Connect with us

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Spotify Top Trends are Out- let’s call them #RepresentationSoFluid

2023 was defined by return of major female pop stars, & sonic diversity topped charts & global music that gave rise to powerful genres

Published

on

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic

HOLLYWOOD – Spotify released its top songs, artists, podcasts and listening trends of 2023. While the podcast top 25 with its politics, conspiracy and other themes were decidedly non-queer, the music trends celebrated artists who are gender and sexual orientation fluid, and/or queer friendly.

The top artists globally were led by three artists who have embraced the LGBTQ community: Taylor Swift (hello, anyone surprised this lady is on top?), Bad Bunny and The Weeknd. At #8 in the list is presumed bisexual artist SZA. SZA, after speculation she was into women teased “It’s not wrong lol.”  

The top songs globally are led by four artists who exude fluidity. Leading that pack is Miley Cyrus (“Flowers”). “”My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl. My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more,” she has said.

The second most played song (“Kill Bill”) artist is SZA, who, as mentioned, has teased her fluidity as well.  Next on the list are Harry Styles and Jung Kook. Styles has felt no need to define himself calling it “outdated” to do so, saying, “It doesn’t matter, and it’s about not having to label everything, not having to clarify what boxes you’re checking.” While unconfirmed gay rumors swirl around Jung Kook, he too seems label adverse. When asked about what defines great fashion, he replied, “Wearing anything you like, regardless of gender.”

Appearing at #8 in the top songs list, Selena Gomez, is another artist whose sexual orientation fluidity has kept fans guessing.

Bad Bunny, on Spotify’s top artist list (#2) and is #1 on the top albums list (“Un Verano Sin Ti”) is a proponent of Kook’s gender fluid assertion. “Everybody has to feel comfortable with what they are and how they feel. Like, what defines a man, what defines being masculine, what defines being feminine? I really can’t give clothes gender. To me, a dress is a dress. If I wear a dress, would it stop being a woman’s dress? Or vice versa? Like, no. It’s a dress, and that’s it. It’s not a man’s, it’s not a woman’s. It’s a dress.”

Probably to no one’s surprise, the Spotify lists reflect the attitude of the youngest LGBTQ activists. Nothing is necessarily out-and-out “gay”, and while there does seem to be a bit of closeting, albeit with gender non-specific clothing, fluidity seems to be queering of the day. In the end, the artists are all very much LGBTQ affirming. Just as they do not have an appetite to discuss who is sleeping with whom, we too should just give a big “who cares?”

Here are the key lists:

Top 10 Artists

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic
  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Bad Bunny
  3. The Weeknd
  4. Drake
  5. Peso Pluma
  6. Feid
  7. Travis Scott
  8. SZA
  9. KAROL G
  10. Lana Del Rey

Top 10 Songs Globally

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic
  1. Flowers- Myley Cyrus
  2. Kill Bill- SZA
  3. As It Was- Harry Styles
  4. Seven (feat. Latto)- Jung Kook
  5. Ella Baila Sola- Eslabon Armado & Peso Pluma
  6. Cruel Summer- Taylor Swift
  7. Creepin- Metro Boomin, The Weeknd & 21 Savage
  8. Calm Down- Rema & Selena Gomez
  9. Shakira Bzrp Music Sessions Vol 53- Bizarrap and Shakira
  10. Anti-Hero- Taylor Swift

Top Albums Globally

Spotify/Los Angeles Blade graphic
  1. Un Verano Sin Ti- Bad Bunny
  2. Midnight- Taylor Swift
  3. SOS- SZA
  4. Starboy- The Weeknd
  5. MANANA SERA BONITO- KAROL G
  6. One Thing at a Time- Mroagan Wallen
  7. Lover- Taylor Swift
  8. Heroes & Villains- Metro Boomin
  9. GENESIS- Peso Pluma
  10. Harry’s House- Harry Styles

******************************************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Netflix drops the trailer for the final season of Young Royals 

The five first episodes of Young Royals season 3 will premiere globally on Netflix on March 11, closing off with the final episode on March 18

Published

on

Omar Rudberg as Simon & Edvin Ryding as Wilhelm. (Photo by Johan Paulin/Netflix)

HOLLYWOOD – The five first episodes of Young Royals season 3 will premiere globally on Netflix on March 11, closing off with the final episode on March 18. 

In Season Three, the final, Wilhelm’s speech has consequences not only in the court but also throughout the school, as Hillerska confronts the worst crisis in the school’s history. The prince and Simon are determined to be together, but what are they willing to sacrifice when realizing that their freedom and love might be at odds with the Royal ideals, traditions, and responsibilities?

Creators: Lisa Ambjörn, Lars Beckung and Camilla Holter

Directors: Julia Lindström, Jerry Carlsson, and Linnéa Roxeheim

Writers: Lisa Ambjörn (head writer), along with Tove Forsman, Sofie Forsman, Pia Gradvall, Ebba Stymne, and Theo Boguslaw

Producers: Lisa Berggren Eyre and Martin Söder for Nexiko

Executive producer: Lisa Ambjörn and Lars Beckung 

Key cast: Edvin Ryding, Omar Rudberg, Malte Gårdinger, Frida Argento, Nikita Uggla, Pernilla August among others.

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Can watching Lil Nas X documentary on HBO make you queer?

No, but it might help you find the innocence in allowing you to be your authentic self

Published

on

Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero, a new @HBO Original Documentary following the genre-breaking artist as he navigates the pressures of his meteoric rise to stardom, premiered January 27 on @StreamOnMax. (Screenshot/HBO Max)

HOLLYWOOD – In promoting its documentary Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero,  HBO Max calls out Lil Nas X as a “creative dynamo” with “mesmerizing star power.”  Their hope is to help establish his “place in the pantheon of Black queer icons.” The film takes us on the journey, from day one to completion, of Lil Nas X’s Long Live Montero concert tour.

While that “pantheon” has plenty of room for deserving talent that has been largely ignored by American cultural power brokers, Lil Nas X certainly has busted his way in. In the documentary, he acknowledges how invisible, in the current cultural landscape, such a “pantheon” really is. “So many queer people, they are doing amazing things, huge strides, and they kind of get painted over by history. As if they’d never happened. Black people in general, but black queer people more so,” he says.

Lil, Nas X is a disrupter. Just ask the Country and Hip Hop music industries. He undeniably left an indelible mark on both. His first single, “Old Town Road,” shattered records by spending an unprecedented 19 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, a feat never before accomplished. This cultural phenomenon masterfully fused elements of country and rap, creating a genre-bending soundscape that captivated audiences worldwide. The song was only toppled from the number one spot by, somewhat ironically in LGBTQ+ perspectives, by Billie “I’m Out But Don’t Talk About My Sexuality” Eilish.

Lil Nas X was born Montero Lamar Hill. He is Montero, as in “Long Live” and as in “Montero (Call Me By Your Name). His openly queer identity, coupled with his innovative music and unabashedly expressive style, has disrupted norms in traditionally homophobic music businesses. His fearless authenticity, as demonstrated in his hit songs like “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby,” has reshaped pop culture conversations around sexuality, expression, and the very definition of a pop star.

In Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero, Lil Nas X cites “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” as the artistic moment when he broke free of other’s perception of him. He had considered trying to be more “acceptable” and being the one “who doesn’t shove it down our throats. The one who keeps it to himself.”

Clearly, with Call Me By Your Name, and everything that came after its release, he chose to go another direction. Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero demonstrates the impact. It showcases numerous queer fans, all declaring the freedom they have experienced by pushing their own boundaries and allowing themselves to be … themselves. They credit Lil Nas X as inspiration, and are bold in their messages to young queer people, including making pleas to resist self-destruction. In many ways, the documentary is the ultimate “It Gets Better” video. 

The concert Long Live, which the film chronicles, opens with a similar theme. Dramatically, and on an ornate backdrop, a beautiful sun goddess declares, “One of the greatest things a human can do is create. Create themselves. To be themselves no matter how hard that may be.”

For Lil Nas X, he is fixated on the innocence of his inner child and that child’s full expression, the young Montero within. He observes, “This kid who enters a new world, adjusts to the new world, and then becomes sure of himself.”

Later in the film he remarks, “People feel a lot of things about me, but me? I love this kid.”

The film does not just show fans, though it shows hundreds of those. It also shows his detractors, the protesters outside his show. For them, Lil Nas X displays incredible compassion. He has his people bring them pizza. He observes them via video conferencing and sees them as human beings, one of which he even describes as “hot.”

“They feel like they are part of something. They think they are going to change the world. That’s really nice for them.” After hearing their derogatory chants he adds, “But what they are saying is really fucked up.”

He also does not want to get the reputation of being a total saint. He quips, “I’m killing them with kindness, but a little evil. It was pineapple pizza.”

The documentary paints a picture of a very centered, down to earth celebrated non-celebrity. He chuckles over his chance meeting of Viola Davis where he fan boy-ed all over her. She politely thanked him and ran off quickly. “She had no idea who I was,” he laughs.

The film spends time on Lil Nas X’s relationships with his family, who have grown from acceptance to celebration of him. “That’s my baby boy!” proudly shouts his dad, whom Lil Nas X feared rejection from the most, to a waiting crowd. We see where Lil Nas X gets his humor from when Dad adds, “If I had used a condom, you all wouldn’t be here!”

Madonna shows up in the film, eerily reminiscent of her Truth or Dare film where various celebrities intruded on her backstage when she was on tour. Seeing her, Lil Nas X casually greets her, “Oh hey Friend!” before she grabs him for publicity photographers.

Madonna is a fitting addition to the film. Each generation has a superstar that not only rises to the top of the industry but changes it. She was such a superstar of her era. Lil Nas X is one of his.

Sean Bankhead, the show director of the concert put it this way, “He is breaking down barriers and creating his own lane for himself and no one will be able to touch him.”

Bankhead’s comments are not unfounded. Lil Nas X’s impact on the Hip Hop and Rap industry has been transformative, especially in terms of fostering inclusivity and openness. His frank discussions about his sexuality and the consequent representation has been groundbreaking. His work continues to affect the status quo and he promises more of that. He declares “I want to challenge the way the world looks at things.”

The documentary plays this theme over and over, as we see all the backstage adventures. We see how the camaraderie with his black gay dancers helps Lil Nas X to stay both grounded and inspired. We see production numbers coming together, and all the blood, sweat and tears needed to make it seamless, and ultimately shows the concert tour to be a whopping success.

The American music stage thirsts for constant evolvement and looks for the new gamechanger icon to make an appearance, take it by storm, and alter it forever.

Elvis was the gamechanger of his time. The Beatles came next. Madonna was the gamechanger, and the first magnanimous unabashed LGBTQ lover.

Now a new “Elvis” has entered the building. He’s black. He is queer. He is Lil Nas X, both as a record breaking mega diva, and the cute little boy who just wants to have fun.

Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero | Official Trailer | HBO

******************************************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

The long-awaited Boy Culture refreshes sexiness- streaming now

In the new film, the couple again has a young companion, 000a quick witted, trash talking twenty-something named Chayce

Published

on

Photo by Matthew Rettenmund

HOLLYWOOD – In 2006 when it arrived on the scene, the movie Boy Culture was billed as a film about a cynical anti-hero sex worker who adopts an unconventional chosen family with two roommates.

Over time, the film has been embraced instead as a “beloved LGBTQ romantic comedy.” Rotten Tomatoes has named it one of the top 200 LGBTQ movies of all time. Maybe that makes it our version of Pretty Woman?

Unlike many gay films of the time, Boy Culture resisted, for the most part, relying on two-dimensional cliché depictions of gay men. It also sought to tell a story beyond coming out, and the associated emotional injustices.

Director and co-writer Brocka states that the film resonated because it showed LGBTQ+ relationships “in a positive way that embraced our sexuality and sexual experiences. There were not a lot of films doing this unless they focused on our trauma.”

Derek Magyar starred as X (this was years before Elon Musk stole the name for Twitter), the street hustler with the heart of…well, more lead than gold, but by the end, some glint manages to peek through. He had the eyes of Zach Ephron and the snarl of Kathy Griffin. While he ran an ongoing commentary about his clientele and their natures, he was actually in love with roommate Andrew, played by Daryl Stephens. They both lived with 18 year old Joey, played by Jonathon Trent. “Joey” is a fitting name for the character who is essentially their bouncing playful child (a joey is a baby kangaroo).

So- spoiler alert for those who have not seen the original Boy Culture – X and Andrew get together as a couple in the end.

That was then, and this is now, and the creative team behind the film, director and co-writer Q. Allan Brocka, producers Stephen Israel and Philip Pierce and co-writer Matthew Rettenmund, has launched a sequel called Boy Culture: Generation X. (Again, Elon Musk’s thunder stealing was unforeseen).  

Brocka explains the new journey of the sequel, “the original focused on taking a risk to find love. Now, X has had love, and something’s not quite working, so he’s got to refocus on himself — who is he outside of love?”

The journey of making the film was an arc in itself, “We started pitching it during the Bush administration, wrote it in the Obama administration, shot it in the Trump administration, and now are releasing it during the Biden administration.”

Derek Magyar and Daryl Stephens are back as X and Andrew. It is now about a dozen years later, the pair has moved from Seattle (bye bye Joey) and now live in Los Angeles. Even though they are both nearing 40 years old, they each have retained most of their original Boy Culture looks.

Their relationship has apparently been an on again, off again romance over the years, and as BC:Generation X opens, they are broken up, but still living together for economic reasons. X, who had long given up his hustle, revives it in an effort to find and re-assert himself, and his money-making abilities.

Derek Magyar says of returning as X, “I love the character, the writing, the director.  I think X has grown a lot, and still has a lot to learn. I think he is well-intentioned, but I don’t think he is the best communicator and often gets himself in trouble. He goes back to hustling because it’s something he knows he is good at, and he wants to show Andrew he can handle taking care of his part of the life that they share — or shared.”

Photo by Matthew Rettenmund

In the new film, the couple again has a young companion, 000a quick witted, trash talking twenty-something named Chayce (“With a Y”) inspirationally played by Jason Caceres. This time the young is not the protégé, but rather the trail blazer. The sex-working world X left did not wait for him to return. Clients were no longer fearful closet cases, but sex-positive enthusiasts with imagination. They are less worried about being outed, and more concerned that their fantasies are enacted correctly.

Recently Brocka and Caceres sat down with me on the Rated LGBT Radio podcast to talk about the film. Brocka’s first gay film, the classic Eating Out, started out as a joke in film school. He was supposed to write a script for a class and wanted to shock them with a depiction of being gay and filled with sex. They loved it, and it not only became a movie, it became a film series of four movies.

Caceres essentially steals Generation X . As Chayce, he mentors the X character through the new business. At one point X looks at Chayce and has a revelation, realizing that Chayce is not his advisor but “my God… he’s my Pimp!”

Caceres sparkles in each scene he is in and takes charge. The script is well written, but Caceres succeeds in elevating beyond it with spot on expressions, reactions, and non-verbal cues. As X struggles, Chayce rolls his eyes, takes him figuratively by the scruff of the neck and guides him through the new exploding road ahead. Caceres credits the free-to-play environment Brocka established on set.

Caceres was a teenager when the original Boy Culture came out, sneaking to watch it as he was sorting out his own sexuality and feelings, “I was in high school and watched it at a highly inappropriate hour to avoid having any difficult conversations with the people in my life. I remember starving for any content that would help me understand what I was feeling,” he shares.

In watching the film, and after meeting Caceres, it is hard to believe that the fully realized Chayce was not based on him and his bubbling personality. It was not the case. He in fact, was one of the last cast, and Brocka was getting desperate to find the right person. Caceres had gotten wind of the production, and as a life-long fan of the original campaigned hard to get an audition. Brocha relates, “We had gone through well over one hundred people being considered for that part. Jason came in and inhabited the role immediately and knocked it out of the park.”

Boy Culture: Generation X is releasing via Dekkoo Films, a subsidiary of the Dekkoo streaming platform. It is available for TVOD rental across numerous platforms including Apple, Amazon, Google, and many others.  It will release on the Dekkoo platform in 2024. For more information, visit www.dekkoo.com.

Generation X takes the audience into unpacking relationships and the pressures of money, sex. iove and self-actualization. No spoiler this time, will X and Andrew come together once again, like they did at the end of the original film? Or is Boy Culture: Generation X the end? You will have to see it for yourself to find out.

For those who watch the film, and get an inevitable crush on Caceres as Chayce, dreaming to help him “research” his next role, there is a word of caution.

Dropping the sweetie boy image, he hopes his next acting gig is as a deranged serial killer.

******************************************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Star Trek’s “Space Boos” return for one last Trek in 2024

Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming sci-fi show starring the steamy gay couple played by out gay actors- Paramount+ reveals new cast photo

Published

on

Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming sci-fi show starring the steamy gay couple played by out gay actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, will return in April 2024. (Photo courtesy of Paramount+)

SÁO PAULO, BRAZIL — Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming sci-fi show starring the steamy gay couple played by out gay actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, will return in April 2024, Paramount+ revealed today at CCXP, a comic book convention in this South American metropolis. 

It was announced earlier this year that season five of the popular series, set in the 32nd century, will be the show’s final season. Rapp and Cruz have won accolades and worldwide recognition for playing an out gay couple on the show, and they have nicknamed each other their “Space Boo.”

According to the studio, this fifth and final season will find Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery uncovering a mystery that will send them on an epic adventure across the galaxy to find an ancient power whose very existence has been deliberately hidden for centuries. But there are others on the hunt as well; dangerous foes who are desperate to claim the prize for themselves and will stop at nothing to get it.

The series star, Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Captain Michael Burnham, introduced the clip at the convention alongside out gay showrunner and executive producer, Michelle Paradise. 

In addition to Cruz, who plays Dr. Hugh Culber, and Rapp, who plays Commander Paul Stamets, the cast includes queer actor Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly and out trans nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio as Adira. The cast also includes Doug Jones as Saru, David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker and this season welcomes Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner and guest stars Elias Toufexis as L’ak and Eve Harlow as Moll.

Notably absent from the cast photo and press release are out queer actor Emily Coutts, who plays the helmsman Keyla Detmer, Oyin Oladejo who plays Joann Owosekun, the starship’s navigator, and Patrick Kwok-Choon, as Rhys. All three have been regular cast members since the first season, and both Coutts and del Barrio have given interviews about how appearing in such an LGBTQ+ supportive company of actors and production people helped them come out. 

The Blade asked the Paramount+ publicity team about them and a spokesperson said this season, Coutts, Oladejo and Kwok-Choon will all appear in season five, but as recurring guest stars. 
Star Trek: Discovery seasons one through four are streaming on Paramount+, and is available to be viewed via subscription in the U.S. the U.K., Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia and Austria. Seasons two and three are also available on the Pluto TV “Star Trek” channel in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel.

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Queer Eyeing for the Dead Guy

Here’s a great campy streamer for your gay Halloween pleasure

Published

on

Living for the Dead (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

HOLLYWOOD – Most of the descriptions of the new Hulu show Living for the Dead throw it up for comparison against the classic Queer Eye shows.

There was Queer Eye OG, and the current Queer Eye. Does this new show, which comes from the same producers, constitute the third?  Five queer people descending on straight people in need, brandishing their talents and expertise to save the day. That fits. Except the recipients of the queer makeovers in this case, are all dead.

Queer Eye is not Living’s true legacy.  It’s true legacy is:

Scooby Doo.

Like Scooby Doo, Living is a frolicking adventure by a ragtag team, out to find ghosts. Instead of the Mystery Machine van, Living for the Dead’s fab five traverse the country in a beat up RV. The cast seems to be more like the love children of Shaggy and Velma than they do the offspring of Ted Allen and Carson Kressley. Here is how they matchup: blond sweet-faced Fred is now blond sweet-faced Logan Taylor, a medium from Tennessee. Daphne is now enchanting witch Juju, who fellow castmate Roz Hernandez calls “a work of art.” Shaggy has gender-bended into the fair, hippie-like, but gorgeous Alex May, the techie ghost hunter of the group. Velma also has gender-bended into the cute intellectual “uncle” Ken Boggle. Bearded with a snazzy bowler hat, Ken is never caught without his Velma-like glasses as he analyzes every ghostly situation.

In the center of this mele, is the fabulous Roz Hernandez, trans woman, drag queen. While Roz certainly dresses like a Daphne, her true spirit animal is something very different. “I’m the scaredy cat of the group,” she confesses.

Yes, Roz is Living’s  version of Scooby Doo. 

They each brought down-to-earth fear into the equation in hilarious ways. “One of my biggest fears is sleeping in haunted locations,” Roz states boldly. Where Scooby thrived on Scooby-snacks, Roz shoves donuts into her mouth as she panics. When the team bellied up to the check in desk at the haunted Copper Palace Hotel, Roz told the proprietress, “Don’t put me in a haunted room. I can’t sleep with ghosts around.”

“Oh honey,” the woman replied. “You ain’t getting no sleep tonight.”  And she didn’t.

Skeptics abound as the team bounces from haunted hotels, deserted mansions, ghostly strip clubs and horrific sanitariums. The theory in each location is that the team will find out the story of the ghosts, and institute a rectification, bringing peace to the ghosts, and a now habitable location for the living who have to deal with them.

At that point, the show does make an attempt to be Queer Eye for the Dead Guy. Whether they succeed or not, is up to the belief system of the viewer and how much spiritualist dogma sits. Most of the cast come from traditionally religious backgrounds and now have “deeply held beliefs”, but in very non-traditional things. 

Juju is a witch and psychic who professes to be a veteran of sexual relationship with a ghost. Whether you choose to believe her or not, her charismatic strength is impressive.

Alex specializes in the paranormal with a specialty in technology. Her family was very open-minded, with several mediums in the clan. She sees herself as a “failed medium”. Instead of psychic pursuits, she became attracted to the energy devices that could detect, and communicate with paranormal entities.

To Alex, the devices were logical and made sense.  She collects creepy dolls and happily lives in a haunted apartment with two ghosts. The apartment’s activity was so intimidating that the previous tenant had run out in the middle of the night and broke their lease. Alex sees herself as half skeptic, half believer, and so she has to put herself in the situations fully to experience its realness. “I am looking for undisputable proof. In that moment, my desire, is to capture it. My fear is really counteracted by curiosity.”

Ken and Logan are both southern boys with spiritualist grandmothers. Both are psychics, but Ken’s strong medium is Tarot cards. He is vehemently passionate about the show, he states, “I am God’s pickiest human when it comes to TV. I am a southern dramatic queen…  Living for the Dead is not paranormal television, it is an 8-part mini-series. Five friends in a tripped out, crazy RV that are going into situations to help the living by healing the dead. … I’ve never seen anything so beautiful, I have never seen anything so in touch. I’ve never seen any paranormal television show that has contributed to the conversation about what happens in life after death as we have with our show … It is dripping with reality, It is dripping with heart, and real horror moments.”

Logan has the most seriously vulnerable moments in the series. A homophobic ghost berates him in Las Vegas, and in another episode, he becomes possessed. It is his victimization at the hands of humans in his life that is the most heart-wrenching, however. While his small town was not thrilled about him being gay, his psychic abilities made him a scandal. He tells the tales of numerous ministers giving sermons rebuking him. 

Christina Cauterucci of Slate’s Outward podcast went particularly mean-girl on his confessional. She stated coldly, “I also am imagining people watching it and thinking, yeah, ‘they’re right… being queer is just like having a paranormal gift, I don’t want a straight person to watch this and come away thinking that all queer people feel this way.”

While her podcast co-host Bryan Lowder showered the show with love, “This is my favorite show that I’ve seen in ages”, Cauterucci accused the show of “pulling the wool over our eyes” and faking the ghostly effects caught on camera.

Roz Hernandez would shoot that down in a second. “This stuff is REAL y’all. And I’m skeptical!” she screams. Her frustration was over all the stuff that the camera didn’t capture. “These damn ghosts would do the wildest things …when we were off camera, or the camera was not on me!”

Roz truly is the epicenter of the show. She brings authenticity both from being authentically scared, but also hilariously skeptical. She also displayed an empathy for the ghosts that is not ever expressed on paranormal shows. She gives attitude ON  BEHALF of the ghosts, and doesn’t really get why ghosts would even cooperate with the hunters. “If I was a ghost and they were bossing me around, I’d be like, damn bitch, you don’t pay my bills, why do you get to tell me what to do?”

Probably the best Roz moment was in the Las Vegas strip club. Roz was sitting by a quiet ghost-box communicator.  She was bemoaning that all the other team members were around the club, each tussling with a ghost, and yet there she sat, alone, un-haunted. “Is it because you don’t like my hair?” she shouts. The ghost box immediately responded with a resounding “Yes.”  Bitch! (And the look on Roz’s face…priceless.) 

Roz is the major cheerleader for the rest of the group. She hosts a weekly Ghosted podcast and has brought on each member, one by one. “Don’t tell the others, but you… you’re my favorite…” she whispers on air to each of them.

The show mostly succeeds in the “problems” rather than the solutions. The ghost phenomena is intriguing and the stories of the dead are touching. A closeted ghost drag queen, a ghost homophobe, and a ghost family that featured a controlling dad and his gay son, are some of the spirit highlights.

While no ghost is given new abodes, new cooking skills and a spiffy new look, the queer eye of the ghost hunters is still engaging, bonding and more than a little spooky.

The fab five are each interesting characters, and whether you believe in what they professed or not, each is fascinating to watch and for whom to grow affection.

So as we party hardy this Halloween, and in its aftermath, this streamer is a worthwhile guilty pleasure.

Oh. And Roz. If you are listening….  You are my favorite.

Don’t tell the others.

*****************************************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Amazon Prime Video flirts with a regressive LGBTQ-erasure image

“Bull shit and cowardly.” Amazon Prime Video’s cancellation of the popular A League of Their Own shocks vast fanbase

Published

on

A League of Their Own (Amazon Prime Video)

CULVER CITY, Calif. – Renewal of the show should have been a no-brainer. Amazon Prime Video does not release numbers, but for anyone observing, A League of Their Own, the re-imagining of the 1992 Penny Marshall classic, was a monster hit with a broad audience.

It was in the Nielsen Top 10 for three weeks, was the top show on Amazon for a month and in the top five for six. It had a 94% critic rating and 87% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

It had the added distinction of getting top honors from key LGBTQ watchdog organizations GLAAD and HRC for its outstanding representation of lesbian, bisexual and other LGBTQ people. It won NAACP Image Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and awards from the Critics Choice Association and the National Council of La Raza.

It created a vast hungry audience wanting more.

Who would be SO completely idiotic to not want to continue on with a much anticipated, much demanded Season 2?

Amazon Prime Video, that’s who.

After first agreeing to a shortened season 2 in April, the streamer cancelled the idea completely last week, blaming the “ongoing strikes.” It is a claim of which the series star and co-creator Abbi Jacobson said, “To blame this cancellation on the strike, (which is an essential fight for fair wages, protections and working conditions, etc…) is bullshit and cowardly.”

Will Graham, the other co-creator, held court on X (formerly Twitter), and shared his thoughts at length. First, he put the cancellation within the context of the current state of the nation and the challenges for LGBTQ people, “I see the pain and anger and worry out there, which for the LGBTQIA+ fans of the show is, of course, compounded by what’s happening across the country right now.”

He then wrote eloquently expressing the production team’s desire for the public to get “all the seasons of this show we want to give you.”

While fans were watching and loving A League of Their Own, Graham was apparently watching them. “I’ve never experienced a response to a show that’s as deep, personal, creative and meaningful as what the fans have done with League. When we were making the season 1, we all wondered and worried about whether people would accept it on its own terms next to the film,” he wrote. “They have, and you did that, and so much more. You lit up the internet on your first watch throughs of the show, when you realized where it was going (and made all of us laugh in the process). You wrote enough fan fiction for 100 novels and created an outpouring of art and creativity that could fill its own museum — I’ve truly never seen anything like it. You lifted up a 95-year-old who had just come out of the closet and made her into a celebrity who gets recognized wherever she goes. Every time any member of the cast appears at anything, you turn it into a convention… You dressed as the characters and made our characters into one of the biggest Halloween costumes of last year. You came out, you changed pronouns, you started living more openly, you gave sermons in church about the show, you opened bars, and you got a truly mind-boggling number of tattoos that say ‘to the five’ and ‘rob the bank.’ But most importantly, you made a community, you found each other and found joy, which of course is what the show is about. In many more ways than I would ever have let myself imagine while we were making it, you literally bring the show to life every day.”

Graham also expressed fear that the cancellation, which many might see as homophobia and cancellation of the LGBTQ audience itself, would dampen the pride of the community.

“As we gain strength, the predictable backlash forces are trying their hardest to get us to go back underground,” he points out. “In case anyone needs to hear it: You are not small, niche, modest, off-putting or marginal, and neither are your stories. You are multitudes, you are building, and your stories are universal. You are the most rapidly growing audience and consumer group in this country. You are powerful. You are the future, and the people who don’t recognize your importance now will feel be clamoring to catch up in a few years… you are the main characters. Be proud.”

While Graham promises commitment if the production team finds a way to do Season 2 somewhere, somehow: “If we have an avenue to do it well, we will continue the show, and I love seeing the noise you’re making in support of that. The noise matters!”

On the other hand, should this be the end of A League of Their Own, Graham draws a lesson with a parallel to a scene from the series itself, “What you are is bigger than this show. It’s the story of our community, that comes to us through the hidden history that League shows just one small part of: The bars got raided and shut down. But the people didn’t go anywhere, and they opened a new bar, and out of those spaces came music, cinema, dance, culture — What we now see as mainstream was birthed from the spaces our predecessors were forced to hide in. They made joy there. That’s what you are: In coming together, you are the start of something new, the seeds of a joy we desperately need, the beat of the music that people will dance to in a better future.”

So, as the audience that celebrated the LGBTQ  perfection of A League of Their Own, grieves its untimely passing, we can take a lesson from the ghosts of its characters who haunt us with their truths. As the character Carson Shaw points out, “We’re not here to be perfect. We are here to be brave.”

The character Max Chapman is even more to the point: 

“Baseball is a metaphor for life. You’re gonna get hit, but you gotta keep getting back up.”

*****************************************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

YouTube’s mass takedown of medical misinformation commences

“We will remove content that contradicts health authority guidance on the prevention and transmission of specific health conditions”

Published

on

Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health at Google/YouTube, Dr. Garth Graham speaking at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival. (Screenshot/YouTube)

SAN BRUNO, Calif. – In a statement released Tuesday by YouTube on the company’s blog, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health at YouTube, Dr. Garth Graham, joined by the company’s Vice President, Global Head of Trust & Safety Matt Halprin, announced that the platform was taking action to update its medical misinformation policies.

In the blog post the authors noted that; “moving forward, YouTube will streamline dozens of our existing medical misinformation guidelines to fall under three categories – Prevention, Treatment, and Denial.”

YouTube will also take action against videos that discourage people from seeking professional medical treatment as it sets out its health policies going forward. These policies will apply to specific health conditions, treatments, and substances where content contradicts local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Graham and Halprin noted.

Here’s what the framework of the new policies and guidelines will look like:

  • Prevention misinformation: We will remove content that contradicts health authority guidance on the prevention and transmission of specific health conditions, and on the safety and efficacy of approved vaccines. For example, this encompasses content that promotes a harmful substance for disease prevention.
  • Treatment misinformation: We will remove content that contradicts health authority guidance on treatments for specific health conditions, including promoting specific harmful substances or practices. Examples include content that encourages unproven remedies in place of seeking medical attention for specific conditions, like promoting caesium chloride as a treatment for cancer.
  • Denial misinformation: We will remove content that disputes the existence of specific health conditions. This covers content that denies people have died from COVID-19.

Regarding cancer treatment misinformation and its removal Graham and Halprin wrote:

When cancer patients and their loved ones are faced with a diagnosis, they often turn to online spaces to research symptoms, learn about treatment journeys, and find community. Our mission is to make sure that when they turn to YouTube, they can easily find high-quality content from credible health sources.

In applying our updated approach, cancer treatment misinformation fits the framework – the public health risk is high as cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, there is stable consensus about safe cancer treatments from local and global health authorities, and it’s a topic that’s prone to misinformation.

Starting today and ramping up in the coming weeks, we will begin removing content that promotes cancer treatments proven to be harmful or ineffective, or content that discourages viewers from seeking professional medical treatment.

This includes content that promotes unproven treatments in place of approved care or as a guaranteed cure, and treatments that have been specifically deemed harmful by health authorities. For instance, a video that claims “garlic cures cancer,” or “take vitamin C instead of radiation therapy” would be removed.

The two executives also made a point to acknowledge that there were potential concessions:

Debate and discussion are critical to the advancement of science and medicine. We always carefully take into account context when enforcing our policies, and allow content that provides educational, documentary, scientific and artistic (EDSA) context.

One element we consider is public interest. This means that we may allow content that is sufficiently in the public interest to remain on YouTube, even if it otherwise violates our policies – for example, a video of a public hearing or comments made by national political candidates on the campaign trail that disputes health authority guidance, or graphic footage from active warzones or humanitarian crises.

We may also make exceptions for personal testimonies or content that discusses the results of a specific medical study. Adding context to a video doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be allowed to remain, and we may also age-gate some content or surface an information panel underneath these videos to provide additional context for viewers.

Today’s move by the streaming platform on cancer and other medical misinformation is a continuation of practices put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

YouTube addressed similar issues when in September of 2021 when the video streaming platform announced that expanded its ban on vaccine misinformation. The company said that all false information about approved vaccines will be removed from its platform.

That action came three months after U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called out tech companies for their role in hosting misinformation and urged companies to take a number of actions, including sharing data with researchers.

A related COVID-19 misinformation study by the Institute for Media and Communications Management, University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland demonstrated a positive link between political polarization and the resistance to COVID-19 prevention measures. At the same time, political polarization has also been associated with the spread of misinformation.

Researchers found that the level of misinformation in YouTube comment sections increased during the pandemic, that fake comments attract statistically more likes, and that the ratio of fake comments increased by 0.4% per month.

These findings suggest that once introduced into an online discussion, misinformation potentially leads to an escalating spiral of misinformation comments, which undermines public policy.

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Heartstopper Season 2, premiering on August 3 only on Netflix

It’s almost time to show the world what love is made of. Here is the official trailer for Season 2, premiering on August 3 only on Netflix

Published

on

Heartstopper Season 2 (Photo Credit: Netflix)

LONDON – Nick and Charlie navigate their new relationship; Tara and Darcy face unforeseen challenges and Tao and Elle work out if they can ever be more than just friends. With exams on the horizon, a school trip to Paris and a prom to plan, the gang has a lot to juggle as they journey through the next stages of life, love and friendship.

Heartstopper: Season 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix:

Heartstopper Season 2 (Photo Credit: Netflix)

See-Saw Films & Netflix present Heartstopper Season Two

Written and Created by: Alice Oseman

Director: Euros Lyn

Executive Producers: Patrick Walters, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Alice Oseman, Euros Lyn

Cast: Kit Connor, Joe Locke, Yasmin Finney, William Gao, Corinna Brown, Kizzy Edgell, Sebastian Croft, Tobie Donovan, Rhea Norwood, Jenny Walser, Cormac Hyde-Corrin and Olivia Colman

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Red, White, & Royal Blue set to premiere on Prime August 11

Based on the New York Times best-seller by Casey McQuiston, the film premieres globally on Prime Video on August 11

Published

on

Scene from the trailer for the rated R gay romantic comedy film Red, White, & Royal Blue. (Screenshot/YouTube Amazon Prime UK)

SEATTLE, WA. – Amazon Prime Video on Thursday released the trailer for the highly-anticipated rated R gay romantic comedy film Red, White, & Royal Blue. Based on the New York Times best-seller by Casey McQuiston, the film premieres globally on Prime Video on August 11.

The film is directed by Tony Award-winning playwright Matthew López and co-written by Ted Malawer.

Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez star in the film. Zakhar Perez plays Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States (who is played by Uma Thurman) whose feud with U.K. Prince Henry (Galitzine) turns romantic — and R-rated-steamy.

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine. Credit: Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Prime Video; Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“Separated by an ocean, their long-running feud hasn’t really been an issue, until a disastrous—and very public—altercation at a royal event becomes tabloid fodder, driving a potential wedge in U.S./British relations at the worst possible time. Going into damage-control mode, their families and handlers force the two rivals into a staged ‘truce,’” the press release from Amazon Prime Video reads.

Red, White & Royal Blue | Official Trailer | Prime Video:

Continue Reading

Online/Digital Streaming Media

Heartstopper Season 2: Nick & Charlie and their friends return

See-Saw Films and Netflix announces the second season of the runaway hit series Heartstopper will premiere on August 3

Published

on

Joe Locke as Charlie Spring and Kit Connor as Nick Nelson (Photo Credit: Netflix)

LONDON – See-Saw Films and Netflix announced Saturday, coinciding with the annual London Pride parade, that the second season of the runaway hit series Heartstopper will premiere on August 3.

Based on the graphic novels by award-winning author, illustrator, screenwriter, and series creator Alice Oseman, in season two Nick and Charlie navigate their new relationship, Tara and Darcy face unforeseen challenges and Tao and Elle work out if they can ever be more than just friends. With exams on the horizon, a school trip to Paris and a prom to plan, the gang has a lot to juggle as they journey through the next stages of life, love and friendship.

Heartstopper: Season 2 | Official Teaser | Netflix:

Continue Reading

Popular