- The Sun is facing backlash for publishing a front-page interview with J.K. Rowling’s ex-husband titled,“I Slapped J.K. And I’m Not Sorry.”
- Rowling recently wrote a blog post revealing she is a survivor of domestic abuse and described her first marriage as violent.
- Anti-domestic abuse charities are condemning The Sun for glamorizing abuse and giving spotlight to an abuser. Politicians in the United Kingdom have joined in on the criticisms.
- Rowling has been in the news for the past week for repeatedly making transphobic remarks. Stars of the Harry Potter franchise like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have both made statements against Rowling’s remarks, and in support of the transgender community.
Backlash Against the Sun
After publishing a front-page interview with J.K. Rowling’s ex-husband headlined “I Slapped J.K. And I’m Not Sorry,” The Sun is facing criticism from activists against domestic violence.
The acclaimed but embattled Harry Potter author revealed that she is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault and described her first marriage as “violent” in a blog post on Wednesday. Then, The Sun spoke to her first husband, Jorge Arantes, for the cover story of their Friday issue. He claims that he did slap her, but said there was no pattern of abuse.
The flashy way in which The Sun presented Arantes’ claim has landed them in hot water, with criticisms pouring in claiming that the headline glamorizes abuse. Scottish Women’s Aid, a charity devoted to ending violence against women called the article “abuse for profit.”
“Scottish Women’s Aid will no longer provide commentary or interviews for The Sun and we encourage other organisations to do the same,” it added in a statement.
Jane Keeper, the Director of Operations at Refuge, which provides services to survivors of domestic abuse, released a statement calling the piece “troubling” and “shocking.” According to Keeper, the article comes at a time when there has been a 66% increase in calls to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline.
“In England and Wales one in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life,” Keeper wrote. “What sort of message does this front page send to survivors? That their abuser will be given national media headlines to justify their actions?”
Politicians Speak Out
Charity leaders were not the only people speaking out against The Sun. Scottish Parliament member Gillian Martin called the headline “beyond triggering for many abuse survivors, and enabling to abusers. It is irresponsible and dangerous.”
Jess Phillips, a member of British Parliament, called the paper’s front page “awful.”
“Still too often doubt and disbelief are the best weapon abusers have in their arsenal,” she said.
A spokeswoman for The Sun said that their intent in publishing the story was not to enable or glorify domestic abuse. She said the outlet was “disgusted” by the remarks that Rowling’s ex-husband made.
“Our intention was to expose a perpetrator’s total lack of remorse,” her statement said. “Our sympathies are always with the victims.”
J.K. Rowling’s Tumultuous Week in the News
Rowling has been making headlines all week for her controversial remarks about the transgender community. The blog post in which she revealed the abuse she faced was mainly written to explain those comments, which many found offensive and transphobic.
On June 6, she sent out a tweet insinuating that only women menstruate, excluding the reality that many people who do not identify as a woman also menstruate, and that not all who do identify as a woman menstruate.
She later sent more tweets seeming to double down against the notion that biological sex does not determine a person’s gender. She still maintained she supports the transgender community.
These comments sparked a lot of frustration against the author. Many were particularly upset because Harry Potter has become a cultural staple not just in children’s literature, but in people’s upbringing and daily lives. Now, some are calling their adoration of the books into question. Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the title character in the film adaptations of the wildly successful series, penned an essay with the Trevor Project condemning Rowling’s remarks.
“I feel compelled to say something at this moment.” Radcliffe wrote. “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.
“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” he added. “I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.“
Still, Rowling stood by her remarks in a 3,700 word essay, which some are calling a transphobic manifesto. In it, she outlined her concerns about trans activism. She claimed she has done research on the subject, and said she is worried that trans activism could have a negative impact on free speech, charities, and education for women and children. She also implied that identifying as transgender could be contagious and said she was concerned about “detransitioning.”
This prompted more internet outrage. Other Harry Potter stars also began to speak up, including Emma Watson who said, “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.”
Even as anger has been mounting against the author, many still said that nothing could excuse The Sun’s choice to amplify her ex-husband on their front page.
“Whatever any of us think about JK’s choices on how she uses her platform, what the Sun did to her was the peak of evil and callous tabloid culture,” actress Jameela Jamil said.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (BBC) (The Independent)
Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19
- Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
- The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
- “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”
Chappelle Tests Positive
Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.
“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.
“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.
Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle
Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.
Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.
“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)
Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention
- In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
- The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
- The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.
Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers
Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.
In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.
Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.
When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.
Success Amid Growth of Competition
The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix.
Still, it reached a massive milestone.
“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”
Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.
“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”
Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers
Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.
An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service.
Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Paramount+ To Launch March 4
- ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year.
- The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection.
Paramount+ Gets Launch Date
ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year.
It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.
More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news.
“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”
State of the Streaming Wars
Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”
The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television.
ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.