Sweeping Culture Daily

SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily

In Five: Jennifer Lopez Performs for Dictator, “White House Down” Goes… Down, and More Culture News

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1. Money, money, money! Jennifer Lopez got herself in trouble this weekend after accepting an easy paycheck to perform at the birthday party of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Who’s that, you ask? Well, he’s the Turkmenistan dictator who, among other things, supports “widespread torture, considering political opposition treason, and making homosexuality illegal.” Lopez’s dancers were tweeting from their vacation (“I wonder where all my Turkmenistan followers are!?”), not realizing that the country bans Facebook and Twitter. The singer’s camp issued a bizarre statement, claiming they had no idea about country’s multiple human-rights violations. So, just to be clear: Nobody associated with Lopez thought to do a quick Internet search on the man whose birthday party they were playing? Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen released a statement, condemning Lopez: “What is the next stop on her tour, Syria? The dictator of Kazakhstan’s birthday is July 6, maybe she will also pay him a visit?” [Vulture]

2. “Monsters University,” the latest sequel spit out by Pixar, brought in roughly $46.2 million in domestic ticket sales, meaning it remained at the top of the box office for the second week in a row. “The Heat,” a female-buddy-comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, was not far behind, with an estimated $40 million in ticket sales. People still wanted to watch “World War Z,” for some reason, leaving it at third place with an estimated $29.8 million. Wait, how can we forget “White House Down,” starring Channing Tatum wearing a selection of perfectly tailored tank tops and shooting machine guns alongside Jamie Foxx as the president? Well, it seems like the rest of America forgot as well. “White House” brought in $25.7 million, leaving it at forth place. [Artsbeat]

3. Netflix is so hyped about their new slate of original programming that they are renewing shows before they even begin. “Orange is the New Black,” the jailhouse comedy from “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan, which premieres on the streaming website July 11, has already been renewed for a second season. The series “follows engaged Brooklynite Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), whose decade-old relationship with drug-runner Alex (Laura Prepon) results in her arrest and yearlong detention in a federal penitentiary.” And hilarity ensues, I guess? [Deadline]

4.  Rick Ross, who got in trouble earlier this year for brazenly rapping about sexual assault, is back in deep water. Apparently, the rapper bought a bunch of Rolex watches from the totally legit-sounding Johnny’s Custom Jewelry in Texas last summer, then decided to skip out on the $90,000 bill. The store “claims they delivered the jewelry to Ross, but the rapper hasn’t yet forked over the cash.” We assume the rapper’s publicist is currently pulling her hair out trying to craft a vague statement that makes it seem like Ross did nothing wrong. [Rolling Stone]

5. One of the best bands coming out of San Francisco is Sic Alps, who’ve been kicking around since 2006 but have a new EP, “She’s On Top,” out today via Drag City. The band has moved more and more toward a psychedelic sound, and new track “Carrie Jean,” with accompanying video, demonstrates they’re on the right path. Some are comparing the sound to Pink Floyd, which is definitely there, but the band is clearly interested in freaking out a bit more than Floyd ever did. The video is shot on Super-8mm, interspersing shots of a typewriter with various patterns and indiscernible images. [SPIN]

—Craig Hubert

Previously: “Mean Business On North Ganson Street,” “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Murder Ballad,” Alec Baldwin, Pixies

Image: Igor Sasin/Getty Images

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