5 Cynical Attempts To Cash In On The 'Me Too' Movement
Activist Tarana Burke started using "Me Too" as a rallying call against sexual assault way back in the halcyon days of 2006 on Myspace, which was the late Cretaceous version of Facebook. However, the phrase didn't explode until 2017, when men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey were finally confronted for being heinous sexual assaulting goblins. Sadly, with its popularity came people trying to cash in on that popularity. So now you get bullshit like ...
There's An Incredibly Misguided App For Consent
Worried about getting falsely accused of sexual assault? Wish there was an app that could legally protect you? No? Well too bad, they made one anyway. It's called Legal Fling, and we'll let their website explain it:
Sweden is going to implement a new law that requires explicit consent before sexual contact, as a response to the #metoo-movement that dominated media in 2017.
Communication and understanding is key when it comes sex that is pleasurable for both parties ... Having an app that clearly shows the rules of engagement as well as personal preferences, can remove misunderstandings and prevent unintentional bad situations.
Their tagline? "Get explicit about sexual consent. Secured in the blockchain." Ah, there it is. If you're not sure of how important the blockchain is, it can be explained with the use of this prescient Simpsons clip.
Yes, blockchain is a thing, but it's 2018's buzzword du jour. It's what the "i" prefix was a few years back, when it was used on every goddamn device you could fit in your pocket. Legal Fling is using the word in its promotion entirely in the hopes of appealing to the tech bro lizard part of your brain that maybe doesn't know how to use a copy machine, but still has a smart thermostat at home and is just waiting for its chance to become a Bitcoin gazillionaire.
Blockchain is essentially the public ledger through which all cryptocurrency transactions take place. It's a massive permanent digital record that cannot be altered without many different people seeing you do it. Legal Fling wants to use this, piggybacking on all those cryptocurrency transactions, to toss in a digital code that relates to you getting your hump on. You and your would-be paramour use the app and consent to sexual relations. That consent gets encoded in the blockchain forever and always, a memorial to your decision to engage in coitus or other sticky activities. Romance isn't dead!
If you don't see the problem, please consider how clumsily it bungles the very idea of consent as it works in the real world. You don't just contractually agree to a menu of sexual escapades in advance. What if you change your mind? What if things get weird right in the middle of it? Legal Fling lets you opt out later, but your initial consent is now permanent, assuming it was legitimately you who consented and not, say, a predator who took your phone. And are you supposed to ask someone who has transitioned from potential sex partner to maybe a rapist to hold up a sec while you update your consent contract?
Luckily, legal experts have already questioned how well any of this would hold up in court. I don't have a law degree, but I believe the American Bar Association would refer to it as "a goddamned trash fire."
Sports Illustrated's Awkward "Me Too" Swimsuit Edition
The Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue has always been kind of weird. On paper, it sounds like they're just throwing a bone to people who don't know that porn exists, and the concept becomes even more questionable when viewed through the lens of #MeToo. To keep with the times, the newest edition features nude models with empowering words written on their bodies in some way that was, you know, nudely empowering.
Supposedly, the decision to include the "In Her Own Words" feature in the 2018 Swimsuit Edition was made before the #MeToo hashtag started trending, but they've happily embraced the "Swimsuit Issue of the #MeToo Era" promotional angle. The idea of the shoot is for women to speak truth about themselves. But the models are just lying about with words like "human" or "creative" written on their naked flesh in big black letters. That's the kind of insight into your soul you get from the horoscope in a supermarket tabloid. "Are you a Sagittarius? You have a real sense of yourself. This month, focus on just living. Don't fuck an ostrich."
Needless to say, a lot of people saw this less as female empowerment and more as clumsy turd polishing, an attempt to attach progressive branding to some of the world's saddest masturbation sessions.
Someone's Making A "Me Too" Hidden Camera Reality Show
In the 1990s, Satan ate some mushrooms, possessed a mid-level TV executive, ate some more mushrooms, and then reality TV was born. And thanks to the continued success of televised young adults screaming at each other, we all know that it's not going away. So it's rational to assume that at some point, someone would break all forms of social decorum and attempt to create a #MeToo reality show. Oh look, someone did! Fuck!
The Silence Breaker is from Israeli production house Gil Formats. Think of it like that show Cheaters, because it sounds basically like that, but with harassing bosses instead of adulterous partners. Hidden cameras will document workplace harassment, and then, with the help of a compassionate host, the victims will confront their abusers on camera!
The site for The Silence Breaker tells you in the first sentence that it is "brave and extremely relevant," so fuck me for trying to besmirch it, I guess. It does not mention anything about being crassly exploitative or the bad taste doppelganger of the entire TLC freak show format of parading out sympathetic stories under the salivating maws of filmmakers who assure us they care about these people.
Sure, helping everyday victims of harassment is a noble goal, and average citizens don't have the platform that so many celebrities in the #MeToo movement have had to bring light to their stories. But maybe we shouldn't try to fit this into a reality show format that pretty much always has to rely on fakery to generate drama.
There Is Apparently A "Me Too" Political Fundraising Group ... For Anti-Abortion Republicans
Remember a few thousand years ago when Stephen Colbert made his own super PAC and we all sort of learned what a super PAC was? Well they haven't gone away, and they're just as ridiculous. But they're also more insidious, so that's a fun thing to have to deal with. Like the shady "Me Too" super PAC that is using the name of a serious worldwide safety movement to bolster ... anti-abortion Republicans?
In case you didn't know, a super PAC is just a big fat political fundraising group, a "political action committee" that can raise unlimited funds for a candidate but cannot be directly involved with them. They're super shady! And there are actually two super PACs registered using the "Me Too" branding. The "Vote Me Too" super PAC was started by a woman in Baltimore who has experienced sexual assault, and who wanted to help elect pro-women candidates to Congress in the hopes of changing the power dynamic in society so maybe future generations don't have to deal with all of the horseshit.
And then there's the "Me Too PAC." This one was started by a Republican political consultant, co-owner of a firm called KC Strategies, whose clients include dozens of Texas state legislators who are all dudes and all anti-abortion.
Why do you think a PAC started by someone who represents people generally against women's rights would use that name? It's a good question, and given that the people behind it aren't talking yet, maybe we shouldn't be so cynical. Maybe it's not a douchey move intended to thoughtlessly co-opt and cash in on a movement they would otherwise dismiss as feminist hysteria. Maybe, in defiance of Trump, they'll suddenly become passionate about women's issues. They should do it, just to prove me wrong.
Everyone Has "Me Too" Merch For Sale
After the #MeToo hashtag became the biggest thing on social media in late 2017, it took a remarkably short time for businesses to start branding. Jewelry line Adornia had "Me Too" lariat necklaces -- thin chains with metallic letters that spelled "Me Too" clinging to them like a ravenous ghoul clinging to good taste -- for sale on their website on October 18. The hashtag began trending on the 15th. They promised that a staggering 10 percent of proceeds (later changed to 100 percent) would go to charity.
Countless other vendors were offering up simple-to-make items like candles, T-shirts, and pendants, all branded with "Me Too" as well. Hard Candy even tried to trademark it for their cosmetics. Social media users shat all over the idea pretty quickly, because leaping out of the gate to make a profit off of the suffering of others is usually considered rather shitty. And make no mistake, that's exactly what happened. The designer of the necklace is quoted as saying "When #MeToo started gaining currency, I was like, 'I need to get on the ball on this quickly.'" So yeah, profit.
An Australian fashion label called Kholo put together the "Me Too Collection" after being super inspired by stories from women all over the world. Dedicated to "all the warriors," it included items like a slip dress called "Take Me Off" and another called "Sex on Legs." You can almost feel the female empowerment uppercutting you in your tone-deaf ears. After much critical backlash, including people questioning why the line would exploit a movement without even donating proceeds to a supportive charity, the line was named "The Magnificent Women," and a statement was made saying that for sure, the designer does donate proceeds to charity, but she does so privately and to a charity of her choice, and she just chooses not to mention it.
Now that some time has passed, maybe no one cares that vendors all over Etsy are still doing it (personally, all I buy on Etsy are artisanal boar bristle merkins), but ultimately I guess it's up to customers to decide if they want to buy any of it. Besides, if you really care about this issue, what actions can you take other than buying some cheap branded bullshit? It's 2018, aren't all problems solved that way?
Someone should still get those app developers a copy of Bitcoin For Dummies, and maybe they'll realize how dumb that idea is.
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