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Emmys

“We Solved it!” Diversity at the Emmys

The Primetime Emmys televised jokes about diversity, but failed to select a diverse winning pool.

After president Donald Trump called last year’s Emmy ratings “the worst ever”, the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards took things to a new level. A record-low audience of 10.2 million put the Emmys down 11 percent from the past two years.

The declining popularity of live broadcasted television left the much anticipated 70th Emmy ceremony struggling—but the awkwardness didn’t stop there.

Yet again, major diversity issues presented themselves throughout the three-hour show. As the hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost, made jokes about Christianity, and more and more white actors took to the stage to collect awards, the atmosphere was detectable from the faces of cringing audience members.

Expectations

The 2017 ceremony seemed to signal the start of a progressive movement, away from historic ideologies. All three lead actor awards were given to men from diverse backgrounds and other categories were also more equally distributed than previous ceremonies. Winners included Sterling K. Brown, Riz Ahmed, Lena Waithe and Atlanta.

This year, the promising prospect continued as the nominee pool included a record 36 non-white actors—a 20 percent increase from 2017. Hollywood was quick to make this known before announcing its winners.

What actually happened?

The show began with the musical opening number: “We Solved It!” Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Kristen Bell and RuPaul (to name but a few) mocked the industry with a poignant song about diversity.

The song referenced Sandra Oh—the first Asian woman to ever be nominated for a lead actress Emmy: “There were none, now there’s one. And so we’re done!” It appeared that, whilst the joke seemed slightly awkward, the 2018 ceremony was being set up to include a diverse and inspiring winner’s circle.

Oh didn’t win—“It’s an honor just to be Asian,” she joked.

Instead, this year’s emphasis on diversity served to draw attention to the fact that only three non-white recipients received awards during the main broadcast.

On a pre-recorded clip, Michael Che did present what he called the “Reparation Emmys”.

“As a black comedian, for so many years our TV legends and heroes have gone unrecognized,

“So this year as host, I took it upon myself to finally right some of those wrongs. I present: The Reparation Emmys,” Che said.

The awards credited Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons), Kadeem Hardison (A Different World), Jaleel White (Family Matters), Jimmie Walker (Good Times), Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris), and John Witherspoon (The Wayan Bros). Gibbs had previously been nominated five times and never won.

As the night unfolded, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel became the first streaming show to win an Emmy, and Regina Kind (Seven Seconds) and Thandie Newton (Westworld) also took home trophies. Darren Criss, whose mother is Filipino, also took home Best Actor in a Limited Series for his role in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

Game of Thrones, previously criticized for lacking diversity, ended the ceremony by once again winning Outstanding Drama. With the show’s final season coming up, more diverse winners from the production in the near future seem unlikely.

Highlights of the Emmys

In a strange turn of events, Glen Weiss shocked everyone, including girlfriend Jan Svendsen, by proposing to her while accepting his reward for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special.

Jenifer Lewis wore a bedazzled custom-made outfit by Nike, thanking them for supporting the football player and activist Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick famously kneeled during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice.

A host of celebrities also used their outfits to advocate political agendas. Accessories included Planned Parenthood and “I Am a Voter” badges, and ACLU blue ribbons. Sarah Sophie Flicker also arrived with a “Stop Kavanaugh” message drawn onto her arm.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star, Rachel Brosnahan, even urged people to vote in the upcoming midterm elections during her acceptance speech, and comedian Hannah Gadsby infused hers with parody.

“I mean, for somebody like me—a nobody, from nowhere—gets this sweet gig, free suit, new boots, just ’cause I don’t like men? That’s a joke, of course. Just jokes, fellas, calm down.

“Hashtag: NotAllMenButALotOfEm. No, it is just jokes, but what are jokes these days? We don’t know. Nobody knows what jokes are. Especially not men! Am I right, fellas? That’s why I’m presenting alone,” she said.

After a somewhat uncomfortable show, the reality of technical and societal change seems to be placing stress on traditional live network broadcasts. This year, the Emmys used the Primetime awards to force us to recognise that they have become more self-aware, but their enlightenment failed to deliver entertainment and implication.

The Creative Arts Emmys actually showcased a record number of non-white winners, but with much less press than the Primetime awards, a lot of these happened offstage. Clearly, Hollywood still has a long way to go on its road to diversity.

Further reading: The Relevancy of BlacKkKlansman

Allison Mack

Allison Mack Arrested for Alleged Role in Sex Trafficking Case

Smallville actress Allison Mack has been arrested in connection to a high profile sex trafficking case, according to police. Mack, best known for her role as Chloe in the popular TV show, was indicted Friday 20 with charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy.

In a statement released by the Justice Department, the United States Attorney Donoghue said, “As alleged in the indictment, Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere.

“The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants’ benefit. This Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting predators who victimize others through sex trafficking and forced labor.”

Mack was allegedly second-in-command within a New York-based organization called NXIVM (pronounced Nex-e-um). The group, which markets itself as a ‘self-help’ group, was founded by Keith Raniere (the only male member of the so-called cult) in 1998. Raniere was arrested last month in Mexico for the same charges. Both Mack and Raniere deny all allegations made against them.

According to reports, the organization required thousands of dollars for new recruits to participate in courses, and to rise through the ranks and recruit others to do the same.

According to CNN, Mack apparently co-founded a secret society within the organization called ‘DOS’, in which women recruited other women under false pretences for sexual purposes. New recruits are dubbed ‘slaves’. When they have recruited new women, their position transitioned to that of ‘master’.

In more twisted events, some of the organization’s recruits were purportedly branded with Raniere’s initials on their pubic regions using a cauterizing pen while other women held them down.

Mack had allegedly received payment and other benefits from Raniere in exchange for the women engaging in sexual activities with him.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney said, “As this pyramid scheme continues to unravel, we ask anyone who might have been a victim to reach out to us with information that may further our investigation.”

If convicted, both Mack and Raniere face “mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment.”

Further reading: Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Retrial to Begin

Stranger Things

Stranger Things Creators Sued for Plagiarism

The creators of the hit Netflix TV series Stranger Things (2016) and Stranger Things 2 (2017), Matt and Ross Duffer (known in Hollywood as the “Duffer Brothers”), are being sued by producer Charlie Kessler for plagiarising his short film Montauk (2012). Kessler has said that he originally pitched his short film and a feature script (titled The Montauk Project) to the Duffer Brothers back in 2014.

Stranger Things, which first aired on Netflix in 2016, was originally sold to the major streaming service under the same title, Montauk. As with Kessler’s short film, the show had initially been set in Montauk, Long Island. The show was later named Stranger Things and the location shifted to Indiana.

The original logline of the series after it received the greenlight from Netflix’s executives reads: “Described as a love letter to the 80s classics that captivated a generation, the series is set in 1980 Montauk, Long Island, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.”   

Similarly, Kessler’s narrative involves a young boy that goes missing, a nearby military base conducting experiments on children and a supernatural monster from another dimension.

A spokesperson for Kessler has said of the case: “After the massive success of Stranger Things that is based on the Plaintiff’s concepts that the Plaintiff discussed with the Defendants, Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s concepts without compensating or crediting Plaintiff for his concepts.”

Kessler is suing the Duffer Brothers for breach of implied contract and seeks monetary damages at trial.

The Duffer Brothers have since denied these claims. Alex Kohner, the directors’ lawyer, said in a statement to the Press Association, “Mr Kessler’s claim is completely meritless. He had no connection to the creation or development of Stranger Things. 

“The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him.”

Kohner added: “This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.”

Stranger Things is one of the most popular television shows on Netflix. Netflix experienced its most popular streaming day of the year when the first episode of the second season aired in October 2017.

Further reading: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to Support Inclusion Rider