Elvis's legacy is complicated, to say the least.
Elvis died 42 years ago—or so we think.
Some people believe that he is not dead at all. He could be 84-years-old, living on some island under a different name, or strolling around in a wig, quietly laughing at all the teenagers covering "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" on ukulele.
Whether he's actually alive or dead, Elvis's legacy is a complex one. Despite all his achievements, there's that little fact that he began dating Priscilla Presley when he was 24—and she was 14.
Elvis and 14-year-old PriscillaImage via elvisbiography.net
She wasn't the only one. Many outlets have claimed that Elvis frequently had relationships with 14-year-old or maybe even 12-year-old girls, keeping groups of them around him when on tour.
He was allegedly "obsessed" with virginity, because "Elvis loved 14 and 15-year-old girls," according to author Alanna Nash. "He was insecure about his sexual prowess and wanted virgins so they wouldn't have anyone to compare him to as a lover," she said. "Adult women scared him. He wanted to mould them and mentor them and they adored him. He didn't seem to worry that a fling with a child could land him in jail."
(Sidenote: Well, Jesus Christ, dear Straight Male species—is that why so many of you feel the need to have sex with children? Did you know that your "sexual prowess," or whatever the hell that means, matters quite little in comparison to your ability to actually know your way around a woman's anatomy? Are you so insecure that you need to ruin lives to prove your masculinity, for heaven's sake?)
Out of all of his consorts, Priscilla lasted the test of time. The two were married in 1967, and when she gave birth to his first child, Elvis allegedly stopped having sex with her, saying he couldn't sleep with women who had children. She eventually cheated on him, and when he found out, he forced her to sleep with him (read as: spousal rape), leading to their divorce.
Their relationship remained intact through the years, though. After Elvis's (supposed) death, Priscilla became the arbiter of Elvis's estate, and she continues to control much of his legacy, opening Graceland to the public in 1972. Most recently, she has greenlighted a deal with Netflix. The platform will be creating a comedic series that portrays Elvis as a super spy, who "trades in his white jumpsuit for a jet pack when he is covertly inducted into a secret government spy program to help battle the dark forces that threaten the country he loves," according to the official press release.
"From the time Elvis was a young boy he always dreamed of being the superhero fighting crime and saving the world — Agent King lets him do just that," Presley said. "My co-creator John Eddie and I are so excited to be working with Netflix and Sony Animation on this amazing project and getting the chance to show the world an Elvis they haven't seen before," she continued.
Image via Variety
Why are we giving a pedophile a Netflix show in which he not only gets to be the king of rock, but he also gets to be a heroic super-spy? And in 2019, no less? To add insult to injury, we're also getting an Elvis biopic. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the film is supposed to air on October 1, 2021. So, to any straight white men who are afraid that you might soon lose your place as the star of the cinemas and the most powerful demographic in the world, don't let a few social justice warriors get you down. You're perfectly fine.
You've been fine for a long time. Sometimes, it's even hard to keep track of all the famous men who had affairs with teenage girls.
While we know why that's not acceptable now, maybe we can give these men of the distant past the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we don't need to totally disown our affection for our vintage heroes, many of whom are beloved cornerstones of our modern culture.
On the other hand, we absolutely don't need to be glorifying them today with Netflix shows and biopics, capitalizing on their legacies and refurbishing archaic ideas of what masculinity is supposed to be. Maybe we don't need to cancel Elvis, but we sure don't need a cartoon spy version of him spitting dirty jokes as he flies around our computer screens. We sure as hell don't need to watch him float around in a Baz Luhrmann film that pretends to be feminist by featuring a few scenes where Priscilla Presley raises her voice.
Maybe we could replace whatever this disastrous-sounding Elvis show is going to be with, say, a third season of the OA, or a live-stream of an ocean, or literally anything else.
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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