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Taylor Swift Uses Leaked Kanye Call to Raise Money for Coronavirus Relief Efforts

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  • Over the weekend, the full-length footage of the phone call between Taylor Swift and Kanye West about his song “Famous” emerged online. 
  • The call seemed to back up Swift’s original story that she didn’t know West would call her a “bitch” in the song, years after Kim Kardashian released snippets of the footage that seemed to indicate otherwise.
  • Both Swift and Kardashian acknowledged the drama and the larger crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Some were critical of Kardashian for seeming to focus more on the drama and only offering to donate 20% of her profits to emergency response efforts, while Swift quickly directed followers to donation pages unrelated to her.

Background of Taylor-Kim-Kanye Feud

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years, odds are you’re at least somewhat familiar with the drama between Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian West, and her husband, Kanye West.

But just for good measure, here’s the gist of it:

It all started in 2009, when pop star Taylor Swift accepted an award for “best video by a female artist” at the MTV Video Music Awards. She was interrupted by Kanye West coming on stage, saying the infamous four words, “Im’a let you finish,” before proceeding to imply, in front of the crowd and on television, that Beyonce Knowles should have won the award instead. The moment stunned Swift and many of her fans. 

Then, in 2016, West dropped his song “Famous,” referencing the incident and Swift directly by name. 

“For all my southside n***** that know me best, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous,” West raps in the hit.

According to a report from TMZ, Kanye said that Swift had approved the song before it was released. Swift denied this through a publicist. 

“Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account,” Swift’s representative Tree Paine told The New York Times. “She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message.” 

“Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous,’” Tree Paine added.

Meanwhile, West maintained that he received Swift’s approval. Months later, the feud got worse when Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian West released bits of the phone call between the two musicians, defending her husband and claiming Swift actually did okay the song. 

This resulted in a lot of backlash for Swift, with many slamming her and accusing her of lying, and Swift said in her recent documentary “Miss Americana” that the whole affair made her want to “disappear.”

Stars Acknowledge Developments, Point to Coronavirus

Over the weekend, the full-length, 25-minute phone call between West and Swift from years ago was somehow leaked and made its rounds on social media, appearing to back up Swift’s claim that she didn’t know about the line referring to her as a “bitch.” 

There’s actually one part of the call where Swift is relieved he didn’t use that word, saying “I thought it was going to be like, ‘That stupid, dumb bitch.’ But it’s not.”

From listening to Kim’s snippets of the call released in 2016 alone, it was not known whether the pair of musicians talked about the use of the word “bitch.” 

The hashtags #KimKardashianIsOver Party and #KanyeWestIsOverParty were trending over the weekend, imitating the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty hashtag that populated in 2016 after Kardashian leaked snippets of the call. After several days of online reactions, both Swift and Kardashian finally spoke out about it. 

Swift posted to her Instagram story Monday night, acknowledging the leaked footage and how the controversy has negatively impacted her over the years. However, Swift quickly pointed attention to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that seems to be mentioned in nearly every other headline.

“Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about video footage that was leaked, proving that I was telling the truth the whole time about *that call* (you know, the one that was illegally recorded, that somebody edited and manipulated in order to frame me and put me, my family, and fans through hell for 4 years),” Swift wrote. “Swipe up to see what really matters.

Credit: Taylor Swift Instagram

Upon swiping up, viewers could access a donation page for Feeding America, a non-profit organization devoted to providing food to those in need. Swift also pushed her followers to donate to the World Health Organization. 

“If you have the ability to, please join me in donating during this crisis,” Swift wrote.

Several hours later, Kardashian West posted her take on the matter with a much longer message. She wrote across her Instagram stories and Twitter page, also referencing the coronavirus outbreak.

“Taylor Swift has chosen to reignite an old exchange – that at this point in time feels very self-serving given the suffering millions of real victims are facing right now,” Kardashian West wrote. 

Kim went on to continue her defense of herself and her husband. 

“To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that “Kanye never called to ask for permission…” They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word ‘bitch’ was used without her permission,” Kardashian West wrote.

Kim also addressed accusations made against her of altering the story by only releasing bits of the footage in 2016.

“I never edited the footage (another lie) – I only posted a few clips on Snapchat to make my point and the full video that recently leaked doesn’t change the narrative,” Kardashian West wrote.

Internet Users React

Many took to social media to praise Swift for the way she handled the most recent development in the feud by trying to point it away from herself and onto the more serious matter of the coronavirus.

Some Twitter users argued that while Kardashian West tried to do the same, she missed the mark.

Others also compared Taylor’s urging of donations with no monetary gain for herself, while criticizing Kim for only donating 20% of her SKIMS profits to a COVID-19 emergency response program.

And some criticized Kim for equating Swift’s documentary, “Miss Americana,” and the questionably-legal phone call that Kanye recorded as documentations of musical journey and process.

Ultimately though, even though some good may come of it as people are urged by famous voices to contribute to a good cause, it appeared some users were just plain tired of hearing about the rehashed drama in general. 

“In 2020, we can’t escape the coronavirus and we also can’t escape Taylor Swift and Kanye West’s tiring feud,” one user wrote.

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (NBC) (Variety)

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Joe Rogan Fans Upset After Podcast Moves Exclusively To Spotify

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  • Some fans of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” said they would no longer be listening to the podcast after it officially became a Spotify exclusive this week.
  • Rogan struck a $100 million deal to house his show exclusively on Spotify in May and has warned fans that this change was coming for months.
  • Now that it has, many have said they dislike Spotify’s ad-supported free version or complained that it was not available in their country. Others were also frustrated that couldn’t use a VPN, among other concerns.
  • Still, many believe Rogan’s podcast is unlikely to suffer as fans adjust.

Joe Rogan Moves To Spotify

Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” officially became a Spotify exclusive on Tuesday.

Because of the change, Rogan’s December 1 episode featuring cryptographer Moxie Marlinspike was only uploaded only to Spotify, prompting a bit of frustration from fans. 

Highlight clips of the episode were still uploaded to the PowerfulJRE YouTube channel. However, there is a message to listen to the full podcast on Spotify at the end of the clip and in the description.

Fans React

It seems like some fans are not happy about the move because in the comment section of one highlight clip, many left their goodbye messages.

“It’s been a hell of a ride guys. See ya,” one user wrote.

“I’m not downloading Spotify so I guess no more Joe Rogan,” another said, while a different listener wrote, “RIP Joe Rogan Experience.”

Some also left comments about also not liking the free, ad-supported version of Spotify.

“Tried listening on Spotify. I can’t handle the 10 straight minutes of ads, and having Joe read them just makes me suddenly able to totally tune out everything he says without even trying to,” one person said.

Sad times for me. Sad to say, I’m not switching to from YouTube premium to Spotify premium for one podcast.”

Others also noted that Spotify isn’t available in their country or that they can’t use a VPN.

Will This Hurt Rogan?

It will be interesting to see if this change actually costs Rogan listeners or if it will better for him in the long run. 

It’s not like he’s been struggling since the slow transfer of his content started happening. Episodes of his podcast only began to appear on Spotify in September, and that was still enough to earn him the title of the platform’s top global podcast of the year.

Plus, this information about him moving exclusively to Spotify this month isn’t exactly new. 

Fans have known this was going to happen for months now as part of that $100 million deal he struck with the company in May, so perhaps Rogan anticipated some of this backlash and an adjustment period. Either way, many feel like the outrage is unlikely to truly hurt the show’s success.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Billboard) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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U.K. Wants Netflix to Add ‘Fiction’ Label to “The Crown”

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  • The U.K. government is set to formally ask Netflix to attach a label to its series “The Crown” that clearly marks it as fiction.
  • The government is concerned viewers may take the events as fact when the show is a historical drama.
  • The request comes after Netflix released the fourth season of the show in mid-November, which covers Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, the Falklands War, and the Royal family’s tumultuous relationship with Princess Diana.
  • Netflix has attached other labels in the past when covering topics such as mental health, even when the depicted content is fictional.
  • There are also concerns that show writer Peter Morgan has laid out events in a way that could push conspiracy theories, such as those around Princess Diana’s death.

The Crown Ruffles U.K. Feathers

The United Kingdom says it will formally ask Netflix to place a fiction label on its popular series “The Crown.”

The show’s fourth season released in mid-November and has already ruffled feathers in the U.K. In an interview with The Daily Mail on Sunday, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed rumors that the government was seeking such a label.

“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” he said.

“Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”

Many are concerned that scenes depicted by show writer Peter Morgan feed into conspiracy theories about the royal family. Those conspiracy theories largely circulate around Princess Diana, who was introduced in the show this season.  

Princess Diana was a polarizing figure in the royal family. She married Prince Charles in 1981 and was seen as a “modernizing” figure for the royal family. She infamously died in a car crash that has spawned many conspiracy theories about who was responsible.

Even without the theories tying her death to the Royal family, her struggle with her royal in-laws never helped the family’s image.

Fact or Fiction?

A warning label on the show, even on season 4, isn’t completely unheard of. A few episodes delve into Diana’s struggle with bulimia and have health warnings clearly shown before those episodes.

“Those were difficult scenes to film and I also feel like taking her to that place was a good thing,” Emma Corrin, who portrays Princess Diana, told Variety over the weekend.

It gave me somewhere to go with her, but I was exhausted a lot those days coming off set because at the same time as you’re playing someone who’s fictionalized and obviously you’re not feeling or thinking those things, it’s your job to make yourself feel that way,” she added.

There are also pushes to affix a fictional label to the show by members of Diana’s family. Her brother, the Earl Spencer, told ITV, “It would help The Crown [the show] an enormous amount if at the beginning of each episode it stated that, ‘This isn’t true but is based around some real events’. Because then everyone would understand it’s drama for drama’s sake.”

Regarding the show’s fictionality, Corrin told talk show host Tamron Hall,“I think for everyone in “The Crown,” we always try and remind everyone that… the series we are in is fictionalized to a great extent.”

“Obviously it has its roots in reality and in some fact but Peter Morgan’s scripts are works of fiction.”

However, Morgan’s stance on fiction blurs the line a little. In the past, Morgan has defended his approach to the show, commenting, “You sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”

For critics, that thought process can lead to misrepresentations of what happened for the sake of a spun narrative. For example, in season 4 there’s a scene where Princess Diana is distressed and alone in her bedroom when Prince Philip, her father-in-law, approaches and asks what’s wrong.

She tells him she just wants to get away and he makes it clear that it won’t end well if she does. Diana replies, “I hope that isn’t a threat, Sir.”

Critics of the show claim this line is a way to foreshadow Diana’s death and a subtle nod to the theory that the Royals orchestrated her death.

In 1999, French police debunked that claim and put sole responsibility for the crash on her driver, who they claim was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Otherwise, the media and paparazzi are criticized for following her life so closely, particularly on the night of her death, prompting her driver to speed away dangerously.

Netflix has yet to make any comments about the U.K.’s looming request.

See What Others Are Saying: (Variety) (Radio Times) (Vulture)

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South Korea Postpones BTS’ Mandatory Military Service for Two Years

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  • On Tuesday, South Korea’s Parliament approved a revision to the country’s Military Service Act, granting a two-year military conscription deferral for BTS’ oldest member, Jin.
  • Jin turns 28 on Friday. Under normal requirements, all able-bodied South Korean men must join the country’s military by then, meaning Jin only had several days left to sign up.
  • In fact, all seven BTS members will now be able to defer their military service period until the time they turn 30.
  • The revision comes after a year-long debate over whether internationally successful male K-pop groups are influential enough to be granted tightly-regulated exemptions they normally would not be able to receive. 
  • BTS alone is estimated to account for $4.65 billion of South Korea’s Gross Domestic Product. 

BTS Is Granted a Military Service Deferral

Kim Seok-jin, also known as Jin, is the oldest member of the global K-pop phenomenon BTS. On Friday, he’ll turn 28. While that news might not normally capture headlines, it coincided with his deadline to conscript in South Korea’s military — a prospect that held the potential to upheave the group’s ever-growing success.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s Parliament changed that deadline when it passed a revision to the country’s Military Service Act in a 270-2​ vote. Now, top K-pop performers can postpone their conscription until they turn 30, meaning BTS will be able to remain fully intact for the next two years. 

K-pop stars will only be eligible for the deferral if they have received government medals for helping to spread South Korea’s ​cultural influence internationally. Notably, all seven members of BTS have met that requirement because they all received such medals in 2018.

The legislation was introduced in South Korea’s parliament in September, shortly after BTS became the first K-pop group to reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for “Dynamite.”

At the time, Representative Jeon Yong-gi argued that top pop stars — including BTS — should receive the deferral if they have raised the country’s national prestige. 

Another lawmaker argued that BTS should be able to receive a full exemption. Currently, such exemptions are extremely rare, and only a few hundred have been handed out since 2008. Even then, they usually only go to classical musicians or athletes who’ve won medals in the Olympic or Asian Games. They’ve never been granted to any pop stars. 

“There was a football player who was offered an exemption by playing for just four minutes at the 2014 London Olympics,” that lawmaker, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, wrote on social media, arguing that BTS’ success and economic effect outweighed that event.

BTS and the Debate Over Military Exemptions

The debate over a possible military exemption for BTS has been raging for more than a year now. 

In September 2019, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said such an exemption was not possible. 

In October of that same year, Noh Hyeong-ouk, the country’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination, said South Korea’s mandatory conscription 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,” he argued. 

That back and forth continued until November 2019 when the Ministry of National Defense seemed to put the speculation to rest by saying that BTS will still be required to conscript. Alongside that, it also imposed stricter rules on granting exemptions at all.

That decision was made, in part, because of a declining birthrate in South Korea. Currently, South Korea has about 600,000 active soldiers but by 2022, it projects that number will fall to 500,000. Over the next two decades, the ministry expects that number to shrink again by half. Low numbers like that could impede the country’s ability to continue imposing pressure on North Korea.

According to South Korean law, all able-bodied men must conscript in the country’s military by the time they turn 28. They must then serve at least 18 months or risk a number of repercussions, including being barred from international travel — a not so good prospect for a world-famous pop group.

On Monday, BTS made further history as their new single, “Life Goes On,” became the first Korean-language song to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter estimated that BTS accounted for a jawdropping $4.65 billion of South Korea’s GDP.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (Reuters)

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