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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Unless you’ve been in Internet rehab all weekend, you’ve clicked a link to “Too Many Cooks,” an unbelievably strange 11-minute YouTube short that first aired in Adult Swim’s 4am “Infomercial” slot at the end of October—and has since racked up an unlikely million views.

    What exactly happens in this high-concept, brilliantly edited viral film from Casper Kelly and Paul Painter beggars description, but: It’s basically an endless intro credit sequence for an ’80s family sitcom that never existed, which ends up encompassing a gritty cop series, a subplot in space, medical drama, and G.I. Joe–like animation. Plus a cannibal serial killer.

    Though popular, “Too Many Cooks” is proving divisive. Here’s how the reactions break down: 

    1) You turned it off after 90 seconds.

    Congratulations: you’re either a senior citizen or suffer from an attention deficit disorder. Did you really not have the time to find out where this was going? Or maybe you just weren’t on the right drugs. Anyway, we’re talking about a hopeless case here. You’re just going to have to ride out this week with everyone else talking about this all around you, wondering what exactly they saw in this collage of archaic genre signifiers. Rarely will you feel more alone.  

    2) You tried to dissect the joke.

    Hey, don’t do this. Come on. I know you’re an expert on the comedy of Andy Kaufman, but really, nobody wants to hear the comparison. Like much of Adult Swim’s programming, “Too Many Cooks” is better understood as a bolt from the blue, or the pearl of an oyster: a beautiful oddity crafted by forces that we cannot begin to question. If you find yourself reading a collegiate essay about how it’s an attack on nostalgia—published on a site that fairly harvests the stuff—you may be missing the point. Try to relax and enjoy life a bit more. 

    3) You’ve forced everyone you know to watch it.

    If “Too Many Cooks” was your twisted sense of humor in a nutshell, chances are you want a majority of your Facebook friends to confirm that it totally ruled. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to a padded cell where you can howl that appallingly catchy theme song for the rest of your demented days. As with “I’m the Juggernaut, Bitch,” saturation can only lead to a culture of referentiality that collapses under the weight of its meaninglessness. Kelly has already said they’re going to shoot a new piece in January, so get excited for that instead.      

    4) You were uneasy, afraid, or infuriated.

    Some of what we saw in the way of dismemberment, though cheesy, was legitimately frightening. It could have something to do with the “return of the repressed” famously described by Sigmund Freud—but then we’d be explaining the joke again. This might also be chalked up to a quirk of temperament articulated in Netflix’s viewing habits research, namely the Napoleon Dynamite problem: there are certain forms of entertainment people either love or viscerally hate, and we may never understand why. Accept your position and move on.


    5) You replayed it. 

    You’re a rare bird indeed. Though Kelly hid easter eggs throughout the short, he was flabbergasted that anyone went back to find them. Let’s assume that this obsession manifests in viewers for whom the history of television is more important than actual lived experience, with the result that any disruption or satire of its basic ground rules must be interrogated to the fullest extent of one’s will. We’d applaud you for this bold immersion, but we’re also pretty sure you’re not listening. Let us know when you’re ready to rejoin society, if ever.

    Photo via Adult Swim/YouTube

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    In a massive development that will shake up the online video landscape, Fullscreen–a top multi-channel network that manages content on YouTube and other online video platforms–has agreed to acquire Rooster Teeth, a creative studio best known for its gaming-related content.

    Fullscreen announced the acquisition with a press release, in which Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos called Rooster Teeth “a perfect match for Fullscreen.”

    Rooster Teeth first came to prominence through Red Vs. Blue, a web series set in the world of Halo that recently concluded its 12th season. While that series put Rooster Teeth on the map, it has since branched out its offerings. It now runs hugely popular channels like Let’s Play, and its library of web series includes RWBY, The Gauntlet, and The Know. Rooster Teeth’s network now sprawls well beyond video, too. It has its own podcast, an upcoming video game based on RWBY, and Lazer Team, a feature film funded by a record-breaking Indiegogo campaign.

    For years, Rooster Teeth has operated independently out of its home base in Austin, where it is led by CEO Matt Hullum and creative director Burnie Burns. The sale to Los Angeles-based Fullscreen will not result in any big personnel changes; Hullum and Burns will continue to headquarter Rooster Teeth in the Texas capital.

    As a subsidiary of Fullscreen, Rooster Teeth will be integrated into the network’s infrastructure. This will likely make it a key part of Otter Media, the joint venture launched by AT&T and The Chernin Group, which recently acquired a majority stake in Fullscreen. Rooster Teeth is not the only gaming network under that banner; earlier this year, Fullscreen acquired ScrewAttack, another online network related to gaming.

    Fullscreen will help support several Rooster Teeth initiatives, including its retail division (which recently extended to a pop-in store in Austin) and its live events (such as RTX, the yearly convention that attracted more than 30,00 attendees in 2014). “At Rooster Teeth, we have a long history of creating the best digital content in the industry,” said Burns in a release. “With Fullscreen, we look forward to continuing that tradition in even bigger and better ways. Matt and I are excited about the opportunities this alliance will present for our creators and all the amazing content it will empower them to produce for our audience.”

    Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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    Thanks to her snug Pink Ranger costume, Amy Jo Johnson will always be burned into the psyches of boys who were experiencing the changes of life in the early ‘90s. But since then, both Johnson and her fans have moved on from the days of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

    Yet, just because the actress has gone on to star in other roles since her days as Kimberly Hart, it doesn’t mean she’s forgotten her roots. As part of the Indiegogo campaign for her film The Space Between, Johnson offered a number of Power Ranger-centric donation levels to entice fans. However, nothing could prepare those fans for what the actress did to celebrate reaching her fundraising goal for the film.


    A photo posted by Amy Jo Johnson (@atothedoublej) on

    Almost 20 years after she retired her pink spandex, Johnson took to Instagram with costume in tow to announce she would be donning her ranger gear and busking with her guitar since she reached her fundraising goal. Even David Yost, who played Billy the Blue Ranger, was flabbergasted by the bravery of the 44-year-old actress.


    A video posted by Amy Jo Johnson (@atothedoublej) on


    A video posted by Amy Jo Johnson (@atothedoublej) on

    But being the indepdent Pink Ranger that she is, Johnson still doesn't have to put up with Billy's crap, she's got Puttys performances to deal with. 


    A photo posted by Amy Jo Johnson (@atothedoublej) on

    Billy, stay back with Zordon at Command Center. If you need Amy Jo Johnson or Kimberly Hart, you can find them raising money and writing/directing their own film. 

    H/T Uproxx | Photo via greyloch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    It’s about time that the Mythbusters and the Ghostbusters take their non-existent beef to the streets. Here, the Epic Rap Battles of History team returns to its massive YouTube series and plays out the intricately layered rivalry.

    Special credit goes to the Walter Peck name drop—he remains the Ghostbusters franchise’s most underrated character. But I don’t like how the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is interpreted as being from the “ghetto” and then given an aggressively stereotypical African-American rap voice when it’s likely that one of the troupe’s white guys performed the Marshmallow Man’s vocals and added effects.

    In general, the notion of comedy rap videos where each lyric needs subtitles and also a diagramming visual should really be over by now. At least these guys can write well.

    Screengrab via ERB/YouTube

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    A new freestyle rap video released by Eminem to promote his upcoming compilation album Shady XV has sparked controversy over lyrics that reference domestic violence and punching singer Lana Del Rey in the face.

    “I may fight for gay rights, especially if the dyke is more of a knockoff that Janay Rice/Play nice? Bitch I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice,” the 42-year-old performer raps, “like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance”—a reference to the American footballer recently caught on camera punching his partner in the face in an elevator.

    The lyrics also touch on numerous other celebrities, including Anderson Cooper, Jay Z, and Kate Hudson. 

    Del Rey, real name Elizabeth Grant, has yet to comment on the new track. Singer Azealia Banks wasted no time making her feelings known, however, tweeting out that she will “personally punch [Eminem] in his mouth,” and that he should “go back to his trailer park and eat his microwave hotpocket dinner.”

    Banks is notorious for her online feuds, and as this incident threatens to escalate, other Twitter users are weighing in on the issue.

    The Guardian reports that Lana Del Rey is a self-confessed Eminem fan, telling an interviewer once that "he really changed my life. I didn't know music could be intelligent. He wasn't just rhyming for rhyme's sake. That made me think I could actually talk about the way things actually were. He's a genius."

    H/T Guardian | Photo via Leticia Lima / Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Rob Price

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    Can you imagine a troll-free Internet? It may seem impossible, but Karen Cahn is hoping to make that dream a reality with VProud, a video-based social network for women that’s about discussion, not disses.

    "We wanted to create a digital safe space for women to have intimate conversations with each other without feeling like the whole world was going to see what they were saying—and without trolls making hateful and unproductive comments,” Cahn told the Daily Dot.

    Cahn spent five years as head of sales for partnership and branded entertainment at YouTube, where she saw the problem of trolls in the comments firsthand, but it took a personal life change for her to be inspired to take the steps to create a digital safe space.

    “I went through a divorce, and the experience was honestly the most isolating and lonely one in my life,” Cahn explained. “I would just sit up in bed at night and cry, and put these ridiculous 20-word search phrases in Google and hope that a Yahoo group or something would come up where I could find women like me I could relate to, and I never found anything. Thankfully the HuffPost released their divorce section at that time, and it made me feel much less alone and much less shame around my issue. I’d read every blog, every quiz, look at every photo in the photo gallery. And then I was like, ‘now what?’ I still didn’t have anyone to really talk to or take the conversation experience a step further. That’s when I came up with the idea of making a social network for women.”

    Women face increased levels of harassment online, be it in situations like Gamergate or simply when they’re posting any sort of content online, especially videos. Detractors claim that trolls can infiltrate anywhere, but VProud aims to weed out any abusive comments with a four-step approach. First, the technology understands context and intent and can flag comments before anyone sees them. There are also filters in place on VProud that catch words and phrases against the community guidelines. When technology isn’t enough, VProud turns to humans. There’s an editiorial team in place to monitor the community, and users can report trolls themselves. However, Cahn wants it to be clear that VProud isn’t against discussion or differing points of view, rather that the site's definition of troll is about “rude, hateful, mean, and unproductive comments."

    “VProud is about the democratization of conversation, but not that arbitrator of opinions,” she explained. “We’re not Democrats or Republicans; we’re not pro-choice or pro-life. What we don’t approve of is ‘mean girl’ behavior, name-calling and putting people down. We are not about censorship. Just because an opinion is an unpopular opinion, doesn't mean it's trollish. What isn’t allowed is if there’s a diet and nutrition conversation, and somebody calls someone else a ‘fat pig.’ That to us is just not an acceptable behavior. We can all very easily state our opinions without calling someone else a nasty name.”

    While video isn’t the only component to a VProud discussion, it is the jumping-off point. Cahn’s background is in the space, but she says the VProud team simply sees video as one of the current creative centers of online content today and the best way to broach discussions.

    “We feel like video is the best way to create emotional connection with the topic,” she explained. “We’re trying to create an emotional response between the women and the conversation and inspire them to talk. Every conversation starts with a video and a headline meant to inspire an opinion. Each of the responses are color-coded according to your response to the headline. It makes it easier for women to find women they want to follow, or who they want to debate with. For us, we found that the video is a great way to get talking and thinking about the issues that we’re talking about.”

    The site has only existed for a few months, but Cahn says they’re already seeing growth and potential for more participation. One way they’re helping move along the conversation is not just relying on the video content they can find online already. They have a studio in New York where they create new video content.

    “If a woman puts in an idea but can’t find a video on YouTube, we’ll make a video,” Cahn said. “We’re all about real conversations with real women. We’re making videos, but we’re also curating videos made by women from YouTube and Vimeo. All our video conversation starters are promoting the female creative economy.”

    VProud also prides itself on not just being “lady content” while still staying safe for women. While a safe digital home for women to talk is their goal, the dream of a troll-free Internet might be a bit closer.

    Illustration by Jason Reed

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    Adults and children alike descended on the first Hello Kitty Con in Los Angeles several weeks ago, but when his late-night show covered the event, Jimmy Kimmel was only interested in one question.

    Given that the franchise has been around for 40 years, there are bound to be many older Hello Kitty fans in attendance of their own accord. Kimmel, clinging to the idea that these older convention-goers are creepy, sent a team out to ask them whether they were alone or with their kids. The talk show host even had his audience guess the answer beforehand.

    It’s not as one-sided as you’d expect, and while Kimmel's audience will probably relate most to the con-goer who’d rather be just about anywhere else, most of the Hello Kitty Con attendees seem to be having fun despite the judgment of a TV crew.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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    There is no doubt that High Maintenance is the high-water mark of the webseries genre; its crisp, fragmented narratives, uniting to narrate an intimate and usually humorous depiction of “normal” New Yorkers is the exact thing that thousands shoot for but miss. As a representation of ordinary people, it is remarkable, and surely no one can begrudge the creators for placing their three new episodes behind a paywall. But sometimes, when you suddenly start getting paid for doing what you love and are good at, unexpected pressures can take root.

    Not pressures from their partner, Vimeo—which has invested in these episodes plus three more in the new year as part of its implementation of a Netflix-style production model—mind you. No, creative control remains with creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld. But you get the feeling, as you watch the three new episodes, “Geiger,” “Genghis,” and “Ruth,” that during the creative process, there was a certain attempt made to placate those who will be—in my opinion, wrongly—disgusted with having to pay a couple of dollars an episode (or eight for the whole cycle of six) for something that previously they got for free.

    It’s initially apparent in episode lengths. While the first 13 episodes of High Maintenance clocked in between five and 14 minutes, the new episodes are, respectively, 13, 16, and 19. Whether consciously or not, this is a misguided movement to present value to a now-paying viewer, as if a gallon of truffle oil is inherently more valuable than a few slivers of trifola d'Alba. The series worked precisely because we glimpsed its disparate characters in fragments. Half the fun was drawing these snippets of their life together ourselves. 

    But here, it is done for us. While there remains some of its beautifully subtle exposition—one character, apropos of nothing, mentions that he misses “being able to run through red lights whenever I want”—the scenes here are now too long, too wordy and consequently, too revealing. Gone is the intrigue created by truncated glimpses into others’ lives, replaced now by illustrated, normal, sort of boring people.       

    In “Genghis,” we again encounter the asexual magician from past episodes “Dinah” and “Elijah,” only this time he’s just insipid Evan Waxman, struggling with his life choices in a hackneyed Dangerous Minds teaching scenario. The woman with cancer from “Brad Pitts” is again central in “Ruth,” but instead of trying to come to terms with her illness, she is now in remission and more interested in the mundane process of finding a man. 

    Some may enjoy this extra character development; for now it feels like a more conventional show, the recurrence of characters now giving it an episodic sheen the earlier episodes—which played almost like short films, held together by a single thread—lacked. But it seems a shame to move away from the liberated attributes that made it great and toward a framework that resembles television. I’d always admired, for example, the restraint of High Maintenance of rarely actually showing people high. It’s lazy writing and breaks a rigid performers code that they should never be having more fun than their audience. Yet in “Ruth,” the longest of the new episodes, the predictable narrative for a show that features a pot dealer is allowed to occur, and it dominates the episode.

    It would be wrong, however, to dismiss High Maintenance just because of this shift in direction. The writing is still—if now slightly flabbier as it tries to fill the show’s extra space—genuine and playful, and some of the ideas in “Geiger,” especially, are thrilling. It still looks, as something shot in New York should, incredible. And heaven knows that it has certainly generated enough goodwill to persist with. But there is also no doubt that we are fully within our remit to be critical, because now, after all, we are a paying audience.

    Screengrab via Vimeo

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    Even the biggest creator on YouTube isn’t immune to a core rule of the platform.

    Gaming superstar PewDiePie, who goes by the birth name Felix Kjellberg, has more than 32 million subscribers on YouTube. So you can say he has the video site figured out, which was why it was a little surprising when, two months ago, he decided to turn off comments on his YouTube videos.

    As any YouTube manual would tell you, comments are a core part of how creators engage with their audience, and use that relationship to build consistent viewership and attract new subscribers.

    Kjellberg’s reasoning for turning them off made sense, though. He claimed that his “bros weren’t really there,” replaced by trolls, spam accounts, and self-promotional people who weren’t interested in truly interacting with the star.

    Instead of commenting on his videos, Kjellberg encouraged his fans to find him on other social platforms. “By turning off the comments and making people have to reach out to me in a different way, it cuts out that fat,” he said in a recent interview with fellow YouTube stars Rhett & Link. “All of a sudden, I got comments from people that took the extra effort to write something thoughtful and meaningful.”

    Since then, Kjellberg has tried to re-route conversations to a forum on his website. Overall, the decision has made him “happier,” he said in a recent video post.

    Read the full article on the Video Ink.

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    Though her penchant for wearing 1950s bathing suits might suggest otherwise, Taylor Swift does communicate using modern technology. In an interview with Buzzfeed, the high priestess of the Diet Coke tribe revealed several interesting tidbits about her digital life, including the fact that her last Google search was for “Pictures of two eagles flying together/being friends.”

    After dispensing with the kitschy semantics, Buzzfeed began their barrage of hard-hitting questions. They sought the answers that fans were dying to know—namely, what emojis does she text BFFs Lorde and Lena Dunham on the regular?

    We’re sad to report that Swift keeps it clean, steering clear of the eggplant emoji or anything nefarious. Instead, her top three picks are the thumbs-up, “the wide-eyed surprised-face emoji" (go figure), and Santa.

    Why Santa? “Because he’s always watching.”

    Honestly, we expected more Emoji flavor and excitement from the young woman who proclaimed herself a dead ringer for Girls star Shoshanna Shapiro. At least Shosh had the bravado to text Ray a panda next to a gun next to a wrapped gift. Maybe Taylor’s lackluster emoji game is what caused the rift between her and Harry Styles in the first place.

    H/T Vulture | Photo via TaylorSwiftVEVO/YouTube 

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    YouTube’s top vloggers should be quaking in their boots as their challengers get younger and younger. Meet Ben, who’s been making YouTube videos on his family’s iPhone and iPad (unbeknownst to them) for weeks.

    Ben’s dad Scott Coates discovered hours of footage Ben had taken on the iPhone and iPad, edited together the best, and shared it on YouTube to the tune of 32,000 views. Instead of it just being random shots, it’s actually the bare bones of Ben developing his own Web personality—one that’s definitely obsessed with zombies and Star Wars.

    Stylistically, Ben’s got YouTube down pat. He opens most of his segments with “Hey, guys,” assuming his growing audience. He claims he “hasn’t done one of these in a while” even though he’s never done videos before, which really builds the idea of a deep content backlog to explore. He’s even got a branding mind, calling out Hasbro with suggestions for toys and asks for companies to send him freebies.

    Now that dad knows Ben is video-inclined, we suggest he invested in some camera equipment and start up a channel. He’s an Audible deal away from taking over the YouTube world.

    Screengrab via Scott Coates/YouTube

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    Neil Degrasse Tyson had surprisingly few problems with the science of Interstellar, praising the movie for its depiction of relativity and wormholes. But as a casual viewer, Tyson spotted quite a few plot holes.

    The notion of a plot hole is always somewhat controversial, because one person’s mistake is another person’s suspension of disbelief. It’s virtually impossible to make a movie without something that can be picked apart as a illogical nonsense, particularly if you’re making a sci-fi blockbuster. The question is, at what point are there so many plot holes that it looks like lazy writing, rather than just a brave attempt at an admittedly fantastical story? For Tyson, there were nine details in Interstellar that stood out—and true to form, he took to Twitter to discuss them.

    If you’re wondering how so many of these so-called plot holes slipped through the cracks, the answer is that without them, we wouldn’t have a movie. If this were a movie about humankind terraforming Mars and moving there instead, Christopher Nolan wouldn’t be able to tell an epic story about wormhole travel and title it Interstellar. Similarly, if the people in Interstellar had the option of saving Earth instead of abandoning it, we’d be watching a movie about farmers rather than astronauts.

    Regardless, Tyson makes some good points about stretching the limits of our suspension of disbelief. How does Cooper know which books to push through the shelf? And why doesn’t he just write a note, or find a less obscure way to communicate than by manipulating the second hand of his daughter’s wristwatch? In the end, the most satisfying answer may simply be, “It’s just a movie.”

    Photo via liveforfilms/Tumblr

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    Earlier this year, Amazon Studiosreleased its latest slate of original programming pilots for green-light approval, and Jill Soloway’s Transparent ended up becoming a runaway success. Today, Amazon announced the latest slate of pilots for 2015, and it's hoping to have another breakout hit.

    Seven new pilots will premiere early in 2015, including The Man in the High Castle, Cocked, Mad Dogs, Point of Honor, Down Dog, Salem Rogers, and The New Yorker Presents docuseries. Perhaps the most anticipated pilot in this new lineup, at least for sci-fi fans, is the pairing of X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz and producer Ridley Scott with the screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel The Man in the High Castle, which was announced back in July. The series will reimagine a United States that lost World War II and is now divided between Japan and Germany. Scott’s apparently been trying to make this adaptation a reality for a few years now, but he’s already got Blade Runner under his belt, so he’s got an advantage.

    If that show’s premise seems a little dark, Amazon has a few comedies lined up to balance things out. Salem Rogers stars Leslie Bibb as a narcissistic model attempting to become relevant again after a stint in rehab. Rachel Dratch and Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek also star. Down Dog appears to be a comedy about a yoga teacher, which is already a red flag, but Kris Kristofferson, Orange Is the New Black’s Alysia Reiner, and Criminal Minds’ Paget Brewster are attached, so it could be salvaged.

    On the reboot front, Mad Dogs, based on the U.K. show of the same name, “follows the twisted reunion of a group of underachieving forty-something friends—a mixture of single, married and recently divorced—who are all at different crossroads in their lives,” according to Amazon. Weeds’ Romany Malco, Steve Zahn, and The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli are all set to star. Cocked might be trying to lure in fans of Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy with its storyline of a man drawn back into his family’s Virginia gun business. True Blood’s Sam Trammell and My Name Is Earl’s Jason Lee play two brothers at odds. In that same vein, Civil War drama Point of Honor follows another True Blood alum (Nathan Parsons) and his Virginia family.

    Amazon is also attempting to jump into the documentary side with its The New Yorker Presents series. It’s a variety show for the bookish set, featuring a documentary from Jonathan Demme, an interview between New Yorker writer Ariel Levy and artist Marina Abramovic, and a short film starring Alan Cumming and Brett Gelman.

    As with all Amazon pilots, viewers will be able to watch and provide feedback on Amazon Prime Instant. 

    Photo via kodomut/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III 

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    After three decades of hosting Wheel of Fortune, Pat Sajak has certainly seen it all. As contestants see words that aren’t even on the board and solve puzzles with a single guess, Sajak has always managed to keep his cool like the consummate professional he is.

    That ended on Monday night, when the contestants' guessing spree got the best of the host. It began innocently enough: two players were trying to figure out what four words would solve the answer to the puzzle entitled “What Are You Doing?” By the end of it, Sajak had stormed off the set.

    Don’t let his Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt fool you—Sajak has no time for your horsing around, Mitch and Lee.

    In all fairness, “Riding a brown horse” was a pretty decent guess, but far off from the correct answer, which was “seeing a buddy movie.”

    H/T USNews | Photo via YouTube 

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    Weird Al Yankovic has a new tune perfect for the holiday season.

    We may still be debating whether it’s too early to start seeing Christmas commercials—such as the annual tearjerker from John Lewis—but this Yankovic ad for RadioShack is his first commercial in 30 years. It’s less tears and more laughter (and joy!)  this time around on the Yankovic tune, even if it’s in the name of commercialism. If anything, it reminds you that RadioShacks are still a thing.

    You can download his full Auto-Tuned take on “Toyland" via Shazam.

    Screengrab via RadioShack/YouTube

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    Over the summer, YouTube was caught in a bit of a standoff when indie labels resisted absorption into its new music subscription service. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the demise of certain bands’ videos if musicians didn’t adhere to the licensing agreement, and the leaked contract was certainly daunting.

    Then there was relative silence, until YouTube CEO Susan Wojcickireminded everyone last month that the service is still coming. According to the Financial Times, it has apparently reached an agreement with Merlin, a massive home to indie labels like Domino and XL Recordings. The Times report claims YouTube has been in negotiations with Merlin for months, but that the agency was holding out for a better deal.

    Now that a compromise has been reached, YouTube’s paid service could roll out sooner. Perhaps sensing this—or perhaps just bristling from the Taylor Swift breakupSpotify’s CEO Daniel Ek today announced in a blog post that the company “has paid more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists.”

    When asked for comment, a YouTube spokesperson told the Daily Dot: “Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry. We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind—to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.”

    H/T Financial Times | Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    To say that chainsaw artist Griffon Ramsey is a master of her craft would be an understatement. Though she’s been showcasing her carving efforts on her YouTube channel for the past three years, she only recently began translating her love of pop culture into wood for the world to see.

    First, it was her Groot sculpture that garnered critical acclaim. After all, it takes a lot of skill to turn one tree into another tree. But being the master of elements she is, Ramsey endeavored to challenge herself by taking things a step further and sculpting wood into ice with a carving of Frozen’s Elsa.

    Thankfully the hum of Ramsey’s chainsaw drowns out all the parodies and covers of “Let It Go,” because almost a year after its release, this original and rugged tribute to the film is the only one we wanna see.

    H/T Mrim86/Twitter | Photo via GriffonRamsey/YouTube

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    Khloe Kardashian sent the Internet into frenzy Tuesday when she shared a meme on her Instagram page that made light of the Ku Klux Klan’s hatred of black men contrasted with her family's history of dating them.

    Screengrab via khloekardashian/Instagram

    The meme—which Khloe did not create but had been making the rounds online even before she posted it—is a photo of the Kardashian sisters with the text “THE ONLY KKK TO EVER LET BLACK MEN IN.” Khloe captioned the post with “True.” Eager to clear up any misconceptions about who Kourtney Kardashian is married to, her husband Scott Disick also posted the photo to his Instagram account accompanied with the caption “And a Jew.” Disick is Jewish.

    Screengrab via letthelordbewithyou/Instagram

    The meme, though factually inaccurate , garnered 300,000 likes within an hour. Just as many outraged users commented and tweeted at Khloe telling her that they found her post offensive and slamming her for being insensitive. Jamilah Lemieux, a Senior Digital Editor at EBONY maybe put it best.

    After the harsh backlash, Khloe deleted the meme from her account before replacing it with another photo that reads, “We’re all equally fucked up some only hide it better,” presumably as a sort of apology.


    A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on

    It’s unknown if Khloe plans to comment any further on the controversy, let alone issue anything in the way of an official apology. Certainly though, it would be best if she stays far away from the KKK jokes in the future.

    Photo via Steve Hall/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Who says Sesame Street is just for kids? The educational program turns 45 this week and shows its adult taste in some of the parodies Big Bird and co. have taken on to teach preschoolers the alphabet and vocabulary. 

    They've covered a lot of primetime favorites from Grey's Anatomy to Sons of Anarchy, and even ventured to premium cable for takes on True Blood and Homeland. The best part is each of them is pretty amazing. Celebrate Sesame Street officially hitting middle age with a list of their best parodies below. 

    1) Homelamb (Homeland)

    The most amazing thing about this parody is puppet-ized opening credits that follow so closely to the real Homeland opening sequences—minus Carrie's crying face. 

    2) G (Glee)

    It is incredible how well the puppets capture the personalities of the real-life Glee characters from Rachel to Mr. "Gooster." 

    3) Sons of Poetry (Sons of Anarchy)

    Need a little help with rhyming but don't want all of the torture and death that comes with a real episode of Sons of Anarchy? Here you go. 

    4) True Mud (True Blood)

    This parody is just as dirty as the real True Blood—but the real kind of dirty that involves dirt instead of topless scenes. The only thing missing is if they could have fit a "Sookeh" somewhere between all the words that rhyme with mud. 

    5) A's Anatomy (Grey's Anatomy

    The doctors on A's Anatomy are doing a lot more actual learning than the interns on its adult counterpart. Maybe if the Grey's medical team spent more time studying like this than hooking up, there wouldn't be so much drama in the ER. 

    6) Upside Downton Abbey (Downton Abbey

    Puppets have manners too, even if they are living in an upside down world. Just because you're sipping from the ceiling doesn't mean you can forget "pinkies up."

    7) The Voice (The Voice

    Who needs more of The Voice? Everyone? Great. Puppets test out their vocal prowess to try and get judges to turn their chairs. Cee-lo, Christina, and Blake look-a-likes all make a puppet appearance. 

    8) Birdwalk Empire (Boardwalk Empire)

    Somehow mobster wars become funny and educational when you turn the gangsters into puppet birds and have them go "beak to beak." 

    9) 30 Rocks (30 Rock)

    Your toddler may be too young to understand the lightning speed jokes of Tina Fey's 30 Rock, so the great people at Sesame Street gave you a puppet Liz Lemon (whose head resembles the fruit) to watch during the daytime. You should love her just as much. 

    10) Mad Men (Mad Men)

    Don Draper may have a heart of steel on AMC's advertising drama, but the "Mad Men" of "Sesame Street" are much more open about their feelings, allowing you to adequately express how you feel about the end of the adult "Mad Men" coming to an end. 

    What is your favorite "Sesame Street" TV parody?

    Screengrab via YouTube

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    Three boys adorned in blue stand in repose as portraits of society’s version of maleness, but as one reaches for a pink doll, the others turn and begin chase. This is paired with the lyrics, “Hush boy, oh hush boy / Don’t say a word / throw on a jersey, no one gets hurt” matched with hand claps that begin to build the tension for the next 3:58 of “Little Games.”

    This may sound like a high-concept music video from an established, cutting-edge artist, but it’s actually the brainchild of Ben J. Pierce, a 15-year-old who wrote, produced, and sang this very personal yet still socially relevant track dealing with gender roles that’s racked up almost half a million YouTube views.

    “At the beginning of this year, I had an encounter with someone who said if I were to fit into the masculine archetype, I would have it a lot easier in life,” Pierce told the Daily Dot of his inspiration for the song. “Of course I was rubbed wrong by that, and I went home and, in a very passive aggressive way, I wrote ‘Little Games.’ It began to grow into something else because the video concept kept coming up.”

    Pierce’s song is haunting, both in lyric and melody, and the video is a perfect match. It focuses on two sets of children, boys in blue and girls in pink, who begin to warp the bounds of constructed gender until everything is a swirling mix. It’s a mix of a high-concept dance piece and performance art with pop sensibilities. Even more interestingly, Pierce doesn’t play a role on screen in the video, letting his vision stand on its own while he takes well-deserved directing, production, and even post-production credits. Pierce, who’s been writing music for two years now, conceptualized the entire video himself starting at the beginning of summer, calling a former collaborator, Tumi Mphahlele, to help him realize his vision.

    “She was a second opinion and a second voice to expand on what I’d created,” he explained. “After a 12-hour meeting, we sketched out the entire video. Over the next three weeks, we were going to thrift stores for costume pieces and renting out studios. I really like when I immerse myself in the creative realm. For 'Little Games' I tried my hand at a lot of things. I was making wardrobe and props and putting together a whole team. It was a month process of making the video after months of pre-production.”

    Like many of the other teens who are controlling their own creative destiny in the digital space, Pierce says he’s always been active online.

    “I’ve been watching YouTube ever since it was a thing. I was that 5-year-old who had a computer and was already starting to figure out how to do everything. In 2011, I was about to turn 12 when I first made my first video. It originally was going to be documenting my acting journey, and it sort of became an outlet for my own comedy writing and where I could voice my opinions and point of view, which is where my YouTube channel came from.”

    KidsPOV, the original channel he started, has 25,000 subscribers, and features Pierce doing song parodies, vlogs, costume tutorials, and interviews with other YouTubers like Tyler Oakley. The new single and video are posted on another channel, BennySounds, which is just shy of 14,000 subscribers and a home for Pierce’s original music. In the current climate of budding YouTube stars being snapped up by enterprising multichannel networks, it’s surprising that, for now, Pierce is fully independent.

    “Networks are something I’m definitely looking at, but right now I’m trying to figure out where I want to go with all my creative outlets,” Pierce explained.

    As the boss of his own growing empire, Pierce has been free to go about his creative projects under his own direction. He’s made it a family affair, tapping his three older siblings to help out on his music videos from crafting props to designing the hair and makeup. He credits social media platforms like YouTube with giving his generation a voice in sharing their own creativity.

    “Through [YouTube and other social media] we do have a little more creative control on what we do,” he said. “I’m very inspired by everything going on. I think it’s exciting where we’re in a place where we can create and speak in a public platform and be taken seriously.”

    Meanwhile, "Little Games" continues to gather praise from adults and peers alike.

    “What’s been interesting this week is seeing the generational effect,” Pierce said. “There are people of older ages who have said, ‘If I had had this at 15, it would have changed how I carried myself and accepted myself.’ That’s something I couldn’t have ever imagined, but it’s exciting. It’s something I get very emotional about. It’s always been something very close to my heart, but to know it’s translated and affected other people, it’s crazy.”

    Pierce says it’s all more than he ever expected, and that outpouring of love and support quelled any worries about releasing his work to the world.

    “I was very worried about releasing it because it is a such a vulnerable thing that I’ve held very close to myself for so long,” he said. “It wasn’t until a week before we released it that I realized we couldn’t back out. A lot of people are relating to it and taking it to heart. It made all of that anxiety worth it.”

    Screengrab via BennySounds/YouTube | Remix by Jason Reed

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