“Sovereign” Citizens: Beyond Thunderdome

The Mad Max franchise explores a concept that has become all  too common  in media: the breakdown of law and society following some cataclysmic event (total depletion of oil reserves for Max).  Max struggles with personal demons and tribal groups in a dystopian Australia of the future, all while trying to help those in need survive in the lawless outback.

#NotMyMax (and yes that is Tina Turner)

Wheel of Fortune in Dystopian America

The Sovereign Citizen “Movement” is more like Mad Max movie since so-called Sovereign Citizens believe the law doesn’t apply to them and are quick to enact revenge against those they think have done them wrong. Sovereign Citizens are a scourge on the legal system and considered a domestic terrorist movement by the FBI.  Sovereigns do not understand or respect the law and they have no interest in learning better because of their absurd belief system.

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What Donald Trump’s Micropenis Can Teach You about Free Speech

“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.” – Donald Trump to Page Six on April 3, 2011.

“If they’re small, something else must be small,” [about Marco Rubio referring to his hands and genitals,] “I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee you.” – Donald Trump at the March 3, 2016 Republican Primary Debate in Detroit, Michigan.

Donald Trump is not one to take the high road and let an insult to his manhood go unchallenged. So, it comes as little surprise that when Los Angeles based artist Illma Gore painted a nude portrait of him, Donald Trump, or at least his people, took an interest. The artwork, a censored version of which is shown below, shows a nude Donald Trump, face contorted in the midst an undoubtedly newsworthy quote, micropenis smugly displayed (uncensored version here). Titled “Make America Great Again,” Gore first shared it on Facebook with the tag line, “You can be a massive prick, despite what is in your pants.”

You're welcome for the =/

“Make America Great Again” [censored] – Courtesy of Illma Gore – http://illmagore.com/

Although Trump’s campaign has not officially commented, Gore says a person claiming to represent Trump called her in February of 2016 threatening to sue if she sold the artwork, specifically citing Trump’s right of publicity. Considering The Donald’s litigious reputation, it’s not an outrageous claim. Continue reading

Whitewashing History with Blackface: The Nina Simone Fauxography and Post-Mortem Rights of Publicity

Nina Simone (née Eunice Waymon) was an American icon – a singer/songwriter and civil rights activist whose work was proudly, and inextricably, intertwined with her identity as a black woman with dark skin and classically African features. Raised during a time when she was told her skin was “too black” and her nose was “too wide,” Simone was defiantly proud of her looks and worked to change the popular perception of beauty in America. Her music was inspired by both heritage and racial inequality, and she performed and spoke at many civil rights meetings, advocating for violent-revolution in the style of Malcom X. Simone left the United States in 1970 as a protest to the injustices she had experienced throughout her life, succumbing to breast-cancer on April 21, 2003, at the age of 70 in France.

Simone’s extraordinary life is the subject of at least two recent movies. What Happened, Miss Simone?, the documentary made in cooperation with Simone’s estate and daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, was produced as a counterpoint to Nina, an unauthorized biopic. Nina focuses on Simone’s romantic relationship with her manager, Clifton Henderson. A classic story, except for the fact that Henderson was a gay man who never had a romantic relationship with Simone. The inaccurate depiction of her mother’s life is what most bothers Kelly, but what has others bothered is the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina.

Zoe Saldana is lighter skinned than Simone was, and her role in the movie required makeup to darken her skin and the use of a prosthetic nose to change her appearance to more closely match Simone’s. Many have asked why a darker skinned actress whose features naturally recall Simone’s wasn’t cast. And some are calling the extensive use of makeup on Saldana “blackface.” The casting has sparked outrage over Hollywood’s seeming inability to cast darker skinned actors and “colorism,” the idea that skin tone, in addition to race, determines your opportunities.

So the question is, how can an entire movie, a biopic no less, be made without the permission of a person’s family and estate? Continue reading

Why a Court Can’t #FreeKesha

Pop sensation Kesha has dominated the news over the past few weeks, and not for the reasons anybody would want. On October 14, 2014, Kesha sued her producer, Dr. Luke. After bouncing around on jurisdictional issues for a few years, the courts are starting to get to the heart of the case. Kesha’s complaint details a litany of horrors, including allegations that Dr. Luke drugged and raped her and frequently threatened her life, family, and career. The complaint further alleges that he verbally harassed Kesha to the extent that she entered a rehab center, where she was allegedly diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, depression, PTSD, social isolation, and panic attacks to the point where “continuing such contact [with Dr. Luke] would be ‘life threatening.’”

Thus, Kesha’s civil case against Dr. Luke seeks damages and an injunction to void Kesha’s contractual relationships with him. And while no person should ever be forced to endure the presence of their abuser, here’s the problem: none of the alleged abuse towards Kesha has much bearing, legally speaking, on her contracts with Dr. Luke.

kesha-435x580

Kesha Rose Sebert AKA Ke$ha – Courtesy of Randy Holmes/ABC/Getty

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#OscarsSoLitigious: Academy Sues Over Decadent $200k “Oscars” Swag Bags

Looks like the 88th Academy Awards couldn’t stay out of the spotlight if it wanted to, first dealing with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and now starting a lawsuit over the swag bags being given out at the awards. Forbes values this year’s swag bag at $232,000 and it includes such classics as: a $250 marijuana vaporizer; $1,900 “vampire breast lift” skin treatments; $250 vibrator; $275 Swiss-made toilet paper; and a 10-day first class trip to Israel, just to name a few. The company providing the gift bags is Distinctive Assets (DA), which specializes in “offering celebrity placement, product introduction and branding opportunities within the entertainment industry.”

You already know what it looks like anyway

NOT PICTURED: $250 Vibrator

Last year DA allegedly promised the Academy that it would change its ways and stop marketing its goodie bags in a manner that implies the Academy endorses DA or its products – so you can kind of see why the Academy would put its foot down when DA used slogans like “Everyone Wins At The Oscars®! Nominee Gift Bags,” and “Everyone Wins Nominee Gift Bags in Honor of the Oscars®,” this year. Continue reading