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Cruz Pushes to Block Department of Defense From Helping Studios That Censor Films in China

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  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation that withholds Department of Defense assistance from film studios that censor their movies in China.
  • Many movie studios rely on the DOD for equipment, assets, and advice for the accuracy of their storytelling and productions. 
  • Studios also often delete or edit scenes in their films to appease Chinese censors. China is one of the largest box offices in the world, meaning companies are willing to be flexible to get audiences in the country. 
  • Now, Cruz is saying that “Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda” for too long and must make a choice between DOD help and box office cash in China. 

What is the SCRIPT Act?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation that would block film studios that agree to censor their movies in China from receiving assistance from the Department of Defense.

Cruz plans to introduce the bill, which is called the Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act, or the SCRIPT Act, when Senate sessions resume. Movie studios frequently censor portions of their films for their release in China. Many also receive help from the DOD to gain expert advice or access to equipment so their stories and production can be accurate.

But now, Cruz wants Hollywood to make a choice. 

“For too long, Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profits,” he said in a statement. “The SCRIPT Act will serve as a wakeup call by forcing Hollywood studios to choose between the assistance they need from the American government and the dollars they want from China.”

With 1.4 billion citizens, the Chinese box office is incredibly valuable to studios. According to Box Office Mojo, in 2019 China’s box office brought in $7.9 billion, coming in second only to the United States, which brought in over $11 billion. Before the coronavirus outbreak brought moviegoing to a halt, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers anticipated that China would surpass the U.S. in 2020.

Because so much money is at stake, studios concede to China on a lot of fronts when it comes to censorship. But Cruz says he wants to “combat China’s growing influence” over American media. 

“From buying media outlets to broadcast propaganda into America to coercing Hollywood studios and sports leagues to self-censor by threatening to cut off access to one of the biggest markets for sports and entertainment in the world, the Chinese Communist Party spends billions and billions of dollars to mislead Americans about China and shape what our citizens see, hear, and think,” he added in his statement.

So far, no major studios have responded to the upcoming legislation.

Chinese Censorship in Film

There is no shortage of content that China aims to restrict when Hollywood brings its blockbusters overseas. Bohemian Rhapsody had to remove scenes that explored Freddie Mercury’s sexuality. Likewise, a brief kiss between two women was cut from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker late last year. Other films where homosexuality is a major plot point, like Brokeback Mountain, have been denied any release in the country.

LGBTQ messaging is not the only topic Chinese theaters want to keep off the big screen. Skyfall only got the green light to screen in the country after it erased scenes where violence against security forces and prostitution in China were depicted. Ten minutes of footage were dropped from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End because China feared one character vilified Chinese people. A sequence in the opening of Mission Impossible III was cut because it depicted underwear hanging out to dry on a clothing line in Shanghai, which censors thought looked negative. Iron Man 3 saw a scene added for its Chinese release, where famous Chinese actors played doctors discussing an operation on the titular hero.

Some movies never see the light of day in the country. The 2011 Red Dawn remake was originally going to center around young fighters resisting an invasion of Chinese soldiers, but distributors had them swap Chinese soldiers for North Korean ones. Even though editors scrambled to digitally replace flags and switch the dialogue over, China still did not screen the movie. They also did not screen Disney’s Christopher Robin because many often make jokes comparing the resemblance of President Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh.

Hollywood’s Relationship with the DOD

Still, Hollywood relies on the DOD for many reasons. Their relationship is nearly a century old and the Pentagon even has its own entertainment liaison office. According to the DOD, they work with the film industry “to accurately depict military stories and make sure sensitive information isn’t disclosed.”

The DOD helps films that might need military assets like jets or tanks. They also help films that want to film on location places like Air Force or Naval bases. According to The Independent, 800 feature films have been aided by the DOD over the years, including Iron Man, Transformers and The Terminator. The DOD also extends its hand to television and has assisted 900 small screen titles since 2005.

See what others are saying: (Politico) (The Hill) (Fox News)

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Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”

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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.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (NBC News) (A.V. Club)

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Fire at Home Reportedly Owned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z Under Arson Investigation

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Officials said there were no injuries or evacuations during the fire, which was put out in around two hours.


Fire Breaks Out at Famed Couple’s Reported Residence

A Wednesday fire at a historic home in New Orleans, Louisiana believed to be owned by music titans Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as a possible arson. 

On Thursday, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it had received a tip about a suspicious person in the area. Further details about the suspicious person and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.

Neighbors told local media that there is an unlocked gate on the property that outsiders sometimes use to gain entry.

Officials told The New York Post that it took 22 firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze, with no reported injuries or evacuations. The extent of the damage currently remains unclear, but a spokesperson told The Post that given the age of the residence, the situation could have been far more severe. 

“If [the firefighters] didn’t get there when they did, it could have been much worse,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a historic home.”

About the Home

The building was first built in the Garden District neighborhood of the city in the 1920s as a church. It was later used as a ballet school and then became a high-end residence in 2000. Realtor.com says it is currently valued at $3 million.

The home was purchased in 2015 by Sugarcane Parkin LLC. According to The Washington Post, this company has the same registered address as other entities owned by Beyoncé. Sugarcane Parkin is also allegedly managed by Beyoncé’s mother, Celestine Lawson, better known as Tina Knowles.

Representatives for the “Lemonade” singer and her husband have not issued any public statements about the incident, nor have they confirmed that the home is owned by the couple. 

In March of this year, storage units in Los Angeles belonging to Beyonce were burglarized. According to TMZ, over a million dollars of goods were stolen, including expensive dresses and handbags.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post) (NOLA)

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Cleveland’s Baseball Team Changes Name From Indians to Guardians

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The move marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans. 


Name Change Announced

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team said Friday that it will change its name after the 2021 season from the Indians to the Guardians.

The team announced the name change with a just over two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.

“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the clip. “And now it’s time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”

This marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans. 

Despite long-running calls to change racist and offensive team names — including the Washington Redskins — such campaigns did not gain significant momentum until the nationwide racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd.

Why Guardians?

Officials behind the Cleveland team first pledged to change the name last year and previously removed the “Chief Wahoo” logo, a caricature of a Native American character, from its uniforms following the 2018 season.

It toyed with several options before ultimately landing on Guardians, which draws from Cleveland’s architectural history. 

“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said in a news release. 

“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”

“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”

Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history, joining Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).

See what others are saying:(ESPN)(Axios) (Cleveland)

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