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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    With more than 72 hours of footage uploaded every minute, it's physically impossible to keep track of the content on YouTube. But in YouTube Guide, the Daily Dot will curate its five favorite finds for each workday.

    1) cdza, "The Beatles Argument"

    One couple's anger, frustration, infidelity, forgiveness, and eventual revenge are captured and brought to light during a tense dinner conversation. They tweak 17 different Beatles songs to their liking in order to vent their frustrations at each other.

    2) dogfoodfilms, "Argo Home Alone"

    The chase scene at the end of Argo may not be historically accurate, but the Iranians weren't after the six rescued hostages. They found out that the MacAllisters left Kevin at home and simply wanted to stop them before they flew off to Paris without him.

    3) Symphony of Science, "Secret of the Stars"

    Symphony of Science looks at the secret of the stars using the wise words and lectures of some of the biggest scientists of the day, including Albert Einstein, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brian Cox.

    4) Bad Lip Reading, "2013 Independent Spirit Awards: Best Screenplay Nominees"

    It's all about the written word for these nominated screenplays at the Independent Spirit Awards, and the script is turned on its head as Tiffany from Silver Linings Playbook admits that she put Taylor Swift in a coffin and a dog took Ruby Sparks's brownie.

    5) AVbyte, "Tomb Raider Real Life - Musical"

    It's been a while, but Lara Croft is finally back to kick some ass in the Tomb Raider reboot (and in real life). Her image was tarnished after two films, but she wants to prove to everyone that she means business.

    Photo via cdza/YouTube


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    Kyle Marshall isn't simply a YouTube correspondent. He's a charter community member. The Alberta, Canada, resident has been making videos since 2008 and to this day will still make upwards of 15 videos in a single week.

    His trademark program is his weekly installment of YouTube News, which runs each Tuesday. 

    This week, Marshall discusses One Direction's decision to donate record proceeds to charity and lets users know the best way to caption videos for the hearing-impaired.

    Photo via Kyle Marshall/YouTube

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    Prison Dancer is the only webseries that’s also been an off-Broadway hit.

    Nominated for a Canadian Screen Award tonight for Best Digital Program, Prison Dancer is unique any way you look at it: It’s a musical webseries about a fictional Web musical phenomenon based on an actual Web musical phenomenon. The story’s based on a Cebu prison in the Philippines that became an international sensation when footage of prisoners dancing en masse to Thriller went viral in 2007.

    Prison Dancer takes Cebu as a starting point for its own story about a fictional Filipino prison at the center of a similar viral phenomenon. Many things in the series are reminiscent of the real Thriller dance: the ubiquitous orange jumpers, the rock and R&B vibe of the project, and the transgender performer at the center of it all.

    But Prison Dancer also pays narrative homage to well-known prison tropes like Shawshank Redemption—less Glee, more Jailhouse Rock. It goes behind the scenes, focusing not on the rousing ensemble dance numbers but on the lives of the performers themselves. The first episode features a musical number, "Point of View," that cleverly does two things at once: It spells out our narrative journey as prison dancing changes our characters' points of view and also tells us how we as audience members can access the story. At the end of each episode you can “choose your own adventure” by selecting a different character (or all of them) to tell the story of their lives on the inside.

    Prison Dancer's meta-narrative about prisoners and audiences interacting and coming together seems to be paying off. "Thank you for bringing pride to Pinas," wrote one commenter on the first episode, which has racked up over 82,000 views on YouTube. The series's Facebook page has over 8,000 likes.  

    Creators Romeo Candido (music and lyrics) and Carmen de Jesus (script) originally wrote Prison Dancer as a screenplay before producer Ana Serrano realized that it would work better as an interactive webseries. From there, the concept evolved outward, expanding from an interactive Web musical into an actual musical.

    Prison Dancer, the musical, premiered last summer at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), where it became one of the fastest-selling shows on the program and garnered critical acclaim as well as awards for choreography, ensemble, and lead performances. Prison Dancer also developed into a separate production of what Serrano calls "live performative cinema"—a hybrid stage and film performance that involves actors performing parts of the webseries alongside the film, complete with audience interaction. Think a showing of Rocky Horror if Tim Curry showed up to do the vocals live onstage.

    Each of these different platforms tells the story from a different perspective or timeframe. This storytelling method is called transmedia—when a narrative runs on multiple platforms and contains various levels of audience interactivity. But where most transmedia stories might want audiences to interact with the characters or participate in online writing or games, Prison Dancer invites viewers to remix their latest musical number or cover one of their songs. They even teach us how to do the Pak Yow, an invented dance moved named for famed Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.

    All the while, Prison Dancer weaves concurrent storylines around its various prisoners. Its biggest gamble is perhaps its focus on its transgender main character, Lola, who holds her own inside prison but still faces danger on the outside. Fans have embraced her, and actor Jeigh Madjus, who plays her in both the webseries and the New York stage production, picked up the best actor award at the NYMF and garnered critical acclaim. The musical's commitment to telling the stories of real Filipinos won it a spot at the Reel Asian Film Festival in Toronto last November, and the creative team recently partnered with producer Jonathan Reinis to bring Prison Dancer to the states for an extended run. They've also begun releasing character vlogs in anticipation of the show's second season and are working on a full feature film.

    On the eve of the Canadian Screen Awards, we asked Candido, de Jesus, and Serrano to share their thoughts on the story of Prison Dancer as well as how they juggle all these different storytelling platforms. The answers, provided via email, turned into a "collaborative writing exercise" for the three of them.

    DD:Did the vision for the project evolve from the webseries to the stage to the movie, with each part of the narrative developing concurrently, or did you always have the idea to create a concept that would involve slightly different tales told on different platforms?

    The moment we realized this was a "transmedia experience," we knew that we would allow for different facets of the story to be told on their appropriate platforms.  For the webseries, we knew that a mock-documentary story told from the point of view of a journalist was most appropriate: Our webseries is a fiction that was spun from a viral meme found on YouTube, so we knew that the audiences/viewers of the original Dancing Inmates of Cebu videos may have already started spinning their own "stories" about who these prisoners were. Thus to help those audiences make that emotional leap from liking that viral meme to engaging with our web series, we needed the vehicle of that journalist's voice or point of view as a bridging device.

    For the stage musical, it's a different story. The stage is a more intimate medium. We needed to tell a story from the point of view of one of the prisoners. The most obvious choice is Lola because she has dreams of being on broadway, and (spoiler alert) she gets out of prison in season 1 of the webseries. So the whole story revolves around him/her.

    DD:How did you attract talent for each of the productions?

    Casting has always been the hardest part. In different iterations we would focus on different skill sets. For our first workshop we wanted Filipino actors who could kinda sing so we could focus on determining if the drama of the musical held up.  Thankfully there are great Filipino actors in Toronto. For the New York staging we wanted nothing less than triple threats. We did the traditional casting call for that.  (In the building where the casting took place, it was apparent which was the Prison Dancer room.)

    For the webseries, we took some actors from the workshops, had people audition online with YouTube videos, and drew from our years of experience and relationships to find the perfect cast who could sing, dance, and act. For many of them, it was their first real 'film' experience.

    DD: Did you develop the focal four inmates around the stories of real people, or are they mostly your own creations?

    All the characters are our original creations. We wanted to tell the archetypal story of man and what imprisons him, whether it be circumstance, guilt, the past, the inability to express love, etc. In many ways, these characters are extensions of ourselves and the things we have been searching for and aspiring for as people and storytellers... We have always approached our prison as a metaphorical prison as opposed to a real and accurate jail.

    DD: In the webseries the story is framed through the point of view of a "viral meme hunter" who's searching for the story behind the meme. Can you talk a bit about the choice to frame the story this way?

    Matt Wells, our "viral meme hunter" provided a way for the audience to be introduced and included in the discovery of the prisoners and is the guiding voice of inquiry. Plus, his deadpan, serious delivery is a great comic foil to some of the outrageousness.

    DD: This epic review of the film Les Misérables talks about the danger of putting both feet in the concrete, i.e. wallowing in misery. How did you keep from putting both feet in the concrete with Prison Dancer?

    They sing! They dance! They laugh! It may be set in a dark, poor, third-world prison full of criminals, but we didn't focus on that. We focused on the heart, the humanity, and the transcendence of that oppressed world through music and dance—which is honestly, a central part of the Filipino spirit and way of life. The whole point of Prison Dancer is to highlight how Filipinos  can take their 'miserable' circumstance and make a song and dance about it.

    The Philippines is a third-world country. Life is tough
    there. Conditions are tough there. Rich are rich and poor are poor. Not unlike the Les Miz France. Filipinos just have a certain flare with their adversity and way of celebrating life that is unique to being Filipino and that's what we are highlighting in Prison Dancer. [S]orry to say, but if there was a 'fierce' off between poor Filipinos and poor 18th Century French people, the Filipinos would take it.

    DD: Have you seen different kinds of responses to the project from different communities—i.e. the Filipino community, the theatre community, and the YouTube community?

    It's been an interesting mix—mostly positive responses! Our YouTube stats show that we have a huge viewership of the webseries based in the Philippines. It's kind of hilarious that lots of people comment on the videos as if it was real. There's been some trolling and racist and hateful comments too, but that's par for the course in the YouTube-world. The Filipino community has been supportive and especially with our stage version, the theatre community—especially the Broadway folks we met during our stage production last year—were really stoked that we'd created a platform to showcase the full range of Filipino talent and a uniquely Filipino story.

    DD: How much collaboration was there between the writers and the original cast? For instance, did actor Norman Alconcel contribute rap lyrics or dance moves for "Pak Yow?"

    With regards to the webseries script, we wrote it all, but part of this whole transmedia experience is to let our talent also be cocreators of the experience. So right now we are releasing Lola's and Hookaps' vlog series and Jeigh and Norm, respectively, are largely responsible for the content. We gave them some story arcs to consider especially in light of all the other story points for season 2 and the other platforms, but they are fully responsible for making these characters live and breathe.

    DD: The outlook for musical theatre on Broadway seems pretty dismal--endless revivals, revues, and derivatives of family films. Do you see collaborative and multi-platform art forms like Prison Dancer as a stage in the evolution of musical theatre, or is this something totally new?

    There's a democratization that wants to happen in musical theatre—with the economy as it is, there are a lot of people out there who can't afford a $90 ticket to a show. But that doesn't mean they don't want to see good musicals. Les Mis is killing it in the cinemas, and they will no doubt have a resurgence of ticket sales to Les Mis stage revivals as a result. But Prison Dancer wants to bring this storyworld to you on multiple platforms, to be accessible to everyone, to invite remixes and covers and collaborations and somehow we hope to weave it all together—and be the first musical to create our own audience on the web and then expand their experience on the stage.

    DD: In the musical theatre world, we've come a long way from Jonathan Pryce doing Miss Saigon in yellowface, but we still have a long way to go. Is Prison Dancer an exception or is it part of a new rule, where underrepresented communities create diversity by creating the shows themselves?

    We've got Filipinos playing Filipinos in a musical—amazing!  We cannot wait around for others to write these shows for us. If we want to showcase what our people can do, we have to create our own platforms to do it. And so we are, so we can be part of the solution rather than just complaining about the lack of roles or shows.

    DD: Is there a launch date in place for season 2 yet, and what can we
    expect to see in new episodes?

    Season 2 launch date TBD, but coming soon! In the new episodes, we see more backstory on all the prisoners, and how they got into prison, as well as glimpses of Lola's new life on the outside and her struggle for fame, and love! And more new music and dancing!

    DD: Will we ever get more dancing from the Head Guard?

    Oh yes, since he "directed the bidyos" the power and vision has given him some pretty grandiose ideas!

    Screengrab via YouTube


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    In what is the dumbest thing ever, Angry Birds is releasing a new YouTube-based series devoted to the stupid, fake animated animals.

    Annoyingly titled Angry Birds Toons, developer Rovio said the show takes viewers behind the scenes as yuppie couples tour three homes as they learn what to look for and decide whether or not the home is meant for them. Is it the cramped apartment that's close to public transportation or the comfortable—but pricey—duplex in the city's lush, outer neighborhoods?

    No, it's not at all like House Hunters, because it's about nothing.

    A 45-second trailer shows the birds bopping around making ear-scratching and indeterminate noises as they encounter various obstacles on Piggy Island. In the video game, the pigs make valiant attempts to steal the birds' eggs, so the straight-to-YouTube show is about those types of hijinks.

    It's also the latest brand extension, which ranges from clothing to stuffed animals, for the popular game.

    TubeFilter described the show as "colorfully animated, unrelentingly slapstick, and devoid of spoken dialogue," so that should serve as a warning for parents to stock-up on Excedrin. And it's not be confused with its previous Web series called Angry Bird Sessions, not starring Helen Hunt.

    Angry Birds Toons (it hurts to even type that) will be released on Rovio's YouTube channel on March 16.

    Photo via Rovio Mobile/YouTube

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    Did you ever wonder what The A-Team would have been like with Moe, Larry, and Curly?

    Our cherished (and not-so-cherished) television shows and movies are far more than just mere entertainment—they're inspiration for many more TV shows. And lots of brilliant Web parodies.

    There may not have been a Star Trek without the 1960s Western program Wagon Train. Gene Roddenberry himself even described his beloved science fiction program as "Wagon Train to the Stars."

    In the age of YouTube, many of those who know their way around video editing programs have taken such inspirations to new levels. Combining a comedic eye with in-depth knowledge, the following videos, which feature famous TV shows and movies re-imagined as other TV shows and movies, were born.

    1) The Three Stooges as The A-Team

    Moe Howard, Curly Howard, and Larry Fine bring their unique brand of over-the-top slapstick to a series known for its over-the-top action sequences. The video serves as proof, however, that some characters simply cannot be replaced.


    2) Battlestar Galactica as Dallas

    Battlestar Galactica, a major staple of modern-day science fiction, was nothing new when it debuted on the Sci-Fi channel in 2004. The program first saw life in 1978, with a 1980 continuation cleverly titled Galactica 1980. In this video, stars from the revival are introduced to the theme from another program that first came to life in 1978: the drama series Dallas. Who shot Adama?


    3) Breaking Bad as The Wire

    Modern-day crime drama is perfectly captured in the TV series Breaking Bad. This video decides that it is time for Walter White and company to assume the introductions of another critically-acclaimed crime drama series, The Wire. As an added bonus, user jamesmontalbano offers several different opening sequences.


    4) Community as Parks and Recreation

    The Internet's favorite comedy series, Community, ditches its original origami opening in this spot-on parody of fellow NBC program Parks and Recreation. Viewers of either series can enjoy seeing Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman's credits in the Ang Lee–inspired opening credit sequence replaced with those of Joel McHale and Chevy Chase.


    5) The Walking Dead as Growing Pains

    The Walking Dead is rife with zombies, gore, and other such necessary television aspects. Unfortunately, it has been lacking in the "learn a life lesson in 22 minutes or less" department. While Timmy Lunsford's video doesn't instill such scenes into the horror series, it does give the viewer a more light-hearted approach to the program. Besides, we'd much rather see the catchy "As Long as We Got Each Other" music end on "Well Zombie" than TV-series-Kryptonite "Leonardo DiCaprio."


    6) Star Wars as Magnum, P.I.

    Harrison Ford and Tom Selleck were fellow 1980s megahunks. In this tribute video to notable staples of both men's careers, viewers get to see what Star Wars would have looked like as a Hawaiian action series. Scenes from George Lucas's space opera fit in almost too perfectly with Magnum, P.I.'s renowned theme music to give us: Han Solo, P.I. Unfortunately, the number of trademark mustaches decreases significantly.


    7) Indiana Jones as MacGyver

    We aren't done with Harrison Ford just yet. While Indiana Jones may be far more resourceful than your average early-20th-century archaeologist, he is no match for Angus MacGyver (though his theme music was far better). Indy may have outsmarted ancient traps and recovered sacred artifacts, but he had never defused (or created) a bomb with safety pins and chewing gum. This video gives us a glimpse into what such an adventurer would be like.


    8) Rear Window as Three's Company

    Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece about a wheelchair-bound man observing the steadily-intensifying happenings of his neighborhood was sadly devoid of cheesy 1970s theme music. This video fixes such a dastardly mistake by combining some of the film's more memorable—and sexy—scenes with "Come and Knock on Our Door" from the sitcom Three's Company.

    It isn't until viewing this video that you realize how similar in appearance James Stewart and Norman Fell are. 

    As an added bonus, a false 1970s era laugh track is inserted into lighter scenes from the movie.


    BONUS: "Perfect Strangers Seattle"

    Seattle performing arts troupe the Baggy Pants may not be widely renowned outside of the Emerald City, but they did enjoy a brief bout of notoriety in 2010 with "Perfect Strangers Seattle." The video is a near-perfect, shot-for-shot remake of the opening title sequence from the 1980s ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers, with that comparison playing side-by-side in this video. The various sights of Seattle are proudly displayed, standing in for its inspiration's mini-tour of Chicago.

    Photo via YouTube

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    Did Thomas Edison record the first ever video of a poor kid breakdancing in the street? To be honest, we're just sort of surprised he didn't invent it.

    Thanks to footage archived within the Library of Congress, the world has become privy to an 1898 video called "A Street Arab," a black-and-white video that depicts a kid showing off some freakishly flexible moves.

    The 1:16 video "shows one of New York's street gamins going through various acrobatic evolutions; he turns handsprings backward and forward, walks the crab, does cart wheels and other kindred feats," the Library of Congress articulated.

    "An exceptionally unique part of the performance is his standing on his head and twisting around like a top."

    Oh, you mean like this?

    Yes, exactly like that.

    Breakdancing in the 19th Century. Of course that all started up in New York.


    Photo via Library of Congress/ h/t Buzzfeed

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    John Cusack is a remarkable fellow. In addition to starring in a number of beloved films over the last three decades. He has a another claim to fame, though, with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a pro-transparency nonprofit he's out to promote.

    Wednesday afternoon he took to social news site Reddit to give an AMA discussing free speech, politics, his movies (begrudgingly, it seemed), and driving around with Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson, and a blow-up doll. Here are some highlights from the live-interview session.

    What are your all-time top five favorite records? (nathaner)

    not a top five guy weirdly..too many to choose

    You have been pretty critical of Obama. What current politicians do you admire? (ben3putt)

    Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alan Grayson, to name a few.

    What is your opinion of Bradley Manning's whistle-blowing incident to Wikileaks? (deansgirl)

    Basically, we should be supporting any and all organziations that bring transparency to government. Check out our website and some of these amazing organizations we're supporting:

    How much fun is it working with your sister in roughly the 10 films you've appeared together in? (ryte4flyte)

    So much fun and so easy -- as a producer I know whenever she's on screen it's a home run. Also my other sister Annie as well. My brother Bill was the crazed backwater solider gobbling freeze dried coffee in War Inc. He also did a lot of the art designs and set decorations for the film. I'm lucky to have talented family members I can exploit for cheap labor!

    You got to spend some time with a personal hero of mine, Hunter S Thompson. Can you tell me any crazy stories from the time you spent with him or anything he said to you that really stuck with you? (dtnoire)

    I can only imagine what he would say about the expanded drone wars, or what he would make of the knowledge that Obama has overseen a fundamental extension of a vast array of Bush/Cheney executive privilege claims - or in many cases outdone them in ways that gut international law and our constitutional rights. I wonder how he would write about unchecked greed of wall street - and the bought and paid for government response - when the moral obligations of government declined and fiduciary responsibilities of elected officials were totally overtaken by rampant greed...

    Hunter was also the funniest human being i have ever met—loyal and wicked in the best way...a deeply, almost romantic idealist at his core... Always the smartest guy in the room with the greatest bullshit detector I've ever seen

    Please tell the story behind this. (cjh8686)

    Are you going to enter politics? (umen72)

    We are both in it now. With Freedom of the Press Foundation, we're on the front lines of politics, bringing transparency to government.

    A fun night with two friends was always a memorable night (or nights) with the good doctor

    When Dan Akroyd yells "POPCORN!" in Grosse Pointe Blank... improvised or scripted? (dont_worry_im_here)

    Danny does what he wants - improv! I'm a smart enough writer to get out of the way of a comic genius

    Do you enjoy the liberties of being an actor both in life and on stage (for example, having the name credit to support charities)? (Paulten)

    it feels better to use whatever recognition i get in causes i believe in and to speak out what i always feels good to be of service in some small way.. on some level i just do it to sleep better at night.. but i'm also an eternal optimist in some ways- i really believe things can turn for the better when people become less passive and engage..

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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    Sketch comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele guest starred in the latest installment of Epic Rap Battles of History, becoming the first TV regulars to appear on the series. Key and Peele’s showdown, however, was not just notable as another high-profile ERB episode. The comedy duo’s large online presence is redefining what it means to be a YouTube star, and the ERB appearance only furthers that assertion.

    Key and Peele ply their trade on a self-titled Comedy Central show which, in its season two finale, drew 1.14 million viewers, the highest total for the show in three weeks. This seems like a fairly pedestrian number, but Key and Peele‘s main viewership is coming online. The show is blowing up the Internet, receiving more than 100 million views on Comedy Central’s YouTube hub. New sketches are posted regularly on the channel, and most of them receive more than one million views. This begs the question: Is Key and Peele a webseries? And are its stars YouTubers?

    The easy answer is no. They didn’t come to fame on YouTube, and they don’t even run their own channel. But take a closer look: Key and Peele are more popular online than they are on TV, they release a web series (their Vandaveon and Mike critic parody), and they’ve even begun to collaborate with the YouTube community.

    Key and Peele represent a new paradigm in YouTube stardom. It’s not important to be born online, but rather to spend most of your time there. The web is often thought of as distinct from TV, and many web series are deemed unfit for TV distribution. With premium online content on the rise, it’s important to view Key and Peele and House of Cards and Hulu’s international offerings as web series. They are naturalized citizens of the Internet that have arrived to add some legitimacy to the industry.

    It’s hardly a bad sign for amateur creators, either. The rising tide of “imported” premium content lifts all boats, especially if the appearance of naturalized stars like Key and Peele in born-and-bred web content become a trend, and not just a one-off occurrence.


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    You probably haven't heard of A1 MoufPiece. But if you're not careful, you might accidentally listen to his music.

    Born in Northern California under the name Aaron Richardson, the 32-year-old rapper is a digital pioneer, of sorts. Since 2008, he's been using a brazen, gutsy, and transparently sneaky way of fooling people into finding his songs. He exploits the crappy search functions inside iTunes and Spotify.

    In other words, he's a musician who has staked his career on search-engine optimization. And he's not the only one doing it. 

    "[M]arketing purposes adapting with current times," is how A1--who has a new album out this week, called I'm My Own Movement--described his strategy during a long Facebook chat with me. "[N]ever bothered me," he added, saying he had "NO REASON TO FEEL uncomfortable" [sic].

    The process is simple. A1 will record a song about something--how much swag he has, how great he is at sex, or what have you--and then post it to iTunes and Spotify. But here's the catch: About half of the time, he'll give that song or its accompanying album a title that's just a popular musical search term. The song will have absolutely nothing to do with that term--it's just there to make him accidentally show up in a search.

    For example, he has a song called "Kreayshawn" and one called "N****s in Paris." He has an EP called S.K.R.I.L.L.E.X.. He has a track called "Lil Wayne," as well as one called "Fuck Lil Wayne."

    Regarding the latter, A1 has this to say: "LIL wayne is 1 of the best rappers alive. ---like i said b4 song titles are named for marketing purposes only."

    Read the full story on Motherboard.

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    Previously, on Parks and Recreation, two main characters tied the knot in impromptu style. As is the way of things in Pawnee, Indiana, it was both hilarious and adorable.

    A bright spark over at NBC has opted to share Leslie and Ben's nuptials in the form of a Pinterest wedding album. Again, it's as funny and sweet as you'd expect.

    Of course, it's a fictional wedding. Certainly, it's a promotional deal for the show. Never mind that it looks like NBC just grabbed frames from the episode. To see the big day play out as an actual wedding photographer might capture it (as Geekosystem notes), in monochrome and warm hues, just makes it seems so real.

    Move over, Jim and Pam. There's a new king and queen of NBC Thursdays.

    Photos via Pinterest

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    In Spotify Essentials, the Daily Dot curates custom playlists created by some of our favorite artists, staff writers, and Web community leaders.

    Every writer needs a good playlist. Character names can be changed later on, and jokes can be scribbled in during edits. But when you sit down in front of that blank page, a great soundtrack can be the difference between writers block and looking up to find that the sun set hours ago.

    I’m a bit superstitious about my routine when I’m writing a book, but here are the things I know: Sit at the same table in the coffee shop if you were pleased with what you wrote there (if not, switch); Always read over what you wrote yesterday before putting a new sentence on the page; Invest in good headphones and whitening strips for the coffee stains; and The Mountain Goats can cure even the worst writing day.

    Every writer needs a good playlist. This is mine:

    Robyn Schneider is the author of the forthcoming young adult novel Severed Heads, Broken Hearts,  coming this summer from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. She makes videos on YouTube and is a part of Wonderly, Big Frame’s new vertical for young female content creators. You can follow her on Twitter (@robynschneider).

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    RiffTrax, the beloved online cult favorite that sprang from the beloved '90's TV series Mystery Science Theatre 3000, has been providing the irreverent commentary for all your favorite worst movies for years. But although creators Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett have done live riffs on fan favorites before, RiffTrax's most popular movie snarkfest, Twilight, has remained unattainable--until now.

    Earlier this week, the RiffTrax guys launched a Kickstarter campaign asking fans to help them purchase the rights to perform Twilight in public. Eager to encourage one of the best things Twilight ever gave us, fans responded in droves. In just 5 days, the Kickstarter has raised $180,000 from 3,800 backers and counting, well over triple the originally requested amount. That will enable Rifftrax to snag performance rights not only to Twilight, but to many more favorite Rifftrax movies previously off-limits.

    RiffTrax continues the ignoble MST3K tradition of making fun of bad (and good) movies while you watch. In the days of MST3K, which ran for ten years on Comedy Central and later Sci-Fi. Most of the MST3K canon is available to watch on YouTube; here's one of our favorites, featuring Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett in their respective MST3K roles as Mike, Tom, and Crow.

    With MST3K, the hilarious commentary track aired while you watched the movie. But MST3K was limited to public domain films or extremely cheap older B-movies. In order to gain the ability to riff famous, popular movies, and stuff people have actually seen, Rifftrax has always released its snarky laugh tracks as a standalone accompaniment. What you do with the audio is at your own peril. Currently, the only way to watch a Rifftrax movie with the commentary is to sync up the (legally purchased) movie and the (legally purchased) parody track yourself—or find a pirated version where someone has done it for you.  

    In addition to the online release of its commentary tracks as separate downloads, RiffTrax has also scored big with nationwide simulcasts of live performances, shown as special events in movie theatres. However, due to the high cost of recently released films, these performances have thus far been limited to old cult hits like Plan 9 or cheap disasters like Birdemic.

    "We have already written and performed a great riff for TWILIGHT and it's our best seller, but the only way you can currently watch it is by syncing our MP3 of the riff with the DVD of TWILIGHT," the Kickstarter explains. "If we want to perform the RiffTrax LIVE for you in theaters nationwide this August, we need the rights for the movie itself."

    If Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate allow Mike and the gang to purchase the performance rights to Twilight, it will be the first time they've gotten to publicly perform a movie of such mainstream stature, and their first attempt at an epic love story since they riffed Titanic.
    So what happens if they don't get Twilight? If the Twilight producers won't let RiffTrax have their movie, RiffTrax will find someone who will: they've pledged on their Kickstarter page to go down their audience-selected worst movies of all time list until they find one they can buy the rights for. Right now, Twilight holds the #1 spot, ahead of the previously riffed Batman and Robin and the Razzie award-winning Catwoman. Over 35,000 voters selected it in the 2012 poll, which drew over half a million votes in all.

    Even if Twilight remains out of their grasp, with 26 days left in the Kickstarter campaign, they have plenty of time to fundraise mocking rights to the entire film canon. In the meantime, you can ponder what worst movies you'd like them to do next, and check out the highlights from their Twilight riff.

    Image via Rifftrax

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    The Daily Dot's Fernando Alfonso jumps into the RV with Tumblr's premier artists, Mr. GIF, for a weeklong trip to Texas for the annual South By Southwest Interactive conference. 

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    The road from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Austin, Texas, is roughly 1,750 miles—if you’re looking for the most direct route. We prefer the path less traveled.

    Over the next week, I’m cramming into an RV with Tumblr-based artist duo Mr. GIF for an epic trek down to the annual South By Southwest Interactive conference. We’ll pull over in New York, Nashville, Atlanta, and Houston to meet with folks like inspirational blogger Shane "laughingatmynightmare" Burcaw and Tumblr's top dog, Tommy Pom

    Along the way, we will be GIFing the adventure and trying to find out what the graphics interchange format means to people all across the country.

    "I'm hoping to get there safely in one piece, eat some good grub, and meet new rad human beings along the way," prefaced  Mr. GIF's Mark Portillo. "This trip will show what 'live GIFing' really means."

    Keep an eye on the Daily Dot, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates from the road. And if you happen to be in South by Southwest next week, be sure to check out our March 8 panel with Lindsey Weber, The Economy of the GIF, 3:30pm at Omni Downtown.

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    Amanda Palmer’s now almost as famous for her $1.2 million Kickstarter as for her music career. In an enthusiastically well-received talk at TED2013 this week, she set out her own personal method of navigating the music industry.

    Palmer has made a career out of trusting fans and strangers with her art and livelihood. After college, she spent five years as the Eight Foot Bride, a living statue in Harvard Square. As a street performer, she depended on passers-by to fund her art—an experience that shaped the way she behaved as a touring singer, first with the Dresden Dolls and then as a solo artist.

    Amanda Palmer has a unique relationship with her audience. Many rock stars interact with their fans on Twitter, but few go so far as to stay in their houses. Just days before she was due to go onstage at TED2013, she was crowdsourcing props for her talk:

    As she put it in her TED talk: “Couchsurfing and crowdsurfing are the same thing. You’re falling into the audience.” Ten years ago she was already building the fanbase that would later back her Kickstarter, with Dresden Dolls fans known as “the Brigade” providing impromptu support acts before shows. As a combination of performance art troupe and fan club, the Brigade still has branches all over the world, a precursor to Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters.

    Even during the preparation for her TED talk, Palmer was characteristically open with her fanbase, blogging and tweeting throughout January and February about possible themes for her talk. The finished product was kept under wraps, but we think some of her original plans might well have gone down just as well— particularly with fellow TED attendee Bono, who stuck around to have a drink with Palmer after the talk:

    Remembering the media reaction when her Kickstarter first took off, Palmer finished her talk with a statement criticizing the attitude of treating consumers like potential copyright pirates rather than music fans:

    “The media said, ‘Amanda, the music industry is tanking and you encourage piracy! How did you get all these people to pay for music?’ And the real answer is, ‘I didn’t make them. I asked them.’”

    Photo via

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    Failed talk show host Tyra Banks is at least successful at one thing (well, other than being an international supermodel): she's really good at the Internet.

    The discovery was unearthed by a poll in science publication Modelinia that ranked 10 supermodels' dominance on social media. Banks, 39, clawed her way to the top, beating out Kate Upton and Miranda Kerr as the most-followed beauty on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Banks has more than 11.3 Facebook fans and Twitter followers. A bulk of those come from her 8.4 million strong Twitter account that doubles as a food diary. She’s also tops on Instagram with 1.3 million followers, while Miranda Kerr takes a close second place at 1.1 million followers.

    In second place in the Facebook and Twitter category is Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, who only manages to garner 3.5 million followers combined. Surprisingly, Internet favorite Upton placed 7th with a less-than-buoyant 1.1 million followers combined.

    Not placing in any category? Naomi Campbell. Modelinia extended an olive branch, giving her an "honorable mention" for her 770,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter (which we're sure did not anger her at all).

    Maybe these numbers will bolster the chances that the beleaguered United States Postal Service is replaced by Tyra Mail.

    Photo via Tyra Banks/Instagram

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    In this 8th episode of the podcast, the guys cover almost every story from the Daily Dot while discussing important topics like how much Halle Berry got paid to be topless in Swordfish, Ray Lewis's penchant for murder, Reddit's newfound mall cop love, outsourcing to India, celebrity sex tapes, legalizing pot, and the impending nanny state. 

    This podcast is less NSFW than the previous ones, but it is still pretty raunchy. You can download the episode directly from the Daily Dot, or subscribe to the podcast  on iTunes.

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    On the sidewalks of Nashville's bustling Broadway Street, fluorescent lights of guitars and pigs shine bright while two drunk middle aged men push each other around in anger. Inside the Paradise Park, a local band plays a cover of Rascal Flatts’ Life is a Highway to more than two dozen thirsty patrons Sunday evening.

    "Sign my sweatshirt," said Clark Moser, a portly tourist with a large smile on his face and a Sharpie marker in his hand.

    "Why?" said John Monson of Country Music Television's (CMT) social media team.

    "Because we're in Nashville," Clark said.

    This is a typical experience for a member of CMT's social media team: days spent interacting with fans on Facebook and Twitter and nights actually socializing at Nashville honky-tonks, music venues, and restaurants. This personal touch has helped separate CMT from its bigger brothers and sisters at Viacom, MTV, BET, and VH1. And the network has done so with a team of just three.

    "[It's important] to talk to them like we're their friends," Monson told the Daily Dot during a visit on its road trip to South By Southwest with Tumblr-based artists Mr. GIF. "We're an entertainment channel. We want to entertain them and keep it casual and speak in their language and respond to as many people as we can."

    An average day for the CMT social media team involves them tweeting about 20 messages a day to the network’s more than 400,000 followers and sharing about six posts a day with its 1 million fans on Facebook. Like its Viacom brethren, CMT has received its fair share of criticism for its shift from playing music videos regularly to producing TV shows. Monson and the rest of the team—Chris Nelson, director of social media, and Jennifer Morrison, music strategist—take it in stride and try to encourage fans to watch videos online.

    The team is currently gearing up for the launch of Dog and Beth: On The Hunt, the latest series starring famed bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman as he travels around the country to aid other bondsmen in busts.

    "Dog is great on social media," Nelson added. "He's got a huge Twitter following [340,000 followers] and you wouldn't necessarily expect it, but he will live tweet a show."

    CMT's team is branching out into Vine and Google+, where it has more than 85,000 followers. They are also playing with GIF animations.

    "CMT is all about developing content, and for us, it's about social content people are familiar with," Nelson said.

    GIFs by Mr. GIF

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    Warning: This story contains sexually explicit material.

    Try as it might, YouTube cannot possibly manage or censor the flood of porn uploaded to its site every minute.

    In mid-February, YouTube pulled Wood Rocket’s "Definitely the best Harlem Shake" shortly after the Daily Dot made a request for comment. In the teaser clip, eight porn actresses do the Harlem Shake in a locker room—naked. The 30-second video racked up more than 30,000 views in three days.  

    It’s back.

    The current version, uploaded by a user named schurli740, is actually the third YouTube iteration of the porn flick teaser. It first got taken offline in mid-February before a mirror copy reemerged a few days later. This installment of "Definitely the best Harlem Shake" has been seen 1,600 times.

    In terms of YouTube’s larger porn problem, "Definitely the best Harlem Shake” is barely even a nip slip. It’s not hardcore porn with actual sexual penetration, after all, just a few naked women shimmying next to a guy holding a pizza box.

    It does, however, speak to a larger problem YouTube faces: The site’s censorship is a shell game, one that relies almost entirely on users to flag offensive or sexually explicit content. If a video get’s taken down, another will likely soon replace it, on another person's channel and with another set of views.

    Take, for example, this hyper-sexualized Louis Pion commercial, which pits a crew of naked ladies in a shower. Or the party scene from the Sébastien Tellier music video"Cochon Ville." There’s all sorts of nudity involved in the latter, and it’s been up since September. More than 8,000 people have watched it—and the preroll ads that come with it.

    There's a treasure chest of these types of videos located at r/youtubetitties, a section on social news site Reddit where users post “nipslips, handbras, full frontal” YouTube videos “with an ounce of nudity or a load of nudity!”  There are well over 500 posts. Only a few of the options onsite have been flagged and removed.

    Again, this stuff's not exactly XXX-rated. It's the 21st century. On the Internet, it's quite easy to find much, much worse. But it is a blatant violation of YouTube's community guidelines, which prohibits users from posting "pornography or sexually explicit content.”

    What exactly can YouTube do to stop it? After all, the more than 72 hours of video gets uploaded to the Google-owned site every minute. It’s been estimated that policing that content would cost the company $35 billion a year. And sometimes, like in May 2009, the site falls victim to an elaborately devised"porn bombing," in which hours and hours of porn videos are uploaded to the site by 4chan hooligans.

    What's worse is that there's often no easy way for moderators to identify such content. Users can flag videos with "porn" or "sex" in the title, but YouTubers have learned to work around such common keywords.

    Take, for example, this sex scene stripped from an episode of HBO's Game of Thrones. It's titled onsite as"Ros' scene from HBO's Game of Thrones," a description that's rather G-rated and not at all indicative of the creative sex positions the actresses engage in.

    That Louis Pion commercial we mentioned earlier, the one with the girls in the shower: It's called "Louis Pion Horloger de mode Le bronzage," which is French for something about watches. That's something you can't flag unless you watch it—and it's tough to find. And really, who cares to stop it?

    We'd ask YouTube for comment, but they didn't get back to us last round, when we wrote about the "Harlem Shake" porn video last week. The company just removed the video 10 minutes after our story published and acted like it never existed.

    But it did, and the video came back. And should the site decide to take it down again, it'll be back there soon. That'll happen again and again and again.

    You cannot stop the porn on YouTube. You can only hope to contain it.

    Screengrab via YouTube

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    Kyle Marshall isn't simply a YouTube correspondent. He's a charter community member. The Alberta, Canada, resident has been making videos since 2008 and to this day will still make upwards of 15 videos in a single week.

    His trademark program is his weekly installment of YouTube News, which runs each Tuesday.

    This week, Marshall looks at YouTuber Ben Cook and his controversial video "Girls on YouTube," which has the community debating the role of women on the video sharing site.

    Photo via Kyle Marshall/YouTube

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