From the moment that I say Zendaya arrive at the Billboard Music Awards, I was tense and ready. It wasn't that Zendaya didn't look flawlessly beautiful, as always, but E's Live From The Red Carpet is hosted, as always, by Giuliana Rancic, and Rancic and Zendaya have... quite a recent history. For those who have willingly forgotten, Rancic came under fire after she said that Zendaya's dreadlocks made her look like she smells like weed — a comment that not only led to Zendaya calling her out on social media for the racist understones behind it, but that also subsequently led to Kelly Osbourne quitting the Fashion Police . So when Zendaya arrived on the red carpet on Sunday, I don't think I was the only person who was breathless in anticipation over how Rancic's interview with Zendaya would go.
As it turns out, it didn't go. Like, at all. As in Rancic did not interview Zendaya on the red carpet at all after her arrival at the BBMAs. On the one hand, that's understandable, considering the media firestorm of the bad blood between them, but, on the other hand, considering the nature of that media firestorm, this really seemed like a missed opportunity for Rancic. While she did issue an apology for her remarks about Zendaya's dreadlocks, and while Zendaya did accept that apology, the fallout from the comments had some pretty heavy consequences for Rancic, for the Fashion Police, and for the E! Network.
Seeing Rancic and Zendaya at the same event again, I had a lot of expectations. I wanted Rancic to interview Zendaya, because I, for one, did not find her apology to be an acceptable one. "I'm sorry I offended you and others," as Rancic put it, made it sound like she was apologizing for how her joke was interpreted rather than for the unintended racial connotations inherent in the joke. I had hoped that when Rancic interviewed Zendaya on Sunday, she would begin by apologizing again for her comments, that Zendaya would handle the apology with the grace she has shown throughout the entire scandal, and then the two would dive right into the question-and-answer, joking back-and-forth that Rancic does with all of her interviewees.
The fact that Rancic didn't interview Zendaya stood out to me in particular because it felt glaring. It felt deliberate. It felt like there was a conscious decision not to interview Zendaya — whose Disney channel show was recently renewed for a third season, and who has a variety of things going on that she could talk about on the red carpet. While I understand why Rancic might want to avoid such an awkward moment, especially when her red carpet interviews tend to be pretty hit-or-miss as far as humor goes, the fact still remains that this wasn't just any old interview that she passed on due to time constraints. It was an incredibly important interview, because it could have shown that they've come along way, that any bad blood between them is water under the bridge, and that they have managed to work past it.
Then again, perhaps interviewing Zendaya right before the premiere of the "Bad Blood" music video — in which Zendaya appears as Cut-Throat — was far too symbolic for Rancic, especially considering the hot button, racial nature of the bad blood between herself and Zendaya. She has apologized, Zendaya has accepted her apology, and the entire controversy might be something she wishes to distance herself from. However, in distancing herself, whether intentionally or unintentionally, Rancic has only made it more glaringly obvious that things might not be as copacetic between herself and Zendaya as we might have believed.
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