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Jane Campion Faces Backlash For Saying Serena and Venus Williams Don’t “Play Against the Guys” Like She Does

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The director later apologized for her comments and said she “did not intend to devalue” the accomplishments of the tennis sisters.


Jane Campion Mentions Williams Sisters During Speech

Director Jane Campion is facing backlash for remarks she made about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams during her speech at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday night. 

Campion won Best Director for her Netflix film “The Power of the Dog.” The western drama also won Best Picture, and Campion picked up another piece of hardware for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Campion started her Best Director acceptance speech by saying it was “stunning” to be in a room with so many talented women. 

“Venus and Serena Williams, what an honor to be in the room with you,” she said at one point, addressing the sisters who were present to celebrate the film “King Richard,” which chronicles their childhood. Both served as producers of the project. 

Campion then addressed her fellow Best Director nominees, all of whom were male. 

“I’d also just like to give my love out to my fellow — the guys, the nominees,” she said. “And Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys, like I have to.”

While people in the room clapped at the statement, including Serena, many online thought it was insulting and unfair to the tennis champions. Several noted that both sisters have played against men and even won titles in mixed doubles competitions.

“The nerve of Jane Campion to suggest her journey is harder than that of two Black women who’ve overcome racism, sexism and classism in one of the whitest richest sports in the world to become CHAMPIONS again and again is why I have trust issues with white feminists,” activist Drew Dixon tweeted. 

“White women centring themselves over Black women is so normalised. Jane Campion served Serena and Venus a backhand with her full chest,” author and lawyer Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu wrote. “This was so unnecessary, petty &ugly. She couldn’t achieve what they have with barriers faced in White Male dominated tennis sport.”

“In addition to the racism of it all, Campion is suggesting that competing against men is more difficult/legitimate than competing against women,” writer Roxane Gay added. “Has she met women???”

“Jane Campion’s words [were] intentional,” sports journalist Shireen Ahmed tweeted. “She pointed at superb Black women (two of the greatest athletes that we’ve ever seen) and diminished their achievements? Why? Because her white womanness will protect her.”

Campion Apologizes For Remarks

Campion apologized to the Williams sisters in a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved,” Campion said. “I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes.”

“The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world,” Campion continued in the statement.

“The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”

Campion’s Responds to Sam Elliott Controversy

Just a day before her controversial remarks, Campion made headlines for fending off backlash against her critically acclaimed movie. While “Power of the Dog” has largely been praised, actor Sam Elliott slammed it on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast for its many “allusions of homosexuality.” The central character of “Power of the Dog” is a sexually repressed cowboy.

Elliott repeatedly complained of the costumes and said the characters were always “running around in chaps and no shirts,” comparing them to Chippendales dancers. 

“What the fuck does this woman from down there know about the American West?” Elliott said at one point. “Why the fuck did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana?” 

Many mocked Elliott’s remarks for being out of touch with the film and the story it was telling. 

“I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,” Campion told Variety just hours before nabbing a Director’s Guild Award for the film. “The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.”

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Variety) (Rolling Stone)

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Joe Rogan Faces Backlash For Promoting Antisemitic Stereotypes

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His comments come as antisemitic hate incidents have increased both online and in the real world.


Rogan’s Antisemitic Comments

Joe Rogan is facing backlash over a Saturday episode of his podcast where he claimed that “the idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous.”

While the “Joe Rogan Experience” episode was posted to Spotify on Feb. 3, the controversial podcaster’s comments did not receive criticism until clips started circulating around social media on Tuesday. Rogan was speaking with “Breaking Points” hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti when the subject of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee came up.

Omar was ousted over a 2019 tweet where she said that American support of Isreal was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to a slang term for money. After she was condemned for promoting antisemitic tropes, she apologized. Some Democrats have accused Republicans of hypocrisy for removing Omar over the remark. 

“She’s apologizing for talking about ‘It’s all about the Benjamins,’ which is just about money,” Rogan said of the incident. “She’s talking about money.”

“She shouldn’t have apologized,” Ball responded. 

“That’s not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that it is,” Rogan continued. “Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza. It’s fucking stupid.”

Condemned for “Vicious Lies”

His comments were condemned after several Twitter users shared clips of the podcast on the platform. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was “disturbing” that Rogan chose to spread antisemitic stereotypes “at a time of rising anti-Jewish violence, when growing numbers of Americans believe in antisemitic conspiracy theories.”

“For centuries, people have used these longstanding tropes to spread vicious lies about the Jewish people,” Greenblatt wrote.

“The thing is, Joe Rogan, Italians were never slaughtered because of the pizza stereotype,” writer and essayist Howard Lovy tweeted. “But because idiots like you believe Jews are into money,’ we have been marginalized, brutalized, and murdered for thousands of years.”

“The ‘Jews are into money’ thing is a generation-spanning smear used as the basis to discriminate against Jews the world over,” attorney Bradley P. Moss added. “Everyone is into money. But we have been accused of secretly hoarding $ to control everything.”

Writer David Baddiel noted how alarming it was that Rogan was able to “breezily” spew “a racist myth.”

“One of the biggest podcasts in the world and no one gives a fuck,” he wrote. 

Rogan’s comments come as antisemitism has been increasingly present in media and everyday life for Jewish people. 

Upon billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform saw an increase in racial slurs and hate speech, including language targeted at Jewish people. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found in December that antisemitic hate crimes rose between 2021 and 2022 in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. 

Kanye West also made headlines late last year for going on several antisemitic rants, including one where he praised Hitler. While he was dropped by major brands like Adidas over his comments, his words have amplified dangerous conspiracy theories far and wide. He even inspired several neo-Nazis to hang “Kanye is Right” banners in Los Angeles, among other antisemitic actions.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (Variety) (The Independent)

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“Seinfeld” AI Parody Suspended From Twitch After AI Wrote Transphobic Jokes

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The parody’s version of Jerry asked if he should make jokes about “how being transgender is actually a mental illness.”


“Nothing, Forever” Suspended

What’s the deal with AI?

While that has been a big question in the media world for the last few weeks, it is being raised yet again after AI software wrote transphobic jokes for an AI parody of the hit sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Titled “Nothing, Forever,” the heavily pixelated program runs 24/7 on Twitch, using Open AI to create endless “Seinfeld” parody content. In this AI version, Jerry is called Larry Feinberg. Larry’s friends, Yvonne, Fred, and Zoltare — who are stands-ins for Elaine, George, and Kramer — often sit around Larry’s apartment, just like in the NBC series. 

Also mirroring “Seinfeld,” Larry is a stand-up comedian who does a cold-open set of jokes in front of a brick wall. On Monday morning, he asked if anyone had suggestions for jokes before going on a transphobic rant. 

“I’m thinking about doing a bit about how being transgender is actually a mental illness,” Larry said. “Or how all liberals are secretly gay and want to impose their will on everyone. Or something about how transgender people are ruining the fabric of society. But no one is laughing, so I’m going to stop.”

“Thanks for coming out tonight. See you next time,” he continued. “Where’d everybody go?”

Plans to Return

The bit could almost come across as self-aware commentary about how pervasive transphobia is in stand-up comedy, but it’s unclear what the AI’s intent was or if it deserves that much credit. 

Soon after the jokes aired, the “Nothing, Forever” Twitch page was closed, showing only a message announcing the channel “is temporarily unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s Community Guidelines.” It did not specify what rule was broken, but Twitch does have a Hateful Conduct policy that bars attacks against someone’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other protected identities. 

Skyler Hartle, one of the co-creators of “Nothing, Forever,” told The Washington Post that the team was “super embarrassed” by the transphobic rant, which “in no way reflects the values or opinions of our staff.”

Hartle said they hope to resume airing the AI parody with new safeguards in place soon. According to The Post, the suspension will last for 14 days. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NBC News) (The Verge)

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Grammy Awards Face Backlash For Snubbing Beyoncé of Top Prize

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This marks the fourth time the “Renaissance” singer has lost Album of the Year.


Beyoncé Loses Top Awards

Beyoncé may have broken the record for the most Grammy wins on Sunday night, but her snub for the top prize of Album of the Year has left music fans outraged.

Beyoncé nabbed Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song on Sunday night, all related to her latest album, “Renaissance.” While that crossed her Grammy total to a record-breaking 32 trophies, she was shut out of all the major categories she was nominated in: Record, Song, and Album of the Year. 

This was the fourth time Beyoncé was nominated for and lost Album of the Year, largely considered the show’s most coveted prize. This year, Harry Styles took home the Grammy for “Harry’s House.”

In his speech, Styles said, he has been “so inspired by every artist in this category” and claimed there is no “best” in music. People in the crowd were heard shouting “Beyonce!” while he spoke, outraged the singer had lost the award yet again.

The moment was reminiscent of the 2017 Grammy Awards when Adele’s “25” beat out Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” for the same category. While accepting the prize, Adele suggested that the “Lemonade” should have gotten the gold. 

“The ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental, Beyoncé, it was so monumental,” Adele said on stage. 

Beyoncé’s History of Grammy Losses

This is part of a long trend in Beyoncé’s Grammy history, as she is almost always shut out of the major categories. Of her 32 Grammys, only one belongs to one of the top slots: her Song of the Year win in 2010 for “Single Ladies.” She has yet to ever win Record or Album of the Year, and most of her wins come from genre categories like R&B.

Many fans think that is an abysmal record for an artist who is considered one of the primary musical talents of her generation. Compare those stats to the similarly-adored Taylor Swift, who has three Album of the Year wins out of 12 Grammy trophies, and it’s not hard to see their point.

“Beyoncé represents every Black woman that is constantly applauded for their work but when it comes to promotion time their white colleague gets it instead,” culture reporter Ada Enechi tweeted in response to Sunday night’s snub.

The Grammy Awards have long been accused of having a racial bias, especially when it comes to Black women. In Beyoncé’s case, every time she has lost Album of the Year, she lost to a white artist. 

Even some of the progress made during Sunday night’s telecast only proved how frequently Black women are excluded from major awards. For example, Lizzo won Record of the Year for “About Damn Time,” marking the first time a Black woman has won that award since Whitney Houston in 1994. That’s a nearly 30-year gap.

Backlash From Music Fans

Beyoncé’s repeated snubs have consistently been used as a prime example of the strides yet to be made in the music industry. 

“Renaissance not winning AOTY is another example how of a Black woman can consistently deliver excellence, reinvent the wheel + shake the culture, AND still not be recognised to the extent that she deserves,” another person said on Twitter.

“Absolutely wild that the person with the most Grammys ever is still the underdog who was robbed,” BuzzFeed News reporter David Mack pointed out.

Podcaster Sam Sanders called her loss “criminal.”

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (People) (The Washington Post)

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