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Netflix Delivers New Culture Guidelines Giving Employees Ultimatum 

Netflix employees and viewers have been sharing their extreme dissatisfaction with the platform’s decision to upload content that can be seen as harmful or hateful to certain marginalized audiences. 

The company has now responded to all the backlash by updating their culture guidelines which laid out new rules on “artistic expression.” However, the biggest part of the guidelines that has people talking is the section where the company gives their employees an ultimatum in which they stated that if an employee is uncomfortable with the content being created, regardless of reason, they should quit. 

In the updated guidelines, the company states that “not everyone will like—or agree with—everything on our service. In order to entertain different tastes and points of view, some TV shows or movies can be provocative.”

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“While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”

This means that employees at Netflix don’t always have the choice of which movie or TV show they will work on, regardless of if it goes against their personal beliefs and/or values. 

“If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

A Netflix spokesperson recently told the Wall Street Journal that the company has spent the past 19 month discussing cultural issues internally within Netflix employees, and the new language in the guidelines allows prospective employees to make a “better-informed decision about whether Netflix is the right company to work for.”

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This also led Netflix and users to ask the question: what about current employees who don’t have the financial means to just quit because they don’t agree with the company’s perspective on certain projects. 

The conversation surrounding Netflix’s ethics became more mainstream when The Closer was uploaded to the platform, a Netflix original comedy special starring Dave Chappelle in which he continuously mocked transgender people. 

Netflix employees complained on social media about the decision to give Chappelle the platform to spread harmful statements regarding the LGBT+ community. The fact that Netflix also reportedly paid Chappelle over $20 million for the special had many audience members frustrated and confused on the company’s values. 

GLAAD, a major LGBT+ advocacy group, and the National Black Justice Coalition both took to social media to call out Netflix and demand they remove the special from the platform. 

Since the controversy around Chappelle’s special, three employees were suspended and one was fired due to talks of a company walk-out. Business wise, however, between their cloudy values and consistent pricing increases, Netflix is currently down 67.79%, and has lost over 200,000 subscribers within the first quarter of 2022 alone. 

Disney Refusing To Cut LGBTQ Scene In Doctor Strange 2 For Saudi Arabia

An official from Saudi Arabia has said that while the nation is not planning on banning Doctor Strange 2 for its inclusion of a 12-second scene referring to a lesbian character, they’re still trying to get Marvel to cut the scene.

Golden State Warriors Launch Golden State Entertainment To Produce Documentaries, Music, And Events

The Golden State Warriors have announced the launch of Golden State Entertainment (GSE), a new affiliate company that will be used to create original content and tell compelling stories that are “rooted in and transcend the world of sports and entertainment,” according to the NBA

GSE announced that they will be producing documentaries, collaborating with recording artists on musical releases and new marketing/partnership opportunities, as well as hosting a slew of culturally relevant events that speak specifically to the Bay Area, as well as the world. 

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David Kelly is the Warriors Chief Legal Officer, and will now also be the Chief Business Officer of Golden State Entertainment.

“It is an honor to be a part of this new chapter in the Warriors story. Audiences demand compelling content that speaks to them on a visceral level,” said Kelly. 

“With the launch of Golden State Entertainment, we are excited to create content that celebrates the nuances of our experiences as athletes, artists, and members of diverse communities in ways that not only entertain, but hopefully create opportunities for learning and deep engagement.”

Kelly also discussed how GSE and Mandalay Sports Media are currently collaborating on a production of a feature-length documentary exploring the cultural legacy of prominent sports figures throughout the industry. 

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GSE is also currently collaborating with Frank Chi and the team behind the Academy Award-winning short film “Two Distant Strangers” for another upcoming documentary set to premiere this summer. 

In terms of music, GSE has already collaborated with KPop star BamBam on the new single “Wheels Up,” which will be released this Friday, April 22nd. BamBam already debuted the single during a live halftime performance at the Warriors regular season finale against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 7th. 

“Wheels Up” also features MAYZIN, an Oakland-based recording artist who recently signed a multi-album recording contract with GSE. This would also make MAYZIN the entertainment company’s lead artist. 

“Music has such a rich history in the Bay Area. Being the lead artist for Golden State Entertainment provides an opportunity to be a voice that reflects and is understood by the community.”

According to the NBA, “GSE is the entertainment and content vertical under the larger company umbrella that encompasses the six-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, Santa Cruz Warriors, Chase Center, the Golden Guardians and Warriors Gaming Squad.”

Taylor Hawkins, Foo Fighters Drummer, Found Dead At 50 

The Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins was found dead in his hotel room on Friday afternoon, just hours before the band was set to perform at Colombia’s Estéreo Picnic festival as part of its South American tour. Preliminary toxicology reports show that Hawkins had at least 10 substances in his body when he died. 

Colombia’s attorney general’s office said that “an analysis of Hawkins’ urine found traces of marijuana, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. The office stated that Hawkins died after experiencing cardiac arrest caused by an overdose. Forensic medical experts were shocked by how swollen the musician’s heart had become. 

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Hawkin’s sudden death has devastated fans and concertgoers who have been following the Foo Fighters since their beginning. Festival Goers who were waiting for the Foo Fighters to perform had the news broken to them by Black Pumas singer Eric Burton, who asked the tearful crowd to have a moment of silence. 

Fans then gathered outside of the hotel where Hawkins passed to light candles, leave flowers, and sing some of the band’s songs in his honor. Many other well-known musicians took to social media to express their devastation over the sudden passing. 

 Queen guitarist Brian May wrote on Instagram: “No. It cannot be, I’m heartbroken. Taylor, you were family to us. Our friend, our brother, our beloved child. Bless you. We will miss you so bad.”

“So incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Taylor Hawkins. My thoughts are with his family and the band at this time,” tweeted Mick Jagger.

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Ozzy Osbourne called Hawkins “a truly a great person and an amazing musician. My heart, my love and my condolences go out to his wife, his children, his family, his band and his fans. See you on the other side.”

In a statement, the Foo Fighters said they were devastated “by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins. His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live with us forever. Our hearts go out to his wife, children, and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginably difficult time.”

Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters lead singer, spoke very highly about the loving relationship he had with Hawkins: “Upon first meeting, our bond was immediate, and we grew closer with every day, every song, every note that we played together. I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight … Together, we have become an unstoppable duo, onstage and off, in pursuit of any and all adventure we can find.”

Singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus broke down on stage during her Lollapalooza set and she took a moment to honor Hawkins memory: “We lost a legend in rock music, and I just want to send my most peaceful wishes to the Foo Fighters family and the Hawkins family.”

Russian Arts And Cultural Events Canceled Worldwide 

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted worldwide responses from the cultural, sporting, and arts fields. An increasing number of performances and cultural events put on by Russians are being canceled worldwide in response to the invasion. 

One of the biggest announcements came from the European broadcasting Union (EBU) who said that Russia would no longer be able to participate in this year’s Eurovision song contest. 

EBU, the producers of Eurovision, said the “event promoted international exchange and understanding, Russia’s inclusion could bring the annual competition into disrepute in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine.”

Initially, state broadcasters from countries like Iceland, Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands all called for Russia to be banned from the contest, a move that was also endorsed by the UK’s culture secretary Nadine Dorries. 

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The Royal Opera House (ROH) has also canceled a planned residency by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, which is known as one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet companies in the world. 

The ROH released a statement regarding their cancellation: “A summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House had been in the final stages of planning. Unfortunately, under the current circumstances, the season cannot now go ahead.” The group was initially expected to put on 21 performances from July to August. 

Performances from the Russian State Ballet of Siberia have been canceled by both the Wolverhampton Grand Theater and the Royal and Derngate in Northampton. 

In terms of concerts, the Munich Philharmonic has separated itself from its chief conductor, Valery Gergiev, due to his ties to Putin. Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, gave Gergiev an ultimatum that stated if he condemned Putin’s actions he would be able to maintain his position in the Philharmonic, he refused. 

“With immediate effect, there will be no further concerts by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under his [Gergiev] direction,” Reiter said. Gergiev was also dropped by his management and had several upcoming concerts canceled due to his ties to Putin.

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The Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will not be taking place as planned after Russian artists and curators themselves chose to pull out. Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, as well as curator Raimundas Malašauskas, released a statement in which they explained how they would no longer be participating. 

“There is no place for art when civilians are dying under the fire of missiles, when citizens of Ukraine are hiding in shelters, when Russian protesters are getting silenced,” Savchenkov and Sukhareva said in a joint statement. 

Warner Bros, Disney, and Sony have halted the release of all new films in Russian cinemas, which means major upcoming releases such as The Batman, Turning Red, and Morbius, will not be released as scheduled. 

“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a spokesperson said.

Disney said: “Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the theatrical release of films in Russia.”

The Ukranian Film Academy has also called for an international boycott of Russian cinema, including a ban on all Russian films at international festivals:

“At a time when world powers are imposing economic and political sanctions on the Russian Federation, the country continues to be active in the cultural field”. Any action, however, has yet to be taken.

CDs Receive Wave Of Support From Music Lovers As Sales Decline

Many major retailers have ceased selling CD’s as a physical format for albums. Tesco recently became one of the larger retailers to announce they would be clearing the shelves of all CDs, sparking a major wave of support online from music lovers who appreciate the versatility that compact discs offer.

In 2007, the CD market was at its peak, with more than 2 billion physical copies of albums being sold globally. The digital music streaming platform, Spotify, was then launched in 2008, revolutionizing the way we consume music. CD sales began to immediately decline with the launch of the platform.

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Last year, however, CD sales saw an unexpected rise in sales thanks to Adele’s ‘30’, ABBA’s ‘Voyage’, and Ed Sheerans ‘=’.

Rob Sheffield also published a love letter to CDs in Rolling Stone last month: “Compact discs were never about romance – they were about function. They just worked. They were less glamorous than vinyl, less cool, less tactile, less sexy, less magical. They didn’t have the aura that we fans crave.

“You didn’t necessarily get sentimental over your CDs, the way you fetishized your scratchy old vinyl, hearing your life story etched into the nicks and crackles …. But CDs work. They just do. You pop in the disc, press play, music booms out. They delivered the grooves so efficiently, they became the most popular format ever.”

“Things like CD box sets, bootlegs, mixes from friends old and new, young bands whose albums I buy from the merch table at live shows and lamented the ephemeral nature of streaming culture.

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A recent article in Wired magazine also praised the “CD format, and its ridiculous affordability. Streaming was for the masses, vinyl was for hipsters, said the author, but his experiment in CD listening had brought unexpected joys.”

Some music fans just prefer the tangible aspect of having their favorite artists work in a compact physical form. Adele’s album was able to help aid CD sales after she gave an interview where she discussed how albums “tell a story, and those stories should be listened to as we intended,” meaning in order of the tracklist.

“We may be seeing the end of CDs as a mass-market product, but we could also be seeing the beginning of the repositioning of the CD as a more fetishistic item,” Bassett said.

“It’s unlikely to match the vinyl revival of recent years. There is not the same romance, the magic of dropping a needle on to vinyl. The plastic cases cracked easily. I remember listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind on the school bus and every time that the bus went over a bump, your CD would skip,” he added.

Sean Jackson of Reckless Records in Soho said “some customers insisted that the quality of analogue sound was superior to digital. But unless you’re really concentrating, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference. There’s a market for everything – vinyl, CDs, cassette tapes. Formats go in and out of fashion, but music doesn’t.”

African American Girl Reading Book

New Online Platform Aims To Link Black Women To Supportive Healthcare Systems 

Health In Her Hue is a New York City-based digital platform that has been operating since 2018 with the goal of empowering Black women with the community and resources they need to find a supportive and culturally sensitive care facility. 

Ashlee Wisdom and Eddwina Bright are the co-founders of the platform. Back in 2018 they secured a $1 million pre-seed funding which helped them immensely when it came to getting their business running. 

“Fundraising is never a walk in the park, especially as Black women. No matter how credentialed you are, it’s hard for everyone. But then you add on the layer of the fact that there aren’t many Black women who are building venture-backed companies or get funding. We’ve experienced some challenges throughout that journey,” says Wisdom.

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The pair are currently working on building their new web platform and membership experience to offer care, support, and resources tailored to each woman’s specific healthcare needs. 

“Ultimately, our vision for Health In Her Hue is to be the first touchpoint for women of color managing their healthcare.”

Eddwina Bright explained how the social relationship between herself and Wisdom led to their desire to make a change in the industry: 

“I think our first foray into working together was when Ashlee was doing a video series on maternal health and asked me to share my birthing story – at that point, we knew each other socially. My experience giving birth to my oldest was not great. I felt very much coaxed into a C-section; doctors were not answering my questions, not telling my husband anything. It was just not a great experience. And so from that, I was able to take a step back and find a provider that was more culturally aligned with me. So when it came time to have my second child, I felt seen, I felt heard, I felt taken seriously, and was able to really advocate for myself and have a much better birthing experience.”

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“So that’s the passion that I bring to the work that we do. I’d like us to help the women that we serve to advocate for themselves without having to go through really traumatic healthcare experiences. And the company happens to align with my professional experience in finance and non-profit entrepreneurship. So we definitely have a great balance of health and business expertise,” Bright explained.

 Wisdom explained how the “resounding thing we kept hearing was that it’s difficult to find a Black doctor, or a doctor of color, on existing platforms. So that was the impetus to build out a curated directory of Black physicians across the country. When we launched that directory in June 2020 – given the pandemic and the racial reckoning – people were ready. Thirty-four thousand people logged in within the first week or two.”

In the future, the pair hope to become the ultimate resource for BIPOC women so that they feel confident when it comes to their health. 

“I’d love for us to also become a resource for BIPOC women to better navigate not only their individual health, but the health of their families: their kids, their spouse, their parents. Because we know that community health is very important for the collective.”

The two are currently working on launching their online platform to get their message out there and to ideally help as many women as possible.

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Coldplay Announces They Will Stop Recording Music In 2025

Chris Martin, the lead singer of famous band Coldplay, announced in an interview with BBC Radio this week that the band will stop recording music as a group in 2025. 

Coldplay recently released their ninth studio album, Music of the Spheres, two months ago. The album went straight to number one earlier this year upon its release. Although Martin announced there may not be anymore music coming from the band, they still intend on touring and sharing their work with the world. 

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“Our last proper record will come out in 2025, and after that I think we will only tour, and maybe we’ll do some collaborative things but the Coldplay catalogue, as it were, finishes then.”

Jo Whiley, who interviewed Martin when he made the announcement, discussed how while the lead singer is “disarmingly honest,” she never is “sure if he’s joking or being deadly serious.” 

Martin, however, has previously told other media outlets that the band intends to stop recording music as well. Back in October he discussed with NME Magazine how the band was planning on releasing three more albums to bring their total up to 12, however, this is the first time he put an actual date on the end point of Coldplay’s journey.

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“Well, we knew the day would come sometime. I guess I was just in denial and hoping it would be longer. It’s the first time they’ve put a date on it … Here’s to the last 3 albums!” fan Thomas Rowson tweeted in response to the news. 

Back in October Coldplay announced a world tour that would benefit a range of initiatives as a means of mitigating the environmental impact touring can have. The band promised to cut their personal CO2 emissions by 50% when compared to their major 2016-17 tour. 

The band intends on using almost entirely renewable energy to power the stage show for their upcoming tour, which is currently set to begin in August of next year. The tour will also include a “kinetic floor” to harness the energy of fans. 

The stage will also be made up of renewable materials including solar panels, and all battery and main power will be drawn from renewable sources.

Major Hollywood Union Votes To Ratify Contracts For Better Streaming Payments

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a major Hollywood union, have ratified their new film and TV contracts this week after six months of contentious negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). LA locals rejected the deal in a popular vote. 

“From start to finish, from preparation to ratification, this has been a democratic process to win the very best contracts,” said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb in a statement today. 

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“The vigorous debate, high turnout, and close election, indicates we have an unprecedented movement-building opportunity to educate members on our collective bargaining process and drive more participation in our union long-term.”

AMPTP released a statement as well, stating: “We congratulate IATSE President, Matt Loeb, the IATSE Bargaining Committee and Board for their leadership in achieving ratification of the new contracts. Throughout the negotiations, IATSE leadership advocated changes to improve quality of life for those they represent. These agreements meaningfully reflect the industry’s endorsement of those priorities and keep everyone working.”

The union uses an electoral college system for ratification votes such as this one. During this particular vote, 359 (56%) voted in favor compared to 282 (44%) who voted against it out of 641 total delegate votes; the votes were taken from 36 local unions nationwide that were eligible.

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The Basic Agreement was rejected in the popular vote with 49.6% voting yes to 50.4% voting no. Overall 50.3% voted yes to 49.7% voting no for both contracts. In the end, “72% of the 63,209 eligible members cast digital ballots this weekend,” according to IATSE.

According to media reports, “there were actually two separate contracts that were ratified: the Basic Agreement, which covers 13 Hollywood locals, and the Area Standards Agreement, which covers 23 locals outside of Los Angeles.”

“For the LA centric Basic Agreement, the vote was 256 voting for the deal that IATSE made with the AMPTP last month, yes to 188 no. In regards to the non-LA based Area Standards Agreement the yes vote was 103 to 94 no votes for the more recent deal,” according to Deadline. 

“Our goal was to achieve fair contracts that work for IATSE members in television and film—that address quality-of-life issues and conditions on the job like rest and meal breaks. We met our objectives for this round of bargaining and built a strong foundation for future agreements,” Loeb stated. 

Abdulrazak Gurnah Awarded 2021 Nobel Prize In Literature

Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Zanzibar-born novelist, has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for his ground-breaking pieces of work.

The Swedish Academy, which presents the literature prize, explained that Gurnah was given the award due to his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

When Gurnah first heard of his selection, he though it was “a prank” and kept wondering who would win. The Associated Press captured some of Gurnah’s thoughts on receiving the highest honor a writer can achieve.

“It’s still sinking in that the Academy has chosen to highlight these themes which are present throughout my work, it’s important to address and speak about them.”

Born in 1948, Gurnah came to Britain— where he is currently active— as a refugee in 1968 after facing persecution in Zanzibar. The British Council details many of his works, which include Memory of Departure (1987), Pilgrim’s Way (1988), and Dottie (1990). These novels “document immigrant experience in contemporary Britain from different perspectives.”

Gurnah’s Paradise, published in 1995, is what the Nobel Prize website refers to as Gurnah’s “breakthrough as a writer” while comparing the piece to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Paradise deals heavily with the theme of European colonialism as a young boy, who was sold by his father, is forced to adjust to World War I East Africa and the clashing cultures that are present. Paradise was nominated for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Prize.

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Recent pieces of Gurnah’s include The Last Gift (2011), Gravel Heart (2017), and Afterlives (2020). Gurnah is also known for his short stories and companion pieces, such as The Cambridge Companion. Gurnah becomes the first black writer to win the literature award since Toni Morrison in 1993.

According to the AP, Anders Ollson, a professor and chairman of the Nobel committee for literature, called Gurnah one of the world’s “most prominent post-colonial writers.” Ollson also praised Gurnah for his detailed and accurate portrayals of Africa as it underwent numerous cultural and repressive shifts due to colonialism.

Gurnah’s selection could help many to discover his writing on issues that still plague refugees and countries around the globe. According to a poll on the Noble Prize’s website, 95% of voters have not read any of Gurnah’s work.

Additionally, the AP notes that Zanzibar does not have Gurnah’s pieces as required reading in schools, nor are they easy to find in general, despite the region’s immense impact on the novelist. However, he is becoming more relevant among Zanzibar’s young population thanks to his achievements.

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Meanwhile, the Swedish Academy is likely relieved the literature prize no longer has clouds above it. The Academy has faced widespread controversies in recent years, with the prize being suspended back in 2017 among sexual abuse and corruption scandals.

Talking to The New Republic, Ollson explains that the Academy used the controversies to “renovate its organization.” Ollson added that modernizing the said organization was also an action that the Academy took, eliminating some aspects such as hierarchy.

The Nobel Prize for Literature award comes in the form of a gold medal, along with prize money in the sum of 10 million Swedish Krona (over $1 million in U.S. dollars).

Among the many other winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature, which have been awarded since 1901, are Bob Dylan, Winston Churchhill, Wislawa Szymborska, and Ernest Hemingway. Last year’s winner was American poet Louise Glück.

Along with literature, the Nobel Prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, and peace have also been unveiled. The awards will be presented to their respective winners during the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, in December.