By now you’ve heard that Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic made some racially insensitive comments about Zendaya’s flowing dreadlocks after the Oscars red carpet. But, in case you’ve had better things to do than be anywhere near the Internet for the last week, we’ll remind you that the E! personality (if you can call her that) said the K.C. Undercover actress looked like she smelled of weed and patchouli because of her hairstyle.
Zendaya responded with an open letter, writing, “To say that an 18 year old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or ‘weed’ is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive.”
Zendaya went on to list a number of scholars, actresses, singers, and authors who rock the style and suggested Rancic educate herself before making such a judgment.
“There is already harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair,” Zendaya wrote. “My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”
Zendaya’s schooling plus the PR nightmare Rancic created for herself prompted the fashion critic to apologize publicly, first on Twitter, where she wrote that she was referring to a bohemian look, and then again on air.
“I want to say to Zendaya, and anyone else out there that I have hurt, that I am so, so sincerely sorry. This really has been a learning experience for me,” Rancic said. “I’ve learned a lot today, and this incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of clichés and stereotypes, how much damage they can do – and that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further.”
Maybe Giuliana was trying to channel Joan Rivers, speaking off the cuff in a quasi-mean tone. Or maybe, like an anonymous source told Us Weekly, she made the comment in three separate takes and never realized how horrible it was.
E! denies that there were multiple takes, but now an insider has told the Daily Mail the line was pre-written.
Said an unnamed source, “The joke didn’t originate with Giuliana, the jokes were written out before, as is often the case on Fashion Police.”
The script supposedly called for Rancic to add that Zendaya looked like she should be touring with the Grateful Dead, to make it clear she was being prejudice against an entirely different group. However, Kathy Griffin interrupted before she got to that.
No one complained about the comment on set, in the audience or when the show was reviewed by execs, so apparently that makes it okay.
Zendaya’s taking it all in stride like the classy lady she is, though, writing at length about the culture of prejudice and her obligation to stand up for herself and others who don’t have a voice.
Addressing Giuliana, she wrote, “I appreciate your apology and I’m glad it was a learning experience for you and for the network.”
She closed her statement with an uplifting Martin Luther King Jr. quote to remind us all to stop being such jerks to each other — only she conveyed all of this much more eloquently. #obvi
Oh, and about Kelly Osbourne, who happens to be Zendaya’s friend and Rancic’s co-host: Us Weekly reported that Osbourne objected to the comment during the taping, but the “joke” was never cut. Osbourne later tweeted that she didnt’ want to be dragged into the drama and was considering leaving the show.
Seems all has been forgiven, though, because after taking a couple days to cool off, Osbourne tweeted, “It takes a strong women to apologize & makes a forgiving women even stronger! #ThisTooShallPass.”
The sooner, the better.