Culture Feature

Lizzo, Natalie Portman, and More Celebrities Who Support Defunding the Police

"Imagine, what a world could be like in which we invested in nourishing people; (in their education, healthcare, environment, shelter)— rather than putting all of our money into punishment."

"Defund the police" has become a rallying cry and a North Star of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The origins of the police's recently brutality lies in Southern slave patrols and the criminalization of the poor. Police enforced Jim Crow laws and today they enforce the racist criminal justice system, and promote violence and fear, and they often don't actually make neighborhoods safer.

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CULTURE

Natalie Portman Had the Perfect Response to Rose McGowan's Criticism

Rose McGowan had harsh words for Natalie Portman this week, but Portman channeled the drama into a message of solidarity

Rose McGowan came at Natalie Portman hard on Wednesday, saying that her Oscar's dress was "deeply offensive."

The dress in question featured a Dior cape that had been specially embroidered with the names of prominent female directors who didn't receive nominations that many people feel they deserve. The names included Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), and Lulu Wang (The Farewell).

Calling out the Academy for overlooking female talent has been a popular theme this year, from Issa Rae's "Congratulations to those men," while announcing the nominations, to Chris Rock and Steve Martin's onstage joke that there's something missing—va*inas. All of which could be seen as callbacks to Natalie Portman's 2018 comments at the Golden Globes, when she introduced the directing category by saying, "here are the all-male nominees."

Natalie Portman at the Golden Globes

But apparently this sort of "activism" does not exactly impress Rose McGowan—at least not on its own. It's understandable that McGowan—whose 2018 memoir Brave detailed her experiences of sexual assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein and others—would have some strong opinions on how to fight back. She attributes the decline of her acting career to her efforts to resist Weinstein's attacks—after he (allegedly) raped her in a hotel room in 1997.

She also names several other women whom she claims were similarly punished and is working on a follow-up memoir, Trust, about learning to move forward. She has championed the #MeToo movement and made it her mission to change the toxic misogyny within Hollywood—that uses and abuses and discards talented young women. In that light, her problem with Portman's fashion choice was not so much with the cape itself, but with Portman failing to back up the sentiment in her professional life.

In a post on Facebook, McGowan made her point clear, accusing Portman of being "an actress acting the part of someone who cares." She decried the idea that members of the media would refer to such a superficial expression of solidarity as "bravery" and addressed Natalie directly, saying, "Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career-one of them was you. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director- you… You are the problem. Lip service is the problem. Fake support of other women is the problem."

Rose McGowan Rankin

While McGowan's claim overlooked some shorts and anthology movies, others have noted that of the seven feature-length films that Portman's production company, Handsomecharlie, has been involved in, only Portman's own directorial debut, 2015's A Tale of Love and Darkness, was directed solely by a woman. That paints a pretty clear picture of a problem, and it would obviously be hard for Portman to deny it. Fortunately, she didn't. She didn't go on the attack or get defensive. She came out with a statement on Thursday striking a tone of hope and solidarity.

She started out by agreeing with much of McGowan's criticism, saying, "I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me 'brave' for wearing a garment with women's names on it. Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure." She then went on to acknowledge that she hasn't worked with as many female directors as she would like, while also calling out systemic issues that prevent female-helmed projects from getting made and taking the opportunity to name check a host of talented female directors who deserve more work:

"In my long career, I've only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times—I've made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history… I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work… So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying. While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day."

Natalie Portman We Should All Be Feminists A pregnant Natalie Portman speaking at the Women's March 2017

While McGowan's anger is understandable, Portman handled the situation perfectly. She took the energy of that discontent and the criticism and channeled it toward opening the conversation to the larger issues that prevent female directors from getting work—issues that one small production company can only do so much to address. With luck maybe this conversation will begin to push Hollywood institutions to rethink the sexist calculus that robs so many talented women of work.

Culture News

Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner Are Expecting a Baby

The Jonas Brother and the actress got married last year.

Just nine months after their kitschy Las Vegas wedding, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner are expecting a baby!

Us Weekly confirmed that the middle Jonas Brother and the Game of Thrones star are expecting their first child together. The pair wed last May during a surprise ceremony after the Billboard Music Awards, in which they exchanged Ring Pops in place of proper rings; a video of the wedding appeared on Diplo's Instagram. They held a more traditional ceremony a couple of months later in France.


Jonas has already proven to be an awesome uncle to his two nieces, while Turner's effervescent coolness is sure to translate well into motherhood. Unfortunately, pregnancy means she'll have to lay off the wine…

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CULTURE

A Talk With "Sprayground" Founder David Ben David

The designer sat down with Popdust to talk about Sprayground's latest collection, and working with Dave East.

Everyone from Saweetie, Young Dolph, and Jacquees, to Young Thug and Dave East, have worn David Ben David's iconic streetwear brand: Sprayground.

Its safe to say the brand has taken over the urban fashion scene and found a sweet spot in Hip-Hop's upper echelon. The young designer, who even has a budding rap career of his own, sat down with Popdust to discuss his latest collection and describe his special relationship with streetwear that stems back a decade. Intending to revolutionize a market "known for utilitarian purposes," as David puts it, the designer amalgamated his passion for colorful graffiti with his uncanny eye for sophistication. Each design is bursting with personality, and a closer inspection finds every piece to be durable and of extremely high-quality. His latest collection, titled "The Inverno Collezione," is no different. Loud and kaleidoscopic, David's latest work is all about embodying the colorful idiosyncrasies of popular culture. "I wanted to create something that all fans can resonate with," David said, "Whether that be art, video games, iconic comic books or music, all the things I love, especially coming from a background of street art."

How did you creatively shake things up this time around when designing Inverno?

The colors are something else even compared to Sprayground's past work. This collection was launched in conjunction with Art Basel, with a theme around pop-culture. I wanted to make sure this was felt throughout the whole line. "The Inverno Collezione" captures the wow-factor of comic books, video games, and fearless street art.

What pop culture moments specifically?

It celebrates the popularity of video games like Fortnite, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter, [along with] the icons of legendary comic books, including Deadpool, Harley Quinn, The Joker and Black Panther's famous motto "Wakanda Forever." It [also combines] the magic of classic art including street art versions of the Mona Lisa and Salvador Dali.

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How did you connect with Dave East for the Colombian boot campaign? That promo film was crazy.

I contacted Dave because he was one of the first people to see the boot in person. I just instantly fell in love with them and the Colombian vibe, and he shared in my passion, so I knew this was someone I wanted to be involved with. That all opened the door to our latest collection, Global Money, which we created in collaboration with him on MLK Day. I took inspiration for the collection from Dave East's global ambitions, and I wanted to create a bag that artistically includes every currency from each country around the world. We love collaborating with like-minded creatives!

Sprayground


What does this collection say about Sprayground?

We aim to bring art, design, music, travel, and the sixth sense into fashion to revolutionize a market that was known to be for utilitarian purposes. This collection is no different – I wanted to create a collection that brings together all aspects in a stand-out way, and this demonstrates our continuous growth and rebellion in that market.

How do you continue to find ways to push the culture forward with your style? What's your process like? What made you guys decide to get into shoes?

Culture is a huge part of what we do. Our recent concept, the Colombian boot, was created after I received a call from the Colombian Army that they wanted to promote 'Made In Colombia' boots to mark the end of the war with the rebel army after 50 years. I was so intrigued, and I flew straight to Bogota to meet with the government and visit the army factory. The factory had been in business for over 35 years, producing high-quality army boots that were made of Italian leather and built and tested for all terrains.

How did that inspiration turn into the boot?

Taking inspiration from these boots, I took their classic design and added Sprayground's iconic "Shark Mouth" on the back heel, a hidden zipper on the tongue, and named the boots "Fuerza Cobra" with its original use in mind, for paratroopers. There it was, our first-ever shoe. They were so popular they already sold out, so we're already working on a new design.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The V for Vendetta movie came out in 2006 when I was a little teenage edgelord, and I absolutely loved it.

So what better day than The 5th of November to remember, remember the catalyst for ninth grade me starting to tell everyone that I was an anarchist? Sure, at fifteen years old I probably didn't have a particularly strong grasp on politics. After all, teenage edgelords subsist on diets of offensive Internet jokes and Mountain Dew, not polished political rhetoric. But how could a masked, alliteration-spitting, vigilante rising up against a fascist regime not burn a fire deep within my darkened, edgelord soul?

V––the titular antihero of the movie based on the Alan Moore graphic novel of the same name––was every edgelord's wet dream. He was a master assassin, capable of expert knife-play and hand-to-hand combat. He enjoyed old romance films and outlawed books, giving off the air of a misunderstood intellectual. But most importantly, V dressed in all black (with a stylish brimmed hat, m'lady), save for his white mustachioed mask based on the 17th century English revolutionary Guy Fawkes––the same mask that would become the calling card for all manner of edgy Internet men, from anonymous 4chan users to me on my Myspace profile.

Anonymous Mask Very cool.AFP/AFP/Getty Images

I wanted to be V with all my heart. But how could a young boy growing up in a safe, predominantly Jewish suburb stand up against an oppressive government? Easy. I had my mom drive me to Hot Topic, and I purchased a Guy Fawkes mask of my own. I later learned that the Time Warner media conglomerate owns the rights to the mask and profits off every purchase, but I didn't know that at the time. Perhaps if one wants to rise up against the system, one must accept the necessary evil that movie merch comes at the price of fueling capitalism.

Regardless, mask in tow, I rose up against the forces that reigned at my suburban high school.

Some days, I bore the mantle of V during lunch, approaching fellow students outside the cafeteria and reciting the poem: "Remember, remember, the 5th of November, the Gunpowder treason and plot! I know of no reason, the Gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot." These dimwitted children would stare at me with their mouths ajar, and I'd smirk to myself knowing that I just opened their minds to the wonders of anarchy. Down with the government. Rise of the people.

I began watching old romance films, too. In the same way that Natalie Portman's Evey fell in love with V even after he literally tortured her (for the good of the resistance, of course), I knew that girls would find me attractive if I was a total jerk but also had well-formed opinions on black and white love stories. I also bought a switchblade from an army story in Chinatown and taught myself tricks through YouTube videos. "Just like V," I thought.

Slowly but surely, I transformed myself from a young, wannabe edgelord into a full-fledged revolutionary. By the time I was eighteen, I had mastered the art of romance and perfected a few cool switchblade tricks after cutting my finger 1000 times. But it was 2009, and new Alan Moore graphic novel-based movie was on the horizon––a movie that would change my edgelordiness forever.

Rorschach Warner Bros. Pictures

Watchmen introduced me to Rorschach, a new masked vigilante with an ever-shifting ink mask (like a Rorschach test!) and an angrier ideology based around justice against a broken, immoral society: "You know what I wish? I wish all the scum of the Earth had one throat and I had my hands about it." Rorschach reflected me––broken, dark, and angry in my small suburban town, living an existence that nobody could understand.

By then, I was old enough to drive myself to Hot Topic. I bought a shirt with a picture of Rorschach on the front and that very quote on the back. It was time for me to don a new mask.

Over the decades, the meaning of the the 5th of November, or Guy Fawkes Day, has changed time and time again. Originally, the day was a celebration of Guy Fawkes' failure to assassinate King James I. Nowadays, in stark contrast, Guy Fawkes Day is a celebration of rising up against oppressive governments.

Much like Guy Fawkes Day, teenage edgelord me has changed a lot over the years, too. When I look back on my high school years, the first word that comes to mind is cringe. I no longer think wearing movie masks in real life is anything short of lame, and I've thankfully realized that trying to act like a badass movie antihero in real life is a pretty big hindrance to one's social standing. I'm also not an anarchist, not by a long shot. At the same time, I think I have a better understanding of the message of V for Vendetta now than I ever did as a kid––a message that is more relevant in Trump's America than ever before. Guy Fawkes masks might be out of fashion (or maybe they never were in), but maybe we should break them out for old time's sake. After all, what better day is there than today to rise up against fascism?

LiveKindly

It's time to re-evaluate the age-old questions that have plagued society for time immemorial: How are celebrities so hot? How do they stay hot? Is it their wealth—if you sleep on a bed of money, do you never age?

If that were true, George Lucas (ranked America's wealthiest celebrity in 2018) wouldn't look like George Lucas. Or is it as Jane Fonda says: "Good genes and a lot of money?" After living in the age of celebrity tabloid culture, toxic diet culture, and Instagram, most people agree that it is largely determined by good genes—but also a good diet. As such, celebrities are said to follow such outlandish (and dangerous) eating patterns as the "baby food diet," "the cookie diet," and the "mushroom diet."

You could also go vegan, like many of the hottest and probably healthiest celebrities today. While we want to dissuade you from the misconception that veganism is merely a diet or a fad rather than a committed lifestyle, November 1 is World Vegan Day, which means that if you eat beef in public, you might an angry stare from the 11% of the world population who are thought to follow a vegan, vegetarian, or even semi-vegetarian lifestyle. In response, you can just glare at them defiantly and say, "Do you want me to look like 2018's 'most beautiful vegan,' Benedict Cumberbatch? No? I didn't think so." Actually, don't do that. They're likely to start listing the dozens of hot celebrities who are also vegan—and while many are activists to encourage public awareness about animal cruelty and the environmental ravages of meat production, we're mostly listing them because they're hot.

So in honor of World Vegan Day: Educate yourself that veganism is a lifestyle and not just a diet, meat production has many damaging consequences, veganism may be the "single biggest way" to reduce your carbon footprint (up to 73%), and while not all vegans are hot, luckily there are so many types of hot that showing empathy and compassion for creatures other than ourselves might be the hottest quality to have.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Of course we're starting here. In 2018, he was even named PETA's Most Beautiful Vegan.