Another day, another allegation against the Church of Scientology.
This time the organization is accused of bullying a Clearwater, Florida movie theater out of playing Alex Gibney's church expose, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cinema was forced to drop plans to screen the documentary after pressure from the organization:
Cobb Countryside 12, which had planned to play the movie, informed HBO Documentary Films in recent days that it wouldn't play Going Clear after allegedly receiving threats from the church, according to sources. It's unclear what those threats were and to whom they were directed.
As Popdust previously reported, the documentary examines the many questionable methods employed by the organization, and features former Scientologists' accounts of the chilling abuse, blackmail and threats they allegedly endured while they were members.
I've been so happy with my [Scientology] experience in the last 40 years that I really don't have anything to say that would shed light on [a documentary] so decidedly negative, I've been brought through storms that were insurmountable, and [Scientology has] been so beautiful for me, that I can't even imagine attacking it.
Meanwhile, former Scientologists praised it, claiming the allegations of abusive treatment and practices by church elders and leader, David Miscavige, were 100 percent true and accurate.
Leah Remini, the organization's most recent high profile detractor, praised the film, calling it “brave" and detailing her own nightmarish experience, from when she joined the church age 9 up to, and after, she left two years ago at age 43.
Remini claims everything started turning sour for her following Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's wedding—after she dared to inquire as to the whereabouts of Miscavige's wife Shelly, who has not been seen in public since June 2006.
Shortly afterwards, the actress filed a "knowledge report" which included criticism of Miscavige, Cruise, and other high level Scientologists, detailing behavior by them that she believed to be inconsistent with Church rules. Remini claims she was subsequently blacklisted within the church, that Scientologist friends of hers wrote damning internal reports about her that lead to an investigation into her family by the church, and that she was “subjected to years of 'interrogations' and 'thought modification.'"
She talked about the difficulties she encountered when she left Scientology, during an episode of her reality show, Leah Remini, It's all Relative.
When you leave, you can leave quietly. But If you make a stink in the public world, they call you a Suppressive Person, which means the church has put a stamp on you that says you are bad. They then go to all your family and friends and say you have to disconnect from this Suppressive Person. I decided I didn't want to raise my daughter in the church because from what I've experienced and what I saw, the church becomes your everything. It becomes your mother, your father, your everything. You are dependent on the church.
Not surprisingly, given their tried and tested well worn modem operandi, the church slammed the documentary, calling it a “bigoted propaganda piece" with “at least one major error every two minutes."
They also took a moment to lash out spitefully at Remini:
It comes as no surprise that someone as self-absorbed as Leah Remini with an insatiable craving for attention would exploit her former religion as a publicity stunt in a pathetic attempt to get ratings for her cable show and seem relevant again. She is rewriting history and omits that she was participating in a program to remain a Scientologist by her own choice, as she was on the verge of being expelled for her and her husband's ethical lapses.
Now, here's the thing….the organization releases similarly themed and worded denials, and engages in vicious take downs of detractors each and every time anyone makes allegations, or dares to speak out against them.
Are we really supposed to believe that every single one of the ever growing legion of Scientology dissenters are phonies? Making up totally baseless and unfounded lies and claims? Speaking out in order to get publicity for themselves? Inventing stories for absolutely no good reason?
I mean, for a supposed religious organization they sure rack up a shit ton of "unfounded" negative stories and allegations—ranging from waging hate campaigns against former members and those who dare to displease them in some way, shape or form; imprisoning people against their will; forcibly isolating mentally ill church members and preventing them from getting psychological treatment and medications; manipulation and brain washing; forcing church members to sever all contact with any family or friends who criticize the faith; misappropriating church member's donations by using the money to provide special facilities and services to high profile celebrities; forcing low level church members to engage in physically taxing manual labour for ridiculously long hours with no financial compensation; using sensitive personal information gathered during “auditing" sessions to blackmail members who try to leave the church; medical neglect leading to the death of at least three patients in their Narcanon rehab centers; internet censorship and fraud; harassment, bullying and intimidation; sending anonymous smear letters to the families, friends and neighbors of journalists who write disparaging articles on Scientology; psychological manipulation of church members; phone tapping and spying; making false accusations to the FBI of criminal acts supposedly committed by church detractors; stealing medical records; plotting to get Scientology dissenters sectioned in mental hospitals or incarcerated in jail; wire tapping, infiltration and theft of government documents and filing multitudes of spurious lawsuits against detractors with the aim of financially ruining and wearing them down.
As the adage goes, there's no smoke without fire—Although, a more suitable one might be—eat shit, five billion flies can't be wrong.
Give us your best meme of Kamala destroying Pence at the debates: GO!
After months of deliberation, Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Harris became nationally recognized after she surged to prominence in the 2020 Democratic primary season. Notoriously, she called Biden out about racial issues during the first Democratic debate. "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she bused to school every day," she said in a speech that has now become famous. "And that little girl was me."
55-year-old Harris is currently the only Black woman in the Senate. She served as California's Attorney General prior to being elected in 2016.
Harris was born in Oakland, California; her father is from Jamaica and her mother from India. She studied at Howard University and then at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She worked as a prosecutor in Alameda County and San Francisco before running for district attorney and then attorney general.
As a Senator, Harris was on the Intelligence Committee which interrogated Trump about Russia, and she also made waves through her interrogations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney General William Barr and Brett Kavanaugh.
This is how Kamala Harris handled Barr. Now imagine how she’ll handle Pence. #BidenHarris2020 https://t.co/UbRcW4vzpy— Rantt Media (@Rantt Media)1597179179.0
Since her 2020 presidential campaign concluded, Harris has focused on the Senate's response to the coronavirus crisis, as well as their response to systemic police brutality and racist violence. In the past, Harris worked closely with Joe Biden's late son, Beau, on challenging big banks in the wake of the housing crisis.
Biden announced the decision via email and text messages to his supporters. "You make a lot of important decisions as president. But the first one is who you select to be your Vice President," he wrote Tuesday afternoon. "I've decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021. These aren't normal times. I need someone working alongside me who is smart, tough, and ready to lead. Kamala is that person."
If elected, Harris would be the first vice president to be female or a person of color. "I think that she will help bring a strong voice on issues of immigration and racial justice," said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Fremont Democrat who backed Harris' opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries. "Given her life story, to see someone like her selected ... it will be encouraging to so many young people of different backgrounds."
Harris's mixed record as a prosecutor and her vacillation on progressive policies like Medicare for All has come under fire from many progressives' but in this scenario, even the most radical progressives seem to agree that Biden must be elected in order to oust Trump.
Immediate reactions to the Biden-Harris ticket on social media indicated how much supporters were looking forward to seeing Harris face off with Pence during the debates: The match-up seems to be made in meme-heaven.
I will take EXTREME pleasure watching Kamala Harris eat Mike Pence alive in a debate. JUST SAYING.— Adam Rippon (@Adam Rippon)1597180224.0
Kamala Harris waving goodbye to Mike Pence’s wig after the first VP debate https://t.co/ZYplRfTG4E— Joey Nolfi (@Joey Nolfi)1597178245.0
mike pence on his way to the first debate against kamala harris https://t.co/A1PBV94fiI— chase (@chase)1597177622.0
Perhaps meme culture is the best response to the Biden-Harris ticket, as Democrats must support Biden as the only way to oust Trump–though Biden is far from ideal. "Biden is very problematic in many ways, not only in terms of his past and the role that he played in pushing toward mass incarceration, but he has indicated that he is opposed to disbanding the police, and this is definitely what we need," said civil rights activist Angela Davis.
Davis continued, "The election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don't think there's a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold."
We ranked the worst parts of Internet fandom in no particular order—since they're all terrible.
As harmless hobbies, most fandoms are predicated on the universal ideal that most media is entertainment, liking things feels good, and you don't get to be an asshole if all don't appreciate your favorite thing.
But at the heart of every Internet dumpster fire, there's an ardent fanbase trolling forums and picking fights about their terrible opinions. While it's one thing to be overly-invested in the love lives of the Kardashians or easily excitable over Lady Gaga's burgeoning film career, some people's dedication to their fandoms can shape their identities.
An obnoxious fandom may simply take every opportunity to flood the Internet with memes, but toxic fandoms can turn into bullying communities, with some circulating intolerant, even harmful, rhetoric. From misogyny and racism to calls for violence and public doxxing, these out-of-control fan bases are some of the worst one's active today. Thanks to the return of Rick & Morty season 4 last night, we're reminded of these insufferable fanbases now more than ever.
1. "The Real Ricks" - Rick & Morty
In 2013, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon's adult animation about an anti-hero mad scientist and his meek grandson began as an innocuous half-hour comedy. Soon, its niche appeal to speculative fiction geeks with irreverent senses of humor garnered a cult following. But a small fraction of the fanbase latched onto Rick's nihilistic and hyper-intelligent misanthropy and basically took it way too seriously. On Facebook, a private group of like-minded "Real Ricks" identified with the character so much that they focused the fandom on defending Rick's narcissism and lack of compassion. Their serious devotion is mocked by the highly circulated "copypasta" post: "To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humor is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head."
"Real Ricks" radicalize Rick's tongue-in-cheek quips ("I don't do adventures with chicks") into actual misogyny (including harassing the show's female writers). They elevate Rick's worldview as a guiding pseudo-philosophy that recognizes and even pities "superior" men for their lonely existences as the smartest and most capable humans alive. Although it's a small fraction of the fanbase, it's among the loudest online, which is enough to sour the show's actual merits of unique comedic timing and sharp commentary.
Despite the Internet "canceling" Dan Harmon every few years, it seems that Rick & Morty and its fans will never die.
2. "BTS Army" - BTS
Twitter User: JooniesBoop
Aside from the fact that BTS is not a unique pop group and have no appeal if you're not a fan of K-pop, the fan base's zealotry is annoying, at best, and alarming, at worst. People's most common interactions with the "BTS Army" involve their obsessive gate-keeping of how the Internet talks about its members. The value of its boys (if we dare to speak their names), Namjoon, Hoseok, Jimin, Yoongi, Jungkook, Jin and Taehyung, knows no bounds. But that over-protective doting on the band results in vicious bullying of anyone who expresses a dissenting opinion, from name-calling to racially charged abuse.
Many black BTS fans have shared their experiences with racism from the BTS community. Some fans have received comments on their user pictures that black people aren't "worthy" to be fans of BTS, while another shared, "I've been called ni**** and also told to go pick cotton and it's always anonymous. But they always let me know that they're Armys because they always end the message [with] 'we don't claim you in Army.'" While the Internet always hosts hateful posts, toxic fandoms can unite bullies under a common cause and attempt to justify the harassment of others with their love for their idols.
3. Elon Musk
The cult of personality surrounding Elon Musk is a mix of celebrity worship, self-righteousness, and buying into the man's own savior complex. His core fanbase clings to the notion that Musk's tech-savvy can save humanity. While the group's moral superiority and defensiveness make them insufferable, their willful ignorance of his companies' environmental downsides and disregard for worker safety makes them stubbornly blind. To justify (if not outright deny) Musk's unsound, erratic behavior, many claim that journalists are actively sabotaging his vision of the future. Again, not every supporter of Elon Musk is a devout fan, bordering on worshipper, but those who elevate the problematic billionaire to icon status just muddy the waters of progressive change.
Musk's acolytes were even named the "Worst Dedicated Fan Base" in a March-Madness-style tournament, cynically hosted by The Onion's Michelle Spies. "Elon Musk is their masculine technologic messiah, sent to bring them into a new era," she explained. "They will defend their billionaire Lord to the death."
4. Jordan Peterson
As a clinical psychology professor-turned-YouTuber philosopher, Jordan Peterson appeals to mostly male, disaffected twenty-something-year-olds who cling to his paternalistic self-help advice in place of real guidance. His best-selling nonfiction book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos matches the interests of his 1.9 million YouTube subscribers.
Namely, Peterson offers rudimentary tips for self-improvement and a sympathetic attitude that claims progressivism and Leftist politics have made it harder for young men to reach their full potential. His insular fanbase clings to Peterson's theories that "the masculine spirit is under assault" and feminists have "an unconscious wish for brutal male domination." The mix of personal insecurities and finding scapegoats for one's dissatisfaction with life leads a faction of fans to circulate misogynist and transphobic ideas couched in conservative politics.
5. "Bro Army" - PewDiePie
Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) tops the YouTube playground with 106 million subscribers to his gaming vlog, but his controversial satire of Nazi salutes, racial slurs, and alt-right beliefs attracts a loyal fan base that has no clear understanding of irony. With a majority of his followers skewing younger than 24-years-old (11% being younger than 17), PewDiePie's fanbase is active in the meme-culture of recycled imagery that blurs whether the intention is satirical or genuine. When the shooter of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand quoted a popular meme about the YouTuber before opening fire, Kjellberg publicly clarified that he was "absolutely sickened having [his] name uttered by this person" and in no way condoned the action. Still, PewDiePie's blunt, unsophisticated riffing on anti-Semitic and alt-right sentiments risks "normalizing hatred" rather than mocking it.
In August 2020, PewDiePie's playlist was leaked, and his fans began leaving transphobic and homophobic comments en masse on some of the artists' pages. Some music artists have even openly asked, "Pewdiepie please don’t listen to my music" because his fans are so toxic.
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