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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    On Friday, Miley Cyrus released a Led Zeppelin cover on Soundcloud.

    Technically, ‟Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was written by California folk singer Anne Bredon and initially covered by fellow folkie Joan Baez. But the song first received wide attention after the classic rock band put a rendition of the tune on its eponymous debut album, and Cyrus’s version clearly takes its primary cue from Zeppelin's iconic loud-quiet-loud bluesy stomp.

    Had Cyrus’s take on the song been terrible, this story would be relatively simple: ‟Pop Tart Releases Hideous Zeppelin Cover, Should Be Ashamed Of Herself.” However, there’s a problem with that narrative. The young woman who spent much of the past year embroiled in controversy over having the temerity to teach people over the age of 40 what twerking was actually does a mean Robert Plant.

    The following is basically how the Internet is going to react to this:

    • Rockist geezers (and rockist geezers trapped inside the bodies of young-ish music snobs) will hate the entire thing on principle and refuse to listen. They will post articles about the song to Facebook, adding commentary like, ‟Sacrilege!” or ‟I wish Facebook had a dislike button!”
    • Cyrus’s younger fans will listen out of obligation, shrug their shoulders, and decide the track kind of sounds like all the old records their dads put on when they go out into the garage and act like everyone doesn’t know they’re just smoking pot and looking at old high school yearbooks.
    • At least a few people will take the opportunity to listen to Cyrus’s deftly atmospheric cover of the Smiths’ ‟There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” if only because I just included a link to it in this very sentence.
    • Writers will pen thinkpieces about how unintentionally apt it is that Cyrus, who was excoriated for her appropriation of African- American culture over the whole twerking episode, chose a cover made famous by a band who basically stole all of their best ideas from other, generally black, artists. These thinkpieces will ignore that popular music is essentially little more than an endless cycle of tiny innovations largely based on theft both across and within various musical genres. The #hottest of these #takes will go viral, but none of them will be even a fraction as interesting as how Cyrus’s full-throated yelps interact with the distorted guitars in the chorus.
    • A few months down the line, an interviewer will ask Robert Plant what he thought about the cover. Running his hands through his long, flowing locks, Plant will pause for a minute before saying something along the lines of, ‟Yeah, I heard that one. I thought it was pretty good.” He will then mention the cover of ‟Stairway to Heaven” Heart performed in his honor at the Kennedy Center as something else he quite enjoyed.
    • Three to five years later, Cyrus will trot out this cover at a live show, the video of which will go viral though whatever smartwatch rectal implants people use to share the #hottest #content in three to five years.
    • Everything else will continue on as normal, as if we didn’t all suddenly live in a world where the former star of Hannah Montana put out an extremely solid Led Zeppelin cover.

    H/T Spin | Photo via Rob Sinclair/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    For “Creepers on the Bridge,” filmmaker Colette Ghunim covertly filmed her walk across the Qasr al-Nil bridge in Cairo, Egypt, outfitted with an iPhone. She recorded the reactions of men as she walked alone on a Friday evening. More specifically, she documented their stares. 

    It’s a powerful clip that shows the male gaze in slow motion. Since being uploaded to Vimeo on Aug. 28, it’s received more than 1.2 million views, as well as its share of positive and negative comments. 

    Twenty-two-year-old Ghunim, who was born and raised in the U.S., and 26-year-old filmmaking partner Tinne Van Loon, who was born in Belgium but lived in the States, will use this clip in an upcoming documentary about street harassment, called The People’s Girls, which follows the stories of three people in Cairo. There’s also a Kickstarter for the film, which has a $25,000 goal, and a Facebook page where women have been sharing their stories of harassment. 

    When asked about how they approached the bridge sequence, Van Loon explained Ghunim held the phone “by her mouth with headphones plugged in and pretended to talk on the phone. She pretended to be deep in conversation, looking straight ahead of her. Whenever she felt eyes on her, she turned the phone slightly towards them, without making eye contact. The clip was filmed in a single five-minute walk around sunset, as people often gather on the bridge after the temperature cools down.

    “As groups of men often stare together, we decided to slow down the video for viewers to view all their intimidating expressions at once.”

    Ghunim said The People’s Girls“will document three people with different views of sexual harassment and their daily lives surrounding the issue”: Esraa, a 26-year-old Egyptian woman “who challenges social norms by performing in storytelling theater pieces about sexual harassment, as well as participating in anti-sexual harassment protests and events”; Abdullah, “a 28-year-old tuk tuk driver from a working class neighborhood in Cairo”; and a third character who is “not confirmed yet, but she is a 30-year-old Egyptian lawyer at a prominent women’s right organization, where she works on a major sexual harassment case.” 

    Though the film is focused on street harassment in Cairo and the stories within, Van Loon and Ghunim acknowledge it’s a global issue. 

    “Since this video went viral, we’ve had women reach out to us on our Facebook page from countries from all over the world,” Van Loon explained, “from the United States, Italy, Colombia, Norway… They write us that this video showed exactly what it’s like to walk in the streets of their cities as well, and that they are so grateful that somebody finally decided to record this to point out that this is unacceptable."

    “Because we’re both frequently in the street alone, we both experience high levels of stares daily, as well as verbal harassment,” Ghunim added. “It often deters us, like many other women, to walk outside or take public transportation, seeing as we don’t want to deal with the intimidation and anxiety. Everywhere we’ve been in the world—the United States, Latin America, Europe, South Asia—we’ve experienced various levels of sexual harassment.

    “The fact is that, in Egypt, every time a woman walks outside, no matter what she’s wearing, a large majority of men stare, unabashedly. They scan her entire body as if she is a mere object, not a valued human being. The high frequency of stares makes it the most common form of sexual harassment, violating women’s ability to feel safe while walking in the streets. While sexual harassment is an issue of epidemic proportions in Egypt, this by no way means that all Egyptian men are harassers, or that somehow this is an Arab or Muslim problem. This is a problem of a patriarchal society, which is unfortunately worldwide. We've gotten a lot of hateful comments towards Arabs and Egypt, and we really want to point out that not all men are like this.”

    We asked the filmmakers a few more questions about The People’s Girls and the issue of street harassment. 

    Have there been incidents in the last year or so that have highlighted the issue of street harassment?

    Ghunim: During the celebrations of President Sisi’s inauguration, thousands of people gathered in Tahrir Square. In this large crowd, multiple women were both sexually assaulted and raped by mobs of men. One of these mob assaults was recorded with a mobile and posted online. The video went viral, and President Sisi responded by personally visiting the victim in the hospital, to apologize to her in the name of the country. A new law was enforced against sexual harassment, and the nine perpetrators were sentenced to terms of 20 years to life in prison. Unfortunately, many people believe these sentences not the norm, and rather an exception because the crime happened on such a politically important day.

    Were you surprised the "Creepers on the Bridge" clip went viral? Have you gotten responses from women in Cairo?

    Van Loon: We were very surprised to see the “Creepers on the Bridge” video go viral. We initially only shared it with our Facebook friends, and they were sharing it like crazy. Our friends at Egyptian Streets reached out to us and asked to write an article about the video. As soon as that article went live, the video started spreading to news sites worldwide! We’re happy to see that many news sites are using this video to start a conversation about sexual harassment in their countries as well. That’s why this video went so viral; women all across the world could relate to this feeling of being on guard in case a man decides to hurt you.

    Ghunim: Many Egyptian men and women have been extremely supportive of the project. They feel this is a major issue in Egypt that needs to be addressed, and many women have used our Facebook page as an outlet to share their stories privately, because they often are too afraid to speak out. People from around the world are also engaging in complex discussions on sexual harassment, as well as donating to our Kickstarter campaign to help fund the full documentary. This confirms that the issue resonates beyond just Egypt, even though it is one of the countries most affected. Of course, just as with any controversial issue, the video has sparked heated arguments, bringing the topic of sexual harassment to the forefront of Egyptian social media.

    Has sexual harassment in Egypt become more prevalent with the rise of feminism/independence? Has there been a cultural shift?

    Van Loon: The 2011 revolution had a big impact on the issue of sexual harassment, both in positive and negative ways. In the years since the revolution, sexual harassment has unfortunately become more widespread, due to the lack of police presence in the streets. This gives harassers a sense of immunity; they can easily get away with it. Luckily, since President Sisi has taken power, the police presence in the streets has increased and more harassers have been brought to justice, though we still have a long way to go.

    A lot of Egyptian women have also reached their boiling point in recent years, and, inspired by the revolution, they have become a lot more outspoken. I’m really inspired by them. Many of them even challenge the status quo more than I do. It is their stories that Colette and I are making the focus of our full documentary, The People’s Girls, so that these brave women can inspire women worldwide.

    There are several outletslike Stop Street Harassment and Stop Telling Women to Smilethat document and call out street harassers. Do you see this as a positive? Is documenting it a way to stop it?

    Ghunim: Women worldwide struggle with inequality at different levels, so unfortunately we think this will be a lifelong struggle, but we are hopeful that the situation will improve. We are hopeful that with more women standing up for their rights, it will create a lasting societal change in their favor.

    Of course our “Creepers on the Bridge” video itself will not dramatically change the discussion and law enforcement around this issue in Egypt, but we do plan for the full documentary to have a greater impact locally. For any struggle against a large societal problem, it is imperative that the people working to stop it publicize their struggle in the media, as the media is a very powerful tool to help shape public discussion.

    Screengrab via Tinne Van Loon/Vimeo 


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    Indie band OK Go found much of their audience thanks to their viral music videos, so it makes sense that they might be worried about video plagiarism.

    Their latest music video, “The Writing’s on the Wall,” was shot in a single take, creating optical illusions using various props and camera angles. Like all of OK Go’s videos, it’s pretty unusual and required a great deal of work to design, so they were less than happy when they learned that Apple had used the same technique (and the same production company) for a new TV commercial called “Perspective.”

    If you watch the two videos together, you can definitely see the similarities. Apple’s video uses a single tracking shot to show murals, objects, and written messages from different perspectives, although the similarities do not seem to go as far as outright plagiarism.

    The real issue is that OK Go’s manager, Andy Gershon, claims he pitched this precise video concept to Apple back in April, and they turned him down. Apple then went on to hire the same production company and director who masterminded OK Go’s original video.

    As Businessweek points out, this isn’t the first time Apple has been accused of copying pre-existing concepts or visuals for advertising purposes. In a case that sounds very reminiscent of OK Go’s complaints, the band Postal Service highlighted similarities between their music video for “Such Great Heights” and an Apple/Intel TV spot. Apple had hired the same people who made the Postal Service video.

    Gershon told Businessweek that the band are currently exploring their legal options, adding, “The videos speak for themselves, and you can draw your own conclusions.”

    Screengrab via OK Go/YouTube


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    During Friday night's Sydney leg of the Yeezus tour at Qantas Union Arena, Kanye West pulled another rude public gaffe. He reportedly stopped his performance, insisting that two seated handicapped fans get on their feet.

    According to the Daily Mail, West couldn't see why they were seated. But once he became savvy to his gaffe, he continued the song.

    It's a standard trick West has rolled out during this tourstopping proceedings to elicit extra fan enthusiasm. He had the same canned rant last week in Melbourne.

    Here, it backfired in a clunky moment, as he told all fans they needed to be on their feet, "Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and shit." Once a fan waived a prosthetic limb at West, he changed gears.

    "OK, you fine." 

    West stopped "Good Life" when another fan stayed seated, then sent his bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, into the audience to cross-reference the perceived hater in attendance.

    "This is the longest I've had to wait to do a song, it's unbelievable," West said, adding, "If he's in a wheelchair, it's fine." 

    Eventually, Duvier confirmed the wheelchair and West continued the show.  

    Watch video of the incident below. 

    Screengrab via Peter Galbraith/YouTube 


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    On Thursday, actress Daniele Watts was briefly handcuffed and detained by two Studio City police officers, after kissing her husband, Brian James Lucas, in the front seat of their car.

    Watts, who starred in Django Unchained and Weeds, posted about the incident on Facebook Thursday night, and alleged that officers “accosted me and forced me into handcuffs.” Police had reportedly received a call about lewd activity, and asked Watts if she actually knew her husband, who is white. The couple believes they were insinuating she might be a prostitute.

    According to BuzzFeed, Watts claimed the officers asked for ID from both, but Watts refused, saying she didn’t have to provide it and didn't do anything wrong. She was on the phone with her father when more officers pulled up:

    So then I’m still talking to my dad,” Watts said, “and a squad car pulls up and shouts at me, ‘put your hands on the wall.” Watts complied, and the police handcuffed her, loaded her in the back of the car and drove her back to the initial scene. Watts said she suffers from panic attacks from past trauma, and she started hyperventilating.

    Lucas posted photos and video of Watts to Instagram and Facebook: 

    On Facebook, she also wrote about her family's history with racial profiling:

    As I was sitting in the back of the police car, I remembered the countless times my father came home frustrated or humiliated by the cops when he had done nothing wrong. I felt his shame, his anger, and my own feelings of frustration for existing in a world where I have allowed myself to believe that “authority figures” could control my BEING… my ability to BE!!!!!!!

    I was sitting in that back of this cop car, filled with adrenaline, my wrist bleeding in pain, and it occurred to me, that even there, I STILL HAD POWER OVER MY OWN SPIRIT.

    Her husband provided her ID and the two were eventually released, but Watts’s wrist was apparently cut by the handcuffs. Last month in Beverly Hills, just before the Emmys, film producer Charles Belk was mistaken for a bank robbery suspect and detained for six hours. 

    The LAPD allegedly doesn’t have a record of the incident, and claims Watts was never brought in or charged. 

    H/T Mic | Photo via chefbelive/Instagram 


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    As Scotland prepares to go to the polls next Thursday to determine whether or not the country will split off from the United Kingdom, everyone in the U.K. seems to have a strong opinion one way or the other.

    Up until now, one important voice has been missing from that conversation: Groundskeeper Willie. Yes, The Simpsons’ long-suffering animated Scotsman has released a YouTube video weighing in on the vote. 

    "Both sides of this argument have valid points,” Willie explains, showing his willingness to be open to all opinions. ‟The heirs of the highland tradition, and those that enjoy crawling like worms beneath British boots.”

    Willie clearly has feelings about which way his fellow Scots should vote. But, as an expat living in Springfield, Willie wouldn’t be allowed to vote on the referendum—even if he weren’t fictional.

    Even so, Willie has some advice for what a newly independent Scotland should do if it finds itself looking for leadership.

    ‟Who, you ask, will lead the new, free Scotland on the world stage?” Willie inquires, presumably from the shed he lives in behind Springfield Elementary. ‟Alex Salmond, a champion of Scottish independence? A safe choice. But for a leader who stands in the grand tradition of William Wallace and Andy Murray, would you consider the return of Scotland's prodigal son, Groundskeeper Willie?”

    Sage advice, Willie. Sage advice.

    H/T Buzzfeed | Screengrab via Animation Domination/YouTube


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    A long time ago, in a cookies and milky way galaxy far, far, away, a young rebel named Flan Solo seeks counsel on his enduring desire to eat his flying partner, Chewie the Cookie.

    Sound weird—and delicious? We should mention that Flan Solo is Cookie Monster, the most famous consumer of circular baked treats in the universe.

    Thanks to the Sesame Street YouTube page, the world is being treated to a mashup between the ever-popular children’s show and the longstanding sci-fi franchise, set to release its seventh episode next December. In the five-minute clip, Luke Piewalker and Flan Solo set forth across the galaxy in an effort to solve Solo’s cravings and eventually save the Princess Parfaita, held captive by the Galactic Empire.

    They run into a great array of Sesame Street characters along the way, including the notorious Darth Baker, a charismatic evil leader with a skillet on his chest. 

    It’s fun, and something you could get used to. With 15 more months until Star Wars: Episode VII’s premiere, it’s safe to assume these clips are only going to surface more often.

    Photo via Sesame Street/YouTube


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    In a rather public display of courage, a TV news anchor informed his viewing audience he may have only months to live.

    On Sept. 11, WCIA-TV anchorman Dave Benton, 51, told his Champaign, Ill., audience—and the world, via social media—that his brain cancer had returned and that doctors had given him only a few months to live. Benton calmly told viewers that he was “at peace” and hoped his courage would inspire others to be brave when dealing with their medical issues.

    Benton has been with the station for nine years. He went on to tell those watching that his tumor now was too large to be removed and that he would undergo some treatments that could reduce to size of the mass and allow him a few more days.

    Showing that social media can lend a heartfelt hand of support, local viewers and those across the country chimed in with support.

    From a person in Connecticut also dealing with brain cancer:

    And another who beat the odds:

    H/T TVGuide.com | Screengrab via Today News/YouTube


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    OG Maco, an Atlanta-based rapper who was already climbing within the hip-hop establishment, got an unexpected but welcome boost when Vine adopted his new single, 'U Guessed It," as its new anthem of choice.

    Viners often incorporate pop culture catchphrases into their six-second jokes, and "U Guessed It" is the platform's current obsession, serving as a go-to punch line with the song's loud and brash title phrase. The song itself is simple, just light piano and drums, making it ripe for Vine interpretation. Although several users began posting clips of themselves lip synching the track early last week, Vine star Reggie Kouz kicked the trend into high gear by switching to parody, with his version of a "U Guessed It" joke clocking in over 9.8 million loops in two days.

    He wasn't the first to make the joke, as a user named King Shady with only 32 fans made a sillier Vine three days prior, but Reggie Kouz's 1.4 million fans latched on. From there, the trend has continued, with many more versions in similar relatable situations from popular users and even parodies that mash up films with the song clip to hilarious results.

    The song's Vine popularity is having a reciprocal effect. OG Maco's YouTube video for the single has jumped to almost half a million views already, and the rapper signed with Quality Control Records just last week. Commenters are using the space to pledge loyalty to the Viners who brought them to OG Maco in the first place, all while driving up his view count and status in the hip-hop world.

    Screengrab via OG Marco/YouTube


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    Paris-based music subscription service Deezer launched today in beta form in the States, and it’s banking on audiophiles to adopt its model.

    According to Billboard, the seven-year-old company raised $130 million in 2012, and claims 5 million subscribers in 180 countries, 16 million active monthly users, and a library of 35 million tracks. The service it's debuting in the States, Deezer Elite, offers high-quality access to about 25 million tracks.

    The site has also paired up with audio company Sonos, in an attempt to make high-end sound quality the crux of the service, much like Neil Young’s Pono player. However, you’ll need a Sonos speaker system to experience it. To that end, Deezer’s subscription model and sound-quality hook are decidedly aimed at audiophiles with money to drop on the experience. Deezer Elite will initially be introduced to the market at $15 a month, but will eventually shoot up to $20 a month, which is twice what Spotify charges.

    Tyler Goldman, the company’s North American CEO, told Billboard that Deezer expanded to the U.S. because they “saw the U.S. was highly fragmented, and therefore there would be a need to tailor [the service] to the needs of different users to create value and drive adoption." He also claims U.S. audiophiles will readily pay the $20 a month for that quality.

    Deezer will be competing against Spotify, Beats, and eventually YouTube's Music Key service. This past May, Spotify announced it had hit 10 million paid users, double what Deezer currently boasts. It’s easy to be skeptical of yet another music service entering an already crowded market, but it will be interesting to see if Deezer gets its proposed “elite” clientele to adopt in this "fragmented" market, or if it ends up in a ditch with Zune.

    H/T Billboard | Photo by Fey Ilyas/Flickr (CC By SA 2.0)


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    Tyler Oakley’s arms thrown up mid-fangirl captured entirely in Taco Bell hot sauce.

    A Nutella Troye Sivan staring back at you from a white canvas. 

    MirandaSings' iconic red lipstick takes center stage as it composes the entirety of her face.

    This all describes the art of YouTuber and artist Conor Collins, a 25-year-old in Manchester, England, who’s taken a very nontraditional approach to capturing the stars of YouTube, inspired by the nature of their newfound celebrity.

    “The people … are quickly becoming famous for just being them,” he explained to the Daily Dot. “Not being footballers or musicians or politicians, but just being them and saying what they thought. As an artist who paints people, this new group of influential people on the Internet tickles my creativity. So it just made sense that if I were to begin to make these portraits anyway, might as well do it in the way which best reflects them—on YouTube!”

    While Collins’ nontraditional choice of paint seems to evoke a social commentary on the particular stars, he claims it simply boils down to cost.

    “I would love to say I had a deep meaningful sociopolitical reason for painting people in Nutella or Taco Bell hot sauce, but the main reason is it was cheaper,” he explained. “So much cheaper. If I had painted Tyler Oakley in oil paint, those might have cost me around £50. The sauce was free with a meal.”

    Of course, Taco Bell hot sauce is an apt choice for Oakley, who works with the fast-food chain on various brand deals. Sivan is obsessed with Nutella, and MirandaSings' red lipstick is her trademark, making the medium of Collins' expression seem effortless. So far he’s tackled seven different YouTubers in his art, following a host of other pop culture icons like a portrait of Olympic diver Tom Daley composed of homophobic tweets he received after coming out, and Jack Nicholson made completely out of coffee beans. Collins says he can’t pinpoint the inspiration for who he chooses to immortalize in his art.

    “I am a very restless and spontaneous person,” he said. “So when I want to paint someone, I just grab a canvas and get going ASAP. I am sure a psychologist would be able to find the real answer. Perhaps aspirations of grandeur, perhaps a fascination of Idols due to my Catholic upbringing now turned atheist, or perhaps on some level I am still looking for love through my art. But in truth, I haven’t the faintest idea!”

    The one downside of food-based YouTuber art is it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. Collins says that even if fans were interested in owning his art, by the time it reached them, it might be covered in mold. He has gained some attention from the subjects of his art, including Taco Bell’s social media presence and Sivan, and while Collins thinks it would be grand to send the portrait his way, “god knows how you get something like that over to Australia!” He’d love to get the portraits into the hands of his subjects, especially the ones of which he’s a personal fan.

    “I recently painted Hannah Hart, big fan of her,” he said. “She is very sincere on camera and often that can be lost, especially when you start becoming bigger and a ‘character’ appears. Tyler Oakley interests me a lot; he is in some ways the archetype of YouTuberness. So I might do another one of him but with more of a twist. Letting ideas spin around for now.”

    Collins’ painting has always come from an emotional place, as his first forays into the artform came because he wanted to be closer to a crush.

    “I started painting about four years ago,” he explained. “Originally I just did it because I really liked this guy, and he painted, and [I] just wanted to be able to do something to be near him! Then when that didn’t work out, and I mean really didn’t work out, I found the painting didn’t stop even though I wasn’t around him anymore. In fact it increased, the style changed and started being much better. Since then I haven’t been able to stop painting. Sometimes my friends tell me off for staying up so late working on a piece, but they now understand. I have to paint. If I don’t do something creative at least once a month, I get very fidgety.”

    For now you can continue to appreciate Collins’ unique creations on his YouTube channel, as well as on Twitter, where he shares his bigger-budget creations of the non-YouTuber variety. As for the attention he’s gotten, Collins says it’s flattering but also weird.

    “The strangest thing is when celebrities start reaching out to me,” he explained. “I have emails now from Golden Globe winners, musicians, Olympic medalists, and billion-dollar companies. Its all very overwhelming.”

    Photo by joceykinghorn/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III


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    War is hell, and Katniss Everdeen is right in the middle of it.

    After a series of propaganda videos and a teaser trailer made for Comic-Con audiences, we’ve got our first look at the full-length trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part. If the last film's escape from the Hunger Games arena wasn’t an indicator, Panem is now in full-out war.

    While the first two movies in the series spent most of their time in the arena, Katniss, who’s only seen for a few fleeting seconds thus far, is front and center. But as she battles her enemies and inner demons, the Capitol holds its own weapon against her in the form of a familiar face, and it knows how to use him.

    There’s plenty of footage for fans to feast their eyes on in the trailer, with glimpses of Gale, Prim, Plutarch Heavensbee, and new characters played by Julianne Moore and Natalie Dormer. But with everything in chaos, it's still not clear where exactly the split between Part 1 and Part 2 of the movies will happen. What we do know is the wait won’t be easy.

    Photo via The Hunger Games/YouTube


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    What Apple CEO Tim Cook knows about TV can fit on the face of his company’s new watch.

    In a Sept.12 interview with Charlie Rose, the conversation wandered into a territory of TV, an area Apple has long called “a hobby.” And the company’s attitude toward this “hobby” definitely showed.

    “If we’re honest, we’re stuck back in the 70s,” Cook told Rose. “It feels like you’re rewinding the clock and going backwards.”

    Cook might want to consider these huge changes that have happened to TV since the ‘70s:

    • The numbers of cable and satellite television offering more choices to consumers.

    • The growth of cable TV networks such as MTV, ESPN, CNN and others that have changed the face of media and culture.

    • The advent of HDTV

    • The development of box top technology which has brought streaming channels to TV sets as well as offering TV on mobile devices.

    • Smart, Internet-connected TVs

    • Netflix, Hulu, Starz, Amazon Studios, YouTube, and Vimeo

    • More live sports on TV than ever

    • The DVR, which facilitates non-linear viewing

    And that’s just the beginning.

    Cook points to Apple TV’s 20 million users as a success for the company, but really, this is now a field dominated by original programming and cloud TV innovation.

    The biggest thing in Apple television news for the last year has been the rumor of an upcoming iTV. But so far, that’s just a rumor.

    Photo via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Who doesn’t love a feel-good YouTube story where the guy gets the girl and everyone lives happily ever after?

    We know at least the first part came true when YT celebrity WheezyWaiter put up his 1,000th video on the mega network which contained a surprise ending in which the wheezy one—Craig Benzine—popped the question to Chyna Pate, with whom he’s been in a relationship since 2011. The pair met at a performance of Benzine’s band, Driftless Pony Club in 2010 and live in Chicago with their pet snake, Monty.

    Benzine’s millennial video (that’s 1,000—I looked it up) is a rather rambling affair comprised of some live footage that builds up to an acrostic (I looked that up as well) that spells out "Chyna, will you marry me?" It was more original than your typical scoreboard proposal but maybe not as cool as arranging a flash mob acting out Beauty and the Beast as a prelude to the “will you marry me?” heart stopper.

    Benzine’s username came from his former job as a waiter who was let go when his restaurant’s business went south. Pressed for money, he turned to vlogging, building a channel that now has more than 544,000 subscribers and videos that range from comedic schtick to commentaries about everyday life. The former waiter is also lead singer and guitarist with the aforementioned Driftless Pony Club, which has five albums under its belt. If that were not enough, he hosts a weekly YouTube show, The Good Stuff, which is a curated playlist of videos centered around a theme.

    By the way, Chyna said yes. Now for the happily ever after.

    Screengrab via WheezyWaiter/YouTube


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    Tumblr’s stable of deranged GIF artists just got a new addition.

    Kevin Weir is a New York-based art director and illustrator whose three-year-old GIF project Flux Machine has captured the Internet's attention.

    Flux Machine features an assortment of creepy GIFs created from still photos and videos, like this one he did for A&E’s Bates Motel.

    “I started out making GIFs as a way to burn time and sharpen up on Photoshop at a summer internship,” Weir told the Daily Dot. “At some point along the way, I kind of fell in love with animation and the project became a super fun/rewarding learning process.”

    One of Weir’s favorite, and one of the most Photoshop-intensive, animations is called “Princess Juliana.” It was submitted on Tumblr a year ago and has since collected more than 1,000 notes.

    “It combines some of my favorite techniques: Taking pictures of my own hand, using random video snippets, and filming my own scrappy videos,” he said. “Also, I nearly set the fire alarm off and probably breathed some terrible photo-paper fumes. All around a good time.”

    Weir’s latest GIFs are similar to those from Colin “zbags” Raff and  Milos "sholim" Rajkovic, who have become Tumblr famous thanks to their GIFs of bulging eyeballs and mechanical faces.

     

    Weir is also the man behind sites like nyanwaits.com (featuring the Nyan Cat theme sung in the style of Tom Waits), sassybirds.tumblr.com (GIFs of birds being sassy), loudportraits.com (a photography project), and breadskins.com (an alternative naming proposal for the Washington Redskins).

    Check out more of Weir’s weird GIFs below.

    Photos and animations by Kevin Weir


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    The brisk chill of fall and the aroma of pumpkin spice lattes can only mean one thing: October is near. With that ghoulish month inching closer, so does the premiere of the latest incarnation of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story franchise. American Horror Story: Freak Show, set to debut on FX Oct. 8, has been teasing fans on social media for weeks with brief but terrifying trailers showcasing the show’s collection of freaks.

    On Monday, the show posted one of its teaser trailers depicting a young girl holding the hand of a tall suited man whose upper body is cut out of frame. The video was posted to Facebook and Twitter captioned with “We come in all shapes and guises … #WirSindAlleFreaks,” and commenters were quick to draw comparisons to a popular photo of Slender Man, the Internet horror legend who was spawned thanks to Creepypasta.com

    It's unclear if the fourth incarnation of the series, which will be set in Jupiter, Fla., in 1952, will feature a character similar to Slender Man.


    The clip certainly piqued the interest of many fans, causing them to wonder if the Internet legend and the real-life violent attacks he has inspired will influence this season of the show. For other viewers, they saw the footage as a tasteless ploy to capitalize on the fear and press that the Slender Man attacks have generated. 

    Photo via zlakfoto/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    InTour wasn’t the only tween game in town in Pasadena, Calif., over the weekend. Just a few exits away, One Direction had taken up residence for a three-night string of shows. Many of the predominantly young women attending InTour, multichannel network Fullscreen’s version of a YouTube and Vine star live event, had either gone to One Direction the night before, or were heading there after the daytime festivities came to a close.

    “Our parents took us from San Francisco for One Direction last night, and InTour was our surprise gift,” one 12-year-old told the Daily Dot as she and her friends waited outside the Pasadena Convention Center the day before the event, hoping for a glimpse of one of their favorite stars. They’d realized the group was rehearsing because Jc Caylen, of vlogging supergroup Our 2nd Life, posted a Snapchat story for his followers. Eventually Viner Alx James came out and posed with the girls, even picking up one of the youngest ones for an extra adorable snap.

    That’s the defining factor that sets InTour apart from the stereotypical teen entertainment complex. Harry Styles won’t be popping out for impromptu photo session any time soon, and most of the traditional teen media empire doesn’t allow the fans a chance to come up on stage and eat a Nutella taco with their favorite stars, let alone craft an entire entertainment experience around that level of interactivity.

    •••

    “As talent managers, we’ve gone to a lot of these events,” explained Daniel Rosen, a Fullscreen talent manager and production manager of InTour. “We really wanted to build a premium experience for fans and the creators we represent. We have a really unique perspective being talent managers because we really know the unique needs of our talent and the unique needs of our fans. We partnered with Second City to create really unprecedented, amazing programming, and we partnered with Kevin Lyman to make this as logistically sound as possible. “

    Rosen emphasized the time Fullscreen put into making its live offering distinct from other moments for fans and digital creators to come face-to-face, from staples like DigiTour and VidCon to the many fan conferences that are popping up across the country.

    “We’ve put a lot of time, energy, and resources to blowing InTour out,” he said. “The experiences fans and creators are going to have with the stage programming are completely unprecedented. We’ve engaged and involved fans in the stage performance in ways that haven’t been done before. We looked at what works really well for the talent online, and we tried to translate that into content that works really well on stage. We spent time figuring out what is the unique, live experience for these fans and creators.”

    “Fullscreen reached out to me as they started to shape the event and asked me to come in and work directly with the talent to assist … in developing the acts for the stage,” explained Second City’s Marc Warzecha. “I really immersed myself in this emerging genre and … I got really well educated on it online. I think it’s going to be a very special event for the fans. They’re not only going to get to see the talent; they’re going to see the talent doing engaging, entertaining things that they don’t get to see the talent doing online. We want the live experience to be special and unique for them.”

    •••

    Ultimately, InTour was YouTube come to life, the four-hour equivalent of zipping through related videos on a YouTube binge. And that’s only taking the stage-show into consideration. There was a morning meet-and-greet for select ticket holders that snaked through two rooms at the convention center and saw fans snapping selfies with their favorite creators. Most fans weren’t there to see just one act, instead rattling off a laundry list of names of who they cared about most, and the entire event played to that mentality in the spirit of YouTube’s collaborative nature. 

    Aside from solo moments on stage and limited meet-and-greet lines, the creators also mixed and matched different games in front of the cheering crowd. They lip-synch battled, with singers like Sam Tsui being a standout. They had dance-offs that were dominated by Anthony Quintal, better known as Lohanthony, and his twerking abilities. They conducted a water war where Jc Caylen and Dylan Dauzat pulled cards from a deck and the one with the lower number was doused in increasingly larger amounts of water, until the boys stripped their shirts and threw them to the crowd, inciting a frenzy to claim a piece of the immediately shredded garments. There were two female creators taking part in the event in addition to the gaggle of boys—Jenn McAllister, also known as Jennxpenn, who shared a Top 10 Ways to Get Ready for InTour multimedia countdown, and Charity Vance, who wowed with her American Idol-trained voice.

    intour water war

    The only two acts who stood alone were Connor Franta, who appeared for a Q&A moderated by McAllister where he told the screaming fans he prefers bagels over pancakes. Headliners Jack and Jack, the duo of 17-year-olds Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinski who’ve spent considerable time on the DigiTour, also didn’t appear in other skits, but closed the event with a six-song set that could have easily been an opening-act for the boy band down the block. While Franta and the Jacks' fame quotient may be slightly higher than the other participants, it was hard to discern based on how much the crowd cheered on each and every act who took the stage. 

    Way at the back of the performance space sat weary parents. The event supplied a quiet, parents-only lounge with a cash bar, but it was barely full. Most guardians claimed the colorful bean bag chairs throughout the center, waiting out their kids' enthusiasm.

    “I didn’t realize it would be such a long day,” said Samantha, who’d driven with her 14-year-old daughter from San Diego for the event (she declined to give her last name for this article). Other pairs of moms had bonded during the day, one having come from as far as Dallas as a special trip for her 11-year-old who was a big fan of O2L member Ricky Dillon. They knew in general which stars their daughters were biggest fans of, but had opted to leave their kids to the excitement of the afternoon. One had even snuck off for a movie at the theaters across the street, unnoticed by her daughter. Fathers lounged too, guarding charging cell phones until they dismissed by their daughters to head off to the gym, only summoned later for a ride home. 

    The event wasn’t girls only, but boys were few and far between. One of the few young men in attendance was Jordan Dowodzenka, who was stopped often for photographs despite not being part of the performance. He’s a Viner himself, with a respectable 63,800 followers on the platform. A college student from Michigan, he’s spending the semester in Los Angeles as an intern while he continues to work on his digital career, and in the woman’s world of InTour, he couldn’t have gone incognito if he’d tried. InTour went to lengths to keep the performers from moving among the crowds to avoid mobs, containing their interactions with fans in controlled spaces and keeping focus on what was happening on stage, where the event served as a chance for the creators themselves to stretch their talents. BigMoufBeats, who felt like one of the elder statesmen, debuted a live version of his beat scouting that earned him digital fame. It veered from the more relaxed, sleepover-style entertainment of the rest of the group. Jc Caylen trained with a choreographer to debut a dance number, something he’s never done before.

    “I literally just jumped into it,” Caylen told the Daily Dot, citing films like You Got Served and the Step Up franchise as inspiration for his newfound passion. “It’s completely new. It’s kind of out of my comfort zone, but I think that’s good. I always wanted to dance. This is the beginning to my whole dancing career, if I wanted to ever take up dancing. For now it’s only for fun.”

    •••

    Fun wasn’t in short supply at the event, and fans left with not only memories, but tangible displays of their fandom, from shirts and bags to increasingly personalized and inventive photos with the stars. Performers were game for all sorts of snaps with the fans, ranging from faked marriage proposals to forehead-touching embraces that would be too much PDA for the middle school dances these tweens attend. If it’s something that would probably get you kicked out of a One Direction meet-and-greet across town for being too inappropriate with the celebrities, it's fair game at InTour, where the line between fan and creator is murky at best.

    The afternoon ended as BigMoufBeats spun pop tracks, weary staff munched on nachos, and photobooth GIFs were projected on the otherwise blank conference center walls during the Taco Bell-sponsored after party that gave lucky VIP fans a chance to interact with the 15 celebrity guests in a more laid-back setting, questing to get a selfie with each in a collect-them-all fashion. When the doors had opened to the afterparty, the talent had been lounging together on bean bags in one corner, and fans crowded near, waiting for their moment with the stars. Quickly everyone began to spread out, until it was hard to differentiate the event from any teenage party, or identify where the creators ended and fans began. 

    Photos courtesy of Danielle Jaime


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    Taylor Swift may not seem like an ideal fit for the slightly hipstery world of Tumblr, but she’s getting the hang of it. Slowly but surely, her blog has become precisely as adorable and self-aware as you’d expect.

    Case in point: unironically reblogging fanart of her cats, and then changing it to her phone lock screen.

    Photo via taylorswif/Tumblr

    Taylor Swift already has a very personal social media presence, particularly on Instagram where she comments on individual fans’ photos, often with supportive messages if they’ve been going through a bad time. Over on Tumblr, this attitude is translated into her confusedly asking fans how to navigate the site (“Taylor here. I’m locking myself in my room and not leaving until I figure out how to use my Tumblr.”), a sentiment that will be very familiar to anyone who has ever set up a Tumblr account and then discovered that there is no instruction manual.

    The Washington Post confirmed that Swift runs her own Instagram account, and either her Tumblr blog is just as genuine, or it’s controlled by an incredibly good ghost-writer. She may not be as much of a natural Tumblr user as her pal Lorde (who is seven years younger and has been using Tumblr since before she was famous), but she’s found an extremely Swiftian niche: girly photoblogging where she reposts soft-focus pictures of cats, inanimate objects and, of course, selfies.

    Plus, a handful of text posts that are honestly just beyond parody, such as this love letter to the wonders of Fall, including “ANKLE BOOTS.”

    Photo via taylorswift/Tumblr

    Yes, of course Taylor Swift is a passionate member of pumpkin spice flavor fandom.

    The most convincing argument in favor of this Tumblr being operated by the real Taylor Swift is that it makes no effort to be cool. Obviously she’s a beautiful millionaire pop star with a ton of celebrity friends, but she’s also a slightly mom-like awkward homebody who likes to post hundreds of pictures of her cats. Taylor Swift is nothing if not dedicated to her love of objectively boring stuff like monogrammed pillows. She is the pumpkin spice flavoring of social media.

    Also, after using Tumblr for more than six months, she’s still asking questions like, “how do I get GIFs?” and “How do I have one of those convos you always see screenshots of on Instagram? Is that by re blogging or is there some sort of conversation board on here?”

    No, Taylor, there isn’t any easy way to have a conversation on Tumblr, and there probably never will be. But honestly, you seem to be doing fine so far.

    Photo via Eva Rinaldi (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed


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    As the National Security Agency has crept further into pop culture, musicians and artists have found ways to interpret their feelings about privacy and surveillance in tandem with public performance. Musician Holly Herndon attempts to channel those feelings in her new NSA breakup anthem, “Home.”

    The choppy, vocally manipulated electronic song falls in sync with the colorful visuals, created by Amsterdam-based design studio Metahaven. The refrain: “I know that you know me better than I know me.” Herndon provided the following statement about the song:

    For my debut album Movement, I communicated an intimacy with my laptop. It is my instrument, memory, and window to most people that I love. It is my Home.

    The ongoing NSA revelations have fundamentally changed this relationship. I entrusted so much in my device. To learn this intimacy had been compromised felt like a grand betrayal. Is everything done privately on my laptop to be considered a public performance?

    In "Home", I address that invisible audience. It is a love song for prying eyes (an agent/a critic), and also a break up song with the devices with which I shared a naive relationship. There is something dramatic, teenage and vulnerable to this sensation—our relationships with these interconnected devices are still so young, so naive.

    As a culture, we are in a process of accelerated, and reluctant, maturation. We are attempting to reconcile the great emotional power of these technologies knowing that the more we welcome them into our lives, the more power they have to destabilize and hurt us.

    Metahaven explained it wanted to explore the “aesthetics” of NSA surveillance: “Code names, acronyms, icons, and graphics from a shadow world designed to never be publicly exposed.” In the video, emoji-like PRISM and Homeland Security logos rain down on Herndon as she sings in full view of the camera, and obscured by it. 

    H/T Pitchfork | Screengrab via RVNG Intl./YouTube 


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    Christmas advertising seems to start earlier and earlier every year, and big-box retailer Kmart wanted to avoid the pitfalls of that slippery slope—while capitalizing on it anyway. 

    "Hello, America. It's too early for Christmas," monologues their spokeswoman in the ad. "So just to be clear, this is not a Christmas commerical."

    The ad goes on to suppose that you had a big event requiring a lot of gifts in December, like "maybe your entire family is having a birthday on the same day," and suggest that now is the time to start using Kmart's layaway service to stock up on those gifts. The clip features not-so-subtle yule logs, elves and Santa on a scooter, Christmas trees rolling by in the bakcground, and ends on a giant "Merry Birthday" cake. The not-Christmas message gets across loud and clear.

    The ad has already nabbed over 1.3 million views in a few days, proving that even if America doesn't want to be thinking about Christmas in September, we probably already are.

    Screengrab via Kmart/YouTube


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