In the Wake of the Aziz Ansari (non)Scandal, Revisiting South Park’s ‘Safe Space’

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South Park Image courtesy of Comedy Central

 

The dialogue following the Aziz Ansari non-scandal has been as heated as any since the legitimate Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations unleashed the explosive, zeitgeist-shifting #MeToo movement. But just as the French Revolution had its Robespierre, #MeToo has its hysteria-stirrers.

And so it was that this Monday babe.net published an “expose” by Katie Way, in which she detailed what was apparently little more than a bad date that the anonymous subject of the article (assigned the nom de guerre Grace) had with comedian/celebrity Aziz Ansari, editorially escalating it into some bizarre notion of sexual predation. If you need getting up to speed on the “situation,” read the original babe.net piece here, then read Bari Weiss’ incisive New York Times rebuttal.

Of course, the story is a direct extension of the First-Amendment-defying culture of “safe spaces,” currently multiplying on college campuses across the nation, and arguably creating a generation of ideological absolutists – those who long for a world in which they would never again have to see or hear anything that offends their sensibilities.

As usual, genuine wisdom comes in the form of a South Park episode, this one from October 2015, and fittingly titled Safe Space. In it, PC Principal heaps the burden on poor Butters of sorting out all the negative comments from Cartman’s social media – leading to him then having to perform the same task for a somewhat bizarre collection of celebrities, including Steven Seagal, Vin Diesel and Demi Lovato.

No surprise, the episode’s crowning moment is a song called “In My Safe Space.” Within it is contained all the enlightenment (“If you do not like me / You are not allowed in my safe space”) you will likely need to draw your own conclusion on the whole mess.

 

Another Four Male Models Accuse Bruce Weber of Sexual Harassment

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Image by BFA

 

This weekend, a report in The New York Times revealed 15 male models are accusing photographer Bruce Weber of sexual harassment and misconduct, with another 13 male models and assistants accusing fellow photographer Mario Testino.

Now, another four have come out with allegations against Weber. A Business of Fashion report finds D.L. Janney, a former male model, accusing Weber of asking him to strip nude during a break in a British Vogue photoshoot in 1982 so he might take photos for “his own use, and to show Calvin [Klein].” Janney believes Weber “blacklisted” him from the industry after Weber asked him and his male model brother to “pretend to be boyfriends” and they refused.

Christopher Cates says Weber asked him to strip and touched him inappropriately at a shoot in Miami in 2006. Alex Geerman says Weber touched his genital area while doing “breathing exercises” with him in 2008 – he now says Weber didn’t do something wrong, though, explaining: “It took me years to figure out, it wasn’t a sexual thing. It was an art thing.”

Finally, Ryan Vigilant said he was touched inappropriately by Weber at a shoot in 2008. After hearing Weber’s denials to the Times expose, he told Business of Fashion“The statements that Bruce and Mario, or should I say their lawyers made, pains me. I don’t understand their denial. Either their sense of entitlement has so clouded their ethical judgement, it’s not based in reality anymore, or they are going through so much pain internally and are destroying themselves.”

Miley Cyrus, Elton John, Sam Smith, & Kendrick Lamar Join Grammys Performance Lineup

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This year’s Grammys lineup is heating up – new additions to the 2018 performance roster include seven-time winner and current nominee Kendrick Lamar, as well as four-time winner Sam Smith, 22-time winners U2, and a special performance from five-time winner Elton John with former nominee Miley Cyrus.

Elton and Miley are singing in celebration of John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin, both of whom will receive the Recording Academy President’s Merit Award at a special concert, “Elton John: I’m Still Standing – A Grammy Salute,” happening two days after the awards ceremony.

Other performers announced for this year’s show include Alessia Cara, Cardi B, Childish Gambino, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Kesha, Khalid, Lady Gaga, Little Big Town, Logic, Patti LuPone, Bruno Mars, P!nk, Ben Platt, and SZA.

The Grammys will take place January 28 at Madison Square Garden, and air on CBS at 7:30 PM EST. They’re hosted by James Corden.

‘Prince: Live on the Big Screen’ Announced Two Years After His Death

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Nearly two years after his shocking death on April 21, 2016, a live concert event will take place in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, accompanied by a new concert film titled Prince: Live on the Big Screen.

It will feature previously unreleased Prince footage, both audio and video, as well as onstage musical accompaniment from some of his favorite collaborators throughout his career. According to the Paisley Park estate, which is putting on the show, “very special guests” will contribute to the performance.

It all takes place at the Target Center, and is part of a four-day-long event, Celebration 2018, being put on by the estate. Tickets go on sale this Saturday, January 20.

Since his untimely death, interest in Prince’s music has only escalated. His estate donated memorabilia to an exhibition in London that took place last October, and a photo book, Prince: A Private View, was published the same month. In September, the concert film Sign O’ The Times aired in the U.S. on Showtime.

Directors’ Guild Nominations Improve On Golden Globes’ Lack of Diversity

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Photo by Justin Lubin, courtesy of Universal

 

The Directors’ Guild of America have announced their nominations for the year’s best directing, and, thankfully, we won’t need Natalie Portman to step in and announce every single nominee is a man again – though that’s not to say things are at all where they should be in terms of diversity.

Rightfully so, Greta Gerwig was nominated for Lady Bird, a major snub from the Globes, and so was Jordan Peele for Get Out. It’s still a pretty homogenous list, with far fewer female directors than deserved (where is the love for Mudbound’s Dee Rees?) but hopefully indicative of an Oscars roster that will shine directorial love on Gerwig and Peele.

All the directors selected are first-time DGA nominees except for Dunkirk’s Christopher Nolan. It’s also interesting to note that while Peele, who is only the fourth black director ever to be nominated for the award, is also nominated for best First-Time Director, Gerwig was actually ineligible for that nomination since she shared a co-directing credit on 2008’s Nights and Weekends.

Notable snubs included for Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino and Steven Spielberg for The Post, both expected to be frontrunners at the forthcoming Academy Awards. The DGA’s and the Oscars have only disagreed on Best Director seven times since their inception in 1950.

Take a look at the full list below.

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN FEATURE FILM

GUILLERMO del TORO
The Shape of Water
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Unit Production Manager: J. Miles Dale
Production Manager: Dennis Chapman
First Assistant Director: Pierre Henry
Second Assistant Director: Tyler Delben

GRETA GERWIG
Lady Bird
(A24)
Unit Production Managers: Lila Yacoub, Danielle Blumstein, Jamin O’Brien (New York Crew)
First Assistant Directors: Jonas Spaccarotelli, Cedric Vara (New York Crew)
Second Assistant Director: Brendan Lee, Dana Zolli (New York Crew)
Second Second Assistant Directors: Lillian Awa, Teri Barber

MARTIN McDONAGH
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Unit Production Manager: Bergen Swanson
Assistant Unit Production Manager: Peggy Robinson
First Assistant Director: Peter Kohn
Second Assistant Director: Paula Case
Second Second Assistant Director: Spencer Taylor

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
Dunkirk
(Warner Bros.)
Unit Production Managers: David Witz, Christine Raspillere (France Unit), Chris Brock (UK Unit), Nicky Tüske (Netherlands Unit)
First Assistant Directors: Nilo Otero, William Pruss (France Unit), Willem Quarles van Ufford (Netherlands Unit)
Second Assistant Director: Eric Lasko, Nicolas Baldino (France Unit), Alexis Chelli (France Unit), Clément Comet (France Unit)
Second Second Assistant Director: Alina Gatti

JORDAN PEELE
Get Out
(Universal Pictures)
Unit Production Managers: Marcei A. Brown, Rick A. Osako (Fairhope Unit)
First Assistant Director: Gerard DiNardi
Second Assistant Directors: Ram Paul Silbey, Marc Newland (Fairhope Unit), Jack McKenna (New York Unit)
Second Second Assistant Director: Maggie Ballard
Location Manager: Kurt Enger (New York Unit)

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT OF A FIRST-TIME FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR

GEREMY JASPER
Patti Cake$
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Unit Production Manager: Sara Blechman
First Assistant Director: Inna Braude
Second Assistant Director: Natasha Rivera
Second Second Assistant Director: Lucas Isabella
Additional Second Second Assistant Director: Alice Johnson

WILLIAM OLDROYD
Lady Macbeth
(Roadside Attractions)
Production Manager: Robert K. Harm
Unit Manager: Eugene Galbrath
First Assistant Director: George Every
Second Assistant Director: Richard Stanley Jan Harris

JORDAN PEELE
Get Out
(Universal Pictures)
Unit Production Managers: Marcei A. Brown, Rick A. Osako (Fairhope Unit)
First Assistant Director: Gerard DiNardi
Second Assistant Directors: Ram Paul Silbey, Marc Newland (Fairhope Unit), Jack McKenna (New York Unit)
Second Second Assistant Director: Maggie Ballard
Location Manager: Kurt Enger (New York Unit)

TAYLOR SHERIDAN
Wind River
(Acacia Entertainment)
Unit Production Manager: Christopher H. Warner
First Assistant Director: Nicholas Harvard
Second Assistant Director: Jason Altieri
Second Second Assistant Director: Kristina Massie

AARON SORKIN
Molly’s Game
(STX Entertainment)
Unit Production Managers: Lyn Lucibello-Brancatella, Stuart M. Besser, Michael Beugg (Los Angeles Unit)
Assistant Unit Production Manager: Bart Lipton (Los Angeles Unit)
First Assistant Director: Walter Gasparovic
Second Assistant Directors: Penny Charter, Travis Rehwaldt (New York Unit), Paula Case (Los Angeles Unit)
Second Second Assistant Directors: Conor Griff (New York Unit), Drew Ritson (New York Unit), Bryan Snodgrass (Los Angeles Unit)
Location Manager: Dena Ghieth (New York Unit)

Allie and Lexie Kaplan are the Twins Turning Nude Selfies into Cutting Social Commentary

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Photo by Rochelle Brodin/Getty Images for De Re Gallery

 

Allie and Lexie Kaplan have sat on a lot of faces. At Art Basel last month, it was Harvey Weinstein’s and their own. As part of one of their live performance pieces, the twins covered their butts in paint and sat on canvases emblazoned with their own self-portraits and images of celebrities, like Weinstein.

The #SatOnYourFace series is just one example of the way the girls use pop culture, selfies and social media to explore the current cultural climate. Whether they’re posing with children’s toys in nothing but their undies or painting large-scale images of Kim Kardashian’s sex tape, the 24-year-old artists showcase the way digital media has transformed female representation.

In doing so, they’ve also flipped the script on the male gaze, using selfie culture not as a means of self-promotion but a way to control their own narrative. “In a lot of ways, we look at the selfie as a modern day Renaissance portrait,” says Lexie. “But we’re women, painting ourselves, so we get to define the context.”

Born in Short Hills, NJ, the Kaplan Twins relocated to Los Angeles after graduating from NYU two years ago. Scrolling through their shared Instagram page, they look like any other sisters enjoying their 20s in the age of social media. Through #TBTs and #WokeUpLikeThis photos, the duo satirizes our need as a society to share every waking moment of our lives, while also capitalizing on our collective desire to consume it.

“The other day, we posted a selfie in front of one of our paintings that says, ‘Shit, I just spilled Kombucha on my Yeezy,” says Allie, “and someone commented, ‘If that’s not the most 2017 thing I’ve ever seen, then I don’t know what is.” Adds Lexie, “And that’s exactly the point.”

 

One of the twins’ #SatOnYourFace paintings featuring Damien Hirst

 

You did a set of live #SatOnYourFace paintings at Art Basel in December. What’s the idea behind the series?

Lexie: A lot of our work is about taking control over how we present ourselves.
Allie: And having fun.
Lexie: We don’t take ourselves too seriously, so at face value, you look at the paintings and think, ‘Oh these are just two twins sitting on canvases in sexy thongs.’
Allie: But the idea behind it is about playing with that fantasy, while also trying to subvert it.
Lexie: We’ve definitely sat on a lot of women’s faces, too.

But there are probably a lot of men who buy your work just because of the process.

Lexie: Sure, but we’re not just these two cute twin girls – we are real artists. But we also know we’re probably being fetishized by a lot of people. So, we play into it and know exactly what we’re doing when we’re ‘selling sex.’
Allie: Yeah, there might be some misconception that we don’t realize what we’re doing, but we are very, very aware of exactly what we’re putting out there and how we’re doing it. That’s what happened with #SatOnYourFace’ and this other project we did, ‘Boy Toys,’ where we posed suggestively with different children’s toys on social media. We never actually posed topless or showed ourselves nude or anything, it was just the implication of it being there.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Allie: I’d say it’s very ‘of the times.’ Everything we make is really relevant to what’s happening in the world right now and what people are talking about, whether that’s on social media or in the news.
Lexie: It’s really about society’s obsession with celebrity, social media and sex.
Allie: And narcissism, and how that’s turned into self-exploitation, especially online. If you look at CNN even, a lot of what they’re reporting on is what celebrities are eating for breakfast.
Lexie: Then you go on social media and see people sharing photos of themselves during every part of their day, waking up, at the grocery store. We’re just constantly being exposed to these things, so it naturally comes out in our work. That’s kind of your job as an artist – to hold up a mirror to the rest of the world, and make stuff people can connect with.

Is that why you insert yourself as characters in a lot of your work?

Allie: We’re commenting on the nature of our narcissistic culture, but also inserting ourselves into the dialogue.
Lexie: Like when we did the naked selfie series – I literally had never taken a naked selfie before.
Allie: I take them all the time.
Lexie: But for that project, I took this photo of myself and realized that it’s okay to take a naked selfie and feel confident and beautiful.
Allie: Then we shared the images and received so much backlash and felt so much shame. That’s not okay – no one should be made to feel that way or have their confidence taken away from them.
Lexie: So, in that situation, we really wanted to insert ourselves directly into the conversation. If we’re going to be making work and people are going to be talking about it, or us, we want to be able to control the narrative.

 

‘No Aerial Shots Plz’ from the twins’ ‘Make Me Famous’ series

 

You’re not just participating in selfie culture, though. You’re also turning those photos into oil paintings. What’s the goal behind that?

Lexie: We just want to change the context. I love the reference of Manet’s ‘Olympia,’ because that, at it’s time, was totally controversial – a man painting a nude woman on a couch.
Allie: What we’re doing is controversial, too, and not just because we’re painting Paris Hilton’s sex tape.
Lexie: Because we have the ability to send a message of empowerment, to tell other women, ‘You can feel good about yourself, you have the ability to control how you people see you.’

Do you consider your art feminist?

[in unison]: It’s definitely feminist.
Allie: But it’s also just about the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women in society, particularly in entertainment, and how that relates to fame. We use our work and even our social media profiles to really play with those tropes. What if it were a guy sitting on women’s faces on a canvas, or painting nude selfies of us and other artists? It would totally change the conversation.
Lexie: You also have to think about the history of female representation. So, the fact that we’re the ones dictating our own narrative, even if it’s in response to the way others view us – that’s where the feminist aspect comes from.

Your work lives in a really unique space in that it exists on the internet, but also in the real world. How do you think it translates so seamlessly between the two?

Allie: Our work straddles this line between the internet and reality because we document what we do online, but the actual work lives in galleries.
Lexie: So you’re part of the process of seeing it come together on social media, but know that it does exist somewhere IRL.
Allie: We use the internet as a tool to showcase who we are and what we’re making, and because what we’re making often references what’s happening online, it goes full circle.

What do you want people to take away from your art?

Lexie: We want people to relate to our work, and feel like it’s accessible instead of some pretentious art world thing they can’t be a part of.
Allie: We want people to look at what we’re doing and see that they can do what they want, too. And in terms of our art, we just want people to continue thinking about the world that we live in and never get complacent. Of course, we want people to enjoy themselves, but we want them to ask questions and think about the bigger dynamics at work.

 

Samantha Bee Takes Worldwide Apology Tour on Behalf of Donald Trump

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What’s one thing that Korea, El Salvador, the grave site of Francis Scott Key, and most of the world have in common? They all deserve a personal apology from Donald Trump. As nice as that would be, no one should actually hold their breath waiting for one.

But late night TV provocateur Samantha Bee has offered to fill in for the president on an “Apology Race,” which she announced on her show this Monday. She and her correspondents will travel the world to apologize for “every garbage thing Donald Trump does.” So they’ll obviously have their work cut out for them.

“His poor impulse control might force us to go apologize to Korea, or the entire Muslim world,” Bee says in the clip.

Fans can recommend a place that needs an apology with the hashtag, #ApologyRace. The finale of the race takes place January 24 during Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS.

 

Vivienne Westwood Releases Fall 18 Fashion Film ‘Don’t Get Killed’

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Vivienne Westwood has today released a short fashion film ahead of her Fall/Winter 18-19 collection, titled “Don’t Get Killed.”

It takes viewers behind the scenes of Westwood’s campaign photoshoot for her upcoming new collection, and features some words of wisdom from the designer herself.

“Happy new year, world,” she begins. “I designed a set of playing cards, which is a strategy to save the whole world. Collect the cards, connect the cards. I am here at a photoshoot for our new collection. And it’s got a theme of war running through it. And here they are, printed as prayer flags. Because, don’t forget, when you connect the cards, then it brings peace.”

Westwood has explored this concept of playing cards in the past – in a press release on her site describing her Spring 18 collection, the queen of punk explains: “Everything’s connected, you can collect them like football cards; it is also a plan of action, a survey map. If we connect the dots, we can win the fight for the free world, first step: Switch to [sic] Green Energy Supplier.”

A feature-length documentary on Westwood titled Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist is set for release this year, and will compete in the World Documentary Cinema Competition later this month at Sundance Film Festival.

Take a look at the Fall/Winter 18-19 campaign film below.

 

2018 Zagat National Dining Trends Survey Released; Is Tipping on the Outs?

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Maialino, New York City

 

The Zagat 2018 National Dining Trends Survey has just been released, and perhaps the most notable statistic finds that 43% of diners strongly support the elimination of tipping, in favor of higher menu prices. It is a movement vigorously promoted by restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (Maialino, Union Square Cafe, Marta, Gramercy Tavern, Untitled, etc.), and obviously gaining momentum nationwide.

Some of the other more interesting results? Philadelphians are the highest tippers (20.3%); unacceptable noise levels and lackluster service are the most bothersome aspects of eating out; only 53% of restaurant goers now browse food on social media, down from 60% last year; 28% would pay for a hard to get reservation; and, surely the ultimate foodie profligacy, 56% said they would do multiple lunches or dinners on a trip, in order to tick off all the “must” restaurants at that location.

Here are the highlights.

 

Zagat’s 2018 National Dining Trends Survey Results

  • Diners are eating out for lunch and dinner a whopping 4.9 times on average per week.
    • Out of all the cities surveyed, diners in Houston are eating out the most with an average of 5.7 times a week.
    • Diners in Dallas – Fort Worth, Miami and Los Angeles are close behind though with an average of 5.6
  • When it comes to the bill, diners said they spend $36.40 on average per person while eating out at a restaurant for dinner.
    • New York City takes the cake for the highest average bill with New Yorkers claiming they spend $46.14 on average per person. This is followed by Boston ($41.54), Chicago ($38.66), then Washington D.C. ($38.45)
  • The national average for tipping is 18.1% with Philadelphians being the highest tippers out of those surveyed, tipping an average of 20.3%.
    • Other high tipping cities include Denver (19.5%), Washington D.C. (19.2%), Chicago (19%) and Boston (19%).

 

The Dandelion, Philadelphia 

 

  • There are several irritants about dining out, but noise levels bother diners the most (24%), followed by service (23%), crowds (15%), prices (12%), and parking (10%).
  • Most diners (57%) typically make restaurant reservations via internet, but 30% just call the restaurant directly. 4% say they typically make the reservation in person and 9% don’t bother making a reservation at all.
  • The debate of phones at the table continues. 57% of diners said they feel people using their mobile phones at the table is ok in moderation. Some are not as tolerant though as 35% feel it is completely unacceptable.
  • 53% of diners nationally say they browse food photos on social media, which is down from the 60% who claimed to in 2016. They are not taking as many food photos to share on social media either – 41% say they do vs. 44% in 2016.
  • Expect to see the most food photos on your feed in Honolulu as over half (56%) of diners there told us they take food photos to share on social media.
  • Among those who take food photos to share on social media:
    • 49% admit having stopped their dining companion(s) from eating so they can take food photos compared to the 60% claiming to do so in 2016.
    • 35% have taken photos of every dish at the table (versus 50% in 2016)
    • 16% have picked a place to eat just so they can take their own food photos (versus 19% in 2016).
  • We all know timing is key when it comes to posting your photos too. 35% of diners post photos of their meal at the table, 2% sneak into the bathroom during the meal, 14% post on the way home, 38% post later that night from the comfort of their beds, and 11% save them for #TBT or later.
  • Social media continues to have the same amount of influence on our dining decisions though. When asked if they have ever picked a place to eat based on food photos on social media, 75% of diners said yes, the same percentage of those who said yes in 2016.

 

Bestia, Los Angeles

 

  • When it comes to some of the newer restaurant trends:
    • 70% of respondents are so over chairs without a back (i.e. stools).
    • 42% don’t mind the restaurant trend of ordering on an iPad/screen but 12% love it and 37% are over it
    • 36% don’t mind restaurants that make their own ketchup while 23% love it and 16% are over it.
    • Nearly half (47%) don’t mind restaurants where you pay the bill on a handheld device while 22% love it and 20% are over it.
  • When asked how they feel about the growing trend of restaurants eliminating tipping in favor of higher menu prices, 43% nationally say they support it and hope it catches on. 33% hate it.
    • Diners in New Orleans hate it the most (42%), followed by Charleston (40%) and Miami (40%)
  • There are several deal-breakers that would stop them from dining at a restaurant. The biggest dining deal-breaker (36%) is restaurants with a cash-only policy followed by communal tables (33%), no-substitutions (27%), and reservation-only policies (19%).
  • Some diners are willing to travel a great distance just for a good meal. 54% said they would travel up to 30 minutes, 20% said a few hours, 13% would make a weekend drive, and 13% would also jump on a plane and plan a vacation around it
    • Diners from Orlando are the most willing (31%) to travel a few hours, followed by Nashville and Chicago both at 25%.
Would you ever…?
  • Pay for a hard-to-get reservation? 28% of respondents say “Yes. I’ve done it or would.”
  • 87% would not fake a food allergy to get a dish modified to their liking while 13% have or would do so.
  • 55% say they would not ask to charge their phones in a bar of restaurant but 45% have or would.
  • Eat multiple lunches or dinners during a trip to squeeze in all of the locales must-try dishes? 56% say “Yes. I’ve done it or would.”
 
Girl & The Goat, Chicago