Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of names to quash sex scandal

Producer hired team to investigate 91 film industry figures in attempt to stop harassment claims going public

The Observer has gained access to a secret hitlist of almost 100 prominent individuals targeted by Harvey Weinstein in an extraordinary attempt to discover what they knew about sexual misconduct claims against him and whether they were intending to go public.

The previously undisclosed list contains a total of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers and others working in the film industry, all of whom Weinstein allegedly identified as part of a strategy to prevent accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims against him.

The names, apparently drawn up by Weinstein himself, were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women.

An
An extract from Harvey Weinsteins hitlist.

The document was compiled in early 2017, around nine months before the storm that blew up on 5 October when the New York Times published a series of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

Individuals named on the list were to be targeted by investigators who would covertly extract and accumulate information from those who might know of claims or who might come forward with allegations against the film producer. Feedback was then to be relayed to Weinstein and his lawyers.

The size of the list 85 names appear on one document, with an addendum identifying another six individuals appears to corroborate claims that sexual misconduct allegations against the 65-year-old were an open secret throughout Hollywood.

Prominent stars were among the first tranche of individuals on the list to testify publicly against Weinstein. Among those named were the actress Rose McGowan, who days after speaking out accused the producer of raping her. Another was Laura Madden, who told how Weinstein pestered her for massages at hotels in Dublin and London, beginning in 1991. McGowan and Madden were among the first to speak out against Weinstein last month.

Rose
Rose McGowan
Photograph: Richard Shotwell/AP

A typed note on the document appears to suggest that by February 2016, Madden had already been targeted by one of Weinsteins hired investigators. Her view of the producer is, says the note, very bitter.

Another name is Zelda Perkins, a London-based production assistant for Weinsteins Miramax film company, who left the firms London offices on Brewer Street in Soho in 1998 after, she says, enduring years of sexual harassment by her boss. Last month Perkins revealed that she had broken a confidentiality agreement to describe alleged sexual harassment by the Hollywood producer.

Also on the list is the English actress Sophie Dix, who has described how her career trajectory was massively cut down after an alleged sexual assault by Weinstein in a London hotel and who was among the first to come forward.

Although at least 10 individuals are based in London, the majority live in New York, with others from Los Angeles. They include individuals working in acquisitions, marketing and distribution, along with producers, publicists and human resources staff, as well as actors. Forty-three men are named and 48 women.

Weinstein, the list confirms, was aware that the New York Times was gathering testimony from his victims long before it first ran the story. A public relations professional is named alongside a note stating that HW [Harvey Weinstein] in contact w/him. Friends w/Jodi Kantor. Kantor is the New York Times journalist who broke the story that immediately engulfed the producer and the film production company he co-founded with his brother.

Sophie
Sophie Dix Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

More than 50 of the names have been coloured red to highlight those who should be prioritised by investigators individuals Weinstein most keenly wanted to target. The names of the actresses McGowan, Dix and Madden are all coloured red.

Following an initial list of 85 names, another six individuals were identified during August 2017, including the actress Annabella Sciorra, who two months later publicly alleged she was raped by Weinstein after he barged into her apartment in the 1990s.

Also named on the later list is the US actress Katherine Kendall. Weeks later she revealed how a naked Weinstein literally chased her around his New York apartment in 1993.

Another is a former Weinstein employee, Lauren OConnor, who documented several allegations against the producer in a 2015 memo in which she described a toxic environment for women at Miramax.

Interestingly, the document includes the filmmaker Brett Ratner, who has been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct by six women in the wake of the Weinstein allegations.

Annabella
Annabella Sciorra Photograph: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

It is unclear whether Weinstein intended subsequently to approach any of the individuals on the list with a non-disclosure agreement. Evidence has emerged which shows that over the past three decades Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on condition of anonymity, after he was confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact.

Not surprisingly, considering the psychological abuse and bullying allegations emerging from his former film studio Miramax, more of the film studio employees are also named. Among them is Kathy DeClesis, former assistant to Weinsteins brother Bob, who has revealed that she told him about Harvey sexually harassing women over a period of 25 years.

So far, more than 50 women have come forward with allegations of rape, harassment and inappropriate behaviour, prompting police investigations in the US and UK.

Weinstein unequivocally denies all claims of non-consensual sex, a spokesman for the producer has said. The spokesman dismissed reports that the producer hired spies to stop claims, saying: It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.

The producers alleged targets were often young, aspiring actresses. Among the high-profile names who have spoken out against Weinstein are Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne and Kate Beckinsale.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/nov/18/harvey-weinstein-secret-hitlist-sex-scandal

Dove apologises for ad showing black woman turning into white one

Brand says it missed mark after being accused of racism in campaign promoting body lotion

Dove has apologised after publishing an advert on its Facebook page which showed a black woman turning into a white woman.

The brand was accused of racism over the online advertising campaign and it later admitted it had missed the mark with an image posted on Facebook.

The advert showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman underneath supposedly after using Dove body lotion.

Habeeb Akande (@Habeeb_Akande)

Dove apologised for ‘racist’ Facebook advert showing a black woman turning white after using @Dove lotion. pic.twitter.com/NGXyhnGuBZ

October 8, 2017

The campaign has since been removed from Facebook but was shared by Naomi Blake, an American makeup artist who goes by the name Naythemua.

So Im scrolling through Facebook and this is the #dove ad that comes up ok so what am I looking at, she wrote as the caption.

Under the post, she was asked if people would be offended if the white woman had turned into a black woman. She said: Nope, we wouldnt and thats the whole point. What does America tell black people? That we are judged by the color of our skin and that includes what is considered beautiful in this country.

She added that Doves marketing team should have known better and said the tone deafness in these companies makes no sense.

Following the removal of the advert, Dove, which is owned by Unilever, tweeted: An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offence it caused.

In a further statement Dove said: As a part of a campaign for Dove body wash, a three-second video clip was posted to the US Facebook page.

This did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.

We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence that it has caused.

However the damage was done and the nearly 3,000 comments below the tweet were almost exclusively negative. Many social media users called for a boycott of Doves products.

A Soldier of the Art (@SelinaNBrown)

ENOUGH!
IS ENOUGH!@Dove Needs to be an example of black boycott worldwide!!!
They need to see the power of the black and brown money power

October 7, 2017

Ava DuVernay, the director of the film Selma, was one of many prominent people to criticise both the advert and the apology. She said on Twitter: You can do better than missed the mark. Flip + diminishing. Deepens your offence. You do good work. Have been for years. Do better here.

The trans model Munroe Bergdorf, who recently was at the centre of a racism row with LOreal, tweeted to say: Diversity is viewed as a buzzword or a trend. An opportunity to sell product to women of colour. Dove Do better.

Others pointed out this was not the first time the company has been accused of racism. In 2011 Doves before-and-after advert charted the transition of a black woman to a white woman after using its body wash.

Keith Boykin (@keithboykin)

Okay, Dove…
One racist ad makes you suspect.
Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty. pic.twitter.com/hAwNCN84h2

October 8, 2017

At the time, Dove said in a statement: All three women are intended to demonstrate the after product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/dove-apologises-for-ad-showing-black-woman-turning-into-white-one

Millennial influencers who are the new stars of web advertising

Beauty vloggers and cult celebrities are being courted by luxury brands

Seven years ago, Chiara Ferragni was a fledgling 23-year-old fashion blogger, studying law at university in Milan. She never finished her degree, but now lives in a $3.5m Los Angeles mansion packed with antiques, and spends her days travelling the world in midriff-revealing tops, Gucci sweatshirts, cut-off jeans and a collection of Louis Vuitton. How do we know this?

Every day, the Blonde Salad shares images of her gilded lifestyle with her 9.6 million followers on Instagram, making her one of the cult celebrities of the social media world. Unlike Taylor Swift, Beyonc et al, who have all made their names elsewhere and maintain fanbases on the photo-sharing platform, Ferragni has found fame and fortune solely by publishing photographs of herself wearing a variety of designer ensembles in a range of glamorous locations. Now worth a reputed $12m, with a line of branded shoes selling at up to $500 a pair, and a contract with Pantene as a global ambassador, Ferragni is a role model to a generation of digital natives who have established a viable career as social media influencers.

On her 30th birthday earlier this month, her boyfriend, Italian rapper Fedez, proposed on stage in Verona, singing a song dedicated to her at a concert broadcast live to their home nation. Almost one million fans liked the Instagram video of the moment. That same day, almost half a million clicked the heart symbol below an image of her in a black mini dress, featuring the hashtag #ysl, while 700,000 followers liked another image Ferragni shared, showing her next to a vast 30th birthday cake emblazoned with the Leading Hotels of the World logo, with the hashtags #leadinghotelsoftheworld, #LHWtraveler and #kempinskivenice.

To those unfamiliar with the machinations of social media, it is highly likely Ferragni had a commercial arrangement with these luxury brands, keen to tap into an audience that wants to emulate her lifestyle. She is not alone in utilising her position as a social media star with a loyal and highly engaged following.

Earlier this month, 17-year-old Amanda Steele shared images of herself on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival, hanging out with Hollywood A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton. The YouTube beauty vlogger, who shares make-up tips under the MakeupbyMandy24 handle, was flown out to the French Riviera, dressed and made up, and given tickets to the premiere of Okja courtesy of Christian Dior all in return for a caption shared with her 2.8 million followers that read: Thank you sooooo much @diormakeup for treating me like a princess!!

In just a few years, the power of blogs and platforms such as Instagram has created a new marketing genre that has seen brands investing heavily in collaborations with the big names in the online space. Beca Alexander, founder and president of the social media casting and management agency Socialyte Collective, represents about 100 influencers, each with between 30,000 and 2 million followers.

One of our top influencers did about $1m last year and the average for those on our books is around $200,000 a year, says the digital entrepreneur from her New York office.

Chiara
Chiara Ferragni on Instagram. Photograph: Chiara Ferragni/Instagram

There are a variety of ways they earn that revenue and we work on strategies that best suit the individual style and audience of each one. Some might focus on promoting as many brands and products as possible but always being aware of the natural synergy with their own brand, so it feels authentic while others have contracts with a curated range of brands to work on exclusive long-term campaigns.

Alexander, a former fashion news blogger who takes 10% commission from her portfolio of clients, founded her business seven years ago and has seen double-digit annual growth and a predicted 2.5 times rise in turnover this year. While women dominate the influencer space, she has also established a reputation for nurturing a number of male stars, such as her most successful client, Adam Gallagher, whose elegant, well-travelled lifestyle has won him a lucrative long-term contract with Armani fragrance.

When you get to the top tier of influencers, they go to great lengths to portray the perfect image online, often recruiting a retinue of still-life and style photographers, make-up artists, stylists, assistants and editors to support the burgeoning business of being a brand in their own right. Many have a signature style to their posts, using specific filters or a trademark pose, but the key, says Alexander, is to remember who your audience is and retain an authenticity that means they remain engaged with your output.

And you dont have to have a mega-following to earn money from social media: companies are spending up to $1.5bn on Instagram marketing, says Thomas Rankin of Dash Hudson, who matches influencers with brands. Even users with 5,000 followers can attract $250 for a product post or endorsement if they have the right audience.

Alexander developed a programme two years ago known as product bombing, whereby a co-ordinated campaign saw numerous, carefully selected micro-influencers paid to talk about a new product at a specified time, thus saturating the social media space within the target demographic. That worked really well, and created huge awareness and demand, seeing stock sellout rapidly, she says.

However, the speed of change within the tech world and the evolution of algorithms to change the user experience means this approach isnt as effective today. Instagram has recently changed the way consumers see posts, from a simple chronological feed, guaranteeing a user would see all posts in the order they appear, to a more nebulous feed based on the users individual engagement with those they follow.

Currently worth around $1.5m, Julia Engels pastel-tinted Gal meets glam feed is brimming with high fashion and has 1.1 million subscribers. She generates revenue using the popular app LIKEtoKNOW.it, which sends followers direct to websites selling the clothes: if they buy, she gets a commission. She has also collaborated with #AmExPlatinum in highly stylised posts that convey the perceived luxury lifestyle promoted by the financial services brand. Each one carries a carefully worded caption and the #ad tag, defining the post as a piece of paid-for advertising. This boundary between independent editorial posts and those that have been paid for in some way is one that is blurred in this new era of social media marketing.

We have no issue with social influencers working with brands, as long as consumers arent misled, says Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, which is working with the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the newly formed International Council of Advertising Self-Regulation to develop some kind of oversight of influencer marketing. We define advertising as a tweet, vlog, blog or Instagram post where the influencer has been paid and there has been some control over the content. We therefore expect the post to have #ad on it in a prominent position, not buried in 30 other hashtags, but in the first three lines of the caption, so it isnt hidden to followers. Its not fair to consumers to expect them to play detective and deduce whether something is an ad or not.

Many millennials believe this isnt necessary as they claim to be able to see whether content is sponsored, but we believe it is imperative to protect consumers who arent that savvy, and ensure they know.

Callum McCahon, strategy director at the social media agency Born Social, says the industry needs to be self-regulating, and that Instagram must take some responsibility for protecting consumers using their platform. Users scroll through feeds fast and are trained to skip past hashtags. I believe Instagram needs to have its own mandatory labelling system for a paid-for post, which Facebook which owns Instagram – has launched recently as branded content.

There is no doubt that a generation of style-conscious entrepreneurs are making a good living in some cases a fortune by building their own personal brands online with fan bases to rival many established global businesses. The challenge will be for newcomers to join a crowded market, and for those with a substantial following to keep them loyal.

The reason a brand is using an influencer is the trusting relationship they have with their followers, says McCahon. When its done properly it is a very effective method of building a brand and selling product.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/may/27/millenial-influencers-new-stars-web-advertising-marketing-luxury-brands

Ultimate Fighting Championship: the fight of our lives?

Mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport on Earth. Beloved by Vladimir Putin and its so-called godfather, Donald Trump, what does this bloody spectacle say about the world we live in? We took a seat cage-side

For an event that presents itself as the most exciting combat sport in the world the Ultimate Fighting Championship involves many long minutes in which, to the untutored eye, nothing much happens at all. The UFC is the dominant promoter of mixed martial arts, the fastest-growing sport on Earth, measured both by participation and audience. At the O2 arena in London last Saturday I sat in a sellout audience of 16,000 people and tried to work out why exactly that might be the case. There were, it turned out, plenty of moments for such stray thoughts.

The combatants in a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight are permitted not only to punch but also kick, elbow and knee their opponent within the octagonal cage in which they fight. In an effort to avoid any of those eventualities fighters can also wrestle their opponent into powerlessness, mostly using the technical holds and joint locks of jiu-jitsu. Like the change of overs in a cricket match, the resultant longueurs, which can go on for minutes, allow you to step out from the action, think about what it is exactly that you are watching.

During one of those interludes early last Saturday evening, while Tim Johnson, a hairy 18st man from Fargo, North Dakota, held Daniel Omielanczuk, a flabby Pole, in an awkward-looking embrace against the mesh fence a hug that involved him thrusting his head into the Poles armpit while occasionally trying to force a knee into his thigh, or slap a fist into his paunch I looked around at the faces of the audience. Though the real action of the night hadnt got going, I was surprised to see that the majority of these 16,000 people who had paid an average of 100 for their tickets seemed happily gripped by the spectacle of the two overweight men in Bermuda shorts pressed against the cage wall.

I had come to the O2 as a UFC virgin to try to see what they see. Id not witnessed the sport in the flesh before, but I had, in preparation, along with apparently every other youngish male on the planet, watched more YouTube clips than seemed healthy. These clips 2bn views and counting tend not to show the minutes in which the fighters are in deadlock. They show instead, on a concussive loop, the many bloody ways in which UFC fights come to a brutal end, dwelling in particular on the knockout blows of the sports superstars: the Irish lightweight Conor McGregor, Jon Bones Jones (currently suspended for a failed drug test) and the former Olympic judo medallist Ronda Rousey (who has singlehandedly popularised womens UFC). The UFC is a sport made for the internet. Fights are short and do not offer much in the way of narrative, but they can deliver in terms of gifs. The clips do not need subtitles. As Lorenzo Fertitta, one of the brothers who bought the UFC brand for $2m in 2000, explained: What makes UFC so great is that every single man on the planet gets it immediately. Its just two guys beating each other up. Last June, the Fertitta brothers proved that lucrative point by selling UFC to Ari Emanuel, chief executive of WME-IMG for $4bn. The new owners have the ambition to make their championship bigger than the World Cup.

The entertainment we choose to watch tells us something about the world in which we live. Id come to the O2 with a theory that, in the same way that Victorian rules of football and rugby codified an attitude towards team play that made sense in the factory and on the battlefield, so the UFC looked something like a symbol of a more atomised, red-in-tooth-and-claw society. Within its cage MMA emphasises a binary, zero-sum world: for one man to succeed, another must be humiliated. It seems, along the way, to appeal to that unreconstructed nostalgia for a time before political correctness: when men could say what they wanted, and watch what they wanted, and celebrate the fact.

The contours of this cultural shift were neatly exposed at the end of last year in the brief war of words between Meryl Streep and Dana White, the bullish president of the UFC. Streep, you will remember, had used her Golden Globes acceptance speech to take a stand against the America that was emerging under the 45th president. Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out, youll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts, Streep said.

Conor
Conor McGregor stands on a scale during a weigh-in. Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

To Dana White, that sounded like fighting talk. He came out from the opposite corner in that perceived cultural divide, throwing punches of his own.

The last thing in the world I expect is an uppity 80-year-old lady to be in our demographic and love mixed martial arts, White said (referring to the 67-year-old actor). Of course [MMA] is an art, he added. These fighters, these men and women, are so talented. They train their whole livestobe the best in the world.

Though some of the fighters on the undercard at the O2 offer scant evidence of that latter claim, as the night progresses you begin to see some of that art and dedication on display. The thoughtfulness and strategy of some of the UFC fighters seems at odds with the attention-deficit tone of the presentation. I find myself intrigued by the style and charisma of the bearded Icelander Gunnar Nelson, who feints and fends for a round or two, upright and alert, before laying out his opponent with a single judicious blow.

White and his organisation have worked very hard, at least on the surface, to emphasise such skills. In the early days of the UFC the sport made a virtue of its lawlessness. The UFCs first show was in Denver in 1993. Taking its cue from videogames like Mortal Kombat, it threw fighters from different traditions and weights into a ring and had them fight until someone was beaten to a standstill, or worse. In the first tournament, a French kickboxer struck a sumo wrestler so hard in the face that two teeth had to be removed from his foot. Hardly anything was off-limits. In 1996 Republican senator John McCain, the Vietnam war hero and 2000 presidential candidate, branded UFC human cockfighting and it was banned almost everywhere.

White, who was installed as president of the organisation by the Fertittas, strived to change that perception, enforce rules, get the UFC licensed and recognised. The new rules outlawed butting, eye-gouging and striking the throat, groin, spine or back of the head. Weight categories were imposed. Women, excluded from UFC in its first two decades, became headline acts in the sport, led by Ronda Rousey. Even McCain was eventually won over. The UFC now makes much of its safety record. The fact that fighters only wear rudimentary gloves (mostly to protect their hands from being crushed against the cage) is presented as a virtue. The absence of padding makes knockouts cleaner, the argument goes, as opposed to the repetitive pounding of boxing, and unlike in the latter sport there are no 10-second counts; any loss of consciousness ends a fight.

The marketing genius of the UFC seems to lie in the fact that despite making itself acceptable to almost every regulatory code (only in France does MMA remain banned) it retains, in a few ways, the tone of its original streetfighting roots. For one thing, if a fighter is cut, blood is allowed to flow. And if a fighter is knocked down, but not knocked out, his opponent can continue to rain blows down on his head while he is on the floor.

In spirit, the UFC exists somewhere between the rigour of traditional martial arts and the contrived drama of pro wrestling. The fights are not fixed, but the narrative of them seems to be. The UFC has 520 fighters contracted to it from 45 countries, and unlike the complicated world of boxing, where fighters from different federations can avoid each other, it insists on the matches that are made. In this way, it builds up heroes and villains, trades on a sense of us and them.

During a fight at the O2 between Irish Joe Duffy and an Iranian fighter with Swedish nationality called Reza Madadi, all of that intention seems clear. Early in the fight Madadi suffers a bad cut above the bridge of his nose after Duffy has straddled him while on the ground and landed punches to his head (the ground and pound tactic that is the UFC at its most brutal). For the remainder of the fight a great deal of blood flows out of Rezas wound and into his eyes, making his best defence to hold the free-swinging Duffy in a desperate clinch. As a result, by the end of the bout Duffys pale skin is bathed in Rezas blood, a sight that all other sports have outlawed for 30 or more years, but in which the UFC appears to revel.

In large part, the crowd, mostly men, seemed nonplussed by the spectacle. For a few, however, the sight of blood seems to loosen inhibition. Unfortunately I am seated in front of one of the more vocal of those individuals, who keeps up a running commentary that relies on two observations the first a general plea for Irish Duffy to fuck that motherfucker up; the second, slightly more precise in its demands, is a suggestion to put him on disability and Ill pay your bail, son. (In between rounds, the same character, a man in his mid-30s, cant seem to contain himself at the sight of the bikini-clad woman who holds up a sign for the number of the next round. No matter how often she circles the ring, he offers the same pair of thoughts: I want your babies! Dont tell the wife!)

Not everyone attracted to MMA shares those particular passions, but sitting beside the cage it seems hard to ignore the idea that the tremendous popularity of the sport speaks to something of a crisis in masculinity, a nostalgia for more traditional gender roles, a nostalgia that also fuels populist politics.

Grayson Perry, in his recent television quest to define British masculinity, talked to some MMA fighters in the north-east. Their stories were framed by the annual Durham Miners Gala, and Perry made the argument that the demise of the old masculine ideals, rooted in physical work to put food on the table, had left a vacancy that had not been filled. Watching one of the mixed martial arts fights on a more brutal, local scale than the UFC the artist suggested persuasively that hard labour [had been] reinvented as leisure spectacle. In a place in which men had gone in a generation from digging coal underground to packing sandwiches in a factory, there was a desperation for the heroicnarrative.

Brad
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in David Finchers 1999 film of Fight Club. Photograph: Allstar

The narrative that the UFC presents is a carefully stage-managed form of heroism, one in which its not hard to see the artifice. Whenever there is a lull in the action in the O2 cage, big screens around the arena run through their concussive highlights packages. The effect is a bit like going to watch Grimsby Town and having shots of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing on a loop. Conor McGregor may not be here in person, but we see almost as much of him on screen as we do of the fighters in the cage. Those in the crowd who wear full beards in the style of the Irishman, the undisputed cock of the walk, seem to enjoy the virtual proximity in the same way as if he were here.

The argument for ritualised, rule-bound martial arts has always been that it helps fulfil a Darwinian need in men to test themselves against each other while minimising the carnage. It gets them off the streets. The UFC not only trades on those impulses, however, it also trades on the idea that they are essential features of manliness. While the rules of traditional martial arts were social constructs, demanding submission, the mythology of MMA feels closer in spirit to the nihilistic tenor of Chuck Palahniuks book Fight Club, written in 1996, and David Finchers subsequent 1999 film, starring Brad Pitt as the no-holds-barred hero Tyler Durden. Durden presented a world in which only in fighting did men truly find status: Were the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great Wars a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. Weve all been raised on television to believe that one day wed all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we wont. And were slowly learning that fact. And were very, very pissed off

Palahniuks novel, and Finchers film, in part satirised this anger and the anarchy that resulted but they also seemed prophetic of a powerful impulse in western societies: the impulse of insecure alpha males to reassert their strength. It is no surprise that the so-called alt-right likes to quote liberally from Tyler Durden to give their bigotry a Nietzchean veneer. The catch-all insult to liberals snowflake, for example, derives from Durden, a hero for whom men are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. Like the UFC, Fight Club dramatises a life of instinct above one of thought. It suggests that man is at his best when he is in thrall to his animal nature, and what is wrong with that?

Read through this lens, the rise of Donald Trump his special adviser Steve Bannon refers to the campaign and the administration as his own personal fight club might be viewed as an expression of this reasserted biological determinism. Trump makes no effort at all to hide his masculine urges, and is rewarded for it. He is all instinct. He boasts about sexual assault. He licenses beauty pageants because he likes to display his control over a harem. And, inevitably, perhaps, he is celebrated as the godfather of the UFC.

When Trump accepted his nomination as Republican candidate, Dana White offered the GOP convention a public endorsement. White explained how, in the darker days of the sport, after Senator McCain had criticised the UFC as cockfighting and no one would license or put on MMA bouts, Trump stood alone in support of it. He personally hosted and endorsed two UFC shows in 2000 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, a commitment that probably saved UFC from bankruptcy. State athletic commissions didnt support us, White recalled. Arenas around the world refused to host our events. Nobody took us seriously. Nobody except Donald Trump.

Donald
Donald Trump in action against Vince McMahon at WrestleMania in 2007. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/WireImage

Trump not only embraced the sport, he explored the possibility of himself developing a rival to the UFC called Affliction. He signed up a famous Russian fighter, Fedor Emelianenko, close friend of Vladimir Putin, to star in his events. The experiment ended after a couple of promotions but for all his efforts, Trump was inducted as a visionary into the New Jersey State Martial Arts Hall of Fame (Trump is known to have fought just once in public himself: at WrestleMania XXIII in 2007, he body-slammed the wrestling promoter Vince McMahon outside the ring before, bizarrely, shaving his hair (an encounter preserved for historians on YouTube).

In the opening skirmishes of his political war on nuance, Trump seems to have identified the UFC, or at least fans of it, as likely fellow travellers. Its sort of like somebody dies! he said, when asked about the sports appeal. Ive never seen anything like it Its not like, Oh, how are the judges voting? Its like, you know, somebody just succumbs.

That particularly adolescent now presidential fantasy is never quite as simple in reality. Watching the UFC up close, without the edits and the highlights, you have a strong sense of the vulnerability of the fighters as well as their prowess. They look as likely to have been bullied as to be bullies. The strangest moment in a long evening at the O2 comes with the farewell fight of 38-year-old Brad Pickett, a native East Ender, who has been a stalwart of the UFC for nearly a decade, and who has earned the nickname One Punch.

In case you were in any doubt of his cockney connections, Pickett enters the arena to Chas and Daves song Wallop, wearing a string vest, braces, his customary trilby, and reading a paper (Im guessing not the Observer). He is, given the valedictory nature of his performance, also in tears. He is fighting a lithe Ecuadorean kickboxer, Marlon Vera, who is at least a foot taller than him and just over half his age. For a couple of rounds the farewell fight seems to be going to plan; in the third, however, as Pickett tries to land a trademark punch, Vera knocks him out with a vicious kick to the jaw. Pickett tries to get up and fight on, but is stopped by the referee. In tears again, he leaves his trilby in the centre of the Octagon. Later in his press conference, he is still bemoaning the way that the fight ended. He doesnt believe he had lost consciousness. Hed told the referee: If you are going to stop it make sure Im stiff, but he hadnt listened. Still choked, he speaks a little about his long history with the sport, how at his first MMA fights on Portsmouth pier he didnt even get paid: Just a free seat for my mum and dad. It wasnt even a sport really, at all then, he says, but look at it now, all around the world.

Pickett is not wrong in that evaluation. In its apparently unstoppable growth, the UFC now broadcasts in more than 152 countries to more than a billion households worldwide. In Europe, more people, 237 million, watch the UFC than Formula One. New owner Ari Emanuel bought the organisation with a view to extending that reach still further.

Brad
Brad Pickett of England punches Marlon Vera of Ecuador in their bout at the O2. Photograph: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

To this end, in the months since taking over the sport, he has been doing the rounds of key political figures. Emanuel has history with Trump: he bought the Miss Universe Organisation from him in 2015, and prior to that acted as his Hollywood agent. When the pair met two weeks after the presidents election in November, on a golf course in New Jersey, Trump referred to his friend as the king of Hollywood.

Emanuels immediate ambition appears to be to expand the UFCs reach into what has become a spiritual homeland of MMA, Vladimir Putins Russia. Like Trump, the Russian president is a great admirer of the sport for what it reveals about men. A former judo champion himself, he has often watched bouts at ringside, particularly those involving his great friend Fedor Emelinenko. His enthusiasm is outdone perhaps by the hardline leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who was recently chastised for staging a televised MMA night in Grozny in which his three sons aged 8, 9 and 10 prevailed in one-sided bouts against terrified-looking schoolboys. Kadyrov cheered them on at the side of the cage, in an event aimed at popularising the sport in Chechnya. Though there are no childrens cage fights in Russia itself, the appeal of creating a generation that grows up fighting finds ready advocates in a parliament that has passed laws allowing wife-beating and considered the proposal of turning football hooliganism into a recognised sport.

In December Emanuel had a productive meeting with the Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, and a deal for a UFC event in Moscow seems likely. Theyve shown me their presentation, Mutko said. I was shocked when I saw what they were doing. The revenues, how much they get from the TV The march of UFC shows no signs of stopping.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/26/ultimate-fighting-championship-fight-of-our-lives-mma-donald-trump-vladimir-putin-conor-mcregor

JarettKobek: The internet has been enormously detrimental to society

The author of Silicon Valley satire I Hate the Internet on the evils of social media, and how novelists have failed to tackle it

When the novel I Hate the Internet came out in the US earlier this year, it had every likelihood of sinking without trace. It was self-published, it was by a young unknown Jarett Kobek and its main selling point was naked, gleeful contempt for the devices and technology platforms that are an essential part of all our daily lives. Nothing says individuality like 500 million consumer electronics built by slaves, he says at one point. Welcome to hell. Hell, for Kobek, a 38-year-old American of Turkish heritage, became daily life in San Francisco, where the novel is set. Along with many of the citys artists and writers, he found himself driven out by the forces of gentrification, moved to Los Angeles, where hes now based, set up his own small press, and wrote this book a scorching satire of how a few hypercapitalist companies in Silicon Valley have come to dominate everything. I Hate the Internet didnt sink without trace. It found a readership thirsty for its funny, acerbic edge, got a rave review in the New York Times, went to the topof the bestseller charts in Germanyand has now been published here by Serpents Tail.

So, do you actually hate the internet, Jarett?
Not particularly. Theres part of it that I find really contemptible. The title is offered like the sneer of a 15-year-old into Twitter, after theyve just seen a meme of someone having sex with a chicken or something. I hate parts of it. I certainly think its been enormously detrimental to society.

You seem particularly down on Twitter.
Its not Twitter per se. Its the undue amount of importance that very serious people put on Twitter. That,to me, is whats infuriating. Its a social network that makes everyonesound like a 15-year-old and then very serious people take it way too seriously. And thats not how to run a society. Thats not how to effectchange.

You say: One of the curious aspects ofthe 21st century was the great delusion that freedom of speech and freedom of expression were best exercised on technological platformsowned by corporations dedicated to making as much money as possible. And yet youre not exempt from that: your novel is available as an ebook
Ah, yes. Ultimately, we live in a very dark moment where if you want to be part of any extended conversation beyond a handful of people, you do have to sign on to some things that, ultimately, are very unpalatable. Every era has its unanswerable questions, so maybe the thing to do, which is what I did in the book, is to just acknowledge the inherent hypocrisy of all of it. Though maybe thats an easy dodge.

One of the things that comes up time and again is the undercurrents of misogyny and racism that seem to have been enabled or unleashed by technology. Do you think theres something fundamental about that?
I do think it has to be acknowledged that this technology which seems to be really good at enabling misogyny and abuse of women was created in rooms where there were no women. The people who seem to be the recipients of the most abuse online look like the people who were simply not in the room when all of this stuff was being created. If the book does anything, it acknowledges that.

It seems like a particularly interesting moment to think about that in terms of where were at now. Would Trump have been possible without the internet?
Of course not. Look who benefits from all the endless newspaper inchesabout how the oppressed peoples of the world are going to be liberated by technology. Ive just been on book tour to a lot of battleground states where I spent a lot of time 10 years ago. And if you want to look what hypercapitalism looks like, do a before and after of the Midwest, with a 10-year-break in between. Its so devastated. Was it always a wonderful place to live? Probably not, but was it sort of like a road of ruination and emptiness? No. And I think the internet has been really good at aiding that process, certainly in destroying jobs.

Reading your book made me think that we simply havent even had the language to criticise the internet until now. That theres been no outside to the internet. No place to oppose it from
I think the outside is publishing, actually. I mean publishing in the most Platonic sense of the word, rather than the squalid industry that we have. I think that books actually can be anything. Publishings response to the internet has been completely pathetic, but God, if theres going to be an opposition, a response, its not going to come in the form of tweets.

You claim writers have chosen to ignore the dominant story of the 21st century and have instead rolled over and embraced Twitter as a marketing device. Do you think theres just been a complete dereliction of duty?
Not from everyone, but yes, if you see the literary novels that have been coming out even in the last two or three years, very few of them have much of a connection to anything now. How many of the literary novels published by the four major companies in the US have much to do with a world after which Trump wins the presidency? Have they published even a single working-class writer? I cant think of one.

Youre pretty scathing about some of thetechnology companies. You say that the idea that Google and Twitter contributed to the Arab spring is like saying the Russian revolution was sponsored by Ford…
I went to Egypt in 2011, about four weeks after Mubarak fell and no one mentioned Facebook or Twitter. Whatthey were talking about was money, and how they didnt have any. At the same time, I was living in San Francisco, where there were Facebook employees who seemed to believe they were bringing enlightenment and freedom to the oppressed masses of the world, evicting Latino families whod lived in the same place for 60 years. Its just absurdIts absurd to think that a complex, social thing, like a revolution, happening 7,000 or 8,000 miles awaywas being fuelled and generatedby some stuff some nerds put out on a cellphone.

You had to make legal changes to the UK edition, which youve done with the device of writing [JIMLL FIX IT] where youve redacted passages such as those about Googles Larry Page and Amazons Jeff Bezos. How did that come about?
I didnt want to delete the text per se, and Id just read Dan Daviess biography of Jimmy Savile and it really fascinated me, because in the US youre constantly being told everything is a conspiracy and actually nothing ever is. Rich people tell you what theyre going to do and then they do it. Whereas here, there really was a conspiracy. It really did happen.

I Hate the Internet is published by Serpents Tail (12.99). Click here to order a copy for 10.65

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/20/jarett-kobek-internet-enormously-detrimental-i-hate-the-internet-interview

Soaring Disney Studios hopes for $7bn fairytale ending to its year

Its systematic buying spree to acquire franchises and talent has now put the company in sight of a global box-office record

What do you get if you cross a handful of superheroes with the Death Star and a forgetful fish? Box office gold. Walt Disney Studios is tipped to amass a record $7bn (5.6bn) in cinemas around the world this year, having already passed $6bn thanks to Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory. It expects to set a new all-time high with the upcoming release of animated feature Moana and the all-but-guaranteed Christmas bonanza of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which sees the return of Darth Vader.

Industry analysts say Disneys success is hardly surprising. This is a studio that has systematically bought up great franchises, characters and talent in recent years, and now it is reaping the benefits.

What is happening at Disney is no accident, says Guy Bisson, research director at research firm Ampere Analysis, who points to the benefits of the $15bn spending spree that has underpinned its film business. It is the fruit of a long-term strategy based around strong characters and franchises.

In 2006, Disney spent $7.4bn on Pixar, the hit factory behind Finding Nemo, its new sequel Finding Dory, Toy Story and The Incredibles. This helped Disney win its struggle to produce modern versions of the blockbuster animated movies on which it built its reputation.

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A scene from the forthcoming animation Moana. Photograph: 2016 Disney

In 2009 came the riskier $4bn purchase of Marvel Comics sprawling superhero universe, comprising 5,000 characters including the X-Men, Iron Man and Captain America, which saw Disney branch out from wholesome family creations such as The Little Mermaid and The Lion King to edgier, more violent fare.

This was followed by nailing down the worlds most famous sci-fi franchise by buying Lucasfilm, maker of Star Wars, in a $4bn deal that has paved the way for a string of new releases, including Rogue One, a spin-off story about a plot to steal the plans to the Death Star. The deal also included the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise and two highly prized, hi-tech production companies, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.

Theyve made acquisitions that initially looked really expensive but turned out to be very lucrative, says Brian Wieser, analyst at Pivotal Research. Theyve managed them well, kept creative leadership in place, and they keep making amazing properties.

Disney films have enjoyed a stellar year, with four blockbusters to date: Captain America, Zootopia and Finding Dory made more than $1bn each and The Jungle Book made $966m. But its film arm accounted for only 18% of the companys total $42.5bn revenues in the nine months to the end of July; the rest of the business is not performing so well. Shares in the Walt Disney Company have fallen 16% over the past year and the companys fourth-quarter results undershot expectations last week.

Investors concerns are focused on ESPN, Disneys sports cable network and the companys biggest profit driver, which is struggling as consumers ditch expensive pay-TV packages and switch to cheaper services.

Finding
Finding Dory, this years sequel to the Pixar hit Finding Nemo. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

Disneys broad character franchises like Mickey Mouse and Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame are exploited across its theme parks and resorts business, which accounts for 30% of revenues, and its merchandise and licensing unit, which accounts for a further 10%.

Disney is currently constructing a Star Wars land at its flagship US theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim, which will include a ride where visitors take control of the Millennium Falcon, and dining options featuring a take on the famous Mos Eisley cantina from the original 1977 film.

And in just the first year following the premiere of 2015s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, merchandise sales are predicted to hit $5bn, with Disney reportedly taking about 10%. Another Disney blockbuster, Frozen, is reportedly the biggest merchandise moneyspinner of all time, with sales of more than $107bn.

The parts of the business interact strongly, says Bisson. The big character franchises superheroes, Star Wars,childrens output all are so dependent on the whole stream from theme parks and resorts.

The global appeal of Disneys character franchises also plays well in the increasingly important international movie market which has been driven by a boom in Asian countries such as China and Indonesia, where much Hollywood fare has traditionally not performed well as well as the rise of markets in Latin America and eastern Europe. In 2015, 61% of Disneys total $5.88bn global box office take came from outside the US.

The major studios are moving to fewer, but bigger and bigger, films to drive the box office, says David Hancock, the head of film and cinema at analysts IHS Technology. And it is working. Part of the key to this is now the wider picture: the international market is so much bigger than just appealing in the US.

Disney is also aware that the Marvel and Lucasfilm acquisitions have helped it pull in large numbers of millennials: exactly the demographic film-makers and TV companies are most concerned about losing as they threaten to abandon traditional media.

Remember, Disney is rumoured to be looking at a potential acquisition of Netflix, says Bisson. An international over-the-top [streaming on-demand] business that would fit into its channels business is hugely attractive. Disney already has an exclusive film deal with Netflix in the US.

The only barrier to Disney hitting the magic $7bn box office total is whether Rogue One proves to be a winner with diehard Star Wars fans this Christmas.

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A scene from Captain America: Civil War. Photograph: AP

In August, Bob Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, said that the level of fan enthusiasm for Rogue One was roughly on par with what had been seen at the same point in last years marketing campaign for The Force Awakens. That film clocked up more than $2bn from cinemagoers, with $1.33bn of that banked as box office takings in the 2015 calendar year.

Disney will be hoping that its force will be strong enough to net the $1bn-plus it needs to make history this year.

HOT TICKETS

Disneys billion-dollar blockbusters in 2016
1. Captain America: Civil War: $1.15bn
2. Zootopia: $1.023bn
3. Finding Dory: $1.022bn
4. The Jungle Book: $966m
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $2.07bn ($736m in 2016)

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/12/disney-hopes-for-fairytale-ending-7bn-box-office-moana-rogue-one-finding-dory

I was so embarrassed I cried: do parents share too much online?

From first smiles to teenage experiments, a generation of children has had their every move posted by their parents. What can they do about it?

Picture a child entering the world, around the time that a new social networking venture known as thefacebook.comis making its own entrance to the world. It is 2004, and the child is easy to picture. Her parents have photographed their daughters first breath, first smile, first spoonfuls and first steps. When she reaches school age, she is snapped in uniform, probably outside the front door, and one parent, probably her mother, shares the image with friends. The child learns to read, write her name. She wins certificates, excels at sport. When Twitter, Instagram and later Vine arrive, her public identities multiply. She starts secondary school.

In a few months, this child and her classmates will begin to turn 13 and, perhaps, create their own Facebook accounts. When they do, they will come face to face with their digital shadow. They may step into it easily, or try to sever themselves from it, but it wont let go, this pre-existent media identity, because it has logged their lives from the moment they left the womb. Some will recognise their digital shadow, but what of those whose online identity bears little relation to their sense of self, or to the public identity they want to share? For years, parents have fretted about their childrens posting activities, while continuing to post as they wish about their offspring. Is it time they stopped or at least asked for permission first?

Today these questions are on the minds of the children at Kingsford community school in Beckton, east London, where the 13-, 14- and 15-year-old members of the Debate Mate after-school club are filing into a classroom on the first floor, slinging down school bags and glancing at the motion on the whiteboard. This house would ban parents from posting about their children on social media, the debate leader writes.

Its kind of weird your parents are still posting pictures of you on social media, someone says. One boy, Malachi, bows his head and writes a single word on his notepad: reputation. This is really about consent, his friend says. Do I want to be seen by a larger, broader range of people? There is a loud hum of agreement and one girl raises her voice: Parents! We dont want them invading our privacy. Because some of us, the only privacy we get is through social media.

These pupils often discuss social networking sites, their attractions and perils, but this is the first time they have turned their scrutiny on their own parents. And yet parents are the object of an increasingly aggressive interrogation. This spring a mother from Shropshire called out her sons bullying on Facebook, only for the post to go viral; the criticism of her became so intense she removed it and changed her Facebook page and phone number. Next came the 20-year-old mother from Balloch, Scotland, whose photographs of her 11-month-old daughter in tiny high fashion outfits attracted an Instagram following that included Khlo Kardashian until critics claimed the woman was sexualising her baby. She has since locked the account and gone to ground. After her came the Arizona father who nakedly cradled his naked, feverish baby in the shower, an image his wife snapped and shared, before Facebook removed it as offensive.

Excessive sharing about your children has long incited disapproval, but recently the disapproval has begun to acquire a proto-legal tinge. In March, French police warned parents against posting photos of their children on social media; according to social media analyst Eric Delcroix, the children could soon be able to sue them for posting inappropriate pictures, under the countrys privacy laws. The treasurer of the UKs Human Rights Lawyers Association, Leanne Targett-Parker, echoes the idea that it is only a matter of time before children mount legal challenges against oversharing parents. You cant imagine it not being something that starts to develop within the next five to 10 years, she says. I cant see how there cant be attempts at suing people for putting up posts that theyre unhappy with.

Some parents may shrug off the shaming stories and the professionalised sharing of family vloggers such as the Shaytards, the Brataleys, the Ballingers as beyond the range of their own moderate social media activity. But listen to the children in the Kingsford classroom and it becomes clear how many degrees there are of shame. To these teenagers, even small instances of sharing can be divisive. When I ask if anyone has experienced being overshared themselves, hands shoot up, but the answers are a long way from the public shaming that normally grabs headlines. They are exactly the sort of infringements that many parents will commit without a second thought.

I was eating a Subway. Chicken teriyaki. Eating that and my mum just took the picture and posted it on Facebook, one pupil says.

When I was little my parents took a picture of me being potty-trained. Three weeks ago they posted it on Facebook. Me on the toilet. It was really embarrassing, another adds.

I was with my aunt in the park. I was wearing my scarf but I didnt have a pin. It flew off and my hair was all raggedy, sticking up all over the place. My auntie put it on Facebook. I was so embarrassed I was crying. I asked her to take it down but she said, No, it looks cute.

My uncle posted when his daughter had diarrhoea: Pray for her.

One girl, 14, raises her hand. Parents love to post things about you, personal information that you might not like, she says. Which kind of affects your relationship with them. Now, when you want to speak to them about certain things, youre worried they might post it.

Her classmate Erin stands up. Her team supports the motion on the whiteboard that parents should be banned from posting and they have an idea. We want to pass a law that requires open forms of social media to put a consent button on their pages, so a child can report whether their parents have posted about them without consent, she declares. If parents refuse to cooperate, they will be fined the amount of 1,000.

These suggestions may sound excessive and unfeasible; in fact they lie squarely within the recommendations made by a number of adults campaigning in this field. Erins idea of a penalty, for instance, echoes the attempts by a Democratic state representative in Illinois, La Shawn K Ford, to make the shaming of children on social networking sites an offence. Offending parents should face a penalty, he has argued, which, just like Erins, would be a fine paid directly to the child. As for the apparently far-fetched idea of a consent button, this sounds uncannily similar to the delete button proposed by 5Rights, the campaign steered by the peer and film-maker Beeban Kidron to protect and empower children online.

More generally, the debaters irritation chimes with research published in March by a team at the University of Michigan. After interviewing 249 parent-children pairings across 40 US states, the researchers found that children were more than twice as likely as parents to say that adults should not post information online about them without permission. Would the Kingsford children concur? Class E11 rings with shouts of, Yes!

It aint going to happen, their teacher, Miss Alimi, says.

Miss! one of her students cries. Theres a thing called wishful thinking.

***

Miss Alimi is right: children are unlikely to gain control over their parents posting habits. But there is still scope for a conversation about what constitutes fair sharing, and each family will draw its lines differently. Consider the case of Heather Whitten, the Arizona-based photographer and teaching assistant who took the photograph of her husband and son in the shower that Facebook didnt like. Whitten saw the moment, and the image, as the height of parental care. Their toddler, Fox, had had a temperature for hours. Her husband, Thomas, was trying to cool the childs fever. For two years, Whitten kept the image private, finally posting it in May after Facebook removed other pictures she had shared of her children. She wanted to take a stand, to show that its just innocent pictures that people are twisting and getting offended by.

She was unprepared for the response for the way in which Facebook removed images from her page every time it received sufficient complaints, for the level of disapproval the image provoked, including claims that it was sexual or inappropriate. But Whittens stand had one other unexpected consequence. As the interested and the outraged followed the link to her blog, some began to question the legality, as well as the sense, of showing children naked. I just thought you were free to post what you wanted on the internet, Whitten says now. But then she discovered that in the state of Arizona, you cant show any naked images of childrens pelvic area or butt, and I realised I was technically breaking a law.

She removed the blog took everything down but in the bigger, moral sense, I dont feel Ive done anything wrong. Im not exploiting my children. Im not abusing my children. Im just sharing our lives exactly how they are.

Whittens experience shows just how nebulous and fraught the territory of sharing can be. Sure, her experience would never befall those for whom posting naked images of children is strictly out of bounds. But the case of Whitten is complicated. She and her partner are raising their children to not be ashamed or embarrassed of their bodies. They are living online within the offline boundaries they have set for themselves. People dont show nudity a lot of times because they think it will have a negative impact on their child. Your footprint is for ever on the internet, Whitten says. For me, its absurd. I just hope to combat that a little. Who knows how it will actually turn out, but I hope that my children wont ever look back and see pictures of themselves as children and feel embarrassed by other people seeing them as well. Because there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Fox, the toddler in the shower, is still too young to veto or cherish the photograph that caused such controversy, but his older sister Lily, nine, loves it, according to her mother. She couldnt really wrap her head around why people would think there was anything wrong with it.

And yet, while Lily was comfortable with the image of her baby brother, she was deeply unhappy with other photographs her mother had uploaded the apparently harmless kind that many parents post. One day at around the age of six, Lily began to scroll through her mothers Instagram. She saw how many pictures there were of her and she didnt like it, Whitten says. For months, whenever Lily saw Whitten with the camera, she hid. That really opened up a conversation about why I take pictures, why I share pictures, who I share pictures with. Now, Whitten says, any time you see Lily, it is with her permission.

Alicia Blum-Ross, a researcher at the London School of Economics, believes we are entering a crucial moment. We are starting to see kids who have grown up, whose parents have shared images, and who are beginning to say: Wait a minute. Im not sure Im comfortable with that. What families need, she thinks, is a coming-of-age conversation. After all, it was Lily Whitten herself, at six, who instigated the dialogue with her mother that earned her the right to veto content. Does Lily have advice for other children? They should say, Please dont take any pictures of me it makes me uncomfortable, she says. And I might change my mind one day, but today I dont want to have to hide from your camera. Soon this digital rulebook chat might become as standard as the one about the birds and the bees. Blum-Ross sees nothing to fear. Both parties, she points out, are united by being the first generation of parents and children to negotiate this path. It can be a really shared experience, she says enthusiastically. The dilemmas are shared dilemmas, the pleasures are shared pleasures. Its a moment of overlap.

Blum-Ross, who has three-year-old twins, says she is not a person who advises total protection. I certainly wouldnt say, Dont share things about your children online. Its important that parents are able to claim their own space about that. Its OK to say, I need this community. Whitten, too, has always seen her sharing in those terms: I feel I share everything as my story this is my perspective on my life as a mother with these children. Im not trying to put words in their mouth, or tell the story from their perspective.

It is one of the oldest questions of storytelling: who does the story belong to? Blum-Ross, Whitten and countless others believe they are telling their own stories, and sharing posts about their children where they fit that perspective. But its complicated. I never had a filter before, says Whitten, sounding forlorn. I love the idea of having connections with other mothers and people. But I cant share the way I used to. After the Facebook furore, she is still fathoming whether to photograph differently or simply stop sharing.

Child
Photograph: Getty Images

For other parents, such as the author Amy Webb, who has written about her commitment to post nothing about her daughter online, the same process of consideration deters them from sharing altogether. They have the big conversation with themselves, each other, sometimes their children and decide the best answer is silence.

When the Guardian asked readers about their experiences, Apricot, who is 30 and lives in the north of England, wrote: When I started to Facebook my own childs pictures, I began to feel intensely uncomfortable. How could I instil in her a principle of privacy when I had essentially devalued hers from the beginning? She stopped posting. What we post is facets of ourselves, said Tamasine Preece, a teacher in Bridgend, whose PhD includes a chapter on oversharing. I think there is a morality to using children to explore parts of ourselves. My children are not me. They are separate.

Kidron, who says she has never interacted with her children on social networking sites (they are now 19 and 21), thinks that her behaviour reflects the idea that oversharing is inappropriate when the whole point of the journey to adulthood is to self-define to work out who you are, what your values are, how youre going to fit in. I think we have not thought hard enough about what that process might be like, if so much is shared and so much is public.

There are three issues here, she says. One is the right to a certain sort of privacy. The second is the need of young people to transgress and bump into their edges, and for that to be somewhat safe. The third is the need to break away from the model of your parents.

My own Facebook posts dried up as I researched this article. Of course, I can ask my children for consent, but I am not sure they are ready for a responsibility with permanent consequences. If an eight-year-old consents to a post, is it fair to act upon that consent, or should a parent second-guess how those feelings might evolve? After all, posts are eternal and a child cannot speak for his or her future self.

In any case, a childs consent can be capricious, even within one given day. My daughter, at eight, would prefer her photo not to appear on Facebook, but would be more than happy to see a video of herself playing Swingball on YouTube. My six-year-old, meanwhile, says he is sad that Google doesnt know me. Even the teenagers at Kingsford are conflicted. In the end, they vote against Erins suggestion of a fine for parents who share without their childrens consent, but they squirm in their seats, clawing the air for a turn to speak when I ask what rules they would lay down for their parents:

Dont say embarrassing jokes cos thats too much.

As far as the world is concerned, were not related.

Post pictures of me when I look amazing.

Dont post baby pictures unless Im happy and fully clothed.

Dont ever comment on my pictures.

Dont stalk my profile waiting for me to load pictures.

Dont follow.

Dont add me. Or my friends.

Dont tell dad jokes.

Dont take pictures of me eating food, cos my friends take it out of context.

Dont try and use internet slang on our wall. On your friends profiles you can embarrass yourselves all you want, but when its on our profiles it looks like weve taught you to say that. And it makes us look really bad.

Stay behind the times.

***

Of course, every family is different. In a quiet cul-de-sac in Newton Abbot, Devon, with sunlight pouring into the lounge, Molly Povey and her 11-year-old son Roman are sitting on the sofa discussing their experience of going viral.

In April 2015, with Roman desperately unhappy at school, Molly posted a plea on her Facebook page for his classmates parents to send her beautiful son birthday cards. Roman doesnt have any friends and often cries himself to sleep, the post began. It was shared around the world. Maybe 40,000 times, Molly says. (Interestingly, her post breaks only the second of the Kingsford rules, by disclosing that Molly and Roman are related.)

Neither Molly nor Roman, nor his two brothers, nor his dad Ian, who says he hates social media, were prepared for what happened next. Thousands of people left birthday greetings online. At the office of a friend whose address was hastily borrowed to protect Romans privacy cards and gifts began to arrive. Molly formalised the chaos into a Cards For Roman Facebook page.

Friendships were made, and some of them have lasted to the extent that in April, a year after his mothers plea for help, Roman celebrated his 12th birthday with 150 friends, strangers and Facebook friends at a Nandos in Exeter and at a second party in London. They have even met up with well-wishers in Germany.

Molly
Molly Povey, whose post about her sons loneliness went viral, with some of the birthday cards he was sent by strangers all over the world. Photograph: Rebecca Rees for the Guardian

While Molly tells this story, talking quickly because there is a lot to fit in, Roman scurries to and fro with his gifts: a Star Wars chess set from someone in the Netherlands, pictures from Brazilian schoolchildren (Molly says he is very big in Brazil), wicker baskets of cards.

But sometimes Molly worries. A bit. I think, what happens in years to come if he Googles himself and finds Lonely boy with no friends? Last year the local paper ran a front-page headline saying just that. I thought, oh my God, what have I done? Roman was with her, and comforted her. But it is true, he said. I am really lonely.

For the Povey family, the benefits of Mollys post are visible each day. His tearfulness has declined. The whole household is happier. Molly herself has found, in the Facebook page, a community that makes her feel supported and which, in turn, needs her. And now youve got a responsibility, Ian says. Its a strange thing. He himself has never read the initial post, usually declines to appear in photographs, and thinks that when it comes to sharing, Its best to err on the side of caution. Occasionally, Molly tells her community that Roman is having a bad day, or that she is: she doesnt want to pretend to people who know loneliness that loneliness doesnt happen. And yet, as Ian says, Its difficult to know sometimes what Roman really thinks about it.

Molly leads the way up to Romans bedroom, to show more of the gifts people sent. There is James Bond notepaper from the actor Andrew Scott, who played the baddie in Spectre, and a crew T-shirt from Star Wars: Episode III.

I wonder if Roman minds thousands of strangers knowing hes sad. Do you mind? Molly asks him. Do you mind that people know you get really lonely?

Maybe, Roman replies. I dont know. Ill go yes: I dont like it.

You dont like it? Molly repeats, incredulous.

No.

What, that people around the world know you are lonely?

Yeah.

You dont like it now? she asks again.

No.

Oh, Molly says. She sounds deflated.

It just feels weird, it does, Roman tells her.

Although Molly has publicly revealed aspects of her sons emotional life that other parents might hesitate to share, she is not incautious. For months she withheld Romans full name and has only recently felt comfortable disclosing that he is autistic. Before her heartfelt post, she deleted baby pictures of Romans older brother because he was about to start secondary school; surely the Kingsford debaters would approve.

Like Alicia Blum-Ross and Heather Whitten, Molly has rules. Think about whether its appropriate if in a year or five years your child would be embarrassed by anything youve done. And just why are you actually doing it? Is it a positive thing, or is it to give you a social boost as opposed to the children? Molly might appear to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from Tamasine Preece, who never posts, but the morals that underpin their behaviour are remarkably alike. And while Molly thinks you shouldnt be posting pictures of kids in the bath, in some ways her posts are as exposing as Whittens.

Later that evening Molly emails to say that the conversation with Roman had troubled her. After Id left the house, she offered to take down the page, she says, but Roman said not to. Turns out he was confused in his room and was talking about not liking being lonely, and not his page.

Or maybe Roman, in that moment, wished no one knew he was lonely. Then, later, when his mother checked, he minded less. Or maybe he understands that the community his mother has created has benefited him and his family. But these are only guesses. It is impossible to know. He is young, and the world changes many times a day. His parents have his best interests at heart, but like any who share news of their children, every time they post, they cross a line between privacy and publicity. Where each parent sees the line is an unsteady, unsettleable question. For Roman, and others like him, the truth may be something they are still working out, or simply prefer not to share.

Ive gone online after a few glasses of wine and said things I shouldnt have: parents and children talk social media

Elaine
Her posts can be really personal: Sadie Star with her mum, Elaine. Photograph: Jonathan Browning for the Guardian

Elaine Star, 47, a PA and poet, and her youngest daughter Sadie, 17, a student, live in Brighton

Elaine Ive had a Facebook account for about 10 years, so Sadie was probably seven when I first joined. I use it to keep in touch with different groups of people old friends, my poetry group, the puppet show I work with. Im also friends with a lot of my kids friends, because its often the best way of locating where mine are. I dont think it bothers them. All their friends are happy to come to the house and sit around my kitchen table and chat, so I dont think its odd. I dont post on their friends pages maybe just a Happy birthday message. But Im really impressed by the sorts of things they share about science, politics theyre very funny and insightful.

I have definitely made mistakes online. Ive gone on after a few glasses of wine and said things I shouldnt have. There have been some angry messages about the state my kids and their friends have left the house in. And they have all asked me to take down various photos. I get it: Im sensitive to the fact that theyre trying to be cool or whatever.

I think Im past the stage of worrying too much about embarrassing my kids. I write poems that are very personal, and I share them on Facebook. But thats how I express myself. The kids have occasionally said, Stop living your life on Facebook but Im an open person.

Theyre all fairly streetwise. We have a very open dialogue in our house. They have occasionally posted things that I think are a bit questionable showing off a bit about drinking with their friends, that sort of thing. I might have said, Hmm, you might want to think about that but Ive never said, Take that down. Im glad Facebook wasnt around to record my teenage years, though. Id hate it.

Sadie My siblings and I all use Facebook in different ways. Stevie posts a lot of pictures; Maisie likes to talk about stuff. Me and Joe post a lot of news stories, and I like posting videos or songs. I dont like to put up personal pictures, or get too emotional on Facebook. My mums posts can be really personal.

At the beginning, I didnt really want to be friends with her on Facebook. I didnt really want her seeing pictures of me that my friends had posted. They werent anything bad; they just felt like a bit of my life that was separate from her. Now I dont mind as much Im more open. Shes also friends with a lot of my friends on there. Thats not a problem, except that shes quite free with what she writes. Something would happen between us, and shed put it in a poem, and post it to Facebook, and I wondered whether my friends would see her in a different way. I think maybe I felt protective of her. But no one has ever said anything.

She has a lot of photos of us when we were little. When I was a bit younger, I hated seeing some of them online. I remember there was one where I was holding my pet hamster and I just thought I looked greasy and rough. And once my room was really messy and my mum said, Ill take pictures and put it on Facebook. I would have hated it if shed actually done it. Now Im a bit older, Ive learned to let go of it all a bit more. I think Im OK with whats out there about me.

Nell
I dont feel like the same person I was when I was little: Nell Redelsperger-Talbot with her mother, Juliet. Photograph: Lewis Khan for the Guardian

Juliet Redelsperger-Talbot, 43, a marketing and events manager, and Nell, 13, live in Eye, Suffolk, with Nells father and her brother Lawrence, 10

Nell Ive been cyberbullied before. One of my followers on Instagram, someone I knew, turned on me, then a couple of others who Id thought were friendly were making comments on my posts. It wasnt nice, and I wasnt sure how to handle it. In school they give you lessons about what to do if it happens to you, but when it comes to it, the reality is very different. But the school did deal with it.

After that, I became a lot more careful about who I accept as friends, and what people can see. Now I have one account for my photography and a separate one for my closest friends.

I have looked briefly at Mums Facebook account, but I dont have a clue about how Facebook works. I dont think I mind that there are photos of me. If you know the people that can see those photos, then thats OK. If its not private, Im not so sure about that. But I dont find it embarrassing. Maybe its because I dont feel like the same person I was when I was little. It doesnt feel as if those pictures are of me.

Juliet The cyberbullying was a harrowing time for Nell, but what was good was that some of her friends were supportive and took screenshots of the comments as proof of what was happening. Nell was worried I would be angry, so she didnt come to me until after it was over. It was awful, but in a way, I think it helped her understand what youre exposed to online.

Nell is a great photographer, and she sends me pictures, but Icheck that she is happy before I post anything on Facebook. Your children have every right to veto what you put online, although they have to be a certain age before they understand what it means. Neither of mine have ever had an issue with something Ive posted, but then theyre the generation that are used to having photos of themselves everywhere. I think it meant something different for my generation. It took so long to get photos developed that seeing yourself was so much more important.

The children were very little when I first signed up. I dont remember thinking much about privacy then. It wasnt until I read in the paper how posts about your children might be seen by complete strangers that I changed my settings.

As time went by, I began to feel uncomfortable about posting. It felt like everything online was becoming more about Look how wonderful I am and it made me feel quite down. So I left for a while. Eventually I rejoined because it was hard to keep up with everything. So now Ive started again but in a very different way.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/05/parents-posting-about-kids-share-too-much-online-facebook-paula-cocozza

Herschell Gordon Lewis: low-brow schlock horror director with a kind of horrible genius

Lewis was the master of bargain-basement splatter without whom we would not have the likes of Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino

One of the most extraordinary figures in the history of popular American moviegoing has departed the stage: film director Herschell Gordon Lewis was the godfather of gore and the sultan of splatter who in the 1960s energetically pushed the envelope of bad taste with low-cost, low-brow schlock-horror exploitation pictures. Lots of blood, lots of screaming, lots of nudity and lots of money.

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Photograph: Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

But he was more than just this. Lewis was a sort of cross between Ed Wood Jr, Roger Corman, Russ Meyer, Dale Carnegie and maybe even Bernie Madoff. Because as well as being a conveyor-belt of trash movies, Lewis was a formidable and unnervingly driven entrepreneur and compulsive wheeler-dealer who did three years jail time in the 1970s for fraud, having conned people through crooked schemes, like a fake car rental company and incredibly a phoney abortion referral service, and for (nearly) all these services he borrowed money from the bank using as collateral the cinemas of which he claimed to be the un-mortgaged owner. It was a breathtaking and crazy illegality, but nothing dented his almost sociopathic self-belief and work ethic. He cranked out dozens of books on direct marketing and salesmanship and to the end of his life kept his focus on this, producing how-to guides on making money from the web. In fact, he may well have seen in the internet the same kind of wild-west, anything-goes spirit that drove him in his film-making heyday.

Lewis came into low-budget movie-making in Chicago from a flourishing career in ad copywriting. After his softcore nudist-camp smutfests like Goldilocks and the Three Bares, Lewis found his true vocation in bargain-basement horror with his pioneering splatter film Blood Feast in 1963, about a cannibalistic caterer who kills women so that he can offer up their cooked remains in horrendous occult rituals. Lewis actually made a sequel in 2002 entitled Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat a title which had a kind of horrible genius. John Waters was always a fan.

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Photograph: Everett/REX/Shutterstock

After this, Lewis created A Taste of Blood and The Gruesome Twosome, which cemented his own cult reputation, and he was a master of films which appeared to have been created simply to justify the existence of outrageous titles and delirious posters: The Gore Gore Girls (aka Blood Orgy); Monster A Go-Go; Just for the Hell of It; Bell, Bare and Beautiful; The Ecstasies of Women; Alley Tramp; Sin, Suffer, Repent.

After his brush with the law, Lewis turned his hand to direct marketing and his book titles have a very similar gamey spirit to his mould-breaking splatter: Hot Appeals or Burnt Offerings (surely inspired by his masterpiece Blood Feast?), Sales Letters That Sizzle, and Open Me Now.

Lewis was a one-off, although perhaps his career is maybe a lesson in the fact that cinema has its origins in hucksterism and the fairground tent. But without Lewis, there would be no Robert Rodriguez, no Quentin Tarantino. Respectable cinema entertainment is Dr Jekyll; Herschell Gordon Lewis was its Mr Hyde.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2016/sep/26/herschell-gordon-lewis-schlock-horror-director-blood-feast

US Olympic committee bullying unofficial sponsors who use hashtags

USOC sent letters to companies that dont have a commercial relationship with them, warning use of #TeamUSA and #Rio2016 is stealing intellectual property

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has been using legal bullying tactics to try and prevent companies that arent official sponsors of the Games from using official Twitter hashtags such as #TeamUSA and #Rio2016.

Over the last few weeks, the USOC has sent letters to companies that sponsor athletes but dont have a commercial relationship with the USOC or the International Olympic Committee, warning them against stealing intellectual property.

One of these letters, written by USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird and obtained by ESPN, states: Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts. This restriction includes the use of USOCs trademarks in hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA.

The mean-spirited approach is designed to protect the cash-cow sponsors such as Coca Cola, McDonalds, GE, P&G, Visa and Samsung who fork out for marketing presence at the event.

Its been possible to trademark hashtags in the US since 2013, but intellectual property lawyers like Mark Terry say that the USOC is wrong to try to apply the law to those tweeting hashtags. The USOC is alleging that commercial entities are using these hashtags and thats trademark infringement, Terry told the Guardian. I think its completely bogus.

Trademark infringement occurs when another party uses a trademark and confuses the public as to the source of a product or service thats being used in commerce. Thats not what happens when you use a hashtag. Im not selling a product or service, Im just making statements on an open forum. How else do you indicate you are talking about the Rio 2016 Olympics without saying #Rio2016?

The USOC could have a trademark case if a company was pretending to be a headline sponsor when it fact it wasnt, but most uses of these hashtags appear to be companies wishing athletes luck on Twitter.

The same letter sent by the USOC reminds companies (except for those involved in news media) that they cant reference any Olympic results or share or repost anything from the official Olympic account.

This is where the USOC is wrong. As Timothy Geigner at Techdirt points out, there is no applicable part of trademark law that applies to facts such as sporting results. Furthermore, the restrictions on retweeting make absolutely no sense in the context of social media which is designed to be, you know, social.

Much of this silliness comes down to Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter. In previous Olympics, the rule barred athletes from tweeting about non-official sponsors for a month around the Games. And non-sponsors werent allowed to feature Olympic athletes that they had sponsorship deals with in their ads during that time.

In 2015, Rule 40 was relaxed ever-so-slightly to allow athletes to appear in generic advertising that doesnt explicitly mention the games or use any Olympic IP, which includes terms such as Rio, medal, performance, victory and gold.

Sportswear brand Oiselle was contacted by the USOC when it used a photo of athlete Kate Grace, who the company sponsors, after she won the 800 metres at Olympic trials.

Oiselle CEO Sally Bergen told ESPN that the heavy-handed brand policing was ridiculous and that the rules hurt athletes. Companies like Oiselle cant afford to sponsor athletes if they cant leverage the relationship in their communications.

The USOC did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jul/22/us-olympic-committee-bullying-unofficial-sponsors-hashtags