We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Mary Wilson of The Supremes dies
Mary Wilson of Motown girl-band the Supremes passed away in her sleep Monday night at age 76. Of her legacy, Motown founder Berry Gordy remarked that “she was quite a star in her own right, and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes.”
Born and raised in the projects of Detroit, Mary began singing as a child and eventually formed a teenage girl-group called the Primettes. The group “hung around” a Motown recording studio after school, snagging a contract and changing their name to the Supremes. They did not find success in their early years; then, they signed with an elite songwriting and producing team. They began to land a series of breakthrough hits, their most well-known songs being “Stop! In the Name of Love,” "Baby Love,” and “Where Did Our Love Go” to name but a few. Diana Ross was the lead singer and major star of the group, while Mary and fellow bandmate Florence Ballard harmonized and provided backup.
"Their audience spans ages and taste barriers," a New York Times writer said of the group in 1967. “They were extraordinarily popular with white audiences, Black audiences, and everyone else.”
After the Supremes finally parted ways in 1977, Wilson found continued success as a performer in Las Vegas, also writing two memoirs. She is survived by her daughter and two sons, 10 grandchildren, and great-granddaughter. —Mariel Lindsay
The Buccaneers win the Super Bowl, and The Weeknd becomes a meme
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trounced the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl last weekend, winning 31 to nine. That gave Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady his seventh Super Bowl win, cementing his place as one of the greatest athletes of all time. This launched a bit of an online controversy over whether Brady or tennis star Serena Williams is a better athlete, though football and tennis are each in a league of their own.
The first Super Bowl during the pandemic was bound to look a little odd. Only 25,000 spectators attended this year’s event, though a normal year’s attendance can be three times higher. To help with social distancing, and to keep the stadium from looking too empty, the NFL set up 30,000 cardboard cutouts of fans in the empty seats.
The halftime show also leaned into the dystopian feel of this year’s event. The Weeknd performed his hit songs surrounded by backup dancers who looked like characters from The Handmaid’s Tale or the horror flick Us. The dancers wore white, bandage-like face coverings—a clever way to pair CDC-compliant face masks with a piece of performance art for The Weeknd, who surprised fans with fake plastic surgery last month and later told Variety that he was critiquing the superficiality of Hollywood. “The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” he said. Whether or not this performance worked as cultural commentary, it did leave us with some pretty great memes. —Madeline Fry Schultz
Britney Spears film highlights harmful media coverage
The #FreeBritney movement has a new companion: #weresorrybritney. In the wake of the Feb. 5 release of FX’s documentary Framing Britney Spears, social media has seen a deluge of users tweeting and posting in solidarity with the pop queen, bringing public recognition to her treatment in the media for nearly three decades.
Spears, 39, found her big break at age 11 when cast in The Mickey Mouse Club. The conservatorship she now fights, however, was not put in place until 2008, after she experienced a period of increasingly poor mental health that eventually led to a public breakdown and hospitalization. Spears’s father, Jamie, has had control of her finances and daily affairs for 13 years now.
The recent documentary highlights some of Spears’s legal battle to end the conservatorship, but it also puts under a microscope the near-obsessive treatment Spears received from the media through all of her adolescence and young adulthood. The film exposes her treatment as the butt of late-night jokes, the extreme invasions of her privacy, her inundation by people constantly trying to capitalize off of her, and that no one was listening to her as she cried for help and independence.
Since the reignition of #FreeBritney, many celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Courtney Love Cobain, Rose McGowan, and Bette Midler have also taken to social media in support of Spears. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff
Vaccinated people can avoid quarantine, says CDC
So, just how “normal” can your life become if you get the vaccine? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you don’t have to quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19. That is, if you’ve had both doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine and waited two weeks since getting the final shot. After that, you’re good to go—for now. Since vaccines are so new and we still don’t know how long they maintain their strength, the CDC recommends going back to quarantining guidelines three months after receiving the vaccine.
But even with the vaccine, the CDC recommends masking up. “At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing,” it said.
This statement came this week after news broke that the United States now has more people with the first dose of the vaccine than people who’ve had COVID-19. Now 27.1 million people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 8 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. More than 26.5 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, a number that will hopefully continue to stay below the number of people who get vaccinated. —MFS
Legendary stage and screen actor Christopher Plummer dies
Canadian stage, television, and film legend Christopher Plummer died last week at the age of 91. Plummer was a consummate Shakespearean actor, receiving world renown for his performances of Prospero, Hamlet, Iago, and Lear, and he graced the screens of Trekkies everywhere as General Chang, but he is perhaps best known for his iconic portrayal of Captain Georg Von Trapp in the widely beloved musical, The Sound of Music. Over the course of his career, Plummer was nominated for more than 60 awards; and of the 23 he won, Plummer took home two Emmys, two Tonys, one SAG award, one BAFTA, and one Oscar.
Other stage and screen greats acknowledged Plummer’s passing this week. “The world has lost a consummate actor today, and I have lost a cherished friend,” Julie Andrews told People Magazine, and William Shatner similarly reminisced on Plummer’s theatrical prowess and how their careers intertwined over the years.
Plummer worked under Sirs Laurence Olivier and Peter Hall, and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1977 and the American Theatre’s Hall of Fame in 1986. —MSB
Disney cancels Mandalorian actress Gina Carano after social media post
This week, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano trended after the Mandalorian actress and former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter posted a controversial message on TikTok comparing hatred toward those with different political views to hatred of the Jews in Nazi Germany. “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors . . .even by children,” the since-deleted post read. “Because history is edited, most people today don't realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views.”
Later, inquiries revealed Carano is no longer associated with her agency UTA or with Disney. “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” said Lucasfilm in a statement. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
In response, fans of Carano and opponents of cancel culture have voiced their discontent with the news, some even calling for a boycott of Disney+, which streams The Mandalorian. Reason magazine called Carano’s “very flawed” comment an “offensively hyperbolic analogy,” while noting the hypocrisy that more liberal-leaning actors are not as scrutinized for making Holocaust comparisons, including one of her costars. While trite Nazi references are problematic no matter who says them, this climate is enough to make anyone want to pull a baby Yoda and hide inside one’s pod. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Good News of the Week
Sanitation workers rescue abducted child
Monday morning, two sanitation workers were going along their regular pickup route when they noticed a grey sedan parked in the middle of the field. One of the workers, Dion Merrick later took to Facebook Live to share the experience, saying of the strange sight, "Something told me. . .” they needed to intervene. He and Brandon Antoine acted quickly, calling law enforcement and trapping the car with their own vehicle. Officers on the scene discovered a ten-year-old girl who had gone missing from a family member’s home the day before. Investigators, believing that the missing child was in “imminent danger” had issued an Amber Alert.
Thanks to the quick-thinking and big hearts of two men, the little girl was saved from further harm. Responding officers at the scene commended the men for their actions. The CEO of their sanitation company sang his employees’ praises in a statement to ABC News, saying, "We couldn’t be prouder of Dion and Brandon. In fact, all of our Pelican Waste team have been heroically working without fail during the pandemic quietly, professionally, and consistently serving the communities where we collect garbage & debris. They often respond in other ways while on the road. This was an exceptional thing that may very well have saved a little girl’s [life]. —ML
Watch of the Week
In memory of Mary Wilson who died this week, here are The Supremes performing a medley of their greatest hits, along with a premiere of “Love Is Here But Now You’re Gone” in a 1967 episode of The Andy Williams Show.