- 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)
Britney Spears’ Attorney Files Petition To Oust Father as Conservator
Spears’ new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, said there are “serious questions” regarding “potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest [and] conservatorship abuse.”
Mathew Rosengart Petitions Court To Remove Jamie Spears
Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, filed a petition Monday to remove the singer’s father, Jamie Spears, as her financial conservator.
Jamie Spears has served as his daughter’s financial conservator for 13 years. In the filing, Rosengart said the elder Spears “profited handsomely” from the position. He asked that Jamie be replaced with a Certified Public Accountant named Jason Rubin, who Rosengart described as “objectively intelligent” and “highly qualified” for the job.
The petition is 120 pages long and contained scathing remarks about Jamie. Britney has made it clear she wants him removed from the conservatorship, which she wants to be terminated entirely. During a statement in June, she called the situation “abusive” and specifically condemned her father.
“He loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it,” she said.
Rosengart has promised to be a stronger advocate for Britney than her previous lawyer, Samuel Ingham, was. He seems to be following through on his word by challenging Jamie’s status as a conservator just weeks after being appointed Britney’s attorney.
“Serious questions abound concerning Mr. Spears’s potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest, conservatorship abuse and the evident dissipation of Ms. Spears’s fortune,” he wrote.
The petition claims that Jamie made at least $2.1 million from Britney’s residency in Las Vegas, snagging a 1.5% cut of gross revenues and merchandise. It also claims that he paid himself $16,000 a month from Britney’s estate, which is $2,000 more than he gave Britney. On top of that, Jamie reportedly took another $2,000 for business purposes.
Rosengart wrote that while it might be common for a manager or agent to make this kind of money, someone in Jamie’s position should not be.
“He is a conservator, and, as a conservator, his role is to be burdened by, rather than benefit from, the conservatorship.”
Britney’s Mother Speaks Out
Both Britney’s personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, and her mother, Lynne Spears, gave statements in the filings echoing the need for Jamie to be removed from his role. Montgomery emphasized that his departure was necessary for the singer’s welfare.
“It would be best for Ms. Spears’ well-being and mental health that her father stop acting as her conservator,’ she wrote.
Lynne did not hold back on criticizing Jamie, saying Britney’s relationship with her father has “dwindled to nothing but fear and hatred” because of the control he exerts over her. She also claimed that he relied on Britney’s house staff, medical aides, and security team to “inform on and report back to him each and every detail of every action” in his daughter’s life.
“Such scrutiny is exhausting and terrifying, like living in custody,” she said.
This petition does not terminate the conservatorship fully, but Rosengart said that could be something the court has to examine one day further down the line.
“There might well come a time when the court will be called upon to consider whether the conservatorship should be terminated in its entirety and whether — in addition to stripping his daughter of her dignity, autonomy and certain fundamental liberties — Mr. Spears is also guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance warranting the imposition of surcharges, damages or other legal action against him,” Rosengart wrote.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (NBC News) (New York Times)
Simone Biles Withdraws, Naomi Osaka Ousted in Rough Day at Olympics. Both Cite Heavy Pressure To Perform
Biles pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team final due to a medical issue while Osaka lost in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament.
Team USA Takes Silver in Women’s Gymnastics
Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles shocked the world Tuesday after pulling out of the women’s gymnastics team finals at the Tokyo Games due to a medical issue.
She left the competition area with a medical examiner after faltering during her vault performance, which was pretty out of character for Biles, who is the most decorated gymnast of all time. However, she later told NBC’s Today that her withdrawal was not due to a physical injury.
“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape,” she explained. “Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”
Biles said she isn’t sure whether she will compete Thursday in the individual all-around competition and is just going to “take it day by day.”
The gymnastics star later talked about not wanting to cost her team a medal or injure herself by performing her dangerous stunts in the wrong headspace.
“It’s just it’s not worth it, especially when you have three amazing athletes that can step up to the plate and do it,” she said, according to The New York Times.
Biles has previously been pretty open about all the pressure she’s been feeling amid the Games, writing in an Instagram post on Sunday, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me, but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke.”
Russia went on to take gold at the competition while the U.S. took silver, ending more than a decade of American domination in the event. Still, it’s worth noting that Russia’s margin of victory proved no single mistake by the U.S. was to blame for their second-place finish.
According to The Times, it wasn’t just Jordan Chiles’ fall on floor or Biles’ weak vault. “It was a combination of those two mistakes plus Biles’s absence on the other apparatuses plus truly standout performances from Russia on three out of four events.”
Holding that same sentiment, many fans are defending Biles against anyone suggesting she was solely responsible for the team’s missed shot at first place, noting that the country’s strategy to win can’t just be based on expecting her to generate huge margins for them.
Tennis Star Speaks Out After Olympic Loss
Day four of the Games proved to be similarly rough on tennis star Naomi Osaka, who will leave Tokyo without a medal after losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament.
Osaka, who represented Japan at the Games, faced high expectations to do well as she is the highest-paid female athlete in the world and the host country’s face of the Games.
“I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” she said.
“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year [it] was a bit much.”
She later added, “I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure, so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”
Osaka has been open about her mental health struggles before, with her citing, among other things, the way speaking with reporters after matches create self-doubt, so one can only imagine what she was feeling with all of the eyes on her at such a huge international event.
Despite the surprising performances from Biles and Osaka, people all over the world are continuing to praise them for being trailblazers in their sports and for being so candid when it comes to topics like mental health.
Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”
The singer said he is working to address “the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community.“
Lil Nas X Starts Bail X Fund
Following the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X launched a partnership with The Bail Project that aims to cover bail funds for people across the country.
The music video for the song took place in the fictional “Montero State Prison,” a reference to the title of his upcoming album and the singer’s real name. While Lil Nas X spent much of his time online promoting the video with memes, he put a pause on the jokes Saturday to announce the Bail X Fund and bring attention to issues regarding incarceration in the United States.
“On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community. That’s why I teamed up with @bailproject to create the Bail X Fund.”
The Bail Project aims to eliminate cash bail in the U.S. It has posted over $47 million in free bail for over 17,000 low-income people across the country. It also provides post-release support and services to those who need them.
“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance,” Lil Nas X wrote in a statement on the fund’s website. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail.”
The Fight to End Cash Bail
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, like many issues within the criminal justice system, cash bail disproportionately harms Black Americans. The group claims that Black and brown defendants are somewhere between 10% to 25% “more likely than white defendants to be detained pretrial or to have to pay money bail.” It also argues that Black men are 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and says Black and brown defendants generally “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants – and they are less likely to be able to afford it.”
Lil Nas X said he is “doing something” to address these issues and invited his fans to join him. He hopes that his efforts will encourage other artists to use their platforms to likewise speak about these injustices.
“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” he wrote. “Donate what you can to the Bail X Fund. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”
A donation tab was attached to the song’s music video, where it says nearly $44,000 has been raised for the Bail X Fund. The video has blown up on YouTube, racking up over 31 million views. It remains the number one trending video in music as of Monday morning.
The song has likewise found success on Spotify, where it debuted at number two and eventually reached the number one spot.