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Britney Spears Documentary Prompts Many To Re-Evaluate the Singer’s Reputation

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  • The New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears” dropped on Friday, focusing on the singer’s controversial conservatorship and the mistreatment she’s faced throughout her career.
  • Now, people are expressing frustration over how the star was hyper-sexualized at a young age, harassed by photographers, and painted as “crazy” while she was clearly struggling with her mental health.
  • Fellow pop star Justin Timberlake is also facing backlash, with many accusing him of weaponizing their breakup for his own success and creating opportunities for people to slut shame her.

“Framing Britney Spears” Comes Out

The new documentary “Framing Britney Spears” is prompting many to re-evaluate the way the pop star has been portrayed in the public eye.

The documentary, which came out on Friday as part of the “The New York Times Presents” series on Hulu, explores her controversial conservatorship under her father. It also focuses on her career and the relentless media attention she has faced for years.

While the singer struggled publicly with her mental health and intense fame, the world laughed and treated her as a punching bag. “Framing Britney Spears,” however, takes a much more sympathetic approach and paints her as a victim of a misogynistic media landscape that unfairly picked on, hyper sexualized, and exploited a young starlet.

Now, people are saying she deserved better.

Spears was still a child star when was when she was dealing with incessant questions about boys and dating. In interviews, much older men even asked her about her relationship status or made comments about her body to her face. As a teenager, the media also speculated heavily on her virginity. To give context for how crude this is, some pointed out that it all happened while Spears was around the same age TikTok star Charli D’Amelio is now: 16.

Others also looked at incidents that unfolded between her and the paparazzi, who were obsessed with her every move and regularly invaded her privacy, with a new perspective. Many people began saying they understood why she ended up attacking paparazzi with an umbrella, even insinuating they might have done the same. 

Justin Timberlake Faces Backlash

“Framing Britney Spears” is also getting attention for the way it examines her relationship and breakup with singer Justin Timberlake. The documentary accuses Timberlake of weaponizing their public break up to make her look like the bad guy and further her already sexualized reputation.

“The way that people treated her, to be very high school about it, was like she was the school slut and he was the quarterback,” New York Times critic Wesley Morris said in the film. 

People are now calling him out for this, claiming what he did was harmful and unfair and after all these years, he should issue an apology. 

Many also brought up the time Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 Super Bowl as another example of him exploiting women and tarnishing their images while his reputation remained completely unharmed.

“Justin Timberlake’s career catapulted at the expense of two brilliant women in Pop music (Janet Jackson & Britney Spears) & to this day, he has yet to take ownership of his grotesque actions,” one person wrote. 

Celebrities Speak Out For Britney Spears

Many celebrities have also spoken up about “Framing Britney Spears.” During her performance ahead of the Super Bowl, Miley Cyrus shouted her out while singing “Party in the USA.”

During a lyric that references Spears, Cyrus said “Hey, we love you Britney,” which many thought was her way of expressing support after the documentary. 

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker also posted several #FreeBritney tweets.

Paramore singer Hayley Williams also reflected on the documentary and the suffering the media put Spears through. 

“no artist today would have to endure the literal torture that media/society/utter misogynists inflicted upon her,” she wrote. “The mental health awareness conversation, culturally, could never be where it is without the awful price she has paid.”

See what others are saying: (Glamour) (Marie Claire) (Entertainment Tonight)

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Seth Rogen Says He Has No Plans To Work With James Franco “Right Now” Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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  • In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, actor Seth Rogen was asked about his relationship with longtime collaborator James Franco, who has been accused of misconduct and sexually exploitative behavior by multiple women. 
  • In response to claims that Rogen was Franco’s enabler, he said, “What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment, and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that. 
  • He also expressed regret over a 2014 joke he made on “Saturday Night Live,” which many felt trivialized Franco’s inappropriate communication with a 17-year-old. 
  • “I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now,” he added.

Seth Rogen Addresses James Franco Controversies

Actor and comedian Seth Rogen was asked about his relationship with fellow film star James Franco in a new interview with Britain’s Sunday Times.

Franco and Rogen are friends and longtime collaborators who’ve done hit films together, including “Pineapple Express,” “The Disaster Artist,” “The Interview,” and “Sausage Party,” among others.

In 2014, Franco was exposed for trying to pick up a 17-year-old through Instagram direct messages. In 2018, five women publicly accused him of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behavior, which he denied. Two of those women, who were students at an acting school he ran, then filed a lawsuit against him and agreed to a settlement this year.

Throughout these controversies, Rogen has faced a ton of backlash for continuing to show Franco support.

Last month, actress Charlyne Yi took to Instagram to open up about her experience working on “The Disaster Artist,” accusing Franco of being a “predator” and Rogen of being his “enabler.”

When asked about that specific claim, Rogen said, “What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment, and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that.”

No Current Plans To Work Together

Rogen also expressed regret over a 2014 joke he made on “Saturday Night Live,” which many felt trivialized Franco’s inappropriate communication with the 17-year-old.

“It was a terrible joke, honestly. And I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now,” he continued.

When asked how Franco’s scandals have impacted their relationship, Rogen said, “I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic.”

Still, he noted that changes are “not as painful and difficult as it is for a lot of other people involved. I have no pity for myself in this situation.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Huff Post) (The Sunday Times)

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NBC Will Not Air 2022 Golden Globes Amid Boycott Calls

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  • The Hollywood Foreign Press Association adopted reforms last week to address recent criticism it faced for its lack of diversity, but industry leaders are claiming that the organization has still not done enough.
  • Netflix, Amazon, and Warner Bros. have all promised to sever ties with the HFPA, which runs the prestigious Golden Globes, until more meaningful changes are made. 
  • Actors like Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson have echoed those boycott calls and urged other industry leaders to do the same. 
  • On Monday, NBC announced that it will not air the 2022 Golden Globes but is open to broadcasting the show in 2023 if the group implements a productive plan.

NBC Will Not Air Golden Globes in 2022

NBC announced Monday that it will not air the Golden Globes in 2022 after several actors and studios announced that they would boycott the Hollywood Foreign Press Organization over concerns that it has not done enough to address its lack of diversity. 

NBC has aired the show, which is put on annually by the HFPA, since 1996.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” the network said in a statement. “As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

In February, a Los Angeles Times report found that none of the nearly 90 members in the group are Black. It also alleged a culture of corruption where members would accept luxurious gifts from studios that were promoting their shows, among other things. This prompted numerous calls for change. 

Last week, the HFPA announced that it had approved a list of reforms, which include a hotline for reporting misconduct, increasing membership by 50% over the next 18 months with an emphasis on adding members of color, and creating a list of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultants. The group said it “will be continuously updating the members and the public as we move forward in making our organization more inclusive and diverse.”

Studios Pledge Boycott of HFPA Events

This, however, was not a strong enough response for major Hollywood players. By Friday night, both Netflix and Amazon vowed to part ways with the HFPA until more meaningful changes were made. On Monday morning, Warner Bros. did the same. 

“While we commend the HFPA membership’s approval of the plan to move towards radical reform, we don’t believe the plan goes far enough in addressing the breadth of our concerns, nor does your timeline capture the immediate need by which these issues should be addressed,” a group of Warner executives said in a letter to HFPA President Ali Sar. “WarnerMedia Studios and Networks will continue to refrain from direct engagement with the HFPA, including sanctioned press conferences and invitations to cover other industry events with talent, until these changes are implemented.”

Their statement echoed the concerns of Netflix, whose CEO Ted Sarandos wrote that the HFPA has not gone far enough in correcting its “systemic diversity and inclusion challenges, or the lack of clear standards for how [HFPA] members should operate.”

Netflix’s choice to at least temporarily suspend ties with the HFPA is especially significant, as it was far and away the leader during the 2021 Golden Globes, picking up 10 trophies out of 42 nominations. 

Actors Join Boycott Calls

Actors have also chimed in on the boycott calls, including Mark Ruffalo, who nabbed a Golden Globe himself just a few months ago. 

“Honestly, as a recent winner of a Golden Globe, I cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award,” he wrote on Twitter Friday. 

He also slammed the group for resisting “the change that is being asked of them from many of the groups that have been most disenfranchised by their culture of secrecy and inclusion.”

He used the hashtag #ChangeIsGolden to encourage a boycott from Hollywood leaders. Others, including director Ava DuVernay, who has previously been critical of the HFPA, did the same. 

Actress Scarlett Johansson released a statement of her own on Saturday, which was first reported on by Deadline

“As an actor promoting a film, one is expected to participate in awards season by attending press conferences as well as awards shows. In the past, this has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment,” the five-time Golden Globe nominee said. “It is the exact reason why I, for many years, refused to participate in their conferences.”

“The HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition, and the industry followed suit,” she continued. “Unless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA and focus on the importance and strength of unity within our unions and the industry as a whole.”

One of the first organizations to condemn the HFPA for its response was nonprofit Time’s Up, which advocates for victims of sexual assault and other workplace injustices. The group wrote an open letter Friday slamming the HFPA for giving “no specifics, no commitments to real accountability or change, and no real timeline” in its plan. 

“These window-dressing platitudes are sorely lacking and hardly transformational,” the letter said. “Instead, these proposed measures ensure that the current membership of the HFPA will remain in the majority for years to come, and that the next Golden Globe Awards, which will have started by then, will be riddled with the same fundamental problems that have existed for years.”

See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (Variety) (The Wrap)

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Childish Gambino Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

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  • Florida rapper Kidd Wes filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York Thursday against Grammy award-winning artist Childish Gambino.
  • Kidd Wes claims Childish Gambino’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his 2016 song “Made in America,” arguing that the two songs have “nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content.”
  • Kidd Wes’ lawyers said his client is seeking damages from profits for record sales, endorsements, and other income sources. 

Childish Gambino Faces Lawsuit

Grammy award-winning rapper Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, is being sued for alleged copyright infringement by Florida rapper Kidd Wes.

Kidd Wes, whose real name is Emelike Nwosuocha, claims Glover’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his song “Made in America,” which came out in 2016.

According to Pitchfork, he filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court on Thursday arguing that “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus—or ‘hook’—sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”

Pitchfork reported that defendants in the suit include Glover, the song’s co-writer Young Thug, producer Lüdwig Goransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Young Stoner Life Publishing LLC, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Warner Chappell Music.

“This Is America” and its accompanying music video were praised for providing stark social commentary on America’s history with racism, inequality, and gun violence. In 2019, it won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, making it the first rap song to take home the prize in either of those top categories. The song has been streamed over 465 million times on Spotify and the music video has been viewed on YouTube over 773 million times.

Lawyers Argue Similarities Are “Beyond Coincidental”

The music video for “Made in America” has just over 415,000 views on YouTube. Nwosuocha has 12,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. While Nwosuocha may have a smaller platform than Glover, his lawyers claim it is no mistake that the two songs sound alike. 

“The similarities between the two pieces of music are beyond coincidental, and amounts to infringement as alleged in the complaint filed by our client, Emelike Nwosuocha, professionally known as Kidd Wes,” attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas told Pitchfork. “Mr. Nwosuocha is confident in his claims, and simply seeks the credit and compensation he deserves for the unauthorized use of his music.” 

Nwosuocha is reportedly seeking damages from profit in roughly 43 instances, including record sales, ringtones, endorsements, and record masters.

Glover has not responded publicly to the lawsuit. This is not the first time he has been accused of plagiarism over the song “This Is America.” Previously, he was accused of taking inspiration from New York rapper Jase Harley’s song “American Pharaoh.” At the time, Harley said he did not want to take legal action. Glover’s manager also denied Glover stole from Harley’s work.

See what others are saying: (Pitchfork) (A.V. Club) (The Guardian)

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