- Critics are using #BoycottDWTS online after Dancing with the Stars announced former Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a contestant on its 28th season.
- Host Tom Bergeron also criticized the casting, saying he stressed not including any political figures during a meeting with the ABC show’s executive producer.
- However, Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, who will also appear on the season, defended Spicer, telling Access that he looked forward to respectful conversations with him.
Spicer on DWTS
Former Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer is responding to those critical of his participation in the upcoming 28th season of Dancing with the Stars after #BoycottDWTS began trending online.
“I am very happy with who I am and who I support,” Spicer said in an interview with CNN. “I’m not changing. I am giving people another opportunity to see a side of me that is different.”
Spicer also defended his appearance, calling the show entertainment and not news. “If people are looking for news, I suggest they tune into a news program,” he told CNN.
“It will make this show an example of how Americans can disagree about politics and tune into good entertainment shows and keep their politics at bay,” he told US Weekly in a statement.
On Wednesday, Good Morning America revealed the cast, which includes Christie Brinkley, Ally Brooke from Fifth Harmony, Kate Flannery from The Office, and Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown. Spicer will reportedly make six figures while on the show.
Before passing the position to Sarah Sanders, Spicer’s tenure as press secretary was embroiled in controversy. Following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Spicer claimed it was the largest crowd to ever show up at a presidential inauguration.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” he said in a press conference.
That claim was heavily disputed, and after he left the position, he later said he regretted making the comment.
Spicer also received criticism for comments about Hitler in relation to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
“You look, we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” he said in a different press conference. “Someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazi soldiers — under the command of Adolf Hitler — killed millions of people using gas chambers.
While Spicer’s new appearance is also generating controversy, he is not the first political figure to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Fox News host Tucker Carlson competed in season 3. Former U.S. Representative Tom DeLay and now-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry also competed in different seasons.
More political figures connected to Trump such as Anthony Scaramucci and Omarosa also competed on other shows like Big Brother.
Host and Castmate Reaction
Hours after Spicer’s casting was revealed, host Tom Bergeron jumped into the mix by criticizing the choice to cast a political figure.
“A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS’ new executive producer, I offered suggestions for season 28,” he said on Twitter. “Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement.”
“Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.'”
“For me, as host,” he continued. “I always gaze into the camera’s lens and imagine you on the other side, looking for a two-hour escape from whatever life hassles you’ve been wrestling with. That’s a connection, and a responsibility, which I take very seriously.”
Castmate Karamo Brown, however, said he looks forward to having respectful conversations with Spicer.
Sean Spicer and I have been talking,” he said in an interview with Access Online. “I was most excited to meet him because the thing is, people would look at us and think that we’re polar opposites, but I’m a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other each other both grow, and so, we have been chatting all day today. He’s a good guy, really sweet guy.”
Online Response and Boycott Culture
Many online directed their criticism at Dancing with the Stars and its network ABC for deciding to cast Spicer, with some calling for a boycott of the show.
“Let @ABCNetwork know that paying Sean Spicer a reported six-figure salary to appear on @DancingABC is a hard pass from loyal viewers,” one person tweeted. “We will not be tuning in this season if he remains on the lineup.”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Many of those people who are urging for a boycott of the show said they are scared to normalize a political figure who, at times, provided misinformation to journalists.
“Shame on you ABC,” one person tweeted. “By having Sean Spicer on DWTS, you are helping to normalize a behavior, ie lying, that is helping to tear down our democracy.”
Shame on you ABC. By having Sean Spicer on DWTS, you are helping to normalize a behavior, ie lying, that is helping to tear down our democracy. This is a slap in the face to all journalists who try to get the truth out to the public sometime at the cost of their own lives. SHAME.— Hailey Lyons (@HaileyJLyons) August 22, 2019
I love this show, but I can’t do it. So disappointed. You are right, we use your show as an escape. Now we can’t even do that. Normalizing someone who spewed constant lies, as the mouthpiece of our President, is no escape for me. #BoycottDWTS— whatsername? (@rhuvane) August 22, 2019
See what others are saying: (Fox News) (Vanity Fair) (LA Times)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Mashable) (The Telegraph)
Twitch Faces Backlash After Booking Megan Thee Stallion At TwitchCon Amid Creator Pay Cuts
The cut in revenue share has ignited severe backlash on Twitch, where users argue pay for creators should be increased, not slashed.
Revenue Share Shake Up
Twitch users are criticizing the company for hiring artist Megan Thee Stallion to perform at TwitchCon just one week after announcing cutbacks to top creator pay.
Last week, the video and streaming platform said that starting in June of next year, some creators will receive less revenue from their subscriptions. While the standard split for subscription revenue is 50/50, some major streamers previously received a more favorable 70/30 share in premium agreement terms.
Many creators have long argued that everyone should get that 70/30 share, but Twitch took a step in the opposite direction. In the future, streamers with premium terms will only get the 70/30 slice for their first $100,000 from subscription revenue. After that, they will get bumped down to the regular 50/50 cut.
The company argued the move was necessary as the premium terms previously lacked transparency and consistency, insisting it tried to modify the policy in a way that impacted the least amount of creators. According to Twitch’s statement, 90% of streamers on standard agreements will not even be impacted by the change.
Still, this move outraged Twitch users who were furious the company was not investing more in the creators that bring so many viewers to its platform. Those frustrations were exacerbated on Wednesday when the company announced Megan Thee Stallion would make an appearance at TwitchCon, a weekend-long event set to take place in San Diego in early October.
Backlash Continues to Mount
While no details of Megan Thee Stallion’s agreement to perform have been disclosed, one can assume she charges a pretty penny to book at an event of this nature. Critics argued that if Twitch is willing to spend money on her, it should be willing to spend it on its own streamers.
“So Twitch can’t afford to pay their creators 70/30, can’t fix their media player that crashes after each ad, can’t enforce their policies so people aren’t doing inappropriate things on stream, but they can afford paying celebrities to promote their streaming site?” one person wrote.
“It’s weird that a company that just announced a bunch of budget cuts due to infrastructure costs goes out and grabs an A-list musician instead of promoting their own musicians that run on their platform,” another person claimed.
“Instead of giving your creators a cut they deserve when they do so much work, this is what you do…?” one user asked. “Maybe give your creators a better deal instead of wasting their hard earned money on things we don’t even want.”
Twitch has not responded to the outrage, but Megan Thee Stallion was not the only music act the Amazon-owned service booked for the event. Kim Petras and Meet Me at the Altar will also take the stage at TwitchCon.
The backlash comes as concerns have been mounting against Twitch for a plethora of reasons including creator pay, gambling streams, and more.
In recent months, some of the platform’s biggest names have left Twitch in favor of rival services like YouTube Gaming.