Culture News

Woody Allen Sues After Amazon Drops Him (Finally)

Great. What took so long for Amazon to cut the cord?

Woody Allen is being treated unfairly, according to a $68 million lawsuit he filed against Amazon Studios on Thursday.

The 83-year-old has claimed that a 25-year old "baseless allegation" of sexual abuse has driven Amazon to break a four-movie deal with him. His most recent film, A Rainy Day in New York, was dropped from Amazon after sitting completed and ready for release for over six months. The studio also terminated their deal for three more films with Allen's production company, Gravier Productions. While Allen laments the loss of work, we have to wonder: What took Amazon so long to drop him?

The lawsuit alleges that in 2014 Amazon sought to "capitalize on Mr. Allen's international stature, talent, and track record...promising to finance and distribute his true films and to be his 'home' for the rest of his career." The minimum payment guaranteed to Gravier Productions totaled between $68 and $73 million. However, in June 2018, "Amazon backed out of the deals, purporting to terminate them without any legal basis for doing so, while knowing that its actions would cause substantial damage to Mr. Allen, Gravier, investors, and the artists and crew involved in making the films."

With a reported net worth between $65 and $80 million, Woody Allen is taking more damage to his reputation than his finances. According to the complaint, Amazon dismissed the director due to "supervening events, including renewed allegations ... [Allen's] own controversial comments, and the increasing refusal of top talent to work with or be associated with him in any way."

Vanity Fair

Long before the #MeToo movement, Allen was notoriously accused of molesting his adopted step daughter, Dylan, while he was still with his ex-partner, Mia Farrow. Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, now 33 years old, has given multiple interviews alleging that Allen abused her at age 7. The accusations are particularly disturbing in light of Allen's controversial 20-year marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, whom Allen helped raise.

Reportedly, Amazon executives held a meeting with Allen's representatives to discuss concerns about being associated with an accused sex abuser after Harvey Weinstein had been ousted from Hollywood. While both sides agreed to postpone the release of A Rainy Day in New York in that 2017 meeting, Thursday's lawsuits accuse the company of using the controversy as an excuse: "Amazon has tried to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract. There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises."

People

The dispute highlights the question of whether entertainment companies have a legal right to terminate contracts with artists due to allegations of sexual abuse—and if so, why isn't that right exercised sooner? Kevin Spacey wasn't dismissed from major studios until 30 years' worth of sexual misconduct accusations finally culminated in criminal charges. Bryan Singer is just now being suspended from projects after 20 years of sexual assault claims. The moral question of separating a problematic artist from his art has long been a burden to consumers, but, for the most part, high-powered industries only act when profit loss outweighs the reputations of its artists.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

Culture News

Ja Rule Needs a Friend (Who's Not in Prison)

At a recent show, the rapper urged the crowd to scream obscenities a him. Was this a cry for help or he just realized it's not 2000 anymore?

So, Ja Rule wants to clear the air with his fans.

On Friday, he paused his New Jersey show to ask if anyone had happened to watch the documentaries that painted him as a predatory con artist. The crowd generally responded with the sound that precedes a drawing and quartering in a town square. But Ja Rule was pleased, saying, "Ya'll might be a little mad… so get it out your system, 'cause we ain't gonna do this the rest of the year! Get your middle fingers up!" And like everyone's favorite camp counselor who smoked excellent weed, he made sure the crowd was flipping him off before he led a chant, "Let me hear you say… fuck you Ja Rule!"

After he finished the show without more fanfare, the anti-Ja Rule chant was posted to Instagram, where people were generally confused for the following reasons:

A) Ja Rule still has concerts?

B) Is Ja Rule 50 Cent now?

C) What songs does Ja Rule perform in 2019?

D) How much does Ja Rule miss Jennifer Lopez?

E) Wouldn't New Jersey chant "Fuck you" to anybody?

Ja Rule seems lonely for friends these days. With Fyre Festival's planners facing a $100 million class action lawsuit and Billy McFarland serving a six-year prison sentence for fraud, everyone involved in the giant con, including Ja Rule, has pleaded the fifth. But while Hulu's documentary only hinted that the rapper was deeply involved, Netflix highlighted Ja Rule's insight both before and after the fiasco. Both features have reignited public backlash against those involved, including the 42-year-old rapper, whose bland and pandering apologies convey a man who just wants to be liked.

In the immediate aftermath of Fyre Festival in 2017, Ja Rule took to Twitter to assuage people's worries about the young attendees' safety and, above all, deny any responsibility whatsoever. He posted, "We are working right now on getting everyone of [sic] the island SAFE that is my immediate concern...I'm working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded...I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT...but I'm taking responsibility I'm deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this."

As of January 2019, no Fyre Festival attendee had received a refund from the festival organizers. A few had managed to successfully file disputes with their credit card companies to remove Fyre Fest charges as fraudulent. But in his defense, Ja Rule has been busy this year, as he'll soon begin touring with Ashanti. While he may not need the money as badly as the people who lost thousands at Fyre Fest, he does need his fans; they're his only friends who aren't in jail.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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