Bleats

Felicity Huffman’s Arrest Over Her Kid’s College Scam Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

This movie writes itself.

Former Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Full House actress Lori Loughlin have previously been known first and foremost for their roles in these popular television series.

But since news broke that both women have been arrested on fraud charges that allegedly link them to a college application cheating scam, this absolutely wild story outshines the TV fame for sure.

Huffman is accused of donating $15,000 (AU$21k) to a firm for the service of helping her daughter cheat on college entrance exams. Huffman’s husband, fellow-A-list-actor William H. Macy, was not charged or named in the documents, although transcripts of incriminating phone calls allegedly involve both Huffman and her “spouse.”

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of agreeing to bribe $500,000 (AU$706k) to have their two daughters designated as recruits to USC’s crew team and therefore help get them a college spot. Except neither of them actually participated in crew. 

The long and short of it is that both women are accused of using money to get their kids un-earned spots at prestigious universities. But this is not just two celebrities allegedly being entitled brats, this is a nation-wide scam that the FBI has uncovered, featuring a lot of people being entitled brats.

Huffman and Loughlin were among 50 people indicted by federal authorities as part of the U.S.-wide scheme, according to documents unsealed on Tuesday. The paperwork suggests wealthy parents have been bribing exam administrators or athletics coaches with cash sums to help secure places for their kids at elite colleges, including Yale, Georgetown, and Stanford University, regardless of their abilities.

It was called a ‘nationwide conspiracy’ in the official press release issued by prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, which is a pretty apt name for the class system in action I guess. 

Rich parents using their richness to secure educational opportunities for their children is an extremely cliché example of how privilege and entitlement plays out behind closed doors. Handing children of wealth these opportunities is taking away those opportunities from others who have actually earned them.

When the system of scholastic opportunity is corrupt instead of equitable, it reinforces the class and privilege gap that keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. It’s a serious crime and deserves to be taken seriously.

Huffman, Loughlin and the other accused individuals allegedly scamming the university system is the kind of wild story that should make a great movie someday soon, that will hopefully shame the exploitation of privilege for opportunity. Also hopefully Laura Dern will play Felicity Huffman. We’ll be waiting.

Let's Talk About The Real Tragedy Of Empire Actor Jussie Smollett Being Arrested For Allegedly Faking His Own Hate Crime

This controversy does no justice to the hate crimes that so many people experience.

Last month, actor Jussie Smollett hit headlines and garnered a huge amount of celebrity and public support after claiming he had been the victim of a hate crime. He claimed to have been targeted by two masked white men outside his Chicago, Illinois apartment, who allegedly beat him up, poured bleach-like liquid on him, tied a noose around his neck, all while hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him.

Now Smollett has been arrested for allegedly filing a false police report regarding the ‘incident’.

Police superintendent Eddie Johnson explained their theory during a press conference following Smollett’s arrest, during which he also claimed the singer/actor was responsible for sending a threatening letter to himself at the Fox Studios in Chicago, where he films Empire, shortly before the incident.

Johnson is visibly angry as he brands the alleged hoax “shameful”, and told reporters Smollett planned the whole thing because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the hip-hop drama series, and wanted to “further his own public profile”.

“This announcement today recognises that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said. “Why would anyone, especially an African-American, use a noose… to further his public profile?”

The police theory formed after questioning two “potential suspects” who police now believe Smollett paid US$3,500 to take part in staging a hate crime. However prior to his arrest, Smollett and his representatives denied the claims and his attorneys issued a defiant statement and, “vowed to mount an aggressive defence”.

The tragedy of Jussie Smollett’s case is that the narrative of staging a hate crime – whether that is in fact what happened or not – is a narrative that buries the very real suffering people endure at the hands of homophobia and racism.

Hate crimes plague countries like America (and Australia), but the conservative right consistently claim that violent racism and homophobia is not a problem, as if it is a fictional suffering, made up to deceit.

So Smollett’s high profile hate crime being depicted as allegedly fake is fuel to that uninformed and prejudiced ‘your oppression is fake’ argument. It’s like the Gone Girl narrative to Men’s Rights Activists – it can be weaponised to ‘prove’ that the targeted aggression you face being black and queer is a lie.

Cardi B has been among the many people lamenting the damage this allegedly fake hate crime story does to the very real issue of Black oppression, and in an Instagram Live video she said she is “really disappointed” in the Jussie Smollett.

“I feel like he f**ked up Black History Month.” she said.

Although, Cardi B also expressed a reasonable amount of reservation about believing the police theory right away, given the reality of police bias and violence towards black people.

That’s another part of what makes this story so difficult – it is impossible to discuss police accusations of black people without discussing the possibility of police bias. American film director Ava DuVernay pointed out just that issue last week.

So any angle that you come at Jussie Smollett’s case highlights an issue of oppression. If it was a fake hate crime, it pollutes the waters of the real existence of hate crimes. Then the possibility that this isn’t the whole story reminds us of the potential for police bias.

Any way you look at it the reality of oppression needs to be addressed, regardless of Jussie Smollett.

Miley Cyrus And Liam Hemsworth Are So Cute It's Low-Key Distressing And Makes Me Want To Throw Up

This is what they mean when they say love sick.

We have all be on the journey of Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth’s love story since they first fell for each other in 2009 on the set of The Last Song.

Over the last 10 years they’ve grown up together, through The Hunger Games, through Miley’s Bangerz phase, through break ups, reunions, highs and lows. We’ve watched their 10-year journey towards being the picture of smitten newly-weds that we see now, and we’re invested.

At least I am.

Maybe it’s because Liam Hemsworth is our Aussie golden boy, or maybe it’s because I am forever bound to Miley by my love for Hannah Montana, but this relationship brings me substantial second-hand joy.

Watching them dance barefoot by the Christmas tree at their low-key wedding is almost unbearably cute. Reading the intimate details of their relationship in Miley’s adorable birthday tribute to Liam is almost painfully lovely.

Seeing Miley step in at Liam’s premiere for his movie, Isn’t It Romantic, and reading the mutual adoration in their comments, is just so sweet I experience an extreme rush of blood to the head and a sugar high.

Their happily-ever-after vibes are intoxicating and I’m drunk in love.

The more wonderful their relationship appears, the more distress creeps into the euphoria it incites. Miley and Liam are the current ‘it’ couple, but you can’t shake that feeling of fragility, because we’ve been here before.

That’s the problem with getting invested in ‘fave’ Hollywood couples – there are no guarantees. We’re not actually a part of their relationship (even though it can feel that way), so they may make decisions or go in a direction that doesn’t fit into the fantasy we wanted.

Nothing demonstrates this bittersweet predicament better than the recent demise of two celebrity couples considered the ‘perfect’ matches: Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, and Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.

Watching these couples not just break up, but move on, invoked widespread devastation among fans (guilty). Getting invested in the love lives of strangers is a dangerous game and sometimes you lose.

That is why the heart-warmingly lovely, happily-ever-after that is 2019 Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth also kind of makes me want to throw up. Right now they represent to me, and a lot of fans, an inspiring example of how love can work out. Their narrative is perfect for its flaws and eventual happy ending, and it’s one we’ve been invested in for 10 years.

Every time they do something cute, my stake in their happiness grows. But we all know the unpromising success rate of marriages in Hollywood, and that’s what makes it stressful. It’s a risky investment.

So let’s just pray that Miley and Liam are in it for the long haul and we don’t have to deal with the true absurdity of our investment in strangers’ relationships.

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