the simple fact that our skin, our blackness, conjures the myth of the hyper-violent Negro,” he wrote.

Hip-hop has the pedigree of being an almost inherently political art form; even some of the most ballerific emcees have espoused some level of commentary on the state of their communities. Contemporary R&B — especially the sort of romantic fare Legend became famous for — has mostly been viewed as bedroom music or pleasant background for a sophisticated dinner party. In an age of Ferguson and Eric Garner, Legend seems to have a better understanding of why it is important to not allow anyone to lean on paeans of peace and understanding while storms of inequality and oppression are raging. And the singer who seemed to be the 2000s’ answer to Lionel Richie has a better grasp on that than the rapper with the Gil-Scott Heron complex.

Pining for togetherness in a world that consistently marginalizes specific groups of people does no one any real good; it absolves those in positions of privilege and obscures those being subjugated. And anyone who is truly focused on moving forward can’t be comfortable with that. Just last week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that an anonymous Academy voter was offended because the cast of Selma wore “We Can’t Breathe” T-shirts to the film’s premiere in December. With Legend’s speech — and the awkward response it received — it became painfully obvious that the idea of Selma is much more palatable to Hollywood than the reality of what it represents, both historically and as a film. As Common eloquently championed the symbolic meaning of that famous bridge, Hollywood reminded all of us that it’s still very much afraid of truly crossing it.

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Music these days

Your happy thought of the day, from Twitter

Are you having a rough day, today? Maybe the pollen count is high and your head is more stuffed up than an Obama campaign rally. Could be you’ve had a long week and just want to hide in bed all day with the covers pulled over your head. Your life is worse than an old-school country music song and you’re not looking forward to Monday.

Well, buck up, my friend. Twitter has come to your rescue. No matter how bad things may be for you today, there is one good thing you can say for the day.

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There Is Something Incredible About This Percussion Band. Its Members Are Deaf.

Most people believe that the deaf can’t appreciate music, much less make music. However, those people are about to be proved wrong.

This amazing percussion band from Singapore called ExtraOrdinary Horizons is made up of young musicians and singers, all of which are deaf. Watch as they lay down some serious beats in their music video below, called Deaf, Loud and Proud. I had no idea this was even possible!

(Source: Our Better World)

ExtraOrdinary Horizons was founded by singer Lily Goh, who was a deaf participant in the very first season of Singapore Idol, back in 2004. The aim of ExtraOrdinary is to bring about awareness and knowledge about the deaf community in Singapore to the rest of the world, and help them better integrate into mainstream society and to be accepted for who they are.

Share these very unique musicians and singers with your friends below.

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20 people who think Justin Timberlake is really black

Justin timberlake is black on the inside.

— kristian (@_krissyxD) February 11, 2013

I have concluded that a Justin Timberlake was a black man in his past life.

— Jim Yusuff Jasmy (@JimmyJsm) February 11, 2013

If I never seen Justin Timberlake & only heard his voice i’d probably think he would be black lol

— Natalie/ Vanessa (@Nataleezy10_) February 11, 2013

“@blizzy_blake21: Justin Timberlake is more black than I am lol” lmfao poor Blake!

— Trini Vixen (@InspiraChanelle) February 11, 2013

Yea Justin Timberlake is black.. dude got soul.

— … (@Yung_937) February 11, 2013

justin timberlake & jon b the only white people who could sing like they black.

— Showoff LaFlaire  (@TrillWayZay) February 11, 2013

I think Justin timberlake is a white man stuck in a black mans body an soul you tore it up son way to rep the south #grammys

— JOHNMANUS (@manus68) February 11, 2013

Justin Timberlake is black I been convinced and this performance just proved it even more lbs

— Drippin Swag-GUU (@PapayaIsPink) February 11, 2013

Justin Timberlake & Robin Thicke are black men on the inside.

— Tanisha Renee’ (@ImaTweetDatShxt) February 11, 2013

Lol RT @jayy_glove: I wish Justin Timberlake was black so we could claim him

— Billy Fitz (@Kingitz) February 11, 2013

Justin Timberlake just earned the same pass Robin Thicke gets at black events..too much soul

— June Sumbeiywo (@junechero) February 11, 2013

Justin Timberlake would be the best black soul singer in the game if he took his solo music career more serious

— Cuffs The Legend (@CuffsTheLegend) February 11, 2013

We been adopted Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke into the black community

— Manti Te’o (@Eazy_WeezyIV) February 11, 2013

Since we have a black president, I think it’s okay that we let Justin Timberlake have R&B. #GRAMMYS

— B.McCoy (@rightschamp) February 11, 2013

Justin timberlake is black at heart we accept you JT.

— ▲▲▲ (@_Jamiaaa_) February 11, 2013

Justin Timberlake is black. You cannot convince me otherwise. #Grammys #SorryNotSorry

— Darius Dukes (@LuckyLeftyNC) February 11, 2013

Lol my mom said Justin timberlake swear he black lol.. She said that’s her white chocolate

— Love (@NiyaBeauty) February 11, 2013

Wait…..Justin Timberlake isn’t black?

— shelbyCOBRA™ (@shelbyxcobra) February 11, 2013

…Justin Timberlake is actually a black man….

— T-Rawww (@2ArtiZtic) February 11, 2013


Justin Timberlake doesn’t make “black music” nor does he make “white music.” Music doesn’t come in colors, just good music. #Grammys #music

— Carol Nolan (@carolannnolan) February 11, 2013

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How To Justify Your Extravagant Purchases Using Simple Math. Time To Shop!

We are all consumers and we all would like to live a bit more extravagantly. The problem is that the cost of some of those grandiose purchases will leave a big dent in our bank accounts. If you think they’re not in your budget, I have good news! Those lavish purchases are totally in your budget if you think about it this way.

If you save up enough cents per day, you can basically buy anything you want. … sort of. 

1.) Spotify Premium – $9.99/month

OR 33 cents a day for the month!

2.) Fender Guitar – $500

OR $1.37 a day for a year!

3.) HBO Go – $18.99/month

OR 3 cents an hour for the month!

4.) Jordans – $450

OR a penny a minute for a month!

5.) Amazon Prime – $99/year

OR 1 penny an hour for the year!

6.) MacBook Pro – $1,100

OR 13 cents an hour for a year!

7.) 60″ TV – $1,000

OR $1.37 an hour for a month!

8.) ESPN Insider – $3.33/month

OR .000076 cents a minute for a month!

9.) Mini Dachshung puppy – $800

OR $26.67 a day for a month!

10.) WWE Network – $9.99/month

OR just a little over a penny an hour for a month!

11.) Harley Davidson Motorcycle – $9,000

OR $1.03 an hour for a year!

12.) Netflix – $8.99/month

OR $.01 an hour for a month!

13.) Red Bottom Heels – $700

OR $4.17 an hour for a week!

14.) BMW Convertible – $55,000

OR $6.27 an hour for one year!

You probably didn’t need to be more convince to spend your next pay check… but you’re welcome. 

Living a lavish lifestyle is possible if you’re able to save up enough pennies every day (although, because of taxes, you may need to save up a few nickels instead). Saving up for what you want is easier than you think! Share these genius breakdowns with others by clicking on the link below.

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Chris Brown hates media making rappers look like ‘aggressive animals’

Kanye West’s all-caps Twitter meltdown last night over a Jimmy Kimmel parody video had all the hallmarks of a classic Alec Baldwin rant, including threats and homophobic insults. Today, then, puts R&B singer Chris Brown, previously found guilty of felony assault, in the awkward position of being the cooler, calmer and possibly more mature mentor as he reached out to advise Kanye West.!/chrisbrown/status/383692348091551744

We did say possibly more mature. Brown, of course, is most famous outside the music world for beating up then-girlfriend Rihanna. When confronted about that incident on “Good Morning America,” Brown stormed off the set and then trashed his dressing room, smashing a window and sending thick shards of glass into the street below. ABC News (i.e., the media) reported the incident, therefore once again making Brown look like some sort of “aggressive animal.”

Chris Brown giving Kanye West advice on how to handle the media? That’s like…!/Travon/status/383707315662512128

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Staying alive: Robin Gibb wakes up from coma!/UnivrslLuv/status/194078148651008001

Twitter reacted to great news on Sunday morning when we learned Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb has awoke from his coma. According to reports, Gibb is responding well and communicating with family members.

Spokesman Doug Wright said he was able to nod and communicate with his family who have held a constant vigil at his beside in a central London hospital.

The 62-year-old fell into a coma after contracting pneumonia in his battle against colon and liver cancer.

Gibb’s wife Dwina has revealed he cried when she played him Roy Orbison’s 1962 song Crying.

Fellow Bee Gees star Barry Gibb had also been singing to his brother to try to rouse him.

so happy that robin gibb woke up! sending lots of love and and light to my fave bee gee. still the best concert i've ever seen in my life

— Belinda Carlisle (@belindaofficial) April 22, 2012

Robin Gibb is out of his coma & communicating with his family? Wow. That's awesome.

— Jeff G. (@Gerb3X) April 22, 2012!/josephtages/status/194063143192891394

Finally, music receives some good news: Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees woke up from his coma.

— Mike (@MrHallowBastion) April 22, 2012

So happy to hear Robin staying aliiive!!!!! Ha…more good news please!!!!

— ~♥Princess♥Sparkle♥~ (@IcedQueenB) April 22, 2012

Robin Gibb awoke from his coma, that is awesome I prayed for dude too yo

— 976-GRIPP¹ (@gripp1) April 22, 2012

Robin gibb wakes up from coma. Ah ah ah I'm staying alive…staying alive

— John Lee (@johnwmlee) April 22, 2012

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19 Things You Need To Know About Tori Kelly

The rising pop star dishes on songwriting, her new single, and the time she made Sam Smith cry.

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

If there’s one thing Tori Kelly knows how to do, it’s hustle. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter has spent the past few years building a following through appearances on competition singing shows, self-released EPs, YouTube covers, Vine freestyles, and more. All that hard work is finally paying off with the release of the lead single off her upcoming debut album, “Nobody Love.” The brassy Max Martin-produced track has all the makings of a pop smash so get to know the curly-haired cutie before she blows up later this year.

1. What’s something ~nobody knows~ about your single “Nobody Love”?

Tori Kelly: We rewrote the lyrics three different times.

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

2. What did you learn from being a competitor on Star Search, America’s Most Talented Kids, and American Idol?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: I learned how to talk to people as myself. Watching back all those different shows that I did, it’s really easy to put up a wall and be like, I’m in artist mode now. Those shows really taught me that it comes off way better when you just walk in as yourself.

3. You opened for Sam Smith! What was the most memorable moment of that tour?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: I thought it was so sweet every time he would say thank you on stage because you don’t have to do that, you don’t have to thank your opener in front of everyone. Oh! He loves “Paper Hearts,” he told me he cried during it.

4. What’s something ~nobody knows~ about your friend Ed Sheeran?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: Ed does impressions as, like, alter egos. He has a rapper alter ego. He’s just so cool. We wrote a song together.

BuzzFeed: Can you tell us anything about the song?

TK: This doodle is a tease, kinda. All the hearts.

5. Who is your dream duet?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

6. What’s the story behind the “Sun Is Out” Vine; did you expect it to become so popular?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: Vine was very fairly new and I had been posting Vines sort of but it was super random. I was literally just in my car, being weird, and then other famous people on Vine were starting to do covers of it. I was so confused by it. I would get people coming up to me being like, “Who’s that girl from Vine?”

7. What’s your most used hashtag?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: Why do we even use hashtags? It’s just like a sub-thought. Who clicks on hashtags? Nobody.

8. What’s your favorite song to cover?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson.

9. What’s the most exciting thing about finally releasing a full-length album?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: The fans! I’m excited for people to dissect it. I want to get their take on it. People will come up to me at shows and tell me that a song touched them in a completely different way than I wrote it. That’s fun. Fans translating it in their own way.

10. You wrote “Nobody Love” with legendary songwriter Max Martin, was that nerve-racking?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: It’s always a collaboration between him and the artist. It’s never like, “Here’s this song that I perfectly made for radio, it’s a perfect pop song and you’re gonna sing it.” For me and him, it was very collaborative, very hands on. It felt really good for him to actually respect me as a writer and an artist.

11. What’s more fun to write: love songs or kiss-offs?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: Kiss-offs are way more fun. I feel like they’re more personal in a way; when you’ve been burned it’s like a specific thing that happened. I like to write from those darker places. It’s more fun for me, it’s like therapy.

12. What was it like recording “Winter Wonderland / Don’t Worry Be Happy” with the Pentatonix — are they naughty or nice?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: They just won a Grammy! I’m down to support them in any way because I knew them before they won The Sing-Off or anything. I knew them before they were even an official group. It’s been cool to watch them do their thing.

13. What’s your favorite food?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

14. What’s your favorite emoji?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: I also like the dance girl.

15. You’re known for your trademark curls — any pro-tips for curly girls?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: I woke up like this! Kidding. I use this brand called Ouidad, they’re great. Not Your Mother’s is another one. Garnier Fructis. I use a bunch of stuff. Literally, I just throw a huge concoction of stuff in my hair after I get out of the shower and then I diffuse it.

16. What’s your biggest fear?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: It used to be falling off the stage but now I think it would be kind of funny. It would be all over YouTube. Iggy did it. I was there! I low-key kind of want it to happen so I can cross it off my list. You’ve gotta face your fears!

17. What’s your favorite word?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

18. What do the Bible verses cited in your Twitter and Vine bios mean to you?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: I actually change them all the time but Psalm 91:4 is what my logo, my feather quill, is based on. It’s one of my favorite verses. It was my phone’s lock screen for a while. I switch up the verses all the time, whatever is rocking me in that moment.

19. What can fans expect from the “Nobody Love” music video?

David J. Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

TK: The video shoot was really smooth and the crew was amazing, but I think a highlight would be the chef in the video. He was really cool. I’m going to be mysterious: the chef. Cliffhanger!

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Many MTV viewers wonder: Was it appropriate for Blue Ivy to watch Beyonce?

Toddler Blue Ivy’s appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards last night certainly set many hearts aflutter. It was a veritable public relations coup for the troubled couple Beyonce and Jay-Z, who’ve been fighting off persistent rumors of marital trouble.

But not everyone was feeling it. Many viewers wondered if it was appropriate for the little girl to be there at all as scantily-clad grown-ups shook their lady parts.!/hipsterxlucas/status/503785904486379520

At least Jay and Bey didn’t tote Blue Ivy to the VMAs last year.

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