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Muslims Only Make Up 1% Of Characters On TV, Study Finds

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Despite making up 25% of the global population, Muslims only account for 1% of characters on popular television shows, according to a report released Wednesday.

The findings, which come from an analysis of 200 top-rated television shows aired in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand between 2018 and 2019, indicate yet again that the global entertainment industry has either sidelined Muslim voices entirely or cast Muslim actors in roles rooted in stereotypes.

“What we’re seeing is content creators and casting directors that have no imagination,” said Stacy Smith, the founder of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and the lead author of the study.

“This is people being lazy with a group of people that routinely are being dehumanized as either perpetrators or victims of violence, or with disparaging comments.”

Such storylines can contribute to a host of concerns in the real world, including aggression toward and fear of Muslims, Smith said.

The report, titled “Erased or Extremists: The Stereotypical View of Muslims in Popular Episodic Series,” was released with support from the USC initiative, Pillars Fund and the Ford Foundation, as well as actor Riz Ahmed and his production company, Left Handed Films.

Among the shows review as part of the study, 87% did not feature a single Muslim character. The 200 scripted series included just 98 Muslim characters out of 8,885 speaking roles — a ratio of about 1-to-90.

Muslim characters are often portrayed as violent and foreign on screen, according to a new study.

Courtesy of USC Annenberg

When Muslim characters did make an appearance on screen, they were largely portrayed as violent or foreign, and referred to with words like “terrorist,” “predator” and “monster.” Thirty percent of the Muslim characters in the sample perpetrated violent acts against another character, and nearly 40% were targets of violence.

Despite the fact that Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the world, the majority of speaking Muslim characters were depicted as Middle Eastern or North African. Only 13% of all Muslim characters were shown as native to countries that are not majority Muslim. Meanwhile, two were depicted as immigrants.

Of all the speaking Muslim characters in the scripted series, about 70% were male and 30% were female. Muslim girls and women on screen typically faced some sort of distress, including emotional duress or physical danger.

“We didn’t see them really leading their own storylines or showing them in empowering roles — which, again, creates this light that Muslim women cannot be leaders and they cannot be empowered,” said Al-Baab Khan, one of the authors of the study.

She said such depictions are harmful because they reinforce the image of Muslim women “as being oppressed, as being fearful or as being less-than, which is not true.”

A separate study released by the same researchers last year found that fewer than 2% of movie characters with speaking roles were Muslim.

“We see that even across all media content in film and TV … Muslims are extremely erased on screen. And that poses a huge issue because when we think about Muslims in the real world, we make up a quarter of the world’s population,” Khan said.

“It’s really hard to even justify such a disproportionate representation on screen. And it’s really sad because growing up in America, you want to be able to see your own community.”

The issue isn’t unique to Muslims. Hollywood has long faced criticism for its abysmal track record on diversity and the lack of Black, Asian, Hispanic and Latino actors in lead roles.

Pillars put up a billboard in Los Angeles ahead of next week’s Primetime Emmy Awards to highlight data from the report.
Pillars put up a billboard in Los Angeles ahead of next week’s Primetime Emmy Awards to highlight data from the report.

Courtesy Pillars Fund / Illustration by Mona Chalabi

Pillars, which issues financial grants to Muslim groups, put up a billboard in Los Angeles ahead of next week’s Primetime Emmy Awards to highlight data from the new report and start an overdue conversation about the lack of Muslim representation in the industry.

“We wanted to use Emmy Award season to have folks consider something else, which is that the quantity and quality of characters on screen has a huge impact on the daily lived experiences of Muslims around the globe,” said Arij Mikati, the managing director of culture change at Pillars.

But for decades, she said, television has not included the “beauty, joy, diversity, and richness of our communities and Muslim communities.”

“Representation for representation’s sake is certainly not our goal. The quality and content of characters on screen have a really massive impact on how people all around the world feel about Muslims and also how Muslims feel about themselves,” she added.

“Film can act as a way for audiences to identify with Muslims, and I really believe it’s an opportunity to create greater empathy for and less prejudice towards Muslims off-screen.”

Shows depicting Muslim lead characters with nuance are slowly becoming more common.

“Ms. Marvel,” which features the first Muslim superhero in Marvel Studios’ “cinematic universe,” debuted on Disney+ earlier this year and quickly became one of the production company’s highest-rated projects.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s “Mo” — based on the life of Muslim comedian Mo Amer — documents the story of a Palestinian refugee in Houston. And last year, the British sitcom “We Are Lady Parts,” which follows a punk band made up of Muslim women, premiered on Peacock.

“We know that people are hungry for those stories. They are unique and relatable, and we’re really excited to invite other Americans to learn more about our vibrant communities,” Mikati said. “This is an opportunity for the industry to see the talent that has long existed in abundance.”





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Snoop Dogg Once Sold $10,000 Blunt To Raise Money For Charity, Seth Rogen Reveals

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Snoop Dogg once used his iconic love for blunts for a good cause.

The hip-hop hit-maker, a known advocate for weed, is said to have auctioned off a marijuana-filled cigarette for $10,000 to raise money for Hilarity for Charity — a nonprofit founded by actors Seth and Lauren Miller Rogen.

In an interview with Variety ahead of the initiative’s 10th anniversary, the couple revealed how the 50-year-old racked up a five-figure contribution for Alzheimer’s awareness in the most West Coast way.

“Snoop Dogg once auctioned off a blunt on stage for Alzheimer’s,” Seth Rogen said. His wife, meanwhile, noted the steep price for the coveted item: “I think it went for $10,000.”

The “This Is The End” star added: “I think that encapsulates how we are approaching the space differently. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get Snoop Dogg to come perform at your show and auction off a blunt for Alzheimer’s care and research, then I think that speaks very well to an unexpected but effective kind of melding of matters and sensibilities.”

The pair created Hilarity for Charity in 2012 in honor of Miller Rogen’s late mother, Adele, who battled Alzheimer’s in her final days.

Two years ago, Rogen told People how affected he was by his wife’s ability to handle her parent’s diagnosis.

“Seeing Lauren talk about it is very impressive to me,” he said at the time.

“How much she talks about it, and how willing she is to talk about it. How open she is about talking about it and seeing how that has given her a lot of control over her situation – that’s been very good, because it wasn’t like that at first.”

Hilarity for Charity’s “10th birthday extravaganza” kicks off Saturday at Rolling Greens on Mateo Street in Los Angeles.





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Miles Teller Rips ‘SNL’ Cast With Spot-On Peyton Manning Impression

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“Top Gun: Maverick” actor Miles Teller pulled off a spot-on Peyton Manning impression to break down “Saturday Night Live” cast members’ performances during the show’s cold open this weekend.

Teller hosted “SNL” for its premiere on Saturday as he – along with cast member Andrew Dismukes – played as the Manning brothers to mock the show and its new set of comedians following a summer of departures.

Teller and Dismukes did a rendition of the brothers’ “Manningcast” broadcast to critique a sketch on former President Donald Trump’s stay at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a hurricane.

Teller, in the midst of his commentary on the sketch, predicted a mediocre, error-laden performance from “rookie” cast member Michael Longfellow.

“The new guy’s fully panicking, he’s just staring in the camera,” Teller said.

“Oh God and you know what, that might be the only time we see him tonight,” Dismukes added.

Teller later looped in three-time “SNL” host and fellow “Top Gun” actor Jon Hamm to weigh in on the show’s cast.

The Trump sketch included an appearance by five-time Olympian Shaun White, who played the special master assigned to review documents the FBI seized in a search of Trump’s estate.

“I’ve decided, they’re all awesome,” White said as he held up a briefcase.

“Yeah, well, you know sometimes they need to bring in a real celebrity when the host isn’t that famous,” Hamm said of White’s appearance in the sketch.

You can watch the 48th season premiere’s cold open, and Teller fire back at Hamm, below.





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Lil Nas X Pauses Concert Due To Pooping: ‘This Is Not A Part Of The Show’

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Lil Nas X was very truthful with fans in Atlanta this week when he had to briefly pause his show.

“I’m backstage and this is, like, not a part of the show, but I’m taking a mean shit,” he can be heard saying in a video tweeted by fan account Lil Nas X News on Thursday. “So please forgive me, but I’m going to need, like, a minute or two.”

“Lmao people really thought i was joking, i was literally back there dropping demons into that toilet,” he wrote.

At least some fans appreciated his openness about the relatable moment.





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Miley Cyrus Shares Moving Voicemail From Late Taylor Hawkins, Fulfills His Song Request

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Miley Cyrus followed up her tribute to late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins this week by revealing the heartwarming inspiration for her performance.

In a tweet Wednesday, Cyrus posted an audio snippet of a voicemail she’d received from Hawkins prior to his death this spring. In it, he suggests she cover Def Leppard’s 1983 hit, “Photograph.”

“What up, Miley? It’s Taylor. Heard you’re moving,” Hawkins said in the clip. “I’m listening to ‘Photograph’ by Def Leppard. You could kill that one.”

Cyrus fulfilled that request Tuesday night, joining Def Leppard onstage at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles to perform “Photograph.”

That performance was one of many highlights at an all-star tribute concert celebrating Hawkins’ life, featuring appearances by Dave Chappelle, Alanis Morissette and Pink, among others.

Catch a snippet of “Photograph” below.

In a follow-up tweet, Cyrus noted she “missed Taylor so much like everybody else.”

“It was such an honor to celebrate him last night and perform [with] Def Leppard,” she added. “So lucky to have known him not just as a superstar but to have spent time watching him just be a dad and a husband!”

Hawkins died on March 25 at age 50. At the time of his death, he was in Bogota, Colombia, ahead of a scheduled performance with the Foo Fighters.

Cyrus previously honored Hawkins at Lollapalooza Brasil in March. Taking the stage just days after the drummer’s death, she dedicated the song “Angels Like You,” from her 2020 album, “Plastic Hearts,” to his memory.

“I would’ve done anything to hang out with him one more time,” she said at the time, wiping away tears. “So I couldn’t imagine how the Foo Fighters feel today.”





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‘Daily Show’ Has Hilariously Brutal Reaction To CIA’s Langley Invite

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The CIA is a lot of things, but perhaps it should leave being an online jokester to the pros.

The Daily Show” gave Twitter users a fresh reminder of that on Friday in a sharp exchange with the Company.

It started when the comedy show posted a segment Thursday spoofing the CIA’s announcement this week that it was launching a podcast.

In the sketch, correspondent Michael Kosta plays the podcast’s host, who shouts out the “Lang Gang,” plugs a forthcoming coup, and takes calls from people who don’t know their phones are being tapped.

CIA officials were either spying on the show or simply watching it on TV like regular members of society. But either way, they noticed.

“We see you,” the agency, which has trained death squads, overthrown governments and spied on Americans, tweeted Friday using the “eyes” emoji. The attempted joke came with an invite to visit the CIA’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters “to give you an opportunity to learn a few things about what we do here.”

But “The Daily Show,” or whoever operates its Twitter account, immediately suspected something, given that the invite came a day after host Trevor Noah, who is from South Africa, announced he was leaving the show:

Wow, our African leader steps down and immediately the CIA swoops in. Unreal.”

So far, “The Daily Show” hasn’t formally accepted the invite, but it’s possible that information is strictly classified.





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22 Of The Funniest Tweets About Cats And Dogs This Week (Sept. 24-30)

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Woof — it’s been a long, long week. We don’t have to tell you that.

Perhaps you feel like you’ve been working like a dog. If so, may we offer you the internet equivalent of a big pile of catnip? We refer, of course, to another helping of hilarious tweets about pets.

Each week, we scour Twitter to find the funniest quips and bon mots about our furballs being complete goofballs. They’re sure to make you howl.

(No need to beg for more ― you can check out last week’s batch right here.)





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Nick Cannon Announces Birth Of His 10th Child, And His Third With Brittany Bell

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Nick Cannon now has nearly enough kids to form a basketball team.

It’s the pair’s third child together following the births of a son, Golden Sagon, and a daughter, Powerful Queen.

Rise’s arrival comes just a few weeks after he announced the birth of his ninth child, a baby girl named Onyx Ice Cole Cannon, who he had with former “Price Is Right” model LaNisha Cole.

In addition, Cannon shares twins, Moroccan and Monroe, with ex-wife Mariah Carey, another son, Legendary Love, with Bre Tiesi, and twin sons Zion Mixolydian and Zillion Heir with DJ and model Abby La Rosa.

Another child, Zen, who Cannon fathered with model Alyssa Scott died in December at 5 months old after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Although Cannon’s parenting situation is not typical of most people, La Rosa said she’s found a way to make things work during a recent podcast.

“Technically speaking, we all know about each other,” she explained. “It’s just how much do you want to know, how much are you choosing to know. And I trust the connection that I have with Nick.”





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