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

“The End of the Tour:” Showdown Between Copyright and Right of Publicity

Jason Segel’s breakout role as a “serious” actor in The End of the Tour has proven to be a success. Segel plays acclaimed American novelist David Foster Wallace in the last days of a publicity tour, after his novel Infinite Jest hit the shelves to critical acclaim in 1996. The movie is based solely on the book Although of Course you End Up Becoming Yourself, which, in turn, is based on an unpublished Rolling Stone interview, and all three focus on several days leading up to Wallace’s last stop on his publicity tour in Minneapolis. However, nearly every review or article about the movie includes the fact that Wallace, if he was alive, would never have wanted this movie to be made, and that his widow and co-trustee are adamantly against the film. Continue reading

Comic-Con Considerations: Cosplay, the Right of Publicity, and Copyright Concerns

For as much as Comic-Con is about comics, TV, and upcoming movies, it’s not hard to see that a large portion of its allure for fans is cosplay. Cosplay (a Japanese portmanteau of costume and play) consists of fans who create and wear costumes and outfits based on their favorite characters in media, spanning all forms of entertainment but most notably, video games, comics, movies, and TV shows. Most cosplayers do not buy their costumes, but rather physically sew and “design” the ensembles themselves, including sculpting foam to look like armor, obtaining elaborate wigs and headgear, and spending hours applying makeup.

Because cosplays are based off existing characters, and sometimes even objects, any copyright attorney worth their salt can tell you that these are derivative works, if not outright copies. . . Read more at IP Watchdog!

Nicki Minaj vs. Taylor Swift? Dangers when Real Time Marketing Meets Social Media

It all started with a tweet. Nicki Minaj, despite her music video Anaconda breaking the VEVO record for most views and working its way into mainstream culture through memes and body positivity think pieces, was not nominated for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards. Minaj tweeted about the snub in an attempt to highlight the undercurrents of racism and sexism in the pop music awards, pointing out that music videos with similar track records by Caucasian artists (with Caucasian beauty ideals) have nearly always been nominated. Her larger point was that the artistic achievements of black people are frequently coopted and commodified by white culture, with the white celebrity praised as edgy or groundbreaking (Elvis is a classic example). However, it’s difficult to have a meaningful discussion when you’re limited to 60-character chunks, so it was almost inevitable that someone would misunderstand what Minaj was getting at. That someone happened to be Taylor Swift, who thought Minaj was taking a shot at her Bad Blood video that was nominated. It wasn’t long before the media dramatized the “feud,” even though Swift quickly realized that she misunderstood the message and apologized to Minaj, who accepted and reiterated how much she respects Swift.

They say there is no such as thing bad publicity, and maybe in the 1940s that was true, but in the era of social media and real time marketing it doesn’t seem that way anymore. Continue reading