Culture Feature

9 Times Conservatives Proved They Love "Cancel Culture"

Boycotts and blacklists are tools conservatives perfected — they just don't like it when the tables are turned.

I don't want to alarm anyone, but...THE LEFT IS CANCELING MR. POTATO HEAD THEY'RE CANCELING DR. SEUSS, AND NEXT THEY'RE GOING TO CANCEL YOU!

It turns out that the political Left in the US is actually made up of various literary estates and multi-national toy corporations that are intent on destroying your cultural values by erasing the biological sex of a plastic potato and ending the publication of racist caricatures in some obscure books you were never going to read. But these are just the latest instances of what the Right-wing outrage machine has identified as a violent attack on free speech.

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Music Features

Justin Timberlake Apologizes to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson: "I Know I Failed"

The apology follows the Framing Britney Spears documentary.

In light of the new FX and New York Times-produced documentary Framing Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake has issued an apology about his general past behavior, specifically concerning Spears and Janet Jackson.

Timberlake continues to receive a swarm of backlash in regards to the music video for his 2002 hit, "Cry Me a River," which is believed to have been written after his breakup with Spears, and vaguely accuses her of cheating. Framing Britney Spears also touches on the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during Timberlake's performance with Jackson at the 2004 Super Bowl, after which the latter was ridiculed while Justin was largely congratulated.

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Good neighbors are hard to come by. It's one thing to live next door to someone, but to get close enough to them that you essentially become a family is another. This is a common theme that is revisited in Black television sitcoms.

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TV News

No, Ariana Grande Is Not Janet Jackson

A poor "Jeopardy!" contestant committed the terrible misdeed of mistaking Jackson for Grande.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love Jeopardy!

Few shows have provided me with as much unadulterated comfort, wholesome entertainment, and fleeting confidence as the long-running game show. But if there's one thing more consistent than host Alex Trebek's cringey jokes, it's the contestants' blind spot to pop culture.

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for monitoring broadcast media, enforcing its guidelines on "obscene, indecent, and profane content," and fielding complaints from the public.

In the case of the Super Bowl halftime show, a Freedom of Information Act request from WFAA in Dallas, Texas revealed that the FCC had received more than 1,300 complaints, many of which called for fines to be levied against Fox, NBC, the NFL, or the performers themselves. While the complainants obviously have the right to express their distaste for the sexually suggestive performance that interrupted their three-hour marathon of CTE-inducing violence, many of their concerns were touchingly naïve.

Many viewers felt that J. Lo and Shakira's dancing amounted to pornographic material, with one Wyoming viewer stating that the show "would have been considered soft porn not many years ago." A Maine viewer, describing himself as "a father of 2 teen girls," said, "That 'show' should have been reserved for late night cable TV." Another person in Tennessee complained that, "I do not subscribe to The Playboy Channel, we do not buy porn for $20 a flick, we simply wanted to sit down as a family and watch the Super Bowl… we expected to watch football and a quick concert but instead had our eyes molested."

Eyeball licking

Leaving aside what it means to have your eyes molested, that latter comment seems particularly illustrative of the disconnect between many of these complaints and the reality of our interconnected society. The idea that pornography is confined to specialty cable channels and feature length films that cost $20 is so sweetly outdated that it's almost satirical. In 2004—when the FCC was overwhelmed with the furor of more than 200,000 complaints that Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the halftime show had exposed children to the appalling sight of most of a woman's breast—young Internet users were already assaulting each other with links to disturbing so-called shock sites, like "Goatse," "Lemon Party," and others that should likewise never be Googled.

But at that time the phenomenon was still fairly new, and the lack of awareness more forgivable. Today—more than a decade after the advent of "2 Girls 1 Cup"—estimates place the proportion of Internet content that is pornographic somewhere around 10%, and there is a virtually endless availability of videos and images that are far more offensive than "Goatse." Even restricted platforms like Instagram and Youtube offer much more sexually explicit content—much of it featuring former Disney stars—than anything in the halftime show.

On top of that, the prevalence of "sexting" among adolescents means that in many cases there is no company or platform to complain to—young people are exposing each other to sexually explicit material. It may be that these parents were not so much uncomfortable with the idea that their children were being made aware of the existence of sex, but with the fact that they happened to be in the room together while it happened.

The good news is that the proliferation of internet porn has given us a lot of information on the subject, and there is little evidence to suggest that this kind of exposure is damaging to young viewers' psychological development, or that it leads to sexually risky behavior. So while it's understandable that a viewer in Arkansas would say, "I don't want my kids imitating that behavior," they can probably rest easy knowing that their children will neither take up pole dancing, nor start recreationally slamming into one another in disputes over balls.

In reality, while the idea of acknowledging sex may make them uncomfortable, many of these parents could probably learn a lot from having the sex-talk with their kids, as their confusion seemed to go much deeper than assumptions about pornography and cable TV. Many seemed to mistake J. Lo's flesh-tone bodysuit for actual nudity, and several complaints betrayed deeply confused understandings of the terms "striptease," "orgy," and "masturbation," that any modern teen could probably help to clarify. Here are some highlights:

"It was indecent and inappropriate - with crotch grabbing, cameras zooming in on aforementioned crotch grabbing, a pole dance in a barely-there outfit, and other raunchy acts performed above a group of dancers imitating an orgy. [sic]"

"JLo was not only wearing a thong but bent over and showed her whole butt to the camera. Also, FOX cameramen kept zooming in on her crotch throughout her performance AND at one point her backup dancers were simulating an orgy while she writhed around on a stripper pole. [sic]"

J. Lo Pole Dancing at the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show Pictured: Not what an orgy looks like Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

"The Superbowl halftime show was pure filth and not suitable for on air broadcast. Pole dancing, crotch grabbing, simulated sex acts, and even a brief masturbation by J-low all beamed into our family TV room! [sic]"

"JLo did a striptease pole dance while barely-dressed backup dancers simulated an orgy underneath her [sic]"

"1. exposing practically naked backside (looked like thong with leather straps in place?? and crotch area in the camera while gyrating in a sexual manner. This went on for quite some time of the performance. 2. coming down a stripper's pole doing a striptease practically naked, hardly anything on clothes-wise, same with the dancers depicting an orgy-type of activity. It was disgusting!! [sic]"

"They had stripper poles and on stage masturbation on display. [sic]"

"Allowing soft porn with stripper poles and assholes being shown when children are watching. Totally inappropriate!!! Jennifer Lopez did not need to bring her stripper movie and outfits to the Super Bowl. Thanks for supporting porn! [sic]"

"The half time shows need to have tv ratings as it is not appropriate family viewing to see pole dancing, crotch grabbing and extreme booty shaking. [sic]"

J. Lo and Shakira at the Superbowl halftime show Pictured: Extreme Booty Shaking Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

"The Super Bowl halftime show was 100% pornography w women mimicking masturbation in close up crotch shots, imitating sex acts with men while twerking with bare bottoms. [sic]"

It seems unlikely that the FCC will be compelled to take legal action—nor should they—but it's actually kind of nice to see such heartwarmingly sheltered perspectives shared with the world. It's like visiting a historical reenactment village, or imagining the kind of scandals that caused fainting spells at Victorian dinner parties. We hope you never change, FCC complainers—and that you never check your loved ones' search history.

Universal Pictures

The Photograph, starring Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield, is the date movie of choice for this holiday.

The Photograph follows Stanfield's Michael and Rae's Mae as they cross paths and look into the past of Mae's deceased mother. The affection grows between them while they unlock the mysteries of Mae's mother's life. It's not often you see two black leads in a romantic comedy, especially one with such an intriguing plot. So considering it's also Black History Month, what better time to look back at some of the best films that celebrate black love?

Love & Basketball

Love and Basketball New Line Cinema

Starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, Love & Basketball puts...well, basketball at the center of a love story. The plot tracks Monica and Quincy from the time when they're rowdy childhood friends all the way up until they're married with kids. The only thing they love more than the sport is each other, and their chemistry comes through on-screen. One of the great things about Love and Basketball is that it focuses on both characters' perspectives instead of just one, which is especially awesome considering black women rarely get the spotlight in mainstream media. It also introduced "I Want to Be Your Man" by Zapp to a new generation.

Poetic Justice

Poetic Justice Columbia Pictures

This film has become iconic because it features one of the greatest rappers and activists of all time––Tupac Shakur. Poetic Justice also came out at the height of Janet Jackson's popularity, so it's easy to understand why it's amassed such a cult following. The story sees Shakur and Jackson set out on a road trip of self-discovery with their friends in Southern California. The movie features poems written by the late Maya Angelou, performed by Jackson herself. Written and directed by John Singleton, Poetic Justice offers a softer, more romantic view into the lives of black people in the '90s, especially compared to Singleton's biggest classic, Boyz in the Hood. Kendrick Lamar even wrote a song about it!

The Best Man

The Best Man Universal Pictures

The Best Man stands out for putting some of the best African American actors of the late '90s on-screen together––Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, and Regina Hall, to name a few. All in one movie, all black royalty. The movie was released in 1999 and received nine nominations at the 2000 NAACP Image Awards. The plot follows Digg's character, Harper, as he travels to New York for one of his college friend's wedding. Romance, comedy, and drama ensue once the college friends reunite. There's even a sequel, The Best Man Holiday, that was released in 2013 with all of the original cast returning.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

How Stella Got Her Groove Back 20th Century Fox

In 1998, How Stella Got Her Groove Back took the world by storm. Featuring the incredibly suave Taye Diggs attempting to woo everyone's favorite voodoo queen, Angela Bassett, no one had seen its stars together before, but their chemistry was electric. The story follows Bassett as she takes a break from her career as a successful stockbroker and goes on a vacation to Jamaica. There she meets Diggs as a mysterious but handsome native, who just so happens to be 20 years her junior. But if anyone could be capable of pulling someone that young, it would be Angela Bassett. How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a fun, sexy romp set on a beautiful island.

What are some of your favorite movies to watch to get in the Valentine's Day spirit?