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10 Most Deplorable Things That Happened in Pop Culture

Remember Russell Simmons’ Harriet Tubman sex video?

1. Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar emcee turn.

Okay, we knew that the guy who brought us “Family Guy” was going to be an irreverent Oscar emcee. And Seth MacFarlane delivered irreverence galore. Unfortunately, he served it up with far too much off-color and misogynistic humor, setting the tone for the evening with his sophomoric opening number, “We Saw Your Boobs.” MacFarlane went on to make a crack about violence against women with a joking reference to Chris Brown and Rihanna, and also managed to sexualize nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis in a joke ostensibly about George Clooney.

For some reason, the often humorous Onion site proceeded to out-offend MacFarlane immediately when it referred to Wallis as a “c--t.” How this could have struck the editors as funny, no one knows. Not even Onions fans were amused, and it was quickly deleted, with an apology.

2. SNL’s race problem, and Kenan Thompson’s ridiculous explanation.

The long-lived "Saturday Night Live" comedy sketch show went on a hiring binge over the past year, with about half of its cast members moving on. A lucky six comedians were chosen, every single one of them white, although they have not gotten a lot of airtime since. When the blatant lack of diversity—and especially the lack of a single black woman in the cast on a show emanating from the country’s most diverse city—became an issue, Kenan Thompson, one of two black males and a veteran of the show, made the unfortunate statement that black women just aren’t funny enough. 

Really? Because we think the opposite is true. Black women are very funny. Kenan Thompson? Not so much.

3. Julianne Hough’s blackface Halloween costume.

Just to make it as simple as possible, here’s a guide for “Dancing with the Stars” regular Julianne Hough and every other white person on when it’s okay to wear blackface: Never.

The professional dancer made the unfortunate choice not only to dress up as Crazy Eyes, the character on Netflix’s hit series “Orange Is the New Black” played by actress Uzo Aduba with orange prison garb. She also tied bantu knots in her hair and donned blackface makeup.

It took her a little while, but eventually Hough came to the realization that the costume was not seen as an homage to her favorite TV character, but just plain old offensive. She apologized on Twitter, but for many, it was too little too late.

As Jezebel’s Callie Beusman wrote:

"You wore blackface—which has historically been used to disrespect and demean black people for centuries, which was quite literally invented as a method of disrespecting and demeaning black people—but had no intention of being disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. OH, OKAY."

4. Russell Simmons’ Harriet Tubman sex video.

For some truly mysterious reason, entertainment mogul and Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons thought a sex tape about abolitionist Harriet Tubman was a hilarious idea. He tweeted as much when the clip was made available on his Def Digital YouTube channel. The clip featured the Underground Railroad leader seducing and deceiving her master, and in a variety of sexual positions.

A storm of outrage ensued, with black women leading the charge. Many, like Kimberly Foster writing in the Guardian, questioned how the role model and champion for the full humanity of black boys and men could be so amused by the degradation of a genuine black female hero.

“Clearly, the traumas inflicted upon black female bodies mattered little in his eyes. The gendered nature of sexual violence allows Simmons and other men to find humor in the implied abuse, while striking out against the violence they feel affects them more directly.”

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