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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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Chris Pratt Criticized For Wearing Gadsden Flag T-Shirt

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  • Actor Chris Pratt was recently photographed wearing a t-shirt with a version of the Gadsden flag, featuring a coiled snake and the text “Don’t Tread On Me.”
  • After some social media users criticized the shirt and linked it to far-right ideologies, Yahoo published an article titled “Chris Pratt criticized for ‘white supremacist’ T-shirt.”
  • The link to white supremacy and far-right groups outraged many online, including big conservative voices like Ben Shapiro, who defended the symbol.
  • Yahoo has since changed the headline to “Chris Pratt criticized for T-shirt choice.”

Gadsden Flag T-Shirt 

Yahoo is facing backlash for publishing an article that linked actor Chris Pratt to white supremacy after he was spotted wearing a t-shirt with the Gadsden flag. 

The shirt in question features a coiled snake over an American flag with text that reads, “Don’t Tread On Me.” The coiled snake and text are from the Gadsden flag, which was created by American general Christopher Gadsden during the Revolutionary war.

On Monday, Vulture writer Hunter Harris posted a photo of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” star wearing the shirt. Then several social media users responded to the post expressing their disappointment with Pratt.

“Andy Dwyer would never wear a shirt emblazoned with a white supremacist dogwhistle. Chris Pratt is unequivocally the worst Chris,” one now-deleted tweet read. 

“That’s everyone’s fave, Chris Pratt, wearing a snake logo recently associated with lads from the Tea Party to the depths of 4chan.” read another. 

Yahoo Releases Story 

Yahoo Movies UK then picked up the story with the headline: “Chris Pratt criticized for ‘white supremacist’ T-shirt.”

“Although it is one of the symbols and flags used by the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team, Metallica, as well as some libertarian groups, over the years the flag has been adopted by Far Right political groups like the Tea Party, as well as gun-toting supporters of the Second Amendment,” the article reads.

“It has therefore become a symbol of more conservative and far right individuals and, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the US, it also is ‘sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.’”

Many took issue with Yahoo’s report and its labeling of conservative groups. Others pointed out that the historical flag symbolizes freedom and liberty, not white supremacy. 

In 2016, The New Yorker published a piece titled “The Shifting Symbol of the Gadsden Flag,” that looked at how the flag has been used by “Tea Party enthusiasts, Second Amendment zealots—really anyone who gets riled up by the idea of government overreach.”

However, in the article, writer and historian Marc Leepson was quoted saying that the origins of “Don’t Tread On Me,”  were “completely, one hundred percent anti-British, and pro-revolution.” The report also notes that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said: “It is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context.”

Article Sparks Outrage

Many have since blasted Yahoo on Twitter, like conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch.

Some specifically criticized Yahoo for turning the outrage of a few commenters into a larger story.

Yahoo has since changed its headline to “Chris Pratt criticized for T-shirt choice.”

See what others are saying: (Yahoo) (Fox News) (Breitbart)

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Netflix Cuts Controversial Suicide Scene from ‘13 Reasons Why’ Season 1

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  • Netflix has removed a controversial and graphic suicide scene from its popular series “13 Reasons Why,” more than two years after the scene originally aired. 
  • The company and show creator said they made the decision after hearing concerns from medical experts.
  • The decision to re-edit the scene has been met with mixed reactions, with some praising the move, some saying it should have been done long ago, and others saying that it should have remained in the show because it is powerful and important to watch.

Netflix’s Announcement 

Netflix announced Monday that it has edited out a graphic suicide scene from the first season of “13 Reasons Why,” more than two years after it was released. 

The show, which centers on the suicide of a fictional teenager named Hannah Baker, stirred up controversy when it first aired in March of 2017. While many praised the show for raising awareness about suicide and bullying, others, including organizations like the National Association of School Psychologists and the Parents Television Council, accused Netflix of glorifying and romanticizing suicide to vulnerable teens.

Critics of the show found one scene that aired during the season 1 finale particularly upsetting because of its graphic depiction of Hannah taking her own life. 

“We’ve heard from many young people that 13 Reasons Why encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help — often for the first time,” Netflix said in a statement.

“As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we’ve been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one.”

Suicide Scene Re-edited 

The nearly three-minute-long scene aired about midway through the episode and showed Katherine Langford’s character Hannah looking at herself in the mirror before she was shown cutting her wrists in a bathtub. The camera held on Hannah during her graphic final moments before showing her parents finding her body. 

The re-edited scene now shows Hannah looking at herself in the mirror, then cuts directly to her parents finding her body in the bathroom. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Netflix will also monitor and issue take-downs for any pirated clips that feature the original scene.

“Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in Season 1 was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it,” show creator Brian Yorkey said in a statement before also mentioning that concerns from experts helped him reach this decision. 

“No one scene is more important than the life of the show and its message that we must take better care of each other. We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers,” he added.

Mixed Reactions 

The decision to re-edit the scene was met with support from the American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American School Counselor Association, Dr. Helen Hsu from Stanford, advocacy group Mental Health America, the Trevor Project and Dr. Rebecca Hedrick from Cedars-Sinai, according to THR.

We support the decision to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from 13 Reasons Why. There has been much debate about the series in the medical community,” the groups said in a joint statement. “But this positive change will ensure that 13 Reasons Why continues to encourage open conversation about mental health and suicide prevention — while also mitigating the risk for the most vulnerable teenage viewers.”

However, the move was met with mixed reactions online, with some arguing that the scene was painful but powerful and should have remained in the show.

Meanwhile, others said the scene should have been cut from the series a long time ago.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Scarlett Johansson Clarifies “Politically Correct” Casting Comments After Backlash

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  • In a recent interview with As If magazine, Scarlett Johansson was quoted saying that she should “be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.”
  • Her comments reignited a debate on social media about Hollywood casting and diversity in the film industry.
  • After facing backlash, Johansson released a statement saying that her interview was “edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context.”

As If Cover Story 

Scarlett Johansson says her recent remarks about “political correctness” in casting were taken out of context after the comments sparked much backlash online. 

The actress was previously criticized for accepting the role of a transgender man in the film “Rub & Tug.” She stepped down from the role last summer amid calls for the character to be played by a trans actor instead.

Before that, Johansson also faced backlash for playing a Japanese character in “Ghost in the Shell,” which critics again argued should have been played by a Japanese actor. 

In a cover story for As If magazine published last week, Johansson discussed her viewpoints on the issue. Then different media outlets quoted selections of her comments from the interview.

Johansson was quoted saying: “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.

“There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art,” she added.

“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”

Twitter Users React

Headlines about Johansson’s comments began circulating on Twitter, prompting many users to speak out.

Still, some users came to Johansson’s defense on the issue. Some specifically pointed to the reactions that appeared when Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”

Johansson Clarifies Comments

Johansson released a statement on Sunday through her reps saying that the interview, as it’s been quoted, “has been edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context.”

She explained that the question she was answering was about the “confrontation between political correctness and art.”

“I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody, and art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn’t come across that way.”

“I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to,” she added. “I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”

See what others are saying: (Fox News) (Entertainment Weekly) (The Hollywood Reporter

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