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Grammy Awards Renew Discussion About Transparency and Diversity

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  • Women made history at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, with Beyonce breaking the record for most Grammys won by any woman or singer ever and Taylor Swift becoming the first woman to win Album of the Year three times.
  • Still, the night was clouded by renewed calls for the Recording Academy to address its lack of transparency and inclusion.
  • Singers Zayn Malik and The Weeknd recently joined the list of stars who have called out the Academy’s “secret committees,” who vote for the show’s most prestigious awards.
  • The Weeknd took it a step further by promising to boycott the show indefinitely after he was snubbed with zero nominations despite breaking chart records with music from his critically acclaimed and top-selling R&B album, “After Hours.”

Beyonce’s Record Breaking Win Prompts Discussion

Beyonce and Taylor Swift’s record breaking wins stole the spotlight at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, but criticism from major stars and fans still poured in ahead of and during the telecast. 

Swift’s quarantine-recorded album “folklore” took home Album of the Year, making her the first woman to win the award three times. Beyonce went into the night with 24 Grammys to her name and left with 28, making her the woman and singer with the most wins in the award show’s history. She is now tied with producer Quincy Jones for having the second-most Grammy statues, behind only conductor Georg Solti.

However, her win prompted discussion about how the Recording Academy awards even its most celebrated artists. Of Beyonce’s 28 trophies, just one comes from a major category, her Song of the Year win for “Single Ladies” in 2010. Most of her wins come from genre categories like R&B. 

Compare that to the career of Allison Krauss, who Beyonce overtook as the woman with the most Grammy Awards. Of Krauss’s 27 Grammys, three came from top categories. Even Swift, who has 11 wins to her name, has three awards from major categories.

The gap highlights one of the Grammy’s largest issues: diversity and inclusion. The show has a history of awarding Black artists in scattered below-the-line categories, but it often looks them over when it comes to top prizes. In recent years, Beyonce has been snubbed by artists like Beck and Adele, the latter of whom devoted a portion of her speech to the matter. A similar moment occurred last night when Billie Eilish devoted her Record of the Year win to Megan Thee Stallion, who was a favorite to win for her song “Savage,” which featured Beyonce. 

“You deserve it, honestly. Genuinely this goes to her,” the “Everything I Ever Wanted” singer said while accepting the award. “Can we just cheer for Megan thee Stallion?” 

BTS Fans Slam Show

This familiar pattern of white artists acknowledging the successes of their Black peers on the stage of the show that snubbed them was not the only reason the show faced backlash. BTS fans in particular felt the Recording Academy used the band for its popularity while neglecting to reward them for their massive achievements.

The in-demand K-pop boy band was nominated for just one award last night: Best Pop Duo or Group Performance for their song “Dynamite.” Before the telecast even began, they lost to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me,” which marked the first time a duet by female artists won the category.

Still, for the more than three hours that the show ran, the Grammys repeatedly teased BTS’s performance, which it saved for the end of the program. Fans argue that if BTS is important enough to the show that it was designated such a coveted performance spot, the band also deserves recognition in major categories like Record and Song of the Year. The hashtag #SCAMMYS trended on Twitter as fans vented their frustrations.

Grammys Called Out for Secret Committees

Anger at the show started well before it even began airing. The Recording Academy has long been accused of being an unprincipled organization. Last week, The Weeknd even promised to boycott the show indefinitely because of its alleged deception.

The Weeknd was expected to be among the most nominated artists for the 2021 Grammys. His album “After Hours” and single “Blinding Lights” received critical acclaim and even broke Billboard records. Reports say he and the show engaged in heated talks with ultimatums regarding his Super Bowl performance before he wound up with a whopping zero nods. 

After nominations came out, he tweeted that the show was corrupt. On Thursday, he told The New York Times he would no longer allow his label to submit his work to the show because of the “secret committees” in the academy. 

Hours before the show aired, singer Zayn Malik joined critics in slamming the Grammys for not making enough progress on transparency and inclusion. Last week, he also called the show out for allegedly making their nominations based on gifts they receive from artists and producers.

The Recording Academy appears to be aware of these issues. During the show, the organization’s president, Harvey Mason Jr, took to the stage pledging to listen to marginalized voices. It also aired a statement condemning racism, sexism, and all forms of hate and vowed to work towards unity.

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Esquire) (Associated Press)

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Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan Over Stock It Allegedly Owes Her

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The social media star says she was promised stock in FaZe Clan as part of a previous settlement but has yet to receive her shares.


Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan

Social media influencer Alissa Marie Violet Butler, known online as Alissa Violet, is suing digital entertainment and esports collective FaZe Clan over stock she is allegedly owed.

According to a Monday report from The Washington Post, Butler’s case stems from a previous lawsuit that involved both her and FaZe Clan. The report says that in 2018, Butler transferred her shares in a media company she co-founded called Clout Gang to a different company called Hubrick Limited as part of an agreement with FaZe Clan. At the time, Hubrick and FaZe Clan were partnering to develop both businesses. 

Per The Post, several other FaZe Clan members were part of a similar exchange where they transferred their FaZe Clan shares for Hubrick shares as well. The partnership between the two companies crumbled, however, leading to a legal frenzy. Butler, FaZe Clan, Clout Gang, and more ended up accusing Hubrick of fraud in a lawsuit. Hubrick tossed the allegation right back at them in a countersuit. 

To resolve the matters, The Post says Butler and FaZe Clan “entered into an oral agreement to settle the lawsuits with Hubrick,” which involved Butler giving up her Hubrick stock and dropping her claims against the company. In return, she would then receive FaZe Clan common stock.

Butler says that despite holding up her end of the bargain, she has still not received stock in FaZe Clan. 

Responses to Lawsuit

Butler has over 10 million followers on Instagram and another 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube. She has had a career in modeling and picked up a handful of acting credits in television shows and music videos. She previously dated the co-owner of FaZe Clan, FaZe Banks.

According to The Post, FaZe Clan is valued at around $300 million.

“If Faze Clan simply abided by its promise to compensate her, Alissa would not have had to sue Faze Clan,” Butler’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, said to The Post. 

FaZe Clan defended itself in a statement to the outlet, saying it “denies generally and specifically each and every allegation contained in the Complaint.”

FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink also sent an email to The Post claiming that the matter will likely be resolved. 

“Stories get created out of any disagreement or dispute, big or small,” he wrote. “On this particular matter we’re in close communication and confident it’ll be resolved amicably.”

It is unclear how much Butler is seeking in her suit. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post )(Dexerto) (Esports.com)

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Priyanka Chopra Jonas Says “The Activist” Reality Series “Got It Wrong”

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The controversial series is now being reworked into a documentary, which Chopra Jonas hopes will better “highlight the actions and impact” of global activists.


Priyanka Chopra Jonas Apologizes For “The Activist”

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas responded to controversies surrounding “The Activist,” a CBS reality competition series she was slated to co-host that is now being reworked following widespread backlash. 

“The Activist” was going to show real activists competing against one another in various challenges in an effort to promote their philanthropic causes. After many expressed disgust at the premise, CBS said it would scrap the footage already shot and turn the idea into a one-time documentary special highlighting the work and impacts of different activists.

“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” Chopra Jonas wrote on Instagram. “The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight.”

“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she added.

Chopra Jonas closed her post by thanking the “global community of activists” for their hard work, which often goes unacknowledged. 

Controversies Surrounding “The Activist”

Musician Usher and dancer Julianne Hough were cast to host alongside Chopra Jonas. After a release announcing the show and their casting went out last week, it was slammed online by activists and journalists alike. 

Actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote that the network would have been better off donating the presumably large production costs to charity instead of “turning activism into a game.”

Women’s activist Gina Martin thought turning charity into a competition was counterintuitive, arguing “the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community.”

Writers from The Verge, The Washington Post, Essence, and countless other outlets likewise published pieces slamming the program. The Post’s Michele L. Norris accused CBS of ​“trying to capitalize on the current avalanche of doom in the daily news cycle.”

Norris added that the show’s “prize,” which was to attend the G20 summit in Italy, boiled down to activists fighting “merely for the right to crash an international conference and try to shake down world leaders for cash.”

Responses From Those Involved

Chopra Jonas is not the only host to address the criticism. Before the idea was canned, Hough wrote a lengthy Instagram post saying she was listening to the dialogue regarding the program. 

“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote. 

“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she added, though she stopped short of actually stepping down from the gig. 

CBS ended up releasing a joint statement with Global Citizen and Live Nation acknowledging the failings of the concept. 

“It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” the statement said. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”

The statement said the new documentary will “showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in” without any competitive element.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Vanity Fair) (BBC News)

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Health Officials in the U.S. and Trinidad Shut Down Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Claims

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After the rapper claimed her cousin’s friend had severe side effects from the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said she should be “thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.”


Health Officials Condemn Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Statement

Health officials in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago are refuting claims rapper Nicki Minaj made this week suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines can lead to testicular swelling.

“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent,” Minaj tweeted Monday. “His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”

Minaj has not been vaccinated herself but did say she might receive the jab at some point so she can tour. Still, she sent several other tweets Monday peddling vaccine skepticism. 

The symptoms Minaj described in the tweet about her cousin’s friend fall more in line with those of various sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC has repeatedly noted that there is “currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.”

International health officials doubled down on this after Minaj’s remarks went viral. Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, the Health Minister for Trinidad and Tobago, said his department takes every claim of this nature seriously and found no proof that Minaj’s anecdote was true after spending hours thoroughly researching it. 

“Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

“As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or, I dare say anywhere else?” he continued. “None that we know of anywhere in the world.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading infectious disease expert, likewise debunked Minaj’s story while speaking to CNN.

“She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis, except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about,” Dr. Fauci told Jake Tapper this week. 

Nicki Minaj Claims She Received Invite to Discuss Vaccines at the White House

As vaccine misinformation continues to spread and elongate the pandemic, the Biden administration has unveiled several efforts to instill trust in the science behind it. Minaj claimed Wednesday she was invited to the White House to discuss the vaccine and ask questions on behalf of those who need convincing. 

A White House official, however, claimed that she was not offered a trip but rather a call with “one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.” Minaj slammed the White House on Instagram Wednesday night for undercutting her claim. 

“Do you think I’d go on the internet and lie about being invited to the fucking White House?” she said in a 14-minute video. “Like, what?!” 

“You know what the request was? ‘We’d like to offer Nicki an invitation to come to the White House to speak with two people,” she continued. “With, what is that man’s name? Dr. Fauci? And with the Surgeon General.” 

Minaj said that when she expressed concerns about traveling, they offered the chance to also do a live chat on the social media platform of her choice. Throughout the remainder of her video, she repeatedly made startling claims suggesting the media was targeting an attack on her to make her look dumb so people would stop asking questions about the vaccine. 

By Thursday, that video had been viewed over 1.6 million times. “I Stand With Nicki” trended on Twitter Thursday as some claimed the media has twisted her words, while others slammed her fanbase for supporting the rapper as she promoted misinformation.

See what others are saying: (Complex) (New York Times) (The Guardian)

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