Jeff Bezos’s Extortion Claim May Go Nowhere

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Founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, entered the political arena about six years ago with his purchase of The Washington Post.

American Media, Inc. (AMI) is the company that owns The National Enquirer, which is the media outlet that recently revealed Bezos was involved in an extramarital affair. The Enquirer story appeared a day after Bezos announced that he and his wife of 25 years were getting a divorce.

The story exposed Bezos’s affair with Lauren Sanchez, who is a former host of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” News of the affair changed public perception of Bezos, particularly with regard to his image as a CEO.

After suffering some embarrassment as a result of the story, Bezos unveiled a surprising blog post, which accused AMI of extortion. According to Bezos, in an email sent by the company’s lawyer, AMI threatened to publish texts and compromising photographs of Bezos, which included pictures of his male anatomy, if he did not publicly state that the tabloid’s reporting on his affair was not motivated by political concerns. Ironically, the lawyer who wrote the email is a former Amazon employee.

David Pecker is the CEO of AMI, and he is known to be an associate and friend of President Donald Trump. In the aforementioned blog post, Bezos made it a point to mention President Trump and cited ways that the president and Pecker had cooperated in the past.

Apparently, Bezos has been stung by the president’s tweets about his newspaper.

“It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,” Bezos wrote. “President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.”

Bezos has now put together a team of prominent lawyers and crisis managers to assist him in his public tug-of-war. The team includes high-profile figures such as Hollywood lawyer Martin Singer, who in 2005 represented Bill Cosby over potential Enquirer articles that detailed sexual assault allegations made against Cosby.

Attorney Jonathan Sherman, who previously represented AMI, is part of Bezos’s team and is with the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner. Partner of the firm David Boies defended Harvey Weinstein against sexual harassment and abuse accusations.

An additional team member is security specialist Gavin de Becker, who worked with public figures such as Olivia Newton-John, Cher, and former President Ronald Reagan.

If the email is taken at face value, it appears as though AMI’s lawyer offered to forego the publishing of material that would be embarrassing to Bezos in exchange for a public statement from Bezos that would benefit AMI. Based on a superficial read, the subject of criminal extortion has been repeatedly featured in media discussions.

Citing anonymous sources, reports have surfaced claiming that federal prosecutors are looking into the extortion claim.

The allegation in question is that AMI, via its lawyer, communicated to Bezos during settlement discussions that it possessed embarrassing texts and photographs, and conveying that if Bezos did not settle with AMI the company intended to go forward and publish the material.

The communication was made by a Deputy General Counsel for AMI and purportedly followed an email from AMI’s Chief Content Officer that had described in detail the texts and photographs.

In analyzing this email, it is important to focus on the context within which both parties are seeking to settle a dispute.

In settlement negotiations, it is common practice for the parties to propose that each side will release the other from any potential claims. This is what was communicated through its legal counsel in the subject email by AMI, along with a proposal that Bezos would agree to tell the public that AMI’s coverage of Bezos was not politically motivated. In return, AMI would agree not to publish the texts and photographs.

Outside of the settlement discussion context, criminal extortion would exist in a case such as this if money was demanded as payment for not making public an embarrassing secret. However, in this instance the key difference revolves around the settlement backdrop.

Why would the two sides be negotiating a settlement? It is clear that Bezos has been raising potential civil legal claims against AMI, while AMI has suggested that Bezos’s Washington Post planned to publish a false news story about AMI.

These cross assertions are arguably the basis for both parties to be pursuing a settlement of their respective claims. A settlement agreement would mutually release the claims of both parties.

Typically such agreements contain non-disclosure provisions stipulating that neither side will disparage the other, particularly when both sides are publishers. The argument of AMI as a criminal extortion defendant would be as follows: the texts and emails in question were an essential part of the settlement negotiations and were necessary to establish an incentive for Bezos to negotiate.

Prosecutors would have an uphill battle in attempting to use these facts as a basis for a criminal extortion case. Additionally, the First Amendment creates further problems for the prosecution, since Bezos is a very well known influential public figure and a power player in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and Hollywood.

Since Amazon moved forcefully into the entertainment business, Bezos is often seen at award shows and red carpet events. His life choices can have an on one of the largest companies in the world and one of the most influential news outlets in the nation. Despite its inherent unseemly nature, this story is, in fact, a newsworthy one that most current news outlets would run with if given the opportunity.

Furthermore, in the Michael Cohen case AMI entered into a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, agreeing to cooperate in exchange for not being subjected to prosecution. The agreement was conditioned on the company not getting into trouble legally for a period of three years.

Bezos’s team is well aware that, if it were determined that AMI broke the law, the company would potentially be in violation of the agreement. However, if there is no prosecutable crime, there seemingly would be no impact on the non-prosecution agreement.

Much of the analysis and reporting on the latest chapter in the Bezos saga illustrates the hunger on the part of many in the mainstream press for anything that can be weaponized against the president and used to ratchet down his poll numbers.

Jerry Seinfeld Sued over Sale of Alleged Fake Porsche

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Jerry Seinfeld has just been sued over claims that he sold a company a rare vintage Porsche Carrera sports car that allegedly turned out to be a counterfeit.

The lawsuit against Seinfeld alleges that when the comedian auctioned off the classic car for a winning bid of $1.54 million, he knew that it was “not authentic.”

Seinfeld’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, has denied the claims and called the suit “frivolous.”

An entity called Fica Frio Limited bought the vehicle in March of 2016 at an auction that took place in Amelia Island, Florida. Seinfeld himself was allegedly in attendance at the auction.

In a complaint filed in a Manhattan federal court, the car is identified as a 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster, which was sold at an auction that featured the “Jerry Seinfeld Collection” of cars. The lawsuit quoted Spike Feresten, who was the host at the auction.

Feresten also happens to be a former writer-producer for the “Seinfeld” television show and, as host at the auction, used a punch line that referenced the iconic sitcom.

“Jerry has been generous enough to let me drive an awful lot of his collection,” Feresten said. “And I can tell you: They’re real and they’re spectacular.”

Seinfeld’s current hit Internet show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” displays his passion for classic cars combined with his love of stand-up comedy.

The auction summary of the Porsche indicated that it was “From the Jerry Seinfeld Collection” and was a “stunning example of a rare thoroughbred Porsche.”

The 1958 Porsche was marketed at the auction as “one of 56” with “lightweight aluminum panels,” according to the suit.

“This exceptionally rare 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster is surely among the finest restored examples of a highly sought-after four-cam Porsche,” the marketing material indicated.

Between 1955 and 1959, Porsche built 151 Carrera Speedsters, and less than 60 percent of the cars had the GS/GT trim that the plaintiff believed the car possessed.

According to the lawsuit, a year later in March of 2017, Fica Frio had the car evaluated by a Porsche expert who determined that it was “not authentic.”

The suit quotes a voicemail that Seinfeld allegedly left for the buyer in June of 2018.

“[I want to] offer my apology for this nuisance and assure you that you will be completely indemnified in full and not have to keep the car and get all your money back,” Seinfeld purportedly said. “I did want to apologize to you personally for that happening.”

The comedian allegedly added that his experts never suspected there was anything wrong with the car, according to the suit.

Seinfeld also purportedly said that he “would also love to know how your guys figured it out because…my guys did not I guess see anything amiss with the car when I bought it.”

Fica Frio claims that Seinfeld has not paid back the money, and the company desires to rescind the sale, giving the car back to Seinfeld, with the purchase price going back to the buyer. Perhaps even more important to settlement discussions, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages from Seinfeld, which in theory may be considerable.

According to Seinfeld’s attorney, “Jerry has been working in good faith to get to the bottom of this matter. He has asked Fica Frio for evidence to substantiate the allegations. Fica Frio ignored Jerry and instead filed this frivolous lawsuit.”

The attorney added, “Jerry consigned the car to Gooding and Company, an auction house, which is responsible for the sale. Nevertheless, Jerry is willing to do what’s right and fair, and we are confident the court will support the need for an outside evaluator to examine the provenance of the car.”

Determining the authenticity of vintage cars is not as cut and dried as it would appear. The vast majority of civil suits end in some sort of settlement between the parties.

In an interesting little twist, one classic episode of “Seinfeld” deals with a plot line that bears a resemblance with regard to the “authenticity” theme.

The George character on the TV show is about to purchase a 1989 Volvo sedan, but the car salesman talks him into buying a 1989 LeBaron convertible instead. The smooth talking salesman is able to get George to believe that the vehicle was previously owned by famed actor Jon Voight.

It turns out that the car was indeed owned by a Mr. Voight, who was not an actor but rather a periodontist, and happened to bear the same first name but with the alternate spelling of “John.”

As Seinfeld, via his attorney, attempts to obtain some leverage for the negotiation process, he might ask Jerry how George handled his bad “Voight” deal.

Netflix Gets a Hollywood Makeover

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Netflix has just turned its back on the Silicon Valley tech firms in a move that signals a seismic shift in the entertainment business.

The streaming video giant pulled out of the Internet Association, which is the lobbying entity for web-based businesses, and locked arms with Silicon Valley’s nemesis, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Hollywood’s preeminent lobbying organization.

The Internet Association is a highly influential trade group that represents the biggest technology companies in the world, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The MPAA members are the six studio giants of Hollywood: Disney, Paramount, Sony, 21st Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros.

Although the tech firms of Silicon Valley and the entertainment companies of Hollywood have some common interests, they are on opposite sides when it comes to copyright protection and statutory immunities that are of benefit to Internet intermediaries.

Because of recent data scandals and charges of censorship by the largest tech firms, U.S. lawmakers are raising questions about two existing statutes: 1) Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields Internet concerns from liability for content published by their users; and 2) The safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which helps to protect such firms from copyright claims.

Hollywood, via the MPAA, has been pursuing more severe anti-piracy measures in an effort to prod Internet intermediaries into taking steps to prevent and remove illegal content that has been uploaded by users.

Immediately after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance in Washington, D.C. before a congressional committee, MPAA head Charles Rivkin requested that Congress begin looking into the possibility of holding Internet platforms accountable, which, of course, raised the specter of government regulation.

Rivken’s rhetoric infuriated Internet Association’s Michael Beckerman, who characterized the MPAA leader’s calls to regulate Internet companies as “shameless rent-seeking.”

Netflix is looking to the MPAA to assist in helping the streaming company expand into markets that in the past have proven to be difficult, if not impossible, to penetrate, which has been especially true with regard to China and India.

Netflix gradually morphed into a different entity from what it was at its onset. In the beginning, Netflix was a streaming platform that hosted third-party content and served as an alternative to Blockbuster and other video rental stores. The Netflix of today, though, is a full blown mega-studio, having reportedly spent about $13 billion on content just last year. Its service seeks to actively pair up content with needs and preferences of its subscribers.

In a recent letter to investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings indicated that because of the company’s success in producing original content, it plans to move away from outside programming and make content production the company’s primary objective.

Once dismissed by the industry as an entertainment flash in the pan and a mere rerun platform, Netflix has reshaped the way in which the public consumes entertainment. The industry realized that Netflix had become a threat to traditional entertainment business models, so CEOs sought comfort in mega-mergers and the establishment of new streaming services.

AT&T acquired Time Warner, and the newly formed entity presently has plans to launch a streaming service later in the year. Disney is also set to launch a streaming service, following its pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox. And Comcast will reportedly get into the streaming service business as well, after its acquisition of NBCUniversal is completed.

Netflix recently shocked its subscribers with its biggest price increase ever. A recent survey by Streaming Observer and Mindnet Analytics reveals that Netflix might lose up to 27% of its subscribers due to the price hike.

Another factor that poses a threat to Netflix’s bottom line is that major streaming service competitor Hulu reportedly has plans to lower its monthly charge from $7.99 to $5.99, starting at the end of February 2019.

Netflix is likely to lose much of its licensed third-party content at approximately the same time that Disney’s much-anticipated streamer is launched, complete with entertainment fare from its “Star Wars,” Marvel, and Pixar catalogues.

The current corporate model of Netflix is predicated on rapid growth. However, it now looks as though Netflix will have the brakes applied as emerging competition from Hollywood causes the streaming business to go through a remake.

Gladys Knight Takes a Stand for the National Anthem

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Gladys Knight earned the nickname “Empress of Soul” for good reason. The hit songs that she and her band mates, the Pips, delivered throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s left a unique gospel-pop imprint on the pages of American music history.

It is for this and so many other reasons that Knight seems to be the perfect voice to lend dignity and beauty to professional football’s great national anthem moment this year.

Super Bowl LIII is set to take place on February 3 in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots will battle to determine which team will ultimately secure the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Look for “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Knight to provide a graceful air of decorum to the pre-game ceremony and give an assist to a National Football League (NFL) in need of an image boost after suffering through the aftermath of some high-profile political posturing.

Knight began singing at the tender age of four. By age seven, she had secured a win for an appearance that she made in 1952 on “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.”

The following year Knight’s family formed a musical group, which they dubbed “the Pips,” a name derived from that of a cousin of Knight, James “Pip” Woods. The group would later come to be known as “Gladys Knight and the Pips,” which would be the vehicle that would ultimately propel Knight to superstardom.

Knight has an ecumenical faith background, having been born a Baptist, attended a Catholic grade school, and converted in the late 1990s to the Mormon church, the place in which she would create the Grammy Award-winning “Saints Unified Voices” gospel music choir.

The soul singer’s upcoming performance of the national anthem comes at a time following former member of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick’s game setting launch of a political protest.

Kaepernick’s protest began in 2016, during the third pre-season 49ers game in which he sat (and in later games knelt), instead of standing up with his teammates and the stadium fans as the national anthem was sung.

Kaepernick’s mode of protest, which continued throughout the season during the pre-game singing of the anthem, was offensive to many and distinctly out of place. It ended up hitting the NFL hard in the pocketbook, as some football players attempted to show their support for Kaepernick by emulating him.

The demonstrations by dissenting players during the anthem infuriated a significant number of football fans. However, liberal Hollywood elites and like-minded media outlets collectively nodded in unison and proceeded to lionize the protesting players.

Sports attire giant Nike added fuel to the football fire by making Kaepernick the poster boy of a signature advertising campaign. Kaepernick remains embroiled in a grievance arbitration filed against the NFL in which he alleges that team owners colluded to keep him out of the league after he lost out to being signed last season.

The whole Kaepernick controversy spilled over into this year’s Super Bowl halftime show preparations. Virtue signaling became all the rage as performers, which included singer Rihanna as well as rappers Cardi B and Jay-Z, declared that they would boycott the halftime show. Jay-Z even placed the following line in one of his tunes: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”

Meanwhile, those who are currently slated to perform, including singer and judge on “The Voice” Adam Levine’s musical group Maroon 5 and rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi, are being slammed by the social media and pressured to withdraw. Scott has even received backlash via Kaepernick’s own Twitter account.

Knight recently issued a timely and sage statement to the public, using a Hollywood trade publication as her outlet.

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight wrote as reported by Variety. “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

Knight’s statement continued, “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3, to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”

In light of the disharmony caused by the behavior and rhetoric on the part of Kaepernick and his allies in Hollywood and the mainstream media, coupled with the inept response by NFL leadership, Knight’s voice is going to be a musical tonic for those who have a passion for football and unabashed love for America.

New APA Guidelines Incorporate Leftist Notion of ‘Toxic Masculinity’

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For the first time in its history, the American Psychological Association (APA) has released guidelines for mental health professionals responsible for “psychological practice with boys and men,” stipulating that “traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful.”

Although the report was released by the APA back in August 2018, the organization just recently used its Twitter account to convey that the essential takeaway from the new guidelines is that men displaying conventionally held masculine characteristics are harming themselves and others via their so-called toxic masculinity.

“Masculinity ideology” is defined by the APA as “a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”

Some of the characteristics embodied in what the APA terms as “masculinity ideology” are traits that have traditionally held societal family units together, including courage, loyalty, self-reliance, competitiveness, and ambition. These traits have now been classified by the organization as “psychologically harmful.”

The application of scientific principles within the construction of the guidelines appears, for the most part, to be absent. This is particularly manifest in the APA’s adoption and inclusion of the identity politics language of the radical left.

Additionally, rather than using the biological indicator of the human Y chromosome as the basis for male gender designation, the perspective taken by the APA is that gender is instead “socially constructed.” The viewpoint also takes the position that gender is “non-binary” and that maleness itself causes a host of negative effects.

The narrative within the APA guidelines blames masculinity for the societal ills of, among other things, racism, homophobia, and misogyny. Masculinity is blamed as well for the disruptive behaviors of bullying and sexual harassment.

According to the APA’s release, mental health professionals, policy makers, and private citizens must eradicate existing masculine tendencies and work to create a new form of maleness. The studies that are incorporated in the guidelines presuppose that masculine characteristics originate via social construct.

However, the scientific evidence and society’s basic understanding are largely contrary to this premise, indicating instead that the qualities of manhood are an integral component of human biology and are innate as opposed to cultivated.

This conventional premise, i.e., that masculine traits are inherent in males, is referred to by evolutionary psychologists as the “male warrior hypothesis.” The hypothesis posits that the behavior of human males stems from the biological necessity for them to attract females for reproductive purposes. Males outwardly project signs of these attributes, which include physical strength, social alliances, the ability to aggregate resources such as food, territory, power, stature, etc., in order to heighten their appeal to females.

Up until fairly recently, gender was a relatively clear and simple concept. Moreover, the modern day leftist notion that male characteristics are somehow a construction of a patriarchy is foreign to a majority of those in our society as well as to people and cultures around the globe.

Despite the left’s entreaties to the contrary, the simple facts are that human babies are born with particular genitalia and a specific genetic code. Exceptions do exist, but they are extremely rare.

Male characteristics of masculinity typically manifest themselves very early in child development. The findings of one meta-analysis, with which many parents and grandparents can relate, appeared in “Infant and Child Development” in November 2017.

Researchers examined 1,788 papers and 16 studies, which involved the free selection of toys by boys and girls, 1 to 8 years of age, and found that “boys played with male‐typed toys more than girls did.” They additionally found that “girls played with female‐typed toys more than boys did.”

The abstract of the meta-analysis reads as follows: “Despite methodological variation in the choice and number of toys offered, context of testing, and age of child, the consistency in finding sex differences in children’s preferences for toys typed to their own gender indicates the strength of this phenomenon and the likelihood that has a biological origin.”

Interestingly, other primates also appear to reflect similar infant gender differences when it comes to toy preference.

A study conducted in 2008 by psychologists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia examined 11 male and 23 female rhesus monkeys. Most of the study animals were juveniles, 1 to 4 years of age. When the young animals were exposed to trucks and dolls, the males preferred to play with trucks while the females showed a preference for playing with both kinds of toys.

Having studied and written about the mindset of the left over the course of many years, I have found that there is an authoritarian tendency that frequently arises in those who subscribe to the worldview of the radical left, and now some of the hallmark institutions of our society.

Many on the left may have feelings of resentment toward males who possess the aforementioned masculine traits, possibly due to past experiences in which they may have suffered negative ramifications to physical, psychological, or social well-being.

There is another explanation, though, that is not in any way new to history. There is a type of quest in individuals and groups within any society to aggregate and retain power. This quest oftentimes incentivizes certain people or groups to try and coerce others into abandoning their knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes in favor of, in this instance, the prescribed ideology of the radical left.

For society’s enlightened, the notion that all are created equal is written upon individuals’ hearts, and respect for all people is fully embraced. Within this realm, virtue claims no gender exclusivity, nor does self-sacrifice, or any other positive characteristic that the left has deemed to be toxic on the part of males.

In a strike at the self-esteem of those who happen to be males, instead of validating the essence of half the population, who not so incidentally are our sons, husbands, fathers, grandfathers, friends, and loved ones, our society is being led by so-called experts into the arena of hating the boys and men that we love, accusing them of vile thoughts and deeds, and stigmatizing them until they capitulate to the left’s “scientifically derived” diagnosis and treatment.

The APA wields the power to influence a host of important societal institutions. School administrators, colleges, universities, corporations, courts, etc., will undoubtedly be making reference to the new guidelines, and this in turn will deeply affect the lives of boys to men.

Essentially, males of all ages will be required to deny who they are and become what the leftist social engineers have designed for them. This is an untenable scenario for anyone who understands how the autonomy of the individual is necessary for a society to remain healthy.

Fifteen Minutes of Shame

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“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

This familiar quote, which is attributed to Andy Warhol, has resulted in a modern, truncated version of the concept that everyone will eventually receive his or her time in the spotlight. It also reflects how fragile and fleeting celebrity status has become and just how fickle the present-day public has trended.

In the age of social media, though, another phenomenon has been taking shape online, and Warhol’s iconic words are being subjected to a warped parallel paraphrasing. The twisted Warhol-ism that has emerged is the following: “In the future, everyone will be forced to suffer through his or her 15 minutes of shame.”

In today’s digital world, a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram mob is able to publicly humiliate a well known, or even not so well known, individual or group for alleged acts or statements, thereby detrimentally affecting occupation, reputation, and/or social life.

Social media shaming can result in an instantaneous career end and destructive ramifications for anyone who is the unfortunate recipient of it.

Embarrassment is an intensely negative universal human experience, which is tethered to a fundamental need to be accepted into a circle, respected by its members, and loved for who we are. The thought of losing any of these basic necessities is a terrifying prospect, and it can create a desperation within an individual or group of individuals that is unlike any other misfortune that may befall us.

For a while now, particularly within the social media realm, individuals as well as groups have been going about weaponizing social media technology via memes and bots as a means of magnifying a digital footprint and amplifying a message. This is routinely done deceptively so as to give the impression that the representative numbers are significantly greater than they actually are.

When combined with the type of hyper-political correctness that is being promulgated by various activist groups, these social media activities pose an unprecedented threat to free expression, and perhaps even more perilous, an assault on the psyche.

The latest large-scale episode of social media shaming occurred when comedic actor Kevin Hart was compelled to withdraw from hosting the 2019 Oscars. Hart pulled out of the hosting gig after he and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences received the social media shaming treatment over jokes that he had posted in the distant past.

Immediately after it was publicly reported that Hart would host the industry’s most prestigious awards show, the virtual walk of shame began. Posts cited select archived comedy routines and tweets, which featured the comedian joking about trying to stop his son from becoming gay.

Reportedly, the Academy urged Hart to apologize for the past posts, but he refused, stating that he’d already apologized.

“I’ve addressed it,” Hart said in an Instagram post. “… I’m not going to continue to tap into the past when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”

Hart eventually did express contrition in a later tweet, stating, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.” He explained that the reason he was withdrawing from hosting duties was so that he would not “be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.”

In a surprising twist, Ellen DeGeneres is now in the social media crosshairs. In an attempt to try and reinstate Hart as the host of the 91st Academy Awards, the daytime talk show host acted as a mediator of sorts between Hart and the Academy.

During a recent episode of her syndicated daytime talk show, one in which Hart appeared and gave his first interview on the subject, DeGeneres disclosed that she had talked with Academy officials and suggested that they bring Hart back as Academy Awards host. She also told Hart and her viewing audience that the Oscar leadership would still like Hart to be the host.

“It was an attack,” Hart told DeGeneres. “This wasn’t an accident, this wasn’t a coincidence. …To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008? That’s an attack. That’s a malicious attack on my character.”

Hart added, “That’s an attack to end me. That’s not an attack to end the Oscars, that’s an attack to end me.” He continued in his expression of indignation and defense of his character.

“This was to destroy me. This was to end all partnerships, all brand relationships, all investment opportunities, studio relationships, my production company and the people who work underneath me. This was to damage the lives that had been invested in me. It’s bigger than just the Oscars. It’s about the individuals who are out there now that are finding success in damage. They’re finding success in damaging your ‘celebrity,’” Hart explained.

It turns out that in a prior stand-up routine, Hart had shared, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay … If I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”

In a past post, Hart had also used his Twitter account to jokingly tweet that he would hit his son with his daughter’s dollhouse if he ever caught him playing with it. He additionally told Rolling Stone in 2015 that he intended these particular jokes to be self-deprecating.

“The funny thing within that joke is it’s me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities,” Hart said. “I panicked. It has nothing to do with him, it’s about me.”

It appears as though the digital powers that be have decided it is now Degeneres’s turn to take to the shame stage. She is presently being targeted by the social media, in part, for venturing into the truth about today’s internet culture.

“There are so many haters out there,” DeGeneres said. “Whatever is going on on the internet, don’t pay attention to them. That’s a small group of people being very, very loud.”

Superheroes Save Hollywood’s 2018 Box Office

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After a great deal of handwringing, Hollywood is breathing a sigh of relief.

The 2018 box office showed growth, and the movie business owes its positive performance to an aggregate of superhero films.

After hyper-anxiety over the possibility that streaming entertainment was going to kill the movie theater business, Hollywood ended up raking in a record $11.9 billion in revenue last year.

The 2018 domestic box office was up 7 percent over 2017 as well as being up 4 percent when compared to 2016. The audience has grown, and although the actual number of tickets sold remains below the high mark that was set in 2002, attendance for 2018 was higher than the previous year by 4 percent.

With more than 26 percent of all domestic box-office revenue in 2018, Disney commands an unprecedented portion of the market share. CEO Bob Iger’s strategy of buying franchises and rights to superhero characters paid off enormously, and the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Disney’s share of the market is likely to increase in 2019, with the planned release of another “Star Wars” film and the fourth and supposedly final “Avengers” movie, as well as two animated features and three live-action versions of classic Disney tales.

Based on the 2018 box-office performance, filmgoers can expect movie studios to continue to deliver two predictable types of entertainment product in 2019: 1) additional sequels; and 2) more cinema that features costumed crusaders with super-human powers.

Of the top five box-office films of the year, four were superhero films, and amazingly the ten highest-grossing films of 2018 were either superhero movies, sequels, or both.

The top film of 2018 was the superhero offering “Black Panther,” which earned over $700 million domestically making it the third highest-grossing movie in the history of cinema. Following close behind was another superhero flick, “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The biggest take from last year’s ticket revenue arrived courtesy of the superhero genre, with four out of the top five films bringing in more than $2.3 billion. The “Spider-Man” spin-off “Venom” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp” hauled in another combined $429 million. The newly released “Aquaman” and “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” added an additional combined $300 million to last year’s superhero gross.

The enduring success of comic book characters that come to life begs the question: What is it about these superhero movies that draws people to the multiplex?

Family films pay the bills for Hollywood, and since parents are on an eternal quest for places to take their little ones, superhero films provide a relatively wholesome type of fare that adults and appropriately-aged children are able to enjoy together.

That the superhero phenomenon has become so deeply ingrained into the fabric of our culture suggests something more significant is occurring within the public consciousness. People instinctively long for stories in which moral tensions in plot lines are ultimately resolved in a fundamentally fair manner. Similar to the mythological gods of antiquity, superheroes possess powers and abilities that can rectify unjust situations. Superheroes also travel through storylines in which forces of good and evil have clearly marked boundaries and good generally triumphs over evil. In this fanciful realm, the universe is ordered and stability secured.

The successful releases in the superhero category typically feature characters with extraordinary powers, who, as they go about saving the world, must deal with ordinary relatable problems. When superhero characters possess an aura of authenticity, the stories surrounding them communicate a sense of hope that problems can be solved and obstacles overcome.

A study that took place in Kyoto, Japan, published in January 2017, explored attitudes of very young children toward heroic characters.

Six-month-old infants were presented with animations that depicted a character bumping into another character while a third onlooker watched from a distance. The onlooker intervened in one version and in a second version ran away.

When the infants were given the opportunity to select a real life replica of the intervening character or non-intervening character, the young subjects were more likely to choose the intervening character as opposed to the one who ran away.

The findings of the research indicate that pre-verbal six-month-old infants are able to recognize heroism, suggesting that the ability to identify a hero is an innate one.

This innate human attraction to heroism has been capitalized upon by the motion picture industry and explains, in part, the omnipresence of superhero characters in movies. Hollywood executives will soon debut even more superhero films. Scheduled for release in 2019 are Disney’s “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and Fox’s X-Men sequel, “Dark Phoenix.”