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Zoe Sugg Responds to Being Dropped from GCSE Curriculum

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  • The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, one of the UK’s biggest exam boards, dropped YouTuber and creator Zoe Sugg from their curriculum for the GCSE media studies exam because of the “adult” content she posts. 
  • Many assumed they did this because her lifestyle website, Zoella, recently posted about vibrators and sex toys. 
  • Sugg said that while she was unaware she was part of the curriculum, she was upset to be dropped because she thinks teen girls should learn about this type of sexual education, even though her website’s core audience is women 25 to 35-years-old.
  • AQA put out a statement Monday explaining that they made their decision because all of her content is for her adults, not just because of one article. While they believe in the importance of sexual education, they do not think GCSE materials are the right place for it. 

Zoella Removed From GCSE Materials

YouTuber Zoe Sugg wrote about the importance of sex education after the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, one of the biggest exam boards in the United Kingdom, removed her from the GCSE curriculum for posting “adult” content.

The GCSEs are academic qualification tests that high school-age students take on a number of subjects. Sugg and her lifestyle website, Zoella, are featured in a Close Studies Products booklet used by students taking the GCSE Media Studies course; however, she was removed from upcoming materials after parents expressed worries over her content.

Business Insider obtained a letter that AQA sent to teachers, which claimed that parents were concerned that “some of Zoella’s recent content is aimed specifically at an adult audience and not suitable for GCSE students.”

Sugg has been active on YouTube and other social media platforms for over a decade. She started posting beauty videos and her website now hosts articles on a variety of topics ranging from fashion and food, to chronic illnesses and menstruation, to what to do if you are a revenge porn victim. On Jan. 13, an article titled titled “The Best Sex Toys to Spice Up Your Life in 2021” went live on the site. Many believed this story in particular led to her being removed from GCSE materials. 

Zoe Sugg Responds

Sugg responded Saturday, saying she was unaware that her content was even studied by students taking the media studies GCSE but was still frustrated to learn why it was being removed. She says her team has worked hard to write about all kinds of issues that impact women and believes they are worthy of discussion and attention.

“We’ve worked hard to include more women’s health, conversational articles, & basically just more grown up content as our main demographic is 25-35 year old females,” she said of the women that work on her website. “NOT 16 year olds.”

Sugg also said that had AQA looked at her website, it would have known this kind of content was popular there. Still, she thinks that this content should not be considered taboo for teens to see. 

“I actually disagree that teens shouldn’t be learning about this stuff,” she wrote. “Maybe not in their bloody curriculum exam but how else are teenage girls going to find out more about being a woman? I WISH I had a website like @Zoella when I was growing up.”

She said that the article about sex toys, which she did not write herself and which was the effort of her team as a whole looking at popular products among women, is actually the most viewed piece on Zoella right now. On Sunday, she made another post discussing the controversy.

“Naturally as I have got older, my audience has grown up too & the things I want to share or shine a light on have naturally aged up to suit my lifestyle,” she wrote. 

It worries me that they think 16 year olds aren’t exploring their own bodies, doing this with someone else or know what a sex toy is,” Sugg continued. “Although we don’t aim our content at teens, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s there for them to read at all.”

She then called out the numerous media outlets whose headlines attempted to turn the situation into a scandal. Sugg said those articles were “just perpetuating the fact that female pleasure is something that we should feel ashamed of.”

AQA Clarifies Decision

On Monday morning, AQA released an updated statement clarifying their choice to take Sugg and her website out of the curriculum. The organization first added her in 2017 and said that her content “has evolved and now includes a range of articles of a sexual nature — alongside many other topics — aimed at adults aged over 25.”

It said it was not one article in particular, but the overall themes and content on her website that led them to making this decision. AQA said that students 14-years-old and even younger might be using these materials, meaning mature content may not be appropriate. 

“None of this is a judgement on Zoe Sugg, her work, or the suitability of her material for her target audience,” AQA continued. “As she’s pointed out herself, she wasn’t aware that children were studying her work for our course and we’ve never had any kind of relationship with her.” 

“Effective relationships and sex education in schools is vitally important and we completely support it. All we’re saying is that we don’t think studying adult-focused lifestyle websites in GCSE Media Studies is the best way to do it.”

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Cosmopolitan) (The Independent)

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TikTok and Twitter Are Now Deleting Videos That Expose Closeted Olympians on Grindr

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On top of outing people who may not be ready to have their sexuality revealed to the world, these videos could have endangered LGBTQ+ athletes from countries where homosexuality is illegal.


Closeted Olympians Being Doxxed

Openly LGBTQ+ Olympians are currently more visible than they have ever been before, but unfortunately, so are closeted ones.

That’s because some people have been using the LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr to try and find Olympians. They’ve been doing so by using the app’s “Explore” feature, which allows people to search and see users in specific locations (ie. Olympic Village).

But some aren’t content with just discovering which athletes belong to the LGBTQ+ community. They’re also sharing that information on platforms like TikTok and Twitter. 

“I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself [an] Olympian boyfriend,” one TikTok user said in a post that had been viewed 140,000 times, according to Insider

That video reportedly went on to show the poster scrolling through Grindr to expose over 30 users’ full faces. 

As many have argued, not only does this potentially out already-stressed Olympians who may not yet be comfortable sharing their sexuality, it also could put some users at serious risk if they live in countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal. 

In fact, the video cited by Insider seemingly did just that, as it reportedly shows the face of a user who appears to be from a country “known for its anti-LGBTQ policies.”

Grindr Responds, TikTok and Twitter Take Action

In response, Grindr said the posts violate its rules against “publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information” from the app. It then asked the posters to remove the content.

Ultimately, it was TikTok and Twitter themselves that largely took action, with the two deleting at least 14 posts scattered across their platforms.

A Highly-Visible LGBTQ+ Presence at the Games 

According to Outsports, at least 172 of around 11,000 Olympians are openly LGBTQ+. While that number is still well below the statistical average, it’s triple the number of LGBTQ+ athletes that attended Rio’s 2016 Games.

In fact, if they were their own country, openly LGBTQ+ athletes would reportedly rank 11th in medals, according to an Outsports report published Tuesday. 

Among those winners is British diver Tom Daley, who secured his first gold medal on Monday and used his platform to send a hopeful message to LGBTQ+ youth by telling them, “You are not alone.”

After winning a silver medal on Wednesday, U.S. swimmer Erica Sullivan talked about her experience as both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color. 

Still, the Olympics has faced criticism for its exclusion of intersex individuals, particularly those like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who won gold medals in both 2012 and 2016. Rules implemented in 2019 now prevent Semenya from competing as a woman without the use of medication to suppress her testosterone levels. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Pink News) (Out)

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Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity

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The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.


Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation

YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.  

The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”

If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.

Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.” 

Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves

Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.

“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”

It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.

On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.

Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”

It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”

Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully

While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans. 

This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.

Earlier this year, Paul was also accused of sexual assault, though he denied those allegations.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto)

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Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary

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The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission. 


Bourdain’s Voice Recreated

“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.

Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.

That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.

Director Defends Use of AI Voice

The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film. 

“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.” 

Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”

In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”

“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”

“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.” 

The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled

But many want to have that discussion now.

Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.  

Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”

“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted. 

Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”

Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether. 

“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.

Celebrities Recreated After Death

The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.

In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Yahoo! News) (Variety)

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