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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Thanks to Rule 34, we can indulge in any fetish we can imagine with the mere click of a mouse, from looning to findom to rosebudding to scat play. (If you needed to look up two or more of these terms, you probably haven’t been using the Internet enough.) But while some alternative sexual lifestyles have gained mainstream acceptance—thanks to 50 Shades of Grey and the rise of BDSM, everyone and their mother has a pair of handcuffs in their closet—other kinks have a long way to go. Case in point: race play.

    One of the more taboo fetishes in the kink-o-sphere, race play is essentially a form of roleplay, in which painful and often degrading racial tropes are exploited for the purposes of sexual gratification. Popular examples of racialized role plays include a master tying up a slave in the nineteenth century American South, or a German prison camp guard hurling epithets at a Jewish prisoner. In reality, these situations would be horrifying to experience. But for those interested in race play, they’re a huge turn-on in the bedroom, and can even serve as a vehicle for psychological catharsis.

    Race play is extremely controversial, and with good reason: If you’ve been a victim of racism your entire life, it’s completely understandable why you wouldn’t want to relive such trauma in the bedroom. But Sunny Megatron, the host of Showtime’s Sex With Sunny Megatron (Thursdays, 11pm ET) says that it doesn’t have to be damaging: On the contrary, some consider race play a way to explore their sexuality, while simultaneously using it as a coping mechanism to help heal long-felt wounds. The Daily Dot reached out to Megatron to learn more about race play, and other sexual fetishes she explores on her series.

    Can you explain exactly what race play is?

    Race play, in a nutshell, is using racism or race itself as a basis for an erotic play. It’s definitely something that’s very controversial. There’s a small population who are like, “Oh, that could be kinda hot,” but a lot of us stop breathing for a minute, like, “Oooh, you can’t do that.” Even among the BDSM circle, it’s very controversial.

    Why do you think people are so uncomfortable with it?

    First of all, I think a lot of them don’t understand the basic concept of BDSM, that it’s consensual, it’s pre-negotiated between all the parties involved. Normally, when we see racism played out, it’s in a non-consensual manner, and it’s awful. So that’s the first thing people have to remember. Even when I hear the n-word, I freeze up. That’s a natural reaction in all of us, and racism is a thread throughout most everything in our society, whether we acknowledge it or not. Race makes us really uncomfortable.

    Is race play specifically a BDSM kink?

    It is considered part of BDSM, because the foundation of it is a dominant/submissive roleplay.

    What kinds of dynamics or scenarios are most common in race play?

    It can be most anything. Usually, people think of it as a “black/white” issue, or “master/slave,” but it could be “Jew/Nazi,” “Israeli/Palestinian,” “black/Korean,” “light-skinned black person” and “dark-skinned black person.” There’s a whole range of different scenarios. The ones I see most often are probably Nazi play and black/white play.

    Yeah, I mean, I’m Jewish, and I gotta say, the second I heard “Jew/Nazi,” I was kinda like, “Yeah, I could totally see how someone could get into that,” but I don’t know why. Like, I’m not comfortable with the fact that I’m a little turned on to that.

    That’s the part of exploring taboos that is so titillating and also so confusing. Sometimes, it’s the deepest, darkest, wrongest thing that turns us on, and we don’t know why. So the question becomes, “Well, do we really have to know why? How much do we have to examine it versus enjoy it?” Sometimes your brain and body want what they want, whether you can explain it or not, and there are a lot of reasons why people would enjoy race play. Some are like, “It’s hot. I don’t know why. I feel weird about it, but it’s hot.” And then there are people who are like, “This is something I deal with in my everyday life, and I can’t explore it in my day-to-day life. But now that I’m exploring it in a play sense, I can dive into those taboo things that I’m not supposed to do or say those things I’m not supposed to say, and through that I might learn something about yourself and something about society, and that might make me a better person when I step back into the real world.”

    What other sorts of things could people take away from dabbling in race play?

    There are so many things. It’s hard to pinpoint just one. But for instance, if someone is playing the part of someone who’s a dominant member of society—so for instance, a Nazi, or a white person—in our society, there’s a lot of systemic racism that we don’t realize is there. We have this white privilege we don’t really see. So a lot of people will come away seeing things that are in our society that they don’t usually see. There are also some instances in race play where we may flip things on its head, and it’s a revenge scenario. So it may be the Jewish person overtaking the Nazi, or the black person overtaking the white person. And there’s a lot of empowerment and strength in that, because that’s not something you see in everyday life.

    It sounds like a Quentin Tarantino movie in the bedroom, kind of.

    Absolutely. And that can be a lot of fun, and empowering for whatever side you are on in the scenario. It can be really hot.

    Are there any prominent writers or performers or producers who are interested in race play?

    Absolutely, 100 percent [blogger] Mollena Williams [who blogs at the Perverted Negress]. We featured her in our race play segment. I approached her and only her because I knew she was the only person who could do the segment justice. She is very eloquent, and is able to communicate the down-and-dirty raw truths about race play that a lot of people can’t verbalize. I’ve never done race play myself, and I am a mixed-race person, so I see it from both sides. She was the first person who made the lightbulb go off in my head, and I was like, “I get it. I get why people do this.” I understand why a lot of people say you can’t use racial slurs in their sex lives, but I also understand why it’s OK because of what I learned from Mollena.

    I haven’t read her work, but I did come across a piece on Ebony about her work, which quoted one woman of color who does sex work and is critical of race play. What is the general consensus among people of color in the kink community when it comes to race play?

    I find that a lot of people of color put their foot down and say, “That’s wrong. You can’t do that.” But on the flip side, it’s consensual. Where do you draw the line, where you can dictate what someone can do in the privacy of your own bedroom? When you look at it on the surface, it’s someone shouting racial slurs or beating on someone because of their race. If you are a person who has been dealing with racism your entire life, I can absolutely understand why it’s difficult to peel back all of those layers and see why race play might be beneficial for some people.

    Is there any concern that during a race play encounter, the lines will blur between race play and actual BDSM? How do people prevent these lines from blurring? Do you use a safe word, like in BDSM?

    People use safe words. There is a lot of pre-negotiation that goes into a race play scene, where both partners agree on what can and can’t be said. This is considered psychological edge play, which a lot of people in BDSM don’t engage in, because they think it can be too intense and damaging. You’d check in a lot more than you would in your average BDSM scene, to make sure everything is OK.

    I feel like I’d need a few hours of therapy beforehand, honestly.

    Yeah, and one point Monena made when we were shooting that hit the nail on the hand is race play is not for people who are racist. They live that in their daily lives. They need to do a lot more self-work. Race play is for people who recognize there is systemic racism out there, that want to change things, that want to explore further. If someone is truly racist, they go out on the street and do those things in real life. They’re not the people you’d see in a pre-negotiated BDSM scene.

    Would you say the majority of people who do race play are politically correct, liberal people?

    I do find that, but that’s based on my own personal experience. They are people who are very self-aware, who want to be better people when it comes to racism. It takes a lot, psychologically, to delve into this. It really does.

    But on the flip side, don’t you think it could be argued that these are not genuinely non-racist people, that they’re guilty liberals who have subconscious racist thoughts and want to unleash them in the bedroom?

    Exactly, and race play isn’t for everyone... That may be part of the exploration. There are lots of white people who say, “Oh, no, I’m not racist,” but there is that systemic racism that runs through everything. There are certain privileges you have that you take for granted. So you’re really opening yourself up and exploring that. Everybody—everybody—has a bit of racism in them, and we are afraid to acknowledge that. It’s a very scary part of ourselves that most of us don’t ever want to examine.

    Do you think that people engage in race play outside the BDSM community? I feel like it’s something that happens more often than we’d think, even among vanilla couples.

    I would agree with that. For some people, it’s akin to being in the bedroom and your partner is calling you a dirty, slutty whore. There’s a part of us that likes that degradation. [Race play] is a close cousin of being called a dirty whore. But again, it needs to be consensual. Let’s say there’s a mixed race couple, and one half of the couple starts throwing out racial slurs. That, unfortunately, happens too. And that’s not race play. That’s being a racist jerk.

    How does the popularity of something like interracial porn play into this dynamic?

    If you look at interracial porn, that’s more like fetishizing somebody because of their race. Normally, that’s not an OK thing to do in the real world. You don’t say, “Hey, I wanna date you because you’re Asian.” But that is acceptable in the world of porn. That can be a part of race play, but generally, what I tend to see is more racial slurs, because it’s more of a roleplay. It’s not just, “Hey, I’m one race, you’re the other.” Race play is a little more intense.

    Zooming out a little bit, how did you become interested in the world of kink in general? You explore such a wide range of fetishes on your show.

    It all started when I reached middle age. I’d had your stereotypical middle American relationships, where you couldn’t talk about sex, fake our orgasms, “don’t look at me with the lights on” sort of thing. And I sort of had an awakening. I’d thought about all these things but had never told my partners, and when I did I got shamed by my partner, who said, “Oh, that’s disgusting.” So I decided to go full steam ahead, and learn more about all of these kinks and indulging in them. I am a member of the BDSM community, and I started instead of keeping it to myself, to share it with the rest of the world.

    Are there any kinks that you consider more intense than race play, that you won’t showcase on your show?

    Anything that involves not obtaining consent—minors, animals, that sort of thing—that’s where I draw the line. But if it’s consensual, even if it’s something as controversial as race play, if you want to explore that with your partner, and you are on the same page, you should be free to explore it.

    Is race play the most controversial kink you’ve explored so far?

    We’ve also delved into formicophilia, which is into having insects crawl on you and people deriving pleasure from that. It’s a form of sensation play, so the tickles and bites feel good. It’s not harming the insects in any way. We’ve also delved into golden showers, or piss play.

    The way I think of all these fetishes, [is] you need to break them down to their basic common denominator, and when you do, they become understandable and relatable. So I might say insect play and you might say “Ew,” but I say, “It’s like having a feather across your skin,” and most of us can relate to that. With race play, maybe somebody enjoys being degraded. Maybe somebody enjoys the fear and excitement of exploring something taboo. All of us can relate to whatever our version of taboo is. When you break these fetishes down to their common determinator, there is a human element in all of them.  

    You said earlier that people have a choice between investigating the source of what turns them on, and just accepting it and going with the flow. As a sex writer, this is something I think about a lot, this tension between what turns us on, and why it turns us on. Where do you fall on this spectrum? How much do you think people should question the source of their sexual preferences?

    Well, for me, I got caught up a lot in “Why?” “Why do I like this?” And that made me feel broken. It made me feel wrong. It made me feel like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. But the fact of the matter is when it comes to psychology, we have some theories as to why people have some of these fetishes. But do we know everything? Certainly not. At the end of the day, if being called a racial slur or having an insect crawl across your genitals turns you on, then why do you need to get caught up in the “why”?

    Sex with Sunny Megatron’s next episode airs Dec. 4.

    Photo via Showtime.com


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    Who could have imagined that a visit to a West Hollywood jazz club would include a surprise solo from his Purpleness, Prince.

    During an early December performance by Ryan Edgar and Nikki Leonti, Prince, who has all but disappeared from social media, joined the duo on stage as they performed The Beatles' 1967 song "With a Little Help From My Friends." The various clips show the man once known as Prince Rogers Nelson playing his guitar with authority during a prolonged chorus. A rather moody chap, it’s great to see the musician grinning ear to ear during the song.

    As legend has it, John Lennon and Paul McCartney carefully built the song to accommodate drummer Ringo Starr’s limited vocal range. "With a Little Help From My Friends" is only one of 11 songs from The Beatles in which Ringo had a major vocal role ("Yellow Submarine" perhaps the most popular of the lot). "Little Help" was featured on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Grammy Award winner for album of the year.

    USA Today and other outlets reported that in late November, Prince dropped out of the social media scene by deleting his Facebook and YouTube accounts. As with most events that relate to mercurial star, there was no explanation given.

    Screengrab via Nikki Leonti/YouTube


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    It started with Kim Kardashian’s nude photos for Paper magazine. Then her sister Kourtney bared (nearly) all for DuJour. Never one to be outdone, Madonna has taken to the pages of Interview to pose topless and chew the fat with friend and magician David Blaine.

    Check out the full (and NSFW) gallery here.



    In a far-reaching conversation, the discussion ranged from drugs (“they give you the illusion of getting closer to God, but ultimately they kill you”) to inspiration (“suffering is a big informer a big catalyst for creation. You take your sadness, your despair, your sense of injustice, and you put it in your work”), as well as the most important profession: “prostitution, of course.”

    The interview comes hot on the heels of Kim Kardashian’s photoshoot for Paper: With her posterior on prominent display, it promised to “break the Internet,” and sparked a thousand remixes and mashups

    For the full Madonna interview and photos, check out the full gallery on Interview.

    Photo via U2005/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III


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    A British YouTuber just had a more successful first week of book sales as a new author than heavyweights like J.K. Rowling and E.L. James.

    The 24-year-old in question, Zoellawhose real name is Zoe Sugg, sold 78,000 copies of her debut novel, Girl Online, in its first week. That number makes Girl Online's first week the biggest one recorded by Nielsen BookScan in a six-year history of tracking that information, according to The Bookseller. Sugg can attribute that kind of momentum to her 6.6 million-strong YouTube subscriber base.

    Sugg began making videos that focused on beauty and fashion in 2009, but she has since broadened her horizons while staying true to her roots. This year she won a Teen Choice Award in her category, released her own product line, and even appeared in British Vogue

    Girl Online continues Sugg's brand of poppy optimism by telling the coming-of-age story of Penny, a girl who blogs secretly and falls for a mysterious boy on a trip to New York.

    It may be breaking new publishing ground statistically, but it's far from the first YouTube-to-book transition. Other YouTube stars like Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig, and even Sugg's boyfriend Alfie Deyes have all released books in 2014. However, Sugg's stands out as a work of fiction, with the chance for the series (a sequel is due out next year) taking on a life of its own. In fact, Girl Online is the first novel publishing by Keywords Press, an imprint dedicated to books from digital influencers. It's only the beginning of the vloggers-turned-authors movement, and Sugg certainly got things off to a roaring start.

    H/T Time | Screengrab via Zoella/YouTube


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    Odds are you’ve come dangerously close to frying your brain by rewatching the entirety of Seinfeld every month or so—I know I have. But if you think a show about everyday human banalities is the limit of tedium as entertainment, well, you ain’t seen “nothing” yet.

    Here, courtesy of Imgur user matttheman11, is a series of easy-to-follow instructions for turning an old cathode ray TV set (fairly cheap on Craigslist) into an aquarium that resembles the most iconic apartment of the 1990s. Sorry, Friends, your place lacked ... character.

    We’re sad to report that searching Google for images of “fish that look like Kramer” yields negligible results, but evolution should get us there soon.

    Photo by Michele Schafferman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Remember the thrill of Kramer busting through Jerry’s doorway with raucous disregard for the tenant on the other side? If you hanker for that unexpected entrance, your zany neighbor fix could be just a YouTube click away.

    Jackie Jennings' Neighbors blows out the old sitcom trope of the crazy neighbor next door: Each episode features a bizarre new acquaintance. And the titular neighbors come bearing wild demands (a vegan claims she can smell the chicken Jackie’s been cooking and suggests she try something “cruelty-free”); unwanted gifts (a neighbor is getting rid of some “really great stuff” she wants Jackie to take a look at, like the ends of loaves of bread); and useless services ("I'm from an organization called Sister Showers, where we sit outside of each other’s bathrooms and we guard them while they’re showering").

    Jennings, who writes and edits the series herself, stars as the straight-man to each of the crazy visitors. She is endlessly wide-eyed and polite, swatting away unsavory volleys with a resting smile. Her inability to deny her neighbors’ requests, no matter how far-removed from reality they may be, is both painful and hilarious to watch. Jackie goes just to the edge of saying no, and then retreats into a sea of smiles and nods. This gives the series a refreshingly grounded tone. The characters who visit are unusual, but the world they occupy is quiet and familiar.

    If you’ve ever lived in an apartment in New York City, you’ll surely identify with the uncomfortable navigation of uninvited intimacy. Jennings, who previously created the NYTVF Comedy Central Short Pilot finalistLife’s Great with Susan Casey and Veronica Osorio, draws inspiration from her own daily frustrations and observations. “I’m the straight man in all of them, but in reality there are things where I want to go bang on someone’s door.”

    Despite a pared-down aesthetic and seemingly mundane themes, the arrival of a new neighbor in each episode keeps the series feeling fresh. The visitors are always uniquely hilarious, from episode 1’s Langan Kingsley as riotously self-congratulatory vegan Donna to episode 2’s Kristen Acimovic, who delivers a brilliant blend of charitable and aloof. And Nicole Drespel is pricelessly paranoid as a visiting representative from “Sister Showers” in episode 3.

    The newest episode of Neighbors, released today, stars Morgan Miller as a neighbor who gives Jackie a friendly warning about the crude noises that will be coming from her apartment at night. The exchange is fast-paced and unnerving as Miller practically swings through the doorway to share unnecessary details about what Jackie can expect to hear.

    New episodes of Neighbors release weekly on Jennings’ YouTube channel. Check them out for some smart, down-to-earth, awkward fun.

    Screengrab via Jackie Jennings/YouTube


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    The cast of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman reunited to tell a very different story from the one fans are used to.

    Almost 20 years after the longtime western drama went off the air, its fanbase has been rewarded with a shiny reboot (with the whole cast) that shows Jane Seymour’s Mike Quinn isn’t really the gentle doctor you used to watch. Instead of trying to convince the town that a woman is capable of being a doctor in the 19th century, she’s buying her patients’ loyalty—one drop of morphine at a time.

    The cast assures everyone that it’s in no way like Breaking Bad, but you can’t ignore the coincidences. Mike and Sully have a seemingly much more stable relationship than the Whites do, but even when you replace meth with the drug of the day the story plays out the same. Intelligent person sees a market, gets everyone hooked, and rolls in the dough (and rolls it in a giant container).

    It’s a story as old as time.

    Screengrab via
    Funny Or Die


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    Love is far more scientific than you were led to believe.

    Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown from ASAPScience broke down the science of amour, but they did so by ditching their usual format in favor of an especially geeky love song. And their voices aren't bad, either.

    It’s part cheese and part education, and while it might not make breakups any easier, at least you'll know exactly what’s going on in your brain. (Although not your heart—that beating organ has nothing to do with love.)

    If nothing else, this adorably nerdy song offers plenty of potential pick-up lines.

    Screengrab via ASAPScience/YouTube


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    BY BREE BROUWER

    The Fine Bros may be best known for their short-form React series on YouTube (and soon to be on television), but the two fraternal partners are now taking their creative talents to the big screen. Benny and Rafi Fine (who boast over 13.8 million subscribers across three YouTube channels and are both repped by WME) will write, produce, and direct a currently-unnamed film in partnership with Big Block Entertainment Group (which is also repped by WME).

    The upcoming movie is set to be a teen comedy filled with a premise of high school growing pains and angst. Here’s the logline from the release:

    Comedic feature film that takes an over the top look at the clique filled world of high school and how the people you grew up with, and even used to be friends with, often become the same people who torment you by the time you graduate….and now it’s time for the outcasts to change all of that.

    Big Block’s Tom Pelligrini (Jiro Dreams of SushiHesher) and Scott Prisand (Rock of AgesJiro Dreams of Sushi) will produce, while the entertainment company’s founder and CEO Scott Benson (Ride) is tapped as an executive producer alongside the Fine Bros’s manager Max Benator.

    “We are thrilled to be working alongside Big Block,” said the Fine brothers in the release. “We haven’t made a feature length film since we were teenagers, and we’re excited to be making one now. Consider this our spin on classics like Can’t Hardly Wait and Mean Girls, and we can’t wait to unleash this movie to our 10+ million subscribers and beyond.”

    “The Fine Brothers are masters at creating great short form content and have a loyal base of fans that deserve to see a long form video presentation of their creative production,” said Benson. “We believe that this content will lead to even further growth of the Fine’s fan base and will serve as a great example of the types of movies Big Block plans to create with our slate.”

    The Fine Bros join a handful of other YouTubers who have had the opportunity to participate in movie-making. As film studios become more aware of the influence and power of a prominent online video creator’s audience, they’ve worked to get deals off the ground with many digital media stars. Shane Dawson, for example, created his film Not Cool for Starz’s reality TV competition series The Chair (which he won). Additionally, Smosh just scored a movie deal with Lionsgate, DEFY Media, and AwesomenessTV.

    Traditional film studios, however, aren’t the only entertainment entities transitioning online video stars over to major motion pictures. New media companies started the trend and are ardently continuing the practice. RockStream Studios helped  Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, and Grace Helbig‘s direct-to-download Camp Takota become an undeniable hit online before its principal, MIchael Goldfine joined Fullscreen to presumably make more flicks. AwesomenessTV will release a direct-to-download film in December 2014 starring prominent Viner Cameron Dallas. And The Fine Bros’ very own Benator just recently announced his plans to fund much more long-form programming starring online video creators under the banner of Supergravity (with which, to be clear, this Fine Bros. film is not associated).

    There’s no word yet on who will the star in The Fine Bros. project or how the final product will be distributed, but we’re definitely curious to see which online video creator appears next on the silver screen and how his or fans will be able to watch the action. Until then, The Fine Bros., Big Block Entertainment deal is another soon-to-be-named title in a fast growing list of feature-length projects from online video stars.

    Screengrab via SoulPancake/YouTube


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    When 15-year-old Brendan Jordan posed his way into our hearts in the background of a local news clip, it was only a matter of time before a brand got involved in supporting this budding star.

    Now, Jordan is in an ad for American Apparel that shows him posing in an assortment of bright and playful outfits, along with a blurb about him that includes the company's reason for featuring him.

    We were inspired by Brendan after seeing his fearless act of spontaneity and applaud his efforts with the LGBTQ community. His favorite styles of ours include the Clear PVC Circle Skirt and anything high-waisted.

    Jordan has amassed a large social media following since the video appeared in October, with his YouTube account gaining 49,441 followers, and his Twitter followers topping 36,000. On all his accounts he's extremely frank. His first video he lets us know his Sugar Daddy is Jesus, shows off an impressive platform heel, and answers the question "are you gay?" with an exhausted eye roll.

    We're definitely happy to see someone like Jordan modeling American Apparel attire, especially compared to its normal half-naked fare.

    Photo courtesy of American Apparel | Remix by Jason Reed


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    NBC is doing a live, musical theater version of Peter Pan Thursday. It should provide three hours of tranquil quiet for parents everywhere. We'll keep you up to speed with the latest reactions and bits of wisdom from the general populous, as well as the Daily Dot's crack editorial team. Come for Christopher Walken trying to dance, stay for the tweets.

    Photo via NBC.com | Remix via Jason Reed

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    BY CHRIS E. HAYNER

    The holidays are a time when families get together. For Girl Meets World, that means the Boy Meets World reunion you have been waiting for.

    William Russ, Betsy Randle and Rider Strong are all reprising their "Boy Meets World" roles for the special episode, "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays." That means Cory and Topanga's children get to see their grandparents, which you can check out above. It seems Maya may already have a crush on Riley's very young uncle, Josh.

    That's all going to take a backseat once Shawn Hunter shows up. Cory and Shawn are together once again and—if the clip below is any indication—nothing has changed. Topanga may have gotten to marry Cory, but fans know who the most important person in his life always was.

    "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays" premieres Friday, Dec. 5, at 8:30pm ET on Disney Channel.

    Screengrab via Disney Channel/YouTube


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    Hip-hop is synonymous with pop, and so by mainstream standards the eye rolls in 2014 were difficult to avoid: Macklemore’s Grammy success way back in January and Iggy Azalea’s summer reign and American Music Award for Best Rap Album, chief among them. That’s the lede—the rampant whitewashing of hip-hop by gate-crasher artists, siphoning gasoline and driving further because of an inherent path toward connecting with young suburbia. There was a week where three of the top five iTunes hip-hop sellers were albums written and performed by white artists.

    I saw Azalea perform twice, and unlike Macklemore (who sells his insular and bland wheat without much of an olive branch to other rap music), she was an interesting entry point to southern hip-hop for teenagers. That doesn’t mean that her entire assimilated persona isn’t hogwash, and while “Fancy” should have been called “Catchy,” I’m mostly bummed that people were too busy listening to endless “Fancy” loops to catch Gangsta Boo and La Chat’s stellar comeback record. The Memphis, Tenn., 36 Mafia associates reunited with Juicy J’s clique and their first record in six years was the calendar’s best classical gangsta rap project—double-tracked vocals, extensive snares from producer Drumma Boy.

    Elsewhere, Vine solidified itself as a hip-hop breeding ground for hits. Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N***a” became an instant-trap classic after serving as ripe canvas for six-second parodies—propelled by the viralShmoney dance. Even Elmo got in on it.

    But anyone that enjoys rap music should point to DJ Mustard as the artist of the year. The 24-year-old Los Angeles producer went on a dastardly tear through club hip-hop and was behind seemingly every strong banger with his signature ratchet style. In addition to an underrated solo record, Mustard produced 12 hit songs in 2014 (even one with, sigh, Iggy Azalea). But it was his inner circle—songstress Tinashe, rapper YG, Auto-Tune master Ty Dolla $ign—that made the most raw, farm-to-table Mustard.

    In the wake of the tragedy in Ferguson, Mo., hip-hop was relatively quiet. It was the year of the mindless banger, after all: “Tomorrow I might be hungover, that don’t mean nothing,” sings Kid Ink on the brilliant “Show Me.” Killer Mike was a welcome voice on the porch; The Game organized a nice protest song; Vince Staples wrote the best cop paranoia track; Christian rapper Lecrae (who scored a No. 1 Billboard album) had a lot of interesting things to say. 

    Urban radio was an endless loop of 10 or so hot songs that played across Clear Channel stations every two hours. There was a unified, glossy filter in songs by August Alsina, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Usher, and Trey Songz, yet I love the way countless radio stations called “The Beat” reduce these tracks into a fuzzy, FM party to go.

    In terms of mixtape culture, it was dominated by unofficial, high-profile moments. Mostly Rich Gang’s Tha Tour Part 1, a corporate merger of a crew that now loosely includes Birdman, Drake, Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, Juvenile, Nicki Minaj,  Soulja Boy, and critical darling rookie associate Young Thug.

    On Spotify, we got an avalanche of singles and collaborations. Here’s a grinding playlist full of 85 unimpeachable tracks. Yes, I included that A$AP Ferg shout out to Adam Levine. For sure, we got that Riff Raff skit where he pretends to be the moon. No doubt, there’s ample Rick Ross features. Please believe, Kanye West’s ode to dipping Kim Kardashian’s ass in gold is on deck.

    Screengrab via Rich Gang VEVO/YouTube


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    BY RYAN BASSIL

    Even the biggest artists in the world have songs you haven’t heard. In our series Z-Sides, we shine light on those rare tracks and deep cuts that only hardcores know word for word. We've featured tracks from The Cure, Prince, Britney Spears, and more. This time: Weezer's long lost space opera.

    The years since Pinkerton's release have troubled every Weezer fan. Of the numerous albums, solo records, and compilations, genuinely listenable follow-ups were few. One record features some dumb guy from Lost on the cover and, in 2009, the group released a song with Lil Wayne, the nadir in any alternative rock band’s career. It wasn’t that they were getting old; it’s that Weezer had become so bad that, at one point, fans offered them $10 million dollars to split up and fuck off. 

    Weezer’s story, and downfall, has been well documented. But there’s one key piece of information that’s missing: a record that was planned between the group’s debut and sophomore blessings of perfection, and was left on the cutting room floor. 

    The energy from those first two records—Blue Album and Pinkerton—was an angst-fueled power-punch that hasn’t been seen since. They're probably the last truly great things the group ever did. I mean, I would be lying if I said anything from Raditude could speak to me on the same level as “Across The Sea” does when I’m exiling myself in my room and feeling like an abject loser. That’s the reason why this “lost” record is paramount to the Weezer story. Listening to it is enough to rid HurleyMake Believe, and Raditude from existence. 

    This is the story.

    Blue Album had been released to critical acclaim and Rivers Cuomo, a maverick in despondency, had mixed feelings about its success. He was happy but, like a student with a perfect grade point average graduating into anxious uncertainty, the future had started to freak him out. It was during this period that he would write a collection of songs that become known as Songs from the Black Hole: a science fiction rock opera, set in 2126, about “relationships, stardom, and life in Weezer.”

    Read the full story on Noisey.

    Screengrab via Eric Marrow/YouTube


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    It's not all smooth sailing for the YouTube star who sold 78,000 copies of her debut novel in its first week. Suspicion has surfaced that the 24-year-old vlogger used a ghostwriter to pen her coming-of-age story. 

    In the book, Zoe Sugg, known on YouTube as Zoella, acknowledges a woman named Siobhan Curham, but gives no details of her role in the novel.

    “I want to thank everyone at Penguin for helping me put together my first novel, especially Amy Alward [editor] and Siobhan Curham, who were with me every step of the way.”

    Curham is a novelist and freelance writer, and a Wayback Machine post from her blog notes that a publisher recently asked her to write a novel in six weeks. There's no direct indication that the novel was Sugg's Girl Online, but it is typical industry language for a ghostwriter to be acknowledged in the way Sugg did in her book, according to Bibliodaze

    Of course, the biggest question is how much does it even matter if the novel was ghostwritten? As many have pointed out, Sugg's out-of-the-gate success is a function of her 6.6 million subscriber base primed to purchase items under the Zoella brand, not tied to advance reviews or quality of the work. Ghostwriting is also an open secret in the celebrity publishing business and not altogether unsurprising. However, with YouTubers, authenticity is key, and Sugg passing off work that is not her own most likely wouldn't sit well with her key demographic.

    We reached out to both Sugg and publisher Keywords Press for comment on the speculation and will update this story with their responses.

    H/T Bibliodaze | Screengrab via Zoella/YouTube


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    PBS Digital's Blank on Blankhas had an important role this year in giving us back lost voices. Now it's turning to a "lost" interview featuring the wisdom and contagious comedy of Robin Williams to give us a poignant reminder of how important laughter can be.

    Williams' suicide sparked an international outpouring of mourning and conversations about depression. But perhaps even more, it simply reminded us the danger of taking for granted the presence of genius in our midst. And as the new uncovered interview reminds us, Williams was every bit a genius, as prescient and uncannily insightful as he was funny.

    "There’s a world out there. Open a window, and it's there."

    Williams originally conducted this interview with journalist Lawrence Grobel in 1992, on the heels of his triumphant voice acting turn in Disney's Aladdin. In Patrick Smith's animated version of the interview, his versatility and insight is on display: First Williams eerily predicts the weakening of the world's economic infrastructure in the previous decade before sailing through to a hilarious description of the "wind tunnel" face you make during sex, and men's hilarious inability to deal with their own emasculation.

    Blank on Blank's animated rendition of one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last interviews reminded us that life is a learning process at every age. When we last saw the series, it was unearthing a classic early interview featuring Janet Jackson, then still a child, interviewing her older brother Michael about the nature of talent. But if this trio of men who were taken from us too soon had uncanny insight into their passions, their interviews also reveal hints of their sadness as well. 

    Speaking of Williams in retrospect, Grobel told PBS that even though he "could twist serious into funny in an instant," he was deeply aware of the real-life societal obstacles that got in the way of comedy:

    When I asked him what made him cry? He said, “Just the insane violence all over the world, that makes me cry. And it’s unrelenting. I was performing in a club in New York and afterwards there was a guy sitting down with an Iranian, a Palestinian and an Israeli, and they all acknowledged that they want peace but they don’t know how to get to it. How do you create a Palestinian homeland when there’s a large amount of Palestinians who want to obliterate Israel? How do you stop this insane cycle that just keeps going on and on?”  When I asked him how he dealt with such matters as a comedian, he said, “You try and find a way to address it. Some people are better at it than I am. I haven’t hit that one yet. I’m trying to find interesting things to talk about with it.”

    There are no such glimpses of sadness when Williams talks about his creative processes, however. When Grobel asks him if he worries about running out of ideas, his answer is pure hope, and pure Robin Williams:

    "No, there’s a world out there. Open a window, and it's there."

    Screengrab via Blank on Blank/YouTube


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    Rumors about the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It have been swirling around for years, but now it looks like it’s found a director.

    Vulture reports that True Detective director Cary Fukunaga is set to direct the feature-length version of the King novel. An Itminiseries aired in 1990, when Tim Curry scarred an entire generation of kids as the evil clown Pennywise. His signature line, “We all float down here,” has been turned into a meme.

    A Fukunaga-helmed project will look decidedly different: He gave True Detective a signature style and pace. (His 2009 film, Sin Nombre, is also criminally overlooked.) Project producer Dan Lin told Vulture the film is actually going to be two parts, because that’s so hot right now: "The book is so epic that we couldn’t tell it all in one movie and service the characters with enough depth." 

    Fukunaga is set to direct the first part, which will focus on the kids haunted by the killer clown, and he's reportedly nearly set to co-write the second part, which will focus on their adult lives. Shooting is scheduled to start next summer.

    H/T Vulture | Photo via Johan Gunnarsson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Netflix is stepping up its documentary game once again. But this time, it’s not with an acquisition. It's partnering with filmmaker Liz Garbus (Love, Marilyn) to produce the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?

    The film, produced in part with RadicalMedia, will tell the story of the singer, pianist, and Civil Rights activist using more than 100 hours of rare audio interviews, archival concert footage, letters, and interviews with her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly.

    An official documentary on Simone, who passed away in 2003, has been sorely lacking from existence. The Amazing Nina Simone, a doc not associated with her estate, is set to be released next year, and a Zoe Saldana biopic did not go over well with the Internet. 

    Last year, The Square, one of Netflix’s documentary acquisitions, was nominated for an Oscar. Another recent acquisition, Virunga, was just shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

    The doc will come out in 2015. 

    H/T Indiewire | Photo via Compose4U/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Beyoncé, Beck, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams will compete for Album of the Year during the 2015 Grammys. It only took all of Friday to find out.

    Instead of a straightforward, traditional, on-camera announcement ceremony, The Grammys turned to more social avenues for divulging the 2015 nominees. 

    Pharrell and Ed Sheeran kicked off the event during CBS This Morning with the first round of names. Then, specific social media big fish began revealing category nominees on their Twitter accounts, including YouTube star Troye Sivan, who announced Song of the Year. Sivan, who has 2.13 million followers on Twitter, began releasing his own music in 2014—with his debut album hitting the top 10 on the Billboard charts upon release.

    Sivan was not the only celebrity on social media to take part in the stunt. Alanis Morissette, Jared Leto, and LL Cool J all also participated. Each celebrity included a video of them announcing the nominees with their tweet.

    While the plan may be an interesting way to increase the award show's digital presence, it also threw a wrench in coverage plans for many reporters used to the status quo of award show nominee announcements.

    The Grammys revealed the final and biggest category, Album of the Year, during Friday's A Very Grammy Christmas special. Here's the full list of nominees.

    H/T Tubefilter | Screengrab via Troye Sivan/Twitter

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    The plight of women in digital spaces is a focal point of 2014. Specifically, the world of YouTube has been front and center in the discussion of women's safety online. While a flurry of sexual assault and abuse cases perpetrated by men in the YouTube community made headlines, there's also constant and casual attacks on women daily on the part of the platform that fosters the otherwise vibrant community—the comments section.

    In a new BuzzFeed video, female content creators speak up about the abuse they've received in the comments of their videos, even going as far as reading out loud some of the worst offenders.

    The common thread between the women is wishing that commenters would focus on the content in their videos—not the fact that they're a woman, or their appearance. The women also say that they're so used to getting these sorts of comments on their videos that they've sometimes become desensitized to the hurt.

    "It's so annoying that I shouldn't have to be used to this, but I am," says YouTuber Tessa Netting in the video.

    The clip concludes with simply a suggestion that, "if you're going to write a YouTube comment just to objectify someone or make them feel uncomfortable, don't." And while it will take more than just talking about attacks and abuse to generate change, it's a positive first step. 

    Screengrab via BuzzFeedYellow/YouTube


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