The untimely passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the others aboard the helicopter was an enormous tragedy. One of the most prominent and beloved figures in sports suddenly passed and it stopped the world. We were left to process grief among strangers on social media, which can be a toxic environment, to say the least. For the most part, people were extremely sympathetic and quickly began sharing memes and videos of Kobe and his daughters.
People gathered outside of the Staples Center to bring flowers and fellowship with other fans. Unfortunately, the other side decided to take it upon themselves to bring up Kobe’s past rape allegations. Everything seemed to come to a head when Gayle King interviewed WNBA legend, and Kobe’s close friend, Lisa Leslie.
Gayle decided to ask Lisa’s feelings regarding how Kobe Bryant’s past should be handled when discussing his legacy. Lisa’s response was to leave it where it is. Following up with the fact that we have had ample time to discuss it when he was alive, and should not feel the need to do it now that he is no longer able to defend himself. It was an appropriate response from someone who was a dear friend.
The responses to Gayle’s question were extremely vile. She began receiving death threats and other nasty messages online. Snoop Dogg even took to the Internet to call her a “funky dog-headed b***h” which undeniably made everything worse. This was a complete 180-degree shift from the GirlDad hashtag, in which men were proudly showcasing the daughters they were raising, that was popular for days. Snoop apologized for his actions a week later but the damage was already done. I always find it interesting how men treat the women in their families and how that impacts how they treat other women.
As the father of a daughter and the husband to a woman, Snoop should have known better. Honestly, he should have realized he was in a horrible position when Bill Cosby of all people tweeted in solidarity from his jail cell. Ari Shaffir, a crappy comedian, joked about Kobe’s death a mere hours after the story broke. While he still received death threats, everything seemed to die down after a day.
Gayle King, in stark contrast, was trending for almost a week. As a journalist, Gayle should not be vilified for asking the question. She was only doing her job. The network should be condemned for only posting the sensationalism out of context. Gayle, however, still should have taken the timing into consideration.
There is a side of the Internet, Twitter specifically, that reads as if everyone is having to pretend intellectual conversation. Tweets begin with “One day we’ll have to talk about…” or end with “….but ya’ll ain’t ready for that conversation” but there is never an actual point worth discussing. It’s always a farce that appears like an attempt to get a point across that never paints a bigger picture. I do not understand what purpose it serves for the public to constantly bring up other’s faults. There is a vibe across the Internet that feels like people gain strength in failure as long as it isn’t their own.
Celebrities are signing up for a certain level of scrutiny as a part of their industry but where does it end? When does throwing shade cross the line into bullying? When does keeping it a buck segue into just being an asshole? While we are all guilty in some capacity, why are we not able to keep some things, like death, sacred? Maybe this is too much to ask of complete strangers. However, there is a major difference in holding someone accountable and just being mean spirited. Celebrities deserve a break just like the rest of us and it is a shame they are not afforded that luxury.
At the end of the day, people feel they have the right to become judge, jury, and executioner to celebrities. It is not realistic or fair to expect someone to publically atone for the worst moment of their lives. While the answer to this definitely is not to sweep it under the rug, there should be a bit of care that is taken and timing to be considered. The grieving process is longer than the social media news cycle. It is unnecessary for everything to be dissected in public forums. It is also greatly undeserving to lump Kobe Bryant in the same categories as Harvey Winestein, R.Kelly, and Bill Cosby.
The latter three are cold, calculating predators that took advantage of multiple women and girls at every moment afforded to them. Based on the rest of his actions, I prefer to think that Kobe took that situation as an opportunity to learn about consent. I believe he took that knowledge and applied it to be a better husband and father. Maybe he took it upon himself to discuss consent with his mentees in the NBA. I wish we could have witnessed that conversation.