About That Fleshlight 9/11 Tweet
Today, on the thirteenth anniversary of the time two planes flew into the World Trade Center and set in motion a series of events that have led to uncountable cases of torture, death, and oppression, we are talking about brands. Specifically, we are talking about brands that have decided to commemorate 9/11 through social media. Even more specifically, we are talking about a single tweet from Fleshlight, a company that makes fake vaginas for men to ejaculate into for pleasure:
The Fleshlight tweet has been circulated far and wide on websites because putting “Fleshlight” and “9/11” in a headline is Facebook traffic GOLD, baby, and also because it is pretty funny and gross and awful that companies are taking a few seconds to metaphorically bow their metaphorical heads and go: See guys, we feel sad about the sad thing too. Here is a picture of a flag!
We do this every year. September 11 rolls around and people feel the need to acknowledge it, because it remains this shadow looming over everything. There are the streets named after 9/11 victims and the fading memorials painted on walls; there are the stories about young children who lost parents in the attacks; there’s also the matter of US foreign policy, which is still centered around getting the bad guys responsible in the Middle East. The event seems monumental and impossible to understand—this infuriating injustice that has spawned lots of other injustices. Just thinking about it for too long makes you feel angry and sick. It sucks all the irony out of the room, and you get a twinge of guilt or transgression when you joke about it.
RT to Kill: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Tweets a Death Threat
On the night of March 11, a Twitter user with the handle @StillDMC stood at a window in downtown Los Angeles and took a photo of his rifle, the barrel aimed at what appeared to be a couple of pedestrians standing on a street corner in the distance. At 12:09 AM, he tweeted.
“100 RT’s and I’ll shoot someone walking,” he wrote alongside the picture, which quickly racked up well over 100 retweets. An hour later, he followed up: “Man down. Mission Completed.”
This time the image showed a young man lying on the ground, clutching his torso—along with what looked, in the pixelated dark, like a chest wound.
The next day, LAPD detectives arrested 20-year-old Dakkari McAnuff. The police report states that investigating officers had “discovered multiple pictures displaying an unknown type of rifle pointing in the direction of various Los Angles city streets [sic],” determined McAnuff was @StillDMC, and confirmed his location. At midday, police officers arrived at 22-year-old Zain Abbasi’s high-rise condo building, where McAnuff was a guest.
According to Abbasi’s account of the arrest, the building’s property manager summoned him to his office, where detectives placed him and another friend in handcuffs. Helicopters circled the building, snipers took aim from a complex across the street, and multiple police cars blocked the parking lot.
The detectives told Abbasi to call McAnuff and to instruct him to come down to join them. As soon as he left the condo, McAnuff was apprehended by ten LAPD officers who were lying in wait, their guns drawn. The officers searched Abbasi’s apartment and found the weapon pictured in the tweet: an unloaded air rifle.
The entire group was handcuffed and taken into custody. McAnuff was “jailed on suspicion of making criminal threats,” and his bail was set at $50,000.
It was all supposed to be a joke, of course.
This Porn Site Operator Is Offering a Reward for Helping to Catch the ‘Fappening’ Leaker
Mike Kulich would like to be known as one of the good pornographers. When “The Fappening” occured on Saturday, it was still being called “Celebgate,” and the nude photos of such celebrities as Jennifer Lawrence, McKayla Maroney, and Krysten Ritter were still being called “alleged nude photos.” Before they could be authenticated, much of the internet rushed to masturbate rapturously, tweet dumb shit, and then make jokes. This time though, there was a louder-than-average outcry against the leaker who apparently exploited a security hole in Apple’s iCloud in order to peak at the nipples of people who act in movies.
One seemingly unlikely condemnation is coming from the porn site SkweezMe.com. On Sunday, when the news of the leak was still fresh, they issued a press release stating not only that they ”want this hacker brought to justice as much as the women who are the direct victims of this hack,” but that there would be a “very generous cash reward to anyone who can provide us with any information on the perpetrator.”
We caught up with SkweezMe.com Managing Partner Mike Kulich to find out what burns him up so much about leaked celebrity nudes, and to find out how to collect this reward.
VICE: What made you decide to offer this cash reward?
Mike Kulich: Consent is one of the keystones of the Adult Entertainment Business. Regardless of what anti-porn organizations claim—for instance: that we are all human traffickers and pimps—every girl that appears on film for any production company is there of her own free will. She is consenting to everything that happens on screen. The adult industry feels very strongly about consent, which is why it has been heavily involved in our support for legislation banning revenge porn, which has become illegal in a number of different states.
Jennifer Lawrence’s pictures were meant to be private and whoever hacked her computer or phone had no right to ever see those pictures, let alone leak them to the world. We want this person brought to justice.
How much is it and how will you fund it?
We will fund it with revenue generated from SkweezMe.com. We have thousands of users who use our site. After our payouts to our studio partners, we will be taking the money out of our cut, and giving the reward to whoever provides us with the information leading to the apprehension of the party responsible. The reward will be based on the validity of the information and the coordination with law enforcement. We expect to get a number of inquiries because people see dollar signs, but we will only be rewarding someone who gives us pertinent information that is valid, and leads to an arrest.
Everyone’s Losing Their Shit About a Nail Polish That Detects Date Rape Drugs
A lot people on the internet are dumb. This we can take for granted. But dig a little deeper, and behind your standard pickup artist or generic troll you’ll find another, more considered, breed of moron. These people are not hastily brainstorming which tabloid journalist’s tired career to revive via an onslaught of illegible sexist drivel; instead they see themselves as campaigners for social justice. These internet vigilantes are intent on scrubbing the world clean of anything remotely offensive to absolutely anyone anywhere. They make cartoons like this. They are the human equivalent of a red correcting pen.
I’m pointing this out because of nail varnish, weirdly. More specifically, a nail varnish that some North Carolina college students are developing that will enable people to dip their fingers into drinks and find out if they’ve been suddenly transformed into a Rohypnol on the rocks. This is a pretty “whatever” idea as long as you’re cool with using your finger to mix your drink—which to be honest most of us are because it’s often halfway down our throats trying to bring up the eight shots of tequila we knew weren’t a good idea for a weeknight. Unfortunately, the invention has been hit with a barrage of fury from across the internet, and I’m not completely sure why.
This is not an unbelievably earth-shattering concept. Nobody has suggested installing microchips into immigrants that explode when their visas expire, or mandatory mood rings for people with bipolar disorder. Sure, there are a bunch of issues at play, particularly whether this product could potentially encourage the dangerous idea that a woman who isn’t wearing it is putting herself at risk. But a hyper-awareness of that kind of horribly sexist, victim-blaming mentality should not stop research into products that simply make you feel safer in a situation where you may otherwise have felt vulnerable or concerned.
Basically I think this idea is a) fine and b) nowhere near as problematic as the UK government’s rape awareness posters that featured a (unforgivable phrase alert) “scantily-clad” woman with mascara dripping down her face.
Family4Love Is the Facebook of Incest
The profile for TampaRob could be that of any dad. “I have two sons that are 13 and 10, and a daughter that is 11. We stay pretty busy with soccer, gymnastics, and music lessons.” But then there’s the pitch: “We are active and open-minded and enjoy each other and enjoy meeting others the same.”
Welcome to Family4love.com, the Facebook of incest. In the website’s lingo, an “active family” is one that embraces having sex with one another. “Enjoy meeting others the same” means “come join us.”
With 3,086 members, this is a relatively small community, but one that is part of a larger subculture that uses the internet to get extremely nasty with their relatives—both as role-playing and what appears to be the real thing. Click around and you’ll find groups devoted to “Wisconsin families that love each other,” a wealthy gentleman with far from paternalistic intentions looking for a surrogate to carry his children, and even a page devoted to filthy confessions like “I love the smell of my husband’s cock on my toddler’s face when I kiss her.”
Family4Love isn’t the only site of its kind. Incest forums are all over the web. There’s even asubreddit devoted to it. One competitor, Social-Incest.com, calls itself “The place that connects your family in more ways then [sic] one.” And you thought it was awkward when your mom added you on Facebook.
Family4Love flitted into the news last year, when Stephen Lewis, a marine at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, used the site to seek out sex with a father and his children. But the family’s profile was a set-up by Homeland Security and Lewis was arrested. He reportedly admitted to having sex with minors and owning child pornography on his phone. (Calls to the Department of Homeland Security in San Diego to check up on this case were not returned.)
A German Guy Wants to Give You a Bunch of Money for Doing Nothing
What would happen if we didn’t have to worry about making a living anymore? Would people just sit on their asses all day or actually do something meaningful with their lives? Michael Bohmeyer, a 29-year-old founder of a tech startup in Berlin, wanted to find out.
After he stopped working earlier this year to live off the $1,300 he makes from his startup each month, Bohmeyer says his life has radically changed. So he started “My Basic Income”, a new initiative looking to raise enough money to pay someone $1,300 a month for a year, no strings attached.
Through crowdfunding, the initiative has already raised more than the $16,000 goal. On September 18, they’re going to announce the lucky winners of that wad of cash at a party in Berlin.
I spoke to Bohmeyer to find out what he hopes will come of this and how his life has changed now that he doesn’t need to work.
VICE: Would you say you’re a lazy person?
Michael Bohmeyer: I’d say that, but I don’t think being lazy is necessarily a bad thing. Other people probably wouldn’t call me lazy. I work a lot—even more so now that I don’t need to work for money. I even discovered a passion for washing the dishes.
You said that having an unconditional basic income has radically altered your life. How so?
After I stopped working earlier this year and started living off the approximately $1,300 I get out of my company, I just wanted to put my feet up and do nothing. Instead, I found a crazy drive to do things. I had a million new business ideas, I take care of my daughter, and I work for a local community radio. I buy less shit, I live healthier, and I’m a better boyfriend and father.
Because you have more time for your girlfriend and daughter?
Because I’m more laid-back. The pressure is gone. My working conditions were great even before, because I was running my own company and could pretty much do what I want. But making money was tied to conditions. Now, I do everything I do because I want to—and all of a sudden it’s twice as much fun.
Dumping a Bucket of Ice on Your Head Does Not Make You a Philanthropist
Unless you lack access to the internet, you’ve certainly seen the viral onslaught of Ice Bucket Challenge videos in the past few weeks. The idea is to dump a bucket of ice water over your head and “nominate” others to do the same, as a way of promoting awareness about ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). If you don’t accept the challenge, you have to donate $100 to an ALS association of your choice. It’s like a game of Would-You-Rather involving the entire internet where, appallingly, most Americans would rather dump ice water on their head than donate to charity.
There are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but most the annoying is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism. By the time the summer heat cools off and ice water no longer feels refreshing, people will have completely forgotten about ALS. It’s trendy to pretend that we care, but eventually, those trends fade away.
This is the crux of millennial “hashtag activism,” where instead of actually doing something, you can just pretend like you’re doing something by posting things all over your Facebook. Like the Ice Bucket Challenge, good causes end up being a collective of social media naval gazing. We reflected on our favorite social-movements-gone-viral and found out what happened to them after the fell off our Twitter feeds. Because, yes, social problems continue even after you stop hashtagging them.
Before hashtags even existed, there were still ways to obnoxiously flaunt a social cause that you had no real connection to. Remember Livestrong bracelets? Those rubbery yellow bracelets were the brainchild of Lance Armstrong, who sold them through the Livestrong Foundation to raise money and spread awareness about cancer. Everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Johny Kerry sported one on their wrist; wearing them signified that you were both sensitive and stylish.
At least the dollar you spent on the stupid-but-trendy bracelet went toward funding cancer research via the Livestrong Foundation. Or at least, so you thought. In actuality, the Livestrong Foundation started phasing out its cancer research in 2005, and stopped accepting research proposals altogether just a few years later. Over 80 million of the bracelets have been sold. Where the hell did all of that money go?
The world was more than a little shook-up when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, burying at least 200,000 people and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure. #Haiti became thesecond-largest trending topic on Twitter that week, and was the subject of at least 15 percent of tweeted links in the week afterward. Remarkably, many of those links directed people to donation sites. Even the Red Cross mobilized on Twitter, encouraging people to send donations and spread the word about #HaitiRelief.
Social media may have actually done Haiti a solid, helping to raise $8 million in relief funds. But, like all things on the internet, they lose their luster and their urgency, and we forget about them. It’s been four years since the Haiti earthquake and although those initial donations made a huge impact in rebuilding the rumble of Port-au-Prince, there are still at least 150,000 Haitians living in the plywood shelters in relief camps. Earlier this year, NPR reported that many of these people are living without water, electricity, or light. Why isn’t anyone tweeting about that? Because #Haiti is so four years ago.
This Week in Teens: Are America’s Teenagers Setting Themselves on Fire?
Teens are America’s greatest natural resource. They’re full of new ideas, smarter than ever, and not yet racked with cynicism and guilt. Some of the best things we’ve got—rock ‘n’ roll, energy drinks, hickeys—wouldn’t exist today were it not for teen demand. Not to mention that teens are sustainable; left unchecked, they’ll create more teens just over a dozen years. And yet, to reference a perennial college freshman favorite, the teens they are a-changin’.
The global recession hit those on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum the hardest. Part time employment and summer jobs are now harder to come by. Consequently, teen purchasing power is on the decline. Plus, teens are good at streaming things for free, and Macklemore made them think used clothes are funny, so they have less incentive to buy new things. At this point, it’s baby boomers who have the real discretionary income. As marketers catch up to this shift, the prized demographic will become those over 55. Our nation’s youth will be forced to adapt to their ever-evolving circumstances. Will teenage ingenuity emphasize their continued relevance? Or will our younger siblings collapse into a messy room of hormones, broken curfews, and not-yet-illegal drugs? It is with this background in mind that we launch a new column: This Week in Teens.
Talking heads are going nuts over the Fire Challenge. Photo via YouTube
-If there’s one thing teens love, it’s trends. And if there’s one thing local news stations love, it’s scaring people who think they might come into contact with teenagers (this is easy to do as teens are inherently terrifying). Combining these two passions is this week’s top news story: Teens are taking off their shirts, standing in the shower, pouring flammable liquids on their chests, and lighting themselves on fire. Sometimes the teens start flapping around—because of the fire, remember—before they can turn on the shower, and then the flames spread to their shorts or the shower curtain and they end up in the hospital with severe burns. It’s called the Fire Challenge mom, and it’s all done in the name of internet fame.
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