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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Jon Stewart might dismiss the idea that he's a newsman, but his set is headed to the museum of news anyway.

    The Newseum, a museum about journalism in Washington, D.C., announced Wednesday that it is acquiring Stewart's iconic Daily Show set after his final show on Thursday. The set will be removed to make room for Trevor Noah's new set.

    “We are thrilled to accept the donation of these artifacts to the Newseum collection,” Cathy Trost, senior vice president of exhibits and programs at the Newseum, said in a statement. “They are part of America’s cultural and media history, telling an important story about how political satire and news as humor made ‘The Daily Show’ a trusted news source for a generation.”

    The Newseum did not say when it expected to put the set on display.

    As the big shuffle in late-night began, each departing host’s set went out the door with him. Stephen Colbert, while leaving last December, auctioned his set off for charity, while David Lettermanhad a different approach: he took some of it with him, gave some away, and threw away what couldn’t be salvaged.

    Photo via The White House/Flickr (PD)

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    Ryan Adams might have produced the “guaranteed saddest” Taylor Swift cover yet. 

    The singer-songwriter announced on Twitter early Thursday morning that he’s vowing to cover 1989 track by track, “as played by the Smiths,” and posted a photo of a recording session on Instagram

    Swift, ever the cheerleader, gave Adams her approval, and he later tweeted her a video of someone dancing to “Welcome to New York.” 

    OK, “Blank Space” with a “deep end Smiths vibe” sounds like it could be good.

    Adams’ cover game is on point this year: Let us never forget that time when he broke down and covered “Summer of ’69.”

    H/T Pitchfork | Photo via 6tee-zeven/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    You're either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan, and it makes sense that Keith Richards isn't a Beatles guy. Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist, poked fun at Paul McCartney on Saturday Night Live in February. During a recent interview with Esquire he ratcheted up the criticism, calling the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album a "mishmash of rubbish."

    Despite the fantastic phrasing, Richards is entirely incorrect. Because Sgt. Pepper's is incredible.

    After all, it's Rolling Stone's No. 1 album of all time—the magazine also called Sgt. Pepper "the most important rock & roll album ever made" and "the pinnacle of the Beatles' eight years as recording artists"—and as my Daily Dot colleague Aaron Sankin asked, "If that album's is so bad, how come the Rolling Stones spent a whole record ripping it off super hard?"

    Here's what Richards had to say in that Esquire interview: "The Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there's not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you're the Beatles in the '60s, you just get carried away—you forget what it is you wanted to do. You're starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it's a genius album, but I think it's a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like [the Rolling Stones'] Satanic Majesties—'Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.'"

    Let's make it clear that we have no idea if Richards was kidding when he said Sgt. Pepper's sucks. As the A.V. Club wrote:

    It's hard to take Richards too seriously here, as he immediately turns on his own band, as well. He compares The Beatles’ 'mishmash of rubbish' with the album the Stones put out just six months later (Their Satanic Majesties Request), saying it was 'kind of like Satanic Majesties...

    Me, I've always been Team Beatles. I don't own a single Rolling Stones album, so I'll firmly reside in the corner opposite Richards. Unless... 

    Well, what if Richards, joking or not, is right? My father steered me in this direction when I was a kid and taught to me the importance of the Beatles. I've never wavered from that, even as my musical tastes have grown harder and faster. But maybe Sgt. Pepper's really is an overrated piece of mid-1960s art-rock balderdash.

    I needed to find out for sure. So, I dove headlong back into the album to see if Richards has a point, making a trip to see the Hearts Club Band play once more and to reminisce about how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. Because, from what I understand, this album is guaranteed to raise a smile.

    1) "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

    I always thought this song was slightly weird—perhaps because it was the beginning of a concept album that never really existed—but it's actually a mishmash (thanks for that phrasing, Keith) of rocking guitar, a French horn solo, fake audience interaction, and some nice vocal harmonizing. I don't love it as an album opener—maybe because it promises something we never really get—but the song itself is solid.

    Grade: B-

    2) "With a Little Help From My Friends"

    Props to Ringo Starr, who was always the most underrated (and certainly the goofiest) member of the quartet, for singing such a pretty song. Apparently, this was one of the last songs John Lennon and McCartney wrote together, and it's one of their best. I love Joe Cocker's cover of this song, but Ringo's version is pretty awesome too.

    Grade: A-

    3) "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" 

    You certainly don't need to drop acid in order to appreciate this classic.

    Grade: A

    4) "Getting Better"

    Major points off for any songwriter who rhymes the word "school" and "cool," which is done in the very first two lines. Plus, the grammar in this song is awful: "Me used to be angry young man, me hiding me head in the sand." Maybe less cool and more school, Paul. Personally, I'm not a fan of the band's experiments with Indian music, and the tamboura first rears its head here.

    Grade: B-

    5) "Fixing a Hole"

    Is this song about heroin or about roof repairs? Maybe both, maybe neither. But this song is so dreamy with ethereal drums by Starr and wonderful vocals by McCartney. It also takes harpsichords to soaring new heights.

    Grade: A-

    6) "She's Leaving Home"

    I didn't really understand the power of this song until after I had kids. Much like "Sunrise, Sunset," this song makes me sad for my future when my children will leave me for the outside world and the rest of their lives (although not necessarily in the specific way written out in this song). It's beautiful, especially the Greek chorus, and listening to this today left me with tears.

    Grade: A+

    7) "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite"

    God, this song is so stupid. But it's wonderful and funny, and the calliope breakdown after Lennon sings, "And of course Henry the horse dances the waltz" still kills me, as does the organ solo near the end. Maybe it's a rubbish version of some sort of arty prog rock, but it's my guilty pleasure rubbish.

    Grade: B-

    8) "Within You Without You" 

    Oh, this has tamboura in it, huh? Skip.

    Grade: Incomplete

    9) "When I'm 64"

    McCartney and Starr are now about a decade past 64, and I wonder how they relate to this song these days. Amazingly, McCartney apparently first had the idea for this tune when he was 15. Unlike "She's Leaving Home," this song actually makes me look forward (relatively speaking, of course) to being an old man. Maybe it's the clarinets. Lennon, though, apparently hated it. As noted by BuzzFeed, "John snidely referred to this one as 'granny music.' When asked about the authorship of the song, he said it was 'Paul’s, completely. I would never dream of writing a song like that.'"

    Grade: B

    10) "Lovely Rita" 

    Lennon apparently disliked this song also, but it's a cute, harmless ditty that has a wonderful little piano soul, and some really cool breathe sounds at the end. In fact everything that happens in the background is what really makes this song a killer. I actually liked this song while re-listening to it today even more than I remembered enjoying it before.

    Grade: A-

    11) "Good Morning Good Morning" 

    Lennon labeled this song a "piece of garbage" and while that's a bit harsh, especially coming from the guy who wrote it, I wouldn't miss this tune if I never heard it again (though I still managed to enjoy McCartney's guitar solo). It's on songs like these that Richards begins to make the tiniest bit of sense.  

    Grade: C

    12) "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" 

    I'm a big fan of goodbye songs that effectively bookend the album's welcoming song, and in this case, I actually like the reprise better than the album's opening track (I think because I enjoy the phrasing when the band sings, "It's Sgt. Pepper's one and only Lonely Hearts Club Band"). And it dovetails so nicely into the best song on the album—maybe the best song by this or any other band.

    Grade: B

    13) "A Day In The Life" 

    This song is a gargantuan achievement that's difficult to sum up. So I'll let David Crosby do it: "I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear 'A Day In The Life.' I was high as a kite—so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down [in the studio]; they had huge speakers like coffins with wheels on that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got the end of that piano chord, man, my brains were on the floor."

    Grade: A+

    Richards must have been joking in this interview, right? After listening again to all these songs multiple times, I like the album now even more than I did before. I'm a Beatles guy, and 'll always be a Beatles guy. And, I think in the deepest part of his heart, Keith Richards is a Beatles guy as well.

    Photo via steve/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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    Many a fanboy, including myself, touted the greatness of Mad Max: Fury Roadfor George Miller’s use of practical effects. It is truly an amazing feat of filmmaking—and extra impressive that nobody died in the making of the crash derby. However, Miller should also be lauded for his extensive, yet still tasteful, use of CGI.

    More often than not, a film will be disparaged for its use of the computer-generated imagery, but maybe critics of the practice should look a little bit closer.

    To break it down, RocketJump Film School just released a thorough YouTube explanation of “Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t).” In just under seven minutes, RocketJump demonstrates that CGI, when done right, is all but invisible; it’s the bad CG that gets noticed and bunches up critics’ feathers.

    Check out the video below. It will blow your mind how present CGI actually is today.

    H/T Gizmodo | Screengrab via RocketJump Film School/YouTube

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    Somehow, some way, there is a new Dr. Dre album. In 2015. With Kendrick Lamar on it. And Ice Cube. Snoop Dogg, Eminem, The Game, Xzibit, and Cold 187um too. It is like an angel in khakis with a cuff and a crease answered rap fans’ prayers. 

    Remember, when 2001 came out (in 1999), it had been more than six years since Dre’s iconic solo debut, The Chronic. This newest album, Compton–which leaked, then exclusively streamed on Apple Music late Thursday, and hits iTunes on Friday–is 15 years and nine months removed from his last solo record.

    In that time, Dre’s unreleased music took on mythical proportions. In 2001, Detox was supposed to be a hip-hop musical. By 2004, Dre was taking a break to work on other artists’ records. Then it wasn’t until 2010 that interest once again piqued, between the Compton, California, rapper Kendrick Lamar releasing the song “Look Out for Detox” and those embarrassing radio singles “Kush” and “I Need a Doctor.” Dre did a huge marketing campaign that involved a Pepsi commercial and at least one billboard. Most all conclusions were pointing to the album maybe actually for real coming out. And with the inclusion of Lamar, it looked like Dre found the right protege (who thankfully wasn't Bishop Lamont) to inspire (read: write lyrics for) that third LP, like Snoop Dogg and Eminem did with The Chronic and Chronic 2001, respectively. Unfortunately, all Dre and Lamar were able to come up with was a headphones commercial.

    Technically, Detox has been permanently scrapped, but Dre could’ve fooled me with Compton, which he says is his final album. As if he needed more to add to his argument after both Chronics, Dre continues to prove that he is the greatest producer of all time, now at age 50 and 30 years into his rap career. 

    Of course the beats knock, but all of the unfinished leaks that came from previous Detox sessions (and looking at Dre’s recent production discography) made even the most devout West Coast rap fan skeptical.

    Even when Compton’s instrumentals go over the deep end with too much electric guitar or bebop, the drums never stopped boxing my internal organs. I’m sure there will be plenty of advertisements tying in the album with Beats By Dre headphones, but this is an album that needs speakers to breathe. It needs to rattle the fine china in kitchen hutches and vibrate rearview mirrors. The descending bassline on “Genocide” feels like it slows my heart beat. “Just Another Day” has only three drum strikes looped, and they might as well render all other percussion meaningless. The album is funky as hell, but there’s also some left-turn rock. All of it works.

    Compton might be the first Dr. Dre album with perspective. The Chronic contained a lot of visceral anger surrounding the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and 2001 was mostly an orgy when car bombs weren’t going off. This album begins with a newsreel detailing the history of Compton, California, about the origins of it as a black city, the white flight, and its disenfranchisement that led to a notorious rise in crime. Dre has fully accepted his role as the old head, looking back at his city and his life from the top, extolling the virtues of hard work and health. On “Issues,” he gets philosophical comparing the chalk schoolgirls play with to the chalk police use to outline dead bodies. “It gets the hardest when I think about the dearly departed/Like the n***a I started with/I know Eazy can see me now looking down through the clouds/And regardless I know my n***a still proud,” Dre raps on the closing track “Talking to My Diary,” one of a few references on the album to Eazy-E, the ex-N.W.A. member with whom Dre was feuding with at the time of his death in 1995.

    All that said, Compton isn’t completely grown up–there is an Eminem verse after all. At the end of “Loose Cannons” is a troubling skit that shoots and buries a woman. But the younger guests on the album have a certain sophistication that Kurupt and Daz Dillinger lacked on Dre’s previous LPs, and the older artists here seem to have lost a step with their libido. There is no “Pause 4 Porno”-level filth, but there is “Satisfiction,” which is a portmanteau highlighting how other rappers lie about how great their life is–something a 50-year-old who just sold a multi-billion-dollar company should maybe be above caring about.

    “Satisfiction” does slap though, even with an overwrought Marsha Ambrosius hook. In fact, none of the 33 guests do anything to take away from Dre's beats. They also don’t do much to add to them, however, which might be the biggest problem with the album. All of the new artists Dre put on do little to make an impact (and even Dre's voice is noticeably different, occasionally getting lost in the mix), save for Anderson Paak, who earns his four guest spots. 

    Luckily, Dre’s longtime collaborators stick out like sore middle fingers. Cold 187um, of the legendary g-funk group Above the Law, and Xzibit combine to sound like the fathers of Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy group. Snoop Dogg sounds exhausted from being a lion and a lounge singer, but Ice Cube gives his best verse since since 2004’s “Grand Finale.” Eminem says a lot of goofy stuff fast that will surely impress a certain flavor of rap fan, and even The Game demonstrates what made people like him in the first place. Kendrick shows up three times to remind everyone why he was the main reason rap fans were interested in Detox during this decade. Lamar lives in these tracks, inhabiting every inch of Dre’s beats.

    Detox grew its mythos because it was hyped over and over as Dr. Dre reinventing the wheel—that it would be the greatest thing anyone’s ever heard. This inanity might have been best exemplified with “Syllables,” which leaked in 2011 but was supposedly recorded in 2007. It features Eminem, Jay Z, and 50 Cent, and tried to position itself against popular hip-hop at the time. It’s a parody of a popular song that still attempted to succeed by the standards of the songs it parodied. Compton is much more modest. 

    Dr. Dre announced that he would be using the profits from Compton to "help fund a new performing arts and entertainment facility for the kids of Compton." Dre didn’t need to build his Xanadu, he just needed to fix up the bungalow in his old neighborhood. 

    Screengrab via Complex/YouTube

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    Jon Stewart took one last bow (and attempted to take an Irish exit) in an oversized final episode of The Daily Show full of laughs, tears, Bruce Springsteen and other nods to his Jersey roots, and nearly too many cameos to count.

    As the fifth late-night host to leave his chair in nearly two years, Stewart had a tough act to follow. Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, and David Letterman each helped define what makes a late-night finale: it’s full of star-studded tributes, plenty of self-deprecation, extreme cases of wackiness and irony, and a heartfelt thanks to the crew, the audience, and the host's family. The laughs and tears were infectious.

    Stewart’s departure comes at a time when America has never needed him more—although there would never really be a great time for his departure. The Daily Show taped on Thursday afternoon, but as it began airing, the first 2016 GOP presidential debate was just winding down. We'd do almost anything to see Stewart do one last show where he “evisceratedDonald Trump and the other Republican presidential candidates one last time.

    To start the final episode, the remaining Daily Show correspondents tried to cover this event that, at the time of taping had yet to occur. Jordan Klepper, Jessica Williams, and Hasan Minhaj started to report on something they didn’t know about before they realized they needed more manpower to cover it. There were so many candidates and only three correspondents.

    Luckily, the dozens of correspondents who have walked through The Daily Show’s doors over the years arrived to lend their support to Stewart and the “Best Fucking News Team” with their time-honored brand of mockery—but they directed pretty much all of it at Stewart.

    The show launched many correspondents' future careers, so they returned at the end to pay homage to the man who made it happen. Some highlights:

    Before long we all had “Too Many Cooks” stuck in our heads as more people showed up—some live, some via prerecorded video. We lost track of some correspondents and didn’t recognize others, and soon the politicians who had felt Stewart’s wrath over his nearly 17 years of hosting appeared to thank him and say good riddance.

    And the man we’d been hoping would show up ever since Stewart announced his retirement? Of course Stephen Colbert showed up, leaving his sleigh (and Alex Trebek) to lead Stewart, the Frodo to his Sam, to the “Undying Lands”—or as we know it, New Jersey. There’s simply no way Stewart could’ve been sent off without Colbert.

    While their reunion mostly relied on some extended Lord of the Rings puns, Colbert went off script at the end to genuinely thank a visibly moved Stewart for everything he had done for Colbert and everyone else.

    “Here’s the thing Jon, you said to me and many other people here years ago to never thank you because we owe you nothing,” Colbert said. “It is one of the few times I’ve known you to be dead wrong. We owe you—and not just what you did for our career by employing us to come on this tremendous show that you made—we owe you because we learned from you.”

    After the break, Stewart homaged one of his favorite films, Goodfellas, with his own version of the Long Take, as he took fans on a tour of The Daily Show's offices and introduced them to his staff.

    Stewart's crew had a special procedure in place for when Trump announced his decision to run for president, which should surprise no one.

    With the show winding down, Stewart started to get sentimental. The debates (and not being able to cover them) had made him realize what he would be missing, so he left us with one last uncensored monologue for the ages, a quintessential Jon Stewart farewell warning about bullshit and all the flavors in which it presented itself.

    “The best defense against bullshit is vigilance,” Stewart said. “So if you smell something, say something.”

    It was surely a monologue for the ages.

    Stewart went out with his heart on his sleeve. After thanking Comedy Central, the cast and crew, and the audience who made it all possible, he gave us a pep talk. He had to say goodbye to the show, he said, but he wasn’t really saying goodbye. It was only a small part of his career—and the life of The Daily Show.

    It was, he said, just a pause in the conversation.

    It’s going to be difficult to try to fill the Jon Stewart-sized snark hole in our hearts. We’re going to miss the shit out of his daily takedowns and the nuance he brought to tackling the toughest subjects, some of which we didn’t think could provide any comedic fodder.

    But even though Stewart will be gone from our TV’s, his influence is already all over TV and film, and his alumni will carry that torch in spirit. Noah in particular will demonstrate this when he starts his tenure next month as The Daily Show’s conversation picks back up.

    Stewart tried to sneak out, but before he could go, he finally got his own Moment of Zen in the most Jersey way possible: with a performance from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

    Now let’s go get that drink.

    Screengrab via The Daily Show

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    The registration desk at the Podcast Movement convention looked like the midday queue for Space Mountain.

    Half of the registrants’ scan codes were coming up as invalid, so they piled hopelessly into the Help Desk Line, which snaked nearly to the entrance of the men’s bathroom some 40 yards away. Meanwhile, online registrants and attendees hoping to pick up badges at the door (for an extra $100 on the already-steep $500 ticket, mind you) eagerly awaited help at the desk, which clearly had not been set up to handle the sheer chaos that was now pummeling it from all angles.

    This bedlam? This is good news.

    The pandemonium at registration was a direct indicator of Podcast Movement being a colossal success; since its inaugural run in Dallas last year, the attendance numbers had more than doubled. There was clearly a market for this sort of event—a very hungry market. But how many of these attendees are actually going to make a legitimate living off their grand podcasting pipe dream? How is the industry accommodating this massive influx of participants? And, good lord, how does anyone afford a convention like this?

    A woman behind me in the cartoonishly long registration line bubbled with enthusiasm for the convention. She explained to another woman she was there in her husband’s stead, to gather info for him and his videography podcast, and was also on the cusp of launching a podcast of her own. Of the five types of ticket holders at this convention, I pegged as her a Type 1: Those who were on the verge of starting a podcast, who saw the ticket price as a both an investment and as tangible proof of their commitment to their new dream, who ultimately never record anything at all, or do a measly five or six episodes, and then quit after fame doesn’t immediately knock on their door.

    Type 2 attendees were those who already had podcasts (but sort of shitty ones), who constantly questioned why they weren’t more successful and saw $500 as a fair price to pay for the answer.

    How do people make money from this, and is it possible to do so without a listener base that could fill the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium?

    The Type 3s had decent podcasts and some listeners to match. They were there to a) figure out their next move, b) network their asses off, and c) social media the shit out of their presence at the conference, so that everybody saw that they were capital-S Serious about podcasting. With at least 50 released episodes under their belts, they could almost feel that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; of the podcasters attending, they had the best odds at finding an eventual spot in the Winner’s Circle.

    Type 4 comprised the aspiring producers, folks who already had a successful website or something in another medium and were looking to add a podcast to their personal brand, which they hoped to someday grow into an empire; these attendees were all there to at least learn the general score on the medium, but some were also on the hunt for an acquisition.

    The last sort of ticket holder, the Type 5, was the startup guru from Silicon Valley. Many of these sorts were there as promoters, rather than attendees, with booths covered in pamphlets and free glasses and flash drives and raffles for recording equipment, but some had flown in to just dip their toes in the water and get a lay of the land. While most of the badgeholders were wondering how to make money by podcasting, these tech experts were there to ask, “How can I make money off of these people who are trying to make money by podcasting?”

    Paying ticket-holders weren’t the only people with financial matters on their minds: Going into Podcast Movement 2015, the thing I most wanted to know was where all the money comes from, too. How do people make money from this, and is it possible to do so without a listener base that could fill the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium? With presentations and panels called “How to Monetize Your Show Without Selling Your Soul,” “Making Podcast Sponsorship Work,” “Podcast Advertising Standards,” “There Are Only 4 (Profitable) Podcast Monetization Models… Which One Is Yours?,” and “Quit Your Day Job: Sustainable Crowdfunding for Your Podcast,” I was cautiously optimistic I’d find the answer.

    My first stop was at Blog Talk Radio, a podcast hosting site with a slogan that promised “Serious Podcasting Made Simple.” Their brochure seemed promising: easy sharing to multiple hosting platforms, detailed analytic info on listening activity, a knowledgeable community of users, and online classes for improving your podcasting techniques.

    One theme rang out extra loud in the brochure, though: It very heavily emphasized the importance of leaving the boring, technical crap to the folks at Blog Talk Radio, so that you could concentrate full-time on your ingenious artistry. It also used the term “monetization” quite a bit, saying “Maximize your earnings with our advanced monetization systems,” and reassuring you that you’d be keeping “full ownership, independence, and the lion’s share of your earnings.”

    I asked Blog Talk Radio’s Chief Architect and General Manager Andy Toh to explain more about his company, and he happily obliged, talking for quite some time about the importance of quality storytelling and letting podcasters concentrate on the creative side of the business as much as possible. But when pressed for details on how the monetization worked, he was less forthcoming.

    “I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” he said. “Suffice to say, though, we’ve been able to extract pretty successfully.” Blog Talk Radio offers a free service, but anecdotal reports from the Internet seem to concur that it’s lacking, and the premium services range from $40 to $250 a month. For a service that offers mostly things that you could do on your own, if you spent a few extra minutes on your podcast (like auto-posting your episodes to places like iTunes and Facebook), why exactly was a service like this necessary?  

    Regardless of their overall necessity, the hosting services had the most prevalent presence on the showroom floor, and by a wide margin. There was audioBoom, Podbean, JabberCast, the Rainmaker Platform, Spreaker, and more. While there are small differences between them—payment plans, advertisements and donation options, storage space, etc.—every single one wanted to make the same thing perfectly clear: They care about quality content and your amazing brain. Each service claims to be the one that’ll allow a podcaster to concentrate on their creativity, without having to worry about things like taking five minutes to upload a new episode to iTunes.

    While hosting services have been dogpiling on top of one another for quite some time now, the newest trend in technological promotion at this year’s Podcast Movement was remote interviewing services. Three separate companies sported booths promoting such services, but they were all based around the same general concept, which is probably best explained by Ryan Nielsen from the Zencastr booth:

    “It all takes place in the browser,” said Nielsen. “You set up a session, you give your guest a URL, the guest views the URL, they can interact with you in the browser, and the result of that is uploaded to Dropbox, and down to your computer.”

    While hosting services have been dogpiling on top of one another for quite some time now, the newest trend in technological promotion at this year’s Podcast Movement was remote interviewing services.

    Basically, it wipes the floor with recording an interview via Skype or a Google Hangouts. Instead of recording the conversation itself, each computer in the session is communicating directly with the service itself, which is recording a lossless audio file of both ends of the conversation. After the recording is stopped, Zencastr asks if you’d like it to mix and equalize the volume of each separate file into a single one, which is then sent to your Dropbox, along with all the separate raw files. It’s in beta right now, which means it’s free at the moment (N.B. Take advantage of that). The other two options are Ringr and Podclear, which work very similarly (though Ringr uses an app, instead).

    The rest of the promotional area was a ho-hum affair: Some free books, a mass emailing service, various microphones and recording equipment, and old technology from Silicon Valley that was being dressed up like brand new, revolutionary podcasting tools.

    Was I missing something?

    That evening, at the Academy of Podcasters Awards afterparty, I talked to a ginger viking named Maximus Groves, the host of a daily geek culture podcast called Comcastro (which seems to fall in Type 3 territory: The website looks great, the content is steady, but the massive fanbase has yet to assemble).

    I asked him about the plethora of hosting services, something I was still trying to wrap my head around. His take was that they were trying to do what iTunes does, but with their own communities. He said he doesn’t bother with hosting his podcast on one, because he didn’t feel that they offered any actual advantage over just posting your episodes to various platforms yourself.

    “The thing is, 80 percent of people [use] iTunes to listen to this shit,” he said. Considering that it comes preloaded on every Apple computer and iPhone and hosts almost any title you can think of, it’s a pretty tough platform to compete with. There are a slew of other platforms you can upload your episodes to, but it’s almost a waste of time to do so at this point.

    Another attendee, Jacob James Garcia, was a perfect foil to my skepticism. He was positively bursting with joy and optimism about taking his podcast, Black and Tan, to the next level. His co-host, Aaron Cheatham, was at the convention, too; the pair split up the panels to soak up as much knowledge as possible.

    Garcia and Cheatham, both longtime comedians, are at Podcast Movement as Type 2s, and Garcia knows it: They tape their episodes on a single iPhone and host the series on SoundCloud (two dead giveaways of their type), but their banter, voices, and conversations are all fantastic, and they have more than 100 episodes under their belts. In other words: They’re Type 2s, but they’re doing everything right. After all, nobody just starts as a Type 3 (unless they happen to be any of the convention’s keynote speakers).

    “I think we’re definitely going to shop out the podcast to more outlets,” he says of their goals for Black and Tan post-convention. “Right now, we’re looking for more platforms—not putting all of our eggs in one basket.

    “We’re ripe. We’re ready to go. We’re ready to put this out there. And now we’re able to say ‘Hey, let’s pick from the tree; we have the avenues.’”

    He certainly wasn’t alone in this unbridled enthusiasm by the end of the second day. Saturday had been the day for getting the attendees’ blood pumping. After Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn’s motivationally titled “The Real Podcasting Struggle: You vs. You” and 99% Invisible’s Roman Mars’ discussion of successful crowdfunding methods, the crowd was like a group of prospectors heading for San Francisco to pan for gold.

    Saturday’s panels, while no less gung-ho in spirit, were slightly less aligned when it came down to the brass tacks of advice. Here’s what I learned from floating around the panels throughout the day: You can support your podcast with ads; you should never use ads. You should utilize crowdfunding; crowdfunding might be a bad idea for your podcast. We’re currently at the ground floor of the podcasting revolution; bigger names are starting podcasts and pushing the smaller ones out of the spotlight. You should interview well, you should be interesting, and, of course, you should always be unique and set your own path.

    “We’re ripe. We’re ready to go. We’re ready to put this out there.”

    That last bit was echoed by Aisha Tyler in her closing keynote address: Be yourself, and personally control as much of your podcast as possible. After all, this is what made her Girl on Guy podcast such a big hit. (Or maybe it was the fact that she had a singing, acting, standup, and hosting career behind her, which brought a huge fanbase to her podcast from day one, which was an advantage that nobody in the audience had? But more on that later.)

    In Sunday’s opening keynote—“Deconstructing Podcasting Success: Real Life Stories of Failure Turned Into Freedom,” by John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire—the main message was essentially “Don’t ever quit podcasting: Even if you look around and realize you’re homeless and your family has deserted you, success is just around the corner.”

    Dear God, how many lives in that audience would end up in tatters from that talk?

    Marc Maron followed Dumas, with an address called “Marc Maron: A Conversation with Adam Sachs of Midroll Media.” Most relevantly, he described how his introduction to podcasting was pure happenstance: He was fired from a radio show, but still allowed to use the desk for a month, and so he just started his own show. He had no idea what he was going to do with what he was recording, but everything just sort of fell into place.

    His story highlighted the very truth that everybody at Podcast Movement 2015 felt deep in their hearts but fought hard to ignore: There is no formula for podcasting success. WTF With Marc Maron was the result of a strange, entirely unforeseeable string of circumstances, and here he was, telling this to a thousand people who were desperately looking for some kind of blueprint for a successful podcast.

    Nobody wants to hear that success is impossible to see coming; they want the Plans, the Secrets, the Keys, and this struggle to crack the code of success proves, in a way, podcasting’s strength and staying power as a medium. It’s the old Hollywood dream, that legend of a handful of people making it big, that inspires millions of people to try their luck at making it, too—and ultimately coming nowhere close. When a new industry inherits that legend, people will flock to it with promises that their advice and services will help you get there, and the prices they charge are simply Smart Investments for anybody looking to prove how serious they are at succeeding.

    With the rise of podcasting conventions, endless hosting services, and services so useless that their utility needs to be explained by a sales rep multiple times, a new industry is forming below the actual podcasting one: It’s a predatory industry, and it operates on the principle that, if you charge people a lot of money for something, they’ll think it’s necessary to cement their commitment to a craft that, odds-wise, they’ll most likely never get anywhere with.

    There’s a reason that everybody at Podcast Movement was so happy: They’d paid $500 for a ticket, dropped money on a hotel room, coughed up $10 a pop for cocktails… And if they’re spending that much time and money on something, there’s no way they aren’t on their way to the top of the iTunes charts—I mean, sacrifices always pay off, right? Nevermind the fact that $500 could buy a pretty great recording station for your podcast; you need to hear from experienced experts that ads are good, and also that ads are bad, oh and that you need to prepare for your interviews (who knew!), before you can even think of the equipment you’ll need, and that advice comes at a hefty price.

    Nobody wants to hear that success is impossible to see coming; they want the Plans, the Secrets, the Keys.

    An audience member asked Maron the secret to conducting such great interviews. Without hesitation, he replied with one word: “Listen.” An hour later, a panel would spend 40 minutes answering that same question. Why? What more do you really need to know on the subject?

    Do you think Maron got that answer from a workshop or a panel?

    But since podcasting is ultimately a form of show business, the fact that a seedy, bloodsucking element runs beneath its surface, taking advantage of people looking for their big break, means that it’s indeed a very healthy industry. After all, the bloodsuckers don’t waste their time in industries where success isn’t a real possibility. It’s like any other form of entertainment: The bigger the industry becomes, the dirtier it gets. It’s just a side effect of being popular.

    Photo via visual_dichotom/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Women’s lifestyle multichannel network Kin Community has signed a multi-year deal with Hannah Hart.  The 28-year-old vlogger, actress, and author is best known for her show My Drunk Kitchen, which has driven her YouTube channel MyHarto to rack up more than 2.76 million subscribers and 180M views.

    As part of the deal, Kin Community will spearhead brand integrations and media opportunities for her digital properties, as well as provide production support for new programming initiatives.

    For her part, Hart will bring some added comedic edge to the Kin Community creator lineup, which also features Rosanna PansinoLaurDIYCasey HolmesJoy Cho, and Rachel and Byron Talbott.

    Hart is literally one of the most visible digital influencers in the business, appearing everywhere from on big city billboards, as part of YouTube’s April 2015 national ad campaign, to the White House, where she led a discussion about millennial engagement with President Obama. In 2013, she toured with “Hello, Harto,” a live show she co-produced, created and starred in that was supported by a crowd funding effort that raised over $223,000. Her first book “My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut,” published by HarperCollins, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for six consecutive weeks in 2014.

    Next, Hart will be seen in the Fullscreen/Legendary Digital Media revival of the 1976 Sid & Marty Krofft children’s show “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl,” which re-teams her with “Camp Takota” co-star and frequent collaborator Grace Helbig.

    Screengrab via MyHarto/YouTube

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    We Are Disorderly—a Canadian comedy webseries based around three good-natured friends—might sound like a thousand other things begging for your attention on the Web, but it has a patience and geniality that makes it more Mario Lemieux than Ben Johnson.

    There was big news in the Great White North this week. In the biggest concentration of Canadian creative talent since the awkward, star-crossed nuptials of Deryck Whibley and Avril Lavigne, there was a reunion of the cast of Degrassi: The Next Generation. And in case your copy of the Toronto Star was carried off by the neighbor’s dog, here is the photo that got everybody agog:

    That’s right: Even Drake was able to find time out of his day of well-publicized feuds and turning marketing experts into monosyllabic morons to venture right back to the bottom to reminisce about his CTV days.

    But lost in all the hubbub was the actual reason that he was there—to support a couple of fellow Degrassi alums at the launch of their new webseries. Which is a shame because We Are Disorderly is as good as anything you’ll find in the genre.

    The setup for the series is as conventional as they come: Three male friends—creators and writers Al Mukadam, Mazin Elsadig, and Jonathan Malen—who work and live together, try to have fun together. But whereas a lesser series would contrive a harried narrative across the episodes, We Are Disorderly uses it as a launching point for self-contained meditations on relationships, ownership, and self-worth. 

    All of which sounds decidedly unfunny. But when combined with the patient direction of Samir Rehem (who along with Mukadam and Elsadig worked on Degrassi) and a belief that their jokes are strong and don’t need every kitchen-sink embellishment, you get a terribly engaging series that highlights the talent and amiability of its stars. Too often webseries feel the need to cram as many ideas as possible into their short running times, yielding an erratic flow and no room for characters to emerge. That mistake is not made here.

    Look no further than episode 2, “Our Girlfriend,” which orbits around one central premise—that there are three essential parts to a relationship—and you have a platform from which to launch humor that is not just structurally sound but also wise. By underpinning each episode with such a fundamental truth, you escape from the awful cliche of buddy comedies (where one is inevitably the stoner, one is the uptight jobsworth, and one is the one who wants to “make it” but never will) and produce work that is not just cheerful but also has something to say. 

    That We Are Disorderly looks so good and feels so confident in its direction is not really a surprise. Nor is the perception that it’s a repository for Degrassi talent. It is produced by the same company, and you might imagine that they would have bigger plans for it. The cast even have fun with this, name-checking the girls-done-good tale of Broad City and exploring viral content with the help of that human garbage disposal, Shoenice. And if the quality were to remain consistent in a 22-minute format, then it would be hard to begrudge it a slot on CTV.

    H/T The Wrap | Screengrab via We Are Disorderly/YouTube

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    Our heart will go on and on for Postmodern Jukebox’s latest cover of a true Celine Dion classic.

    Mykal Kilgore takes the reins on this ’50s Jackie Wilson-style cover of the Titanic hit “My Heart Will Go On.” For a song you think you’ve heard to death and doesn’t need another cover, Postmodern Jukebox puts a truly unique spin on the tune with this reinvention.

    Near, far, wherever they are, we’ll be watching every single Postmodern Jukebox video.

    Screengrab via Postmodern Jukebox/YouTube

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    It’s fitting that new documentary Call Me Lucky is debuting just as Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show. Earlier this week, Stewart poked fun at how he’s “eviscerated” corporations, media, and political systems over the last 16 years, but Barry Crimmins was doing it decades before him.

    Call Me Lucky, which hits select theaters Aug. 7, tells the story of Crimmins, a comedian and activist who rose to prominence in the wake of Reagan. In his ascent into the ’80s Boston comedy scene, where he booked formative club Ding Ho and later Stitches, he swept up another young man from upstate New York, Bobcat Goldthwait, and gave him a stage. Three decades later, Goldthwait is giving Crimmins one.

    This is Goldthwait’s first documentary film after a string of bleakly funny features like World’s Greatest Dad and God Bless America. Goldthwait initially wanted to cast a film about Crimmins’ life, but his good friend Robin Williams, a fan of Crimmins’, encouraged Goldthwait to instead approach Call Me Lucky as a documentary. He says Williams donated money to the film in early 2014 to get the ball rolling, and filming started quickly after that.

    The first half of Call Me Lucky focuses on Crimmins’ influence in the comedy world, and features a chorus of praise from the likes of David Cross, Margaret Cho, and Marc Maron. Crimmins tells the Daily Dot he got into comedy because “I had to turn several years of being a screw-up into research.”

    However, Goldthwait says the idea for the film originated in the mid-’90s, after Crimmins testified before a U.S. Senate judiciary committee in 1995. 

    As we’re told in the second half of the film, Crimmins is a survivor of sexual abuse. While trying to find support groups in the early ’90s, Crimmins stumbled upon AOL’s very active pedophile chat rooms. This was the wild west of the Internet, where chat rooms and communications in general were largely unregulated. Crimmins started gathering evidence of the images being exchanged and the people providing them and notified AOL, but he got the brush-off. 

    The film provides footage of Crimmins testifying and laying into an AOL executive, stating, “There is a major crime wave taking place on America’s computers. The proliferation of child pornography trafficking has created an anonymous pedophile superstore.”

    After his testimony, AOL was forced to change how it dealt with child pornography, and a new initiative was created to crack down on its proliferation—one that’s still in place today. 

    “It just had every element of a Frank Capra story,” Goldthwait said. “… And at that time I think I’d just made one movie, Shakes the Clown, probably. But I’d always wanted to turn that story into a movie.” Goldthwait asked Crimmins to write a screenplay, but says he declined because it was “all fresh for him.”

    The lead-up to Crimmins’ revelation that he was sexually abused is steep, and perhaps a tad dramatic. Still, there’s a certain relief when we finally get to see what’s framed as the source of Crimmins’ anger and rage, elements that came to define his comedy. In a 1982 interview, parts of which are shown in the film, Crimmins says, “Everyone should just treat each other well, because there’s a lot of pain out there. And comedy has nothing to do with alleviating it. It’s just a distraction.”

    However, he said it didn’t take much for him to get on board with the film. 

    “I’m really into shattering the complicity that perpetrators of these crimes try to impose,” Crimmins said. “I wasn’t complicit in those crimes.” He adds that the film being a documentary “took a lot of the ego stuff [out of it]—which Hollywood actor is playing me? And, you know, Larry Storch was unavailable.”

    While we get a parade of peers gushing about Crimmins’ fearless comedy, that flow could have been turned down a bit in favor of more face time with Crimmins, more of a look into how he got into comedy, more footage of his live sets for context, or more time with his family. And yet, Call Me Lucky wouldn’t have half the heart it does if not for the decades-long relationship of Crimmins and Goldthwait. There’s an ease between the two old friends, one necessary when approaching subject matter this dark. 

    They’re also looking forward: Goldthwait jokes that there will definitely be a sequel, titled Call Me Greedy.

    While Crimmins doesn’t do standup as much these days, he’s appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, and his feelings about the Catholic Church—which are expressed quite heartily in the film—have not changed. However, he’s developed quite a relationship with the Pope on Twitter.

    Call Me Lucky reinforces just how essential comedy is to some people in channeling pain and anger. But it also shows how that pain and anger can become truth—and how it can change a life.  

    Photo via MPI

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    Rick and Morty’s premise revolves around universe-jumping, and Rick just landed in Kendrick Lamar’s world. Or maybe it’s the other way around. 

    Rick and Morty is apparently a great canvas for rap mashups, as seen on a recent nod to Eminem’s “Rap God.” Lamar, who shows up on the new Dr. Dre album, Compton, released third album To Pimp a Butterfly earlier this year, and YouTuber MisterMcWilli created this wonderful collision, featuring that album’s “King Kunta” and some carefully edited words from season 1 of Rick and Morty

    The flow gets a little rushed in parts, but it mirrors the intergalactic chaos of the show pretty well. 

    H/T Nerdist | Screengrab via MisterMcWilli/YouTube 

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    The new film Stonewall, directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla), has caused so much controversy in the days since its trailer was posted on YouTube that a petition to boycott the movie garnered more than 15,000 signatures within a matter of hours.

    On Twitter and other social networks, the LGBT community appeared incensed by what many called a "whitewashed" version of the historic 1969 events at the Stonewall Inn, which are credited with launching the gay rights movement. The conversation grew to a roaring volume as the story was picked up by LGBT media outlets and finally mainstream news—with even MTV and Entertainment Weekly weighing in.

    Much of the controversy revolves around the backgrounding of central Stonewall leaders Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both homeless transgender women of color. Another major Stonewall icon, black butch lesbian drag king Stormé DeLarverie, was famous for a scuffle with police that is said to have launched the riots. 

    Tales alternate between DeLarverie punching an officer and being arrested while goading the crowd to "do something." In the Stonewall trailer, a white actress playing a butch character named Sam appears to take on DeLarverie's role, yelling, "Why are you all just standing there, help me" into the crowd as police drag her into a squad car. 

    The relegating of primary historical figures—all gender non-conforming people of color—in favor of white fictionalized characters is the issue at the core of the Stonewall boycott.

    The protests surrounding Stonewall are reminiscent of a similar online battle over the documentary Paris Is Burning earlier this summer. That film focuses on a New York community of mostly black and Puerto Rican gay and transgender people operating vogue balls in the 1980s. While Paris Is Burning stars the real-life voguing community, its white director, Jennie Livingston, has been accused by some of exploiting the community and failing to involve the contemporary vogue ball scene in high-profile screenings of the film.

    On Thursday night, Emmerich (an out gay man and native German whose Hollywood blockbusters draw billions at the box office) caved to pressure and responded to critics with a Facebook post.

    Emmerich's post was quickly attacked with hundreds of angry comments calling him a "coward" and "racist." Some leapt to Emmerich's defense, stating that they thought the community was rushing to judge the film based on a short trailer release.

    The writer and star of the new film, slated for a Sept. 21 release, also offered responses via Facebook on Thursday. Actor Jeremy Irvine, who plays starring character Danny Winters, tried to assure critics that the film "represents almost every race and section of society that was so fundamental to one of the most important civil rights movements in living history."

    Stonewall's screenplay author, openly gay writer Jon Robin Baitz, responded to questions about the choice to fictionalize the history of Stonewall—and the choice to center the story on a white, blond, cisgender male character rather than one of the black and Puerto Rican transgender people who are largely believed to have initiated the Stonewall riots.

    While Baitz defended the film, he also admitted to not having seen the trailer until it was posted online. The primary gist of Baitz's statements seemed to be that critics should see the entire film before making judgements, and that the final product was out of his hands as a writer.

    "I think a-historicism has been an American condition—its why we get into the same war over and over and why so many repeat all the mistakes made during the civil rights struggle," wrote Baitz in one of many follow-up comments. "That battle is far far far (sic) from over. I can see this narrative developing about the film, as a result of a marketing decision I had nothing to do with, one I am powerless to change, and even sympathize with."

    Photo via YoSoyNuts/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    While the country continues to recover from what turned out to be an entertaining Republican presidential debate on Thursday, here's something that fans of politics are in desperate need of at this hour (particularly since Donald Trump, whether he's bashing Rosie O'Donnell or making incendiary comments about moderator Megyn Kelly, just won't stop insulting women).

    What we need is for the 10 Republicans who took the stage to replay the two-hour event by singing their answers in rhyme.

    Luckily, we know just the people who can formulate such a magical moment—the Gregory brothers and their ability to songify.

    Take a listen.

    It's strange, but somehow Trump sounded more presidential in this parody than he did in the actual debate

    Screengrab via schmoyoho/YouTube

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    Last December, the Hearst Corporation paid $81.25 million in order to acquire a 25 percent stake in AwesomenessTV, the multichannel network that appeals to tweens and teens on YouTube. The investment led to a partnership between the two companies, and now, that partnership has resulted in a pair of new webseries. Hearst Digital Studios is behind Prank U and The Honest Show, both of which are distributed by AwesomenessTV.

    In Prank U, top online video stars teach viewers how to pull silly pranks on their friends. In the first episode, guest star David Dobrik (who has more than one million subscribers on Vine) pulls the ol’ Oreo creme/toothpaste switcheroo on some unsuspecting victims. 

    The other new series, The Honest Show, is entirely scripted. Its episodes turn common scenarios on their heads by approaching them with complete honesty. In the premiere, a teacher (played by another Vine star, Arielle Vandenberg) accompanies presentations from her students with a constant barrage of truth bombs.

    The two new webseries are the first of several Hearst will produce for AwesomenessTV, but this is not the first time the two brands have worked together on YouTube. One of Hearst’s most popular publications, Seventeen, has its own channel and multichannel network, both of which are managed by AwesomenessTV.

    New episodes of Prank U and The Honest Show will roll out on AwesomenessTV’s YouTube channel, which has more than 2.8 million YouTube subscribers and nearly 800 million total views.

    Screengrab via AwesomenessTV/YouTube 

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    When the trailer for the new Hollywood take on the Stonewall riots launched this week, the LGBT community went from excited to angry in a matter of hours.

    The film, directed by Roland Emmerich and set to hit theaters Sept. 25, now looks poised to incite riots of its own. A growing movement to boycott the film centers on allegations of whitewashing LGBT history.

    The film's stars are overwhelmingly white, cisgender men, a fact that is offensive to many in the LGBT community who hoped for a biopic that would reflect the real events of Stonewall—a series of protests that are believed to have been launched largely by transgender people of color.

    The film centers on a handsome blond boy from a small middle-class town who is shadowed by supporting characters that nod to Stonewall pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Stormé DeLarverie, a black butch lesbian drag king who is often referred to as the "Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement," is essentially remade into a character named Sam, played by a white actress.

    Emmerich doesn't claim that the film is a historical biopic, but he's made clear it's intended as fiction.

    "We do have some historic characters [in the movie], but the interesting thing about Stonewall is that actually the people we know about that lived during that riot, most of them are dead because they died in the AIDS crisis," Emmerich told Entertainment Weekly in 2014. "Most of these kids, nobody knows about them much. We only know from witnesses, guys who fought in, in some respect, what is the day of revolution."

    Fiction or not, the Stonewall film gives Hollywood weight to the LGBT rights movement and will likely be accepted as an authentic retelling of historical events by a mainstream viewing audience. That creates a problem for members of the LGBT community who feel that a whitewashed version of a movement sparked by trans people of color is akin to casting a white actor to play Martin Luther King Jr. in a civil rights film.

    By Wednesday evening, two petitions were circulating online calling for a mass boycott of the new film. One petition, created by the national GSA Network of student gay-straight alliance clubs, garnered over 8,000 signatures within 23 hours.

    Whether or not it's acceptable to alter a major historical event in its first Hollywood telling is up to individuals to decide. But for those who want to know what really happened at Stonewall, and who the primary leading activists were, we've compiled a list of films that you should watch. Together, they provide a comprehensive history of the first days of the LGBT rights movement—a far more authentic history than the one Emmerich is bringing to theaters this year.

    1) Sylvia Rivera: A Tribute 

    This short 25-minute documentary was created by friends of Rivera—using footage collected over several years' time—upon her death at age 52. "We are the Stonewall girls... we wear our hair in curls, we don't wear underwear, we show our pubic hair," recalled Rivera's close friend Bob Kohler of the line spoken by "street kids"—mostly young transgender people—who formed a front line before the police at Stonewall and did a Rockette-like dance. Rivera's work with Marsha P. Johnson at STAR House (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) housing homeless trans women, her fierce and vicious response to being refused the right to speak at a 1973 pride march, and her later years living in a gay homeless encampment on the Christopher Street pier are all shown in painful and beautiful interviews. 

    2) Pay It No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson 

    This 2012 full-length feature also revisits the life of a Stonewall mother on her deathbed. Using interviews with Johnson recorded just before her 1992 passing, as well as interviews with those who knew her, a portrait of Johnson as the "Mayor of Christopher Street" becomes clear. According to artist Agosto Machado, those who happened to encounter Johnson in the neighborhood had a "religious experience" with a "patron saint." A vast collection of historical photos used in the film reveal a 1960s and 1970s West Village gay rights movement largely populated by people of color, transgender women, and lesbians. 

    3) Stormé: The Lady of the Jewel Box and A Stormé Life

    Stormé DeLarverie was a butch lesbian born in New Orleans to a white father and black mother. She joined the Apollo Theater's Jewel Box Revue—the predecessor to La Cage Aux Folles and famous as one of the world's most elegant drag shows—as its sole male impersonator. DeLarverie was a regular presence in the West Village gayborhood, where she worked as a tough-as-nails bouncer guarding the door of the city's two main lesbian bars, Cubby Hole and Henrietta Hudson. Of the Stonewall rebellion, DeLarverie said that she punched a police officer in the face and knocked him out—the famous "first punch" that inspired the LGBT crowd to fight back against the police. Other witnesses remember her being dragged away by an officer and yelling a line that sparked the riots: "Why don't you guys do something?" 

    4) Major! 

    This documentary-in-progress looks back at the life of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a 74-year-old activist for transgender rights and social justice who was arrested during the raid on Stonewall. In a 2014 interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Miss Major recalled that Stonewall was one of few safe places for trans women in 1960s New York. "Stonewall provided us transwomen with a nice place for social connection," Miss Major said. "Then, only some gay bars let us in, others would chase us out. We could go to Stonewall and everything would be fine, we didn't have to explain ourselves." She recalled her arrest at Stonewall and said that the arresting officer knocked her unconscious with a blow to the head.

    5) Happy Birthday, Marsha! 

    While still in post-production, this biopic about Johnson is already being touted as the anti-Hollywood, indie-darling inverse of Emmerich's film. Written and directed by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, the film's cast and crew are made up primarily of trans people of color. Up-and-coming Tangerine star Mya Taylor is signed on to play Johnson, and the debate around the Emmerich-helmed Stonewall has driven record numbers of donations to the Happy Birthday, Marsha! fundraising campaign.

    6) Stonewall: The Movie

    Because you need to see Guillermo Diaz of Scandal fame in drag. Oh, and because it's a classic fictionalized narrative take on a real Stonewall memoir, brought to you by lesbian producer Christine Vachon (I Shot Andy Warhol, Boys Don't Cry) and gay art documentarian Nigel Finch (Louise Bourgeois: No Trespassing). But mostly because you need to see Huck in drag.

    7) Before Stonewall and After Stonewall

    These two documentaries—produced in 1984 and 1999, respectively—provide an overview of what it was like to be LGBT throughout the 20th century. Using interviews with members of the LGBT community as well as police officers, the filmmakers delve into why the Stonewall rebellion was such a transformative event. Only the trailers are available for free online, but each documentary can be purchased on iTunesDVD, or rented for $2.99 on YouTube.

    Photo via stevestein1982/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

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    When the crew behind Lazer Team, Indiegogo’s highest funded film project, tried to bend the system and give one fan a walk-on role in the film, they ended up breaking the site and gaining 535 extras instead.

    “Indiegogo had a rule that said you can’t have a lottery or contest, so I thought, ‘I can beat the system,’” explained Burnie Burns, co-founder of Austin-based production house Rooster Teeth and Lazer Team writer and star. He put a $5 perk for a walk-on role late in the funding process, assuming just a single user would catch it and get lucky.

    “The moment we put it up, everyone was waiting for it,” he said. “The website went down, and instead of selling one, we sold 535 of them. We had 535 extras, some of whom came from Australia to be in it. They made T-shirts and everything.”

    It’s that kind of hyperdedicated fanbase that made Lazer Team possible. The film, which does not yet have a release date, follows four men who come across elements of a suit made to protect the Earth from aliens. Forced together by circumstance, they become the Lazer Team, and seek to save the world. When the project launched on Indiegogo in summer of 2014, it surpassed the initial $650,000 goal within a day. The project ended up collecting over $2.4 million from a total of 37,493 people.

    “We knew once we got to that level on Indiegogo, there was no chance to disappoint them, we were going to do everything we could to make them happy,” explained director Matt Hullum.

    While just shy of $2.5 million is a hefty sum, Burns points out that there aren’t a lot of movies made in the sci-fi genre, complete with special effects, at that low a price point.

    “This is still the highest crowdfunded movie in the history of crowdfunding that is totally original IP,” said Burns. “It’s not based on anything else. I hope we’re challenging the audience too. The things audiences have crowdfunded successfully so far are reboots and sequels.”

    “Narrative is expensive, and it’s a lot harder to get that initial buy-in or investment from an audience.”

    Burns also said the timing of Lazer Team matched perfectly with Hollywood becoming aware of digital studios and feeling comfortable with getting involved, which led to the Rooster Teeth crew casting stars like Alan Ritchson and Colton Dunn in addition to their regular roster.

    “The script landed in my lap, and it was just so unique and original,” said Ritchson, who’s starred in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. “The dialogue was great; it was the right tone. I want to be involved in things that push the creative envelope forward. I wasn’t super familiar with Rooster Teeth, so I started looking into it, and I could tell that … they’d be able to pull this off. I feel like I lucked out being a part of this.”

    Unlike other digital creators who’ve made the move to film in the past year, Rooster Teeth benefits from having always focused on narrative content at its core, explained Burns.

    “A lot of Web content is personality-based and vlogging,” he said. “Narrative is expensive, and it’s a lot harder to get that initial buy-in or investment from an audience.”

    Hullum and Burns noted that their most dedicated fans might actually have a harder time suspending their disbelief and seeing the creators they know and love in these new roles, but they’ve put a lot of work into the film, especially into the stunts and explosions, to make Lazer Team into a true sci-fi film.

    “[We had] a lot of explosions, a lot of big set pieces that take a long time to do, but we didn’t have the luxury of having a second unit,” explained Hullum. “These guys would come in, act their hearts out for six hours, and then I’d say, ‘OK, now I’m going to throw you out a window.’ Our stunt coordinator's motto was, ‘Anybody can do it once; make sure you can do it twice.’ So I saved the stuff I thought they could only do once for the last day.”

    “Our last shot was my biggest stunt,” Burns laughed. “I had to fall a distance; I didn’t realize they didn’t expect me to come out of that unhurt.”

    “We did a couple rehearsals, and our stunt coordinator said to me, ‘You better not have any more rehearsals,’” elaborated Hullum.

    Burns came out of it just fine, and Hullum hopes people walk away from the film feeling like they’ve been on a “big fun ride.”

    “Our stunt coordinator's motto was, ‘Anybody can do it once; make sure you can do it twice.’”

    “I love movies that make you experience a lot of different stuff—action, comedy, sci-fi,” he said. “There’s really great character arcs in this movie, and that’s a huge thing for me. The payoff in the end is great.”

    For Ritchson, he thinks Lazer Team will demonstrate the paradigm shift that’s happening in Hollywood with the influx of digital-groomed talent.

    “We take the power away from the studios who are just regurgitating or taking the lowest risk projects and greenlighting them,” he said. “The scope of what a team like this is able to do rivals what these suits are spending $75 million to do… It just goes to show the power of people, and that people these days can drive quality content.”

    Screengrab via Rooster Teeth/YouTube

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    Announcing a pregnancy can be a hyper-emotional time. Naturally, that makes for compelling YouTube video fodder, as proved by the countless pregnancy test and announcement videos that litter the service.

    This week one family flipped the script, with the husband Sam stealing his wife's pee out of the toilet to perform a pregnancy test and surprising her with the news that she is pregnant. The video has already head 8 million views and growing for the vlogging family (they already have two young children.)

    It may be getting all the shine, but there are a lot of weird and wonderful pregnancy test related videos on YouTube that are even more fun than Sam and Nia's, and are not all simply people watching pee dry on a stick.

    First of all, an enterprising teen did prove that you can use toilet-saturated water for a positive pregnancy test, in case you were skeptical about Sam and Nia's results.

    YouTube is all about education, so thankfully Ted-Ed provides the definitive, "How do pregnancy tests work" video if you want to dive into the science of it all, complete with adorable animations.

    YouTube is also all about product reviews, and who better to review a pregnancy test than two brothers. The Manlulu Brothers have just gotten into the product review game, and have only hit Hyperwalk scooters in addition to pregnancy tests, so they're directly on the pulse of pop culture.

    Lucky for the brothers, their test is negative. In men, pregnancy tests have been known to indicate a positive for pregnancy but really detect testicular cancer.  This has led to men taking the test to check out their health, opening up a whole new market.

    Maybe you want a home remedy version of a pregnancy test that uses something you've got around your house without a trip to the drug store? YouTube has you covered with examples of the bleach test, where pregnant urine starts to fizz when combined with bleach. One woman used her small child as the control in seeing if this method really works.

    The downside to a bleach test is it releases fumes that can be harmful to pregnant women.  There's also tricks to making a false positive all over YouTube, including simply using soda instead of urine.

    Of course, if you just want to watch straightforward pregnancy test reaction videos, YouTube hastheminspades.  The still-reigning champ of pregnancy announcements by viewership (16.4 million and growing) is the adorable couple who captured the surprise in a photo booth. We'd rather watch that 100 times than a man taking his wife's pee out of the toilet with a dropper.

    Screengrab via Sam and Nia/YouTube

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    Former Men at Work singer Colin Hay took the stairs. Out of simmering, early '80s hits like "Down Under" and "Who Can It Be Now?" came a 1985 band breakup and more than a decade of failed solo projects. 

    He admits as much, saying in 2011 that the downside to being in a pop outfit that sells more than 15 million records is that there is no "foundational audience." Luckily new-era droopy director Zach Braff became a fan and wrote cues into his work that featured Hay's battering acoustic ballads. When 1998's "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" found its way onto 2004's Garden State soundtrack, the Scottish journeyman's weathered pipes became millennial crack. Let's revisit the college radio classic for a sec:

    I have to confess to harboring a deep fondness for both the Garden State soundtrack, and the first time I took in the somewhat ridiculous and damaging film. Despite the tribe of trendy indie bands featured (The Shins, Zero 7, Iron & Wine), Hay's track is the most lasting. Likely because it was written by a graying adult with problems and pain. 

    But if that's where your relationship with the balladeer ends, you haven't skimmed the iceberg. As a solo artist Hay has spent the last 28 years recording 12 solo records. His latest is February's Next Year People—unsurprisingly its big hooks sound better devoid of its studio polish and instead acoustic and live. 

    The Daily Dot has partnered with Daytrotter to highlight one session a week, which will be available to stream here exclusively. Visualize the rain clouds and have yourself a strong cry with Hay's melodramatic marionette skills. 

    For nearly a decade, Daytrotter has been recording some of the best talent around, and now you can stream half of this incredible (and growing) archive, featuring thousands of band sessions, for free—or join for full access and free downloads.

    Illustration by Johnnie Cluney/Daytrotter

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    Political correctness has been ridiculed online plenty, but one particular video about it has caught fire across Reddit.

    Titled "Social Media Backlash," it posits two friends who download an app that predicts what kind of backlash a tweet will receive. The joke is that just about any statement sets the app off in a social justice tirade.

    The clip sat at the top of r/videos Sunday, a subreddit with more than eight-million subscribers.

    The video is making fun of social justice-minded online activists, who can be acutely sensitive to even the mildest of indiscretions. However, the video walks a delicate line between satire and insensitive mockery of perpetually repressed movements (as it features two men reacting to, for example, feminist complaints.)

    Perhaps unsurprisingly the comments section on Reddit has turned to comedy. Users are facetiously commenting as overly sensitive Internet citizens finding offense to each others’ comments.

    Commenters don't appear to be against political correctness, but are using the tone of the video to mock what they perceive as the Web's culture of immediate and constant outrage. That this video resonated across Reddit may be no surprise, given that the site has faced a headline-grabbing identity crisis that attacked, and subsequently changed, its open-season content policy.

    Screengrab via Emergency Exit/YouTube

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