Why Demi Lovato's 'prank' on her bodyguard was a huge problem.

During a recent Twitter Q&A, Demi Lovato gleefully shared the "funniest prank" she'd ever pulled.

She wasn't quite prepared for the reaction though.

The singer behind such hits as "Skyscraper" and "Cool for the Summer" (my personal favorites) has always been frank and honest in the way she talks about everything from sexuality to beauty standards to mental health. That's awesome!


But when answering a fan's question about the greatest prank she's every played, Lovato steered into very uncomfortable territory. Writing about a trick she pulled on Max, a member of her security staff, Lovato showed some serious insensitivity.

"I hired a lady of the night in Vegas and sent her to Max's hotel room to surprise him," Lovato wrote in a now-deleted tweet. "She walked into his room without permission and grabbed him in his 'area' and he freaked the fuck out hahahahahaha."

Screenshot via Twitter.

Lovato's joke immediately drew a negative reaction, with Twitter users referring to the prank as "disgusting" and appropriately labeling it as an example of sexual harassment, which is especially salient considering that Max works for Lovato.

Lovato's prank was wrong, and it highlights two serious problems about how our society views instances of sexual misconduct.

First, Lovato's joke suggests that it's OK, even funny, to touch men inappropriately. And the idea that it's "just a joke" unintentionally furthers the stigma of being a male sexual assault survivor. While no one's laying the blame squarely on Lovato, the fact that this wasn't something she considered before posting it to her millions of fans shows just how much of a problem this is in American society, even as the #MeToo movement surges forward.

Second, the prank was demeaning to the sex worker Lovato hired. Not only did she lead the woman to a dangerous situation — she sent "the lady of the night" into Max's room without giving him any warning — but to use sex workers as punch lines to pranks is both humiliating and dehumanizing.

Lovato was mad at first but apologized soon after.

It sucks to be called out. And if it's ever happened to you, you know that the first response usually isn't calm acceptance but a kind of righteous indignation that makes it impossible to see other viewpoints.

"I swear, I could tweet something about craving jellybeans and it would offend someone," Lovato wrote soon after she began experiencing backlash.

But then her tone softened. Conceding that she'd made a "simple mistake" (agree to disagree), Lovato suggested that fans who don't think she takes abuse seriously check out her song "Warrior."

Shortly after, Lovato apologized to everyone she may have inadvertently hurt, and while "if anyone was offended" apologies are not the most ideal kind of apologies, it's a start.

The silver lining to this story is that Lovato's fans are calling out behavior that would have been seen as normal as recently as last year.

It's clear that all of us have some reflecting and learning to do in order to make sure that sexual misconduct and violence are taken seriously. Especially those whose public personas influence millions of people.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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When the "Me Too" movement exploded a few years ago, the ubiquitousness of women's sexual harassment and assault experiences became painfully clear. What hasn't always been as clear is role that less overt, more subtle creepiness plays in making women feel uncomfortable or unsafe as they move through the world, often starting from a young age.

Thankfully—and unfortunately—a viral video from a teen TikToker illustrates exactly what that looks like in real-time when a man came and sat down with her while she was doing a live video. He asked if the chair at her table was taken, and she said no, thinking he wanted to take it to another table. Instead, he sat down and started talking to her. You can see in her face and in her responses that she's weirded out, though she's trying not to appear rude or paranoid.

The teen said in a separate TikTok video that the man appeared to be in his 30s. Definitely too old to be pulling up a chair with someone so young who is sitting by herself, and definitely old enough to recognize that she was uncomfortable with the situation.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less