Neo Yokio’s Camp Is Hard to Enjoy Through the Transphobia – Also the classism. And the lowkey misogyny. And…

Neo Yokio—an anime-style Netflix miniseries written by the lead singer of Vampire Weekend, steered by the executive producer who was also behind Metalocalypse and Superjail!, and starring Jaden Smith—was released this Thursday to great…well, there were a lot of tweets about it, anyway. The series revolves around Kaz Kaan, an exorcist and member of the “neo riche,” as he battles very relatable concerns like purchasing a tuxedo that’s slightly the wrong shade and having to clear out a dead relative’s house in the Hamptons. Some have defended the series as satire, some have embraced it as camp, and some have settled in to watch the garbage fire secondhand.

This was not a series to be watched alone, so I enlisted fandom academic and acerbic wit (and, full disclosure, my partner) Dorothy Kingswood to help me truck through all six episodes. The experience left us four hours closer to death; hopefully our discussion will shed some light on the baffling fumble of execution that is Neo Yokio.

Vrai Kaiser: Most people are, I think, flocking to watch this on the assumption that it’ll be good MST3K material–the trailer definitely gave off that kind of vibe. The horrible truth, though, is that Neo Yokio quickly stops being fun-stupid and moves right into being exhaustingly stupid.

 

Dorothy Kingswood: Yeah, I mean, when I turned on Netflix, I was certainly expecting a tamely silly piece of adolescent weeb power fantasy–and that’s said with love. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting that kind of cheesy, popcorny entertainment. The problems, though, are many and rampant, starting from the Hanna-Barbera-as-Flash cheapo art and continuing on through concept and execution right up to its insistence on attempting to apply the language and theories of progressive thought in a careless and slapdash manner. It wants to make audiences really think, man, but instead wallows in a sea of superficiality, shallowness, and aesthetics that the creators can’t quite bring themselves to let go of, despite their moves towards interrogation.

VK: It’s ostensibly meant to be satire–that’s certainly in the headlines of plenty of reviews I’ve seen, and Ezra Koenig floated it as parody before he allegedly started “caring about the characters,” but it fails pretty crucially from the word “go.” If Jaden Smith’s character is supposed to be representative of the idle, idiotic rich, we should probably be exposed at some point to characters who aren’t the .01% or aiding and abetting same. I believe you called him “Bertie Wooster without the charm.”

 

DK: He is, he really is. They give him a mean bossy Aunt Agatha who makes him–horrors!–actually perform exorcisms. She’s a clear reference to Wodehouse’s works, but where the goodhearted Bertie essentially wanted to be left alone and allowed to enjoy himself, Kaz is intensely focused upon his externally-validated social standing. Which brings us, I guess, to one of the oddest conventions of Neo Yokio (the location): the Times Square Bachelor Board.

 

VK: Ah, yes–imagine if those “most eligible bachelor” lists leapt from the pages of magazines to be inexplicably emblazoned on the heart of Times Square. It exists entirely to set up a rivalry with the local blond asshole, but there’s never any real sense of urgency beyond the fact that Draco (not his real name) said a mean thing about Kaz once. The plotting for the series is lax beyond belief, as if Koenig grasped that long-running anime have early establishing shenanigans-based episodes but not that one shouldn’t apply that logic to a show with a six-episode maximum.

All of that is within the realm of camp, though–stupid plotting is a help to mockery if anything, and I’m sure some people will be drawn in by the low-quality animation and that Big Toblerone meme. Plus, it is nice to see animated series with racially diverse casts. It’s just such a shame about, y’know, the rest of it.

DK: The Mean Thing that not-Draco said about Kaz is implied to be a slur, in that the lax, sloppy worldbuilding includes a Hogwarts-lite sort of wave at Once Upon A Time Sorcerors Were an Oppressed Class, You Know, and “ratcatcher” is their “Mudblood.” Also all the magic people have pink, purple, or blue hair, but so does poor, poor Helena St. Tessoro, because something this obviously inspired by 90s anime cannot possibly abide a love interest with boring regular hair, worldbuilding be damned.

 

VK: Neither of us are really qualified to get too deep into the series’ approach to race, but the show does definitely choose to have an oppressed fantasy underclass rather than dealing with issues even tangentially related to real-world racism. Which might be an attempt to create an aspirational fantasy, but that’s not the vibe I get from the show. It seems to think it’s saying something. So…rather than say anything real, it makes up its own windmills to swing at. It lives in an absolutely wretched bubble, and its homages to anime sometimes cross into straight-up appropriating terms from Japanese culture it doesn’t get. Specifically hikikomori, a thing anime makes jokes about but is…y’know, an actual community of real people suffering from mental illness.

Certainly we CAN say that its approach to women isn’t great. There’s Helena, as you mentioned, who spends most of the series as a strawman and Freshman Who Just Read the Communist Manifesto.

DK: The ill-use of hikikomori goes hand-in-hand with the show’s decision to describe Kaz’s whining over girls breaking up with him as “depression.” Sure, he’s theoretically meant to be a flawed protagonist in a shallow fishbowl world, but that doesn’t really hold water when there are no stakes or consequences, and every realization of his asshattery results in no marked change in his behavior.

The show gives lip service to performative wokeness, but always in aid of getting away with doing the very things it calls out. It’s a sort of Hipster Racism as applied to every other type of oppression the writers have at some point read about. (Homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, classism.)

In anything else, Helena would be insufferable. In this, she is the best character in a bad bunch, simply because she actually modifies her actions and lifestyle in line with her changing beliefs. And that says a lot. (Also, given her later actions, that’s far from a ringing endorsement.)

I hope you weren’t expecting that subtitle to be examined at any future point

VK: A lot of it is easy to shrug off in isolation, I think, particularly the early going: the fact that the show is too dumb to understand the “anime” terms it appropriates, the fact that the protagonist is a bubble-headed rich idiot whose biggest problem in life is his very expensive suit being the wrong color, the fact that most of the female characters are totally unimportant–either they’re idiots, they’re evil, or they’re…whatever the writing was trying to do with Helena. But camp is found, not created, and it’s a lot harder to sink blissfully into the silliness when the show keeps tapping you on the shoulder to Say Something. And then it says things that are completely tone-deaf.

The anime references, for example; mostly they’re eye-rolling and pretty basic. “Hey, it’s the dream sequence from AKIRA!” “Hey, they said tuxedo mask!” But then they decide to parody Ranma ½ (one of Koenig’s favorite anime, apparently), and things go real sideways, real fast.

Now Ranma (a series about a boy who’s cursed to turn into a girl whenever he’s splashed with cold water) is a series that provided a kind of wish-fulfillment role among a certain age group of trans nerds, myself included. But it was hugely problematic in regards to gender essentialism when it was written in the 90s, and it’s only gotten more ugly with age. There is absolutely no way a cis creator could tango with that material in a tasteful way. And this is egregiously bad.

By introducing a shenanigansy plot wherein Kaz’s cis male friend is transformed into a woman, the show opens the door to twenty minutes of walking into horrible stereotypes about trans women, including having the female-identified, loudly male-identifying Lexy use his physical appearance to hit on a lesbian; or having Kaz tell Lexy not to talk because his voice “gives him away.” The latter plays on fears of trans women being subject to mockery or even violence if they can’t pass, and the former plays right into TERF ideology that trans women are “really” just men trying to get with lesbians.

DK: Don’t forget that it uses that male character, Lexy, as the speaker for nearly all of its “feminist” talking points–neatly keeping the voice located within the mouth of a Dude. In a better show, this would mean something, like that Kaz only listens to other men, but in this? He dismisses Lexy just as much as Helena, to no apparent ill effects for their friendship once the magic spell is reversed. (Ah, the good old reset button. Because the writers enjoy both gag-an-episode structures and ongoing arcs, and haven’t figured out where those things might be incompatible.)

VK: And then the episode has the gall to pretend it’s about Kaz being sexist to women and patronizingly tells the viewer that gender is a spectrum, not a binary. Fuck you, Neo Yokio.

….Actually that’s something of a distillation of the show’s problem. It knows how to parrot concepts but absolutely fails to grasp the contexts at play behind them. I mean, that classism.

DK: The classism is baked into the premise; only two people of a lower status are given speaking roles. One is a fawning Bergdorf’s employee whom Kaz calls “Salesclerk” to his face.

The other is a human being Kaz literally owns.

Getting into spoilers, here, but over the course of that same hi-lar-ious transphobia episode, Kaz spends an entire subplot denying a personal servant access to resources that they need in order to function, as they repeatedly plead for him to assist in sustaining their life, because they are unable to disobey his minor whims even for such a dire predicament. This is played for laughs.

 

VK: For a show that’s ostensibly about the corruption of society and the exploitation of the average person by the elite in the end (I think? It’s possible Eden of the East is one of the shows Neo Yokio would like us to know it has seen), it has absolutely no interest in showing us any kind of actual civil unrest. All the employees of the rich are pleased as punch with their roles (even the human being Kaz definitely owns, whom we have no indication has been paid ever); Helena is the only mouthpiece for anti-capitalist ideology, and she experiences it in an entirely theoretical way.

The show name-drops designer fashion brands endlessly, valorizes the nobility of shallowness, practically drowns the viewer in luxury- and food-porn it can’t actually afford to animate beguilingly, and then pretends like it’s commenting on the excesses of rampant capitalism via a character who is also a billionaire who has never known hardship. This is Reality Bites, 2017 edition.

DK: None of which sits well with the conceit of a demon-hunting show. Because, lest we forget, our hero is ostensibly a magical demon hunter who fights… definitely not season 1 Sailor Moon villains. At all.

That whole plotline sort of fades away after the exorcism of Literal Monster Taylor Swift, presumably at the behest of Spotify.

SAILOR PELLEGRINO CAN’T COME TO THE PHONE RIGHT NOW

Sharp satire there, folks.

The demons here seem to be in some way connected to greed or avarice, except that after the halfway point the focus shifts to the ills of Neo Yokio’s castle-in-the-clouds elite. The metaphor collapses in on itself.

And perhaps most uncomfortably of all, the creators choose to represent the destabilization of the social stratification through the elimination of its biggest, dumbest symbol: the Bachelor Board.

By bombing.

This is shown as a positive action.

While Smith was only 3 years old the last time Americans saw NYC landmarks burning and falling, Koenig doesn’t have the excuse of youthful thoughtlessness. Why did he, and everyone else on the production team, believe that mimicking 9/11 of all things was a good idea?

 

VK: I have no idea what this show thought, at any point. I’m unsure we can prove it did. It’s so breathtakingly stupid in ways that can’t possibly have been on purpose (SEE! Kaz lecturing young women about how Helena is no longer an acceptable role model for them. CRINGE! As Helena evolves into some kind of cis-swapped version of Christian Slater in Heathers. BAFFLE! As Kaz buys ANOTHER ROBOT that may house a human who will never be paid, we just don’t know).

There are probably people who can get down with that, toxically transphobic episode aside. But a show that’s supposedly parodying the wealthy by giving their entire lifestyle a lavish tongue bath really doesn’t work for me at a point where I’m worried about losing medical care and feeding my family. You?

 

DK: This was four hours of my life I spent, shouting and livetweeting in bursts between being periodically struck dumb by the sheer offensive incompetence of it all. It’s not The Room or Birdemic bad; it’s not even the toxically hopeful foolishness of Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Instead, Neo Yokio is the kind of bad you get sitting in a Gender Studies lecture hall, listening to a dude with a trust fund and a scarf explain Marxism to the professor.

But, you know, they’ve got pastel hair.

Dorothy Kingswood is a queer nerd with a Master’s degree in talking about fans. She’s a bartender by day and a writer by night, or maybe the other way around. Previously, she’s taught English, interned as a copy editor, and dug ditches in summer. You can hear more of her dulcet tones on her podcast, Trash & Treasures, or tweet her @dorothynotgale.

Vrai Kaiser is a queer author and pop culture blogger; they can’t. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, listen to them podcasting on Soundcloud, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.

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This Video Asks – How Did Animated Films Move From Conservative Fairytales to Liberal Allegories?

Sage Hyden recently posted an exploration of animation storytelling over at the Just Write YouTube channel. In the video, Hyden argues that the storytelling trends in animated children’s films have undergone a fundamental change – one that’s influenced not only by society’s progress, but also by the transformation of the medium itself.

The original Disney films, Hyden argues, “are brightly colored, musical, public-domain fairytale adaptations…They are also stories that are very conservative – and I don’t mean that in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ way, only that these movies believe in the idea that things should stay about the way they are. The stories will usually end with the restoration of a previous order. Typically, there’ll even be a shot returning the setting to whatever it looked like in the first scene, because change is bad.”

Most 3D-animated films, on the other hand, take a different approach. “When 3D animation arrived, a new generation of storytellers shook up that formula,” Hyden argues. “They stopped being conservative fairytales, and became liberal allegories…The take-home message of these films is often that society can change, and that an individual can be the instigator of that change. These films are concerned with civilizations, as much as they are with individuals.”

Hyden acknowledges that much of this change is a reflection of society overall, and these newer films “fit the political climate they were born into.” However, he also argues that “one of the underappreciated factors is the medium change itself.”

From there, Hyden looks at how the mechanics of 3D animation, such as modeling, are partly responsible for the change in storytelling. I personally think this might be too strong a cause-effect argument, but it definitely got me thinking about the way that medium can influence narrative. There’s plenty of truth to the idea that computer animation has made it easier for animators to tell stories about entire societies, rather than about individuals, and it had me curious about other ways the new production process could affect which stories animators are most excited to tell.

What do you all think, though? Is this a change that we can see throughout our all-ages storytelling, regardless of medium? Or has the change hit animation most noticeably?

(Via io9; featured image via YouTube thumbnail)

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This Biohacking Broadcaster Is Documenting What It’s Like to Adapt to A Bionic Hand

Nicole Kelly, a former Miss America contestant who was born without a left forearm, has been putting her master’s degree in broadcasting to use by teaching others about her experience with a new “bionic hand.” Though Kelly rarely wore a prosthetic arm growing up, preferring to instead perform most tasks one-handed, she recently started using the Coapt Complete Control system, a robotic arm that “uses sensors in the arm that work with Kelly’s muscles” and “allows her to control the arm by thinking about what she wants to do.”

She’s decided to document her learning curve on YouTube, so that she can help to normalize the process. “I wanted to show my growth,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that I put on the arm and now magically I changed and I am like everyone else…I want to be able to educate you on my level of capability.”

Kelly previously competed in beauty pageants, eventually becoming Miss Iowa and competing in the 2014 Miss America contest. Though the pageant and its deeply problematic beauty standards have been around since 1921, Kelly was only the second women in its history to have a disability. She told Today, “That was the most attractive thing to me — I can wear a sparkly dress and talk about difference. That is why I did it.”

As awesome as it is that Kelly’s pushing back against ableist ideas of beauty, she undeniably fits conventional beauty standards in a number of ways. However, she certainly doesn’t fit the mainstream narrative about who’s “biohacking” and leading the way in the day-to-day of robotics research, so I’m excited to watch as she progresses.

Here’s Kelly trying to pick up a bottle of juice:

And here’s Kelly practicing brushing her teeth:

I certainly don’t want to downplay how frustrating and difficult it must be for Kelly to adjust to her new hand. It clearly requires tons of practice, and it’s crucial for the people in her life to accommodate her as she works with it, gets annoyed with it, and takes a longer time to complete tasks. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone dealing with an arm like this to be full of good humor all the time, and Kelly’s smiles and can-do attitude don’t make it any less crucial for our society to do a whole lot better by disabled people.

However, I have to appreciate the joy and normalcy in her videos, where she laughs, tries again, gets creative, and explains what makes using the prosthetic arm (or one hand, in her older videos) difficult. Her videos demonstrate how people with disabilities aren’t necessarily tragic or helpless figures, like we so often see in fiction. Instead, they’re going to discuss their bodies with the same infinite variety of approaches we see people use for every other bodied experience. Some of those stories will be tragic; some will be angry; some will be funny; some will be gross; and others – like Kelly’s videos – will be about the humor, struggle, and joy of experimentation and persistence.

(Via Today; image via screengrab)

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NASA Just Opened the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility

After dedicating the facility back in May of 2016, yesterday NASA opened the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Johnson, whose life was one of the inspirations for Hidden Figures, worked as a “human computer” at Langley in the 1960s, calculating the trajectories for the first US space flights, including John Glenn’s orbital mission and the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

According to NASA’s fact sheet, the $23-million facility consolidates more than 30 server rooms into a state-of-the-art, energy-saving structure. This CRF will “enable innovative research and development supporting NASA’s air mobility and space exploration missions” and “advance[] Langley’s capabilities in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis” – a fitting tribute to Johnson’s own achievements, and to the achievements of other women who powered NASA, like Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, who are also honored on the walls of the facility.

In a pre-recorded video interview, Johnson answered a number of questions about the honor. Asked what she thought about NASA naming a building after her, she laughed, “You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy.”

Continuing more earnestly, she urged, “But give credit to everybody who helped. I didn’t do anything alone but try to go to the root of the question, and succeeded there.”

In the rest of the video, Johnson emphasized two of her favorite pieces of advice: like what you do, and do it to the best of your ability. “Do your best,” she advised young engineers, “but like it! Like what you do, and then you will do your best.”

My favorite part of the video has to be near the end, when you can still see Johnson’s wonder and curiosity as she remembers her groundbreaking calculations. She looks off into the distance as she talks about work and the stars. “I liked work,” Johnson said. “I liked the stars, and the stories we were telling. And it was a joy to contribute to the literature that was going to be coming out. But little did I think it would go this far.”

I dare anyone to watch her, at 99 years old, talk about space and math that way and tell me STEM is some sort of boy’s trade.

One of Johnson’s interviewers suggested that, perhaps, the trajectories that finally get humanity to Mars may be calculated in the Johnson CRF – and that’s the future I like to think they’ll create here. Here’s hoping one generation of black women engineers, who brought us to the moon, inspires the next generation to reach Mars.

(Via The Guardian and NASA; featured image via YouTube thumbnail)

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Things We Saw Today: It’s Bisexual Visibility Day!

While LGBT History Month isn’t until October in the U.S., or until February in the U.K., September 23 is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day/Bi Visibility Day! “What we asked people to do,” reads the initial summary of the day, “was find some time on this day to celebrate who they are. That could be lighting a candle, saying a prayer, buying a bi pride flag, getting together with other bisexuals for brunch, having incredible sex, march somewhere, whatever they desired.” Check out the #BiVisibilityDay tag for some A+ jokes, celebratory selfies, and knowledge dropping.

September was originally chosen because it’s Freddie Mercury’s birth month, so let’s also celebrate with this photo of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury:

  • Yuri!!! On Ice is getting its own Funko Pop collection, including Yuri, Yurio, Victor, and Young Victor – flower crown included, obvi. (via Nerdist)
  • Pennywise is either the world’s greatest dancer or its worst, as his routine fits pretty much any song you can set it to. Check out this Twitter account which matches his dance sequence to a bunch of different tunes.
  • Boom! Studios will release a graphic novel that builds on the universe of The Expanse. It’ll be titled The Expanse: Origins and will “take a peek at who our beloved crew was before the Rocinante.” (via SYFY Wire)
  • Over at the AV Club, Clayton Purdom argues that “Rick And Morty’s worst fans don’t deserve Rick And Morty.” Couldn’t agree any more.
  • Things are pretty dire in Mexico City, which has been shaken by its second earthquake in less than a week. Jezebel has reports from the city itself, where it seems that volunteers are being blocked by the police, as well as links where you can donate.
  • Puerto Rico still isn’t receiving the aid it needs after its electricity system was decimated by hurricanes. Have you contacted your representatives yet to demand action and aid for them?

(Featured image via Shutterstock)

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Katie Price: ‘My kids will pick my fourth husband’

The Loose Women star to hold open auditions on TV

Katie Price, Princess Andre and Junior Andre on ITV’s This Morning, London 3 August 2017

Despite her third husband Kieran Hayler having his feet still firmly under the table three weeks after she announced their separation, Katie Price has wasted no time in setting the wheels in motion to find herself a new man.

After declaring that she was joining dating app Huggle, we can reveal that mum-of-five Katie has enlisted the help of son Junior, 12, and daughter Princess, 10, to pick her next man.

‘Katie wants to ensure husband number four isn’t another “waster, sex addicted gold digging fame hungry mistake”,’ says our insider.‘ So she’s seeking the help of her children when it comes to securing husband number four.

‘Katie has been telling pals that her kids are better judges of character than her these days. She knows Junior is super protective and Princess is wise beyond her years – she totally trusts them as they want to see her happy.’

But that’s not all – Katie is planning on giving shows like Love Island a run for its money.

We’re told, ‘Kate thinks it will make great viewing for her reality TV show as she embarks on her quest for true love and is even thinking about holding auditions – X Factor style – with her kids as the judges.’

But, understandably, Princess and Junior would love Katie to get back together with their dad Peter Andre, who’s now happily married to new wife Emily.

Our insider explains, ‘Obviously, if they had it their way it would be Pete – and Kate is delusional enough to think it could still happen one day. Of course, Pete has remarried so it’s out of the question, but it’s likely Junior and Princess will pick a clone of their dad.’

After publicly joining a dating app, we’re told Katie is enjoying punishing Kieran, 30, following his affair with their kids’ nanny, Nikki Brown. But by her own admission she hates being single and, ultimately, she just wants the children to be growing up in a stable home.

‘Katie thinks her kids deserve a father figure that will love and support her,’ our insider adds.

‘She’s not ruling out marriage or kids, but she wants him to be financially independent. The kids know exactly what she needs and she’s given them a list of must- have credentials: kid-friendly animal lovers who will provide for the family and stay faithful.’

The post Katie Price: ‘My kids will pick my fourth husband’ appeared first on CelebsNow.

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Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong: Fighting to save their marriage

The couple are doing everything to save their relationship before they’re thousands of miles apart.

Ant and Lisa McPartlin | celebrity lookalike couples | pictures | celebrities | now magazine
Ant McPartlin has found a wife who looks the spitting image of him, albeit a much prettier version, in make-up artist Lisa.

Both possess kind faces and caring smiles.

TV star Ant married Lisa in 2006.

Ant McPartlin and wife Lisa Armstrong are about to face their toughest times yet as they prepare to be separated by 11,000 miles when Ant heads over to Australia for I’m A 
Celebrity in just a few weeks.
While Ant’s based in the remote jungle in Springbrook National Park, New South Wales, Lisa will be run off her feet too, as Strictly Come Dancing – where she’s head of make-up and hair – amps up.
With the couple working on two of the biggest shows on telly – but on rival channels – they’re going to be leading very separate lives come November.
‘She’s constantly working – sometimes more than me,’ Ant revealed previously. With flights from London to Brisbane taking 21 hours or more, there certainly won’t be any quick pit stops to visit Ant in the jungle…
Earlier this year, Ant checked into rehab to beat his addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs, triggered by a botched knee operation. The 41-year-old took a break from work to recuperate and, despite being snapped looking healthy last week, it’s undeniable that he and Lisa, 40, are feeling the strain right now.
In an open letter penned after his heartbreaking admission in June, Ant confessed he’d put his wife ‘through hell’ during his addiction to prescription pills, including the heavy-duty painkiller Tramadol.
Ant wrote that he was ‘very sorry’ for the ordeal, continuing: ‘The first step is to admit to yourself you need help. I feel like I have let a lot of people down and for that I’m truly sorry. I want to thank my wife, family and closest friends through this difficult time… I’ve put Lisa through hell with mood swings and depression and how it affects you.’
It became clear that things weren’t smooth sailing in Ant and Lisa’s marriage back in 2013 when he revealed that they were finding it ‘tough’ to have a baby, despite marrying in 2006. He said: ‘Lisa and I would love to have kids. We’re trying. It’s tougher than you think when you get a bit older.’
It was in the midst of their fertility struggles that Ant’s addiction started – leading to a tricky few years for the couple, who met when Lisa was in pop band Deuce in 1994. Ant proposed to Lisa in Dubai before they wed in 2006, with his closest pal Declan Donnelly as best man at their wedding.
Ant’s certainly showed that he feels remorse for what he put Lisa through, describing his addiction as potentially ‘deadly’ when he went into rehab but crediting her as ‘amazing’ and ‘very supportive’ throughout the whole ordeal – which would be a test for any couple.
But with Ant and Lisa both up against it by working on different, huge primetime TV commitments in the next two months, it’s going to be a tough time for the pair.

The post Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong: Fighting to save their marriage appeared first on CelebsNow.

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Michelle and Mark: The tables have turned

With Mark Wright’s star on the rise in America and yet another long stint apart, what does the future hold for Michelle Keegan and her husband?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock (8423054he)
Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright
The Brit Awards, Arrivals, O2 Arena, London, UK – 22 Feb 2017
When they tied the knot in a fairy-tale ceremony in May 2015, Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright were surely looking forward to spending valuable time together. But two years later, the couple are facing a dramatically different reality.
Earlier this month, Mark, 30, headed off to LA for what’s expected to be a year,  after landing a job fronting US entertainment show Extra. Meanwhile, Michelle is in Malaysia filming the third series of acclaimed BBC show Our Girl – unable to even wave goodbye to her husband when he left on 3 September.
 The couple, who have spent the past two years fending off rumours that they are leading separate lives, are believed to have already spent the past month apart thanks to their work schedules, only briefly reuniting in Essex and Mallorca in August.
 But the long distance isn’t the only thing Michelle and the former reality star will have to compete with in the coming months.
 Ever since Michelle left Coronation Street in 2014, she was tipped for big things – with lots of rumours circulating that she would be the first of the power couple to break the States. While that’s not yet happened, Mark has become a huge US star after impressing TV bosses earlier this year during an interview with pop diva Mariah Carey.
Promo clips for Extra even described him as a ‘globe-trotting international DJ’, ‘soccer hero’ and ‘one of the UK’s biggest stars’.
 Michelle has been quick to praise her hubby on his new job – posting a photo of Mark on his first day filming Extra, wishing him luck and saying she was proud of him.
 Mark is putting on a similarly brave face. One week after his big move, Mark posted an emotional message on Instagram. He wrote: ‘Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that’s going to help you grow. At any moment the decision you make can change the course of your life forever. Yes, making a big life change can be scary, but you know what’s even scarier? REGRET.’
 But despite their united front, it seems Mark and Michelle have a while to wait until they’re together again – with reports suggesting it could be a further two months. Michelle is rumoured to have ‘cleared her diary for December’ after working solidly for a year, so she can visit Mark in his new home and enjoy a much-needed reunion.
So while they count down the days until they see each other again, let’s hope absence does make the heart grow fonder.

The post Michelle and Mark: The tables have turned appeared first on CelebsNow.

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As Simon Cowell snubs Liam Payne for X Factor Cheryl says: ‘You owe me this!’

The former X Factor judge is hurt as Simon fails to give boyfriend Liam a slot

With just over five weeks until the X Factor contestants are due to battle it out on the live shows, Simon Cowell has already  lined up a list of megastars to perform in the coveted guest celebrity slots.

But while it’s understood that former One Direction stars Zayn Malik and Harry Styles have had informal chats about solo slots, ex-bandmate Liam Payne has so far been left in the lurch, and Cheryl is said to be understandably upset.

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Our X Factor insider tells us: ‘Britney, Lady Gaga, Zayn, Harry and Take That are all about to sign up to make an appearance.

Cheryl is upset with Simon over what she feels is a snub to her and Liam, as so far he won’t commit to having Liam on as a guest, even though performing on the show would be a big boost to his solo career.’

Louis Tomlinson performed on the X Factor finals last year, and with Liam releasing his solo music earlier this year, Cheryl was hoping her close friendship with Simon would help him land a slot. But the Strip That Down singer  doesn’t seem to have made the shortlist so far.

Now understands Chezza, who has five-month-old son Bear with boyfriend Liam, thinks Simon should be doing more to honour their long-standing friendship.

Cheryl thinks Simon owes her more than that’, our source tells us.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Beretta/Sims/REX/Shutterstock (8872774h)

‘Especially after all the years they’ve worked together. But Simon feels he can’t just put someone up there because of his personal relationships.

They have to be chosen on their own merit, and he’s under pressure to secure the very highest profile acts, but Cheryl is going to give it another push and ask him to reconsider.’

We imagine a joint playdate between Bear and Simon’s three-year- old son Eric will do the trick…

The post As Simon Cowell snubs Liam Payne for X Factor Cheryl says: ‘You owe me this!’ appeared first on CelebsNow.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: How they went from toxic exes to best friends

They are supposedly closer than ever for the sake of the children.

After two years of marriage and 12 years together, Brangelina announced their divorce on 20 September 2016.

The actress filed the divorce papers citing ‘irreconcilable differences’. She also went after sole physical custody of the pair’s six children – raising questions about Brad’s parenting techniques.

Hollywood was shocked and the Internet quickly became flooded with tongue-in-cheek memes and gifs of Jennifer Aniston.

Brad said he was ‘saddened’ their relationship had come to this while a statement released from Ange said the pair were divorcing for the ‘health of their family.’

As a couple they were worth over £300 million.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting on ‘the best they ever have’ since their shock split last September.
In recent weeks, it has emerged the exes have been able to put their toxic break-up behind them for the sake of their six children. Brad  has been in contact with Ange and  has even been staying at the family house two days a week – a gesture that would
have been unthinkable just six months ago.
A source close to the pair says they are getting along better now than they have in years and have come back from the separation as ‘better people’.
‘Angie hasn’t forgotten how he saw her through her preventive double mastectomy  and her cancer-fearing times,’ says our insider. ‘They’re getting along and doing what they can for their kids.’ 
Last year, a reunion was seen as off the cards as the pair embarked on a bitter child custody dispute and Brad was investigated for possible child abuse after losing his temper in front of some of the children. The actor was cleared of the allegations and in January he and Ange agreed to use a private judge in their divorce case.
But the turnaround came in May this year when Brad came clean about his drinking and admitted he had cut it out, with his only vice now being cranberry juice and fizzy water.
The star also admitted his parenting style needed amending and he revealed he had sought therapy, which included art classes for healing.
This change in behaviour has impressed Angelina, following reports she would consider taking Brad back ‘if he showed he was committed to raising a family’.
‘Ange feels he’s a different man, calm, reformed,’ claims our source. ‘There’s no drugs and only drinking a glass of wine with a meal.’
It’s a huge turnaround to just under a year ago when they announced their split after 12 years together.
Our insider adds: ‘Both sides are pleased the charges levelled against Brad last year were not substantiated by authorities and there were things he needed to do to improve himself.
‘Their  interactions have been very positive – they’re two loving parents and they have focused on the children.

File photo dated 02/09/07 of Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie attending the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, as Hollywood star Jolie has filed for divorce, TMZ has reported.

‘But while a divorce may be proceeding slowly and the two sides are getting along very well, the couple have a long way to go and are not expected to go public any time soon.’
And we’re told reports that Brad has fallen for actress Sienna Miller are false, as neither of the stars have so much as looked at another person since the split.
‘They’ve not had any emotional attachments to anyone,’ the insider adds.
‘The fact that they’ve both remained single counts for a lot.’

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