Family watching TV

New Movies Being Made Available To Stream Early Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

Thanks to social distancing initiatives brought on by the recent coronavirus pandemic, many Hollywood movie studios are releasing their movies directly to streaming services for fans to watch at home during quarantine. Since movie theaters will be closed down for the indefinite future, many studios have decided to put their movies on platforms months in advance, some are so freshly out of the theater that the only option is to buy them, however, others are being directly uploaded to certain services, so here’s what’s coming soon to your living room:

1917 is a World War One drama that is famously known for its continuous “one-take” cinematic style, and now it’s available to rent on a multitude of platforms for around $6, it’s also available to buy.

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Emma is another period piece based on the Jane Austin novel of the same name. Unlike 1917, however, this movie is available to rent for an increased price of $20, which is likely due to the fact that it was in theaters more recently.

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The Hunt is a satirical take on The Most Dangerous Game starring Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank. The movie is in the horror genre and was positively received by critics for its commentary on the political divide in modern American culture. It’s available to rent for $20.

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The Invisible Man was just getting a wave of positive reviews when the coronavirus pandemic shut down movie theaters worldwide. Starring Elisabeth Moss, the remake of the classic horror story is currently available to rent for $20 as well.

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Birds Of Prey is the latest DC installment of the Suicide Squad series of movies starring Margot Robbie. A superhero movie following a cohort of super-villain independent women, Birds Of Prey was receiving high praise from critics when in theaters. Unfortunately, since it was still in theaters, as of right now you can only purchase the film for $20.

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Bloodshot was adapted from the widely-popular graphic novel, and stars Vin Diesel as an unstoppable, self-regenerating, “Super Soldier” and is currently available for purchase at $20.

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Onward is the newest Pixar Studios film. The two main characters are teenage elves voiced by beloved actors Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. The pair live an average life in elf suburbia, until one day, the call for adventure is just too loud to ignore. Onward is currently available to buy for $20.

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The Way Back stars Ben Affleck and takes on the classic story of a troubled former pro athlete who is on a path of personal/professional redemption. While on this path, he finds himself becoming the coach of a struggling high school team. The movie is currently available to buy for $20.

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Beyond just renting and buying, there are a few new movies that are also going to be uploaded onto streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime in the coming weeks. These films include The Call of the Wild, Downhill, The Lovebirds, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Trolls World Tour, and Sonic The Hedgehog. 

While it may be a while before movie fanatics have the opportunity to get back into a theater, at least they’ll have these new options to occupy themselves in the meantime. Until then, it’s important to stay home, stay clean, and keep practicing proper hygiene.

Two Girls Working Out at Home

How To Keep Yourself Entertained During Quarantine

In times of global pandemics, it’s important to remember to do things to keep your mind occupied and distracted from the constant updates and statements about a rapidly spreading virus. Binge-watching your favorite shows and taking on some new hobbies are just two general examples of ways you can keep yourself busy during times of quarantine, so what should you try today?

Thanks to the many art and cultural institutions throughout the world, you can bring the likes of museums, Broadway plays, theatrical productions, and opera performances, right into your living room. Google’s Arts and Culture Department has collaborated with over 500 of the world’s most famous museums to offer virtual tours and lessons on some of the most famous artwork in history. 

In addition, Broadway has its own streaming service, and BBC is offering a digital “Culture in quarantine festival” for fans of all things theater and dance. The Metropolitan Opera is also streaming exclusive versions of some of its most famous performances every night. 

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Another great way to keep yourself occupied, while also feeling like you’re doing something to benefit your physical health, is doing an in-home workout routine. There are plenty of free options covering a multitude of types of exercise on YouTube. Not only will you ensure that you’re keeping your body running to the best of its ability, but exercise also is a great mood-booster, especially when you’re stuck inside. 

Along those same lines, taking an online yoga or meditation course, or simply going on YouTube for free, will also improve your physical health while improving your mental well-being as well. The overall goal of keeping yourself entertained when quarantined and distanced from the outside world, is to do things that are enriching for your mind, body, and soul. 

You don’t want to simply sit in front of the TV and distract yourself with mindless reality shows all day, although that’s not the worst option, you want to do things that will keep you from being in your head too often throughout the day. 

The more time you spend just thinking, the more likely it is that you’ll get trapped in an endless stream of consciousness about all things COVID-19/pandemic related. While it’s important to stay informed, it’s just as important to completely separate yourself from that narrative that we’re constantly hearing about at all hours of the day. 

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Some local entertainers are taking to their community Facebook groups to host online dinner parties, happy hours, hangouts, or even concerts. Just because we can’t all physically spend time with our distanced friends and family, living in a time of advanced technology gives us that ability. We have endless access and communication to whoever we want to talk to, whenever we want to, so might as well take advantage of it. 

“Join us tonight from wherever you are! Social distancing is good for the world right now, but still hard on us as individuals — emotionally, mentally and even physically. So let’s stay connected and, for the love of Pete, let’s keep making music!!” wrote New Jersey local singer Meghan Carey on her artist Facebook page before performing a virtual concert on Saturday.

Finally, make sure you’re going outside and getting some fresh air at least once a day. Just because you need to be socially distancing yourself from others, doesn’t mean you can’t go on a solo walk around town, assuming there’s natural spaces for you to go. Many national parks and services around the US are waiving their fees to encourage people to go for more walks while keeping a safe distance around other people. 

Fresh air is good for your physical and mental health, so like anything, just make sure you’re maintaining those two important aspects over anything. It can be easy to get trapped in a binge-watching marathon but that won’t be good for your mind or body in the long run, so get outside, do some yoga, and take a deep breath, we’re going to get through this.

Be Kind Everyday

Lady Gaga Wants To Take Us To Another Dimension With “Chromatica”

“Chromatica” is more than just Gaga’s fifth studio solo album, it’s a metaphor for diversity, unity, and color among darkness, taking the form of up-beat dance music that the world needs now more than ever.

Movie Clapper

“Black Widow” Film Kicks Off Next Phase of The Marvel Cinematic Universe

If you’ve been keeping up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the beginning, then you know we’re about to get one of the most highly anticipated movies to come from the studio since its launch in 2009. Scarlett Johansson will be starring in the long awaited standalone Black Widow movie, where fans will finally get the superhero’s backstory they’ve been longing for. Although fans have complained in the past that this film is overdue, Johansson believes that it’s timing couldn’t be more perfect based on where the Universe lies after Avengers: Endgame. 

WARNING: Article contains spoilers on past MCU films. 

Johansson made her Marvel debut in Iron Man 2 back in 2010. At the time, her character was revealed to be Natasha Romanoff, a Black Widow super spy who was trained by Russian operatives. She reappears in the cinematic Universe with The Avengers, and continues to make appearances as a recurring figure in all the Avengers movies, as well as Captain America The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. 

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In her most recent appearance in Avengers: Endgame, we see the end of Romanoff’s character’s story as she sacrifices herself in order to retrieve the Infinity Stone and save all of humanity. However, years before her seemingly inevitable death – inevitable in the sense that fans knew going into the final Avengers installment that not all of their favorite superheroes would make it out of the universe’s biggest war alive – fans were still begging Marvel to give them a standalone Black Widow film. There’s been multiple references to Romanoff’s past with fellow Avenger and long time friend Hawkeye, who can forget the iconic “just like Budapest all over again” line from the first Avengers installment. Now, we finally are getting some answers and, according to Johansson, it’s happening at the perfect time. 

“For anyone who said to me, ‘Oh, this [Black Widow film] should’ve happened five or 10 years ago,’ I’m like, it would not have been as substantial. We just would not have been able to do it. This film is happening now as a result of what’s going on in the zeitgeist, and I think it’s pretty cool,” Johansson told Entertainment Weekly.

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Marvel made the announcement for the film at 2019’s San Diego Comic Con, where Marvel executives said Black Widow will take place prior to the characters death and kick off “Phase 4” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For those who aren’t aware, the timeline of the MCU is divided into phases, and over the past decade we’ve seen films that have entered into three phases of the Universe. 

Johansson went on to explain that the goal of the Black Widow film is to show a totally different side of Natasha Romanoff and highlight the aspects of her that make her a truly integral member of the MCU. More often than not, it was easy to overlook Romanoff within the past movies, as her character was often overshadowed by the flashy superpowers and advanced technology her male counterparts were constantly showing off. Now, it’s time to show what makes Natasha special. 

“[The movie] will highlight much of what makes Natasha special, emphasizing her vulnerability and her emotional intelligence. I hope that this film continues pushing that boundary, so that we can actually have more female superheroes who are inherently female, and aren’t just Batman in heels or whatever,” Johansson said.

Black Widow will be released on May 1, 2020; ten years after Natasha’s original MCU debut.

Ring Doorbell

5 Smart Home Devices That Won’t Break The Bank

Smart home technology is currently taking over the world. When Apple initially launched AI assistant Siri for the iPhone, they had no idea they’d be creating one of the first smart technologies that would impact the future of how we interact with all of our devices. Now, we can use these voice-interactive assistants to turn on the lights, lock our cars when we’re miles away, and answer practically any question one could have, all without having to get up from the couch. 

There’s a whole multitude of smart home devices on the market that are all unique in their own way. However, because of how advanced the technology is, they tend to be priced on the expensive side, but one device can assist the average individual on dozens of aspects of their lives. So which devices would best fit your lifestyle without completely breaking the bank?

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Ring Video Doorbell: About one third of all Americans have had packages stolen from their porches at least once in their lifetime. As online shopping continues to outgrow the traditional retail industry, it’s only a matter of time before it completely takes over, and will that come an increase in these crimes. For this reason, among others, more people are investing in the Ring Video Doorbell. Ring is powered by Amazon’s Alexa and allows its users to see, hear, and speak through their doorbells through any smart device with an Alexa app on it (which is free in any app store). 

The doorbell itself has risen in popularity because it provides a video feed that never stops recording. Users can get a livestream of their front door at any given time, as well as record videos. The device itself has already been extremely beneficial at catching porch thieves in the act, and will likely continue to ride in popularity for this reason. 

Google Home Smart Speaker: While Amazon’s Alexa may be the dominant voice for AI assisted technology, Google Home has become its biggest competitor. This is likely because the price point for Google Home Smart Speakers, and their other devices in their line of smart devices, are relatively cheaper than any other brand on the market. Additionally, these speakers obviously have the power of Google, one of the world’s largest online sources for information, within them, so users can ask practically any question to their device and expect a clear answer. 

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Roku Streaming Stick+: Streaming services for music, television, and movies has become a staple in the world of in-home entertainment. With so many platforms out there, many are turning to buy smart TV’s that have app store capabilities so that they can keep up with all of their profiles (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.). However, spending hundreds on a brand new television may be too large of an investment for some, so instead, consider the Roku Streaming Stick+. You simply plug the device into your  existing television’s HDMI port, log into your home’s WiFi network, and you’ll automatically have access to any and all online content that you could ever dream of. The best part? It only costs about $50 with shipping. 

Nest Learning Thermostat: This device is the most expensive on the list, coming in at about $210, however, it’s focus on sustainability and savings will make it worth it in the long run in terms of your heating/electric bills. This is a “smart device” because it’s designed to learn about your specific lifestyle. It will automatically adjust the temperature of your home in moments where you may not need the heat to be on; such as when you go to work or on vacation. Reports claim that on average the Nest Learning Thermostat saves the average individual about $150 a year on their heating and cooling bills.  

Gosund Smart Plug: When it comes to our smart devices being able to work with other, normal electrical devices in our home, such as lamps, typically you need to buy smart plugs that can specifically work with your device exclusively; such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home. However, Gosund Smart Plug’s are universal, in the sense that they are compatible with either Amazon Alexa or Google Home’s voice integration. If you don’t have either, Gosund has it’s own companion app that you can download onto any smart phone and control whatever device you plug into the Gosund’s from your phone. A four pack of these plugs costs $30.

Coronavirus Virus

SXSW Still On Despite Coronavirus Concerns

South by Southwest, more commonly known online as SXSW, is an annual tech, film and music conference held in Austin, Texas in which some of the world’s biggest names in the tech and entertainment industry come together in a convention setting to show off their newest innovations and future plans. According to their website, the conference invites you to “join artists, innovators, and thought leaders from around the world and turn your ideas into reality this March and experience unparalleled discovery, learning, and networking with creatives across tech, film, and music industries.”

However, more and more major industry names are pulling out of attending the conference due to coronavirus concerns. Even so, SXSW is still planning on proceeding with the weekend as planned according to Austin public health officials who held a press conference on the matter this week. 

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“It’s important for us to remember at this stage that we’re actively evaluating mass gatherings on a daily basis. Right now there’s no evidence that closing South by Southwest or other activities is going to make this community safer. We’re constantly monitoring that situation,” said Mark Escott, the interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health.

SXSW is currently scheduled to take place from March 13th to March 22nd, and the event’s organizers are going to be making last minute adjustments up until the very last second at the rate that some of the world’s biggest company names are dropping out of the event. Twitter was the first to pull out of attending SXSW, and Facebook, Intel, and more recently, Apple and Netflix have also followed suit.

Regardless of what public health officials are claiming, most companies are erring on the side of caution, such as new social media app TikTok, who’s currently looking for a more digital way of delivering their SXSW content to the event. Besides that, major keynote speakers Andrew Yang and Hillary Clinton are still scheduled to attend as planned, as organizers are working with city officials to ensure the cleanest and safest means of running the conference. 

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SXSW brings in a crowd of thousands of people, which generates millions of dollars for the city of Austin. According to reports, last year’s event brought in around $355 million, which hugely impacted Austin’s overall economy. However, Austin mayor Steve Adler held a press conference this week in which he emphasized that the only advice the city is considering when it comes to keeping the event running is from trained medical professionals, as safety is the obvious number one concern. 

“I want the community to know that these decisions are being made by our medical professionals, and that no corporation, or South By, or anybody else has a seat at that table. Because we’re only motivated by making sure that we do what we can to keep the community safe,” Adler said

Adler went on to state that they’ve also been coordinating with the Center for Disease Control on the matter, and plan on having hand sanitizer stations throughout the entire venue, as well as a professional cleaning crew who’s coming to clean the space two times a day every day up until the event, and during the events duration as well. So for now, attendee’s and individuals involved in the event are recommended not to panic, and practice good clean hygiene in the meantime, as suggested by the CDC as well. 

“I would ask the community — and strongly suggest — that panic will weaken us. So let’s do what our mothers taught us: let’s cover our sneezes, let’s wash our hands, and let’s be good neighbors. “Keep calm and carry on, y’all, and remember what your momma taught ya,” said Sarah Eckhardt, the judge of Travis County, who spoke at the same press conference.


Adèle Haenel Walks Out Of ‘French Oscars’ After Roman Polanski Wins Best Director

France’s César Awards are the countries own version of the Oscars, and are viewed as such by viewers every year. Like the Oscars here in America, the César Awards have been rooted in controversy and political unrest throughout the build up to the ceremony itself. Things reached a boiling point when convicted rapist and disgraced director, Roman Polanski was not only still nominated for a whopping 12 awards at this year’s event, but he ended up winning as well, prompting multiple actors and individuals within the industry to walk out of the arena where the ceremony was held. 

Before the award show even aired, the entire board of individuals who oversee the ceremonies inner workings abruptly resigned, in response to the 12 nominations, claiming that his inclusion in the event in 2020 knowing all we do now is an indication of the academy’s “opaque decision-making process.” Polanski’s 12 nominations for his newest film “An Officer and A Spy” made him the most nominated individual at this year’s César Awards as well. 

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Adèle Haenel

“To honor the men and women who made cinema happen in 2019, to find calm and ensure that the festival of film remains just that, a festival, the board … has decided to resign unanimously. This collective decision will allow complete renewal,” the academy said in a statement.

Polanski himself didn’t attend the ceremony out of “fear of a public lynching.” Protesters began lining up outside of the César Awards early in the morning in order to express their massive anger at a convicted rapist still being acknowledged by a powerful group of individuals who are meant to uphold the sanctity of cinema. 

Beyond just civilian protests, when it was announced that Polanski won best director for the film, actors and industry workers alike walked out of the award show in disgust, including actor Adèle Haenel, who was also nominated for her performance in Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

As she and others were exiting it appeared that they were yelling “shame” and pointing at the stage. Footage of Haenel in the lobby of the Salle Pleyel, where the ceremony was held,  shows her clapping while yelling “Bravo, pedophilia!” in a now viral clip circulating the internet. 

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Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant

Haenel was joined by her “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” co-star Noémie Merlant and cinematographer Claire Mathon in the walk-out, as well as others. Haenel in general is one of the first major actors in France to speak out about sexual harassment/misconduct in the industry in Europe specifically. She’s been candid with the public in the past about her own unfortunate experience being abused by director Christophe Ruggia when she was just 12-years-old; Ruggia has since been arrested and charged by French authorities for “sexual aggression against a minor by a person of authority and sexual harassment.”

Before the award ceremony  Haenel discussed Polanski’s nomination with The New York Times stating: “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn’t that bad. It [France] is one of the countries where the movement [referring to the #MeToo movement in America] was the most closely followed on social media, but from a political perspective and in cultural spheres, France has completely missed the boat.”

Roman Polanski was initially charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor back in 1977 but fled from the United States to France to avoid conviction. Polanski’s been accused multiple times of sexual misconduct and assault, and convicted, so his inclusion and ability to still work within such a powerful and lucrative industry is more than disappointing.

However, the protesters outside the event and Haenel’s walkout were praised by many in Hollywood, including social media responses Rose McGowan, who tweeted, “You have both done it. You are breaking the French system. Keep going.” 

I'll Be There For You Friends

The One Where They All Get Back Together: Friends Reunion Is Officially Happening

Friends is by far one of the most iconic and popular sitcoms to ever grace television screens. Ever since its ten year run came to an end in 2004, die-hard fans have only had one question: when are we getting a reunion? 

Old school television shows and movies making a comeback within the past few years is nothing new. The market for reboots and sequels is arguably the highest it’s ever been; with shows like Full House, Boy Meets World, Saved By The Bell, and other 90’s favorites already making a comeback in the new digital age, it only makes sense that one of the most popular out of all of them is getting its moment again in 2020. 

Well, the now classic show starring Jennifer Aniston, Coutney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc is making its much-anticipated return to HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s newest streaming service set to launch in May of this year. 

“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together. I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends – and audiences – gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”  said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer of HBO Max, in the official release statement.

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Along with the reunion special, all 10 seasons and 236 episodes of the Emmy award-winning sitcom will be running exclusively on HBO Max. The stars of the show will be returning back to the sound stage that they originally filmed at in the Warner Bros Studio Lot, Stage 24. Stage 24 gave audiences the origin story of six adults trying to navigate all the trials and tribulations that comes with living in New York City back in 1994 and now, nearly 26 years later, they’re all back and ready to catch up with where they’re at now!

Friends made its original streaming service debut back in 2015 when the entire series was uploaded onto Netflix. The show was removed from the platform at the beginning of the New Year as WarnerMedia’s TV Studio, which owns all the rights and licensing to the show, wanted to give exclusivity rights to HBO Max. 

HBO Max reportedly paid upwards of $425 million to carry the series for at least five years, and they hope that all the work that Netflix did by holding the series for the past five years will grant them an entirely new generation of viewers ready to subscribe to the service. 

The concept of reboots paralleling the “streaming wars,” that a multitude of networks are joining in on, are making the entertainment industry one of the most competitive, and lucrative, markets out there. CBS, NBC, HBO, Disney, Apple, and so many more have all released their own monthly paid-subscription streaming platforms; with that much competition these corporations know that they need to target specific large audiences to receive viewership. 

The easiest way to target these large audiences is by bringing back shows that everyone has already known and loved with a modern lens, to keep it relatable and fresh. Other reboots being used as a “weapon” in these streaming “wars” includes NBC announcing a Saved By The Bell reboot, which will be exclusive to their new Peacock streaming service. Netflix also rebooted certain classics such as Full House and Sabrina The Teenage Witch, both of which are exclusive Netflix originals.

So when HBO Max acquired the rights to Friends, along with a new deal that would guarantee a reunion amongst the six original stars, they knew that that would bring major audiences to the platform once it’s launched in May of this year. So while no one told you life was going to be this way, you can now relax with a cup of Central Perk coffee knowing one of your favorite groups of pals is making their way back to your screens very soon. 

HuLu App

Why ‘Shrill’ Needs To Be The Next Show You Watch

You may know Aidy Bryant as one of the main cast members of Saturday Night Live, but have you seen her criminally underrated Hulu show Shrill yet? Shrill follows Bryant’s character, Annie, as she goes through the trials and tribulations of adult life as a plus-sized woman working as a writer in the city of Portland (they never fully say that they’re in Portland but that’s where the show is filmed). The show currently has two seasons and, personally speaking, I highly recommend it. 

However, while a lot of the show’s success should be credited to Bryant herself, who also writes for it, her co-star, Lolly Adefope, is owed some dues as well. If you don’t know who Lolly is it’s likely due to the fact that her acting career just began in 2014, but her more notable projects are more recent; such as The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018). 

Adefope plays Bryant’s character’s best friend on the show named Fran. Fran is also a plus-sized woman and beyond that she also identifies as gay. Adefope has discussed her role in the past, stating that “playing an overweight and gay black woman depicted without any cliches is more than a little refreshing.”

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Lolly Adefope

If you have seen Shrill, or any other notable works with Adefope in it, you may have picked up on her British accent, which is actually real! Adefope was born in the United Kingdom, in fact, it’s where the beginning of her acting and comedy career truly began; another reason why many haven’t heard of her until recently as she’s just broken into American entertainment. 

In 2015 Adefope won the opportunity to be in the BBC Writersroom Comedy Program. After that she remained writing/acting in the U.K. until 2018 when she got the opportunity to be in The Spy Who Dumped Me, which arguably gave her the notoriety to get casted in Shrill the following year. Originally Adefope also believed she’d have to put on her best American accent for the role, but producers felt it added an extra comedic flare to her characters already outspoken personality. 

Shrill can definitely be categorized as a comedic series, however, it also discusses a wide-variety of more serious issues such as fatphobia, toxic/emotionally manipulative relationships, and LGBT+ rights. However, the writing of the show weaves in these issues through casual conversation in a way that doesn’t feel like Hollywood trying to force diversity or a conversation that doesn’t actually have anything to do with the shows plot. 

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The Cast of Shrill

In a recent interview, Adefope discusses how important it was that she and Bryant were working alongside to show the world a new look on the ways in which individuals that society deems as fat or overweight can avoid all the tropes and boxes that Hollywood tends to force them in. Playing a gay woman on top of that added even more incentive to avoid stereotypes and deliver story-lines that depicted them both as normal people who happen to be fat; and in Fran’s case also gay and black. 

“Just because somebody might hint at a stereotype doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily problematic. It’s all well and good to have a gay black character, but [not] unless you show the real-world consequences of her deciding to be unapologetic about who she is,” Adefope said in an interview with The Cut

The ability to represent gay, overweight, black women in a way that doesn’t emphasize certain tropes or play into harmful stereotypes is definitely a challenge, but Adefope does it quite effortlessly and that shouldn’t go unnoticed. In fact, fans were quite upset after watching season 1, noting that their favorite character, Fran, had barely been in it! Luckily, the writers listened and included a multitude of new and old storylines regarding Fran’s journey to self-love and discovery throughout season 2. 

Hollywood should take note as to what the writers for Shrill and Adefope were able to accomplish within this series. The ability to discuss serious topics that are relevant, represent a whole slew of individuals who live in the place where those topics are also relevant, and do it in a way that doesn’t seem forced is no easy-feat, and yet, there are two seasons of a show that did it, no problem, currently streaming on Hulu.

Golden Oscar Award

What The 2020 Oscar Nominees Got Inside Their $225,000 Swag Bag’s

We all remember what it was like as a kid to go to one of our classmates birthday parties and waiting to leave just so we could get our hands on the coveted goody-bags. As we’ve grown older, this party favor tradition has also grown with us and taken the form of customizable M&M bags at weddings, bottles of bedazzled champagne at a bachelor party, or maybe even a custom sweatshirt for a birthday trip. So it only makes sense that some of Hollywood’s biggest “parties” would also give out some sizable “goody-bags” to the many A-List guests that attend. 

In 2001, The Oscars began the tradition of giving out “swag bags” to all of the celebrity guests that attend the event every year; and what’s inside definitely doesn’t compare to the bubblegum and plastic jewelry you got as a child. The items in these swag bags can all be deemed as luxury products, so much so that when the Oscars first began giving them out the total values of the items equated to almost a quarter of a million dollars. 

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The excessive extravagance of these bags caught the eyes of the IRS fairly quickly, causing an investigation to open in the mid-2000’s out of government concern over the taxes that the recipients of these bags should be paying on some of the items. The massive value of these bags and the “items” within them has caused many Oscar attendees to refuse accepting them; the tax liability also has a lot to do with it. 

After the initial IRS investigation in 2005, a marketing company known as Distinctive Assets took over the swag bag responsibility. Since they’re unaffiliated with the Oscars themselves, Distinctive Assets is more easily able to just give all of the items away, however, only nominees in the best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, and best director receive the swag bags. So what did the nominees receive for this year’s ceremony?

What’s most likely the most extravagant thing in this year’s swag bag would be a 12-day trip for two to Antarctica. The trip will be done on the “world’s first ultra-luxury expedition yacht” which is known as the Scenic Eclipse. According to the website, the yacht itself can accommodate over 200 guests and includes a submarine, two helicopter pads, a spa, and eight eateries. The trip itself is estimated to cost around $79,000, and it’s not even the only trip offered in the swag bag. 

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Other vacations in the bag include a getaway for nominee’s and eight of their closest friends to go to the Faro Cumplida Lighthouse in Spain, and a five-night stay in Waikiki, Hawaii. 

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors also donated a myriad of jewelry from their TAPS for Hope collection, which benefits American and Afghan military widows. Other clothing and jewelry items that benefit non-profit work, such as PETA, were included in the bags; such as t-shirts, sustainable sunglasses, and handcrafted silk robes.

Skincare and wellness was the general theme of this year’s bag, and the excessive amounts of natural skincare and wellness items that were included in the bags exemplified that. Luxury wellness brand, Hotsy Totsy Haus donated a 24 karat gold Royal Chakra Bath bomb in the bags, but it didn’t stop there. 

Celebrity recipients are also given up to $25,000 worth of skin treatments and cosmetic procedures courtesy of New York City cosmetologist, Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich. These treatments can include Botox, laser skin removal, chemical peels, and fillers. 

When all is said and done, the 2020 Oscar swag bags equate to about $225,000 worth of luxury items, last years were valued at $230,000.