- Actress Vanessa Hudgens posted photos of herself posing in front of tombstones at New York’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. She captioned one post, “Happy place.”
- Many slammed the photoshoot as disrespectful and tone-deaf, especially at a time when over 1 million people across the globe have died from coronavirus.
- Hudgens defended her posts, saying cemeteries are beautiful and that this particular one is historical. Fans did the same, noting that this cemetery sees many tourists who take similar photos, especially around Halloween.
- Still, others said this is another example of her inappropriately handling matters that have to do with death, pointing to an Instagram live stream from the start of the pandemic where she said: “like yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable?”
Cemetery Photo Sparks Outrage
Actress Vanessa Hudgens sparked a slew of outrage Saturday after posting photos of herself in front of tombstones in New York’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
“Happy place,” Hudgens wrote in the caption of her first post, along with a black heart emoji.
However, the actress quickly faced a ton of backlash for her photoshoot, with some calling it disrespectful and tone-deaf.
Others said this was especially insensitive to do at a time when over 1 million people have died from coronavirus worldwide, with over 215,000 of those deaths coming from the U.S. alone.
Hudgens apparently caught wind of the outrage because she later changed the caption to say, “Searching for that headless horseman,” which is a nod to the mythical figure from the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Hudgens Responds and Sees Support From Fans
Despite the criticism, she continued to post more pictures from her cemetery photo shoot, with one post captioned “Apple pickin season” and another captioned “What. A. Beautiful. Place.”
However, those caused even more backlash to roll in.
“This is disrespectful. You’re prancing around like it’s some amusement park,” one critic commented. “The caption is just why? Clearly you have never been to a burial. It’s not a happy place for anyone.”
To that user, Hudgens responded with, “I buried my father in a cemetery. I love cemeteries. They’re beautiful. Especially that one. It’s historical and I love history.”
A lot of her fans agreed with that sentiment in the comments section.
Meanwhile, others noted that this particular cemetery is also a tourist attraction where it’s not uncommon to find people snapping photos, especially as we get closer to Halloween. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the final resting place of several of famous figures, including Washington Irving, who wrote “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Even under the hashtag #SleepyHollowCemetery, there are other examples of people posing in the area.
Frustrations Linger From Past Coronavirus Comments
It seems like opinions on these types of photoshoots range. Still, it’s also worth noting that many people have lingering frustrations with the actress because of the insensitive comments she made about coronavirus earlier this year.
Back in March, when the virus first began forcing businesses to shut down, she downplayed the situation and expressed doubts about closures lasting until July.
“Um, yeah, till July sounds like a bunch of bulls—, I’m sorry,” she said in an Instagram live stream.
“Like, it’s a virus. I get it, like, I respect it. But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable? I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.”
Outraged internet users called the remarks dangerous and disgusting, eventually prompting her to apologize, so with this latest controversy, many are saying this is just another example of her inappropriately handling matters that have to do with death.
YouTube Removes Age Restriction From Nicki Minaj Video After Singer Calls Company a “Bogus Platform”
Even though her video can now be viewed by all YouTuber users, Minaj made it clear she was upset that the age-gate tanked its view count in the first 24 hours.
Nicki Minaj Vs. YouTube
Nicki Minaj called out YouTube on Monday after the platform age-restricted her new music video for “Likkle Miss Remix” featuring Skeng.
By age-restricting a video, YouTube blocks users who are under 18 or not logged into a Google account from viewing the content.
Minaj’s video features close-up shots of people in skimpy outfits twerking, but several videos on YouTube with similar imagery have not been gated. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” video is available for everyone, as is Minaj’s own “Anaconda” video.
In a since-deleted Instagram post, Minaj accused YouTube of being inconsistent and playing favorites.
“They restricted my fucking video but have things a million fucking times worse on their BOGUS FKNG PLATFORM,” she wrote in a post that included a screenshot of YouTube’s age-restriction notice. “This is what they do to keep you from winning while doing ads for another ppl and posting fake fkng stats. Because the same ppl who run YouTube are in bed with a certain record label and mngmnt company.”
Minaj further alleged that YouTube’s actions were done to prevent her from getting a significant number of views in the video’s first 24 hours, which is often the most crucial timeframe for a video’s success. She continued to assert that the Google-owned company has a bias toward certain music labels.
YouTube Walks Back Restriction
“How long have yall been playing the numbers game to lie & pretend ppl r doing ‘good’ when they r not?!?!!” Minaj continued in another post. “How much ad space did these duds purchase to be promoted on my channel in the last 5 years?!??!!!!”
Later on Monday, YouTube removed the restriction from Minaj’s video, per Variety. The company said the content in it did not violate its rules and guidelines.
While Minaj ended up deleting her Instagram posts calling YouTube out, she made it clear she was still frustrated by the debacle.
“FUCK THEM DUDS,” she tweeted. “THEY CANT GIVE US BACK OUR FIRST 24 HOURS CAN THEY?!?!!!”
As of Monday afternoon, her video had been viewed over one million times.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Independent) (Billboard)
“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press
Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.
Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling”
Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million.
Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.
Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.
Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.
“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it.
Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired.
The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation.
A Film Riddled With Rumors
Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday.
Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings.
Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.
In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Box Office Mojo) (New York Times)
Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists
Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”
The American Music Fairness Act
Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders.
The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders.
On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments.
In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”
“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”
“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”
The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year.
The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.
Support From Major Music Groups
The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians.
If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”
Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists.
“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”
Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.