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Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times

Gay Or Bi? The Dangers Of Labeling Frank Ocean

“When it comes to fellas, there's an undeniable, ideological discomfort in letting him roam through the valley of grayness."

I made a mistake. As an open bisexual woman, I immediately gushed at the assumed fact that our gifted Frank Ocean was mirroring my identity. His letter, beautifully written and framed in audacity, made my emotions shoot to the chandeliers of heaven. And as you can guess, my ass went ham on Twitter. Every twelve seconds, I was aiming a barrel of exclamation points at a new "Frank Ocean Is Bisexual" news headline, while scowling at the inaccuracy of every "Frank Ocean is Gay" headline.

And then MTV's Rob Markman (@RobMarkman) tweeted: "Frank Ocean didn't declare that he was Gay or Bisexual. He wrote of a relationship with a man. Please report responsibly." I stepped away from the keyboard.

Markman's statement reminded me that it's more than possible for sexuality to run just as fluid as my Twitter stream. However, we accept this more easily when it comes to those humans swelled with estrogen. If two women want to savor each other’s tongues because the moment feels right—there's no query, no liability, no box (no pun). Many a times we wouldn't even believe that an attractive gal was capable of becoming—and remaining—a lesbian. Yet when it comes to fellas, there's an undeniable, ideological discomfort in letting him roam through the valley of grayness.

CLICK HERE TO READ FRANK'S LETTER IN FULL

Society demands a swift and permanent answer regarding the sexual orientation of men. But all that constant nagging can light a killer identity crisis that prior, would've never showed face. Fun fact: A prostate massage is said to be the express route to a man's strongest orgasm. But I'm willing to bet too many men would brow-raise about their sexuality if they enjoyed this deed... even if it was their own girlfriends who did the honor.

In high school, I regularly made out with a boy who revealed to me that he had once unzipped a comrade's Levi's... on purpose. Before that, all his daydreams were crammed with breasts and derrieres (though occasionally he found A.J. Calloway to be attractive), a pleasant habit that's carried on to this day of his heterosexual life. As he explained to me, the young man from his adolescence was an isolated crush, not because he wanted it to be, but because that's just what it was.

Of course, there are many, many times where an experience will unlatch an epiphany of once foreign feelings. But it is far from the onlooker's responsibility to detangle those emotions and plop them in their "appropriate" crates. Even if the intentions are good, our role should always be more supportive than directive. Labels were created as society's compass, tabs to help us better understand our differences (and marketing strategies), even so we shouldn't allow ourselves to be handicapped by them.

If Frank Ocean identifies himself as gay, awesome. If Frank Ocean identifies himself as bisexual, woot. But if Frank Ocean identifies himself as a man who once fell for another man in a hopeless place, salute his valor... Just don't overthink it. --Tracy Garraud (@trayhova)

Photo credit: Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times

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Review: 'Bad Boys For Life' Proves To Be A Promising Crowd-Pleasing Throwback

“We ride together, we die together” never really made that much sense as a slogan, did it? Regardless, the line that epitomized the appeal of Bad Boys, the uber-violent action buddy cop franchise that turned Martin Lawrence and Will Smith into movie stars back in the mid-90s. Smith and Lawrence– now fiftysomethings– are back for a third go-round with surprising and enjoyable new tricks.

In 2003, the eight years between Bad Boys seemed like an eternity. But there’s been seventeen years between Bad Boys II and Bad Boys For Life—the former hit theaters before an iPhone ever existed, just as the so-called War On Terror was hitting full swing and a wide-eyed Beyonce embarked on a nascent solo career. If the buddy cop genre was on life support in the early 2000s, the formula is almost completely post-mortem in 2020; most buddy cop flicks in more recent times have been subversive spoofs (like 2010s The Other Guys) or unfunny one-offs (like the forgettable CHiPs).

This time around, Mike Lowry (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) face the realities of middle age. Burnett is happy to waltz into retirement and into “Papa” territory, exhausted from chasing kingpins. Lowry, on the other hand, is ever more of an adrenaline junkie than in the past; addicted to the thrill and holding on to a “bulletproof” playboy image that’s getting sadder and sadder—particularly when he’s forced to admit he wrecked a promising relationship with fellow officer Rita (Paola Nunez) and every time he peppers his bravado with Millennial-speak like “Turn up” and “One Hunnid.”

Lowry’s disappointment in Burnett’s desire to leave the force turns into something harsher after a shooting forces Mike to take stock and Marcus distances himself from his old partner. Of course, this is all just a set up for the duo to reconnect in the face of tragedy—along with a gaggle of new recruits led by Rita; including a computer geek who may or may not be a killing machine, a young tough guy who hates Lowry for apparently no reason, and Vanessa Hudgens.

Bad Boys For Life has more heart than the lunkheaded Bad Boys II, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Ballah don’t forego the departed Michael Bay’s formula for punchlines and hyperkinetic violence; there’s an opening knife sequence that’s almost gratuitously graphic, and an action set-piece on a bridge that may be the most ambitious in the series. There’s only a passing mention of Burnett’s sister (played by Gabrielle Union in the previous film) and an obligatory callback to II’s funniest moment involving his daughter, but a lot of the movie’s emotional core sits with Smith’s Mike Lowry. Smith plays his first action star with an almost meta-level of intensity.

He’s the sum of all Will Smith’s Will Smithiness in one character and gets to play with the idea of Lowry’s machismo persona. Together with the recognition that Lawrence isn’t really an action star (the film smartly turns his affinity for sitting and watching as Smith jumps headfirst into heroics into a running gag), it’s a good turn for the characters and helps elevate the second half of the movie after a somewhat rote first half.

As the film’s “big bad,” Telenovela action star Kate del Castillo isn’t given a whole lot to do, nor is Jacob Scipio as Armas, as her son and steely hitman, who is on the hunt for Lowry. Reliably familiar support from Theresa Randle as Burnett’s long-suffering wife and Joe Pantoliano as the perpetually-flustered police captain Conrad Howard reminds everyone that this is a Bad Boys flick, and the actors clearly relish jumping back into their long-standing roles.

But these films always work best when Smith and Lawrence get to quip lines back-and-forth while dodging bullets, and the easy partnership between the two remains intact, even when the film lags under its own clichés or the sentiment borders on silly. There’s a twist that feels especially contrived and so many self-referential moments where Marcus and Mike seem to almost know that they’re in a movie about Marcus and Mike (who say “Bad boys for life” as a wedding toast, really?), but there’s a breeziness to the proceedings that feels more in line with the easy fun of the 1995 original—as opposed to the frenetically hyperactive feel of its sequel.

Anyone who is excited to see Bad Boys For Life wants to go into it for what these movies have always managed to give their fans; just enough comedy sprinkled with just enough to story to justify eye-popping action sequences and RoboCop-levels of bloodshed. The buddy cop genre was always predictable, but the best of it—classics like Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop and, yes, the first Bad Boys film—has always been a fun night at the movies.

In that regard, Bad Boys For Life doesn’t disappoint. It’s coasting on the easygoing partnership of Smith and Lawrence, as it always has. 25 years ago, they were two of the biggest stars on television, making a somewhat unlikely leap to action stardom in a movie initially written for then-Saturday Night Live comedians Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz that was being directed by a guy most people had never heard of. We may be a vastly different audience today than we were in the 1990s or 2000s, but there’s some fun in watching how different Mike and Marcus are too.

Franchises like Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon seem like big blockbuster brands of yesteryear, as a whole generation of moviegoers have grown up with vast comic book spectacles or rapid-chase car flicks overpopulated with musclebound tough guys. As such, Bad Boys For Life stands as a sort of throwback in popcorn entertainment; that reliable action-comedy that coasts on the chemistry and charisma of its leads—more so than otherworldly special effects or universe-building.

The constant mentions of “One last time” statements remind the audience that this could be the final go-round for Mike and Marcus. Big box office returns can reroute retirements, but if this is indeed the grand finale for Bad Boys, there are worse ways to go out. In a world where Lethal Weapon 4 and Rush Hour 3 exist (with talk of another in the Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan series coming down the pike), Bad Boys For Life should be praised for what it does manage to do so well. It’s fun, violent escapism that doesn’t ask too much of anyone. And sometimes that’s really all we need these movies to be.

Bad Boys For Life opens in theaters Friday, January 17.

Director(s): Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Jacob Scipio, Alexander Ludwig, Kate del Castillo, Joe Pantoliano, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Nicky Jam, DJ Khaled.

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Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

College Football Officials Pondering Policy Changes After Incident With Odell Beckham Jr.

A domino effect might be on the horizon after Odell Beckham Jr.'s encounter with LSU players and a security officer that led to arrest warrants and debates about possible NCAA violations.

Speaking to USA Today Sports Thursday (Jan 16) executive director Bill Hancock said officials from the College Football Playoff will investigate practices that allow non-players to engage with players on the sidelines during events such as the national semifinals and championship games.

“Being on the sidelines is a privilege,” Hancock told the outlet. “Along with any privilege comes responsibility, because the focus should be on the people playing and coaching in the game, rather than on any visitors. The CFP will be reviewing its policy for allowing guests onto the sidelines and into locker rooms at future games.”

While the LSU Tigers beat Clemson Monday to secure a spot in the national championship, all eyes were on the Cleveland Browns wide receiver for handing out money to players and slapping the buttocks of a Superdome security guard. The incident took place in the LSU locker room. It was initially reported that the money was fake but it was confirmed that the money was actually real.

Video of the incident went viral and just a few days later, New Orleans Police Department public affairs officer Juan Barnes confirmed that the security guard filed the complaint. An arrest warrant for simple battery was issued against Beckham Jr. on Thursday.

The NFL star and former LSU player possibly committed an NCAA violation "if it’s determined athletes with eligibility remaining received cash," USA Today Sports mentions. OBJ and his representatives are cooperating with authorities, the Browns said in a statement.

Statement regarding Odell Beckham Jr. incident: pic.twitter.com/7cN3jOLCj6

— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 16, 2020

LSU will now investigate the incident to confirm if any NCAA violations were committed and if it will affect any of the players seen in the video.

Many have pointed exactly why the officer was in the locker room in the first place. As the players were celebrating their big win, the security guard allegedly threatened the players who were smoking cigars in the locker room. Stephen A. Smith reacted to the news and the NCAA possible violation as "bogus."

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Jim Jones Hints At A Dipset Movie

With recent individual projects from Cam’ron and Jim Jones gaining widespread acclaim, the latter East Coast rap veteran plans to keep that momentum going with this latest news. According to XXL Magazine, Jones hinted at a movie on their rap collective Dipset, which formed in the late 90s but rose to mainstream prominence in the 2000s.

“We started this as young teenagers. We would’ve never thought that we did what we did and ended up where we are and we’re still here today making money off this industry that we dreamed of being in," he said during an interview on Nick Cannon's Power 106 show. "People know we make music and there’s always a nostalgic value when we pop out and do music. But I do believe we got a story that needs to be seen in hip-hop like no other. I know people have a lot of their own glory story, but we really have an action flick that needs to be told.”

Dipset, which is comprised of Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Freekey Zeekey, Juelz Santana, and former members 40 Cal., Hell Rell, and J.R. Writer, churned out hit after hit like “Hey Ma (Remix),” “Real Ni**as,” "Family Ties," “Dipset Anthem,” “I’m Ready,” “Crunk Muzik,” and more.

A Dipset film will not head to production until Santana’s release from prison, Jones also noted. Santana was sentenced to two years in prison for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. He was also found guilty of possession of a controlled substance. According to his partner Kimbella, Santana is expected to be released in summer 2020.

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