‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Memes Flood Twitter As Women Respond To Health Care Bill

On Thursday, House Republicans finally voted through legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), replacing it with a bill that would, among other consequences, make things like pregnancy, postpartum depression and rape pre-existing conditions.

As a result, the new American Health Care Act (AHCA) ― yet to be passed in the Senate ― could put women in particular at risk of being denied coverage or having to pay the higher premiums that Obamacare previously banned. According to HuffPost’s Catherine Pearson, an amendment to the bill “effectively gives states permission to discriminate against women.” (Though House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has denied this.)

It didn’t take long for people on Twitter to respond with a meme that’s become terrifyingly relevant to American politics: images from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s eerily prescient 1985 novel.

Screenshots of women in red robes and white bonnets began flooding social media, accompanied by chilling parallels between today’s health care chaos and the book’s depiction of a theocratic regime that subjugates women after taking control of their reproductive rights. 

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s dire account of a near-future United States called Gilead, an authoritarian government rises to power and quickly decides to drain women’s bank accounts, the first step in a series of shockingly quick policy moves that seem to strip women of their status as equal citizens before they even had a chance to fight back.

“I was asleep before,” Offred, played by Elisabeth Moss, proclaims in a trailer for the Hulu show. “That’s how we let it happen.”

Even Atwood herself has admitted that her book seems more relevant now than ever.

Women had already been protesting state senates by dressing as handmaids in an attempt to raise awareness of certain lawmakers’ pushes to limit reproductive health in states like Missouri, Minnesota and Texas. On Thursday, opponents of the AHCA followed suit, posting images and references to Gilead in the hours after the House decision in order to make their stance clear.

In a piece titled “Women In The U.S. Don’t Live In A Dystopian Hellscape. Yet,” HuffPost’s Emily Peck rightly pointed out that, despite the setbacks that have occurred under President Donald Trump’s administration, women in the U.S. have helped push for progress in 2017, too.

“The resistance in the U.S. is very much alive and well,” Peck wrote. “And in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, it’s been remarkably effective.” She cited the ousting of longtime Fox news host Bill O’Reilly, the “unprecedented” numbers of women considering running for office in upcoming elections, and the failure of other policies like Trump’s anti-immigration orders, which was fought by a huge number of female immigration lawyers.

Still, as Congress mulls a health care plan that could potentially put individuals’ lives at risk, women (and men!) are quick to voice their opposition to anything that resembles Gilead. 

And the tweets keep coming.

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11 Mexican-Owned Businesses (That Aren’t Bars) To Support On Cinco De Mayo

Despite Latinos’ best efforts to explain the true story behind Cinco de Mayo, it seems nothing will stop fraternities and the general American public from turning the holiday into an excuse to get turnt up. 

But we refuse to surrender!

Since the country seems so eager to celebrate Mexican culture, why not channel that festive spirit into supporting the men and women who embody it? So put the margarita down and, instead, treat yourself to an avocado bath bomb, a “ride or die” necklace or a bilingual book for your child.

Here are 11 businesses owned by Mexicans and Chicanos that you can support on Cinco de Mayo: 

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This Gay Singer’s Sexy Video Aims To Show Fantasies ‘Can Never Be Wrong’

Model-turned-songstress Keeana Kee got a head start on summer with the steamy video for her debut single, “Coconut Rum and Coke,” and HuffPost has an exclusive first look. 

In the clip, which can be viewed above, Latvian-born Kee canoodles up to a love interest on a sun-drenched beach and around a bonfire. The lyrics of the reggae-inspired tune include a number of tongue-and-cheek nods to the tropics, too. “If I could, I would drink you all night long, like coconut rum and coke,” Kee sings. “`I want to make your palm trees boom.”

The song also features a rap by Latin pop icon and producer Maffio, who has collaborated with the likes of Maroon 5, Elvis Crespo and Pitbull.

The Los Angeles-based singer, who is openly gay, told HuffPost that her video was inspired in part by homophobia she experienced during her years in the fashion industry. “I went through some discrimination in my life working as a fashion model, so I really hope to make a difference by encouraging people to be themselves no matter what, and to stand up for themselves, even if it seems impossible,” she said.

Citing Sia and Beyoncé as influences, Kee said she had no qualms about featuring a same-sex love interest in her debut video. “I’m very confident with my sexuality, so I was comfortable to be myself in the video,” she said. “I want to show the world that there is nothing wrong with being gay.”

Still, she hopes audiences will see her “Coconut Rum and Coke” as “romantic, sexy and slightly cheeky” rather than anything overtly political. “I hope that this video reminds people that they can go wild in their fantasies,” she said, “and it can never be wrong!”

For the latest in LGBTQ entertainment, check out the Queer Voices newsletter.  

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4 ‘Game Of Thrones’ Spinoffs Are Reportedly Coming

All men and women must freak out.

HBO is planning not one, not two, not three, not four — OK, just four — ”Game of Thrones” spinoffs. The news comes from Entertainment Weekly, who reports that details are scant, but the new shows, if greenlit, would explore “different time periods of George R.R. Martin’s vast and rich universe.”

According to EW:

We’re told a variety of different combinations and options are on the table depending on how the scripts look upon completion. But the end goal is to find at least one title that can successfully carry the flame of the GoT franchise.

Yup, at least one show will sit on the Iron Throne, but there could be room for more.

Current showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss would stay on as executive producers for the new projects, along with Martin.

In fact, Martin will have his hand in idea creation, too. Writers for potential new projects include Max Borenstein (”Kong: Skull Island,” Fox’s “Minority Report”); Jane Goldman (”Kingsman: The Secret Service.” “X-Men: First Class”), who will work along with Martin; Brian Helgeland (”A Knight’s Tale,” “L.A. Confidential”); and Carly Wray (”Mad Men”), also working with Martin.

According to HBO, there is no “set timetable” for the projects, but the news ensures “Game of Thrones” spinoffs and/or prequels are coming.

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‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Is Officially Coming To Broadway Next Spring

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the next chapter of our Hogwarts friends’ stories, opened as a play in London last summer. As the first full Potter-related story since 2007’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, fans eagerly awaited the production’s debut, which was met by positive reviews from British theater critics.

And now, the award-winning production is coming to Broadway.

Earlier today, Harry Potter Theatrical Productions announced that the play will be performed stateside beginning in April 2018 at New York City’s Lyric Theatre. Tickets will go on sale this fall, but the total wait time to see Harry and co. on stage will be almost a year. Sorry, Potterheads.

The play’s story is set 19 years after Rowling’s seventh book in the “Potter” series, in which Harry and the Order of the Phoenix triumph over Voldemort’s army. Now, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny have children of their own, and those children are readying themselves to set off for Hogwarts.

The original cast included Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger-Weasley, and Cherrelle Skeete as Rose Granger-Weasley. The decision to cast actresses of color in the roles of Hermione and Rose drew criticism with fans, citing adherence to canon as their objection. But, as HuffPost reporter Claire Fallon pointed out last summer, these outcries were primarily about race, not accuracy to the original stories

According to the “Cursed Child” press release, casting for the U.S. production of the play “will be announced in the coming months.” (Auditions for the Broadway play were held last February.)

The good news is, if you’d like to brush up on the story ― which was released in book format, but not as a novelization, by Scholastic last summer ― you have plenty of time.

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Mysterious Gold Toilets Are Popping Up So People Can ‘Take A Trump’

Since Donald Trump’s approval rating is really in the toilet ― a lowly 42.4 percent ― maybe it’s not a surprise that he’s the subject of a potty-themed protest.

A series of gold toilets with the words, “Take A Trump,” started popping up in cities all over the U.S. on the 100th day of his presidency.

A lift of the lid shows a picture of a pig wearing a crown.

As you might expect, the toilets are causing a “commode-tion” wherever they are placed. 

Reggie Lyons got flushed with excitement when he saw the Trump toilets on the Ball State University campus in Muncie.

“We saw it Saturday night as we were on our way home from dinner,” Lyons told the Indianapolis Star. “It caught my eye and I did a double take. And as I got closer and could read it, my wife and I immediately burst into laughter.”

The Trump toilets are the brainchild of an art collective known as the “Art Finksters.”

About 50 to 60 artists have committed to spray painting toilets with gold and placing them in public spots, according to the group’s official spokesperson, known only as “Art.”

“This project is just to make people aware,” Art told HuffPost. “To let the people in charge know that what they’re doing is being watched and dissected very carefully.”

So far, Trump toilets have been seen in Austin, Texas, Portland, Oregon, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Denver.

“There are still more to come,” Art promised. “Anticipation.” 

Art said the Trump Toilet movement is not just a U.S. thing.

“Every city deserves a toilet,” Art said. “It’s a great conversation starter. I’ve gotten word that a few have been taken to homes to be used for their actual toilets, so people are loving them.”  

And that slams the lid on this story.

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Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda And Candice Bergen Will Play ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Obsessives

Good news is hard to find these days, but here’s some: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and a fourth actress yet to be announced will play book-clubbers who are awakened after reading Fifty Shades of Grey

Yep, that’s right: Three of your favorite septuagenarians are about to be very horny.

The California-set movie is called “Book Club,” and Deadline reported Thursday that distribution rights for the comedy will be sold at this month’s Cannes Film Festival. It marks the directorial debut of Bill Holderman, who co-wrote and produced 2015’s “A Walk in the Woods,” starring fellow septuagenarians Robert Redford (who has since turned 80) and Nick Nolte. 

Keaton, Fonda and Bergen will play lifelong friends whose lives are “changed forever” after reading E.L. James’ best-seller. The character descriptions, according to Deadline, are too delicious for us to wait for this movie to materialize:

Keaton will play Diane, who is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage, while Fonda will also play her namesake, Jane, a woman who enjoys her men with no strings attached. Bergen plays Sharon, who is still working through a decades-old divorce, while Carol (yet to be cast), a woman whose 35-year-old marriage is in a slump, rounds out the foursome.

Fonda may need to borrow some of the sex toys from “Grace and Frankie.”

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Solid Gold, Life-Size Darth Vader Mask On Sale For $1.4 Million

The WTF is strong with this one.

A jeweler in Tokyo, Japan, is selling a life-size Darth Vader mask made of 24-karat gold for the bargain price of $1.4 million (154 million yen), The Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, jeweler Ginza Tanaka unveiled the glitzy helmet and announced it would go on sale on May 4 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Star Wars: A New Hope.”

It took a total of 10 goldsmiths three months to craft and assemble the ultimate “Star Wars” trophy, per the outlet.

The helmet is 10.4 inches wide, 11.8 inches tall and weighs 33 pounds. Unfortunately, due to its weight, the mask is too heavy to wear.

And if you don’t have the money for this gilded paperweight piece of memorabilia, the jeweler has also made commemorative “Star Wars” coins that are a tad more affordable.

The coins come in sets of three that sell for about $11,000 a pop, The New York Times reported.

If you’re interested in these coins, you have to act fast. Ginza Tanaka has only 77 sets, a number that the jeweler says is an homage to 1977, the year that “A New Hope” was released.

We guess it’s time to bust open that change jar-Jar.

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Alanis Morissette’s Ex-Manager Gets Six Years In Prison For Stealing Millions

After admitting in January that he had embezzled millions of dollars from celebrity clients, including Alanis Morissette, Jonathan Todd Schwartz is headed to jail.

The former entertainment and sports manager was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison, CNN reported, the conclusion to a suit first leveled by Morissette in 2016. He stole around $5 million from the Canadian singer during a time period between 2010-2014 to support a lavish lifestyle, according to court documents. Schwartz worked under the firm GSO Business Management in Los Angeles.

“Mr. Schwartz used his clients’ funds as a personal ATM machine,” Deirdre Fike, assistant director for the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, told CNN. Schwartz owes approximately $2 million in unpaid taxes.

According to The Associated Press, Morissette appeared at the sentencing and said Schwartz had misled her about his net worth while secretly taking money from accounts she had left in his trust. 

“He did this in a long, systematic, drawn-out and sinister manner,” the singer said. Schwartz attributed an addiction to gambling as the reason for the thefts. He detailed his “double life” in an April guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.

Morissette’s new money manager had discovered the embezzlement, which Schwartz would conceal by reporting withdrawals as “sundry/personal expenses,” according to CNN. When GSO was contacted about the missing funds, Schwartz falsely claimed it was used to invest in the medical marijuana business.

While in court, Schwartz expressed that he alone was “responsible for this devastation,” saying, “I will spend the rest of my life asking for forgiveness.” Court papers list Schwartz’s salary as $1.2 million.

Though prosecutors were seeking a sentence of five years in prison, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee sentenced Schwartz to six, citing the “sheer audaciousness of this conduct” as the reason for additional time. Gee also ordered that Schwartz pay $8.6 million in restitution. E! reports that Morissette and Schwartz’s other clients were reimbursed by the firm or through insurance.

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Star Wars Is More Political Than You Think

It’s May the 4th, which means it’s time to celebrate Star Wars Day. While we’re eagerly awaiting the next Episode 8 trailer, it’s a good day to reflect on the enormity of what George Lucas has built over the past forty years.

On the surface Star Wars deals with the battle between good and evil, an ancient one at that. But the journey of our heros, in both the original and prequel trilogies, are set against a backdrop of complex political strife and oppression. The films, at their core, explore the nuanced relationship between a state and its people, and how a democracy can slip into a strict dictatorship.

George Lucas has admitted that one of the biggest influences on the series was the Nixon era. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lucas said Star Wars “was really about the Vietnam War, and that was the period where Nixon was trying to run for a [second] term, which got me to thinking historically about how do democracies get turned into dictatorships? Because the democracies aren’t overthrown; they’re given away.”

Lucas has also expressed that Emperor Palpatine, or Darth Sidious, was directly inspired by Nixon, which makes a lot of sense given the the nose. In “The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” when asked if Emperor Palpatine was a Jedi at one point in his life, Lucas responded, “No, he was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy.”

But the political inspirations didn’t stop at the original trilogy. Say what you will about the prequels, but revisiting them will show you that Lucas held fast to his political ideology and used his massive entertainment franchise to comment on and predict the Bush administration.

Once again, Lucas drew connections between real life political figures and those in his cinematic universe. In a New York Times interview, Lucas explained that “Anakin Skywalker is a promising young man who is turned to the dark side by an older politician and becomes Darth Vader.” He added, “George Bush is Darth Vader. Cheney is the Emperor.”

The prequels allowed Lucas to fully explore how a people’s republic can turn into an empire. While the original films were largely reactionary to the politics of the time, the prequels were occurring simultaneously to the War on Terror, and it reflects in the films as we see a non-conflict blown up into something that represents absolute patriotism, and the gradual decline into the creation of the Galactic Empire.

Most famously, Lucas got some heat for giving Anakin a line of dialogue that was almost verbatim from a Bush speech. Anakin says to Obi Wan before his ultimate betrayal, “If you’re not with me then you’re my enemy.” Bush’s line was, ““You’re either with us or you’re with the enemy.”

The question is, how will the new era of Star Wars deal with the underlying politics of the universe in the Trump era? Now that Disney holds the keys to the Star Wars universe, they’ve been adamant about them not being political. Some Trump supporters went as far as to boycott Rogue One because they said it was a slight against The Donald. However, Disney chief executive Bob Iger made the absurd claim, “Frankly, this is a film that the world should enjoy. It is not a film that is, in any way, a political film.” The film’s plot centers around rebelling against an oppressive tyrant. That is at least, in some way, political.

With the new trilogy under way, it begs the question of whether Disney’s team will stay true to Lucas’ political influence, and use the billion dollar franchise to comment on the Trump administration. If the original inspiration for Star Wars was to explore how a democracy turns into a dictatorship, certainly this is more relevant now than ever.

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