Weekly Round Up: The Oscars, Facebook and a Hatecrime Hoax

The Oscars

‘oohhh Lady Gaga!’ ended Olivia Colman’s Oscars acceptance speech for Best Actress. Her excitement was the purest thing and makes a fitting end to the most charming awards season from any actress in recent memory. Wins for Colman, Rami Malek and Mahershala Ali in their respective categories all come as pleasant surprises. Regina King’s win for best supporting actress, following her small but deeply emotional turn in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, is particularly well deserved. Other notable wins were made by Roma for best international film, and Alfonso Cuaron’s receiving best director for the film. Green Book‘s best picture win has proved divisive, with fellow nominee BlacKKKlansman’s director Spike Lee being quoted as saying “the ref made a bad call”. – Antonio

 

B E R N I E 

Bernie Sanders has finally announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination in 2020. This is the Vermont senator’s second attempt, after losing out on the nomination to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Within a day of announcing Bernie secured an impressive $6 million in donations from more than 225,000 donors, eclipsing other frontrunners Kamala Harris ($1.5m) and Amy Klobuchar ($1m). While it’s important to note that he’s already very much in the public eye in a way that the other nominees aren’t yet, this is a clear indication of a sustained enthusiasm for Bernie’s democratic socialist vision for America. All we’re waiting on now is AOC’s endorsement. – Dan

 

Jussie Smollett Hoax

The Chicago police have charged Empire actor Jussie Smollett for staging a hate crime against himself. Before this revelation, Smollett’s international profile had grown considerably as celebrities from around the world expressed their sympathies. The hoax has led to a heated debate on “victimhood culture” and the misguided conflation of Smollett’s deception with the veracity of all claims of assault in our post-#MeToo era. While the Chicago Police have a history of dishonesty and violent racial discrimination, the evidence that they claim to have would conclusively prove Smollett’s guilt. In our instant news age, the Smollett case, which has been weaponized by those on both the left and the right, is a reminder for us all to wait for more conclusive knowledge before shooting out our thoughts into the ether with a hotly worded tweet. – Antonio

 

Steve Irwin vs PETA

On Friday, Google released a Google Doodle celebrating what would’ve been the 57th birthday of zookeeper and conservationist Steve Irwin. It was pretty cute, showing a slideshow of crayon drawings celebrating his playful interaction with animals, television success, and his family life, but the animal rights organisation PETA was having none of it. In a Tweet which received 77,000 replies, they criticised Google for sending a “dangerous, fawning message” for endorsing a public figure who, they claimed, was “killed while harassing a ray”. The statement drew a great deal of controversy, with responses either calmly highlighting Iriwn’s contributions to education and conservation, or “cancelling” PETA and telling them to “fuck off”. Wherever you stand, the uproar drew attention to the important topic of animal rights and conservation, even if the response was so heated. Crikey!  – Mack

 

Facebook knows when you’re on your period

We already know that social media networks have invasive insights into our lives, but I didn’t realise they might know when I’m cruising the crimson tide. The Wall Street Journal has uncovered that a period tracking app called Flo is sending personal data directly to Facebook (regardless of whether you actually have a Facebook account, oddly.) It’s been suggested that algorithms based on this sort of data could send you data based on where you are on your menstrual cycle; or, if you’ve missed a period – baby products! No thanks!! The Journal’s findings may be in violation of EU and US law. – Jade

 

Tension at the Venezuelan border 

President Nicolás Maduro decided to close Venezuela’s frontiers to prevent humanitarian and medical aid provided by the USA from coming through Colombia and Brazil. This was met with resistance from civilians, especially supporters of Maduro’s challenger for the presidency, Juan Guaidó, but in response Maduro sent the military to unleash hell on any protesters, with tear gas and rubber bullets that escalated into firing actual bullets and setting aid trucks on fire. At least 4 civilians were killed, including a couple of indigenous people near the Brazilian border, and more than 300 were injured. Some members of the national security forces have defected to Guaidó’s side after this disaster, but Maduro still holds sway over the army and national guard. On Sunday, Guaidó publicly requested help from “the international community” to remove Maduro from power and hold elections, even if by force, at the peak of the national crisis. – Jorge

 

Illustration by Antonio Perricone.