ABC Casts Its First Black Bachelor After 24 Seasons
- ABC has cast its first Black Bachelor, Matt James, after 24 seasons of the show, airing since 2002.
- This comes as fans, as well as former stars of the show, have been demanding that it correct its lack of diversity.
- Network executives claim this pressure did not impact their decision, but not everyone believed that.
- Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s only Black Bachelorette, said that while she is happy the show has finally cast a Black male lead, she thinks the timing is bad and that their intent may not spark the meaningful change she has been calling for.
ABC Casts First Black Bachelor
After producing 24 seasons of “The Bachelor” since 2002, ABC has finally cast its first Black lead: 28-year-old Matt James.
This is a major announcement for the hit dating series, which sparked one of the biggest reality franchises in television history, spanning over 40 seasons of shows including “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” James was originally going to be a contestant on the new season of “The Bachelorette,” which was supposed to be airing now but has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout its 15 season run, “The Bachelorette” has only had one lead of color, Rachel Lindsay.
James is known to fans of the show for being good friends with Tyler Cameron, a previous contestant. The two have regularly appeared in social media posts together, which fans often follow closely. He made his debut as the upcoming Bachelor during a Friday segment of “Good Morning America,” where he said he was honored to be taking the role.
“Hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful,” he said on the show.
Recent Calls for More Diversity
The decision to hire the first Black Bachelor comes as the show faced mounting pressure, both from fans and former contestants, to prioritize diversity. Over 85,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a more diverse cast. Lindsay recently wrote a blog post vowing to leave the franchise if the show did not bring on leads of color, contestants willing to date outside of their race, producers of color, and if the show did not stop making problematic storylines for people of color on the show.
While this pressure has been building up over the last few weeks as most aspects of American culture are beginning to grapple with systemic racism, network executives claim this had nothing to do with their choice.
“Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him,” Rob Mills, ABC’s top unscripted executive told Variety.
“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Mills said. “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this. But I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap.”
Lindsay Calls Casting a Band Aid Solution
However, not everyone is buying this. Traditionally, “The Bachelor” is announced after the previous season of “The Bachelorette” concludes, which is usually around August. “The Bachelor” then begins airing in January. The lead is often chosen from the pool of men who did not win.
Some think the choice to select and announce who the upcoming Bachelor would be six months in advance is not a coincidence, including Lindsay. She believes that regardless of what statements are being made by network heads, this is a direct response to the calls for change being made by herself and the fans.
“It’s a bandaid. It’s the easiest thing, to me, that you could do,” she said during a Friday episode of the popular podcast “Bachelor Party.” “It seems like it’s a knee-jerk reaction in response to what happened in our society. To what happened with George Floyd and the pressure that you’re getting from society. It’s almost like a man had to die in such a gruesome and public way for us to get a Black Bachelor. That’s what it feels like.”
While she says she is happy that the show has finally cast a Black Bachelor, she also thinks that the timing feels wrong, the process feels rushed, and the intent does not seem meaningful or heartfelt.
“The whole point of calling them out was to say ‘We don’t feel valued. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel included.’” Lindsay explained. “And you are saying ‘Okay, well, here’s a Black person to step into this role.’ It’s great to see it, love to see it, but it doesn’t make me feel as if you’re really taking it into consideration what it is we say, when I say systemic racism. The internal, embedded, deep-rooted issues within this franchise where it needs to change structurally.”
She also criticized ABC for its segment announcing James as the Bachelor. He spent much of his interview time talking about his mother, who they showcased during the segment. It is not commonplace for a Bachelor’s mother to be such an integral part of their introduction to the role. Lindsay thought they focused on this because James’ mother is white.
“I think they wanted everyone to know his mother was white,” she said. “I will say it.”
Bachelor Alumni Express Support
Still, she has shared her support for James online, calling it “a step in the right direction.”
Elsewhere in Bachelor Nation, many other veterans of the franchise’s various programs also expressed congratulations to James, including former Bachelor Nick Viall.
Cameron, who appeared on Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette,” also wished his close friend good luck.
“This is all a testament of who you are as a person,” he said in an Instagram post. “Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world.
View this post on Instagram
Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person. Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world. Proud of you and so excited for you. Not excited that somebody will be taking my spot as your snuggle buddy 😢 . PS peep the drool 🤤
Brown, who recently started a separate conversation about racism within the Bachelor Nation when she said the N-word while singing on Instagram live, congratulated James as well. Through Cameron, the two have also become friends.
“I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor,” she wrote.
View this post on Instagram
Matt James is the Bachelor. I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor— to God be the Glory! 🙌 This man is as good as it gets y’all, and that’s coming from a previous skeptic (lolz). I am so blessed to now call you friend. You’ve supported and encouraged me in some of the hardest moments lately and I’m so freaking pumped to support and encourage you as you get ready to go on an adventure of a lifetime! #1 Matt James fan right here! 🌹@bachelorabc
Right now, James’ season of the show is still slated to air in January, though that is all subject to change because of the coronavirus. The show usually involves up to 25 people in close quarters traveling together, so it is unclear what changes will be made going forward. It is also unclear what will happen to Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” which some executives hope can still film this summer.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (People) (Good Morning America)
Swifties Rally Outside Los Angeles Courthouse Amid Ticketmaster Lawsuit Hearing
Over 300 fans are suing Ticketmaster over the “disaster” they experienced while attempting to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift’s latest tour.
Taylor Swift fans rallied outside of a Los Angeles courthouse on Monday as the first hearing for a lawsuit they filed against Ticketmaster took place.
Swift’s fans, dubbed “Swifties,” sued the ticket giant late last year after the presale for the singer’s Eras Tour left many fans empty-handed. Swift herself called the ordeal “excruciating” after her fans were kicked out of the virtual queue, lost tickets they thought they had purchased, and experienced technical difficulties for hours on end.
Dozens of fans, including virtual attendees, spoke at Monday’s hearing, which largely centered around the status of the suit. There are over 300 plaintiffs represented in the case, though attorney Jennifer Anne Kinder, the self-proclaimed Swiftie leading the case, said she does not plan on pursuing class-action status.
Fans are seeking at least $2,500 each in damages, though as one fan told CNN: “It has nothing to do with the money.” Swifties really want to take aim at the alleged monopoly Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, hold over the entertainment and live event industries. Live Nation is currently the subject of a Department of Justice investigation over potential abuse of power.
Swifties traveled from across the country to attend the hearing and rally. Roughly a dozen stood outside the courthouse carrying signs using Swift’s lyrics to take aim at Ticketmaster. One sign featured a broken heart with “Ticketmaster” and “Live Nation” written on either side. “Are you ready for it?” the sign asked.
Others used lines like “my pennies made your crown” and “can’t shake it off.”
What’s In The Lawsuit?
Kinder’s firm made a website called “Take Down Ticketmaster” to lay out issues fans had with the Swift presale and with the company as a whole.
“We monitored the Taylor Swift sale in real time of what was happening to fans across the U.S.,” the website says. “Collectively, fans’ experiences with Ticketmaster indicated a potential pattern of fraudulent behavior and antitrust violations by the company.”
The site also encouraged music fans across genres and artists to fight back against Ticketmaster and take “back our power in the live entertainment ecosystem.”
In their lawsuit, Swifties accused Ticketmaster of “anticompetitive conduct” by imposing higher prices on the sale, resale, and presale markets. It also claims the company gave out more presale codes than demand allowed, and “intentionally and purposefully mislead ticket purchasers by allowing scalpers and bots access” to the presale.
According to Ticketmaster, the incredibly high demand, coupled with an onslaught of bot attacks, forced the platform to slow sales down. The company delayed sales in certain cities and canceled the general sale altogether before it started slowly releasing pairs of tickets to fans with presale codes who did not have tickets in their accounts.
The Eras Tour kicked off in Arizona earlier this month. Swifties are not the only fandom Ticketmaster has to worry about though, as just last week, Drake fans slapped the company with a price-gouging suit.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Los Angeles Times) (Rolling Stone)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.