Pop culture can hardly avoid politics anymore, especially in the case of a huge target like "Star Wars." But the latest movie, "The Last Jedi," appears to lean into the political fray, from its egalitarian message to a more specific critique of callous plutocrats.For starters, the film's revelations about the lineage of Rey (Daisy Ridley), and the closing image that dovetails with that, suggest that a powerful connection with the Force can come from the humblest of origins. While the series has focused on inherited power in the Skywalker clan — from Anakin to Luke, Leia to Ben/Kylo Ren — allowing for the fact that the bad guy might by misleading Rey, "The Last Jedi" seemingly dispenses with heredity as a primary concern.More pointedly, the mission undertaken by Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) leads them to a planet where the ultra-rich congregate at what amounts to an intergalactic casino. Moreover, it's noted that most of those one-percenters earned their money from war profiteering — selling weapons to the First Order and Rebels alike — while subjugating and exploiting those around them.The pair's escape also weaves in an animal-rights theme, as the two rebels liberate a creature used for a kind of horseracing entertainment. The beast eventually wanders off free, regaining its natural state.In the bigger picture this is all relatively mild, especially couched within a 2 ½-hour movie. But when a project possesses such a high media profile, pundits inevitably want to provide their own hot takes.Nor, frankly, does it take much to rile conservatives on constant alert for slights from liberal Hollywood. Mark Hamill's weekend Twitter spat with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz over net neutrality will provide further ammunition, but it's worth noting that the star is speaking as a private citizen, not for the movie.Analysis about political messaging within "Star Wars" movies is hardly new. In 2005, many took dialogue in "Revenge of the Sith" as a not-so-subtle indictment of the Bush administration, starting with Princess Amidala's observation as the Emperor expands his wartime powers. "So this is how liberty dies," she says, "With thunderous applause."Later, when the turned-to-darkness Anakin Skywalker confronts Obi-Wan Kenobi he warns, "If you're not with me, you're against me," to which his former master replies, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." To many, the exchange vaguely echoed then-President George W. Bush's pronouncements about terrorism.The hang-wringing at the time felt a trifle overstated. Today, with political polarization having festered, those addressing the underlying ideas that "The Last Jedi" communicates seem rooted on firmer ground.The latest batch of "Star Wars" movies have also made a conspicuous effort to be more inclusive in terms of female and minority characters, after the original film was criticized for its all-white vision of space. George Lucas introduced Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, in its sequel.Of course, there's a pragmatic aspect to pulling "Star Wars" from the realm of escapism into politics: doing so provides cover for media outlets that wouldn't normally devote much time to such a movie to latch onto its coattails.Simply put, when a film earns $220 million in North America in its opening weekend, and more than double that worldwide, the temptation and commercial incentives to talk about it are strong.There's obvious irony in a money-making enterprise like "Star Wars" — fattening the coffers of the Disney empire — decrying capitalism run amok. Yet even if that's a minor, peripheral element in a fantasy set in a long-ago, far-away galaxy, rather than being reluctantly drawn into such debates, "The Last Jedi" signals its willingness to at least be part of the conversation by addressing issues in the here and now.
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Big Brother will return next year on ITV2 and online
Big Brother, one of the original UK reality TV shows, will return to screens in 2023, years after being axed by both Channel 4 and later Channel 5.
The show, which launched careers of ITV presenter Alison Hammond and Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts, will be revived by ITV2 and new streaming platform ITVX.
A promotional video aired during the Love Island series finale on Monday evening.
Officials said the famous house will return with a “contemporary new look”.
The returning programme – which was originally on for 18 years – will see a cast of “carefully selected housemates from all walks of life” live together under strict surveillance for up to six weeks.
Similar to previous editions, the public will regularly vote contestants off in live evictions, as well as deciding on an overall cash prize winner.
“We’re beyond excited to bring this iconic series to ITV2 and ITVX where it should especially engage with our younger viewers.”
The series, which takes its name from the all-seeing ruler in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, first appeared on Channel 4 in 2000, and was won by Liverpudlian builder Craig Phillips.
It was influential, both as a public social experiment and also in creating a new form of celebrity, with normal people prepared to have their every waking (and sleeping) moment caught on camera and broadcast to the world.
Celebrity editions aired, featuring the likes of Katie Price, Gemma Collins and Mark Owen.
Despite its early success and influence, the National TV Award-winning programme soon found itself embroiled in controversy over reports of bullying, racism, fixing, and general toxic behaviour in the house, with complaints being made to both the police and Ofcom.
The show moved to Channel 5 in 2011 but was axed in 2018 amid a ratings slump. Channel 5 controller Ben Frow later said he had no regrets over the decision and that the media landscape had become “very crowded with reality shows”.
‘Jumping the shark’
Speaking on the BBC Sounds Podcast, Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV, this summer, Big Brother’s creative director Philip Edgar-Jones said audiences “very clearly hated it” when producers intervened in the programme too much.
“We call it ‘jumping the shark’ in television, when you the hand of the producer is too overt and you feel like the show has therefore lost that sense of authenticity – that’s when the audience gets more angry.
“Being authentic to the show, you create this world with its own internal logic, and you can’t break that internal logic, otherwise you break the magic and you lose the trust of the audience.”
At the time, Big Brother producers said they were open to “future possibilities”, apparently leaving the door open for a return one day.
Irish singing duo Jedward, the identical twin brothers who twice appeared on the celebrity version of the show, have made an early bid online to host the returning series.
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007 film must treat Bond girls properly, says Waller-Bridge
Fast cars, martinis and Bond girls are core parts of the formula for 007 films, but one of those ele..
Fast cars, martinis and Bond girls are core parts of the formula for 007 films, but one of those elements is set for a change in the latest adventure.
Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is working on the script for the 25th Bond film, is on a mission to make sure the movie will "treat women properly" – even if the spy does not.
Ahead of the release of the as-yet-untitled film, Waller-Bridge told Deadline: "There's been a lot of talk about whether or not (the Bond franchise) is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women.
"I think that's b*******. I think he's absolutely relevant now. It has just got to grow.
"It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly.
"He doesn't have to. He needs to be true to this character."
Waller-Bridge says she intends to ensure the female characters, including those played by Lashana Lynch, Lea Seydoux and Ana de Armas, feel "like real people ".
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She added: "I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that Lashana, Lea and Ana open them and go, 'I can't wait to do that'.
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