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Eva Longoria Has News For Democratic Convention Critics Who Called Her Out Of Touch

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Actress and director, Eva Longoria joined Cheddar to discuss her role in establishing the the NWSL's newest team, Angel City as she fights for equal pay in the sport. Longoria also discusses her experience hosting night one of the Democratic National Convention. NET

Given her decades-long history of political activism, philanthropy and advocacy, Eva Longoria seemed well-positioned to host the Democratic National Convention last month. That didn’t stop some critics from using her celebrity to cast her as out of touch.

The actor’s thoughts on that are simple: They’re wrong.

“I showed up there not as a celebrity but as an American,” she told HuffPost in a phone conversation Tuesday. ”I went to college on student loans, I had credit card debt, I worked at Wendy’s flipping burgers just to pay for college. I’ve been through it. And I worked hard. And I think I definitely understand the struggle for the American dream.”

As Longoria was hosting the first night of the August convention, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) trended on Twitter. He faced a torrent of fact-checks for implying that as a celebrity, Longoria was not attuned to the challenges and obstacles faced by everyday Americans as he sought to mock the event. (In addition to referencing Longoria’s lengthy résumé, several people pointed out that the leader of Rubio’s party is a former reality TV star.)

While best known for her role on “Desperate Housewives,” Longoria has long been a vocal advocate for issues faced by disadvantaged communities. She’s fought for decades for Latinx and immigrant communities and for farmworkers, women and voting rights. She was national co-chair of Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

And, as she noted Tuesday in a Donald Trump reference, she did it all without a million-dollar loan from her parents.

“My parents didn’t give me anything. They didn’t give me a million dollars to start a business. I moved to Hollywood with $22 in my bank account and no car, no job. So I figured it out,” she said. “And I think that’s a lot of peoples’ stories.”

Just this year, Longoria has worked on a number of projects to support communities in need, including providing aid to farmworkers affected by the pandemic.

Longoria has partnered with Tillamook and American Farmland Trust to provide financial relief to struggling farmers through the All for Farmers campaign.

“For Americans, agriculture’s still the backbone of our country. The pandemic has deemed farmers and farmworkers essential,” Longoria told HuffPost while promoting the initiative. “They’ve always been essential to our food supply.”

But that’s not all the star activist wants her fans supporting this year.

“Right now is the moment to say yes,” she said. Whether it’s telling people where to vote, helping them understand how to use mail-in ballots or posting a video on social media, “everything matters,” she said. (HuffPost)

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ENTERTAINMENT

Behind the Uproar Over Khaali Peeli’s Beyoncé Lyric

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By Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images.

The upcoming Bollywood rom-com Khaali Peeli, starring actors Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday, isn’t set to be released until Oct. 2, but one of the musical’s songs is already famous—for all the wrong reasons.

After an outcry on social media over a song lyric perceived to rely on colorism—prejudice or discrimination against people with darker skin tones—the filmmakers announced that they will be changing the song slightly. The lyric in question, which roughly translated to “by merely looking at you, oh fair lady, Beyoncé will feel shy,” will be replaced with “the world will be shy after seeing you” dropping the “fair lady” and Beyoncé mentions.

“We have made the film to entertain audiences and not to offend or hurt anyone,” Maqbool Khan, the director, said. “Since our lyrical arrangement did not go well with few people, we thought why not keeping the essence the same while changing the song a little bit.”

Additionally, the song’s title has been changed from “Beyoncé Sharma Jayegi” to “Duniya Sharma Jaayegi” (meaning “the world will feel shy,” instead of “Beyoncé will feel shy”). Earlier, the song title was simply tweaked to “Beyonse Sharma Jayegi,” changing the spelling of Beyoncé’s name for legal reasons. But though the original lyric used the Hindi word goriya, which translates to “fair or light-skinned lady,” the filmmakers and lyricist have said that it was not meant to be taken literally. “The term ‘goriya’ has been so often and traditionally used in Indian songs to address a girl,” said Khan, “that it didn’t occur to any of us to interpret it in the literal manner.”

Though his stated intention did not match the lyrics’ reception, Khan’s statement does get at a deeper truth: the idea of a “fair lady” being a stand-in for a beautiful woman dates back centuries in South Asian culture, as it does in many others. But just in the last year, colorism in South Asian culture has come under fire in a number of ways. In recent months, instances such as Bollywood stars promoting skin-whitening creams while championing Black Lives Matter and the casual colorist statements in the reality dating show Indian Matchmaking have resulted in a heated discourse surrounding the topic, which, at times, has spurred change. Radhika Parameswaran, a professor in the Media School at Indiana University, Bloomington, spoke to TIME about that context.

TIME: What are some different ways in which colorism manifests itself in Bollywood?

Parameswaran: One of the biggest visual reminders and symbols of colorism is who is cast. In Bollywood, the prevalence of the star system is huge—movie stars make the movie. They become national idols, and people are their fans. Not that you don’t have those types of visual cultures and fans in the U.S., but in India, there is a large population who cannot read or write; films transcend those barriers of literacy, and in a country that’s in the Global South, the role that films can play is huge. The movie stars that have been idealized in Bollywood, particularly in terms of women, have been very, very light-skinned, and that continues today. The settings they’re in are usually very lavish, so light-skinned beauty gets tied to issues of class and upward mobility.

What is the underlying message you get from the lyric “by merely looking at you, oh fair lady, Beyoncé will feel shy”?

It’s the hero addressing the heroine, saying, not only are you white and beautiful, but you would put a transnationally beautiful star to shame, arguing that the Indian light-skinned beauty is even more powerful than a celebrity force coming from America. On a more complicated note, it’s nationalist as well as colorist. It suggests a sort of resistance to American supremacy, but on the other hand, it doesn’t get rid of the problem of local hierarchies of skin color.

If colorism has such a deep history in Bollywood, why do you think this particular moment has caused such an outcry?

There are various reasons. One is that there has been an activist movement against colorism that’s been building momentum over the last ten years I would say, getting more and more amplified. Barkha Dutt, the famous Indian journalist, used to host a show called We the People. She had two episodes, years ago, that talked about colorism and racism, and this discussion made the national stage. Nandita Das, a celebrity example, has been speaking up against colorism. Women of Worth is an on-the-ground charity that has been trying to go into schools and ordinary people’s lives, just engaging the public in this pedagogy of how to get rid of colorism. There are also ordinary people making fun of skin-lightening ads by creating spoofs of them. So there has been a societal contestation of colorism coming from various points of view and various agents.

Then you have Black Lives Matter, which went to India in a way it might not have 20 years ago thanks to social media and the Indian diaspora. All of this combined, it is even surprising that this song was composed, performed and made public. It is quite shocking that these movie-makers didn’t realize this.

In general, what is the role of the diaspora in the colorism debate?

I think the diaspora have been quite active. In India, colorism, even 10 years ago, was easily brushed off as “of course light skin is beautiful.” There was an unquestioned solidity to that claim. It was simply not challenged. And there’s the connection to caste too, so these were all just sort of taken at face value.

The diaspora grew up in a different environment where discrimination is being spoken about, it’s not going away—but it has been spoken about through the language of race. I also think the diaspora, who may have gone to schools and participated in other kinds of experiences in institutions, where perhaps they were a minority and faced racism, are very quick to see this and understand it in a way that perhaps in India, it has taken some time for people to grapple with and understand.

How does colorism move from the screen into the everyday lives of people?

Media messages are not like a hypodermic needle, where you inject it into people’s bodies, and it just becomes part of them. I think it’s a more subtle process and depends on class, education, all of those factors. It’s not to suggest that lower classes and less educated people are more susceptible and practice more colorism, it’s not that simple. I do think in some ways upper classes may be doing it more. But still, it does shape the norms of society. Women in particular keep getting measured against these norms. Can there be cracks in the norms? Sure, but those will be unusual.

The filmmakers decided to change the lyric entirely. Is it rare for backlash to cause such a change?

In some films, there’s nothing to be done. The film is out, it’s released, like Bala, which was a story that featured a dark-skinned heroine, but the actor cast was light-skinned and wore brownface. But I do this is going to be more of the trend, especially with issues surrounding skin color. This type of colorism, it’s going to get challenged.

Do you think this continued challenging of colorism will result in deeper change?

Here is the thing. It’s one thing to lose the language of “goriya” and the reference to Beyoncé. But does this mean the heroines are going to start being dark-skinned? No. In terms of casting and representation, it’s going to take a long, long time for that to change. Changing a word is fairly easy to do, and cosmetic, and makes the film producers look socially responsible, but changing how the heroines look, that will not be immediate.

This incident comes not long after the skin-whitening cream Fair & Lovely changed its name to Glow & Lovely, though it kept its product the same, again following a social media fallout tied to Bollywood. Do you think companies will begin to make changes even before a controversy comes up?

I think they will tend to wait until an outcry happens first. Bollywood is a mass, popular industry, so they’re going to count on catering to what they think are mass, popular tastes, and I’m sure they’re going to consider whether protests from what they view as a small, elite population that may not even go to their movies are worth it. If a movie is going to be broadcast in the Hindi heartland and all sorts of rural areas and small towns, how much is this type of issue going to be contested in those spaces? We have to ask, who has access to the English language internet, given India’s vast class divisions and rural-urban divisions? Is this a small minority speaking to themselves? In [that] case, Bollywood is going to make cosmetic changes, and I don’t think they’re really going to take this into account in a careful way.

With reporting by Arpita Aneja

Write to Anna Purna Kambhampaty at [email protected].

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Here’s How To Block Problematic Artists in Your Music App

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If you’re a fan of streaming music, personalized playlists, and mixes made “just for you,” you’ve no doubt run into some boring, bad and even downright offensive songs you’d rather not hear again. And if you’re familiar with the news surrounding today’s most popular artists, you probably have a running list of artists who you’d rather never hear again—no matter how good their newest single may be—because of their misogyny, or racism, or other problematic behavior.

While you can’t hit fast-forward on your car radio, you can alter how your streaming service recommends songs to you and force it to never again play the tracks or artists you want out of your life—the extent of that control depends, though, on which streaming service you choose. Here’s how each major streaming service handles blocking and filtering artists from reaching your ears.

Amazon Music

Amazon Music, the default music service on its Echo devices, offers you both customized playlists and radio stations based on an artist or song you pick. It doesn’t let you filter or block artists from said playlists or stations, but you can upvote or downvote songs in radio stations to better personalize your listening experience.

You can, however, block songs with explicit language in them by hitting the three-dot menu icon in the “My Music” tab and enabling the “Block Explicit Songs” option. Amazon did not respond to TIME’s inquiry about blocking or filtering artists any further.

Tidal

Tidal, known for its catalog of high-bitrate music (for better audio quality) and Beyoncé’s visual albums, makes it relatively easy to block artists or even particular songs, and gives you an easy way to manage your list of expunged musicians once you’ve made one.

While you can’t block an artist directly from their artist page, you can block them (or a particular song) from their Artist or Track radio playlists, or from your “My Mix” playlist. If you know exactly who you want to cull from your listening experience, the quickest way to get it done is to visit the artist’s profile anyway, hit the radio button next to the artist name, tap one of their songs, and hit the block button at the bottom of the Now Playing screen.

Should you change your mind, you can hit the Settings icon in your “My Collection” tab, then scroll down to view and unblock all your selected artists and songs.

Tidal lets you block both tracks and artists, though you can only do it from the Now Playing screen in playlists or radio stations.

Apple Music

Apple Music, the company’s streaming-service alternative to its iTunes Store, features both Apple-curated playlists and custom radio stations that pick songs based on your listening history. But Apple Music won’t let you block an artist or filter their songs out of playlists; it does, however, enable you to adjust the app’s recommendation system based on how you rate songs.

You can vote to “love” or “dislike” songs in Apple Music, which it takes into account when building playlists based on your listening history. Apple did not respond to TIME’s inquiry about blocking or filtering artists any further.

Spotify

Of all the streaming services we looked at, Spotify has the most straightforward method of blocking artists from appearing on playlists and radio stations. While you can’t block specific songs, you can block an artist’s work by visiting their profile, hitting the three-dot menu icon, and selecting “Don’t play this artist.” After that, you won’t encounter them in any playlists or radio stations.

A Spotify artist page, where you can block an artist from appearing in playlists and radio stations.

A Spotify artist page, where you can block an artist from appearing in playlists and radio stations.

Patrick Lucas Austin

Pandora

Pandora’s personalized radio stations are perfect for discovering new artists and songs for your socially distant summer fun. But when it comes to dismissing artists you no longer want to hear, you only have one option: downvote them. That won’t entirely block the artist (or even that specific track), but it will reduce how often the artist appears in your radio stations.

In short, if you’re using Pandora, be sure to give the artist you want to avoid a thumbs down rating whenever possible to decrease the likelihood they pop up again in your stations.

YouTube Music

YouTube Music, parent company Alphabet’s replacement for its Google Play Music service (scheduled to shut down completely this December), doesn’t offer much in terms of artist control. Currently, YouTube Music does not allow users to filter or block artists.

Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at [email protected].

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Emily Ratajkowski Makes an Important Point About Consent When It Comes to Your Own Image

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Emily Ratajkowski. GETTY IMAGES

Emily Ratajkowski has been an online fixture in the realms of both modeling and acting for years, ever since her image exploded into the public consciousness with her appearance in the “Blurred Lines” music video. However, the extremely fraught nature of that image is the very subject of an essay written by Ratajkowski that was published yesterday in New York magazine, and which details her struggle to financially and spiritually reclaim artwork and pictures that exploited her body and face.

In the essay, entitled “Buying Myself Back,” Ratajkowski makes the allegation that after a professional photo shoot in 2012 with the photographer Jonathan Leder, he assaulted her by digitally penetrating her without permission when she was extremely intoxicated. Ratajkowski had also only approved the images made during the shoot appear in a magazine spread, but Leder has also gone on to publish them in several books without her consent.

Since then, according to Ratajkowski, Leder has apparently been publishing unauthorized books of photography and staging exhibitions of the explicit photographs he took of her back in 2012, on the same evening during which the alleged assault took place. “For years, while I built a career, he’d kept that Emily in the drawers of his creaky old house, waiting to whore her out,” Ratajkowski writes. “It was intoxicating to see what he’d done with this part of me he’d stolen.”

Emily Ratajkowski. GETTY IMAGES

Additionally, Ratajkowski details other episodes wherein artists have used her image without her consent. One of the most pointed instances of this is her writing about the hypocrisy of the artist Richard Prince, who profited enormously off of recreating images sourced from Instagram in paintings that later sold for tens of thousands of dollars. One of the images Prince used for a painting was pulled directly from Ratajkowski’s Instagram account, and although she later purchased the painting, she also found herself embroiled in a tug-of-war with an ex boyfriend over a black-and-white study of the work after the two had broken up.

Shatteringly, this dispute was occurring in the aftermath of an online photo leak in which numerous nude photographs of Ratajkowski were leaked on 4chan. “I’d been destroyed,” Ratajkowski writes. “I’d lost ten pounds in five days and a chunk of hair fell out a week later, leaving a perfectly round circle of white skin on the back of my head.”

The model and actress also recounts that because many of the photographs Leder took are already online, her lawyers have advised her that there’s little she can do to stop him from continuing to profit off images of her without engaging in a lengthy and draining legal battle. It’s a heartbreaking non-conclusion to a series of indignities that don’t seem to be ending anytime soon. OBSERVER

 

 

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