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Why Twitter Tried to Cancel Lil Nas X

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  • #LilNasXIsOverParty was trending on Twitter this weekend after users shared screenshots of Islamaphobic tweets they claim came from an old Nicki Minaj stan account he used to run.
  • However, people are doubting the validity of this account, as it is unclear if he actually ran it.
  • Some argue that either way, this is another example of people trying to cancel an artist on the rise.
  • Lil Nas X has not addressed whether or not the account was his, though he has acknowledged the hashtag on Twitter.

#LilNasXIsOverParty Trends on Twitter

#LilNasXIsOverParty was trending on Twitter over the weekend after Islamaphobic tweets from a Nicki Minaj stan account that many claim Lil Nas X used to run resurfaced. However, social media users are unsure if the “Old Town Road” singer is actually the person behind the account.

The trend followed the release of Lil Nas X’s new EP “7″, which came out on Friday. The tweets came from an account called Nasmaraj. They included insinuations that Islam is a violent religion, as well as remarks about the bombing that occurred in 2017 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The account has since been suspended, with many reports claiming the reason behind this was TweetDecking. TweetDecking is when accounts copy viral content in mass.

Still, when people saw these screenshots, many took offense. Some asked what was wrong with the singer, while others spoke against Islamaphobia.

However, some people thought this was a case of people taking cancel culture too far, and said that they just wanted to attack an up-and-coming artist.

A tweet that no longer appears on Lil Nas X’s page also came up. In May, it appears he acknowledged his past and said he had grown.

Debates Over Account Legitamacy

One of the biggest questions people had about the tweets, however, was if they really came from Lil Nas X. Many users debated whether or not he was behind the Nasmaraj account.

Some claimed the account belonged to the singer, including one user who says they were a fan of his starting with that Twitter account.

A video allegedly shows someone sending a direct message to Lil Nas X, and him responding acknowledging the account.

In April, Intelligencer, a publication by New York Magazine, wrote an article claiming that the Nasmaraj account belonged to Lil Nas X. They claim a Reddit user called Nasmaraj posted content just to promote Lil Nas X. The account has since been removed, but according to Intelligencer, it pre-dated Lil Nas X’s fame, so it was unlikely that it would have been a fan account.

The report also says that after the Nasmaraj account was suspended, a new account was created by the same user, which is a common practice for meme accounts. This account was allegedly called Nasmarai.

That account now is locked and appears to be owned by a new user. However, people on Twitter pointed out that the handle used to be in Lil Nas X’s Twitter bio.

Intelligencer also said that they got the URL from an old Nasmarai tweet. They said that the digits at the end of the tweet’s URL serve as an ID, and that this ID can be used to find the current account of the user. When you type those digits into Twitter now, a tweet from Lil Nas X’s current account appears. They claim that because of this, those two accounts must be linked.

Others also claim that his current account and the Nasmarai account share the same e-mail address.

However, some don’t believe this is enough evidence to show that the Nasmaraj account was owned by Lil Nas X. Many think that he could be behind Nasmarai, but don’t see enough evidence to connect him to the problematic tweets.

According to Hot One Hip Hop, Lil Nas X’s team has also denied that he was behind the Nasmaraj account. The outlet ran an article about the Nasmaraj Twitter account, then ran a correction.

“Lil Nas X’s team has reached out to us to confirm that the Lil Nas X did not run a Nicki Minaj fanpage, despite Billboard’s initial reports,” the correction reads. The Billboard article referenced appears to have been removed.

Some people on Twitter have also pointed out that the timestamps on one of the screenshots have been different. One tweet has a date on May 30, 2017, which is a few days after the terrorist attack in Manchester. However, another screenshot dates the tweet in March, two months before the event happened.

Lil Nas X Responds

On Sunday, Lil Nas X tweeted about the trending hashtag with two memes.

On Monday, he shared an old tweet of his about people trying to “ruin other ppls career when they see them on the rise.”

Lil Nas X performed at the BET Awards on Sunday night and has not specifically addressed whether or not the Nasmaraj account belonged to him.

See what others are saying: (Uproxx) (Insider) (Intelligencer)

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Chris Evans, Elijah Wood, and Others Speak Out Against James Dean CGI Casting

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  • A CGI version of James Dean has been cast as a secondary lead in the upcoming Vietnam War movie, Finding Jack.
  • The directors and studio received permission from Dean’s family to use his image, however, many do not think it is okay to use an actor in a film posthumously.
  • Stars like Chris Evans and Zelda Williams condemned the use of James Dean in this manner, seeing as there is no way to know if Dean would actually want to be in this movie. This started a widespread online discussion on the practice of using CGI to bring stars who have passed onto screens.

James Dean Cast in Film

Critics are speaking out against James Dean being cast in a movie⁠—60 years after his death. 

Directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh are partnering on the film Finding Jack, which is based on a novel of the same name. It will follow a man who is forced to abandon an injured dog he met while serving in Vietnam. The film is being produced by Magic City Films and Dean is set to play the secondary lead in the story.

Dean suffered an untimely death in 1955 after a car accident in northern California at the age of 24. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Dean’s performance will be constructed via “full body” CGI using actual footage and photos. Another actor will voice him.”

Dean’s family gave the studio permission to use his image for the film. 

“We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact,” Ernst said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down.”

Ernst also said that they did look at other casting options, but ultimately landed on Dean.

“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” he added.

Actors and Others Upset by the News

The concept of casting someone in a film posthumously did not sit well with many in the industry. Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, said it sets an “awful precedent for the future of performance.” In fact, Robin Williams’ family restricted the use of his image for at least 25 years after his death in 2014.

Big-name actors also joined the conversation. Avengers star Chris Evans called the decision “awful.”

Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood said, “this shouldn’t be a thing.”

Julie Ann Emery, who has starred in projects like Preacher and Better Call Saul added that it may not give proper credit to the living actor providing Dean’s voice. 

“How do Dean’s descendants know that he would WANT to be in a Vietnam movie?” she later asked. 

Actors were not the only ones upset about this. An article from Vice pleaded “please don’t do this.”

“For the love of all that is holy, just let his legacy be,” it continued. 

Esquire came up with its own suggestions for working actors that would have made a better choice instead of Dean. Their picks ranged from Timothée Chalamet to Harry Styles, to Cardi B and Post Malone, all to say that any living person would be better than a CGI version. 

On the other hand, however, some were not as critical of the choice. While their voices were fewer and farther between, some thought that since his family gave it the okay, it should be allowed. 

Future and Past Instances

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s piece, Ernst might have future plans to use this kind of technology. Magic City will be working with a Canadian group called Imagine Engine and a South African group MOI Worldwide to produce the CGI, and their list extends past James Dean.

“Our partners in South Africa are very excited about this, as this technology would also be employed down the line to re-create historical icons such as Nelson Mandela to tell stories of cultural heritage significance,” he said.

This is also not the first time a late actor has been used on the screen in this way. In 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Peter Cushing, who died two decades before the film’s release, made an appearance as Grand Moff Tarkin via CGI. He originally played the character in Star Wars: A New Hope. When Rogue One hit theaters, his presence caused its own controversy, with some also thinking it was wrong to do this.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline) (Los Angeles Magazine)

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Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock Sue Over Phony Endorsements

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  • Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock have filed a joint lawsuit against individuals and entities who use their likeness to create fake endorsements of products, in an effort to “expose the Celebrity Endorsement Theft Industry.”
  • Fake celebrity endorsements have become more common thanks to scammers who prey on consumers in a growing era of affiliate marketing. 
  • For years celebs have issued cease-and-desist orders, but these companies operate quickly, taking down one site only to replace it with another soon after.

Stars File Lawsuit

Hollywood stars Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock are fed up with websites using their likeness without consent to falsely promote their products 

The two filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court as part of an effort to “expose the Celebrity Endorsement Theft Industry,” which they say has become a major issue for stars in the digital age. 

DeGeneres and Bullock are specifically going after scammers in the affiliate marketing industry who direct traffic to e-commerce sites by creating phony advertisements. 

The two have issued a “right of publicity” claim, saying that these individuals and entities use their names and likeness for false advertising of products like face creams, anti-aging serums, dietary supplements, and more. 

But these obscure internet companies have proven to be difficult to go after. For two years, representatives for DeGeneres and Bullock have sent out cease-and-desist orders, but once one site is taken down, another pops up in its place under a slightly different name or form.  

“These companies change names frequently, merge in and out of entities formed in states that allow for secrecy, operate websites that pop up and disappear overnight, and generally do everything possible to ‘stay one step ahead of the sheriff,’” the complaint said, according to The New York Times. 

Because DeGeneres and Bullock don’t know for sure who exactly is behind the fraud, the defendants have been listed as John Does 1 through 100 and their lawyers can now issue subpoenas to undercover them. 

The Era of Affiliate Marketing and Scams 

Their lawsuit brings the issue of fake celebrity endorsements to the forefront, a problem that has become especially more rampant for Hollywood stars thanks to scammers who prey on consumers in a growing era of affiliate marketing. 

Affiliate marketing is a popular way for online figures to earn money by promoting products and directing consumers to the online seller. In most cases, a click that generates a sale can earn the publisher a commission, though other types of compensation arrangements are sometimes also agreed upon. 

It can be a very powerful marketing tool, especially when those promoting a product have built a strong reputation for trustworthiness with their audience.

According to estimates from Forrester Consulting, by next year the affiliate industry will be a $6.8 billion business, And while most participants are legitimate, others are not. Some take advantage of celebrities who have developed a strong reputation, as well as consumers who they may hold influence over. 

Bullock and DeGeneres aren’t alone in being targeted by these shady websites. Stars over 40 whom the public considers trustworthy or admirable are often used for these scams, including celebs like Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Ripa, and Denzel Washington, who is often used to falsely promote erectile dysfunction pills.  

As The Times points out, bombarding the web with these fake endorsements can actually be damaging to a celebrity’s reputation and hurt their ability to secure legitimate endorsement deals. 

How It’s Done 

A common trick these scammers use involves setting up websites “designed to look like legitimate and independent news reports or magazine articles about various Beauty products,” the complaint says. 

Then they post real images of celebrities that have been doctored to become a fake endorsement. The lawsuit points to some examples, like one image of Bullock appearing on NBC’s Today show to promote a film. The image was converted into an ad that read: “Sandra Bullock Talks About Her New Skin Care Line,” despite the fact that Bullock has never had a skincare line.

The ad is then accompanied by a link that leads to a site selling the celebrity’s supposed product.

Another example in the suit shows that ads include fabrications like: “Sandra even admitted that plastic surgeons are furious with her after noticing a large decline in patients.” 

In their complaint, DeGeneres and Bullock listed 40 beauty products that have been sold online with their names fraudulently linked.

Source: The New York Times

“The celebrity endorsement-theft business model is based on a scheme to trick consumers into disclosing their credit card and/or debit card information in order to enroll them in costly programs with undisclosed, or poorly disclosed, recurring charges,” Bullock and DeGeneres said in the complaint. Ads for the products “typically include unsubstantiated claims that the products will lead to dramatic results,” they continued.

Many of these fake ads also offer free trials, but the complaint says that in reality, customers are often charged full price. 

According to a 2018 report from the Better Business Bureau, offers of free trials put forward through this type of marketing “have infested the internet and social media” and cost more than a million victims upward of $1.3 billion over the past decade. 

Along with claiming violations of their rights of publicity in the suit, DeGeneres and Bullock are claiming false advertising and unfair competition. The lawsuit demands an injunction and compensatory damages. First, though, the suit seems designed to kick off an investigation into responsibility for the marketing. 

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Los Angeles Times

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Deprogramming: The art of getting people out of a cult.

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Deprogramming is a practice that consists of helping someone leave a cult by leading them to realize that they’ve been manipulated by the group they joined. While this sounds like a life-saving tool, especially for the families and loved ones of cult members, the practice has a controversial past that involves breaking the law.

In the 1970s, Ted Patrick coined the term deprogramming to describe the process of how he would kidnap young adults by the request of their parents and hold them in a room for days until they understood that their cult group was manipulating them. During his career, Patrick was able to kidnap hundreds of people. But what’s more surprising is that he was able to jump through many legal barriers before actually getting arrested and fined for kidnapping. 

Today deprogramming is completely different, but in this deep dive will explain how Patrick was able to deprogram his way for so long and shed some light on what modern-day deprogramming and therapy for cult survivors looks like.

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