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Netflix Vows to Cut Down On Smoking Scenes Following Tobacco Use Study

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  • The anti-smoking group Truth Initiative released a report that says Netflix included depictions of tobacco use in its programs more than other streaming services and broadcast networks.
  • “Stranger Things” in particular was its worst offender, with 100% of episodes including tobacco use. 
  • Netflix has now pledged to eliminate smoking in future projects rated TV-14 and below or PG-13 and under for movies, except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy.
  • Shows with higher ratings will include tobacco use for reasons that are essential to the creative vision of the show.

Truth Initiative Report

Netflix says it will cut back on depictions of smoking in its show following a report that criticized the company for the amount of tobacco use shown in programs like “Stranger Things.”

Truth Initiative, a nonprofit anti-tobacco advocacy group, released a report on July 2 that analyzed what it called a “surge” of tobacco imagery in TV and streaming programs. The organization calculated the use of tobacco shown across 13 shows on cable and streaming services, finding that for the second year in a row, Netflix had shown the most tobacco use on screen.

The report said Netflix “topped the list with nearly triple the number of tobacco instances (866) compared with the prior year (299).”

Source: Truth Initiative

“For both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, episodic programming on Netflix had a greater total number of tobacco depictions than programs aired on broadcast or cable TV, with Stranger Things continuing to show the most tobacco overall,” the report continued.

According to the data, tobacco depictions in “Stranger Things” jumped from 182 instances in season one to 262 in season two. The report went on to say, “Researchers found that 100 percent of Stranger Things episodes coded included tobacco.”

The report dropped ahead of the release of the third season of the series, which also features plenty of on-screen smoking. This is particularly true for David Harbour’s character Jim Hopper and Winona Ryder’s character Joyce Byers. However, none of the main teen characters are shown smoking.

Source: Truth Initiative

The report argues that the increase in tobacco imagery across shows should be concerning. Truth Initiative says the U.S. surgeon general found that those with higher levels of exposure to tobacco use in movies are twice as likely to smoke compared with those with less exposure.

It goes on to say, “Further, analysis of peer-reviewed studies estimates that exposure to tobacco use in movies is responsible for 37% of smoking initiation among young smokers.”

While the majority of the studies have been conducted on tobacco imagery in movies rather than TV programs, the organization says it is reasonable to assume that the impact is similarly harmful. 

Netflix Vows to Cut Back 

Netflix responded to the report by promising to scale back on depictions of tobacco use going forward. 

“Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people,”  a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. 

“Going forward, all new projects that we commission with ratings of TV-14 or below for series or PG-13 or below for films, will be smoking and e-cigarette free — except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy,” the company continued. 

“For new projects with higher ratings, there’ll be no smoking or e-cigarettes unless it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important).”

The company also said that later this year, it plans to start including smoking information in the rating box so that users “can make informed choices about what they watch.”

Longrunning Dilemma 

The debate over how smoking should be treated on screen has been a long-running dilemma for those in the entertainment industry, especially when tobacco use is historically relevant to the project or characters. In the case of “Stranger Things,” many have been understanding of the creative decision to include tobacco depictions, considering the fact that the show is set in the 1980s, when smoking among adults was more common.

Still, others like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho have pointed to films like “Hidden Figures,” which was set in the 1960s. Director Theodor Melfi told Empire Online in 2016, “In real life, when we looked at reference pictures, every single person in those rooms had a cigarette in their mouth. But I don’t want to to put smoking in a movie unless I absolutely have to. Also, it makes the movie R-rated right away. And this movie being rated R would be a disservice, because you really want teenage kids and pre-teens and kids to see it.”

This is not the first time the Truth Initiative has forced the entertainment industry to examine the ways it presents tobacco use on screen. In 2007, the Motion Picture Association of America added smoking as a factor in assigning film ratings, along with sex, violence, and swearing after facing pressure from the organization. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Variety) (AJC)

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Marvel Stars Slammed for Defending Chris Pratt But Not Women or Actors of Color

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  • Twitter users have dubbed actor Chris Pratt their least favorite Chris in Hollywood, with many doing so because they believe he supports President Donald Trump or is at least a conservative.
  • Some critics said that he attends an anti-LGBTQ church, follows right-wing figures on social media, and did not join his Marvel castmates in a fundraiser for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, among other controversies.
  • However, Pratt has never explicitly shown support for Trump and has previously said he doesn’t feel represented by either of the major political parties.
  • Marvel figures like Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Zoe Saldana, and James Gunn each expressed support for Pratt online. That then prompted backlash from fans who asked why similar support was not shown to women and people of color like Brie Larson, Zendaya, Anthony Mackie, and others who faced sexist or racist harassment online after joining the MCU.

Internet Picks Their Least Favorite Chris in Hollywood

Members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are facing backlash for how quickly they jumped to defend actor Chris Pratt after internet users dubbed him Hollywood’s worst Chris.

Pratt’s name has trended on Twitter several times since Saturday when one user asked people to pick a famous Chris to get rid of and many selected him.

While some admittedly just don’t like his acting, many actually chose him because they believe he’s a supporter of President Donald Trump.

Is He Actually a Trump Supporter?

However, his political views are not exactly clear, though many believe that he is at the very least a conservative. 

Several people pointed out that he was notably not on the list of Avengers stars who hosted a virtual fundraiser to support Joe Biden. That event featured the likes of Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, and Zoe Saldana.

Other people said Pratt supports an anti-LGBTQ church.

That claim actually picked up last year when actress Ellen Page famously accused Hillsong Church in Los Angeles of being anti-LGBTQ. 

The backlash later prompted Pratt to call the claim “absolutely untrue” and say that his church “opens their doors to absolutely everyone.” 

“My faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or group of people,” he added.

Some also looked at who he follows on social media, suggesting it proves he has right-wing views.

Then there was that whole controversy surrounding a shirt he wore last year featuring the Gadsen flag, which has a coiled snake and the text “Don’t Tread On Me.”

That flag was created by American general Christopher Gadsden during the Revolutionary war but it has developed more political connotations in recent years. 

According to Dictionary.com: “In the 2000s, the phrase became associated with a variety of libertarian, conservative, gun-rights, or far-right political groups as way to express their beliefs.”

Others pointed to a recent controversy he had when instead of urging people to vote in the upcoming election, he posted a joke about voting for “Onward” to win at the People’s Choice Awards. Many interpreted this as him mocking celebrities who are using their platforms to promoting voting. Others said he was downplaying the seriousness of the election.

However, on the other side of this, CNN reported that he donated money to Democrat and former President Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2012.

On top of that, others looked to his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger-Pratt, daughter of the former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

She has notably shown support for Biden, but it’s unclear if her husband shares the same views. 

Still, he is also on record saying he doesn’t support either political party.

In 2017, he told Men’s Fitness, “I don’t feel represented by either side.”

“I really feel there’s common ground out there that’s missed because we focus on the things that separate us.”

Basically, there’s really not enough evidence to say that Pratt is a Trump supporter, but he hasn’t come out to confirm or deny it either way.

Avengers Assemble to Defend Pratt

Even so, the internet eventually turned their dislike for Pratt into somewhat of a meme.

Many are making jokes at his expense and generally referring to him as the worst Chris.

All of this backlash eventually prompted a number of his Marvel costars to come out and defend him. 

Mark Ruffalo, for instance, said Prat is “as solid a man there is.”

“I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life. He is just not overtly political as a rule. This is a distraction. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, friends. We are so close now.”

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said Pratt, “is the best dude in the world. I’ve spent hours & hours sharing my deepest truths with this man, as he has with me. Please stop assuming what he believes, politically or in any other way, because he’s a Christian.”

Zoe Saldana followed up with a Tupac quote, “No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it.

You got this @prattprattpratt,” she added. “Your family, friends, colleagues & everyone who’s ever crossed paths with you knows your heart and your worth!”

Even Robert Downey Jr. shared a photo with Pratt on Instagram.

“What a world,” he wrote in the post caption. “The “sinless” are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt… A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude… AND he just married iznto a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value.”

If you take issue with Chris, I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of #character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness… @prattprattpratt I #gotyerbackbackback”

Internet Users Accuse MCU Stars of Hypocrisy

Of course, many on the internet took issue with that swift display of support, especially since some women and actors of color in the MCU were met with silence from many of their costars when they faced bullying or harassment online.

For instance, some noted that Brie Larson faced a ton of harassment last year when she advocated for diversity in Hollywood. 

She was regularly hit with a ton of sexist remarks at the time and “Captain Marvel” was flooded with negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before the film was even released. 

Others said stars like Anthony Mackie, Tessa Thompson, Zendaya, and more actors of color have endured bullying, racist remarks, and even death threats without the same quick support Pratt received. 

Pratt has not comments on any of the backlash as of Wednesday afternoon.

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Fox News) (CNN)

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Fans Defend Billie Eilish From Body Shamers After Paparazzi Photo Goes Viral

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  • Billie Eilish was recently photographed wearing a tight tank top and jogger shorts, a departure from the usual baggy clothes she wears in an active effort to prevent people from commenting on her body.
  • However, tabloids quickly spread this photo around and people ended up body shaming her on Twitter. 
  • Fans came to her defense, saying people should not critique anyone’s body or hold them to unrealistic standards. Some also pointed out that the world in general needs to normalize the fact that most people do not look like models.
  • Billie posted a TikTok on her Instagram expressing a similar point of view. The TikTok was made by Chizi Duru, who said: “Y’all gotta start normalizing real bodies…Guts are normal…Instagram isn’t real.” 

Billie Eilish Gets Body Shamed

Billie Eilish fans are calling out body shamers who made comments about the singer after she was photographed wearing non-baggy clothing.

Eilish was essentially wearing the unofficial outfit of quarantine, a fitted tan tank top and comfy jogger shorts, while out and about in Los Angeles on Sunday.

While most people get away with wearing something like that every day, the young Grammy winner was met with a tabloid frenzy. Eilish has become known for wearing baggy clothes and has even said she wears looser outfits intentionally to prevent people from making unprovoked comments about her body.

Photos of her in the relaxed attire went viral and made headlines, with gossip magazines quick to gawk at the pictures. Body shamers soon followed with their remarks. One Twitter user said she had a “mid-30s wine mom body.”

Fans Slam Body Shamers

Elish’s fans quickly ran to her defense, slamming those who body shamed the 18-year-old. 

“There is nothing greater in this world than billie eilish being confident in her body,” one Twitter user wrote. 

“To anyone who is body shaming Billie Eilish please stop putting unrealistic beauty standards on women,” another fan said. “She doesn’t deserve that and no one else deserves that either.”

Many also pointed out the fact that offensive and uncalled for comments like that are what stop the young singer from usually wearing fitted clothing. 

Others called out tabloids for making a big story out of her wearing a normal casual outfit to begin with. 

Billie Eilish Responds Responds

Eilish eventually issued an indirect response on her Instagram Story Tuesday night by sharing a TikTok from influencer Chizi Duru.  

“Y’all gotta start normalizing real bodies, okay. Not everyone has a wagon behind them, okay,” Duru says in the video. “Guts are normal. They’re normal. Boobs sag, especially after breastfeeding. Instagram isn’t real.” 

Eilish also posted a video of her walking past her Grammy awards, which many thought was a subtle clapback to body shamers.

This is not the first time she has addressed body shaming and other remarks made around her appearance and wardrobe. During some of her concerts, Eilish has played a short video where she recites a spoken word poem about her experiences with her body image and the media. 

“Some people hate what I wear. Some people praise it,” she says in the video. “Some people use it to shame others. Some people use it to shame me.” 

“The body I was born with is it not what you wanted? If I wear what is comfortable I am not a woman,” she continues. “If I shed the layers I’m a slut. Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it. Why?” 

Some also shared this video as a reminder that body-shaming Eilish or anyone else is not okay. Her fans specifically pointed out that Eilish has been dealing with these kinds of issues for a long time and should not be subject to these repeated attacks. 

See what others are saying: (Cosmopolitan) (Uproxx) (Glamour)

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BTS Faces Backlash in China Over RM’s Korean War Comments

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  • Kim Nam-Joon, the head of the K-pop group BTS who is better known as RM, made comments during the Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala that prompted a boycott against the band in China.
  • Kim emphasized the role both the U.S. and South Korea played in the Korean War, saying, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”
  • Chinese fans said the comments were insensitive and didn’t acknowledge the 200,000 Chinese who died fighting against South Korea during the war.
  • Companies like Samsung and Hyundai have distanced themselves from the group in China, removing them from branding.

What Was Said?

The K-pop sensation BTS has found themselves facing boycott calls in China after group leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made what Chinese fans are calling insensitive comments.

The remarks causing outrage were made during the Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala earlier this month while the band was accepting the Van Fleet award.

“We are very honored to receive the Van Fleet Award, presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of the relationships between Korea and the United States,” RM said at the ceremony.

“The Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala is especially meaningful, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War,” he continued before adding, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”

Backlash and Boycott Calls Emerge

It may be unclear to Western audiences why those remarks were viewed as so inflammatory. The Korea Society is a U.S.-based non-profit that promotes the relationship between South Korea and the U.S., so it’s not surprising that BTS would make a comment like that given the event.

However, on Sunday, the clip went viral and reached #3 trending on Weibo, a Chinese website similar to Twitter, where people were clearly upset. The issue, in particular, was the fact that 200,000 Chinese “volunteers” died fighting for North Korea during the war.

Users on the platform wrote things like, “Nearly 200,000 Chinese troops died in the war. Every Chinese person must remember this number.”

Meanwhile, others equated being a fan of BTS to betraying one’s Chinese nationality. “If you still fan them, get out and change your nationality! There is nothing wrong with liking Korean idols, but if your idols insult your country, if you continue to fan, then you are not worthy of being a Chinese!” One user wrote on Weibo.

Many users wanted BTS to consider Chinese losses during the war, despite the fact that China fought against South Korea and saved its long-time nemesis North Korea during the conflict, directly leading to the 70-year cease-fire and today’s current political climate in the region.

On top of this, Chinese fans were critical of BTS seemingly playing favorites with Americans, with one writing, “Chinese fans give you so much money each year, and you turn around and give it to the United States. What are Chinese fans then?”

Most notably, there were call for boycotts. One user asked, “when will NetEase Cloud Music will remove the song of the anti-Chinese boy group BTS?”

State-run papers also waded into the drama. The hyper-nationalistic Global Times the headline: “BTS hurts feelings of Chinese netizens and fans during speech on the Korean War.” That same piece played up the controversy by calling RM’s comments “a one-sided attitude.”

Korean Companies Step back

The backlash was so large that Korean companies began to distance themselves from the group. Companies like Samsung pulled a BTS-branded smartphone and earbuds from its stores and Chinese website, while Hyundai Motor also removed any BTS branding from its Chinese ads.

The BTS-branded Samsung products that are no unavailable in China.

Together those companies make up around 22% of South Korea’s GDP.

In the past U.S.-Korea relations have led to a major backlash with China, like in 2017 when the U.S. and Korea agreed to put THAAD missiles in Korea. The backlash led to an economic downturn in Korea after China started boycotting and banning certain activities with Korea. Tensions eventually cooled and economic trade returned to normal.

It’s unclear if the Chinese government will officially respond in a similar manner to the 2017 THAAD controversy. When asked about the new controversy on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian only said, “I have noted relevant reports as well as the reactions from the Chinese people online. I want to say that we all should learn lessons from history and look forward to the future, hold dear peace and strengthen friendship.”

Experts like John Delury, a Chinese studies professor at Yonsei University – one of the major universities in Korea, told The Washington Post that the Global Times seems to have had a role in whipping up anger.

Even if that was the case, the controversy has already had a real-world impact since removing BTS branding in China will likely hurt the band’s image in that market.

See What Others Are Saying: (BBC) (Yonhap News) (South China Morning Post)

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