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Corruption in Mexico: The impunity of Alberto Reyes Vaca, the Mexican army general who was fond of drug ballads | USA

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Alberto Reyes Vaca on the day of his appointment to the position of Public Safety Secretary for the State of Michoacán in May 2013.
Alberto Reyes Vaca on the day of his appointment to the position of Public Safety Secretary for the State of Michoacán in May 2013.RR. SS.

The traditional ballads that glorify the status and supposed deeds of drug traffickersnarcocorridos – filled the night air on October 30, 2014, in a Mexican army barracks, within the very institution that is on the front line of the country’s war on drugs. The music emanating from the walls of Military Camp 37-B came from a party organized by Alberto Reyes Vaca, who was at the time the commanding officer of the Special Forces Corps based in Temamantla, in the State of Mexico. Among the guests were the singer Gerardo Ortiz and the band Calibre 50, both from Sinaloa. Calibre 50 played several narcocorridos, with lyrics praising the exploits of various leading figures among the cartels.

The party, the performers and the messages that the songs relayed caused a scandal among General Reyes Vaca’s subordinates. Days later, one of his junior officers made a complaint to the Comptroller General of the Army and Air Force – the body that oversees the military’s use of public funds – stating that the musicians hired to play had performed narcocorridos. “I could not comprehend that while we spend months away from our families, our commanders spend their time organizing parties in barracks and inviting civilians, who knows of what kind, getting drunk and having a wild time,” the officer wrote in his complaint, which led to an investigation.

Despite the Comptroller’s office determining that the brigadier-general had organized the party in question and others on previous occasions at military facilities where the food and drink was paid for under false pretenses and charged to the Ministry of Defense (Sedena) budget, the matter was concluded with a mere reprimand. It was not the first time that the army had received complaints about Reyes Vaca’s conduct. On his record were other allegations of corruption and links to organized crime that were also swept under the rug.

One of the most serious accusations against Reyes Vaca is that he disclosed military activities carried out by the Special Forces Corps under his command

The Comptroller’s internal investigation uncovered a series of anomalies during Reyes Vaca’s command of the Special Forces Corps (SF), between October 2014 and mid-2016, according to documents obtained by EL PAÍS. Among the files are details of an order issued to remodel and refurbish a palapa – a thatched-roof structure – located in the SF training area, where he would organize his parties and hold private meetings. Reyes Vaca installed a bar and used soldiers to serve as waiters.

The documents show that the general invested “a considerable amount of resources” on the palapa, which “contained a bar, crystal glasses, disco-type furniture and a mural depicting rural scenes, such a howling wolf and cowboys in the desert,” the report states. Reyes Vaca also bought musical instruments to form a band made up of members of the unit, who would play at private meetings held once a month and which were attended by civilians, some of whom would travel from Michoacán.

In the report compiled by a military committee tasked with investigating the general’s conduct, photographs are included that confirm the attendance of Gerardo Ortiz and Calibre 50 during at least one of the general’s parties. After interviewing brigade commanders, officers and soldiers serving under Reyes Vaca, the committee attempted without success to find contracts for the hiring of Ortiz and Calibre 50. The report states that while Calibre 50 played at the party, Ortiz was merely in attendance and did not perform. The committee could not determine whether the musicians were paid for their appearance of if they agreed to play because of a personal friendship with the general. “An internet search for the price of hiring the band Calibre 50 did not reveal the exact amount but this group is considered to be among the artists who generally charge between 600,000 and 800,000 pesos [€24,700-€33,000] to perform,” the report states.

One of the most serious accusations against Reyes Vaca is that he disclosed military activities carried out by the Special Forces Corps under his command during demonstrations he ordered, including allowing his son and other civilians to drive military vehicles. “This put the secrecy of military training exercises at risk,” the report states. It is also documented that the general organized target practice for civilians with no connection to the military who he had invited to the base. On one occasion between 20 and 30 people arrived at the barracks in “brand new, luxury pick-ups” accompanied by military personnel. During the investigation it was also revealed that slot machines had been installed at the base. Under the general’s command, unauthorized building and remodeling work was carried out and soldiers from the SF were used for tasks including brick-laying, laundry and painting.

The general’s excesses had repercussions among the troops. One example is that in the cafeterias on the base used by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th SF battalions, products were sold at higher prices than stated on price lists and were more expensive than the same items sold in civilian outlets. “In this order of ideas, it can be seen that conduct contrary to the exercise of public service in detriment to the morale and economy of the personnel at the training base and the members of the special forces units was in evidence,” the report said. The Comptroller’s investigation employed a mole at the SF base in Temamantla, a strategy designed to reveal the scale of the abuses meted out to soldiers first-hand.

n 2020, Reyes Vaca retired from the military with the right to a pension without being held accountable before the military courts over allegations of past misconduct

The investigation concluded that Reyes Vaca made improper use of military facilities and forced military personnel to carry out activities beyond those established for serving soldiers. “This constituted an illegal, dishonest, disloyal, partial and deficient practice in the exercise of public service and in the carrying out of his duties as commander of the Special Forces Corps based at Temamantla, State of Mexico”, the report concluded. The committee also cited the general for improperly involving staff serving under him, including subordinate commanders, officers and enlisted personnel. “This goes against all established normative logic, given his seniority and the position he held.”

Along with Reyes Vaca, four base personnel were disciplined after the committee’s findings: Infantry Second Captain Felipe Mera Nájera; Sapper Second Captain Jorge Antonio López Vázquez; Infantry Lieutenant Juan Pablo López Guzmán and Military Police Corporal Servando Félix Barrera.

The brigadier-general’s defense argues that none of the performers were paid for playing at the party. In a letter sent to the Ministry of Defense, Reyes Vaca’s attorneys explained that when he was serving as state security secretary in Michoacán, he met many businessmen and one of these was the representative and manager for Calibre 50. In October 2014, this individual called Reyes Vaca and said he would like to meet him. “Under the circumstances and out of mere courtesy I decided to receive him, with the intention only of greeting him, taking into account the high regard with which he holds the armed forces.” The general said that the businessman arrived at the barracks in a bus accompanied by Calibre 50, upon which he invited them to lunch. “When they had finished eating they decided to play a few songs, palomazos as they call them, for their own entertainment or pleasure, in the absence of the audience they would have at an official or formal event,” Reyes Vaca said.

In the case of Gerardo Ortiz, the general stated that the singer visited the base separately simply to say hello and that he had not had the pleasure of making his acquaintance before then. EL PAÍS has attempted to contact Reyes Vaca via various means to obtain his version of events without success.

A turbulent past

Sedena has dismissed a series of allegations against Reyes Vaca, starting from his tenure as commanding officer of the 80th infantry battalion based in Tlaxcala. Between 2011 and 2012, he was accused by a group of officers of being among the commanders who ordered subordinates to extract gasoline from pipelines owned by state energy company Pemex to then sell on to gas stations, according to a report published on the news website Estado Mayor, which focuses on military matters. He also set a section of the battalion to work on his personal interests, including a bar, a pulquería (an establishment where pulque, a popular agave-based Mexican drink, is sold) and a pig farm. When he left, he put on a party with live music led by the singer Gerardo Reyes,” one of the officers told Estado Mayor. In another news report the infantry officer Eduardo Navarrete Montes, who had been lodging complaints about irregularities in Reyes Vaca’s conduct for several years, said that before taking up his command in Tlaxcala Reyes Vaca had been accused by junior officers of theft and abuse of authority. “A while beforehand, when he held the rank of lieutenant-colonel, his subordinates accused him of stealing various items seized during operations against drug traffickers,” Montes said in an interview.

Despite these accusations, in 2013 Reyes Vaca was appointed State Security Secretary in Michoacán, a post he held for eight months. He was handed the job in an attempt by the federal government of President Enrique Peña Nieto to placate vigilante groups and reduce the levels of violence in the state. On May 15, 2013, then-Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said that Michoacán would name a member of the armed services to the post, who would have under his control all federal, state and, eventually, municipal forces. The following day, Reyes Vaca was appointed, under the protective wing of Peña Nieto’s Secretary of National Defense, Salvador Cienfuegos.

Six months later, in November 2013, the newspaper Milenio released documents from the payroll of the criminal organization Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar), which had been obtained by the intelligence services. Among the mayors, police officers, commanders and customs officials named on the list there was an army general, whose name was withheld, but who allegedly received two million pesos [€82,000] a month from the organization. In an interview on a Michoacán radio station, Reyes Vaca said he was happy to be investigated. “I am a general on active service and people should rest assured that if I do something I shouldn’t do, my secretary general [Cienfuegos] will call me to set the record straight because there is not impunity in the army.”

After eight months in the post, during which he failed to reduce the crime rate, Reyes Vaca was removed in January 2014. A former local government employee who worked in Michoacán at the time says that there were many people who questioned the general’s actions while in the job, particularly among the police. One of the complaints was that Reyes Vaca assigned police officers to act as bodyguards to whomever he decided needed them. Furthermore, the local government worker says, the general made personal use of the budgetary funds for state security to finance his own whims. “It was said there were days when he would disappear and nobody knew where he was, he would head off with a couple of his close confidants. There were always rumors that he was involved with the Caballeros Templarios, he was even mentioned on one of their lists of expenses,” adds the civil servant, who did not want to give their name for fear of reprisals.

In October 2014, Reyes Vaca’s superiors sent him to the State of Mexico, where complaints about his conduct started anew prompting the Comptroller’s investigation, which failed to deliver the justice the general’s accusers sought: the investigation concluded that the allegations did not constitute serious misconduct. Neither was a criminal investigation beyond the military’s remit opened up. “It is important to highlight that this internal control body is not responsible for investigating crimes; that is to say, it does not have the mission of establishing criminal conduct and imposing the corresponding sanctions,” the committee wrote in its summary. After Reyes Vaca received a reprimand, he was transferred to the 12th Military District in Irapuato, Guanajuato, where he was appointed as chief of regional services. After the change of federal government, he took up the post of commander of the regional training base in the 6th Military District in La Boticaria, Veracruz.

In 2020, Reyes Vaca retired from the military with the right to a pension of 70,000 pesos [€2,890] a month without being held accountable before the military courts over allegations of past misconduct.

English version by Rob Train.

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Back in Action: The return of Cameron Diaz, the once-highest-paid actress in Hollywood | Culture

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In an interview with her close friend Gwyneth Paltrow, actress Cameron Diaz explained how it felt to leap from the Olympus of Hollywood into the abyss, leaving behind a career full of blockbuster movies. “I’m at peace. I got a peace in my soul. Because I was finally taking care of myself. I feel like my feet are on the ground. I’m lighter.” The actress starred in romantic comedies from the mid-1990s through the first decade of the 2000s, including the hit There’s Something About Mary. For several years, she was the best-paid actress in Los Angeles, making up to $20 million per film. But at age 40, with no warning, she decided to “semi-retire” from the industry. Diaz was focused on enjoying her personal life: she is married to musician Benji Madden, and she gave birth to her first daughter, Raddix, at age 47. But she never closed the door on a possible return. Now, eight years after her last movie, America’s blondest sweetheart is back.

The Californian was the second actress in history, after Julia Roberts, to be paid $20 million for a movie.
The Californian was the second actress in history, after Julia Roberts, to be paid $20 million for a movie.Getty

“I’m excited, but I don’t know how to do this, you know?” Cameron Diaz admits in the video in which she announced the end of her retirement and confirmed her return to the industry. Simulating a call with her fellow cast member Jamie Foxx, the 49-year-old actress revealed that she will play the lead in a new action comedy for Netflix, titled Back in Action. In the clip, Foxx – who won an Oscar for the movie Ray – seeks help from football player Tom Brady, who this year announced his retirement and changed his mind a month later, in order to prepare Diaz for her return to the big screen. On social media, other entertainers, including Jennifer Aniston and Kim Cattrall, received the news with enthusiasm. Nancy Meyers, who directed Cameron Diaz in The Holiday, wrote: “Finally! Some good news!” Still, in keeping with her decision to avoid the buzz of stardom as much as possible, the Californian actress didn’t even share the news with her nearly 10 million Instagram followers.

During her time outside the public eye, Cameron Diaz, like peers such as Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson, has attempted to follow Gwyneth Paltrow’s path, using her platform to establish herself as a wellness guru. She published two books on well-being and longevity – The Body Book and The Longevity Book. She has also invested in emerging alternative medicine companies, including Modern Acupuncture and Lyra Health, which helps companies improve the mental health of their employees. In 2020, she also became the founder of the Avaline wine brand, which sells wines made with organic, pesticide-free grapes. The line includes eight varieties, and the starting price for a bottle is €23 ($23.6). “Avaline is the only day-to-day work that I’m doing other than being a wife and a mother. It really has been the most fulfilling part of my life so far,” she said in an interview last year.

Cameron Diaz married Benji Madden, a member of the band Good Charlotte, in 2015.
Cameron Diaz married Benji Madden, a member of the band Good Charlotte, in 2015.MICHAEL NELSON (EFE)

The resurgence of the romantic comedy could be behind Diaz’s return to film. The genre reached its box office peak in the mid-1990s. Earlier this year, Sandra Bullock found unexpected success with her return to the genre in The Lost City. Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan gave the latest remake of Father of the Bride a Latin twist. And in September, Julia Roberts will return to theaters in September after four years of absence: in Journey to Paradise, she will join George Clooney to play a divorced couple who team up to torpedo their daughter’s wedding in Bali. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise is enjoying the success of Top Gun: Maverick, Laura Dern and Sam Neill are returning to the Jurassic Park franchise, and Brad Pitt is preparing for the release of his new action film Bullet Train. After being slammed by the effects of the pandemics, movie theaters are finding that old stars are the best way to get viewers back in their seats.

Cameron Diaz has limited her public appearances in the last decade to a handful of promotional interviews.
Cameron Diaz has limited her public appearances in the last decade to a handful of promotional interviews.NBC (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

During her hiatus, Diaz has avoided spotlights and red carpets, appearing only on programs hosted by colleagues such as Paltrow and Drew Barrymore. The actress has spoken unequivocally about the elements that have hampered her professional career, from the abuse of power exercised by Hollywood studios over their stars to the dictatorship of beauty standards. “Every day I sat in front of the mirror for hours. It ended up being toxic […] You start criticizing yourself and you think, why am I sitting here being mean to myself?” she said in a BBC podcast, calling herself a “victim of the objectification and social exploitation that women are subjected to.” In deciding to return to the spotlight, Diaz follows the example of other contemporaries who have recently come out of similar semi-retirements, such as Renée Zellweger, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Judy Garland, and Lindsay Lohan, who will premiere a Christmas-themed movie on Netflix at the end of this year.



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Today’s leading Tik Tok influencer creates fashion parodies from one of the world’s poorest islands | Culture

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Shaheel Shermont Flair is 24 years old, and he wants to be a comedic actor. On his social media, where he showcases his talent for comedy through videos/reels, he describes himself as a “public figure” and “artist.” On June 20, he shared his latest witty idea online: a fashion show parody. “Fashion shows be like this,” he declared (alongside the emoji of a face crying with laughter). Then, barefoot and dressed in a T-shirt and sport shorts, he started walking like Linda, Naomi, or Christy through what looks like the backyard of his house. Each trip displayed a style created with all sorts of knickknacks, junk, utensils and household furnishings. In an unintentionally Rickowensian moment (or not), he even used his little sister, Riharika, who was accessorized and off to the side, as a complement. On TikTok, where he has been appearing as @shermont22 for a little more than a year, the short video has racked up over five million views and counting. He continues to gain followers as well; he has nearly 350,000 right now and 13 million or so “likes.” Viewers keep asking him for more. At popular request, he uploaded his most recent video a few hours ago. It is the ninth installment of a viral saga that, in reality, is not so ironic and hilarious.

By today’s standards, Shermont is already a star in terms of fame and glory. In a recent story on his Instagram profile (@shermont_22, which has considerably fewer followers, although one assumes that his viewership there will eventually grow), he confessed to having googled his name and was in disbelief about how far-reaching his performance was. “I’m in the news!” He was amazed and posted screenshots from different digital media, especially from Southeast Asian outlets. On Twitter, he is being hailed as the week’s hero for making fun of, mocking, and deriding that silly and increasingly absurd thing: fashion (of course).

The same thing happened just two months ago, when a video on Douyin (a social network) went viral on its Western counterpart, TikTok, giving rise to the turn-your-grandmother-into-an-international-supermodel challenge. In the video, a venerable elderly Chinese woman was dressed as the personification of Balenciaga, Gucci and Prada by a little boy (presumably her grandson) with what he had on hand in his yurt, including chicken. The results of the challenge—images done in the style of luxury advertising campaigns with brand logos superimposed on them—tell us that we are all Demna Gvasalia, Alessandro Michele, or the tandem Miuccia-Raf Simons, or at least we can be.

An elderly woman dressed by her grandson, who used everyday objects to recreate a Balenciaga advertisement.
An elderly woman dressed by her grandson, who used everyday objects to recreate a Balenciaga advertisement.RR.SS

For a long time, people have complained repeatedly about how bad fashion is, now more than ever. Not only does fashion pollute the planet and exploit its workers, but it also mocks consumers. Are these designers crazy? No, they are just pulling our leg with so much aesthetic arbitrariness/ugliness/stupidity. It’s only fair, then, to return the favor in jaw-droppingly funny ways. In fact, trolling the fashion industry—like Shermont and the Chinese grandmothers (there are quite a few of them)—may be evidence of a certain social disgust with its three-ring circus and its trainers, illusionists, and clowns, whose extravagances are understood as nonsense and, even worse, insults or near-insults. Vetements’s DHL uniform. Virgil Abloh’s Ikea bag. JW Anderson’s broken-skateboard-encrusted sweater. Balenciaga’s shredded sneakers. All of Balenciaga, the brand inevitably referred to in comments on the young comedian’s reels. There are more than a few comments that also praise Shermont’s attitude and stylish model’s trot; they ask to see his fashion show in Paris and Milan already. And then there are those who attempt to be funnier and more sarcastic and ironic than the video itself, which is typical on Twitter. But none of the commenters have taken issue—or even tried to take issue—with the video’s deeper premise.

Shaheel Shermont Flair is a Fijian of Indian descent; his ancestors were Indian girmtyas who went to British-colonized Fiji in the mid-nineteenth century as slave labor. He is also gay. “Welcome the queen to Instagram,” he urged in April 2021, when he debuted on the social media site. In November, he posted that “[m]y sexuality isn’t the problem, your bigotry is.” In April of this year, he returned to the fray: “There are those who hate me for being different and not living by society’s standards, but deep down they wish they had my courage.” Before his phenomenal fashion show, he was already doing “low cosplay” of Indian women by using waste—toilet paper for the sari, a bottle cap for a nath on the nose, and a tea bag for the maang tikka on the forehead, for example—to create an Indian bride’s trousseau in the playful post, “Getting ready for my lover.” In another, he straps on two water-filled balloons as swaying breasts under his T-shirt. “The things I do for TikTok,” he wrote. Indeed, Shermont has made comedy his path to escape bullying and discrimination (prejudice is double in his case) and turned his social media accounts into a highway to heaven. Just like Apichet Madaew Atirattana did back in his day.

Thai Dovima turns everyday objects, twigs, and garbage into original garments.
Thai Dovima turns everyday objects, twigs, and garbage into original garments.

Except for its glamorous intent, everything about Shermont’s catwalk recalls that of the so-called Thai Dovima. In 2016, before Tik Tok’s one-track mind took over, a teenager from the rice-growing region of Isaan—one of Thailand’s poorest areas—astonished the world by turning everyday objects, twigs, and trash into fabulous outfits. He filmed himself modeling those clothes at different locations in his village; his grandmother acted as a styling assistant. Facebook and Instagram went wild over what was termed the “break down of barriers between gender identity, fashion and recycling.” At the time, Madaew (a nom de guerre) explained it this way: “I want people to see that ugly things that don’t fit in can be transformed into something beautiful. And that dressing well is not about money.” Just a few months later, Asia’s Next Top Model, the South Asian edition of the U.S. talent show, called him to be a guest designer during the program’s fourth season. The following year, Time magazine put him on its list of new generational leaders. His example spread. Soon, new stars made their appearance: Suchanatda Kaewsanga, a fellow Thai who is openly trans, and the Chinese Lu Kaigang, whose offerings for fashion shows in his village—located in Guangxi province—unironically included dresses made of garbage can lids and old air-conditioner bags.

Here, we have a response from the poor and marginalized to fashion’s global impact as a mass phenomenon ascribed to the culture of leisure/entertainment. It is a practice that resonates with the button-down politics of Patrick Kelly, the first African American designer to join the ranks of the Parisian ready-to-wear trade association in the mid-1980s; the clothing activities of the swenkas (workers of Zulu origin) and skhothanes (post-apartheid image-obsessed youth) in Johannesburg; and the young Ghanaians who exploit the city-sized textile dumps surrounding the capital, Accra, as sources for their creativity. The narratives of the designers who establish the industry’s current direction, amplified as never before by digital media, also show that it is indeed possible to dress as stylishly as Balenciaga, Gucci or Prada without breaking the bank. That’s why TikTok’s Chinese supermodel grandmothers reflect aspiration and not scorn; they are proof that fashion has something for everyone, even the most socially disadvantaged (one can’t miss the proud hashtag that usually accompanies them, #chinastreetstyle). That’s why Apichet Madaew Atirattana, Suchanatda Kaewsanga and Li Kaigang have made careers as creators, bloggers or influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers. They’ve come so far, propelled by the dreamy fuel that the magazines in village hair salons and satellite TV offer. “It’s very easy to blame fashion for all the problems it creates, but I’d like to think it’s also capable of helping people in many ways, in positive ways,” says Minh-Ha T. Pham, a professor of media studies at Pratt Institute in New York and the author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet (2016), an essay about the dynamics of race, gender and class among the young Asians who have found a way to express their identity through fashion, and in the process pushed the system to finally recognize them as a socioeconomic and cultural force. Shaheel Shermont Flair laughs, but he does fashion shows because he also knows what fashion can do for his ambition to become an actor.

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Ezra Miller: From blockbuster star to alleged kidnapper | Culture

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The Flash star holds kids captive in gun-filled farmhouse,” blared the headlines. But even after reading the news accounts of the latest allegations against Ezra Miller, the actor’s behavior is still hard to fathom. Known for their roles [Miller, who came out as queer in 2012, uses they/them pronouns] in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Fantastic Beasts, the American actor’s run-ins with the law include assaults, arrests and reports of alleged child theft. Every new headline only raises more questions about the erratic actor. What’s going through their mind? Where are they right now? And above all – how did they get here?

Ezra Miller grew up in an artistic environment. Their father is a literary editor and their mother a modern dancer. In a 2011 Interview profile, the actor said about growing up in New Jersey, “There was such an intense concentration of wealth, and such a low concentration of any actual human happiness.” When they were six years old, the teacher asked them to do a class presentation on their favorite book. Miller brought a blood-covered stuffed dog to class with a tape recorder attached that played Miller’s dramatic reading of Stephen King’s Cujo. The teacher gave them the highest grade.

“Art is the only thing I have. Otherwise I’d be long dead. I probably would have done it myself,” they told Playboy in 2018. To overcome his stutter, he took lessons in the bel canto style of singing and made his debut at age six in Phillip Glass’s White Raven at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After that came film roles in cult favorites, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2013). Then, Hollywood came calling with lucrative franchise roles as Aurelius Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts and The Flash in Justice League.

Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival premiere of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' the film that made Miller a teen star.
Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival premiere of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ the film that made Miller a teen star.Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images)

“Queer actor Ezra Miller is the hero we need right now,” headlined the 2018 article in The Guardian by Elle Hunt, who said Playboy’s choice of Miller for its cover shows the world is really changing. Early in their career, Miller said quite matter-of-factly that they identified as a non-binary queer person, and their signing by DC made Miller the first out-of-the closet actor to play a superhero.

Miller’s flamboyance made them an idol on social media, and they mused in interviews on topics like colonialism, mental health, and about time as a construct. The actor confessed that they had gone through an adolescent stage of rebellious angst during which they “burned, broke, screamed, and hit things,” tormented by his privileged place in a world marked by “gross economic disparity.” Every appearance on the red carpet was an opportunity for performance art and Miller’s interactions with fans were often unpredictable. One day they would kiss fans like a typical movie star, and the next they would answer questions in gibberish, dressed as Toadette, the Mario Kart character.

Miller loves to talk about their farm and brags about watching the goats give birth. The actor advocated openly for the right to own semi-automatic weapons, until his publicist asked The Hollywood Reporter to remove that statement after the October 2018 shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“I’m trying to find queer beings who understand me as a queer being off the bat, who I make almost a familial connection with, and I feel like I’m married to them 25 lifetimes ago from the moment we meet,” they said in a 2018 Playboy interview. “And then they are in the squad — the polycule. And I know they’re going to love everyone else in the polycule because we’re in the polycule, and we love each other so much.” Miller was talking about the polyamorous group, which they christened the “polycule” (polyamory + molecule), that lives with them on his 96-acre farm in Vermont in the US. Ezra Miller was undoubtedly the most original star of the 2010s by far.

A couple of years ago, the actor’s eccentricity began to cause concern. In April 2020, a female fan tried to dance with Miller in a Reykjavik bar in Iceland, and the actor reacted by grabbing her by the neck and throwing her to the floor. The video went viral on social media, although most of the comments dwelled on the fact that Iceland had not imposed social distancing and mask requirements in the middle of the first Covid wave.

In March 2022, Miller was arrested for disturbing the peace at a bar in Hawaii. According to witnesses, the actor lost their temper when some people started singing karaoke. Miller began yelling obscenities, spat at a man playing darts and snatched the microphone away from the singer.

Actor Ezra Miller.
Actor Ezra Miller.Samir Hussein

The actor was released from jail after a couple of friends posted the $500 (€480) bail. But a few hours later, the couple that had posted bail sought a restraining order against Miller, claiming that they had injured them with a chair, stolen a wallet and was refusing to leave their home. Miller had 10 altercations with the police during the few months they spent in Hawaii. Miller’s companion on that vacation was a 18-year-old woman named Gibson Iron Eyes, whose parents accused Miller in June of preventing them from seeing their daughter. Miller met Iron Eyes in 2016 at a demonstration against an oil pipeline construction project running through Sioux land. At the time, Miller was 23 and she was only 12 years old. Her parents claim Miller is endangering their daughter’s health by giving her alcohol, marijuana and LSD. Gibson is 18, but is still legally dependent on her parents under Sioux tribal law.

After going to Miller’s Vermont farm where their daughter currently resides, Gibson’s parents discovered that she had bruises on her body, and had no ID card, car keys, bank card, or cellphone. They began to suspect that she was being held against her will and reported Miller to the police. “Ezra uses violence, intimidation, threat of violence, fear, paranoia, delusions, and drugs to hold sway over a young adolescent Tokata,” reported the Los Angeles Times about the parents’ court filing that uses their daughter’s birth name.

Ezra Miller, on the red carpet at the New York Met Gala in 2019.
Ezra Miller, on the red carpet at the New York Met Gala in 2019.Karwai Tang (Getty Images)

Gibson Iron Eyes has declared her independence on Instagram, and claims to be mentally stable and happy making her own decisions. She calls Miller a “comrade” who is helping her, and accuses her parents of transphobia, claiming that they are the ones guilty of “emotional and psychological manipulation.” The court has not served Miller with the complaint because it can’t find the actor, who has a July 12 deadline to appear before the judge.

On June 16, a Massachusetts woman obtained a restraining order against Miller, who she claims behaved inappropriately with her 12-year-old son. The boy, who also identifies as non-binary, told The Daily Beast that Miller made him feel “uncomfortable” by inappropriate hugging and touching. “It made me nervous and scared because he yelled at my mom,” said the boy. His mother claims that in February, Miller showed up drunk at her home wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun. Your son is “an elevated being, and would be lucky to have someone like me guide them,” yelled Miller.

On June 23, Rolling Stone revealed that three children between the ages of one and five live surrounded by guns at Miller’s Vermont farm. In March, Miller met a 25-year-old woman in Hawaii and invited her to move to the farm with her children. But the father said that he has not seen his children since Miller secretly took them in March. However, the mother says that Miller rescued her from a violent relationship. “He has given me a safe space for my three children – his farm is a safe haven for us,” she said. Regarding the guns, she says they are “for self-defense,” and that they are kept in a separate room where the children aren’t allowed. But Rolling Stone reporter Cheyenne Roundtree claims to have seen videos showing at least eight submachine guns, rifles, and revolvers scattered around the living room. Two others reported seeing a baby put a bullet in his mouth. On May 16, a Vermont social worker visited the estate and reported that the children “looked good,” although she recommended follow-up visits.

Warner Bros., the studio behind The Flash and Fantastic Beasts, has called several emergency meetings to decide how to deal with the Miller scandal, but so far has not changed the June 2023 release date for its $200 million blockbuster, The Flash. According to Deadline, other projects in development with Miller have been put on hold.

Ezra Miller and their team have not made any statements about the allegations. Miller deleted their Instagram account shortly after posting memes that seemed to mock the court’s attempt to find them – ”You cannot touch me I am in another universe” and “Message from another dimension.”

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