This Music Festival Trailer Tries To Tackle Feminism And Fails Miserably

Photo via @hardfest/YouTube

So… where are the women?

Update 05/05/17: HARD Summer founder Gary Richards has issued the following apology statement regarding the trailer: "Here at HARD Events we are here for everyone. The HARD SUMMER trailer was created as a satirical piece to raise consciousness at a time when equality issues are of utmost importance. Our goal is to promote good music and we are trying to give women more of a platform at our festival. My intentions here were only to help, not offend anyone, in supporting Agata's vision and message. I understand that she does not speak for all women and how people could be upset by the trailer. There is always a risk of misinterpretation when satire is used, but we felt it was right to let her express herself and have creative control over the piece. We want to extend a sincere apology to those who were offended. We hope the conversations started by this piece bring the change we intended and we will continue to be a champion for Women's rights within our community and world at large."

Full disclaimer: I don’t believe it was anyone’s intention to create an unmitigatedly terrible and misogynistic video for California’s annual HARD Summer festival. But it happened. And it turned my soul into a raisin.

The HARD Summer festival's teaser videos, anticipated each year, are heavily rooted in EDM industry satire and feature the festival’s headliners in outrageously scripted mini movies. They often have me doubled over in laughter. In 2015’s video, Chromeo and Mija kick Dillon Francis out of a band after he tries to insist playing spoons is the next big sound. (The back-and-forth rapport is smart and quick. “There’s someone over here hogging the tuba,” says Francis, to which Mija throws back, with expert sarcasm and wide eyes, “Wow, Dillon, you suck at the tuba.”) The video from 2014 skewered mask-wearing DJs with the likes of Kill The Noise, A-Trak, and, again, Francis (who is, by all rights, a comedic tour de force) rolling around L.A. in giant food-shaped helmets. Diplo leans into the camera, his head swallowed in a foam strawberry and brags, “Strawberry gang, baby!” They’re hilarious, and recognize that making fun of what industry insiders (and outsiders) already use as punch lines is not only smart, niche satire, it’s incredibly shareable as well.

About a month ago, I obtained a copy of the treatment for 2017’s HARD Summer trailer, written by its director, Agata Alexander. The visionary behind HARD’s viral videos for years, Alexander wanted this year’s preview to use humor to shine a harsh light on a very real problem that has (arguably) always existed within American dance music: sexism.

“The goal is to support equality and welcome everyone,” it reads. “Challenge the norm and show the world right from wrong. Let’s have fun.” Below it, in large type, “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE” is emblazoned. Fuck yeah, I thought. I had hope.

Beyond the initial pitch, I was heartened by who was involved. Gary Richards, the founder of HARD Festival, has openly been an ally and advocate for representing diversity in dance music. The Holy Ship pre-party he planned for 2016 was all women, but not billed or tokenized as such. This year’s HARD Summer lineup has a staggering amount of talented women gracing the bill, a very obvious statement to other promoters who excuse their monochromatic and mono-gender lineups with “there’s just not enough women artists out there.” The video itself features several of the festival’s brilliant women artists: Anna Lunoe, Kittens, Gina Turner, Cray, and others. The male artists involved are personal friends, who have always shown kindness and compassion toward the topic of equality, like Party Favor and Claude VonStroke. I don’t think any of them represent what is in this trailer. I don’t know how it all went Pete Tong.

The video opens with an over-the-top creepy manager, sitting at his desk with a comb over, ill-fitting suit, and, somehow most disturbingly, an open jar of mayo with a spoon in it. He's been told by Richards that the festival needs to feature more women, and it's his job to make it happen. Sitting in front of four male artists (Party Favor, What So Not, Claude VonStroke, and Kayzo), creepy manager's solution is to "make the biggest girl group of all time" by... putting fake breasts on these men?

It goes downhill from there. There's cage dancing, a male pants-less photographer trying to make the artists feel uncomfortable (a joke that loses its meaning and aha moment because, you know, everyone on screen is a straight guy), and milk pouring everywhere. Strangely, everyone almost always has their shirts open, fake breasts on display, even when it's not part of the script to point out double standards. The meaning is lost quickly. On top of all this what-the-fuckery, it also doses in LGBT erasure by subscribing to a hetero and cisnormative ideal of breasts = women, limiting the female experience to a body part. At the end, several women artists eventually walk in with Richards, but only two of them speak, and it's to point out what we're all thinking: "I don't get it."

The players in this unfortunate video aren't here to empathize or walk in a woman's shoes. Putting comedically large, or sagging, or pushed-up prosthetic breasts on men who are acting out a script, with other men, in a safe space, is not satirical. It's a mockery that whittles us down to our sexual parts. I've had to DJ in a cage at a private event, and it made me feel small. I've been grabbed while in a DJ booth, and no one defended me. I've had creepy agents tell me I was "overreacting" when their clients touched me inappropriately, and I questioned my own authority. Watching these same situations played out by men, parading as versions of cis women that are supposed to pass as cis women simply because they have breasts, just—for lack of any witty phrase or retort—makes me sad. 

In an interview with Nest HQ, Alexander defends her final product, saying, "I wanted men to stand up and make the point for us. Us women shout in the dark a lot of times. We need men to stand up for us as loudly as possible. And I can't imagine anything louder than a man putting on breasts and owning it so hard like these dudes did." I agree we need allies, but there is virtually no allyship in this video. Whether Alexander's view is due to willful obtuseness, failure of lived experience, or being too committed to tits on bros as a punch line, it's impossible to say. Her history as a brilliantly satirical filmmaker is lost here, in a sea of boob jokes that lack any nuance beyond the visual pun.

Earlier in the day, a friend and I threw back ideas on what could have been better. What if the roles were switched and the women were the creepy managers and photographers? What if, when the photo shoot got too grossly sexual, the women arrived to show them up and take killer, yet hilariously blue steel-like shots, no skin required? What if it were anything else?

Perhaps most baffling in all this is the fact that women barely appear in the video at all. In the beginning, Richards says, "We only had four girls at HARD Summer last year, and we know we can do better than that." Though the festival lineup has dozens of female-identifying artists, this video only shows five, and, collectively, they appear on screen for 38 seconds. That's 8 percent of the total time. They don't even all speak, and it takes more than four minutes for the first woman (Lunoe) to appear. There's more time devoted to boob and wet T-shirt jokes than the actual women this video is supposed to be for. I may be missing something, but I find it hard to understand how excluding women from the conversation, especially when the conversation revolves around, you know, them, creates any sense of crossing a bridge.

I applaud everyone involved for recognizing that there is a problem to be solved, I really do. Their hearts are in the right place. But I wish I walked away from watching the trailer feeling empowered. Unfortunately, the only message to be gleaned from HARD’s video on women in dance music is the one we’ve been repeating for years: Do better.

Watch the full video here:

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Photos by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

This photo proves that they are the chillest onscreen family

Sophie Turner just posted a photo of herself, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright—aka the Stark siblings—to her Instagram, showing just what the three used to get up to when the Game of Thrones cameras weren't rolling.

The photo shows Wright looking quite pleased with himself while sitting on a makeshift throne, wearing no pants. As he should be, seeing as (spoiler) his character, Bran, won the Iron Throne this weekend. Williams, meanwhile, is looking way too cool to be involved in the shenanigans, wearing a pair of black sunglasses and staring absently off-camera. As for Turner, she's looking away from her onscreen brother, too, nervously smoking a Juul.

"The pack survived," Turner captioned the photo.

This photo just goes to prove that the Stark siblings are the chillest onscreen family. (It also proves, yet again, that Turner's social media is an absolute delight.)

We're actually a little sad that this footage didn't make it into the final season, considering how many modern-day objects have been spotted in the show's last few episodes.

Photo via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Meet Ashley

Miley Cyrus shared the trailer for her forthcoming Black Mirror episode, and it's basically Hannah Montana set in a dystopian future. Cyrus is a pink wig-wearing pop star named Ashley who is rolling out an in-home virtual assistant, named Ashley Too, that looks like her and shares her voice. But, as is the case with every Black Mirror episode, this technology is not as cute and fun as it's advertised to be.

In the trailer, we get the idea that Ashley is all about wanting fans to "believe" in themselves—but underneath that pink wig, maybe she doesn't feel that same self-love. After Ashley Too introduces herself to fan and new owner Rachel, promising to be her friend, we get a look at Ashley's darker side. She's depressed and tired of the pop star life. A record label executive says to several people in the room, "She doesn't understand how fragile all this is." As they consider upping her dose of medication, Ashley's life is on a downward slope. "It's getting so hard to keep doing this," she voices over glimpses of a police car chase, performances, and breakdowns backstage.

But back to the technology: Does Ashley's breakdown also mean the breakdown of Ashley Too? Looks like it. We see Rachel's virtual assistant screaming, "Get that cable out of my ass! Holy shit! Pull it out," breathing a sigh of relief as soon as they pull it out. A title card then reveals the episode name, "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too."

Watch the full trailer and get a full view of Cyrus' cyborg-esque pop star look, below. Black Mirror returns to Netflix on June 5.


Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images.

Several actresses allegedly had "issues" with him

Lena Waithe's Showtime series, The Chi, just lost one of its main characters. Jason Mitchell, who was also set to appear in the Netflix film Desperados, has been dropped from both projects following multiple allegations of misconduct. He has also been dropped by his agent and manager.

Hollywood Reporter heard from a source "with knowledge" of The Chi, who says that Tiffany Boone, the actress who plays Mitchell's girlfriend on the show, is just one of several actresses who had "issues" with him. She eventually told producers at Fox21 that she could no longer work with him after filing several sexual harassment complaints. Apparently, her fiancé, Dear White People co-star Marque Richardson, would join her on set when she would shoot with Mitchell.

While news of Mitchell's alleged misconduct is just now beginning to surface, it looks like the ball started rolling on the fallout weeks ago. He was dropped from Desperados and replaced by Lamorne Morris before filming began. A source from the production team said that the producers received "specific information" that they reviewed and acted on quickly. Similarly, a source familiar with Mitchell's former agent, UTA, said the decision to drop him a few weeks ago was very quick following the allegations.

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Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Prior to the college admissions scandal, she said she doesn't "care about school"

Apparently, Olivia Jade wants to go back to school despite all those YouTube videos that suggested otherwise. Back in March, it was revealed that her mom, Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, and dad, Mossimo Giannulli, had scammed Jade's way into the University of Southern California. Now, Loughlin faces jail time, and Jade lost out on plenty of lucrative ad partnerships.

According to Us Weekly, "Olivia Jade wants to go back to USC," per a source. "She didn't get officially kicked out and she is begging the school to let her back in." Another source though ousted Jade's real motivation to the publication. "She knows they won't let her in, so she's hoping this info gets out," they shared. "She wants to come out looking like she's changed, learned life lessons and is growing as a person, so she for sure wants people to think she is interested in her education."

Jade previously shared in a YouTube video she's in college for the "experience of like game days, partying" rather than the education. She also said, "I don't know how much of school I'm going to attend... I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." Though these statements were made prior to the scandal coming to light, her brand partnerships didn't come into question until her parents were indicted.

Right now, despite previous reports that Jade and her sister would both be dropping out of USC, Jade's enrollment has been placed on hold—meaning she cannot register for classes, or even withdraw from the school—until her parents' court case comes to a close. Then, the school will make its own decision as to how Jade will be affected. I think, either way, she should have to pay off a few of her classmates' loans for all the BS she pulled.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

He'd previously said he wanted to punch Jackson's 'Leaving Neverland' accusers in the face

Aaron Carter has been one of Michael Jackson's fiercest celebrity advocates in the aftermath of the Leaving Neverland documentary in which two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, alleged that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. In a new clip from People, however, he seems to walk back his defense.

People reveals that Carter will be joining the upcoming season of reality TV show Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition with his mother. It's noted that he will be revealing more thoughts regarding Jackson following the documentary and the sneak peek specifically sees him alluding to a negative experience with the singer.

Carter, who has previously said that Jackson was never inappropriate toward him, says that Jackson "was a really good guy," though he does note that this is only true "as far as I know." "He never did anything that was inappropriate," he continues before stopping himself, as though remembering something. "Except for one time. There was one thing that he did that was a little bit inappropriate."

Carter does not provide any more detail after this statement. He has previously said that he would stay at Jackson's Neverland estate and sleep in the same bed as the much older star when he was 15 years old, though he hasn't seemed to understand then just how creepy that is. He also said earlier this year, in a clip from TMZ, that he would be telling a story of something that happened between them in an upcoming book about his life.