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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    If you felt your blood run cold last night, it was undoubtedly due to the passing of Wes Craven, the horror maestro who did perhaps more than any single filmmaker of the 20th century to influence and shape the “slasher” genre.

    So now is the perfect time for you to cuddle under the blankets and let Netflix help you relive Wes Craven at his best.

    If you’ve been remiss in getting to know your Craven filmography, or just haven't watched any of his films for a while, Netflix is the perfect jumping-off point to see him at his best. And there's even an unexpected twist: a well-received Craven film that's not a horror film, starring Meryl Streep. Yep. Meryl Streep.

    Let’s take a look.

    1) A Nightmare on Elm Street

    Craven, a humanities professor who quit academia to go make movies, singlehandedly reinvented the genre no less than three times—starting with his very first feature film. The low-budget 1972 shocker Last House on the Left led to a trend of revenge exploitation films and gave us the famous tagline “It’s only a movie...” Then, 12 years later, he did it again, with Nightmare on Elm Street, a film so famous it hardly needs blurbing.

    Elm Street gave us Robert Englund’s iconic villain Freddy Krueger, the now-ubiquitous trope of the terrified-but-still-plucky teenage girl, Heather Langenkamp’s endearing Nancy, and the film debut of Johnny Depp. Oh, yeah, and an entire decade of nightmares. 

    Craven’s film traded on horror tropes that were familiar by 1984, like the bullied kid back for bloody revenge, but it also gave us plenty of shocking moments that were outrageous for the genre at the time, like the famous bed full of blood. It also came loaded with not-so-subtle sexual subtext that laced the story of a girl whose nightmares had deadly waking consequences with a profound real-life menace. 

    Though Craven only directed a handful of the many films of the Nightmare franchise, the two that are on Netflix are well worth watching. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge largely re-produced the effects of the first film, but by applying Freddy’s fixation to a teenage boy instead of a girl, it also produced one of the most famously homoerotic films in horror history—nearly destroying the career of star Mark Patton in the process.

    2) Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

    This documentary explores the lasting legacy and popularity of Craven’s greatest creation and the behind-the-scenes stories of the first film and many of the follow-ups. It also features interviews with many of the cast and crew, including Craven himself.

    3) Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

    Many view Scream as Craven’s ultimate remixing of his own horror themes, but that’s only because they haven’t sampled this morsel of total postmodern ’90s WTFery, released two years earlier. 

    New Nightmare is a delightful film that imagines Craven, Langenkamp, and Englund as characters in a fictional version of reality—one in which the nightmares of Nightmare on Elm Street are coming after them. If you think you know self-aware, tongue-in-cheek takes on the always-savvy horror genre, then the scene where Heather Langenkamp visits a Robert Englund who’s cosplaying as Freddy Krueger to ask him if by any chance the real Freddy Krueger has been visiting the real (fictional) Robert Englund should have your brain bent for a long time to come.

    And if there were any doubt in your mind that Craven is great at the non-clichéd variety of strong female characters, Heather Langenkamp’s “character” should convince you, as she somehow manages to juggle being a mother, actress, and cult celebrity, all while facing her demons, and grabbing a gun to hunt down her own nightmares.

    4) Scream (1–3)

    Just when critics had decided Craven was past his prime, Scream came along in 1996 and completely revitalized decades of horror largely mapped by Craven’s own work. 

    It’s hard to say what Scream is most known for: the famous Ghostface mask? The legendary opening sequence that singlehandedly revived Drew Barrymore’s career? Spawning a real-life love story between on-screen romantics Courtney Cox and David Arquette? How about just the sheer badassery of its leading lady, Neve Campbell’s indomitable Sidney Prescott?

    Delightfully post-modern and still fresh two decades later, Scream and the entire Scream quadrilogy show a complete master at home with his craft and having the time of his life. It’s common wisdom that Scream 3 is awful, but once you realize the entire film is a giant homage to the farcical ’80s haunted house mystery Clue, it becomes an entirely different viewing experience. And by the time Sidney takes her last stab at the latest villain trying to kill her in Scream 4, the franchise has also revealed its most unexpected yet natural twist: Craven as a tour de force proponent of feminist horror.

    Other Craven films on Netflix:

    Vampire in Brooklyn

    Despite great chemistry between Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett, this is a genre hybrid that doesn’t quite hang together. Still, it’s well worth watching for Murphy’s dark, wry portrayal of the vampire Maximilian, and Craven’s take on vampires in New York.


    This underrated little film from 2005 sees Christina Ricci, pre-fame Jesse Eisenberg, post-fame Milo Ventimiglia, and Riley from Buffy battle a mysterious series of werewolf attacks. Though it bombed at the box office, Cursed is a fun romp through teen horror tropes, clearly influenced by cult hit Ginger Snaps and Craven’s own ouevre.

    The Hills Have Eyes 2

    This film is less a movie than an exercise in making a story from patchwork. Made just before Elm Street, when Craven was broke and his studio concerned about his film budget, production was halted halfway through filming. This left Craven to resort to footage from the previous movie, a cult classic exploitation film, in order to finish it. Though what’s there is interesting, it still feels like half a movie.

    Music of the Heart

    Surprise, surprise: Craven actually directed this moving drama about the real-life development of the Opus 118 School of Music. Starring Meryl Streep, Gloria Estefan, and Angela Bassett, the film follows a jaded violinist as she begins to teach music to underprivileged children in Harlem. Littered with famous real-life string players, the film is Craven’s only work to receive Oscar nominations: a Best Actress nomination for Streep and a nod for Best Original Song for the main theme.

    Photo via Netflix

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    For every group that seeks to boycott a book for bigoted reasons, there's another group happy to step in and encourage others to freely read. 

    Last week, the Daily Dot reported that some incoming freshmen at Duke University are refusing to read Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home, citing their moral opposition to the book’s frank depiction of lesbian sexuality. Since its publication in 2006, Fun Home has been frequently embroiled in controversy and is often invokedin discussions about banned books

    This afternoon, producers of the Broadway musical adaptation announced they will provide 250 free copies to any incoming freshman—at any school across the country—who wants one. 

    Interested students must submit their contact information and proof of college enrollment on the Fun Home website. Books will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Said the musical in their official statement: 

    "The producers of Fun Home on Broadway feel that the issues and subject matter explored in Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic are important and worthy of discussion, especially when entering the world of higher education."

    Already, fans are taking to Twitter to express their enthusiasm:

    This is not the first time the production has leapt into action amidst controversy over the book. In 2014, legislators in South Carolina threatened the College of Charleston with budget cuts after the school assigned the graphic memoir to incoming freshmen. Having just recently closed the then-off-Broadway run of the show, the cast and writers traveled with Bechdel to Charleston for a special, one-time performance.

    In June, Fun Home won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Writers Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron also won the award for Best Original Score, making them the first all-female writing team in Tony history to do so.

    Supplies in the book giveaway are very limited, so if you are just starting your first year of undergrad—or if you know someone who is—submit your information today.

    Illustration via Panels

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    YouNow, the live broadcasting site that’s generating its own genre of stars like YouTube and Vine, now has its first anthem, thanks to YouNow celebrity Emma McGann.

    The British performer began broadcasting in the platform after trying other forms of social media to get her music out there. She’s active for her 37,500 fans—primarily in the #Singing channel, where she plays covers and original music, and the #Girls channel, where she shows aspects of her daily life. The 25-year-old has found freedom and fans in live broadcasting her life on YouNow, enough that she can make a living from her work on the site.

    “Since I became a partner in February, I’ve been able to make a solid living off it,” she said. “It really surprised me. I can’t believe I can pay the bills just by broadcasting.”

    The song and video for “Me & YouNow” pays direct homage to McGann’s fans on the platform, showing the chat function as McGann sings about her crowd being “part of the team” and “always showing love.” The video is sprinkled with YouNow in jokes like llama and heart stickers that are ubiquitous on the site.

    “The idea for the song actually came from my audience,” said McGann. “They were like, ‘you should write a song about us!’ I think I wrote it in January, and since then I’ve just performed it on acoustic guitar.”

    McGann shot in her home studio, where she recorded the song, and said she wanted to shoot all the scenes in locations where people would recognize from her broadcasts.

    “While I was making the video, I thought, ‘I could tie in YouNow in some way, and make it relevant not just for me as a broadcaster, but other broadcasters,’” she explained. “[I could] tell the story of the broadcasters connecting with their fans.”

    For McGann that kind of connection means adjusting to sharing so much of her life with the audience behind the camera, from time with her boyfriend to cameos by her dog. While some of her extended family avoids her cameras or acts like it’s “Big Brother,” McGann said for her it’s becoming second nature.

    “It just becomes your comfort zone,” McGann said. “It’s really weird.”

    Screengrab via Emma McGann/YouTube

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    Say what you will about Kanye West’s mic-dropping announcement at the VMAs that he plans to run for president in 2020, but it turns out he’d fit in better than we realized.

    As Jimmy Kimmel pointed out Monday night, West has a political doppelgänger in New York businessman Donald Trump. They’re both blunt, neither of them is a politician, they both know what the true game is, they both desperately want to be liked, and they both have a favorable opinion of marijuana.

    But the comparisons can only go so far before everything gets out of hand.

    There is at least one difference between West and Trump, however. The singer has the support of his national party committee, even if it's coming about five years too early.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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    Netflix’s loss is Hulu’s gain.

    On Sunday, Hulu announced a massive multi-year deal with the Epix network. The deal means a significant expansion in film offerings for Hulu, a service best known for providing a wide variety of streaming, on demand television programming. New releases from Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount will begin streaming on Hulu for the first time starting Oct. 1.

    Titles like Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Anchorman 2, and Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas will be available as well as indie flicks such as In a World, All Is Lost, and Much Ado About Nothing. If these titles sound familiar, perhaps you recognize them from the extensive list of titles that Netflix will be dropping this fall.

    While Netflix has taken a calculated risk and let go of a wide selection of film content, Hulu seems to be placing its bets on viewers still having interest in these films, as well as beloved franchises like James Bond, Rocky, Star Trek, Paranormal Activity,Beverly Hills Cop, and Friday the Thirteenth.

    Hulu has also expanded its offerings in original content, an area where Netflix has seen considerable success. This summer Hulu released two promising new original series, Difficult People and The Hotwives of Las Vegas.

    The deal could signal rising competition between the streaming content on-demand services. Or, it could just be great news for all of us cord cutters. Pass the popcorn, please!

    Photo via Wonderlane/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    You can whip and Nae Nae, but have you mastered summer’s newest dance trend, the quan? Dance YouTube network DanceOn is aiming to make the new moves explode with the help of stars like 5-year-old Heaven King.

    King led the charge on DanceOn's last success story, Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).” After DanceOn seeded the track as a challenge to its community, videos from King and other dancers topped 100 million views and led to Silento’s record label deal and radio dominance this summer.

    Now DanceOn is looking for another success story with IHeart Memphis’ “Hit the Quan,” which started its viral ascent as a Vine favorite after rapper Rich Homie Quan started doing the dance move on tour. King and other DanceOn performers are filming their own takes on the hit, which instructs you to “get down low and swing your arms” to “hit the Quan.”

    King takes her pint-sized dance crew to New York for her version of the song, going on a shopping spree before hitting the Quan in the middle of Times Square. The video has already racked up 770,000 views in five days. 

    Meanwhile, song creator IHeart Memphis is under investigation by Memphis police for his alleged involvement in a gang rape (the rapper denies the allegations). While it might be a bumpy road personally, the song continues to climb, jumping from 41 to 23 on this week’s Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It’s still got a long way to go to catch Silento at No. 3, but with the help of companies like DanceOn and performers like King, it’s on its way.

    Screengrab via Tianne King/YouTube

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    When Anthony Horowitz, a British writer of young adult novels, was chosen to pen the newest addition to the James Bond oeuvre, he was understandably thrilled—telling the Daily Mail in an interview Saturday that "this is something I've wanted to do all my life."

    Unfortunately, Horowitz also let it slip that he thought Black actor Idris Elba—beloved by fans for his roles in Luther, Star Trek Beyond, and Beasts of No Nation—was "too street" to play Bond.

    Weighing in about the many actors who have played the iconic Bond role over the years, Horowitz said his favorite was Daniel Craig because he brought "a total return to the gritty seriousness of it." 

    The audiobook version of Horowitz's Bond effort, Trigger Mortis, will be the first to feature a Black James Bond—voiced by Selma star David Oyelowo. Many have assumed that the film version would star a Black actor—especially because the leaked Sony emails of 2014 revealed that at least one Sony executive was pushing for Elba to get the role. Adding fuel to the gossip fire, in a Reddit AMA last year, Elba himself said he would "absolutely" jump at the chance to play Bond if the role were offered to him.

    In addition to his acting talent, Elba has possesses the critical Bond quality of, well, smoking hotness. His sex symbol-status is so widely confirmed that Elba even became the first man to grace the cover of girlie mag Maxim solo, featured on the September issue.

    Yet when asked about the possibility of Elba playing his Bond character, Horowitz told the Daily Mail that he wasn't convinced.

    "Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other Black actors who would do it better," Horowitz told the Daily Mail on Saturday before suggesting Hustle star Adrian Lester as his pick. "For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too 'street' for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah."

    After massive public outcry from people who called the comments coded racism, Horowitz offered up an apology an said he was "mortified" by his poor choice of words.

    By now it's a by now familiar pattern: Hollywood type says/does something offensive, social media outrage ensues, Hollywood type offers apology with tail between legs. But somewhere in between, people on Twitter cracked some pretty good jokes that demonstrated just how not "street" Idris Elba—a 42-year-old Brit known for his classy-yet-smoldering sex appeal—actually is.

    Well, if Idris Elba was in the running before, he's certainly in the lead now. Social media proved today that Elba is the crowd favorite for the next James Bond movie. In fact, there's already a Twitter account dedicated to people who want Elba to play Bond. 

    Photo via Tina Franklin/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    There are plenty of ways to get someone to be on your podcast, but for comedian Kurt Metzger, it requires a lot more aggression than one would think.

    On Tuesday Twitter user @literalporn (she's contributed to Vice as "Claudia C.") became the latest recipient of harassing tweets from the Inside Amy Schumer writer. Metzger, who hosts the podcast Race Wars with Sherrod Small, responded to an exchange between @literalporn and another comedian who commented on her use of all caps in tweets. She responded:

    Hours later, Metzger chimed in with a barrage of tweets, first claiming to not understand what she found so offensive about the initial comedian’s tweet. Soon after he became fixated on her use of “white boy,” quickly escalating with each post.   

    “I woke up to my Twitter mentions full from this guy commenting on some tweets from yesterday,” @literalporn told the Daily Dot via email. “His tweets ranged from misogynistic slut shaming to racist.”

    According to her account, @literalporn opened her direct messages to find “these lengthy messages where he tries to [play] nice after the fact and invites me on his podcast.” After receiving the invitation, she posted the contrasting messages. “He was really reactive to the fact that I posted screenshots of his messages and tweets showing how psychotic and two-faced his behavior was. He blocked me when receipts were being tweeted at him.”

    It’s not the first time Metzger has been accused of harassing women online. In 2013, the Daily Dot’s Aja Romano reported on Metzger’s “disturbing online trail” of harassment toward two women, outspoken critics of rape culture in comedy. More recently, YouTube personality (and former Daily Dot staff writer) Gaby Dunn says she had an experience similar to @literalporn’s just last month. “I tweeted about Bill Burr's transphobic comments on Conan to my own timeline,” Dunn said, “and then Metzger started tweeting me/started a campaign to get me on his podcast by harassing me. Luckily, I had him preemptively blocked because I knew of his treatment of women. This seemed to further enrage him.”

    Along with Dunn, writers Lindy West and Sady Doyle tweeted in support of @literalporn and women who’ve dealt with Metzger’s alleged harassment.

    Doyle shared the earliest account of an online encounter with Metzger that dates back to November 2011. Blogger and podcaster Rebecca Watson documented the occurrence, where Metzger claims to be “attacking shitty college feminism,” in a blog post.

    Reached by email, Doyle had this to say about today’s Twitter storm:

    Metzger's weird fascination with me started when I turned down his podcast. Other women have reported the same experience. Metzger has made untrue and even libelous statements about me (at one point, he told an interviewer I had borderline personality disorder). … It's not the women "provoking" this. None of us are getting special treatment. It's him, and he has a distinct pattern for how he harasses women online.

    Metzger continued to tweet about the exchange, as well as the apparent feminist response, throughout Tuesday afternoon.

    @literalporn told the Daily Dot that she had not had any interaction with Metzger before Tuesday. “Apparently this guy works for Amy Schumer,” she said. “Which is disheartening because there are so many funnier woman writers and comics that could use the work.”

    “I really wish a ‘feminist’ show wasn't giving my harasser money,” Doyle added. “But I think the most peaceful position I can come up with is that, if he does it to another woman, I'm there for her, and I hope those women keep talking to each other.”

    The Daily Dot reached out to Metzger and representatives for Amy Schumer for comment but had not received a response as of press time. We will update this article if and when we hear back.

    Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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    Todrick Hall is willing to break the law to make his dreams come true.

    And in the premiere episode of his new MTV series, Todrick, Hall proves it. Shooting on location in Los Angeles, he decides to head outside and film, permits be damned. He tells his crew to keep going no matter what, and when several security guards walk in and tell them to stop filming, the whole cast just keeps dancing through the frame. They have to get the shot, and, for Hall, that’s just par for the course.

    “I think that people are just going to be surprised by the creativity that the cast has, how we take nothing and make something out of it,” Hall explained at his bright and candy-filled premiere party at the YouTube Space L.A. “And how we’re not afraid to be adventurous and go out of the box and do crazy things in order to get the views and get the exposure that we need to get our careers to the right place.”

    The 30-year-old has been putting himself out there as a performer since 2010, when he made it to the semifinals on American Idol. Since then he’s gone on to Broadway performances and, mainly, YouTube, where Hall has churned out high-production-value, celebrity-heavy music and dance numbers that range from parodies of Disney princesses to Mean Girls. He’s launched successful tours and produced content for Virgin America, and now he’s made the leap to television with a half-hour docuseries for MTV.

    “They were fairly hands-off when it came to it,” said Hall, who attended his fashion-forward party in a crown and glitter-covered suit. “[MTV] really trusted us and our team. They didn’t try to incorporate people that were not part of our original family and put them on the show just to meet different quotas or to say ‘we need this character.’”

    Each episode revolves around the group producing a single video for Hall’s channel, following the entire process, from Hall working with a music producer to costume shopping and painting sets. In the premiere the group doubles up on projects, producing both a music video for a concept around fame-desperate celebs called “Who Let the Freaks Out,” and, to apologize for making his makeup artist work on her birthday, a birthday song Hall wants to be like the new “Electric Slide,” called “The Birthday Dance Party.” 

    Hall isn't the first YouTuber to turn to TV, with creators like Epic Meal Time and Grace Helbig both producing shows for networks. However, Hall’s show is unique in that it doesn’t just lift formulas from YouTube and apply them to television; instead it makes YouTube the center of the narrative.

    On TV there are glimpses at the two finished products, but part of the show’s digital integration is to drive viewers to Hall's YouTube channel with the complete video. In turn, the network is hoping his 1.6 million subscribers will be tuning in Monday nights. For Hall, that speaks to a mutual respect between entertainers, regardless of their platform—be they birthed from TV or from the Web.

    “We’re all artists and all trying to claw our way up to the top and leave the biggest mark on this Earth that we can.”

    “I think it’s really awesome for all artists to have a mutual respect, instead of us being the Jets vs. the Sharks, not to use a Broadway analogy,” laughed Hall. “I just think it’s really important that every single person just recognize that everyone is working hard and we’re all artists and all trying to claw our way up to the top and leave the biggest mark on this Earth that we can.”

    For Hall, in addition to showcasing the talents of his crew, he thinks the show will also inspire other creators.

    “The number one question I’m asked as a YouTuber every day is ‘how can I get my videos out there, how can I make my videos go viral?’” Hall explained. “If people watch this show, they’re going to see firsthand, from the beginning of the concept to the concept going on to YouTube, exactly what it takes. I’m hoping that it inspires a lot of artists around the world to change their lives and change their futures.”

    As long as he and his crew stay out of trouble with the law—or, at least, with low-level security guards—they’re well on their way.

    Todrick airs Mondays at 10pm ET on MTV. The first episode is available on MTV’s website.

    Screengrab via Todrick Hall/YouTube

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    Anything Kermie can do, Miss Piggy can do better.

    Kermit the Frog revealed to the 2015 TCA summer press tour that he and Miss Piggy had broken up and that he was seeing a nice woman in ABC publicity named Denise. Tuesday (Sept. 1) Kermit and Denise took their new romance public, but so far, the jilted Miss Piggy had not been spotted with anyone new.

    RELATED: The Internet be hatin’ on Kermit’s new girlfriend Denise

    But is there a love connection brewing between Hollywood legend William Shatner and the popular muppet porcine?

    When Shatner expressed interest in Piggy’s availability on Twitter, Muppets executive producer Bill Prady said that his star is officially “playing the field.” But Miss Piggy ramped things up with a tweet of her own.

    “Boldly go where no pig has gone before.” My, my, Miss Piggy, you do know how to woo a Star Trek star. And Shatner is definitely interested.

    He’s even threatening Liam Hemsworth, recently seen canoodling with Miss Piggy. Hemsworth, Nathan Fillion and any other actors looking to woo the fiery star better watch their backs. Will this Piggy-Kermit love drama make it into ABC’s new Muppets show? Seems likely. The Muppets premieres Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8pm ET/PT.

    Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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    What is the deal with these award shows?

    Kanye West held nothing back in his VMAs acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award, which ended with his announcement that he will run for president in 2020. But West's complaints about celebrity culture, the music industry, and the nature of awards shows weren’t just completely spot-on. They sounded like a rough sketch of a comedy bit.

    West was a standup comedian, and the VMAs were his audience. In fact, he didn't sound all that different from another comedian who once had his own sitcom. Twitter account @Seinfeld2000 helped paint the picture by splicing parts of West's speech together with the iconicSeinfeld bassline.

    We admit, we would pay to watch West discuss everything and nothing with Kim, Jay Z, and Beyoncé over some grub at their usual spot.

    H/T Huffington Post | Photo via Jason Persse/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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    The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCW on Twitter and Instagram, by highlighting female creators on YouTubewhose work we admire.

    Inside the L.A. home she shares with her girlfriend, Hart steps onto an apple box in front of her camera, hits record, and lets her signature “heyyy!” start the video. Then it’s off to the races as viewers ride through the comedian’s mind, zipping in and out of vlogs and sketches about college, lipstick, parents, and sexiness.

    Since starting on YouTube in 2009, Hart has stood out as a creator because of her ability to address complicated, personal topics such as sexuality, gender stereotypes, mental health, and race through comedy. For example, in her classic video “Watermelon,” Hart gives a brilliant response to the question "If you love women so much, how come you don't dress like one?"

    (Anyone who dances around in a watermelon bikini gets a thumbs up in my #WCW books.)

    Reminiscent of Ellen DeGeneres’ “Calling God” sketch, Hart recently released a sketch called “She Told Me Off!!” about her comical exchange with God about dealing with depression. Only Hart, in a single video, could transition from talking about advice she received from a stripper named Dolores to talking about living with mental illness. The video has since influenced other creators such as Ashley Mardell and Laci Green to share their own battles of dealing with depression and through this series, changing the way viewers are perceiving mental illness.

    As a black, LGBT+ creator on YouTube, Hart represents communities often overlooked or misrepresented in mainstream media. That said, she’s not just a black creator or a lesbian creator, but a popular comedian who is also both of these things. It’s her influence as an incredible, laugh-till-you-spit-tea-out-of-your-nose storyteller that is propelling her career, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

    Screengrab via hartbeat/YouTube

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    Continuing what has been a long and disturbing tradition, another set of movie-making executives who were dealing with the NFL about an unflattering topic reportedly have bowed under pressure and tweaked images that might have damaged the league's image.

    This time, according to the New York Times, it was Sony executives who, while in production for the new Will Smith vehicle Concussion, "discussed how to avoid antagonizing the NFL by altering the script." As emails discovered by hackers show, the executives also reportedly shifted the focus of the film away from a takedown of the league and how it covered up concussion data and instead marketed the movie as the tale of a whistle-blower.

    Smith plays the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a number of former NFL players who had died premature deaths and linked it to their football careers. Not surprisingly, his work was condemned by the NFL and those doctors who work with and for the league. Basically, the league painted Omalu as a fraud.

    But now Omalu's work is seen as legitimate and important, and in the last several years, the NFL has pushed through new concussion guidelines and has emphasized player safety as never before.

    But the NFL's influence in how the concussion story is told—or whether it's told at all—is still felt.

    As the Times reports, Sony executives, director Peter Landesman, and Smith's representation sent dozens of emails to discuss how to avoid the NFL's wrath, including deleting or altering "unflattering moments." Another email said that "most of the bite" had been taken out of the movie because of "legal reasons with the NFL..."

    Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing for Sony Pictures, wrote in an Aug. 6, 2014 email that the studio would work with an NFL consultant "to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”

    Landesman, though, told the Times that the emails showed that Sony was trying to make sure the NFL couldn't charge the studio with taking creative license.

    “We don’t want to give the NFL a toehold to say, ‘They are making it up,’ and damage the credibility of the movie,” Landesman told the paper. "...There was never an instance where we compromised the storytelling to protect ourselves from the NFL.”

    The movie is set for a Christmas release, but the trailer was shown this week.

    While Sony doesn't have a major relationship with the NFL, the league has used its influence in the past with partners who could be hurt if the NFL was unhappy with a product.

    After the drama series, Playmakers, debuted on ESPN in 2003, the NFL pressured the network—which, unlike Sony, does have an imperative relationship with the league—to cancel the show because it didn't like how the fictional NFL players were perceived. In 2013, as PBS and ESPN co-produced the documentary League of Denial that dealt with the NFL's historic response to the brain injuries suffered by its employees, the league convinced ESPN to stop working with PBS's Frontline.

    In a statement released Monday in response to the Concussion trailer, the NFL said, "We are encouraged by the ongoing focus on the critical issue of player health and safety. We have no higher priority. We all know more about this issue than we did 10 or 20 years ago. As we continue to learn more, we apply those learnings to make our game and players safer."

    Screengrab via Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube

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    If it seems too good to be true on YouTube, then the video you're watching probably isn't real. This was once again proven by a recent hoax that went viral about paternity issues and international one-night stands.

    The videos are a two-part series. In the first clip, a young woman who identifies herself as Natalie, talks about a visit to Australia from Paris that left her pregnant and with no contact info for the one-night stand who is now a father. She's allegedly turning to YouTube to help her find her missing man.

    There are some red flags in the video, like that it was monetized immediately, and feels rehearsed. Still, it racked up 1.8 million views in a few days. Before things got too out of hand, the title of the video was changed to "I FOUND HIM!!!!!!!!!!!! check my new video to see." When users click to the new video "Natalie" is replaced by an older man who reveals it was all a social media marketing hoax to promote Holiday Mooloolaba, the site of the alleged tryst that left her pregnant.

    Andy Sellar admits immediately that it was all a social media viral video attempting to get a vacation spot on the map. Sellar runs Sunny Coast Social Media, which he describes as a company that does viral videos for small businesses. At first he apologizes for the hoax and says he knows a lot of people are going to be upset, but then promises they'll be doing a lot more of these hoax videos in the future.  Commenters are not impressed.

    "Bad marketing," wrote The Multi Channel. "I am now linked this company up to the word untrustworthy."

    "How exactly do you think this will generate any new business for you," questioned another user. "I'm familiar with there's no such thing as bad publicity but why would anyone think 'gee they had me pretty good, I'll definitely go to them from now on!'"

    What's most shocking is the pricing for Seller's services are dirt cheap. Facebook design and management are only $225 each. To think Holiday Mooloolaba spent so little to have their business name tarnished by a shady viral video.

    Screengrab via Natalie Amyot/YouTube

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    Fans of The Mindy Projectand Seinfeldcan rejoice: Starting Wednesday, they can watch their favorite episodes, and anything else available on Hulu, without commercials.

    Just one catch: It will cost $12 a month.

    Hulu announced the arrival of its commercial-free package on Wednesday as a way to better compete with streaming rivals Amazon and Netflix. Of the three, Hulu had been the only service that interrupted programs with commercial breaks even for its 9 million paying subscribers on the $8 per month Hulu Plus. (Netflix added over half that number of new subscriptions in the first quarter of 2014.)

    CEO Mike Hopkins acknowledged the obstacle between ads and higher membership, the New York Timesreports. “You can split people into two categories: ad avoiders and ad acceptors,” he said. “There are clearly people who are just not going to buy Hulu because there are ads.” Hopkins is confident that this new option combined with new content will attract more paying customers.

    Still, Netflix and Amazon remain the cheaper of the three services, with zero chance of commercials. Users just have to decide whether watching Mindy and Seinfeld without minor interruptions is worth an extra $4 per month.

    H/T New York Times | Photo via LWYang/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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    A recent poll shows that more than half of Republicans believe that President Obama is a Muslim.

    This result is pretty mind-blowing, especially when you consider the fact that the president is nearing the end of his second term. So, who are these people? Judging by popular stereotypes, you're probably picturing someone in a Donald Trump "Make America Great Again" hat.

    To see whether the stereotypes hold up, Jimmy Kimmel sent a crew out on the street to quiz random pedestrians about whether Obama is really a Muslim. Can you guess which people said yes? Some of the answers were a real surprise.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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    There’s a video on YouTube titled “Waffle falling over,” and it delivers as advertised: A waffle stands alone on a stove top for roughly four seconds before falling forward. It’s easy to watch the clip again—did you miss something?  

    Since being posted in 2013, this six-second video has received more than 3 million views, become a meme, and been remixed by Denny’s. The creator, who posts under the name Schnooleheletteletto, has several more videos of waffles not falling over, as well as an hourlong clip of a spoon taped to a wall, a six-second clip of a guy taking off his shoe in a castle, and an iPhone falling on a waffle

    Schnooleheletteletto, who claims to go by the name Carl von Rövsenap and hail from Sweden, told the Daily Dot he started posting these challenging pieces of art for a simple reason: “I was curious if people would appreciate my ideas.”

    “I find deep meaning in these,” he added, “as well as humoristic.”

    Asked about the inspiration that fed the waffle video, he offered a look into his creative process: “I was just eating a waffle and thought to myself, ‘If this waffle stood up, it could fall over. I could take a video of it. And show people!’” 

    While that basically sums up the functional foundation of the Internet, the cause-and-effect approach also mirrors How to Basic, another YouTube channel that produces absurdist art from mundane tasks. 

    “I don't really know where my inspiration comes from,” he said. “It is a gift to other people.”

    Illustration by Max Fleishman 

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    Direct from the NFL franchise that just doesn't seem like it can get any more dysfunctional, we now bring you the story that might top every previous Washington Redskins tale previously told.

    It was revealed late Wednesday night that Jessica McCloughan, the wife of Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan, accused ESPN reporter Dianna Russini of trading oral sex for news scoops and, in another tweet, referred to Russini as Scot McCloughan's "side chick."

    Although the Redskins earlier denied the claim that Jessica McCloughan had tweeted out anything derogatory—team spokesman Tony Wyllie said the Twitter account was fake and that the organization had brought it to the attention of NFL security—she sent out a statement later in the night in which she apologized for her vulgar use of social media.

    “I deeply apologize for the disparaging remarks about an ESPN reporter on my personal Twitter account,” she said in a statement issued by the franchise to Pro Football Talk. “The comment was unfounded and inappropriate, and I have the utmost respect for both the reporter and ESPN. I regret that my actions have brought undeserved negative attention to the Redskins organization and its leadership. My comments in no way reflect the opinions or attitudes of the organization and I regret that my behavior has in any way negatively impacted the team and its loyal fan base.”

    Here's what McCloughan had to say about Russini, who previously worked for the NBC affiliate in Washington before moving to ESPN and has been a consistent newsbreaker on the Redskins beat.

    Here's what McCloughan previously tweeted in response to potentially critical analysis by Russini.

    Although McCloughan's account was private, Redskins fans began buzzing about the tweets Wednesday, and Black Sports Online discovered the offending messages.

    That caused the Redskins PR department to send out statements that were completely false before McCloughan copped to her social media behavior.

    ESPN has responded as well, via Deadspin.

    "Dianna is an excellent reporter who should never have to be subjected to such vulgar comments," ESPN said in a statement. "We are obviously extremely disappointed by today’s developments."

    Russini has remained quiet on her Twitter account about the issue, but she did retweet the following from her ESPN colleague.

    What a sad, twisted story. That it involves the Redskins should be a surprise to nobody.

    Photo via Keith Allison/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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    LGBT characters are taking over your television.

    With an increasing number of appropriate LGBT characters, actors, and content on TV, it looks like queer and trans visibility is here to stay. That's why GLAAD announced Thursday morning that its just-released 2015 Network Responsibility Index would be its final report on the subject.

    GLAAD introduced the NRI in 2006 in a very different television landscape where LGBT characters were few and far between. In 2006, less than 2 percent of all television characters were LGBT. Today, the majority of both cable and broadcast networks devote anywhere from a third to three-quarters of programming hours to LGBT representation.

    "GLAAD’s first NRI set a baseline that showed LGBT people were vastly underrepresented," wrote GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis in her introduction to the 2015 report. "These results were shared not only with the general public but also with the networks themselves in direct conversations that have continued year after year, and our efforts paid off."

    The organization will continue to monitor LGBT representation on television in general through its Where We Are On TV annual report, but the Network Responsibility Index—designed to nudge networks by holding them publicly accountable—is now considered a mission accomplished.

    Ellis said the numbers of LGBT television characters and plotlines directly mirrored that past decade's increasing acceptance and political equality of the community.

    "We know that’s not a coincidence. Television has always had a reciprocal relationship with the society watching it—reflecting social attitudes while also shaping them—and that relationship has without a doubt helped the country move closer to full equality and accelerate acceptance for all its citizens," wrote Ellis in today's report.

    This year's report shows that LGBT representation on TV is at unprecedented levels. And the network with the highest score in terms of LGBT characters and storylines might surprise you: ABC Family. It scored higher than any network in the history of GLAAD's network tracking, with an incredible 74 percent of its original programming including what GLAAD calls "LGBT impressions." The network scored high for diversity in its LGBT representation as well, with 79 percent lesbian characters, 49 percent people of color, and a transgender character played by a trans actor. Whoever is making the programming decisions at ABC Family, the LGBT community applauds you.

    Fox scored highest among the broadcast options due mostly to the show Empire, which led to 36 percent of the network's LGBT impressions being made by people of color. 

    The overall loser among both cable and broadcast networks was  the History channel. Across 362.5 hours of original programming scanned by GLAAD, not a single LGBT impression appeared—which, the report noted, also happened last year. According to the History channel, it seems, LGBT people simply don't exist.

    Overall, however, GLAAD was impressed enough by the rapid transformation of television's LGBT representation over the past decade to simply hang up the report after this year. That's a notable victory for LGBT culture.

    Michael Hamann / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

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    On last night's Key & Peele, we got a look into Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson's marital life, and it was kind of dark. 

    Yes, NDT's voice is soothing, his knowledge vast, but just what can his majestic space arguments get him out of? 

    Actually, pretty much anything, as his wife (played by Keegan-Michael Key) found out.  

    The sketch functioned as a three-part thread that connected other sketches in the episode, but here it is as one continuous segment

    We're nearing the end of Key & Peele's final season, but have no fear: Next week's two-part finale contains a tremendous physical comedy bit that revolves around a tangled mic chord. 

    Screengrab via Comedy Central 

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