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February 24, 2020

If there's one position you don't want to be in as a TV showrunner, it's getting publicly blasted as "dangerous" by the Auschwitz Memorial.

But that's the situation facing Amazon's Hunters, which revolves around hunting Nazis in the 1970s to prevent the rise of a Fourth Reich, a few days after it made its streaming debut. Auschwitz Memorial on Sunday took issue with one particular scene in the series, which depicts a game of human chess being played with concentration camp prisoners.

Auschwitz Memorial noted this scene to be historically inaccurate and argued it "welcomes future deniers," also calling it "disrespectful and dangerous." The memorial argued the show could have come up with a "non-existing camp and Nazi atrocities perpetrated there" but that "if you however use a real place, respect its history and suffering of its victims."

Hunters creator David Weil, whose grandmother was an Auschwitz prisoner, is now responding to the criticism in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter, noting the series is "not documentary" and explaining that he wanted to avoid taking from any "real person's specific life or experience."

Weil also said of the chess scene, "why did I feel the need to create a fictional event when there were so many real horrors that existed? After all, it is true that Nazis perpetrated widespread and extreme acts of sadism and torture — and even incidents of cruel 'games' — against their victims. I simply did not want to depict those specific, real acts of trauma."

Hunters hasn't proven to be any less controversial among critics, with the Reporter's Daniel Fienberg calling the depiction of "fictional atrocities" to be a "strange choice," while Vox's Aja Romano writes that the series overall "might be far more effective at titillating and arousing Nazi sympathizers than it is at speaking to the Jewish community." Brendan Morrow

November 8, 2019

Believe it or not, Dick Cheney is not an enormous fan of the guy who publicly compared him to Satan.

Bale in an interview with Yahoo this week revealed he received a message from an unhappy Cheney after playing him in the 2018 biopic Vice. Apparently, a woman Bale knows from his son's school ran into the former vice president at a party and asked if there's anything he'd like to say to the actor, who received an Oscar nomination for the role.

"Tell him he's a dick," Cheney responded, Bale says.

Bale explains he at first thought Cheney was just joking around, referencing the fact that he was, in fact, "a Dick" in the movie. But evidently, the former vice president wasn't kidding.

"I went, 'At least he's got a sense of humor,'" Bale said. "And she said, 'no, there was no humor to that whatsoever.'"

Of course, that's not overly surprising considering how uncharitable Vice is in its depiction of Cheney, although Bale notes that he's actually not positive that Cheney saw the movie. Depending on when this party took place, he could have just been responding to Bale's remarks about him, like when he said while accepting a Golden Globe that Satan inspired his performance, also describing Cheney as "charisma-free and reviled by everybody."

The former vice president's daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), had previously fired back at Bale over that Satan comparison, tweeting out a news article about Bale being arrested in 2008 over an alleged assault and writing, "Satan probably inspired him to do this, too." Brendan Morrow

July 30, 2019

Bruce Lee's daughter is putting Quentin Tarantino on blast over her father's depiction in Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood.

Shannon Lee spoke to The Wrap about a moment in Tarantino's new movie set in 1969 Los Angeles in which her father, played by Mike Moh, challenges Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth to a fight. The scene is played for laughs, with a coolheaded Cliff brushing off Bruce's cocky attitude while gaining the upper hand and throwing him into a nearby car.

This scene was "disheartening," Lee told The Wrap, going on to say that it was "really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father."

Some critics have defended the scene by arguing that it's not meant to be taken as a literal depiction of true events; it's presented as a memory of Cliff's, and it may be his exaggerated version of what took place. Lee told The Wrap that she understands this and the fact that it serves to elevate Cliff's fighting abilities. Still, she said, "they didn't need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive."

Lee went on to say that although her father is portrayed as an "arrogant a--hole" and "the one with all the puffery" who initiates the fight, that's "not how he was." While she explained that she works hard toward "raising the consciousness of" who her father was, "all of that was flushed down the toilet" by this film, which made him "into this arrogant punching bag."

Although Tarantino reached out to Sharon Tate's sister about Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood, Lee previously expressed frustration that no one ever contacted her, telling Deadline that "to not have been included in any kind of way, when I know that he reached out to other people but did not reach out to me, there's a level of annoyance." Brendan Morrow

April 5, 2018

The Kremlin is not pleased with Facebook.

A spokesman cried foul on Facebook's decision to delete hundreds of accounts and pages associated with a Russian "troll farm," calling the move akin to censorship, Reuters reported Thursday. The social media giant announced this week that it had removed more than 200 pages, accounts, and ads that were run by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, a company that was indicted for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A reporter asked Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov whether the move was a hostile one and whether it amounted to censorship against Moscow. "Yes, it is," responded Peskov. "We are of course following this and we regret it."

Facebook said that it deleted pages because they were controlled by the IRA, not because of any particular content that the pages contained. "The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people," Facebook wrote in a blog post.

Another Russian news outlet, the Federal News Agency, reportedly also had pages removed from Facebook. NPR reports that the outlet said its content had been taken down "for no reason." Russia's Federal News Agency is associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman who was indicted last month for interfering in the 2016 election. Read more at NPR. Summer Meza

March 14, 2018

Facebook has decided to unfriend the unfriendly.

The company removed pages belonging to far-right U.K. group Britain First for repeatedly posting "content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups," Facebook explained in a blog post on Wednesday. The social media site said the group had ignored a final written warning asking it to stop sharing content that violates Facebook's hate speech community standards. The group's leaders, who were jailed last week after being convicted of religiously aggravated harassment, have also been banned from the site, BBC reports.

The Britain First page had more than two million followers. Its posts, which included photos with captions that read "Islamophobic and Proud" and compared Muslim immigrants to animals, were shared hundreds of thousands of times. Facebook will not allow a replacement page to be created, BBC says.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed support for Facebook's decision. "Britain First is a vile and hate-fueled group," said Khan in a statement. Britain First found itself in the spotlight last November when President Trump retweeted several of its anti-Muslim videos. Summer Meza

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