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After the events of January 6, Emily Ratajkowski and others point to the real dangers

Filed by Jack Yan/January 8, 2021/12.53


Inez & Vinoodh/Kérastase

Above: Emily Ratajkowski (centre) in a new promotion for Kérastase, as promoted on her Instagram. But it’s what she wrote on Twitter that’s far more on point with the events of January 6 in the US.

When you have US friends on all sides of the political spectrum—greens, Democrats, Republicans, libertarians—you tend to get a reasonable idea of who they are, rather be trapped in the bubbles that Big Tech keep you in, to give you a false sense of your own righteousness. It’s never been healthy to be so entrenched in your own viewpoints that you can’t entertain another’s, yet our reliance on technology has done just that, as Big Tech platforms seek to occupy our attention, and to do that, they feed us what will increase it. That means telling us we’re right and the other side is wrong, and feeding extreme versions (including lies) of how the other side is wrong, so we’re more outraged, and spend still more time with them on Facebook, YouTube, and wherever else we might wander.
   So while it’s easy to be up in arms about some of the facts from the Washington, DC insurgency by supporters of President Donald Trump—the flying of a Confederate flag on Capitol Hill, which no one achieved during their civil war; the first time anyone managed to storm the place since the British in 1814; or the tragedy of five deaths—the big story is in Big Tech and how it decides to shut someone down when it feels like it. These companies, who pay little tax in their own countries, who are generally unanswerable to laws and happily pay fines that amount to mere hours of earnings, yield a power that any “side” in a political debate should be wary of.
   In the cases of Facebook and Twitter, both are culpable and moved only to save their own arses: had they applied their own terms and conditions evenly to all users, then President Trump’s use of the platforms would have been moderated through the years; or he may well have found himself on the wrong side of the rules and saw his account terminated long ago. Facebook, in particular, has had a record of not moving till public outcry reaches fever pitch, and its moves to ban Trump from using the platform must be seen in that context. The statements from these platforms struck me as insincere and reactionary, especially as both have taken down accounts for doing absolutely nothing at all, while others have been removed from bucking orthodoxy—for instance, I can think of a grandmother in Finland who was consistently anti-war, who fell foul of Twitter’s whims.
   The web’s original great promise was the even playing field: that we could all benefit equally on there, and that we finally had a truly meritorious medium. Yet that has been steadily eroded over the years by the dominant players seeking to cement their positions. They know they are monopolies, or at best oligopolies. As far as we can tell, Google’s news results favour corporate media over independents. They have each created an uneven culture, where indulging those in power, political or commercial, has become the norm.
   The EU has successfully sued Google over biases in its results. This, teamed with the bubbles, have taken us further away from the promise of the web, as barriers to entry rise, and as it becomes harder to create challengers to the monopolies.
   I have long maintained that people in the US have common enemies, rather than each other. Listen to them and you’ll find the themes are common: stagnant wages, unaffordable health care, the vanishing middle class, corrupt politicians who do the bidding of donors rather than the people, and unbridled corporate power. I touched upon these in my podcast on September 11, 2020; and my blog has a related post dating back to 2014. Even here in Lucire I published an op-ed in 2017.
   Of course one should condemn violence and I admit I felt relieved when Trump was silenced, albeit temporarily, on Twitter, since friends have been banned, suspended or shadow-banned for far less. I thought: finally, they’re enforcing their own rules evenly. What he wrote must be a breach of their terms and conditions. But after some reflection, this isn’t the whole story. Those T&Cs have meant little because they were never applied evenly. These platforms go with the flavour of the month, and while many might cheer on these developments, they may think twice when the sword is pointed their way.
   In 2018, The Anti-Media had their Facebook and Twitter accounts deleted in coordinated fashion. Some of their contributors found their presences gone, without explanation. The Anti-Media Radio account was deleted because of ‘multiple or repeat violations of the Twitter rules’, yet had never Tweeted.
   I seldom criticize Chinese platforms such as Weibo even though they are monitored and censored by the régime in Beijing. But Weibo’s terms say as much when they tell you what legislation will come into play, which is far more honest an approach. Free speech, after all, doesn’t mean platforms must host what we say, or publishers must publish what we write, and as long as I know where the boundaries lie, I’ll aim not to cross them. If I wish to cross them, I will do so in my own spaces.
   Big Tech in the US, however, is different, because the terms don’t marry up with the reality. And when rules are applied unevenly, just as when laws are applied unevenly (US police actions toward whites versus blacks, for instance), we cannot trust what the powers-that-be might do.
   Emily Ratajkowski, who has regularly proved more insightful than many wish to give her credit for, Tweeted along these lines in the wake of the Washington, DC riots yesterday.
   ‘Anyone else feel like proper amount of capital police being absent/letting Trump people in/providing insane visuals of MAGA dudes on the floor of the house was wildly convenient to justifying big tech’s rollout of censorship?’ she wrote. She followed this with: ‘I’m saying it’s very convenient to justify taking away more rights & privacy’ and ‘This gives Facebook/tech/Zuck THE MOST POWER. If he can shut the president up/off he can shut any of us up/off’.
   Her other words: ‘My concern is that this gives big tech the opportunity to shut down “leftist extremists” who are important political organizers.’ And, in one response, ‘And before tech leftists were being blacklisted by other means. People responding to my tweet somehow do not understand what license this gives big tech to continue to do so this time with people cheering. Patriot act 2.0?’
   At no point is she cheering on violence, or agreeing with the MAGA movement, but she paints a chilling picture. Leftists (and a good many on the right) might be delighted at the actions taken by US Big Tech, but would one be as cheerful if a Democratic president or a leftist movement were silenced? All I am advocating for is fairness, and I believe that Ratajkowski is, too. It’s something we’ve not seen.
   Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who unlike so much of the US media plays no favourites, Tweeted a few hours after Ratajkowski: ‘A handful of Silicon Valley oligarchs decide who can and cannot be heard, including the President of the United States. They exert this power unilaterally, with no standards, accountability or appeal.
   ‘Politics now is begging them to silence adversaries or permit allies to speak …
   ‘This is particularly menacing because they’re not just like any other companies with competitors. A Democratic-controlled House sub-committee three months ago definitively concluded that 4 of them – FB, Amazon, Google and Apple – are classic monopolies.
   ‘Demands that Silicon Valley censor more were already rapidly escalating. After yesterday, that tech oligarchs should police our discourse is a virtual consensus. Look for way more.
   ‘As I wrote today, it’s very redolent of post-9/11 calls for censorship.’
   Edward Snowden, meanwhile, Tweeted, ‘For better or worse, this will be remembered as a turning point in the battle for control over digital speech.’
   I have to concur. By all means, have terms and conditions—but have them apply to all. And if you’re going to indulge one to a certain level, you must indulge us all to the same. What happened on January 6 were unilateral exercises by platforms that have allowed one party to violate their own terms and conditions for years, only for them to have a change of heart brought upon by public pressure.
   What’s worse is that the uneven playing field that they have created was motivated by greed. Twitter was at least frank enough to admit that Trump was given a free pass for years, with his newsworthiness their excuse. But they all knew, just as the US media did when all of them—from MSNBC through to the Murdoch Press—that his content was good for their business because it meant attention.
   Fuelling it was in their best interests. An internal Facebook report revealed that 64 per cent of the time someone joins an extremist Facebook group, they have done so because it was recommended to them by the algorithm. This is no accident. Roger McNamee goes one further when he points out in Wired: ‘Facebook has also acknowledged that pages and groups associated with QAnon extremism had at least 3 million members, meaning Facebook helped radicalize 2 million people.’ Remember that the same argument must apply to leftist extremists, too.
   He continues, ‘Congress and law enforcement must decide what to do about the unprecedented insurrection in Washington. President Trump and elements of the right-wing media must pay. So, too, must internet platforms. They have prioritized their own profits and prerogatives over democracy and the public health and safety of the people who use their products.’
   The solutions are numerous, but among them must be the enforcement of antitrust laws as they were originally intended to be used, not what they became over the last three decades. The US Justice Department is pursuing this.
   Secondly, the intentional design of these platforms to bubble, radicalize and incite needs to stop, and individual nations’ legislatures could go some way to enacting laws to force it. Let them serve people and society, which is what technology should do—people should not be bending to the technology. Allow us to find alternative viewpoints with “the other side” if we are truly to understand and engage with one another.
   Thirdly, when these platforms lie, they should be punished, but with penalties that fit the crime. Fining Google four hours’ earnings after hacking a setting on Iphones is hardly a punishment, for instance. Lying has become a regular practice in some US businesses because we all know that Big Tech has done so with impunity.
   These alterations won’t suddenly make Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and the others poor, either. Their owners will still be worth myriads of millions of dollars, but at least people’s lives won’t be threatened to the same extent. While some are blaming Trump for the five deaths on the Capitol Hill insurrection, Big Tech platforms were the ones that helped bring the mob there, just as YouTube recommended conspiracy videos, or Facebook incited genocide against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The US might still be more a democracy rather than an anocracy if not for Big Tech’s greed over the last 20 or so years.
   There’s no left or right to this. And when those divisions are removed, when the bubbles are popped, we might just see where the real obstacles in society lie—corruption, tax-dodging, monopoly power, environmental harm—rather than each other.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Wishing all a happy 2021!

Filed by Jack Yan/December 31, 2020/23.05

Happy 2021 to our readers and supporters!
   Twenty twenty was tough, and along with the rest of you, we felt it. But believe it or not, commercially it wasn’t our toughest year—you can look back at 2005–6 for that, and long-time readers will recall that by January 2006 there were preciously few articles being posted on the site while resources were used to prop up the print magazines as we removed certain negative elements from our business. A few good people, with whom I remain in touch, were caught in the crossfire, but we lived on.
   Fifteen years on we struck a far better balance, and it’s thanks to our team and all those who are Lucire’s creators—editors, writers, photographers, make-up artists, stylists, hairstylists, and many more—that that has been possible.
   And it wouldn’t have been worth doing without those who have blessed us with increasing readership, as we know our work is being appreciated around the globe. It’s always heartening to see Lucire being enjoyed, and recently we were given permission by Fatimah Ahmed, a wedding photographer in Al Jubail, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to show this image from her Instagram. The caption: ‘Surround yourself with the things you love.’


Fatimah Ahmed

   We thank our partners, advertisers, all those who work to print and distribute Lucire, and our supporters for coming together during a tough year and keeping everything ticking along.
   We began 2020 trying to stay positive in the wake of two deaths in the Lucire family in December 2019, and we thought our ‘2020’ graphic that adorned the January 2020 cover of Lucire KSA was a signal that things were going to be positive. It was our “keeping our chin up”. Twenty twenty, I thought, had a nice ring to it. But the superstitious would have pointed to the darkened skies from the Australian bushfires and the cancellation of lunar New Year celebrations in China as ominous, and we certainly had an unexpected year.
   Nevertheless, we count our blessings, as there still were many during 2020, and we wish everyone a happier and more prosperous 2021.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher


The cover from Lucire KSA January 2020, featuring Camille Hyde wearing House of Fluff, where we tried to keep our chin up—and the ‘2020’ motif was meant to signal a positive year!

 


A trio of fragrance débuts from Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Carolina Herrera

Filed by Lucire staff/December 22, 2020/7.58

Versace Eros eau de parfum hits counters in New Zealand on January 7, priced at NZ$165 for 100 ml.
   A woody, oriental scent, it has head notes of Italian lemon and mandarin, mint oil and candied apple, a heart featuring geranium, sage and Ambermax, and end notes of cedarwood, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla.
   This masculine scent is said to embody excess and power, as envisaged by Donatella Versace. Retailers include Farmers, Life Pharmacy, Smith & Caughey, Ballantyne’s, H. & J. Smith and select David Jones stores.


   Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male Pride sees the well known fragrance in a limited-edition can, on shelves in New Zealand in February, retailing at NZ$158 for the 125 ml eau de toilette at Farmers, Life Pharmacy, Smith & Caughey, Ballantyne’s and H. & J. Smith.
   With the unexpected notes of mint and vanilla, the scent celebrates tolerance and our differences. Both the bottle and can bear a rainbow flag.

   Also débuting in February—on the 7th—is Carolina Herrera’s Good Girl eau de parfum légère, an oriental fragrance with a softer jasmine, namely the jasmine sambac imperial, and tonka. Recommended prices begin at NZ$115 for the 30 ml, rising to NZ$168 for the 50 ml, and NZ$218 for the 80 ml, at Farmers, Life Pharmacy, Smith & Caughey, Ballantyne’s and H. & J. Smith.

 


Beauty in brief: Aman’s new fragrances; sustainable hair care from Ella Mae

Filed by Lucire staff/December 7, 2020/22.57

Scents that travel
Often profiled in our travel section, including some memorable features from personal visits by our travel editor, Stanley Moss, Aman finds itself in a beauty story as it launches five 50 ml eaux de parfum created by master perfumer Jacques Chabert.
   They follow Aman’s foray into skin care in 2018, and its wellness supplement brand, SVA, in September 2020.
   The new scents are gender-neutral, with each inspired by an Aman destination. Vayu has been inspired by Amanpuri in Thailand, conveying the freshness of summer and crashing waves; Ayom, inspired by Amanjiwa in Indonesia, is what Aman calls a ‘deep, dramatic and complex’ scent with a sense of rarity; Umbr, inspired by Aman Venice, is an opulent, layered scent, with hints of oak, leather and spice; Zuac, inspired by Amanjena in Morocco, is described as ‘warm ochre combined with drifting spice’; and Alta, inspired by the forthcoming Aman New York, is a bold, urban scent. All scents are phthalate-, paraben- and formaldehyde-free.
   The bottles are designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and crafted in Japan from Paulownia wood, made from a fast-growing tree. The case is reusable.
   The scents are available at the Aman Shop and at the resorts’ boutiques. A further two scents are due in the spring.

For healthy hair

Here’s a brand that’s still a relatively well kept secret outside France: Ella Mae, a hair care brand using only sustainable organic ingredients sourced in Provence. Founded by a brother–sister duo in 2019, Ella Mae addresses common problems such as brittle and thinning hair, slow growth and dry scalp. Karanja oil is used throughout the range, with 100 per cent natural antioxidant protection for hair colour from repeated shampooing and UV rays. All ingredients are paraben- and sulphate-free, and never tested on animals. Most unusual is the use of snail slime, which has some of the best moisturizing compounds in nature, and is beneficial for hair and scalp. Find out more at ellamae.com. Lucire readers can get 30 per cent off with the code LUCIRE30.

Best in the land
The Luxury Lifestyle Awards in New York has announced that Diamond Laser Medispa, in Taupō, New Zealand, has been given the status of the Best Luxury Medical Spas in New Zealand. A beauty spa and skin clinic, it was founded in 2013 by Olivia Blakeney-William, and has competencies in appearance medicine, advanced skin treatments, tattoo removal, IPL, and diode laser hair removal.


 


Movado holds Shanghai event with singer Li Ronghao and actor Jerry Chengjie Yuan

Filed by Lucire staff/November 5, 2020/10.25




Movado’s Shanghai event saw actor Jerry Chengjie Yuan, singer Li Ronghao, and Movado China general manager Danni Hammer.

Movado held its Music Time Journey event in Shanghai on October 29, with an interview format featuring its spokesman, singer–songwriter Li Ronghao (李榮浩) and host, actor Jerry Chengjie Yuan (袁成傑).
   Movado China general manager Danni Hammer, discussed the philosophy behind the brand, and how it used simple design to convey the attributes of independence and confidence. He noted that beneath the design, Movado used superior watchmaking technology.
   Movado sees Li as a good match for the brand, as an artist with a unique style, and creativity that follows his heart. The event linked Li’s latest album to Movado’s Museum Dial Modern 47 watch, featuring the company’s iconic design created by Nathan George Horwitt in 1947.
   The watch design is an example of Bauhaus simplicity, with no markers on the dials, and a single circle at the top signifying the sun—a piece of functional art. Movado had been producing the Horwitt design without permission originally, and only settled with him in 1975 for a minor sum.
   The Museum name came from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), to which Horwitt had sold one of three watches he had privately commissioned in the mid-1950s. MoMA produced wall-clock versions of the design, originating the term ‘Museum Dial’.
   Li says this is his favourite design: ‘This dial reminds me that music and time have their own melody and rhythm, so I don’t forget to stick to my original aspirations and find the origin of life.’
   The event also promoted Movado’s 1881 series, targeted at older customers, linking it to Li’s new album Sparrow.

 


Second Makeup Revolution × Friends beauty collection released

Filed by Lucire staff/November 4, 2020/11.30

There’s often a two-decade rule when it comes to revivals, and Revolution Beauty’s collaboration with Friends still manages to come within that for the US series that ran from 1994 to 2004.
   The sitcom about six white singles in New York had already been transformed once into a range of make-up palettes, lipsticks and eyeshadow shades by Revolution, dedicated to Monica, Rachel and Phoebe, selling out within five hours of going live at Ulta.com. This time round, Revolution is announcing additional products, which should still meet with immense success, since there’s nothing more reassuring during uncertain times than a dose of nostalgia.
   There are lip glosses, eyeshadow palettes that play off Friends in-jokes, a lip scrub, and make-up accessories, all priced below US$25.
   ‘When developing and creating the first Makeup Revolution × Friends collection, we looked at each character individually—evaluating their style, personalities, make-up influence—to build an authentic collection bringing the characters to life,’ said Revolution Beauty founder Adam Minto. ‘Revolution’s goal was to embody the essence of Friends, paying tribute to the ’90s in general and we clearly achieved that goal with consumers as the collection sold out on Ulta.com in record time. As the only beauty brand that has been awarded with the honour to adapt the Friends font and logo into our own logo, we cannot be more excited to drop the second part of the Makeup Revolution × Friends collection and reveal additional branded products.’
   Revolution products are PETA-certified cruelty-free, never tested on animals, and 76 per cent vegan.
   The collection goes on sale today at Ulta beauty stores and Ulta.com, as well as RevolutionBeauty.com.

 


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