Conservatives Pledge to #BoycottHershey After International Women’s Day Campaign Featured a Trans Woman
“I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too,” activist Fae Johnstone said in her Hers for She video.
Hershey Highlights Fae Johnstone
Step aside, Green M&M. Conservatives have a new candy that they’re mad at: Hershey bars.
On Wednesday, Hershey Canada unveiled its “Her for She” International Women’s Day initiative, which aims to celebrate “women changing the future.” Conservatives were quickly outraged by the company’s choice to highlight Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and LGBTQ+ rights activist, as part of this effort.
“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone said in a “Her for She” video.
In addition to Johnstone, the campaign features gender equality activists, a climate tech researcher, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom have fought for progress in their respective fields. The women will appear on Hershey’s websites, in marketing promotions, and in artistic renderings on Hershey bar wrappers.
Johnstone wrote on Twitter that she hopes Hershey’s campaign will “give more young women and girls role models” who can demonstrate how to “change the world, together.”
“It also means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone continued. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.”
A Swift Transphobic Backlash
This decision, however, prompted right-wing Twitter users to accuse Hershey of hating “real” women. Many of the posts included blatantly transphobic rhetoric, as well as promises to boycott the company because it went “woke.”
The outrage was so prominent that #BoycottHershey was one of the top Twitter trends on Thursday morning.
This backlash comes just a little over a month after conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson slammed M&M for making the green mascot character, well, less sexy.
In response to Mars changing the green candy’s outfit, Carlson accused the Mars company of making its characters “as unattractive as possible because when you’re intentionally repulsive, it’s clear you’ve got the right politics.”
Not long after the right-wing backlash, M&M opted to replace its “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph.
The conservative outrage targeted at both Hershey and M&M is part of a larger culture war against any company that makes changes to address diversity, climate change, or other social issues. Brands like Xbox, “Sesame Street,” and more have at one point provoked the ire of Fox News hosts and other Republican figures.
In fact, their outrage against these progressive changes has become so common that once #BoycottHershey was trending, some tweeted that they did not even have to click on the hashtag “to know that they must have done something compassionate that the right hates.”
See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (MarketWatch) (Bloomberg)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (The Gamer) (BuzzFeed News)
Gov. DeSantis Gains Control of Disney World’s Special District
Democratic lawmakers are concerned that DeSantis will use this power to control Disney’s stance on social issues.
The End of a “Corporate Kingdom”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation on Monday that gives Florida control of the self-governing district that previously gave Disney autonomy over the land encompassing and surrounding Walt Disney World in Orlando.
While DeSantis has claimed the district allowed the entertainment giant to skirt tax and building rules, many see the move as an attempt for the governor to control Disney’s stance on social issues amid his anti-woke culture war.
“The corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” DeSantis said while addressing reporters. “There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.”
DeSantis has had a rigid relationship with Disney — the largest private employer in Florida — ever since the House of Mouse spoke out against his controversial education bill last year. Dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” the legislation heavily restricts the degree to which sexuality can be referenced and discussed in the classroom, and many have echoed concerns that it could silence and harm LGTBQ+ people in Florida. It is one of many efforts DeSantis has pushed to remove any curriculum involving diversity from Florida schools.
Once Disney condemned those efforts, the company became a target for DeSantis. The new law will roll back powers that Disney has had over its land since 1967, including its ability to self-govern its zoning and infrastructure.
The district, previously known as Reedy Creek Improvement District, will change its name to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. DeSantis will appoint board members to oversee the area and enforce control over issues like property taxes, roads, and fire protection. None of the board members will be Disney employees.
What Can the Board Do?
Questions remain regarding how powerful this board will be when it comes to Disney’s business, content, and creative decisions. For example, Democratic State Rep. Rita Harris previously pointed to Disney’s decision to retheme the ride Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Splash Mountain is based on parts of the overtly racist film “Song of the South,” prompting the company in 2020 to announce new plans for the attraction. The new version will be based on “The Princess and the Frog,” a film that featured the studio’s first Black princess. The decision sparked some backlash from conservatives who follow the same anti-woke agenda as DeSantis.
“Are we going to see the board vetoing projects that are considered to go against any governor?” Harris asked during a debate while bringing the subject up.
“What if the governor didn’t like that? Would the board be able to push the company into changing their business model,” Harris continued. “This is not the free market.”
While speaking to reporters Monday, DeSantis already alluded to the board having preferences regarding Disney’s content.
“I think that all of these board members very much would like to see the type of entertainment that all families can appreciate,” he said.
Among DeSantis’ board nominees are Bridget Ziegler, a conservative school board advocate who is the wife of Florida’s Republican Party Chair; lawyer Martin Garcia, whose private investment firm contributed to DeSantis’ campaign; and Ron Peri, the CEO of an evangelical forum called The Gathering USA.
Democratic lawmakers in the state have condemned DeSantis for signing the law, arguing it does not strip Disney of the tax benefits the governor claimed to be concerned about. They say that instead, it is just another path for DeSantis to force his political agenda onto major businesses.
“All this bill does is rename Reedy Creek and allow Governor DeSantis to appoint hostile conservative cronies to a new board,” state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, said in a statement. “Disney still maintains the same tax breaks — but their First Amendment rights have been suppressed, and it sends a message to any private individual or company that if you don’t purport to what the Governor wants, then you’ll be punished.”
“This was never about tax policy or corporate accountability — this was always about DeSantis and his sick agenda to target already marginalized people, and silent dissent,” Eskamani continued.