- Ellen DeGeneres was spotted laughing with former President George W. Bush at an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
- Critics slammed the apparent friendship online, referencing their opposing political views. Ellen responded on her show Tuesday, telling her viewers to treat everyone with kindness no matter their opinions.
- Celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon condemned her response while others like Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Bell supported her message.
- The comedian’s defenders faced their own backlash, including Jameela Jamil who reversed her initial praise.
Bush and DeGeneres Spotted Laughing at NFL Game
Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has prompted a national debate about kindness in the face of political differences after she was seen laughing with former President George W. Bush at an NFL game on Sunday.
DeGeneres, who faced a heavy amount of online criticism following the event, addressed the backlash directly on Tuesday’s episode of Ellen.
“People were upset. They thought, why is this gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” she said. “But a lot of people were mad and did what people do when they’re mad: they tweet. But here’s one tweet that I loved. This person says, ‘Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.”
Other tweets directed at DeGeneres were less praiseful, with many people taking issue with Bush’s association with the Iraq War and his policies on LGBTQ rights.
“Ellen hanging out with her buddy G.W. Bush the war criminal and guy who called for a ban on same sex marriages…,” one user wrote. “Really, really low standards there Ellen, and pretty pathetic…”
In her response, DeGeneres explained that she didn’t know Bush would be at the game or sitting next to her, but she also said that was beside the point.
“Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush,” she said. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different.”
DeGeneres then continued, emphasizing her point by saying she didn’t agree with her friends who wear fur but that they were still her friends, another comment that eventually resulted in backlash.
“But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” she continued. “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean everyone.”
Celebrities React to Ellen’s Explanation
Even after Ellen addressed the concerns, many still criticized the comedian for boiling down the issue to a difference in opinions.
“George Bush, his administration, and his colleagues actively discriminated and worked against the LGBT community, of which you are a member,” one person tweeted.
Some of that criticism even came from fellow celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon.
“Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly),” Ruffalo said, “we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.”
On the other side of the argument, celebrities such as Kristen Bell and Blake Shelton praised DeGeneres for her commitment to kindness.
“She’s my [Queen]” Bell said in an Instagram post.
Reese Witherspoon also thanked DeGeneres, calling her message an important reminder; however, soon after receiving backlash of her own, she deleted her tweet.
“The privilege reaks,” one person said in response to Witherspoon. “There are thousands of people in the middle east who don’t get to be friends with people with “different views” because they’re dead thanks to [Bush]. And he spent his presidency trying to strip away LGBT rights, so nah. This monologue is pure class privilege.”
Jameela Jamil Defends DeGeneres
In a somewhat similar situation to Witherspoon, Bell’s The Good Place co-star Jameela Jamil backtracked her praise of DeGeneres after “learning” from criticism directed at her.
“I’ve never seen someone in the public eye handle something like this, in this way,” Jamil, 33, said in the Tuesday tweet. “And use it to make what is actually an incredibly necessary point in our society. It was just very strong and interesting.”
The following morning, Jamil deleted her initial posts and followed up by saying:
“Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency… we weren’t taught much about him at school, we just heard he was stupid…(we were dealing with our own epic nightmare of a prime minister back then). What a monstrous leader. I now understand the rage..”
Jamil, who is British, still faced backlash following her second tweet, this time from people pointing out that she was 23 when Bush left office. The criticism then prompted Jamil to once again respond.
“Very interesting to see some pompous responses from people because someone from the other side of the world didn’t learn about a president in your country when they were a teenager,” she said Are you experts on all world leaders from back then? Ridiculing learning and growth is weird.”
“I love learning and growth and massively applaud anyone who says they don’t/didn’t know the answer and seeks it out,” she continued. “I personally think that’s cool and hope that we all feel safe to do that, so we can all evolve together. #progressnotperfection”
See what others are saying: (USA Today) (Fox News) (The Independent)
Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention
- In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
- The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
- The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.
Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers
Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.
In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.
Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.
When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.
Success Amid Growth of Competition
The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix.
Still, it reached a massive milestone.
“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”
Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.
“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”
Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers
Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.
An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service.
Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Paramount+ To Launch March 4
- ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year.
- The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection.
Paramount+ Gets Launch Date
ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year.
It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.
More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news.
“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”
State of the Streaming Wars
Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”
The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television.
ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.
Olivia Rodrigo Smashes Records with “drivers license”
- Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single “drivers license” has set multiple records on Spotify, becoming both the most streamed song in one day for non-holiday music and the most streamed song in a week.
- It also has become the most globally requested song on Alexa in one day on Amazon Music.
- After its Jan. 8 release, the song became a trending audio on TikTok. Since TikTok’s rise to popularity, the app has helped many songs reach viral success at lightning speed.
“driver’s license” Breaks Records
At just 17-year-old, Olivia Rodrigo is smashing records with her new single “drivers license” after debuting the tune on Jan. 8.
On Friday, Spotify announced the single set the record for most streams in a week. Prior to this, it set the record for most streams on the platform in one day for a non-holiday song.
As of Monday morning, the song has over 125 million plays on Spotify. According to Pop Crave, it was also the fastest song to reach 100 million streams on the popular music service.
Over on Amazon Music, “drivers license” became the most globally requested song on Alexa in a single day. It also became the biggest global streaming debut on the site.
Song Goes Viral on TikTok
Rodrigo is best known for her role as Nini on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” She has also appeared in a variety of other Disney projects where she showcased her singing and songwriting capabilities. In “drivers license,” she croons about using the newly minted independence her license affords her to mourn a recent breakup.
The pop ballad has become a popular audio on TikTok. Many use it for dances, to discuss the possibility that Rodrigo wrote it about her co-star Joshua Bassett, or to just wallow in its lyrics. It has been used by some of the app’s most popular creators, including Charli D’Amelio.
Its success on the platform has likely contributed to its success on streaming platforms and charts. The app has had an immeasurable impact on the music industry by helping songs and artists reach the mainstream at lightning speed. Hits like “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X first found a home on TikTok before breaking records on the billboard charts.
Rodrigo has been happy and surprised to see her song perform so well and be so positively received.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this,” she wrote on Instagram after learning that “drivers license” was the number one song on global iTunes charts. “thank u guys so much for listening. I can’t believe this is real life.”