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Ariana Grande apologized on Sunday night after receiving backlash for joking about JonBenét Ramsey, the six-year-old beauty pageant queen who was murdered in 1996.
Grande’s longtime friend Doug Middlebrook posted a magazine cover featuring Ramsey on his Instagram page, along with the caption, “no one has done more covers.” Grande responded with a joke about Middlebrook using the murdered child as a Halloween costume.
“I can’t wait for this to be your Halloween look,” she wrote.
Wait WHAT?? an 8-year-old girl who was violently killed, strangled and suffocated cannot be anyone's costume... pic.twitter.com/MwaAXavyBE— IVAN (@ivanmoratroya) July 29, 2019
The unsolved, open case has been the subject of national attention ever since Ramsey’s murder. Ramsey was initially reported missing from her home in Boulder, Colorado, and her mother claims to have found a ransom note demanding $118,000 in exchange for the child’s return. Ramsey was later found dead in the house basement on December 26, 1996. She was bludgeoned, strangled, and possibly sexually assaulted.
Grande apologized for the joke on Twitter when fans and critics alike started calling her out for being “problematic.”
“yeah no i deleted it very quickly and understand that it’s not at all funny. this was out of pocket and i sincerely apologize,” she wrote in response to a fan who called her out.
@ivanmoratroya yeah no i deleted it very quickly and understand that it’s not at all funny. this was out of pocket and i sincerely apologize.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 29, 2019
Still, some are confused as to why she ever thought it was an appropriate joke in the first place.
“Ariana Grande’s own young fans were literally murdered at a concert, and she has to nerve to joke about JonBenet Ramsey as a ‘costume’ for halloween?” Twitter user @swiftlypastel wrote.
Ariana Grande's own young fans were literally murdered at a concert and she has the nerve to joke about a JonBenet Ramsey "costume" for halloween? https://t.co/DPLhrrElRT— Becca. (@swiftlypastel) July 29, 2019
Ariana Grande stans I’ll let this be known now, because I’m not going back and forth all day. Like any other artist, I’m going to hold your fave accountable for the problematic shit they do. I don’t question talent where there is any, but if she’s problematic she’s problematic.— Marsha McLanahan (@5HAHEM) July 29, 2019
People are also calling out Grande for not deleting the post as quickly as she claims. One photo appears to show that she had the comment up for at least a full day.
“deleted it right away” ??? literally why are you lying... pic.twitter.com/XevHQHtaHH— venus (@larsonfilm) July 29, 2019
As one Twitter user pointed out, this isn’t the first time Ramsey’s murder has been commercialized, and it, unfortunately, probably won’t be the last.
I need people to stop with this strange, very unnerving JonBenet Ramsey obsession. Jeffree Star has her tattooed on him. Ariana Grande is endorsing her as a Halloween costume. She is not a character or celebrity. She is a little girl who was murdered. It's cruel and gross. pic.twitter.com/EwVUfmOA86— des™ (@TheLightinItaly) July 29, 2019
“I need people to stop with this strange, very unnerving JonBenet Ramsey obsession. Jeffree Star has her tattooed on him. Ariana Grande is endorsing her as a Halloween costume. She is not a character or celebrity. She is a little girl who was murdered. It’s cruel and gross,” the user wrote.
Correction 3:03pm CT, Aug. 1: Due to an editing error, the subhead for this article originally misstated when JonBenet Ramsey was killed.
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Katie Balevic is an editorial intern at the Daily Dot where she enjoys covering social justice issues and politics. Her previous work has appeared in the Daily Texan, the Victoria Advocate, and the Houston Defender.