Culture News

How to Manifest Good Summer Solstice Vibes

Activate your Rose Quartz, it's Hot Vax Summer!

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To say 2020 had bad vibes would be putting it lightly, but anyone who knows astrology could have told you something was coming.

2020 was a year of chaos. The beginning of the Age of Aquarius meant that we were gearing up for a "new world order," and a "defining year for humanity," according to astrologists — which seems about right, doesn't it?

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Film Features

Anne Hathaway's "Witches" Apology, and the Problem with Body Horror

Is it even possible to separate what is frightening and disturbing from what is harmful and offensive?

On Thursday Anne Hathaway took to Instagram to apologize for her role in the HBO Max original movie The Witches and its depiction of the titular villains as having so-called "limb differences."

The movie is based on Roald Dahl's 1983 novel—which was previously adapted into the classic 1990 version of The Witches. It tells the story of a young boy who stumbles upon a convention of horrifying witches with the power to turn children into mice. Hathaway portrays their leader, the Grand High Witch—a role previously played by Anjelica Houston with sinister glee.
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Film News

Buy Props from Your Favorite A24 Films For Charity

The entertainment company is auctioning props from Midsommar, Uncut Gems, and more for NYC charities in the wake of the virus.

As far as entertainment companies go, A24 Films is arguably one of the coolest.

Besides a remarkable track record for distributing some of the most hair-raising, heartbreaking, and flat-out terrifying films of the past five years, A24 has become known for bolstering and giving unprecedented creative freedom to rising directors, like Ari Aster of Hereditary and Midsommar fame as well as Greta Gerwig of Lady Bird. They've also got their marketing strategy down to a T, drawing the sort of cult fanbase and loyalty that mirror those of successful indie record labels. And now, in the wake of the worldwide health crisis, A24 is flexing their philanthropy muscles, too, selling items from their films for the good of New York City charities.

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Florence Pugh and Zach Braff

Florence Pugh has recently been the subject of much media buzz thanks to the age gap between her and her partner, Zach Braff.

Pugh, who is 24-years-old, has been dating Scrubs star Zach Braff, who just turned 45, for nearly four years. As Pugh's star has risen thanks to hit films like Little Women and Midsommar, media and fans alike have begun to question Braff and Pugh's age gap. Finally, tired of all the abuse, Pugh posted the following video to her Instagram account on April 9th. Watch the video here.



In the video, she firmly warns fans against commenting about her relationship on her posts. "I will not allow that behaviour on my page. I'm not about that. It makes me upset and sad that during this time when we really all need to be together and supporting and loving one another... a few of you decided to bully for no reason," the star said candidly. She goes on to say that she has been working and earning money since the age of 17 and paying taxes from the age of 18 and can make her own decisions when it comes to relationships.

"I'll underline this fact,' Pugh said. "I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love and I would never in my life who they can and cannot love. It is not your place and really it has nothing to do with you. I don't want this on my page, it's embarrassing, it's sad and I don't know when cyberbullying became trendy or a points system. I don't know why it's a cool thing."

More recently, in an interview for Elle UK, the actress spoke out about the online abuse again, saying "I know that part of being in the spotlight is that people might invade your privacy and have opinions on it, but it's bizarre that normal folk are allowed to display such hate and opinions on a part of my life that I'm not putting out there," she said. "It's a strange side of fame that you're allowed to be torn apart by thousands of people even though you didn't put that piece of you out there." She went on to say, "I don't want to talk about it because it's not something I want to highlight, but my point to all this is that isn't it odd that a stranger can totally tear apart someone's relationship and it's allowed?"

While Pugh's rebuff of cyberbullies was inspiring, the question still remains: Why do people have such an issue with Pugh and Braff's relationship? Older male celebrities dating younger women is a tale as old as time. Think of Leonardo DiCaprio, known for dating women as much 20 years his junior, or Dennis Quaid (65) and girlfriend Laura Savoie (26). These couples don't receive the kind of abuse Braff and Pugh have weathered, so what sets them apart? Perhaps the answer lies with Pugh's fame. She is unquestionably the bigger star in the couple, so maybe fans' image of who a beautiful young star should date isn't compatible with Braff, who is cute in a non-threatening way and in no way the traditional Hollywood heart throb.

But then why don't people have issues with Leonardo Dicaprio dating little-known models and actresses? Well, sexism, of course. We expect a big star like Leo to date young beautiful women, and we have no issue with the age gap because we don't feel like we know the women in the relationship; they're just unknown, beautiful faces. Not only that, but we expect famous women to date men who are even more famous than them, in order to increase their own star power. Meanwhile, famous men can exist in their own orbit of stardom and date who they choose.

Florence Pugh and Zach Braff

We expect young female starlets like Pugh to date hunky heartthrobs while she's in her prime, before she ages out of the narrow window in which women are valued in Hollywood. It makes us uncomfortable that Pugh is dating an older man who is not a massive star and not sexy in a traditional way, because it doesn't fit with the narrative we've come to expect from the people we choose to bestow fame upon.

Our response to Pugh's relationship also reflects the way society views a woman's personal autonomy. When Ashton Kutcher was dating much older Demi Moore, no one questioned his decision-making. But people seem to think that Pugh needs to be warned against making a mistake in dating Braff, that she isn't capable of making her own relationship choices. Why? You guessed it: sexism. Culturally, we don't trust women to make decisions in the same way we trust men. Not only that, but in the case of Leo and his semi-anonymous young lovers, in our eyes, the women in the relationship don't possess the kind of personal autonomy Pugh does; we don't know them, they're just pieces of eye candy. Pugh, on the other hand, has become a human being in our eyes, something that isn't automatic when we perceive women the way it is for men. But that doesn't mean she's free from the unfair expectations we place on all women, famous or not.

On some level, we feel that Florence Pugh owes us a sexy, tumultuous relationship with some hot young Hollywood star. We feel that since we have decided to make her famous, to watch her movies and invest in her personal life, it is her duty to entertain us. Having a stable relationship with a 45-year-old nice-guy who doesn't have a six pack and is known for a funny sitcom—not hit action movies—isn't entertaining. That isn't what we want to read about in the tabloids.

So, summarily, while you may think that it's anti-feminist that Pugh is dating a much older man, and you may think that commenting on her relationship is in some way proving your devotion to her, you couldn't be more wrong. If you have a problem with Pugh dating Braff, you're essentially saying that she can't be trusted to make her own choices, and you're making her relationship about you and your own prejudice, not her and her happiness.

Just let Florence Pugh and Zach Braff be happy, okay?

FILM

Nobody Asked for Eminem's Surprise Oscars Performance

The rapper performed his hit "Lose Yourself," which won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003.

Considering what many considered to be an overwhelmingly white and male nominee pool, the 92nd Annual Academy Awards ended up being...not that bad?

Korean thriller Parasite made history by becoming the first foreign language film to take home an Oscar for Best Picture, and its director Bong Joon Ho was adorable on numerous occasions. Joaquin Phoenix, after being named Best Lead Actor, continued his streak of spicy acceptance speeches with a condemnation of the animal agriculture industry. Janelle Monáe's opening number saluted snubbed films like Us and Midsommar. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph were, well, just as funny as you'd expect.

But there was one appearance at the Oscars that had many attendees and viewers perplexed. At the end of a montage celebrating iconic songs made famous by movies, clips of 8 Mile were projected on the screen as the instantly recognizable chug of "Lose Yourself" played along. And then—for reasons widely unbeknownst to the audience—Eminem himself appeared onstage to perform the 2002 No. 1 hit.

While some audience members in the Dolby Theatre happily rapped along, many seemed dumbfounded by Eminem's seemingly random appearance.

"Lose Yourself" became the first rap number to win the Oscar for Best Original Song back in 2003, but Eminem didn't attend that year because he didn't think he had a chance of winning. Although the reason for his delayed appearance is unclear, it seems Eminem just figured he was better late than never: "Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me @TheAcademy," he tweeted. "Sorry it took me 18 years to get here."

We're glad Slim Shady finally got his second shot, but why 18 years late? At this point, it feels like a pathetic and haphazard promotion of his eleventh studio album, Music to Be Murdered By, which received backlash for its audacious reference to the bombing at Ariana Grande's 2017 Manchester concert. A clip of old audio also recently resurfaced in which Eminem claimed he'd "side with Chris Brown" on the issue of Brown's infamous assault of Rihanna. Why are we continuing to bait Eminem's constant hunger for relevancy?

These audience reactions say it best:


TV

"American Horror Story's" 1984 Trailer Looks Like a "Stranger Things" Ripoff

AHS 9 seems to be taking a summery, nostalgic, cliché-filled turn.

AHS's 9th season will be called 1984—the year that's also the title of George Orwell's very famous and disturbingly prescient dystopian novel—and it'll take place at a lakeside oasis called Camp Redwood.

It seems that Ryan Murphy's going for a slightly sunnier depiction of the 1980s than Orwell's surveillance-heavy, totalitarian dystopia, though certainly there will be plenty of blood and gore to sate viewers' hunger for the uncanny in the new AHS season.

Image via AltPress

Some fans already have mixed feelings about this season, as it won't feature many of American Horror Story's most beloved cast members. Sarah Paulson will "not have a significant role," according to Variety, though she may have a cameo or two. Evan Peters and Billy Eichner also won't return. However, the Emma Roberts will be back, almost certainly playing a stuck-up character as always, along with Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy. (Perhaps it's for the best that Peters and Roberts won't have to be on set together, because after a seven-year relationship, the two broke up in March 2019). The show will also feature Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, John Carroll Lynch, Leslie Grossman, and Matthew Morrison (of Glee notoriety), as well as a bunch of overzealous teenagers who are impossible to tell apart, at least judging by the trailer's first few frames.

Considering all this, it looks like AHS is either getting desperate or going fully meta. With 1984, they're capitalizing on some of the oldest horror tropes in the book—ripping off Anna Wintour, Friday the 13th, and Orwell's titlebut the trailer doesn't suggest a resurgence of any of the elegance or intelligence that made the show's first few seasons so bone-chillingly good. While Murder House, Asylum, and Coven were incredibly timely, due to the way they deftly threaded topics like school shooters, mental illness, queerness, and feminism into hackneyed horror tropes, it's hard to see how 1984 will replicate the raw ambition and timely acuity of those seasons.

Instead, the show seems to be going for a, well, campy approach, one that makes fun of poorly made '80s B-movies and their perpetually masked, knife-wielding killers. Knowing AHS, there will be some hyper-serious, dramatic undercurrent woven throughout the whole thing; it'll either all be a movie set a la Roanoke or a hyper-realistic hallucination, or perhaps another commentary on the state of American politics or the gleeful clichés of '80s horror; but it's hard to imagine that the entire season could be a parody. Still, in this day and age, sometimes parody feels like one of the most intelligent and realistic forms of media, for at least it's self-aware of its own bullshit. If it is all a parody, then 1984 could be a complete disaster or (by some miracle) AHS's best work in years.

AHS goes 80sImage via Screen Rant

One other thing we know about 1984 is that it won't be American Horror Story's last season. Maybe it should be; since Coven, none of the seasons have lived up to the expectations set by the first three. While many of the concepts have been creative and impressive, the show has favored excessive gore and absurd, unrealistic, and hollow characters, foregoing the nuanced, flawed complexity of characters like Murder House's Tate Langdon and Asylum's Sister Jude. With Peters and Lange not returning, hopefully some of the new cast members will be able to carry the show as these actors did, but that seems unlikely given the fact that the writers seem to be creating simpler (and more annoying) characters each season.

As far as 1984 goes, it seems that we'll be taking a deep dive down the nostalgic path paved by Stranger Things, with a bit of the sunny hysteria of Midsommar to boot, though with fewer neon lights and flowers and lots more blood. Most likely, there will be murders in cabins and by campfires, murders on a lake, and murderers on the loose in the pines. It's hard to know if AHS will be able to exchange some of its reliance on shock value and for its initially spellbinding, supernatural magic, but time will tell.

American Horror Story Season 9 "Camp" Teaser Promo (HD) AHS 1984 www.youtube.com