- Hallmark said it would reinstate several ads featuring a same-sex couple kissing at their wedding after pulling the plug on those commercials last week.
- A spokesperson also said Hallmark has a policy to “not to air overt public displays of affection” in ads, yet the company whose ads were banned said Hallmark continued to run similar ads featuring straight couples.
- In a statement on Sunday, Hallmark apologized for removing the ads and said it would affirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Hallmark Brings Back Same-Sex Ad
After facing heavy criticism, the Hallmark Channel reversed a decision to remove several ads featuring same-sex couples at their wedding.
Crown Media Family Networks, which runs the channel known for its campy Christmas movies, pulled four out six ads for the wedding registry company Zola on Thursday.
The ad in question depicts two female brides at the altar while discussing how they could have better organized their wedding using the online wedding planner. The couple then shares a kiss and leave the chapel hand in hand.
“We are not allowed to accept creatives that are deemed controversial,” a Hallmark representative said in an email to Zola.
“The decision not to air overt public displays of affection in our sponsored advertisement, regardless of the participants, is in line with our current policy, which includes not featuring political advertisements, offensive language, R-rated movie content and many other categories,” the email went on to say.
As Zola pointed out, however, Hallmark decided to continue to run two of its other commercials which depict straight couples. One of those commercials shows a bride and groom passionately kissing.
In a statement to several news outlets on Friday, a Hallmark spokesperson tried to clarify the decision.
“Crown Media Family Networks made the decision to pull the commercials,” the spokesperson said. “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”
Reactions to the Ad Being Pulled
Even before the same-sex ads were pulled, the conservative group One Million Moms protested the network’s inclusion of lesbian characters, saying they went against the channel’s “family-friendly roots.”
The group then launched a petition that saw over 30,000 signatures and viewed Hallmark’s decision to remove those ads as a victory.
In an interview with the CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Bill Abbott, the group said he told them that the ad had reportedly “aired in error.”
Many LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, however, condemned the move and called it a step backward for representation on Hallmark. For those groups and LGBTQ+ individuals in general, some fear Hallmark’s decision to originally remove the ads could affect their chances of eventually being represented on the network.
While Hallmark has never featured LGBTQ+ leads, it is reportedly looking at pitches for LGBTQ movies. The president of Hallmark Cards, Inc. also told The Hollywood Reporter in November that the network is open to potentially casting gay leads in the future.
On the note inclusion, Saturday evening, the Netflix Twitter account seemingly took a jab at Hallmark by promoting two of its shows with lesbian characters.
The Schitt’s Creek account then replied with a similar tweet about two of its queer characters, David Rose and Patrick Brewer.
Billy Eichner also replied to Netflix’s tweet with a long-memed rallying cry from his show, Billy on the Street.
In her own post, Ellen Degeneres asked Abbott to explain the decision.
LGBTQ+ Groups Cheer Hallmark’s Decision to Reinstate Ads
In a statement apologizing for removing the ads, Mike Perry, the president of Hallmark Cards, Inc., said the company has a track record proving it is an inclusive company.
“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused,” he said. “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
The statement then goes on to say that Hallmark is and has always been committed to diversity and inclusion, adding that it never intended to be controversial.
Many LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like GLAAD hailed the decision, saying the channel reversed a “discriminatory” and “hypocritical” move.
“The Hallmark Channel’s decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations, like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine,” Sarah Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said.
Other stars like Jane Lynch also hailed the decision, with Lynch writing, “Love wins!” on Twitter.
Not unexpectedly, however, some conservative voices criticized Hallmark for going back on its decision, including, Franklin Graham, son of the late televangelist Billy Graham.
“We can change the channel,” Graham said. “That’s what I’ll do if I’m watching @HallmarkChannel & an ad w/gay people kissing comes on. My family—& many, many others—have appreciated their wholesome content. But the LGBTQ agenda bullies everybody—including them.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CBS News)
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.
“Dahmer” Series Breaks Netflix Records Amid Backlash For Exploiting Victims’ Stories
Family members of some of the murderer’s victims say the program is “retraumatizing.”
“Dahmer” Lands Successful Week on Netflix
While criticisms mount against “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the true crime series broke Netflix’s record as the most-watched first week for a series debut.
According to data provided by the streaming giant, the Evan Peters-led show was watched for over 196 million hours between its release on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25.
“Dahmer” is the newest of several pieces of fiction and media based on the famous serial killer. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series quickly generated a lot of attention online, primarily from those concerned the show is exploiting a gruesome true story.
Critics have echoed those fears, giving the show a mixed 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The “Critic’s Consensus” blurb on the site states that while the show is “seemingly self-aware of the peril in glorifying Jeffrey Dahmer” the story still “tilts this horror story into the realm of queasy exploitation.”
Victims’ Families Speak Out
The family of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, has also spoken out against the series. In a viral tweet, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry said his family is “pissed about the show.”
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” he wrote. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
In much of the promotion for the series, Netflix claimed it would be told from the perspective of the victims. Perry slammed that narrative, noting that his family was never even contacted by the streamer about the project.
“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he wrote. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, echoed that claim in an essay she wrote for Insider, noting that Netflix did not notify her of the show, or ask her any questions about her brother.
She said that watching the show “felt like reliving it all over again.”
“It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” she wrote.
“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” she continued.
Obsession With Dahmer
Controversy has also grown from some of the responses to the series, as many viewers have posted fan edits of the show that romanticize Dahmer. Some pair clips of Peters’ Dahmer with his victims to love songs or pop ballads, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who do not understand why someone would make content glorifying the killer.
Others have responded to the show by calling Dahmer “hot” or posting thirst tweets about his mug shot. This has resulted in a backlash of its own.
“Jeffrey Dahmer molested and murdered people, mostly black men and boys,” one person wrote. “So to see people making edits and thirst traps of him is a little off putting.”
“if I see anyone tweeting thirst tweets about Jeffrey Dahmer I’m immediately unfollowing,” another person said. “That’s so fuckin nasty.”
Concerns that this kind of media results in more people admiring Dahmer are also mounting in Milwaukee, where many of his crimes took place. According to TMZ, the city is considering creating something to honor the victims, but officials fear a physical memorial would turn into a “mecca” for Dahmer’s fans.