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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Joan Rivers was more than just a comedy icon; she was a trailblazer across every avenue, including YouTube.

    At 79, after a rich career in the media, Rivers decided she wanted a YouTube show too. As a workaholic at heart, she became collaborating weekly with celebs and fellow YouTubers begining in March 2013. She last posted just a week prior to her death. While she had many amazing moments on the show, the ones where she connected with the rising crop of YouTube stars particularly stick out as showcasing Rivers's legacy not only as a legend, but also as a mentor to a new generation of comedians.

    We've rounded up the best moments she spent with the YouTube elite during her short tenure on the platform, from talking about waxing before childbirth with Tyler Oakley to Minecraft with iJustine.

    1) iJustine

    iJustine was Rivers's first YouTube celebrity on the show, and she hit the ground running, talking about which nationality is the hottest and how livestreaming changed Justine's life and living situation.

    2) Tyler Oakley

    Oakley was a rare male YouTuber to share Rivers's bed, and the duo discussed his coming out, his charity work, and what it's like to date as a digital celeb.

    3) Hannah Hart

    Hannah Hart donned a tuxedo onesie to snuggle with Rivers, and the duo talked about Japanese comedy, coming out, and Hart's ability to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Internet. When Rivers asked if she could ask for fans to fund a plastic survery, Hart told her she didn't even need it. 

    4) Mamrie Hart

    Mamrie Hart gave a heartfelt toast at this year's Streamy Awards to honor Rivers, who invited Hart into her bed to discuss fake eulogies for celebrities and, of course, to drink.

    5) Grace Helbig

    Helbig joined Rivers in bed to divulge her pageant past and discuss the jump from YouTube to filmmaking with her Camp Takota project.

    6) Brittany Furlan

    Furlan holds the distinction of being the only Viner to grace Rivers's sheets, and she explained the six-second phenomenon to Rivers, as well as how she lost her virginity and her adventures in scandal at the Daytime Emmys.

    7) Jenna Marbles

    Marbles joined Rivers in bed to talk about her breakout channel and her background in sports psychology and counseling. 

    8) Billy Eichner

    Eichner may be a big TV star now, but he got his start on YouTube terrorizing the streets of New York with pop culture questions. Rivers was an early proponent of Eichner's comedy, and even suggested him to the Letterman booker personally. 

    Screengrab via inbedwithjoan/YouTube


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    Every few months or so, someone—usually an old white man—tells us that file-sharing killed rock and roll. This week’s old white man: Gene Simmons.

    It was just a few weeks ago that the Kiss singer offered the world his narrow-minded advice on depressed people and suicide. Now, he’s offered his narrow-minded opinion on another divisive topic, because people keep asking for his opinions, apparently. In an Esquireinterview with his son, Nick, Simmons reheats a tired statement: Rock is dead.

    And not just dead. It was murdered:

    The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid's 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he's jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won't, because it's that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

    The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there's a copy left behind for you — it's not that copy that's the problem, it's the other one that someone received but didn't pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

    Since he’s an old white man, he also wonders where the next Bob Dylan is, and the next Dark Side of the Moon, since we’ve made no progress musically since the ‘60s and ‘70s, and no genres besides rock exist. So who is to blame for this crime? Well, when you’re an old white man, you blame the kids:

    My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that's what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism—and I'm a firm believer in free-market capitalism—then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You'll never understand unless you're the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you're the one who's been robbed, there's a moment of clarity.

    Back in January, Simmons had even more opinions about file-sharing. In an interview with Metal Hammer, he explained that the early pioneers of peer-to-peer sharing, like Napster, should have been “bitch-slapped,” and worse:

    Gone down with the FBI, seized everything and put everyone in jail. But then they should have done what the Allies did with the Nazis: made them work for us.

    In 2010, Simmons, speaking at the MIPCOM convention in Cannes, France, said the solution to file-sharing was to “sue everybody,” including your fans. His MIPCOM comments elicited the ire of Anonymous, which launched a virtual attack on Simmons’s “brand,” and knocked his official website offline temporarily.

    In 2008, Simmons blamed Radiohead for killing the music industry, and also his fans:  

    The record industry is dead. It's six feet underground and unfortunately the fans have done this. They've decided to download and file share. There is no record industry around so we're going to wait until everybody settles down and becomes civilised. As soon as the record industry pops its head up we'll record new material.

    So, Simmons has complained a lot about this issue but hasn't offered any solutions, or embraced any of the positive aspects of file-sharing. This is an ever-evolving issue on an Internet full of growing pains. File-sharing has become a form of discovery and a necessity, a way to get your music to a bigger audience, one that lives primarily online and consumes via social media. 

    Simmons has become the real-life version of Abe Simpson yelling at a cloud.

    But don’t assume he’s complaining about his very comfortable lot in life and the success that making music has brought him:

    And let's be clear: I'm not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I'm very, very lucky. But that's because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn't like a band, you didn't buy their albums, and the people decided.

    So maybe we should all just stop buying Kiss albums. Or at least we could just stop listening to Simmons’s opinions on things. Then maybe he can fade quietly into irrelevance, while the music industry continues to evolve without him. 

    Photo via Focka/Flickr (CC BY ND-2.0)


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    Voice actor extraordinaire Rob Paulsen entertained a crowd—and tickled its collective nostalgic bone—with a unique address at the Geek Fan Expo in Detroit. He strayed from what most personalities do at convention Q&As (plug upcoming projects while not disclosing any details about them), reached deep into his rich past of voice acting work, and sang "The Nations of the World" from Animaniacs.

    For those of you unaware, Animaniacs was a brilliant cartoon program that aired in the 1990s, featuring "rejected" Warner Bros. siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot wreaking havoc on the movie studio. Yakko was brought to life by the ever-versatile Paulsen for the series' entire five-season run. 

    Among Animaniacs' numerous entertainment offerings were a series of original songs, many of which were educational in nature. One such tune was "Yakko's World."

    And here is Paulsen, 22 years after the episode's original 1992 airdate, revisiting the melody.

    Maybe next we can get Paulsen to enact an argument between Donatello (from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series) and Raphael (from the 1987 TMNT series), seeing as how he voices both characters.

    Photo via Time Warner


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    I had assumed that my smartphone would be confiscated at the door for Aphex Twin’s New York listening party on Saturday. I’d won a free ticket via online lottery for the show, if you could call it that, and it stipulated that “no mobile phones or recording devices will be allowed” and that guests unable to “remove and securely hold” such gadgets would be turned away. 

    Excited as I was to hear SYRO, the first new Aphex Twin LP in 13 years, set for release Sept. 23, I was equally curious to enter a Williamsburg club whose name—Verboten—would apply to the use of mobile devices within. A couple hundred Gen-Xers and millennials, stripped of their cold, smooth, rectangular security blankets, forced to otherwise occupy their hands and more directly experience the music blasting into their bodies: What could be more promising?

    That the rise of the smartphone has all but ruined the contemporary concert experience is hardly worth arguing. I can recall the first time I noticed as much, in 2008, at a My Bloody Valentine reunion show that followed the release of the iPhone 3G. The glowing sea of screens bespoke mass inattention, even indifference. It was like a room full of people waiting to board a plane or use an ATM, tuning out any aural stimuli as incidental noise.

    The SYRO rule was partly an intellectual property matter—neither Warp Records nor Aphex Twin, a.k.a. Richard D. James, was interested in having a bootleg recording get loose—but it struck me as a lovely counterpoint to (or heightening of) James’ bleeding-edge tendencies. Not only has the Irish composer pushed electronic music to unreal new frontiers, he also announced this latest effort via the Deep Web, at an onion address that revealed a tracklist, or if you didn’t use the anonymizing Tor browser, a distressing amount of personal data.

    To remove phones from the equation, then, was to unplug us from the century that has seen major musicians from Beyoncé to Boards of Canada one-up each other with surprising and viral release strategies: Nobody at this event would be able to tweet about being there, or Instagram the crowd, or sense when they’d received a text message. 

    It turned out to be an honor system—a man indistiguishable from the lucky music dorks who made up the line walked up and down the sidewalk outside the venue and politely asked us to turn them off before we entered—and halfway through the second track, I saw the telltale glow from two different bros’ phones.

    As irritated as I was, I had to admit I understood the compulsion. It took a hefty amount of brute willpower to keep my own fingers from slipping into the pocket where my own addicting totem lay dormant. I compensated by ordering overpriced cocktails and swizzling like mad.

    There was no performer present at the club, and the visuals were limited to a spinning, flickering Aphex Twin logo and sparse lightwork. For the most part, we were staring at a blank wall. I found most people showing a private reverence for the restless biomorphic beats and glassy synths of SYRO, some doing freestyle, karate-chop-heavy dance moves, others with their eyes closed and heads bowed. It was as if everyone were listening on their own set of headphones, surely the preferred mode of sonic consumption in the IDM scene. There was an eerie, uniform sense of focus: James’s tunes have undeniable grooves, but they’re the slippery sort, tough to pin down.

    That contradictory effect—deprived of connective technology, we were more deeply isolated in our particular understanding of the sounds, which in turn brought us together as a group, applauding nobody at the end of each track—intensified with the strobe-lit middle section, whose breakbeat syncopations and polyrhythms felt like James dragging dubstep out to a snowy forest to bury it alive in a shallow grave. I was reminded of the Facebook thread that began with Skrillex posting Aphex Twin’s twinkly “Film” as his “fav song of all time,” only to have his single-minded fans demand to know where the “drop” was. Here we had an answer.

    SYRO lasted an hour, beautiful and distinctly its maker’s, concluding with a quiet, frictionless finale that could have slotted nicely into one of his Ambient Works collections. Someone near the bar, talking loudly, was viciously hushed by those around him. Earlier in the evening, I remembered, another guy had been telling his friend that Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus would be like “the classical music for the future,” and in this unusually formal atmosphere, it seemed he had a point. It wasn’t exactly the “birth of rave” scene from 24 Hour Party People, but the respect for the medium itself was palpable. We had developed a sense of the sacred.

    Could listening parties like this one—which saw its audience trickle out into the Brooklyn night with smartphone screens powering up, eager to see what they missed and share what they’d been a part of—be the wave of the future? Might we yet revive a concert culture that places a premium on engagement not only with the music but fellow fans?

    James has proved that we can do more with less, and drift back to ourselves in the process. I hope, in a world where musicians are already primed and proud to follow his example, that this one takes hold.

    Photo by Ferran Moya/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    Nobody can ever really feel safe in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, but the Walkers are still the least of their worries.

    With just over a month until the new season premieres, AMC released another nail-biting trailer to get the fans excited, and it doesn’t hold back any emotional punches.

    Sure, they reached Terminus last season, but the so-called safe haven is nothing like was promised—we already figured as much. But things might be even worse than feared, and the possibility that at least one major character will die this season is increasingly likely. Don’t get more attached to anyone now.

    Now that AMC has greenlit a companion series to The Walking Dead, we can see just how bad things have gotten in other parts of the country. It may be terrifying, but if the ratings have proved anything, we can’t look away.

    Photo via AMC/YouTube


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    Last month during Comic-Con, Channing Tatum showed off his somewhat questionable freestyle skills with Biz Markie. Now, the 22 Jump Street star has taken his skills to the next level: He’s addressed the “dick graze” craze.

    In a clip promoting the release of 22 Jump Street on iTunes, Tatum offers an alternative to a handshake or hug when you greet another male friend. Yes, “dick graze” is literal here.

    But ladies can get in on the craze, too. Jillian Bell, star of 22 Jump Street and Workaholics, encourages girlfriends to embrace the "tit graze." Perhaps female friendships can bloom and be strengthened through this action.

    There’s even a #DickGraze hashtag. Is this the new ice bucket challenge? (Please say no.)  

    However, Tatum isn't the first person to discuss the dick graze. Eddie Murphy talked about the threat in his comedy special, Raw: “You don’t have to kick no nuts to hurt nobody. You could just graze nuts.”

    H/T The Wrap | Screengrab via Channing Tatum/YouTube


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    YouTube announced its fan funding feature this summer at VidCon, promising creators a way to open a tip jar on their channels so fans could directly support content without leaving the YouTube environment. As the new capability rolled out last week, several channels have instituted the feature, although its sustainability as a revenue stream and adoption by the general users of YouTube may be a long way off even if the initial response is promising.

    “The first week response has been tremendously positive,” family-friendly gamer Paul Soares Jr., told the Daily Dot after implementing fan funding. “Many people feel good about supporting something that makes them happy. Fans have been asking me over the years, ‘Hey Paul, where’s your PayPal button?! I want to send you a couple dollars for all of the entertainment you’ve provided for me and my family!’ Fan funding makes it a snap now and takes the hassle out of using third-party sites and payment methods.”

    Not all content creators are able to institute the feature, and YouTube's is not the only game in town that allows creators to take donations or subscription-type fees for their content. Platforms like Patreon and Subbable have operated for a while and function more like an extended Kickstarter campaign for creators, with monthly donations and perks for participating fans. For creators like Soares, however, the easy plug-and-play nature of YouTube’s new offering led him to choose it over third-party systems.

    “I chose fan funding over independent systems likes Patreon primarily due to simplicity,” he said. “Everything to get fan funding operational on my channel was already in place. The infrastructure was there, the underlying payment system, the interactive promotion on my videos and channel. All I had to do was 'flip the switch' to turn it on so fans could see it. It’s the perfect turnkey solution if you already have a YouTube channel.”

    So far, however, most fan funding channels have yet to see massive adoption from the users, in part because they’re still getting the word out that the option is available. The tip jar appears as a non-intrusive widget on a channel’s main page or an optional pop-up during the video, similar to an annotation. Georgia Koch, channel manager at SoulPancake, which also implemented fan funding last week, said her channel sees the tip jar as a great way to generate support without interrupting the viewing experience.

    “Being able to be directly supported by our community on YouTube and the folks that watch our content on a regular basis would be amazing,” she told the Daily Dot. “As creators on the platform, we all have to figure out ways to be sustainable—and the cool thing about fan fund[ing] is it doesn't affect the content viewing experience on the platform. Since a lot of our content is shown in schools and other educational settings, we want to make the viewing experience as streamlined as possible.”

    The funding feature is currently available in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Mexico, and uses Google Wallet to collect donations. Google takes 5 percent of the donation, plus a nominal fee for processing. For now, the biggest hurdle for participants is awareness, which channels like SoulPancake plan to tackle the best way they know how: through video.

    “One thing we are working towards is creating a video that explains the feature and how any funds we raise will help us continue to make videos that matter on the platform,” Koch said. “The more information you can give the audience, the better. I think a lot of the work right now for content creators is about educating the YouTube audience and letting them know the feature exists.”

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    Yesterday morning, disturbing footage of Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, was released by TMZ. And the flapping gums at Fox & Friends wasted no time mocking the incident.

    More specifically, the hosts blamed the victim, Palmer, for still marrying Rice after the incident. After reading viewer tweets on the video, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade discussed how Rihanna also went back to Chris Brown after he assaulted her, and what a terrible message that was. 

    “I think the message is, take the stairs,” Kilmeade said.

    “The message is, when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera,” Doocy shot back.

    IFrame

    People have been calling for the hoststhird host Anna Kooiman giggled during this awkward exchangeto be fired or suspended.

    The channel couldn’t get their opinions on Ray Rice out fast enough: Fox News contributor Ben Carson said today that we should stop “demonizing” Rice, and that his wife knew he had issues and married him anyway.

    Fox told Washington Post writer Erik Wemple that it will address the comments on tomorrow’s show. It’s almost as if these men don’t know they’re on camera, or what a “terrible message” is.

    H/T Raw Story | Screengrab via RS1/YouTube | Remix by Jason Reed


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    George Watsky isn’t an artist who’s concerned with the quantity of his fans: He's after quality.

    The spoken word poet and rapper who rose to fame on YouTube and recently released his fourth album, All You Can Do, is taking that focus on quality and a deeper fan experience to heart as he crafts his next tour. He’s instituting a somewhat unheard-of mechanism for his fans: a punch card that gives them perks the more shows on the tour they attend.

    “I have fans who are willing to drive from really far away to see a show, and we’re nearing the point where we have so much material as a band that we could play a different set every night,” Watsky told the Daily Dot. “We want to try and create a sense for people that it's going to be different every time; this is an experience. If I can encourage people to come to multiple shows, I can sell more tickets and I can pay my band more and we can do more as an act.

    "I guess the danger is our weirdest, craziest fans will be following us from show to show. But the Dead had people rolling around with them all summer, and it was awesome.”

    Watsky is right that dedicated fans wanting to see a performer multiple times in a single tour is not a new phenomenon, but the incentivization of that fandom from the artist is what sets Watsky apart as part of a new generation of creators, even if he’s not sure if the idea is going to work just yet.

    “I don’t know if it’s a good idea yet; I guess time will tell,” he explained. “But the general inspiration for that was a gradual acceptance of the fact that I may never become a mainstream artist. What I have the ability to do is have a very long career with a group of very loyal supporters if I stay true to continuing to create stuff that I feel passionate about. I think that’s possibly a better position to be in than someone who has a huge platinum album but who falls off because they’re replaceable.”

    Watsky rose to prominence thanks to a combination of a string of successful YouTube videos showcasing his fast rapping abilities and spoken word performances and relentless touring across the country. His successful viral hit where he raps with a cat looking on (24 million views and counting) landed him the attention of mainstream media, but his unflagging touring and creating kept him in the hearts of fans. Watsky sees the intersection of his digital presence and his in-person performances as key to the kind of artist he hopes the world sees him as.

    “I want to maintain a standard of quality, but I also have a large interest in maintaining live performance as a big element of what I do,” he explained. “The reason I post live clips is  because I want to create an awareness. It’s about saying, 'I want to put this out to you because this is how I want you to see me as an artist.' I try and put out the work that I want people to see, and have that shape their impression of me.”

    One of Watsky’s first posts was a clip of his Def Poetry Jam performance, an illegally posted clip of a traditional media moment on YouTube, and one he says he’s thankfully never been called out on. That moment helped launch his life on YouTube, and without the platform, he knows his career would be at a completely different point now.

    “I think I would be touring the country, doing spoken word performances at college campuses,” Watsky said. “I definitely don’t think I’d have the size of an audience that I do, I don’t think I’d be able to target a specific type of audience that loves what I do. It’s allowed me to stay really true to what I do and find an audience. I’m lucky the platform came along when it did.”

    Watsky’s most recent album is a tribute, he says, to the music his parents taught him to love growing up, and an attempt to bring his parents’ musical influences to the type of music that he makes.

    “If I were to give someone my elevator pitch on what I do, I would say that I’m a rapper and a spoken word poet. There’s an amount of humor involved, but I’m not a comedy rapper.

    This album particularly, it’s not not for people who listen to hip-hop—it is for hip-hop heads—but it is for people who have a wide variety of genres they listen to. It incorporates elements of folk rock and psychedelic rock. It has songs that veer between being influenced by Rage Against the Machine and ones where we were listening to Jimi Hendrix before they recorded it.”

    He spent the summer as part of Warped Tour, traveling the country both exposing himself to new fans as a band distinct from the typical sound for which the festival is known, and connecting with his already dedicated masses. He also churned out several videos in support of the new album. The most recent video for “Bet Against Me” explores glitch and datamoshing, and he promises a high production video for “Let’s Get High and Watch Planet Earth” that will be released in October just before the U.S. leg of his world tour.

    “We’re always trying to make sure the concept of the video and the way the song sounds interlock,” he said. “We shot a high production value video that’s funny, but that’s epic and we want to make it look epic. We’ve got a helicopter drone shot. We really went all out on that one.”

    Speaking of that world tour, Watsky is not the type of American artist to tack on a U.K. date and call it worldwide. He’ll trek down to Australia and even India in support of this album, even though he describes ambitious trips like those “money losers” because of the cost it takes to bring his band and experience that far from home. Despite the expense, bringing his music far and wide (Watsky cited Brazil and Iceland as two other dream destinations) is important to his sense as an artist, especially one who’s already been able to reach so far with the help of the Internet. 

    “I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to do this thing with the band, so I want us to be able to create as many lasting memories as we can while we have the opportunities,” he said. 

    Fans are definitely poised to enjoy those memories with him—as many times as their punch cards allow—when he kicks off his tour this month.

    Screengrab via Watsky/YouTube


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    It's been quite a week for 1990s cartoons. First, voice actor Rob Paulsen proved he could still conjure up Yakko's musical stylings from Animaniacs. Now, we are seeing the DuckTales theme reimagined with actual ducks.

    In this amazingly adorable YouTube video from the minds at Oh My Disney, the characters of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie are replaced with real live ducks. The animals manage to execute the rather chaotic opening sequence perfectly—gold coin bath and all.

    See how it compares with the original.

    We're a little surprised the Internet hasn't recreated the opening sequence to Thundercats with actual felines yet.

    H/T Digg | Screengrab via Oh My Disney/YouTube


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    For a show about nothing, Seinfeld had an awful lot going on. Almost no aspect of the human condition went unexplored, nor was any opportunity for infinitesimal pettiness squandered.

    But 25 years after the first episode aired—and with countless viewings under your belt—you might think you know everything about the three-camera sitcom that perfectly heightened and thus forever killed the format. But you’d be wrong. Here, let CineFix enlighten you:

    There: now you finally have something interesting to talk about at the coffee shop.

    Photo by Andrés Vilas/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)


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    YouTubers are coming together to support net neutrality as part of a new campaign that reminds fans and lawmakers alike that without net neutrality, they wouldn't exist.

    “Net neutrality allows independent content creators to reach audiences directly," said Vlogbrother and bestselling author John Green in a press release. "Without it there would be no YouTube or tumblr or reddit and there would also be no vlogbrothers or crash course.”

    Green is not the only video star lending his voice to the cause. VideoCreatorsForNetNeutrality—which is run by the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit that addresses civic engagement inspired by the Potter series—has gathered over 11,000 unique creators, representing more than 150,000 videos and nearly 14 billion views. Other influential contributors include EpicLLOYD, Improv Everywhere, Annoying Orange, and Team StarKid.

    In addition to signing their names, creators are being tasked with producing content that will be broadcast outside the FCC on a billboard for 36 hours starting Sept. 16, in conjunction with Fight for the Future.

    "The billboard project was a bit synchronistic," Paul DeGeorge, executive director of the Harry Potter Alliance, told the Daily Dot. "[Fight for the Future] approached us because they knew we were already working to organize YouTubers. It's a great opportunity to give these creators to speak a bit more directly, ahem, to the FCC. And by direct I mean, on a giant screen right in front of FCC headquarters. From looking at the million plus comments that the FCC has received, I get the impression that working there might be a bit of a slog, and they probably don't have too much time for YouTube. So this is a good opportunity to bring it to them."

    Net neutrality directly affect YouTubers, as an FCC rule that would favor service providers that charging premiums to creators distributing content could seriously cripple the path to YouTube success. YouTube creators often rise out of obscurity from their own homes with no access to capital to increase their viewership, simply relying on the community of YouTube and discovery of their content. It's that ecosystem that's brought success for YouTubers like Hannah Hart and WheezyWaiter, both of whom are part of the campaign.

    "One aspect of this project we love is that it treats all creators equally," DeGeroge said. "We want the FCC to hear from large and small creators. You never know where the next viral video will come from or who will be the next big YouTube star. It's absolutely imperative that we protect the opportunity that exists for creators to reach and discover and audience."

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    Nicki Minaj has been subjected to think pieces, fart jokes, and scathing reviews from grandmothers all because of the prominent perky posteriors in her music video for “Anaconda.” But while the song samples the classic Sir Mix A Lot track “Baby Got Back,” Minaj has taken to the streets to prove that the message of the song is less about body shape and more about embracing your inner curves, or something like that.

    In her latest philanthropic effort, Minaj went backstage at fashion week on Saturday to help out some models who were in desperate need of a little snake-handling guidance.

    In a series of vines posted to the Vogue magazine account, Minaj staged an intervention to help the waifish models work what little they do have with attitude. While their gaunt figures look almost comical compared to Minaj’s voluptuousness, it didn’t stop them from giving a spirited yet awkward performances in six-second bursts.

    If you’ve ever wondered what wild club nights you missed by not studying abroad in Prague during college, this basically sums it up.

    We’ll give the girl to Minaj’s left a pass for not being able to lift her leg all the way in the air; those boots do look rather heavy.

    Photo via carnivalridexx/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    There’s an argument to be made that the “list 10 life-changing books” meme all over Facebook right now is yet another manifestation of the cloying, self-congratulatory smarm that dominates online discussions of literature. But let’s not bother—instead, here is a 100 percent accurate breakdown of what some popular choices are telegraphing about your personality: 

    Love in the Time of Cholera: You did not speak to a single non-American during your semester abroad.

    The Bell Jar or Mrs. Dalloway: You have an asymmetrical haircut and/or Etsy store that sells felted dolls.

    1984: You are a YouTube commenter, partial to the word “sheeple.”

    Anything by Joan Didion: You always talk about moving to California, but won’t. 

    Anything by Roberto Bolaño: You are Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review.

    A Visit from the Goon Squad: Your toddler has their own iPad.

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: You had a weird relationship with your high school band teacher. 

    Just Kids: You’re not sure what heroin actually looks like. 

    The Bible: Nobody actually tagged you to do this.

    The Sun Also Rises: You think all those lady celebrities who were hacked should’ve been more careful with their nudes. 

    Blood Meridian: You think Hemingway was a pussy.

    Any Harry Potter or Hunger Games book: Your parents were mean to you.

    Any book from A Song of Ice and Fire: You challenge every parking ticket in court.               

    Infinite Jest: You can’t seem to make a connection on OkCupid.

    The Handmaid’s Tale: Your name appears on an NSA watchlist. 

    Fifty Shades of Grey: You have been banned from at least one T.J. Maxx location.  

    Ender’s Game: You could survive on ketchup alone.  

    The Lord of the Rings: You have a certain smell—not bad, exactly, just… unique.   

    Anything by Haruki Murakami: You once had a dream so boring it woke you up.

    Anything by Jane Austen: You are weirdly active on LinkedIn.

    Lolita, or anything by Georges Simenon: Police are standing outside your door.

    Song of Solomon or To Kill a Mockingbird: You are white.

    The Fountainhead: You knock over kids’ sandcastles for fun.

    Gravity's Rainbo​w: People can't pronounce your surname.    

    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: You have tried—and failed—to adopt a vegan lifestyle.            

    Fight Club: You only wear shorts, even in winter.

    The Great Gatsby: You got tired of writing your list.

    And that’s the unabridged truth. No judgment, though: We’re just happy you’re reading at all.

    Photo by Tim Geers/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    One of the most famous songs of the ’80s is getting a makeover.

    For one of his song challenges, Andrew Huang took on “99 Red Balloons” (or “99 Luftballons”)—but this time he’s taking it literally by using a bunch of red balloons as musical instruments. If you’ve seen his cover of the Breaking Bad theme, you know he can do a lot with extreme limitations.

    Gone are the synthesized sounds, but they’re just as easily replicated by releasing some air.

    If you’re not singing along, you just might be doing something wrong.

    Photo via Andrew Huang/YouTube


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    Thanks to Jimmy Fallon, Britney Spears could find love with just a swipe.

    Instead of simply doing a bit by himself, he surprised his audience Tuesday night by bringing Spears out to help him with a list of pros and cons of dating the newly single singer. Wanting to be helpful, he signed her up for a Tinder profile behind her back.

    Her look of discomfort—whether genuine or part of an elaborate act—says it all, but she manages to get him back easily enough.

    No word yet on whether she deleted her profile the minute she walked off stage.

    Photo via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    School is in session across the world, it's no different on YouTube, where dozens of creators in the U.K. have teamed up with Comic Relief to take part in the School of YouTube, an initative that pairs learning new things on the service with charity donations to help those less fortunate get access to education.

    Comic Relief U.K. has partnered with influential YouTubers like Casper Lee, Tyrannosauruslexxx, and Myvirginkitchen, among others, to produce special School of YouTube content, celebrating the week with a promotional video and tour of their fictional School of YouTube with cameos from Ali-A, The Diamond Minecart, and Vsauce.

    The featured YouTubers are each producing special content focused on learning new things in celebration of the back-to-school season, and as a way to inspire viewers to give to Comic Relief if they too have learned something new. So far minutephysics has taught stick figure drawing, and TheSpanglerEffect shared a scientific way to unlock your car with water. More videos will come throughout the week. Fans who have learned or laughed are encouraged to donate to the cause.

    Screengrab via YouTube Spotlight/YouTube


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    Justin Bieber stripped down to his boxer shorts for an awkward, scripted (comedy?) bit with supermodel Lara Stone in front of a CBS audience Tuesday night. Some onlookers sort of liked it. 

    But most booed him mercilessly.

    The strip show was for Fashion Rocks, CBS’s annual fundraiser that melds high fashion with live musical performances. My initial reactions to the video were: What is this show? Ooh, I like his blazer! When did he get all those tattoos? I’m hungry. Then, over a sandwich, I listened to the audio a few times to try to make sense of what Bieber was doing.

    It’s hard to make out what the Biebs is saying over all of the boos, but I think he’s declaring that he doesn’t feel comfortable being so dressed up. Or he’s uncomfortable wearing clothes at all? Not really a surprise considering he’s regularly spotted kicking it in the club sans shirt. He's not what most would call “swole”—his body type is more like my neighbor’s brother’s, who just smokes weed and does push-ups—but Bieber has cool tattoos, so why not show them off?

    Remember when Bieber was polite, and nice to parents, and fans would go into screaming fits just from the thought of him taking his shirt off? Like, just casual shirtlessness, in the privacy of his own home—not right there on stage. He was such an earnest little Canadian kid with a big dream. He was sexy in a take-you-home-to-Mom kind of way.

    A lot can change in a few years. 

    He’s still in my top five cool celebrities to chill with, though. Right there with Cam'ron, Seth Rogen, Diddy, and Joe Biden.

    Photo via Joe Bielawa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    In the wake of Apple’snewproductcircus on Tuesday, it was revealed that the company had discontinued its iconic iPod Classic. No formal announcement was made: it was quietly removed from the Apple Store, but not from our hearts.

    The revolutionary mp3 player burst on the scene in October 2001, and the world of on-the-go music was forever changed. The little white rectangle became the ultimate cool-kid accessory, and we were all tantalized by the click-click-click sound it made as you flicked through your songs with the circular scroll wheel.

    The device went through many generations of updates, but the iPhone has finally rendered the gadget obsolete. Let us observe a moment of silence for this fallen tech angel.

    [Silence.]

    Okay, now that that’s done, it’s time to celebrate the beautiful life of the iPod with a New Orleans-style funeral. We’ve compiled a playlist of songs that were surely on your first generation iPod as a 2001/2002 youth. Britney! The Strokes! Smash Mouth! An incredible time to have been alive. 

    Sit back, relax, sip a Surge, and enjoy. (Then, because this is a collaborative playlist, we hope you'll add your own selections. Don't be shy!)

    Photo by raneko/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Did you hear the one about the famous comedy writer who fell in love with newspapers as a kid?

    It goes something like this: Fred Wolf, a noted Hollywood screenwriter and former writer for Saturday Night Live, never strayed far from his roots as a fan of the local newspaper. “As a child, we moved around a lot,” Wolf told the Daily Dot. “The comics in the newspaper were a constant touchstone in my life.” As his career flourished, not only with SNL but also as the scripter of such films as Grown Ups, Joe Dirt, and Strange Wilderness, the idea of being a newspaper comic strip creator was never far from his career sights. That passion, not to mention a collection of friends named Sandler, Spade, Miller, Rock, Nealon, and Carvey, led to the birth of Beyond the Comics, a feature Wolf hopes merges the past and future of newspaper funny pages.

    Beyond the Comics is a series of 30- to 60-second animated blackouts featuring some of the funniest names in comedy. There’s Chris Rock as a sardonic barber in "Where’s Ray?"; Dana Carvey, the man of a millionvoices; Dennis Miller playing himself (a sarcastic, obscure-referencing curmudgeon); and David Spade, the wise-ass malcontent. And that’s just for starters. Here’s Carvey doing his infamous George Bush imitation and another featuring Spade at his sarcastic best.

    Beyond the Comics is a personal project for Wolf, and he’s been at it for seven years, funding it out of his own pocket. It’s been somewhat of an arduous process, but he now believes with the backing and distribution support of Digital First Media—with its reach of 64 million homes—his animated baby is now gaining momentum. One ingredient to success is the participation of a large stable of well-known, A-list comedians whose only role is to be funny. Wolf writes the scripts and travels to either Los Angeles or New York to record the narration before passing it on to one of three animators. 

    “There is no makeup and no 6am wakeup calls,” Wolf said with a laugh, noting how simple he makes it for his buddies to do their part for the animated strips. “I show up with a mic and tape recorder and pre-written jokes. So far, [my comic friends] have been willing to come along for the ride to see if it pans out.”

    If Beyond the Comics is to succeed, it will have some challenges to overcome. Wolf agrees there is no simple business model for publishers who feature his online video laugh track. One option would be to follow the lead of long-standing syndicators who bundle a variety of content together for one price. 

    While Wolf would not go into specifics, he works with newspapers on a revenue-sharing deal in which ads run as a pre-roll before the clips as well as from sponsors who receive display ads alongside the animated feature. 

    “We are in the process of finding a model that works best,” Wolf added. “We are not really focused on money right now. We want to be seen by as many people as possible.”

    From a marketing perspective, it doesn’t hurt to have buddies like Dana Carvey, who gave Wolf’s project a national shout-out on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Carvey does everything but tattoo the site’s URL across his forehead.

    For newspaper publishers wanting to expand their reach to younger audiences, Beyond the Comics, in its current iteration, may not be the perfect demographic match. To target digitally inclined media consumers, Wolf’s service will need to sport a younger look friendly to YouTube regulars and go beyond its unquestionably hilarious but decidedly un-Comic-Con roster of talented joke tellers. Is the Church Lady as funny to millennials as it was 28 years ago? That said, Wolf is open to expanding Beyond the Comics’ talent pool, recalling how he started his career: randomly submitting comics to newspapers in hope of catching a break.

    While not commenting specifically on evolving the print comic strip into a video format, some newspaper pundits believe the evolution of the funny pages could mirror the overall risk/reward transformation facing newspapers in general.

    Writing in her school’s literary journey three years ago, Merrill Miller, currently communications associate at the American Humanist Association, offered this optimistic point of view:

    Though print newspapers are in decline, comic strips are proving themselves able to evolve to changing technologies, which can bring about new directions in the comic strip media. Far from being forgotten, like newspapers, comic strips are proving themselves flexible enough to live beyond their original medium. Truly, comic strips are as unlimited as the creativity and dedication of their cartoonists.

    Wolf believes his optimism and clever, quirky gags can be enough to honor his dream of becoming a successful newspaper comic contributor. 

    “I’ll let the smart guys handle the news,” quips Wolf. “I’d just love to handle the comics.”

    Screengrab via Beyond the Comics


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