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Hank Azaria ‘Willing to Step Aside’ from Voicing Indian Simpsons Character Apu Amid Controversy

Hank Azaria has outlined what he thinks is “the right thing to do” amid controversy over his Simpsons character Apu.

Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, the actor responded to the recent backlash surrounding Indian shopkeeper Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who has been a character on the Fox television series since 1990.

Controversy has surrounded the character since the release of a documentary last year called The Problem with Apu, in which writer Hari Kondabolu argued the character perpetuates racial stereotypes through mannerisms and an exaggerated accent.

Azaria, 54, told Colbert, 53, that he understands the criticism.

“It’s come to my attention more and more, especially in the last couple of years, that people in the South Asian community in this country have been fairly upset by the voice and characterization of Apu,” he said.

“It sparked a lot of conversation about what should be done with the character going forward, which is not so easy to answer,” he continued. “And I’ve tried to express this before — the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad. It was certainly not my intention. I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character, and the idea that it’s brought pain and suffering in any way, that it was used to marginalize people, it’s upsetting. Genuinely.”

The Simpsons addressed the controversy in an episode earlier this month with a scene of Marge reading a favorite childhood book with daughter Lisa. However, she suddenly found the story about a tyrannical slaveowner much more racist than she remembered and tried to edit it to fit modern standards of political correctness.

“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Marge asked.

“It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” Lisa responded, looking directly at the camera before the shot zoomed in on a photo of Apu with the message “Don’t have a cow.”

“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge said before Lisa added, “If at all.”

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The response drew even more criticism as many fans thought the scene fell flat. Azaria told Colbert he had “nothing to do with the writing or voicing” of the scene.

“Apu doesn’t speak in that segment,” he said. “It was a late addition that I saw right around the same time that everybody else in America did, so I didn’t know it was going to be in until I saw it.”

“I think that if anybody came away from that segment feeling that they should lighten up or take a joke better or grow a thicker skin … that’s certainly not the way I feel about it,” he continued. “That’s definitely not the message that I want to send out.”

Colbert pushed the actor for his thoughts on how the show should approach Apu moving forward.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought. As I say, my eyes have been opened,” Azaria said. “And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character — and what their American experience of it has been.”

“Listening to voices in television means inclusion in the writer’s room,” he continued. “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the room, not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced. I am perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what The Simpsons does. It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”


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Selena Gomez Stands Behind ’13 Reasons Why’ Amid Controversy

Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” gained popularity almost instantly after being released on the streaming platform March 31. But as more and more people are watching the series, controversy has surfaced surrounding its sensitive subject matter

“13 Reasons Why,” based on the best-selling book by Jay Asher, follows the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who takes her own life after facing numerous traumatic experiences in high school. She records 13 tapes to give to the individuals she says played some sort of role in her decision, leaving her friend Clay (Dylan Minnette) to uncover the harsh reality behind her heartbreaking death. 

Due to the fact that the show is being binge-watched by the youngest generations, many, including experts in the field of suicide and assault, are worried that the graphic content of Brian Yorkey’s series is simply too much. 

Now, executive producer Selena Gomez is speaking out about her decision to join the project and put it out into the world. During an interview with E! News at a WE Day event Thursday, the 24-year-old said she’s “a little overwhelmed and very surprised” by the success of the show and stands behind its message to inform teens about the harsh realities of the world.

“I believed in the project for so long and I understood what the message was,” she said. “I just wanted it to come across in a way that kids would be frightened, but confused ― in a way that they would talk about it because it’s something that’s happening all the time. So, I’m overwhelmed that it’s doing as well as it’s doing.”

One of the show’s stars, Kate Walsh ― who plays Hannah’s mother ― recently spoke with HuffPost about the controversy, saying, “Parents and teachers and students [should] watch this and have conversations about sexual assault, about bullying, about LGBTQ issues, race issues, gender issues, suicide, depression and mental health, because largely in our country as we see now, it’s still in the shroud of shame or silence.” 

There is already buzz that “13 Reasons Why” will receive a second season, despite being based on a single novel. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix is close to renewing the series, with sources saying that “a writers room for the sophomore run has been up and running for a few weeks.”

When asked about a Season 2, Gomez smirked and told E!, “Maybe?”

We’ll have to wait and see what happens next. 

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Ross Butler Talks "13 Reason Why" Controversy and Memes

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The Controversy Surrounding The Gay ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Subplot Reeks Of Hypocrisy

During the culminating castle battle in the original “Beauty and the Beast,” Gaston shoots the Beast with an arrow and stabs him before tumbling to his own death. It’s the sort of violent display often unchallenged in animated movies, where weapon-wielding standoffs play as cartoon camp. As quickly as the moment passes, Belle and the Beast embrace, professing their true love. We’re meant to swoon in response, having already forgotten the bloodshed that came before. 

With the exception of a few dull new songs, added backstory and some unfortunate CGI, 2017’s PG-rated “Beauty and the Beast” retreads its 1991 forerunner with painstaking fidelity. But instead of a bow and arrow, Gaston’s weapon of choice is a rifle. This isn’t animated violence anymore ― he shoots the Beast in live action, raucous gunshots piercing the scene.

This happens in the same movie that features magic spells, whimsical talking appliances and a rainbow-colored rendition of “Be Our Guest” that couldn’t be gaudier if Trump Tower upchucked all over it.

On this matter, there has been no discernible controversy. As for the underwhelming “exclusively gay” subplot, though? An Alabama theater is boycotting the movie, Russia has banned kids younger than 16 from seeing it, Disney refused Malaysian censors’ requests to remove the corresponding scene, and comment boards are littered with conservative outrage.

It’s another example of an age-old cinematic double standard: Violence is OK, but sex and romance become the litmus test for what our culture sees as normal.

Of course, there is no sex in “Beauty and the Beast.” There isn’t even a kiss. The manservant LeFou flirts with Gaston and later waltzes with another man for all of 3 seconds. That is the extent of the so-called gay subplot. (Spoiler alert?)

And yet, The Hollywood Reporter on Friday published an article titled Why ‘PG Has Become The New Go-To’ Rating For Studio Movies. Its sources are box-office analysts, not studio executives, so the contents are not as definitive as the headline implies. Still, its thesis raises a valid question when applied to “Beauty and the Beast”: With the sort of original, adult-oriented stories that once drove the box office being eroded by franchises and reboots, how much can family-driven films get away with simply because they are set in fantastical worlds removed from reality? (This includes PG-13 superhero spectacles.) 

Granted, the MPAA’s ratings system has always been oddly secretive and somewhat arbitrary, as explored in the 2006 documentary “This Film Is Not Yet Rated.” In keeping, a study released in January indicated today’s PG-13 movies are just as likely ― sometimes more so ― to feature gun violence as R-rated releases. 

With Disney’s live-action reboot trend proving wildly lucrative, others are hoping to ape the studio’s PG output, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “From a business perspective, the rating is perfect because you can grab everyone from little kids to Grandma,” one box-office expert reportedly said.

In no way am I arguing that violence doesn’t have a place on the big screen. The R-rated “Logan,” for example, justifies its hyper-violence by padding it with thoughtful characterization and a tranquility that most superhero flicks lack. But the “Beauty and the Beast” controversy personifies a conversation still worth having: There’s a complicated hypocrisy at play when it comes to our society’s, and our entertainment industry’s, treatment of so-called adult topics.

The world around us is significantly informed by the popular culture we consumed as children, and sometimes by the popular culture we consume as adults, too. There will be no LGBTQ rights ― not in full, at least ― until new generations are born into a world where acceptance is a birthright. Even if the LeFou controversy will not hurt the movie’s profits, it still smacks of an alarming trend that pervades Hollywood. Sure, shoot him up! Be our guest! But don’t you dare kiss him. 

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Share the Same NSFW Graffiti-Covered – And It’s Causing Controversy

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Kim’s airport look was pure 90s rock and ‘roll glam, pairing her husband’s jacket with a black choker, button-up tank, ripped skinny jeans, a Birkin, and of course the aforementioned Yeezy boots the rapper had custom-made for his betrothed. While the reality star looked effortless making her way out of town, especially considering her standard latex attire, the borrowed jacket in question is currently at the center of a bit of artistic controversy.

RELATED VIDEO: North West Steals Kanye’s New York Fashion Show Spotlight

As it turns out, West’s beat-up, scribbled on denim isn’t the product of a late night punk music-fueled DIY session, but rather the work of Australian designer Pauly Bonomelli who has created a number of custom one-off pieces for Kanye, as well as A$ AP Rocky, featuring his signature heavily collaged, graffiti-inspired style.

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RELATED PHOTOS: 13 Times Kim Kardashian Wore the Exact Same Post-Maternity Outfit

This particular piece is an homage to a real jacket worn by a homeless punk teenager named Tweeky Dave who was immortalized in the photography of Jim Goldberg and featured prominently in his 1995 book, Raised by Wolves. (Are you starting to see why this particular monograph may have caught Kanye’s eye?) The rapper’s jacket isn’t an exact replica, but it does pull a number of lines of text straight from Goldberg’s images of the drug-addled teen, and according to i-D the photographer is not happy about it.

Goldberg, who still owns Dave’s original design, told the magazine, “For the jacket to become sold as fashion — it really put me over the edge. The spirit and intention of Kanye could be right, but the manner in which he is presenting it is wrong. All meaning has been lost. [He’s] forgetting history — not acknowledging where that design came from is wrong.”

Kanye has yet to make an official statement regarding the piece of denim or his artistic appropriation, however, it’s kind of an amazing testament to the fashion influence of Ye that when he wears a jacket emblazoned with “Nazi tweeks rule” and “F— Off and Die” no one even bats an eye.

What do you think of Kim and Kanye’s jean jacket? Would you wear it?

–Emily Kirkpatrick


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PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots’ Returns After Ben Affleck Controversy

NEW YORK (AP) — PBS’ popular “Finding Your Roots” series, temporarily shelved after an episode omitted references to the slaveholding past of Ben Affleck’s ancestor at the actor’s request, will return to public television for its third season in January.

The show has hired a new fact-checker and two new genealogists as part of its reforms, said the network’s Beth Hoppe on Monday. PBS had suspended the series after determining that the show’s producers violated standards by allowing Affleck undue influence on its content and failing to inform the network of his request.

“It has become a more transparent process and a more rigorous process,” Hoppe said, “but essentially at its core these are personal stories about people who are finding out about their histories. That hasn’t changed.”

“Finding Your Roots,” which is hosted and written by Henry Louis Gates Jr., returns on Jan. 5. Julianne Moore, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Sen. John McCain and television producers Norman Lear and Shonda Rhimes are among the 28 new celebrities whose backgrounds are traced.

Given the sensitivity of the Affleck case, the series makes certain to mention if its experts find slaveholding backgrounds for any of the celebrities featured this season, even if that isn’t a central part of the story being told, Hoppe said. That’s the case with several people in the new season, but PBS would not reveal which ones.

Hoppe said Gates has done everything PBS has asked to ensure the show has no further problems.

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TOPLESS WOMEN CONTROVERSY: A Message to Parents visiting Times Square

If you are looking for Disneyland, then you are in the wrong state. This is New York. Times Square is a PUBLIC SPACE. And in New York City (and New York State) being topless in public is LEGAL. If businesses are upset that the law is hurting their bank accounts, then they should get the politicians to make Times Square private (which is what I presume they are trying to do). In the meantime, let’s all stop pretending that the painted women in Times Square is a violation of anything real. It is only an offense to people who come to New York City (many with kids) and want it to be an escape from reality. Well, New York City is reality, and we respect civil liberties here.

Not only is it legal to be topless in New York City, but for the sake of art, full nudity is legal in public for both men and women. I have proven this MANY times including many times in Times Square. I recently returned to New York after producing the first Amsterdam Bodypainting Day. Following a successful NYC Bodypainting Day in July (100 fully nude models in the public streets), I thought it was a good time to take the message of artistic freedom to Europe.

I was only gone for a couple of weeks and look what happened. People started freaking out about topless women! So upon my return to New York, I went back to Times Square and began painting to reaffirm that full nudity is still legal for the sake of art.

2015-08-28-1440781951-9000341-nudeinTS2fb.JPG

If the city has issue with aggressive pan handling in Times Square, then they should restrict it. But they should but restrict all of it. It’s a shame that it was only when female breasts were involved that it was decided there needed to be a change (this is prime example of gender inequality-the Naked Cowboy has been topless for decades).

Some people say that the art on the “desnudas” is not good art or not art at all or that they’re just trying to make money. Please! How many times have you seen art at a gallery or a museum, and you don’t even know what it is? If it’s a painting, it’s art. And as far as making money, that’s what everyone is trying to do. In fact, it is only because some of the richest people are in danger of making less money that we are discussing this in the first place.

Andy Golub
Artist/Bodypainter/Founder Bodypainting Day
www.andygolub.com
www.bodypaintingday.org

12 REASONS TO LOVE NUDITY AND CELEBRATE NYC BODYPAINTING DAY

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Iggy Azalea Stirs Up Controversy Over Tweets About Her Britney Spears Collab, ‘Pretty Girls’

Iggy Azalea doesn’t seem too happy with Britney Spears over the success, or lack thereof, of their track, “Pretty Girls.”

During a Twitter Q&A session on Sunday, Azalea appeared to throw shade at Spears over the minimal promotion of their duet, which dropped in May and peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

The rapper’s remarks about the duet came after a Twitter user posted: “Even if PG flopped a little bit still getting a lot of views on YT and it’s the summer anthem of 2015, so whatever we love you.” 

When a pop music fan board shared Azalea’s tweets and accused her of shading Spears, the Australia native shot back. 

She then called out the press for skewing her comments. 

Last month, at the Billboard Music Awards Azalea gushed about getting to work with the pop star. 

“It’s not something that I ever anticipated happening … And I didn’t know I’d end up making such a crossover mesh of pop and rap where that would be a collaboration that would be possible,” she said. “In the last two years I kind of transitioned my style so much to where that could be plausible. So I didn’t when I was younger, but it’s really quite surreal.”

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Ben Affleck Controversy Prompts PBS To Postpone ‘Finding Your Roots’

By Brian Steinberg

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – PBS will postpone new seasons of its documentary series “Finding Your Roots” after determining actor Ben Affleck was able to convince the series’ producers to omit a reference in an episode that aired in October of 2014 to the fact that he has slave-owning ancestors.

PBS said Wednesday that it, along with New York station WNET, “determined that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content. WNET had produced the first two seasons of the series, while WETA, based in Washington, D.C., has taken over production of the third season.

The actor’s request – and its influence on the production of the series – came to light in April, as media outlets reported on private email exchanges between Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Harvard professor who is an executive producer on the series, and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in which Gates sought Lynton’s counsel over requests by Affleck to remove a bit from the episode that made mentioned the fact that slave ownership was part of his family history.

“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed,” Affleck said in a Facebook post made in April. “The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”

PBS said it had decided to delay the third season of the series until its producers could hire an additional fact-checker and an independent genealogist. PBS also said it would not commit to a fourth season of the series “until we are satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence.” The episode in which Affleck’s ancestry is examined will be withdrawn from all forms of distribution, PBS said, including digital streaming and home video.

The review was led by Beth Hoppe and Stephen Segaller, the executives who oversee primetime programming for PBS and WNET, respectively. To investigate the lapse, PBS and WNET said executives examined correspondence, production records, agreements, talent releases and other documentation regarding the episode, as well as publicly available material. Representatives also interviewed the co-producers, who, PBS said, “fully cooperated in this review.” The law firm of Covington and Burling, LLP assisted in the process.

Gates previously said he had decided to focus on the most intriguing parts of Affleck’s background. “In the case of Mr. Affleck — we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry–including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a 3rd great-grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for Civil Rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964,” he said in an explanation provided to PBS ombudsman Michael Getler in April.

“Editorial integrity is essential to PBS. As a mission-driven media enterprise, we know that earning and keeping the trust of the American public are our most important priorities,” said Hoppe, who is PBS’ chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming, in a prepared statement. “The co-producers of ‘Finding Your Roots’ have a strong track record of creating high-quality programming for PBS over many years. Improved editorial and production processes will ensure that all future projects will adhere to PBS’ editorial guidelines.”

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Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Funny Or Die Has A Take On The Tom Petty, Sam Smith Controversy

Funny or Die won’t let Tom Petty take good news without a jab.

Last week, the world learned that Sam Smith would pay Petty royalties from his song “Stay with Me” due to its musical similarities to Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” The folks over at Funny Or Die found the development quite interesting, considering the numerous instances of musical similarities among pop songs. Cue the above video, which draws attention to the resemblance some of Petty’s songs bear to earlier ones from other artists.

Petty still comes out on top in this whole scenario — lots of money trumps not being made fun of on the Internet — but it does raise some interesting points about musical ownership.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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