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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    BY MEREDITH GRAVES

    Pop Quiz:

    If given the choice, who would you rather be known as: a person respected for maintaining a certain level of honesty and integrity, or a person who gets made fun of for their tendency to embarrass themselves on the internet? 

    You really can’t be both, which makes one wonder why so many artists, writers and critics are choosing the latter. 

    The culture surrounding internet commenting has created a new kind of cruelty powerful enough to shift previously-established scientific understanding on the nature of human kindness. Scientists have been warning us about the dangers of anonymity for years via accounts like the infamous Milgram Experiment. In today's world, where thanks to the internet, people can anonymously donate to crowdfunding campaigns or seek anonymous support after trauma, it's obvious that barrier can help as much as it hurts. However, many people—especially people in the arts—love receiving attention and feeling special. The allure of the spotlight is too much, and the surrender of one’s privacy in favor of creating a verifiable online presence can lead to some particularly egregious uses of social media. Though the anonymity aspect might be gone, the barrier of impersonality, insofar as it absolves people of taking personal responsibility for their actions, is implied; these are the people who use the internet to interact with others in cruel ways, writing under their real names and sharing personal details about their lives, who still get a free pass because, of course,'it's just the internet.' 

    Once your actual IRL humanity becomes part of the discussion (say, when your friends are left to feign surprise after hurtful, disgusting things you thought you were saying in private come up as a public issue) the only argument you’re left with is a terribly weak one: that you’re not actually racist, transphobic, or advocating sexual assault. It was all because of the internet, a magical, consequence-free zone where you can say whatever you want under the pretense that it’s somehow different, separate from, or otherwise not applicable to real life. You were just playing dress-up! These low level cruelties are a trickle of water coming down the wall—something to be caught and resolved before the whole goddamn ceiling caves in. Early cries for help, if they go unchecked or excused, can lead to incidents of immense consequence—just ask the cops who, despite knowing about a number of violent, misogynist videos uploaded to YouTube, let Elliot Rodger go just days before he went on a killing spree. Had the cops pushed, he wrote in his 142-page manifesto, they would have discovered a veritable armada in his bedroom, his preparations for the ‘Day of Retribution’ against women he perceived to have rejected him.

    So what can we do when the barrier thins? The gap between the internet and real life has become so small as to be legitimately frightening, when we know peoples’ real identities and therefore, know who the potential perpetrators and victims could be. For instance, what’s the appropriate community response when some of the most profoundly sexist and misogynist voices are those belonging to men who are known to have young daughters? It’s terrifying to see these kinds of men writing to women (or at women, really) in impulsively angry, stalkerish, vaguely threatening tones; knowing those men share a house with young girls makes you want to shower in bleach. There’s no barrier of impersonality between you and what lives in your house. 

    Read the full article on Noisey.

    Photo via carbonnyc/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Avengers fans all over the country finally have a reason to watch college football.

    Marvel is planning to release another trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron on Jan. 12, during the NCAA’s first College Football Playoff National Championship, which starts at 8:30pm ET. So, apparently while Oregon and Ohio State fans will be collectively losing it over football, Marvel wants everyone else to be collectively losing it too.

    In typical big-studio fashion, Marvel introduced the news of an upcoming teaser trailer with a teaser for the teaser. There doesn’t look to be any new footage, but Marvel fans are sure to lap it up anyway.

    Marvel is likely banking on millions tuning into ESPN (which is also owned by Disney) to watch an unprecedented college-football matchup as well as people clamoring to see the new trailer. The move is similar to Marvel’s earlier plan of releasing the first trailer during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which got derailed when the trailer leaked online. That resulted in Marvel releasing the actual trailer sooner than planned, and a new exclusive scene aired on S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Of course, the trailer will end up online once it airs on TV, so regardless of who tunes into ESPN, it'll pay off big for Marvel; to date, the original Age of Ultron trailer has more than 62.7 million views on YouTube.

    H/T Uproxx | Screengrab via Marvel Entertainment/YouTube


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    With the ball dropped, Champagne popped, and a few verses of “Auld Lang Syne” sung, the year that was 2014 has officially been committed to the history books. With another 365-day trip around the sun ahead of us, it’s time to begin the sobering task of plotting out a plan for self-improvement known as a the dreaded New Year’s resolution.

    How will you improve yourself in 2015? More trips to the gym? Join a book club? Stop spending hours staring into the self-obsessed vacuum that is social media?

    This year, skip the cliché resolutions and take a seat on the couch. Instead of standing in hourlong lines at the gym just to grab a spot on the elliptical, commit that time to streaming the series you’ve been putting off for so long. While we’re not necessarily encouraging slothfulness, here at the Daily Dot, we believe that transformation flows from the inside out.

    To start you on your journey to culturing yourself and broadening your horizons, some of our writers have shared their favorite comedies available to stream on Netflix and their reasons for encouraging you to waste your time watching them in 2015. So get comfy, grab some popcorn, and get ready for some hardcore binge watching.

    1) 30 Rock

    Tina Fey’s time at Saturday Night Live left us with so much more than an indelible Sarah Palin impression and snarky jokes delivered from the Weekend Update desk. During her time as the show’s first female head writer, Fey managed to gather enough fodder about wrangling actors and being a working mom to set out on her own into the world of sitcoms. With Fey playing hapless comedy writer Liz Lemon working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the world of 30 Rock lives somewhere in the hilarious hinterland of autobiographical and absurd. But don’t mistake this comedy for a show only about farting robot sketches. Thanks to sharp but heartfelt writing, you’ll find a few tears mixed in with the laughter, and you’ll wish you had a mentor with as thick a head of hair as Jack Donaghy. —Greg Seals

    2) Archer

    Described by series creator Adam Reed, who also writes every episode, as “James Bond meets Arrested Development” with an especially “dickish” Bond, this animated FX comedy could be mistaken for Seth MacFarlane’s latest assault on good taste. But the voice talent, led by Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, and the peerless H. Jon Benjamin, imbues goofy spy-thriller plotlines about diamond heists and space pirates with genuine character. Archer himself is an idiot savant you can’t help but love, even as he drives his co-workers insane. Sure, it’s totally sophomoric—but why should 13-year-olds have all the fun? —Miles Klee

    3) Bob’s Burgers

    We’ve seen our fair share of family sitcoms, and we’ve also seen plenty of animated comedies about families (especially on Fox). But what makes Loren Bouchard’s Bob’s Burgers stand out? For one, the characters like each other, which is partially why Tina Belcher in particular has been so refreshing to watch, both as a teenager going through puberty and a growing feminist icon.

    It follows Bob Belcher, owner of the struggling, titular restaurant, and his family (wife Linda and kids Tina, Gene, and Louise) in their small Jersey shore town and the many shenanigans they get into. The constant gags are ripe for multiple generations; look no further than Gene’s portrayal of his father for some insight. Come for the beef and stay for the special ingredients.

    The worst part about Bob’s Burgers? The show is in its fifth season, but you can only access three of them on Netflix. We’re already refreshing our feeds for season 4. —Michelle Jaworski

    4) BoJack Horseman

    Thanks to childhoods packed full of Saturday morning cartoons, most Americans have been laughing at animation for as long as they remember. From grand sight gags to wild physical pratfalls, animated series often draw the biggest laughs because of the improbability of their comedy. But what sets BoJack Horseman apart from the rest of its animated brethren isn’t over-the-top set pieces, but the harsh reality this washed-up actor, who happens to be a horse, lives in. The Netflix original series, free from the FCC confines of network television, finds this once famous sitcom star exploring all his demons in hilarious detail as he tries to regain some semblance of a career. While there’s some real pain at the show’s core, a generous coating of comedy delivered by all-star voice talent makes it more digestible. —Greg Seals

    5) Gilmore Girls

    Gilmore Girls does not start off at the breakneck speed of something like Breaking Bad or Orange Is the New Black; then again, it’s not supposed to. But rest assured, if you give this show even a little bit of your time, it’ll quickly come to charm you. By now, you’ve probably already heard about its supremely witty dialog, which goes at lightening speed and is full of “blink and you’ll miss it” pop culture references. But the real heart of the series is its characters, particularly the female leads, who are among the best-written for television ever.

    The show falters a little bit in its latter years, with some unsuccessful creative decisions, and the departure of creator/showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino before the seventh and final season. But it’s still worth sticking with, right through the satisfying finale.

    In short, there have been a dozen dark, brooding, male antiheroes to emerge on television over the last few years. But there’s only been one Lorelai Gilmore. [Editor’s note: Well, technically two.]—Chris Osterndorf

    6) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    This one’s a love-it-or-hate-it sitcom, and the people who hate it are wrong. The basic pitch here is the pettiness of the Seinfeld crew, multiplied by the rancid squalor of a Philly dive bar. Between getting hooked on crack in an attempt at welfare fraud and filming knockoff sequels to the Lethal Weapon franchise, the gang takes every opportunity to screw one another over. Featuring a timeless underdog in rat-bashing janitor Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) and a sublimely grotesque turn from Danny DeVito, introduced as depraved patriarch Frank Reynolds at the outset of season 2, the series hasn’t dulled a bit in its decade on the air. —Miles Klee

    7) Louie

    It took comedian Louis C.K. more than a few attempts and a lot of life to suss out just what he wanted to say in a show. But after a failed HBO sitcom, countless standup specials, and raising two girls as a single dad, the comic seems to finally have found his voice with this FX sitcom. While the budget might be small, the message is big, and he masterfully captains his own ship as the writer, director, and star of Louie. Between getting ditched by blind dates in helicopters and driving a speedboat to the middle of the ocean to avoid seeing his father, the show excels when grand set pieces serve a single joke. With an art house episode that ends in a single minute-long fart, it’s clear the comedian has finally found enough bravado to mix high-minded concepts with low-brow jokes. —Greg Seals

    8) Orange Is the New Black

    The show that solidified Netflix’s place as a titan in original programming,Orange Is the New Black has already achieved a cultural significance that’s been discussed at length, and to be sure, it is a deeply important show, given the times we live in; its very popularity is a minor victory in and of itself. But none of that would mean anything if Orange wasn’t also so ridiculously entertaining. The women’s prison drama picks up steam quickly, and doesn’t let up for most of the entire first season. The second season, which arrived earlier this year, isn’t better or worse than the first, but rather more of a fitting equal. It builds on the strengths of the first one, making the stories and the characters richer and more human, with a skill few shows ever achieve. —Chris Osterndorf

    9) Venture Brothers

    Artful, dark, and a bit avant-garde, this hate-letter to childhood can be a daunting effort at first. Stick with it, though, and its bizarro world will start to make a fiendish sense. Ever wonder what happened to the boy adventurer of your favorite Hanna-Barbera cartoon? Well, he’s still dealing with ridiculous supervillains—our chief antagonist, the Monarch, is the funniest TV creation of the 21st century—but now while trying (and failing) to raise doomed sons of his own. Amid all the zany superpowers, magic, sci-fi, and exotic locales, there’s a poignant gloss on daddy issues and the death of innocence. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be! —Miles Klee

    Screengrab via Andrew Spradbrow/YouTube


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    U2 frontman Bono revealed that his injuries might prevent him from playing the guitar again in a “too long” blog post reflecting back on the past year.

    Titled “Little book of a big year: Bono’s A to Z of 2014,” Bono admits that his mind has wandered as of late ever since he suffered multiple injuries in a biking accident in November that forced him to cancel a series of appearances on The Tonight Show. He has no recollection of how he got to New York Presbyterian “with my humerus bone sticking through my leather jacket” and noted that he now has titanium elbow as a result of his surgeries.

    Bono talks about his injuries specifically under the section “I is for Irish pride.” It was his Irish pride that was wounded when he was discovered wearing yellow and black Lycra cycling shorts following his accident, and it’s Irish pride that is suffering as his recovery isn’t going as quickly as he’d like. As he put it, he’s “not an armored vehicle."

    “Recovery has been more difficult than I thought,” Bono wrote. “As I write this, it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again. The band have reminded me that neither they nor Western civilization are depending on this.”

    It wasn’t the first blow to Bono in 2014, either. Over the past year, he’s suffered from glaucoma, escaped death after a door fell off his plane, and felt the wrath of the Internet for giving them a free album on iTuneswithout their consent.

    Bono’s injuries may end up putting a dent into U2’s tour, but not if Bono has anything to do with it. He announced that his blog post would be the last people would hear from him for months so he could focus on his recovery.

    The consequences of this freak accident are significant enough that I will have to concentrate hard to be ready for the U2 tour in fitness terms… as a result I have cancelled every public appearance and decided this missive is all the communication I can manage for the first half of 2015, beyond muttering and singing to myself of course.

    H/T BBC | Photo via Ivo Jansch/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    In the new movie Foxcatcher, Channing Tatum plays Mark Schultz, a wrestler who falls into a dangerous relationship with his coach John du Pont, played by Steve Carell, who is later involved in the shooting death of Mark’s brother, David, played by Mark Ruffalo. All three have received positive reviews for their roles, but it did not sit well with one person close to the film.

    The real Mark Schultz took to Twitter and Facebook earlier this week to slam the movie, specifically its director, Bennett Miller, for the portrayal of his character and the implied sexual tension between him and du Pont. Tatum has said in interviews that Schultz helped him shape and guide the character, and Schultz held back any harsh words for Tatum. His invective was reserved for Miller, though several of his more vitriolic tweets, in which he referred to Miller as “scum,” have been deleted. A cherry-picked few remain.

    This change of mood is odd, since Schultz has been promoting the film on Twitter for the past month. In a Facebook post yesterday, Schultz apologized for tweeting “out of anger,” but stood by his criticism of the film:

    My story and my life are real. I am a real human being. While I may have tweeted out of anger, I in no way regret standing up for myself, nor do I regret calling out the only other man who has had decision making power concerning my image and legacy these past years. I apologize for the harshness of my language, but I am firm in where I stand. I will gladly go to any lengths to protect and safeguard the integrity and truth of my story, my life, my character and my legacy. If that's not worth fighting over while I'm still alive, I don't know what is.

    With the movie on track for awards season, this is either the best or worst press it could get. Back on Dec. 20, Schultz tweeted this:

    Screengrab via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/YouTube 


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    The Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is backtracking after receiving backlash for her views on feminism.

    In her interview with Redbook magazine, Cuoco-Sweeting was asked if she considered herself a feminist among a variety of other topics. After asking if it was bad if she said no, she explained that she didn’t consider herself to be a feminist because she “never really faced inequality” and she liked “the idea of women taking care of their men.”

    In response, Cuoco-Sweeting received pushback from feminists online who informed her that she was allowed to be a feminist and cook for her husband. Some were quick to point that although she may not have faced inequality, other women certainly have—and her show portrayed many aspects of sexism.

    But on the other side of the argument, some people said that Cuoco-Sweeting was allowed to say she wasn’t a feminist and that criticizing a woman for not being a feminist may even be anti-feminist.

    “If a woman chooses not to self-identify as feminist, that is her choice and we should respect it as such,” Daily Dot writer EJ Dicksonwrote Wednesday. “We might critique her reasons, and we might even think they’re stupid. However, we can’t bully her into joining the fray. All we can do is respect her right to make her own choices, because that is the right that we have spent centuries fighting for.”

    But now that the collective Internet dust has settled, Cuoco-Sweeting is having second thoughts about her comments. She took to Instagram to clarify her comments and noted that they were taken out of context.

    “I’m completely blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for my success along with many others,” she wrote. “I apologize if anyone was offended. Anyone that truly knows me, knows my heart and knows what I meant.”

    H/T Defamer | Photo via Thibault/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    Pop singer Selena Gomez spent her New Year’s in Dubai, according to her Instagram page, but a few photos taken inside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi have been called out as “disrespectful.”

    One now-deleted photo shows Gomez posing in what looks to be an abaya with her ankle exposed, which is not acceptable for women in the United Arab Emirates. Another, which has not been deleted, shows Gomez and her friends (including Kendall Jenner and Cody Simpson) laughing and exposing more ankles, which apparently violates the mosque’s ban on “intimate behavior.” 

    In 2013, Rihanna was asked to leave the same mosque after doing a photo shoot outside. No word as to when Chelsea Handler is planning on visiting. 



    Gomez has not responded to the criticism on social media, but she has continued posting artfully framed shots complete with Bible verses.

    Photo via Lisa Bjorheim/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    Jason Mraz concerts have a communal feel, but an audience member became an unexpected part of the show at a recent tour stop in Taipei that surprised even the singer-songwriter.

    Mraz noticed a young man in the audience who'd brought along his own shaker and was playing along with his acoustic set. Mraz decided to pull the man up on stage to accompany him there ("you're probably annoying all the people around you, so come up here"), but the fan, named Stan, had bigger plans in store.

    Stan didn't just play the shaker; he began harmonizing beautifully with Mraz on "Be Honest." Mraz keeps eyeing him with disbelief, and then steps back and lets Stan sing even more as they end up in an unplanned duet.

    This is far from the first time a musician has discovered budding talent in their audience. Earlier this year Jay Z let a 12-year-old fan rap on stage with him, and he stole the show.  Michael Bublé memorably invited a 15-year-old boy on stage during a documentary taping at his mom's urging, and got so excited that the teen could sing that he lifted him in the air. And who could forget this beautiful duet from Kristin Chenoweth and (of course) a vocal instructor?

    Maybe Mraz should maybe look into booking an extra backup singer for the rest of his tour.

    H/T Reddit | Screengrab via Sandy77ijj/YouTube


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    Can you perform a mashup of musical hits of 2014 using a bag of kale as an instrument? Thanks to YouTuber Andrew Huang, we now know that feat is impossible, as he set about using 28 household objects to cover six of the biggest songs of last year.

    Huang uses a variety of improvised instruments, from firewood to a coffee machine, to cover tracks like Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" and Pharrell Williams' "Happy" in an ode to 2014's music that proves a symphony is at everyone's fingertips, if they know where to look.

    Huang's also had other inventive musical hits, like his cover of 99 Red Balloons played only with actual red balloons. If this is how he closed out 2014, we can only expect big things from Huang in the new year.

    Screengrab via Andrew Huang/YouTube


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    Thanks to the Web, one can take a halfway clever idea and share it with the like-minded all over the world. If you have a broad stroke of genius like the four men that started Mac Sabbath did, hey, that's even better: Bro, we're going to do Black Sabbath covers but also dress up as McDonald's characters and every song will be about McDonald's.

    The notion is air tight and fit for command. The band has been a Facebook entity since 2012 but appears to have begun performing live only recently. It's a sight for sore eyes brought to life with demonic versions of Ronald McDonald on vocals, Mayor McCheese on lead guitar, Grimace on bass, and the Hamburgler on drums.

    Sabbath standards get parodied with dark lyrics about the fast food industry (the band calls its genre "drive thru rock"). "Iron Man" is "Frying Pan" and features lyrics like "cows we're going to grind, hope your stomach is well lined." Mac Sabbath's version of the evergreen "Paranoid" is called "Pair-a-buns." Here, Ronald Osbourne belts out couplets like "happiness your child will feel, while he eats his happy meal." 

    Here's an early bootleg from last summer.

    The lawsuits should be imminent, but at least the original grandaddys appear amused.

    No word yet on whether these guys will hit the road with Pizza Underground.

    Screengrab via mike odd/YouTube


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     BY ADELAIDE MOTT

    The Atlanta-based garage band Black Lips stirs up controversy both on stage and online. They’ve urinated, vomited, and made out with each other at gigs. Founding members Jared Swilley and Cole Alexander were kicked out of high school, and the band has been held by police following indecent exposure charges at a gig in Chennai, Ind., resulting in the cancellation of a 2009 tour.

    None of these incidents have deterred them from causing a stir on the Internet, either. By now most nationally recognized bands hire teams to run their social media accounts, yet the Black Lips’ Twitter feed is refreshingly unfiltered.

    Late last year, the band was caught up in a Twitter spat involving musicians Ariel Pink, Grimes, and Madonna, after Grimes accused Ariel Pink of being a misogynist for essentially saying that the music she’s produced since her debut self-titled album sucks. (Perhaps unwise, considering Ariel was asked to contribute toward her new comeback album.) Black Lips chimed in, expressing their disbelief that Ariel is a misogynist, much to the annoyance of Grimes’ abundance of feminist fans.

    The microphone swinging approach is a dense, raw strategy, and so I asked bassist-singer Jared Swilley and guitarist Jack Hines 15 questions about their social media hustle.

    Do you think that your behavior at gigs and carefree attitude translates into the way your social media accounts are run?

    Jared: Well I guess, kinda, sometimes we’ve gotten a little bit of heat for stuff we reply. We don’t try to, we don’t go out of our way. I don’t actually like offensive things. Sometimes I’ll get drunk and write something on Twitter and regret it the next day.

    Who actually posts the tweets?

    Jared: Me and Cole. If it’s spelled really crazy and there’s no punctuation then it’s Cole, but if everything’s spelled correctly and using the right grammar, then it’s me.

    Do you ever worry about how getting involved in arguments like the Grimes-Ariel Pink feud will affect opportunities to collaborate with other artists or people’s willingness to work with you?

    Jared: It wasn’t so much of a feud. It never went back and forth. We just said that because I thought it was kinda dumb. All he said was he likes her first album but he doesn’t like her other stuff. There are tons of bands that I don’t like their first album. I agree with Cole (who posted the tweet). We’ve never really had any real bad fights with other musicians, or at least not in a really long time. We played a cruise ship with Grimes once. We went on this cruise around the Caribbean and she was on it, but I never saw her because I was usually hanging out by the pool or gambling.

    Jack: If we wanted to collaborate with somebody we probably wouldn’t be picking on them in that way.

    What’s the most outrageous or sexually explicit tweet you’ve ever been sent?

    Jared: Someone made up a fan fiction about us. I didn’t know what erotic fan fiction was. I Googled it because it was really explicit. That was kind of weird.

    Was it as weird as the time Boy George said he’d sleep with all of you (in a series of tweets to the band after discussing his desire to work on a song with them—not a conventional means of persuasion)?

    Jared: That was just really flattering. It made me feel really good about myself, I was really confident for the next couple of days.

    Would you though?

    Jared: No, no, I’m not really gay.

    You’re fairly open about your political views—on Twitter, in particular. You’ve expressed how you support the Kurds and voiced your opinion on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and voting legislations. You also tweeted, “Hey Saddam, how does it feel to be dead you fucking piece of shit?” Was that just for your own entertainment?

    Jared: We have Kurdish friends, and we’ve played in Kurdistan before. I think it was just Cole being mildly political. I also asked dinosaurs how they feel to be dead and called them “idiot assholes.” It was one of the dumbest things I could think of. The Saddam thing was just for a laugh.

    Other than for the pleasure of viewing your online antics, if you had to tell someone why they should follow you on Twitter, what reasons would you suggest?

    Jared: Sometimes we have strokes of genius from time to time. We’re not super active on it. I don’t even look at the main thing [homepage] anymore, because Cole started following 4 or 5 thousand people, just random things. At first I had news stuff or comedians I liked, and now it’s just too smart, so I don’t even look at it, really.

    You say you’re not very active on Twitter—what about about other social media platforms? Jared, I know you have Instagram. What about you Jack?

    Jack: No, I’m actually way out of my depth. I don’t use social media at all so I’m going to take off. See you later, I’ll find Cole.

    Alright, see ya.

    Jared: I do a bit of Instagram. Me and Cole have Instagram accounts, not like personal ones, but it’s a lot of band stuff because we’re on tour all the time. I tried Snapchat for a day, I didn’t really get it. I wasn’t into it. I was told that teens use Snapchat to send nudes.

    Did you hear the news about the Snapchat photo leaks via third-party app?

    Jared: I kinda heard about that, yeah. I’m 30, so I didn’t start using social media until real late.

    Which do you think social media has personally furthered moreyour opportunities with the band or hooking up with fans?

    Jared: It helps a lot with the band. Twitter helps with the band, like with the Boy George thing, that was over Twitter. He just tweeted us and asked if we wanted to do a song with him. So a lot of random things like that, and you can talk to people and have weird interactions. I guess Facebook helps a bunch. Sometimes, I haven’t done it in a long time, we post songs and videos we like, so that’s kinda cool, we have a little interesting fan interaction. But we’re not like experts. There are some other artists, they’re always on social media. I don’t know how they juggle their time with that. I like to read books more.

    I see that sometimes you find time to respond to people who send hate messages, but is that more for your enjoyment and to get retweets than because you’re actually annoyed with them?

    Jared: No, If someone talks shit about us, I don’t care. That’s a bad look, arguing with fans. We actually had the most advanced form of social media, and we’re going to bring it back next tour. We had a Black Lips hotline, because this phone company gave us this free phone with a plan on it. We put it on our Facebook and Twitter and gave the number out. When we were driving in the van we were just taking calls all day and passed the rest to our friends. Fans could just speak to us whenever.

    Was it just Americans ringing you or fans from all over the world?

    Jared: From all over. We even had a guy from Iraq call. He was a soldier. He said he listened to one of our songs, “Veni Vidi Vici,” before he goes to battle, which is weird because it’s a real chill song and it doesn’t really sound like a battle song.

    When will the hotline be coming back, then? This year?

    Jared: Yeah. We just dicked around for too long and didn’t get one for this last tour, but next tour we’re definitely going to do it. It was like two years ago when we last did it, but it was fun. It was just for boredom.

    Which company supplied the phone?

    Jared: It was Boost Mobile. I don’t know if they’re still around. They gave us a free phone because they were trying to market toward urban youth and hip-hop culture and try to make it the cool phone kids use, but I don’t know if it really took off. People called from Europe and Australia, all over.

    Final question, would you say you’re reliant on social media, or could you easily live without it?

    Jared: We’re not reliant on it at all. We’re not really a social media band.

    Photo by Daigo Oliva/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    BY JESSICA KLEIN 

    In addition to a whole lot of great content, 2014 also brought a number of interesting startups and technologies to the forefront.

    Whether it’s a company looking to help creators go mobile, a company planning to help traditional media giants (“creators” in their own right) go over-the-top, or an immersive technology that’s redefining “video” as we know it, all of our picks have one thing in common: They believe they’re the future of digital entertainment.

    In some cases, we’re inclined to agree, in other cases, we’re just wondering what the future holds for said company or technology. In all cases, they’re companies and technologies definitely worth paying attention to over the next 12 months.

    Victorious 

    Victorious is a startup that we, as well as many others in the industry, have our eyes on. Backed by $13 million, the company wants to help creators grow their presence on the screen that their fans are increasingly watching and engaging with content on—mobile. More so than that, though, Victorious is also promising to give more control back to the creators, who have full control over the design and functionality of their Victorious-built mobile apps.

    What makes Victorious even more compelling—aside from the fact that we have yet to see an app confirmed to be built by the company—is its executive team, which is led by star investor and YouTube’s former global head of content and operations Dean Gilbert; Bing Chen, YouTube’s former global head of creator development, is Victorious’ chief creative officer.

    Vessel

    The much talked about streaming platform from former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has remained in stealth mode for so long that people couldn’t help but buzz about it. Part of that buzz is that the startup’s ready to take on YouTube, having already courted some of the video giant’s top creators and networks to distribute content on its service.

    Read the full story on VideoInk.

    Photo by brian.ch/flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Last year, the podcast experienced not so much a revival as a reconsideration. The success of Serial—a This American Life offshoot that dissected a 1999 murder case—made us all armchair detectives, and illustrated how, despite our withering attention spans, we still want to sit down and hear a good story.

    The comedy podcast experienced its own refocus in the last few years. The Earwolf network spawned greatness with standouts like Comedy Bang! Bang!, and comedian Marc Maron’s WTF podcast has transformed the medium into another standup stage—and the plot of his popular IFC show. Last month, fans of WFMU's longtime call-in radio show The Best Showrelocated to its new address; this was a big deal for fans, and the transition marked a bigger cultural shift, even as the “pod” in podcasting has become nearly obsolete. There are now podcasts about starting podcasts

    Shows like The Comedy Button proved crowdfunding can work for podcasts, creating a true community for listeners and creators, circumventing the comedy club. The podcast is another medium for established comedians to riff on jokes and work on material outside of the standup circuit, and there’s an intimate rhythm that can’t be found in scripted TV dialogue. Some of the best sketch comedy is happening on podcasts. 

    The comedy podcast ocean is vast, but here are a few you should definitely check out in 2015.

    1) The Best Show

    Over the last decade, this WFMU show created its own universe, as seen in host Tom Scharpling’s recent Adult Swim infomercial. He and cohort Jon Wurster have revamped the art of the prank call, and The Best Show is the essentially the best sketch show never on TV. Last month, that universe reappeared as a podcast, but not much has changed: Scharpling will still hang up on idiot callers, and Wurster still winds him up. 

    2) How Was Your Week

    Julie Klausner is part of The Best Show’s supporting cast, but her How Was Your Week podcast is the full Klausner. In past episodes, she's been very open about the Hollywood side of comedy writing and her pop culture explorations of Broadway musicals and serial killers are always eye-opening. In recent episodes, she’s eviscerated author Ann Rule and mistook Anita Bryant as dead. These are just a few of the reasons we can't wait for her new show Difficult People, which will air on Hulu next year.

    3) StartUp

    Another This American Life alum did a podcast this year: Alex Blumberg, who went meta with a podcast about starting a podcast business. The show isn’t necessarily supposed to be funny but this approach to the frustration, elation, and confusion of starting a company plays out almost like theater, and it uses the Serial slowdown to hook you into the narrative. Reply All, StartUp’s sister podcast about the Internet, is also worth a listen. 

    4) In the Casa with Sara Benincasa

    Comedian and writer Benincasa told us last month she wanted her podcast to be like “Serial without the murder.” She also explained how the intimacy a podcast creates is a big draw for a lot of listeners. Her recent interview with Transparent creator Jill Soloway is a good starting point. 

    5) Obstructed View

    Not a sports fan? It doesn’t really matter on Obstructed View, a podcast from Zach Neumeyer, Matt Fisher, and Caitlin Bitzegaio. Their O.J. Simpson "If I Did It" episode is gold, Jerry. 

    6) Bret Easton Ellis’s podcast

    This isn’t really a comedy podcast, but Ellis does have a sense of humor. (See his recent takedown of "Generation Wuss," for instance.) The Less Than Zero and American Psycho author has become a polarizing figure on Twitter, but the podcast really lets his ego run free. His interview with Kanye West and the two-part Marilyn Manson chat are good starting points.

    7) U Talkin’ U2 to Me?

    Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Scott Aukerman and Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott devoted an entire show to being human U2 encyclopedias, and offer a different view on the band's poorly received Songs of Innocence. The two also talk about non-U2 based music, and the conversation often yields some genuinely enlightening moments. Never forget: Comedy Bang! Bang! is also responsible for the now-classic Pepper Men sketch.

    8) Throwing Shade 

    Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi are your new favorite "feminnasty" and "homosensual," respectively. The two address issues relevant to women, gender, sexism, and the LGBT community, but they also take it to Raunchtown. Being able to watch Gibson and Safi crack each other up as they record live is the cherry on top. 

    Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III


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    Idina Menzel took to Twitter to respond to critics of her performance of Frozen's diabolical anthem "Let It Go" at Wednesday night's New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square.

    Menzel is a Tony-winning performer who originated iconic roles in Rent and Wicked. She's currently headlining the cast of If/Then. But all that mattered to some of the armchair critics of her New Year's Eve performance was that she didn't quite make it to the stratosphere that the final high note of "Let It Go" demands. 

    On Twitter, she responded briefly to the ensuing backlash from the public, with a scan of a response she gave recently to an interview in Southwest magazine:

    The quote, in response to the question "How do you define success?" reads as follows:

    There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half hour musical: being a perfectionist, it took me a long time to realize that if I’m hitting 75 percent of them, I’m succeeding. Performing isn’t only about the acrobatics and the high notes: It’s staying in the moment, connecting with the audience in an authentic way, and making yourself real to them through the music. I am more than the notes I hit, and that’s how I try to approach my life. You can’t get it right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.

    A Billboard reporter covering the event described Menzel's emotional connection to the audience as "exuberant." But that didn't stop the public from dissecting her performance.

    As with her other major live performance of the song—last year's Oscar ceremony—Menzel's handling of "Let It Go"'s difficult finale drew criticism. 

    This time around, however, she didn't have John Travolta's bizarre mispronunciation of her name to upstage her own performance.

    Menzel didn't seem bothered by the criticism. After all, when you're the singer at the center of the soundtrack that sold 3.5 million copies in 2014, you can afford to ignore the haters.

    For the rest of you who just have to be critics, you can watch Menzel's New Year's Eve performance here.

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


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    Judd Apatow's entire body of work is related to an unproduced episode of The Simpsons he wrote when he was 22.

    Now, 25 years after he first submitted it, the Apatow-penned episode of The Simpsons will finally air on Jan. 11.

    According to an interview with TV Guide, Apatow thinks the episode, entitled "Bart's New Friend," contains themes of youth struggling to embrace adulthood, which has been a major recurring idea throughout his work, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to Knocked Up

    Here's how Apatow describes the plot of the episode:

    "Homer gets hypnotized and thinks he's a 10-year-old. He has such a great time being Bart's friend that he doesn't want to become an adult again."

    Sounds like pure distilled Apatow formula to us. The writer told the magazine that he had written the spec script when the show was just six episodes old.

    I sent it in — in fact, I sent it to all my favorite shows — and got no job offers. I also wrote a spec script for the great Chris Elliott show Get a Life. They at least brought me in for a meeting, but that didn't lead to any work, either. Then, all these years later, [Simpsons executive producer] Al Jean calls and says, "Hey, we'll make it now!"

    Apatow thinks Jean was reminded of the spec script after Apatow discussed it at a recent interview with the L.A. County Museum. In that interview, Apatow described how themes from old Simpsons plots still resonate with him all these years later. 

    Apatow liked the script so much he'd been carrying it around with him all these years, just in case The Simpsons ever came calling. Lucky for him, and all of us, they did.

    But while Apatow told TV Guide that the takeaway was "never give up" and "don't become a pack rat," we think the real takeaway is the miracle of The Simpsons itself—and its ability to thrive for two-and-a-half decades in order to give Apatow, at long last, his chance to shine.

    Photo via Canadian Film Centre/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Like the Chicago Cubs, every media visionary believes next year will be the year. In 2015, a number of trends incubated, tested, and—in some cases—overhyped from previous years are likely to arrive on the consumer scene in some fashion.

    But unlike the Chicago Cubs, who—despite many losing seasons—maintain a healthy profit margin, media entrepreneurs are gambling finite personal fortunes and venture capital dollars to fund their dreams in hopes of wild public acceptance and the creation of the next Google, Amazon or Netflix.

    In 2015, we expect these five media trends will make make their way into the marketplace with big aspirations. Examining them one by one, we can grade their likelihood for success.

    1) The maturation of the webseries: A-

    Over the course of the past two years, I have watched hundreds of webseries, ranging from bigger-budget shows from Amazon and Netflix to homemade comedies with weaker production values shot on smartphones. On balance, they are all getting better.

    But the progress in the field is less about advanced skills in lighting, sound, and set design and more an understanding of the medium. The better webseries understand how to develop a narrative that works in a shorter time frame, and whether it’s Mozart in the Jungleor Feathers and Toast, audiences are recognizing an uptick in the quality of the writing and acting for multi-platform distribution. Those artists who tackle continuing series have been able to craft the right hook to keep viewers engaged across a weekly distribution timeframe, in a 10-episode binge bomb, and everything in between.

    Despite making headway on the creative side of the webseries, few authors of these video programs have any idea how to make money in this new medium. When asked how they intend to earn a living producing webseries, the most common response is stone silence. There are a lot of “wait and see” answers and hopes that entering their works in Web festival will draw attention or money from sponsors and big-name aggregators like Netflix and Hulu.

    In 2015, you can expect a slight shift in monetization with an increase in the number of webseries incubators, such as New Form Digital, that have access to commercial channels for those lucky digital talents in their fold. It is also likely that there will be an increase in webseries creators who move away from YouTube—which has had limited success in helping the overwhelming majority of digital auteurs—and toward such platforms as Vimeo. Vimeo offers far better revenue splits than its competitors (plus it recently added 4K playback).

    For Netflix and, to a lesser degree, Hulu, 2015 brings great opportunity, given the wealth of new content from a number of new pipelines. At issue for Netflix is its reliance on algorithms to make programming decisions. Yes, it has led to such successes as Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, but to scale, it will need to incorporate personal judgement in its decision making. The same goes for Amazon, which may rely a bit too heavily on audience opinion to greenlight its shows; talk about letting the inmates run the asylum.

    2) The return of the podcast: B

    One of 2014’s overnight sensations was Serial, a podcast produced by the Chicago PBS affiliate WBEZ. Considered a spinoff of the This American Life series, the series captivated millions of listeners with its investigation into the case surrounding the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. Told in a manner that fused investigative journalism with theater of the mind, Serial represented a renewed interest in this audio medium for the many digital natives who considered podcasts an artifact of the first-gen Web.

    While YouTube videos, Instagram pictures, and vines have been capturing our imaginations for years, the podcast is finally coming of age. It didn’t start with Serial, though: Freakonomics, the podcast version of the New York Times bestseller, has recorded as many as 5 million downloads in one month. WTF With Marc Maron, a well-known wise-ass comedic, has garnered more than 53 million downloads in its lifespan, at a rate of 400,000 per week. The Washington Post reported that an average of 1.5 million people per month have downloaded a podcast called 99% Invisible about the world of design.

    Over the past five years, the podcast has grown to resemble the best of radio drama with great production and the ability to distribute to the masses through iTunes (to the tune of 1 billion subscribers per year) and websites such as Stitcher. Despite all that splendor, here’s the rub: Like their webseries brethren, podcasters have yet to crack the code to financial sustainability.

    Podcasts have become a means of promoting content or personalities from other channels: Comedians and musicians use podcasts to tell audiences about upcoming gigs; radio/TV personalities such as Dave Ramsey and Dan Patrick use podcasts as part of a touch-all-the-bases, multi-channel distribution strategy. Some amazing works from PBS stations around the U.S. have been created on a shoestring, relying only on subscriber donations. And when it comes to advertising… well, we’re still waiting.

    3) Cloud TV: C+

    Sony kicked off 2014 with an announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show that it would be delivering a new TV service to compete with cable and satellite; subscribers would have access to channels they customarily would get via traditional video distributors such as Comcast and Time Warner.

    Some 10 months after the big reveal, Sony launched—albeit limited to a test of PlayStation 4 users—a service that offers live TV (save for ABC-owned Disney) packaged with a variety of content normally available via cable or satellite. The service is expected to go wide, as they say in Hollywood, in early 2015.

    The Sony salvo was followed by an announced by Colorado-based satellite provider  Dish Network that it would launch a similar service. Expected to go live by the end of 2014, the service now has little chance to launch before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, with its parent network having gone somewhat dark.

    Sony and Dish’s services are but one form of cloud TV. In the case of these two hopefuls, the cloud becomes the content delivery mechanism by which television can be streamed to any consumer on any device with wireless access. Both Dish and Sony want to offer a service that appeals to cord-cutters who primarily fall in younger demographics and have little or no interest in any form of traditional TV viewing.

    Another class of cloud TV comes in the form of content owners—think HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Starz, and even channels such as CBS—that want to offer their programming to cord-cutters. The world has asked for the unbundling of services (i.e., the option to select content à la carte) from a menu of choices, avoiding those channels outside an individual's interest.

    The complication arises in how individual channels reach their intended targets. Offering their content via the aforementioned cloud TV providers is one option; over-the-top delivery mechanisms like Roku, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast are another. These distribution scenarios illustrate that HBO and others are trading one mass market partner for another. It also raises the issue of HBO having to take on the costs for marketing and collecting fees (not to mention customer service) for its online channel.

    By the end of 2015, consumers will have voted whether cloud TV has a place in the digital media marketplace. In its favor is freedom of choice; against its success will be a need to educate consumers and some sticker shock when the monthly bill comes with a large tally of individual subscriptions in which the sum of the parts far exceeds previous bundled options.

    4) The battle over musical rights: D

    There’s nothing like a scorned musical superstar.

    In November, Taylor Swift pulled her songs from streaming music service Spotify after claiming she was not adequately compensated for the rights to her music. A discrepancy between a report that Swift’s label received $2 million for the rights and the label’s claim it got $500,000 was made public, sparking a debate over payment for music rights.

    A month later, Global Music Rights, a licensing agency, threatened Google with a $1 billion lawsuit if it refused to take down more than 20,000 videos from artists represented by the agency. Google, which has licensing deals in place with ASCAP and BMI has refused to take down the songs, as they are essential ingredients to its new streaming music service, Music Key.

    Here’s the issue: Streaming services pay out using a complex formula that is based on the percentage of times a song is streamed as a part of the entire service. By those calculations, Time reports artists earn between $0.006 and $0.0084 each time a stream is played. For example, for Swift’s song “Shake It Off,” which was played 46.3 million times, she would earn between $280,000 and $390,000. Swift makes considerably more from her record deals and through distributors of her works like iTunes, Google Play, and other digital storefronts.

    For Swift and her fellow artists, this is a bit of a no-win situation. Music has become a declining part of Apple’s iTunes service as an increasing number of consumers move toward subscription streaming services, some of which even allow short-term storage of music on mobile devices. Of even greater significance is Global Music Rights’ claim that its artists should get more compensation from Google. Taylor Swift’s music video for “Shake It Off” has been viewed more than 408 million times on a page which includes an ad as well as a pre-roll ad in the video. Neither Swift nor her label see one dime from either of those revenue sources.

    For the masses who consider the sort of money artists such as Swift earn to be inconsequential to their lives, the fact that high-profile musicians make $280,000 instead of $1 million is of no concern… that is, until Spotify, Pandora, Music Key, and other competitors are forced to up the ante in the form of increased payouts for their streams. Streaming services are unlikely to eat that additional cost, so services that are now $9.99 will quickly become $12.99 or more.

    Music rights are a mystical enigma that require a blend of accounting acumen and a degree in copyright law to understand. For that reason, even if 2015 becomes a watershed year in which recording artists prevail over online services, digital consumers have no voice in the matter. This mess needs to be cleaned up, or we will be left with streaming services who offer only the likes of Aerosmith and Nickelback, which would be punishment enough.

    5) Virtual reality media experiences: Incomplete

    In March, Facebook handed a $2 billion check over to Oculus Rift to bring its virtual reality technology into the social network’s fold. The promise for what VR can do to enhance many industries is high (as demonstrated by YouVisit, a company which provides online college tours), but the timetable and application in areas such as media seem a bit hazy.

    A key partnership that points to the future of VR in media is Oculus Rift’s relationship with Samsung. Early in December, Samsung announced the availability of a software development kit called Gear VR Innovator Edition. The South Korean giant also is working on some of the optics technology in the Oculus Rift, along with its tackling and display functionality.  

    Cool stuff, but as Samsung admits it’s still in the early days of evolving VR for use in such areas as media. Samsung’s approach will be to incorporate its Galaxy Note line into the experience, putting the mobile device in a shell that would be viewed through the Oculus Rift headset. In a picture of its demo store, Samsung illustrates what it sees as the possibilities for VR and media—VR cinema, room experiences, 360-degree pictures and games.

    Sony has also been active in the VR space with its Project Morpheus, which layers a virtual experience on its PS4 gaming system. Playing things close to the vest, Sony has said it may release a beta version of its headset next summer with a wide range of applications. A loose translation of that statement from Sony—which reflects the promise for VR in the media space—is that it has no idea what area of media is suited for this new technology.

    Despite what is likely to be shown at the upcoming CES, consumers are unlikely to see any sort of mass market VR product at an affordable price with a killer app in 2015. The most likely outcome for VR in the media space? Great technology in search of a market need.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Sylvester Stallone is dusting off his M60 machine gun in preparation for a fifth Rambo film, titled Rambo: Last Blood. 

    The Rambo series follows Vietnam vet John Rambo as he struggles with the loss of the members of his unit. The first installment of the series, First Blood, was released in 1982. It has since become a cult classic and source of famous quotes like, “They drew first blood.”

    The first film was created on a $14 million budget and raked in $125 million in total sales, according to the Internet Movie Database. The most recent installment in the series, Rambo, was released in 2008. It cost $50 million to produce and ultimately made $113 million in sales despite getting panned by critics.

    Stallone, who is now 68, dropped the name of the upcoming film on Dec. 28.

    Stallone has written the script for the film and will direct, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The plot and release date of the movie are unknown at this time.

    The Twitter account @moviesnowtv has put together the following collage of Stallone playing Rambo over the years.

    H/T Variety | Photo via bionicteaching/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III


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    Netflix is allegedly cracking down on international subscribers who digitally spoof the location of their computers to watch films only permitted in the United States.

    These people use things like a virtual private network (VPN) and other methods to stream content restricted to certain countries. For example, Canadian Netflix subscribers recently had The Big Lebowski added to their movie selection while the title is unavailable in the states. 

    Which movies are offered at any given time in Netflix’s select countries is dictated by the movie studios.

    The crackdown allegedly began a few weeks ago when Netflix’s Android application “started to force Google DNS [domain name system] which now makes it harder to use DNS based location unblockers, and several VPN IP-ranges were targeted as well,” TorrentFreak reported. Ben Van der Pelt of privacy protection service TorGuard told TorrentFreak they noticed issues with access last month. 

    Netflix has denied tampering with its service when it comes to subscribers using VPNs, The Independent reported.

    H/T TorrentFreak | Photo via Leo Hidalgo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    D-list actress Tara Reid waded into the C list of Internet news stories Monday by getting fully nude on Instagram

    There's just so much Tara Reid to see, you'll have to scroll down for the NSFW stuff. For now, check out the awesome cave in which Tara Reid posed in a skimpy bikini. The caves near Tulum, Mexico, are really cool. I'll tell you why.

    The cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula are gorgeous pools of crystal-clear water collected naturally in caves after centuries of erosion from acidic rainwater. Some of these caves are millions of years old.

    Down the highway south of the Cancun Airport in Mexico, you'll see an endless array of colorful signs welcoming tourists to sites like Xplor and Aktun-Chen, where they can whip out their selfie sticks and discover the natural wonders for themselves. 

    One such tourist was Reid, the 39-year-old star of Sharknado, Sharknado 2, and the upcoming Sharknado 3.

    "I'm a mermaid," she said.

    The water's cold—you step in slowly, rather than dive in all at once. But it was a sweaty 80-plus degrees in Mexico over New Year's, and the chilly water was welcome. 

    Somewhere on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, Reid was feeling refreshed. She held up a love letter to the year 2015. 

    Like a message in a bottle, her relentless optimism for a year she had yet to experience landed on Facebook's "trending topics" five days later. Why? Because of this fully nude photo of Reid reclining in a hammock in a resort hotel.

    Love you too, Tara.

    Photo via Tara Reid/Instagram | Remix by Jason Reed


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    Serial, the hit podcast from This American Life producers Julie Snyder and Sarah Koenig, ended weeks ago, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, the narrative has managed to live on past the final episode.

    Last week, the Intercept released a three-part interview with Jay Wilds, the most taciturn figure in Serial. The podcast, which centers on the mysterious murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999, and the subsequent conviction and life imprisonment of her former boyfriend, Adnan Syed, ended on an ambiguous note.

    The less-than-satisfying finale was largely due to the absence of key evidence (no DNA evidence was used in Syed’s conviction), and cohesive narratives (multiple timelines contradict the state’s case against Syed) from Wilds, the lone eyewitness in the case.

    The interview, which marks the first time Wilds has spoken at length to the press, was released in three parts over three days, and sparked new theories and questions. It offers details that weave a splintered and frustrating narrative at best. There are no startling revelations or conclusions, but that hasn’t stopped redditors and fans of the show from piecing together new hypotheses.

    According to emails shared in the interview, even Serial producer Sarah Koenig is hoping for a resolution. In part two of the interview, the Intercept included the text of an email reaching out to Wilds and urging him to share his narrative. She states that even though the podcast has ended, they could always do an additional episode and offers Wilds a chance to share his story and become a more complete figure in the narrative.

    Wilds maintains, however, that the podcast negatively impacted his life. Part three of the interview focuses on Wilds’ account of how Serial has affected him and his family. He stresses his wife’s concerns over their safety, and points a finger at Reddit users who shared his personal information on the Serialsubreddit.

    Strangely, Wilds seems to think that Koenig and the podcast are leaking his information to Reddit. He includes excerpts from yet another email from Koenig, who in no uncertain terms maintains that she has never—and would never—share his personal information.

    From: Sarah Koenig

    Date: Dec 29, 2014 8:14 AM

    Subject: Re: Your message

    To: Jay Wilds

    Cc:

    ‘You say I am not answering specific questions, but I am. Here is my answer, again, as clear as I can make it: Neither I nor anyone I actually work with – the staff of Serial and of This American Life, has EVER given anything to Reddit. Period. Nor did we authorize or deputize someone else to do so. It would have been stupid and irresponsible for us to have given anything to Reddit. We’re not that dumb, for one thing. And anyway, I don’t believe in crowd-sourcing an investigation. This is not a loophole or a sneaky way to have plausible deniability. It’s a straightforward, complete and true answer. As for Rabia – I’ll say it again: I don’t know. She might have posted it, but I don’t know. I don’t know because she hasn’t told me, and I haven’t asked. Again – do you want me to ask Rabia about this?’ [Ed. note: Chaudry say she 'never' posted personal information about Jay on Reddit.]

    [...]

    You seem to be under the impression that I want to do you harm, or have a secret agenda or have purposely withheld information to make you look bad, or have knowingly reported things that aren’t true. None of that is correct – in fact, the opposite it true. I realize you might not be able to accept that right now – or perhaps, ever – but my intention has been the same from the beginning: To get the story right, and to treat everyone fairly. There are so, so many things I could have reported, but didn’t, because they seemed potentially damaging or unfair, and they weren’t directly related to the crime. Not just about you, but about other people involved in the case. In other words, I’m not out to get anyone, or to damage anyone’s reputation. I only reported information that we deemed relevant to understanding the case.

    Rabia Chaudry, advocate for Adnan Syed’s innocence, explained her role in the release of personal information on her blog. She has not leaked any personal information, though she did provide Wilds' last name to a Twitter user who asked. Koenig immediately asked her to remove the information and she did.

    Chaudry also shared a screenshot confirming Koenig’s disdain for people who would share or seek out Wilds’ personal information.

    The interview, when read as a whole, reveals an unusual dichotomy between the muddy injustices Wilds feels he’s endured, and the stark reality that he confessed accessory to murder and has experienced no jail time. Wilds is understandably passionate in expressing his concerns about the importance of personal privacy, but when he argues that he has been demonized and rejects the protestations of Koenig, who logically and patiently outlines her intentions, he in turn demonizes Koenig and the podcast.

    This could all amount to little more than more press for Serial, but there are greater legal implications at hand. Syed’s case is currently moving through the appeals process and The Baltimore Sun has reported that he will get a chance at appeal this month. It’s not clear whether or how the contents of this interview might be used in court, but lawyer Susan Simpson, who has expertly deconstructed the various timelines in her smartly-written blog, offered her legal perspective. 

    “I was surprised (and a little impressed) that, in his latest iteration, [Jay] somehow managed to give a description of Hae's murder that was inconsistent not only with every single call shown in the cell records, but also wholly inconsistent with the testimony of the only two witnesses who corroborated his story to any degree," she told the Daily Dot. "Even more surprising/concerning is that the interview was arranged with the assistance of Jay's own attorney—and that it was the same attorney that the prosecutor had obtained for Jay to represent him for his plea agreement back in 1999. Maybe Jay insisted on doing this interview over her strenuous objections, but Natasha Vargas-Cooper made it sound [like] the attorney was completely on board with the idea—and that's just crazy to me. There is no sort of sound legal strategy that could ever involve letting your client admit to committing perjury in front of a national audience.”

    With a narrative this splintered, it’s hard to imagine any tidy resolutions. The story has taken on a life of its own and fractured into theories, dialogues, and commentary. 

    But with an appeal on the horizon, a growing and engaged audience, and the possibility of new conversations with formerly elusive figures, it’s hard to imagine Koenig and her team won’t produce at least one more episode to follow up on the case. 

    Photo via Michael Gil/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed


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