By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 0 Comments
I heard Fran Lebowitz speak at Massey Hall last week about how much she hates strollers, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and audiences with low standards. She blames the latter on the Oprah effect—the impulse of the modern American audience to rise in applause of anything and everything. Nowhere in history (besides, perhaps, on the Oprah Winfrey show) was this phenomenon more pervasive than last night during Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Except for Ted Nugent or John Boehner, the live audience was perpetually on its feet. Even Paul Ryan couldn’t resist applauding this one liner — that or he really enjoys veiled digs at his own policy proposals:
“I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.”
Three more observations about the State of the Union: Continue…
By Emily Senger - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 11:52 AM - 0 Comments
Rapper Chris Brown is in trouble. Again. This time, Los Angeles police say that…
Rapper Chris Brown is in trouble. Again. This time, Los Angeles police say that Brown is under investigation for his role in an assault in West Hollywood over the weekend.
Up to six men were fighting Sunday night in a dispute that may have begun over a parking space, reports the Associated Press.
“The altercation allegedly led to Chris Brown punching the victim,” said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in a statement.
There are also reports that the victim in the assault was Grammy Award nominee Frank Ocean. On Twitter early Monday, Ocean said: “got jumped by chris and a couple guys. lol. i only wish everest was there.”
Charges were not yet laid against Brown, who has been in trouble with the law before. In 2009, he was charged with assault and making criminal threats after an incident with then-girlfriend Rihanna on the eve of the Grammy Awards. There is also his alleged fight with rapper Drake at New York club W.i.P. in June of 2012. The club later sued for $16 million in damages.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, February 24, 2012 at 4:35 PM - 0 Comments
Did the Grammys really need to celebrate a man guilty of the same crime that ruined Whitney Houston’s life?
The sudden death of Whitney Houston on Feb. 11, and the tribute-filled Grammy ceremony that followed the next day, were overshadowed for many by the onstage performances and Grammy victories of R & B singer Chris Brown (no relation to Bobby). Was it really ideal for the Grammys to celebrate a man guilty of the same crime that plagued Houston for so many years, at the hands of her ex-husband, R & B singer Bobby Brown? Brown (Bobby) is said to have physically abused Houston until their marriage ended in 2007 (he was charged with domestic violence in 2003), and Chris Brown was convicted of felony assault and sentenced to five years’ probation for brutally beating his then-girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, in 2009 (the night before the Grammys, no less). Brown (Chris) performed live twice at the awards this year, and took home a trophy for best R & B album. Country music singer Miranda Lambert was the most forthright about her sentiments in a tweet she sent after the show. “Chris Brown twice? I don’t get it. He beat on a girl. Not cool that we act like that didn’t happen.”
But “we” weren’t the only ones who acted like it didn’t happen. First, there was Chris Brown’s now-notorious tweet in response to Lambert et al.: “HATE ALL U WANT. BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate F–K OFF!” Brown’s handlers, maybe guessing that winning a trophy doesn’t exonerate you for hospitalizing your girlfriend, removed his tweet. (Brown did not apologize for posting it.) Then came the disturbing onslaught of tweets from (mostly female) Brown fans who said they would relish the opportunity to be beaten by Chris. Meanwhile, in his half of the clueless universe, Bad Bobby Brown was acting as though the wife-beater who had terrorized Whitney Houston was some other Bad Bobby Brown. Directly following her death, at a concert in Maryland, he announced: “I love [Whitney] like a love God! I am badass Bobby Brown!” and proceeded to make customary obscene hand gestures to female audience members. A week later, ignoring the strong wishes of some family members, he showed up at Houston’s funeral, along with a nine-person entourage, and further distinguished himself by complaining about the seating arrangements. He was subsequently asked to leave the funeral. Critiques of his mourning strategy were not positive.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 3:13 PM - 12 Comments
Justin Bieber has strong feelings about intellectual property law. Asked about Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s desire to punish Internet content streaming, Bieber reportedly said, “she needs to be locked up—put away in cuffs.”
So what is it that made the little guy so mad?
Klobuchar has introduced legislation that, much like Canada’s pending Copyright bill, might make Justin Bieber a criminal.
In the States, Klobuchar’s Felony Streaming Bill will criminalize Youtube cover songs when the intent of the upload is commercial. Here in Canada, Heritage Minister James Moore’s Copyright Modernization Act will similarly outlaw user generated uploads with commercial intent. So, if your kid is singing a Chris Brown song just for fun, have at it! But if she or he is singing the same song in order to break into the music industry (as Bieber was), then you’re looking at a penalty of up to $20,000 per song in Canada, and up to five years in jail in the U.S. (An advocacy group there has launched an amusing “FreeBieber” campaign to drive the point home–Bieber’s lawyers are not amused.)
Both Klobuchar and Moore argue that their laws are not meant to punish the Biebers of the world, but rather target nasty pirates who copy and paste other people’s work, adding nothing creatively, and pocketing the proceeds without compensating the original creators. For example, they say, these measures would hypothetically stop someone from ripping and streaming an episode of Glee to profit from the ad hits the video traffic would generate.
The problem is, it’s pretty difficult to come up with language that differentiates nasty pirates from aspiring teen idols. Both stream versions of other people’s content in the hopes of making money. Bieber may not have expected to profit directly from the web hits generated from his early Youtube covers, but he certainly hoped to profit from the exposure this might create. What kid singing into a webcam doesn’t dream of being discovered online? And the hypothetical Glee streamer didn’t profit from the pirated show itself, but from the tangental ad impressions created each time someone visits the page. Neither would-be infringer is selling the copied content per se, but both intend to commercially exploit the popularity generated by repurposing other people’s stuff.
If both bills were law, Chris Brown’s label could have argued that Bieber had money on his mind, and that the millions of hits his cover-version generated had an adverse effect on Brown’s own commercial prospects (if those 36 millions viewers had watched Brown’s version instead, just think of how many more albums he might have sold!).
Of course, the difference between the two types of potential infringement is creativity; Bieber didn’t hold up a microphone to his stereo–he sang Brown’s tune, putting his own squeaky clean spin on it. But how do you create legislation that captures the concept of creativity? Demand that a copier creatively re-interpret a protected work in order to get a pass, and the Glee-pirate could throw a snarky commentary track or a dancing baby gif on their upload and be in the clear.
The obvious solution to this vexing quandry is to permit both kinds of streaming. It’s impossible to stop the Glee-uploaders of the world, and the adverse impact they have on authors of original works is itself debatable. Does it hurt the creators of Glee when people watch it on Megavideo instead of on TV? Yes and no. The show’s ratings may suffer, but its popularity may improve. The viewer who tries Glee out on Megavideo may watch it on TV the following week, or buy the DVD, or tell a friend about it. The two friends may then parody it in their own video and launch their own TV career.
The world isn’t neatly divided into creators and consumers, producers and pirates. As the Biebs put it himself, “people need to have the freedom…people need to be able to sing songs.”
By Lianne George - Friday, September 11, 2009 at 12:40 PM - 2 Comments
Newsmakers of the week
Second chance, same impression
The good news for Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien is that Crown prosecutors won’t be appealing the recent verdict that acquitted him of influence-peddling charges. But O’Brien has confounded many of his colleagues with a risky new PR strategy at a moment when strong reputation rebuilding is essential. O’Brien has hired Jasmine MacDonnell—the young former aide to Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt who resigned in June following the “Chalk River scandal”—to serve as his new communications director. MacDonnell stepped down last summer after a recording device she accidentally left in a House of Commons washroom was revealed to contain a private conversation with Raitt in which the minister described the medical isotope crisis as a “sexy” issue. Mayor O’Brien told the Edmonton Sun that he had interviewed three candidates for the position, but that MacDonnell was simply the most qualified. “Jasmine comes with excellent credentials and will be able to work closely with the media in both official languages,” he said. But some city councillors were less convinced. “It’s making eyes roll over at city hall,” said Bay councillor Alex Cullen. West Carleton-March councillor Eli El-Chantiry agreed, adding, “I will remind Jasmine we have many washrooms in city hall, so she should be careful.”
Colbert gets truthy
In a rare not-in-character interview, Stephen Colbert, star of the Comedy Network’s The Colbert Report, told Rolling Stone about the important role the Catholic faith and traditions play in his life. At Christmastime, he says, his extended family of 50 people processes through the house singing Christmas carols. “We process from the youngest to the oldest,” he says. “The youngest puts the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve and we sing Silent Night.” Colbert, who is notoriously private, teaches Sunday school to seven-year-olds. “I saw how my mother’s faith was very valuable to her and valuable to my brothers and sisters, and I’m moved by the words of Christ, and I’ll leave it at that.” Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 1 Comment
From the Summer ’09 Newsmakers family edition
Jennifer Anniston & John Mayer
Exactly what caused the sporadic soulmates’ final fade from tabloid covers was the subject of much frenzied speculation. Was it her wanting a baby? His womanizing ways? Her eternal pining for Brad Pitt? The final consensus: the former Friends star became fed up with the schmaltzy singer’s compulsive Twittering.
Prince Harry & Chelsy Davy
Commoners learned of the breakup of the blond Zimbabwe-born law student and the ginger-haired British royal stud after five years of yacht-frolicking via that great equalizer, Facebook: Davy changed her relationship status to “not in one”—accompanied by a symbol of a broken red heart. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 11:39 AM - 22 Comments
Paris’s speech caps a heartbreaking tribute: “Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine.”
Welcome to live coverage of Michael Jackson’s memorial. I’m going to spend the next few hours watching CNN, writing about it and linking to whatever I find interesting. Should be a wholly uncomfortable afternoon. (See the photo gallery from the memorial here)
11:30pm. First up, live coverage of the private memorial at Forest Lawn cemetery as seen from a helicopter circling overhead. Very, very classy. Let’s distract ourselves. Maybe go buy a copy—or 12!—of our commemorative issue. Or go read Sasha Frere-Jones at the New Yorker. Or Tom Junod’s obit. Or ?uestlove’s twitter feed. Whatever you do just don’t watch television, ok? I’ll tell you when it’s mildly safe to look.
11:42pm. CNN’s Don Lemon is reviewing the program for the memorial ceremony. It’s like storytime in kindergarten. Only way sadder. Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 12:21 PM - 5 Comments
Those in the industry assume Chris Brown’s music career will survive this brush with the law
Sunday night was supposed to be yet another public-display-of-affection milestone in the romance of young music superstars Chris Brown and Rihanna. Both were scheduled to perform at the Grammys, with the 20-year-old Rihanna nominated in three categories, the 19-year-old Brown in two. Then, to everyone’s surprise, they cancelled. Soon after, the reason for their bailout made headlines: Brown had been arrested on the suspicion of making a criminal threat against a woman believed to be his famous girlfriend, and he could be charged with domestic battery.
The story, or as much of it that is known, proves once again that no one knows what goes on inside an intimate relationship, especially not People magazine, which gushingly called the one-year Brown-Rihanna union a “fairy-tale.” What we know is this: The couple appeared affectionate at a pre-Grammy party in Beverly Hills on Saturday night. According to police reports obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Brown and a woman (who remains unnamed though sources have claimed it was Rihanna and no denials have come from her camp), began arguing while driving. Brown stopped the car and the fighting escalated. An unidentified witness called 911. Brown was gone by the time officers arrived at the scene but the woman (who numerous witnesses claimed suffered grievous visible injuries) identified him as her attacker. The popular R&B singer turned himself in later in the day, and was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of four years. The case has been sent to the district attorney’s office and further charges could be filed. Brown, who has retained L.A. heavyweight criminal lawyer Mark Geragos, was released from jail after posting US$50,000 bail. He’s now believed to be holed up in a Hollywood hotel. Today, his management announced he was cancelling appearances at events associated with the NBA All-Star Game this weekend in Phoenix. Continue…