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Hallmark Apologizes After Pulling Same-Sex Wedding Ad

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  • 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)

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Joe Rogan Faces Backlash For Promoting Antisemitic Stereotypes

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His comments come as antisemitic hate incidents have increased both online and in the real world.


Rogan’s Antisemitic Comments

Joe Rogan is facing backlash over a Saturday episode of his podcast where he claimed that “the idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous.”

While the “Joe Rogan Experience” episode was posted to Spotify on Feb. 3, the controversial podcaster’s comments did not receive criticism until clips started circulating around social media on Tuesday. Rogan was speaking with “Breaking Points” hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti when the subject of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee came up.

Omar was ousted over a 2019 tweet where she said that American support of Isreal was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to a slang term for money. After she was condemned for promoting antisemitic tropes, she apologized. Some Democrats have accused Republicans of hypocrisy for removing Omar over the remark. 

“She’s apologizing for talking about ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ which is just about money,” Rogan said of the incident. “She’s talking about money.”

“She shouldn’t have apologized,” Ball responded. 

“That’s not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that it is,” Rogan continued. “Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza. It’s fucking stupid.”

Condemned for “Vicious Lies”

His comments were condemned after several Twitter users shared clips of the podcast on the platform. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was “disturbing” that Rogan chose to spread antisemitic stereotypes “at a time of rising anti-Jewish violence, when growing numbers of Americans believe in antisemitic conspiracy theories.”

“For centuries, people have used these longstanding tropes to spread vicious lies about the Jewish people,” Greenblatt wrote.

“The thing is, Joe Rogan, Italians were never slaughtered because of the pizza stereotype,” writer and essayist Howard Lovy tweeted. “But because idiots like you believe Jews are into money,’ we have been marginalized, brutalized, and murdered for thousands of years.”

“The ‘Jews are into money’ thing is a generation-spanning smear used as the basis to discriminate against Jews the world over,” attorney Bradley P. Moss added. “Everyone is into money. But we have been accused of secretly hoarding $ to control everything.”

Writer David Baddiel noted how alarming it was that Rogan was able to “breezily” spew “a racist myth.”

“One of the biggest podcasts in the world and no one gives a fuck,” he wrote. 

Rogan’s comments come as antisemitism has been increasingly present in media and everyday life for Jewish people. 

Upon billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform saw an increase in racial slurs and hate speech, including language targeted at Jewish people. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found in December that antisemitic hate crimes rose between 2021 and 2022 in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. 

Kanye West also made headlines late last year for going on several antisemitic rants, including one where he praised Hitler. While he was dropped by major brands like Adidas over his comments, his words have amplified dangerous conspiracy theories far and wide. He even inspired several neo-Nazis to hang “Kanye is Right” banners in Los Angeles, among other antisemitic actions.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (Variety) (The Independent)

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“Seinfeld” AI Parody Suspended From Twitch After AI Wrote Transphobic Jokes

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The parody’s version of Jerry asked if he should make jokes about “how being transgender is actually a mental illness.”


“Nothing, Forever” Suspended

What’s the deal with AI?

While that has been a big question in the media world for the last few weeks, it is being raised yet again after AI software wrote transphobic jokes for an AI parody of the hit sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Titled “Nothing, Forever,” the heavily pixelated program runs 24/7 on Twitch, using Open AI to create endless “Seinfeld” parody content. In this AI version, Jerry is called Larry Feinberg. Larry’s friends, Yvonne, Fred, and Zoltare — who are stands-ins for Elaine, George, and Kramer — often sit around Larry’s apartment, just like in the NBC series. 

Also mirroring “Seinfeld,” Larry is a stand-up comedian who does a cold-open set of jokes in front of a brick wall. On Monday morning, he asked if anyone had suggestions for jokes before going on a transphobic rant. 

“I’m thinking about doing a bit about how being transgender is actually a mental illness,” Larry said. “Or how all liberals are secretly gay and want to impose their will on everyone. Or something about how transgender people are ruining the fabric of society. But no one is laughing, so I’m going to stop.”

“Thanks for coming out tonight. See you next time,” he continued. “Where’d everybody go?”

Plans to Return

The bit could almost come across as self-aware commentary about how pervasive transphobia is in stand-up comedy, but it’s unclear what the AI’s intent was or if it deserves that much credit. 

Soon after the jokes aired, the “Nothing, Forever” Twitch page was closed, showing only a message announcing the channel “is temporarily unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s Community Guidelines.” It did not specify what rule was broken, but Twitch does have a Hateful Conduct policy that bars attacks against someone’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other protected identities. 

Skyler Hartle, one of the co-creators of “Nothing, Forever,” told The Washington Post that the team was “super embarrassed” by the transphobic rant, which “in no way reflects the values or opinions of our staff.”

Hartle said they hope to resume airing the AI parody with new safeguards in place soon. According to The Post, the suspension will last for 14 days. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NBC News) (The Verge)

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Grammy Awards Face Backlash For Snubbing Beyoncé of Top Prize

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This marks the fourth time the “Renaissance” singer has lost Album of the Year.


Beyoncé Loses Top Awards

Beyoncé may have broken the record for the most Grammy wins on Sunday night, but her snub for the top prize of Album of the Year has left music fans outraged.

Beyoncé nabbed Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song on Sunday night, all related to her latest album, “Renaissance.” While that crossed her Grammy total to a record-breaking 32 trophies, she was shut out of all the major categories she was nominated in: Record, Song, and Album of the Year. 

This was the fourth time Beyoncé was nominated for and lost Album of the Year, largely considered the show’s most coveted prize. This year, Harry Styles took home the Grammy for “Harry’s House.”

In his speech, Styles said, he has been “so inspired by every artist in this category” and claimed there is no “best” in music. People in the crowd were heard shouting “Beyonce!” while he spoke, outraged the singer had lost the award yet again.

The moment was reminiscent of the 2017 Grammy Awards when Adele’s “25” beat out Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” for the same category. While accepting the prize, Adele suggested that the “Lemonade” should have gotten the gold. 

“The ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental, Beyoncé, it was so monumental,” Adele said on stage. 

Beyoncé’s History of Grammy Losses

This is part of a long trend in Beyoncé’s Grammy history, as she is almost always shut out of the major categories. Of her 32 Grammys, only one belongs to one of the top slots: her Song of the Year win in 2010 for “Single Ladies.” She has yet to ever win Record or Album of the Year, and most of her wins come from genre categories like R&B.

Many fans think that is an abysmal record for an artist who is considered one of the primary musical talents of her generation. Compare those stats to the similarly-adored Taylor Swift, who has three Album of the Year wins out of 12 Grammy trophies, and it’s not hard to see their point.

“Beyoncé represents every Black woman that is constantly applauded for their work but when it comes to promotion time their white colleague gets it instead,” culture reporter Ada Enechi tweeted in response to Sunday night’s snub.

The Grammy Awards have long been accused of having a racial bias, especially when it comes to Black women. In Beyoncé’s case, every time she has lost Album of the Year, she lost to a white artist. 

Even some of the progress made during Sunday night’s telecast only proved how frequently Black women are excluded from major awards. For example, Lizzo won Record of the Year for “About Damn Time,” marking the first time a Black woman has won that award since Whitney Houston in 1994. That’s a nearly 30-year gap.

Backlash From Music Fans

Beyoncé’s repeated snubs have consistently been used as a prime example of the strides yet to be made in the music industry. 

“Renaissance not winning AOTY is another example how of a Black woman can consistently deliver excellence, reinvent the wheel + shake the culture, AND still not be recognised to the extent that she deserves,” another person said on Twitter.

“Absolutely wild that the person with the most Grammys ever is still the underdog who was robbed,” BuzzFeed News reporter David Mack pointed out.

Podcaster Sam Sanders called her loss “criminal.”

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (People) (The Washington Post)

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