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BTS’ Potential Military Exemption Sparks Debate Over Mandatory Service for Stars

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  • BTS’ record label Big Hit Entertainment said no member of the K-pop boy band will enlist in the South Korean military this year.
  • Enlisting by the age of 28 is a mandatory requirement for South Korean men. The band’s oldest member, Jin, will near that requirement when he turns 27 in December.
  • South Korea’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination has urged the government to reconsider issuing BTS members special exemptions, a move which it previously said it would not do.
  • The idea of issuing special exemptions for K-pop boy bands has resulted in a larger debate over whether stars can use their fame to get out of military service. 

Will BTS Serve in the Military?

BTS’ record label clarified that no member of the K-pop boy band will serve in the South Korean army this year, despite a previous statement from a government official who said one member would serve. 

In 1957, South Korea enacted a mandatory service requirement for men between the ages of 18 and 28. By law, men must serve in the military for 21 months. If they don’t complete that service, they could face a number of repercussions, including being barred from international travel.

The band’s oldest member, Jin, will turn 27 in December, which means he’s currently running out of time to enlist. The other members of the band will also need to serve in the next few years to satisfy the requirement. 

For their part, the members of BTS have said they’ll serve when the time comes to do so.

“As a Korean, it’s natural, and someday, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best,” Jin told CBS Sunday Morning in April.

BTS has been at the forefront of the new debate over whether the South Korean government should extend special exemptions to boy bands and whether fame can be enough to get a person out of military service.

Currently, athletes can be exempted if they’ve won a medal in the Olympics or the Asian Games and musicians can earn exemption if they’ve won awards in classical or traditional music. Actors, however, rarely see exemptions. The few that are granted are typically because of health or money-related issues. In the last ten years, South Korea has only granted 220 such exemptions.

South Korea Denies BTS Exemption

In September, the Korean Ministry of National Defense said such an exemption for BTS was not possible.

“The Ministry of Defense is currently debating with related authorities on improving the current alternate service [program] in place of conscription,” ministry officials said, “but nothing has been decided as to when a change may take effect.”

However, on Oct. 18, South Korea’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination Noh Hyeong-ouk said a “comprehensive review” is needed to determine if boy bands like BTS can be exempted, adding that the military system should reflect the current times.

“We need to review the need for an open-door policy regarding special exceptions from military service in the K-pop industry, in order to provide motives for Korea’s expansion as a cultural content powerhouse,” Noh said.

That back and forth happened again when Ahn Min Seok—South Korea’s chairman for the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism—said he thought one of the members of BTS would be enlisting by the end of the year.

“It seems like it has been decided that they will not get any special treatment relating to military service for pop culture artists,” he said.

Big Hit Entertainment then denied the claim, with officials for the record label saying they didn’t know why such a story was reported.

Reactions

This situation has generated a mixed reaction online.

While many BTS fans have argued that BTS’ impact outweighs military service, some are mad this discussion is taking place and said they feel like the band is being exploited.

“Its crazy cause bts have yet to say anything about wanting military exemption yet they’re the face of it for kpop idols im so tired,” one user wrote. 

Other fans said they believe BTS should serve but all at the same time. That way, the band could simply go on a two-year hiatus instead of potentially rotating out members over the next decade.

Other people, however, are not at all pleased with the idea that BTS might be exempt from serving.

“To say that BTS deserve military exemption because they simply ‘paved the way’ sounds very disrespectful to Koreans,” one person tweeted. “I personally think the military would be good for the kpop idols.”

See what others are saying: (Showbiz Cheatsheet) (Korea Herald) (Paper)

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Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”

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“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.


Actress Pushed at Protest

After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights. 

Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”

Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.

Sweetin Addresses Incident

Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over. 

“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.

“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.

According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter. 

“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him

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“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.


Theater Named Announced

Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title. 

The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. 

A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”

Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”

Chappelle Defends Controversial Special 

According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students. 

“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.

Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda. 

“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said. 

“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special. 

According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)

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Chris Evans Says People Upset With Same-Gender “Lightyear” Kiss Are “Idiots”

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The kiss was previously removed from the film until a surge of backlash from Pixar employees prompted Disney to reinstate it. 


Chris Evans Supports “Lightyear” Scene

“Lightyear” star Chris Evans is standing against people who have criticized the same-gender kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film. 

“The real truth is those people are idiots,” the actor told Reuters this week when discussing negative reactions to the scene’s inclusion. 

“The American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” he continued. 

Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and more have banned the release of “Lightyear” over the kiss, which is between two women. Right-wing pundits in the U.S. have also slammed it, and user reviews for the picture on websites like IMDB have claimed that movie-going has “become an avenue for political propaganda.”

Evans argued those opinions are outdated. 

“There’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs,” he said. “I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.”

“Lightyear” hits theaters on Friday starring Evans as the titular Buzz Lightyear. Evans, however, is not playing the action figure made famous in the “Toy Story” movies and is instead playing an animated human astronaut who inspired the toy.

Kiss Scene Almost Never Made it to Big Screen

According to outlets that have reviewed the film, the same-gender kiss is between Alisha Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her wife. 

Multiple reports have stated that Disney was always supportive of depicting a gay couple in the picture, but was more hesitant about showing an on-screen kiss between the two. The studio previously had the scene removed from the film until a swell of backlash prompted it to reinstate the kiss.

The decision came in March amid criticisms over Disney’s slow response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At the time, a group of Pixar employees wrote an open letter claiming that they have pushed for more inclusion in their films, but “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.” 

Now that the scene made the final cut of “Lightyear,” it has been a large topic of conversation leading up to the film’s release. On Monday, Evans told Variety that the inclusion of the scene makes him “happy,” but he hopes one day, scenes like this will be considered standard. 

“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion,” he said. “That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is.”

See what others are saying (Reuters) (Variety) (IndieWire)

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