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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Take a moment and try to imagine how Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson spent his Labor Day weekend. Was he doing something heroic, dreamy, or agonizingly heartwarming?

    Yes. Yes to all three of those things.

    Thanks to a recent Instagram post, we now know that The Rock not only adopted two adorable puppies this weekend, but he also wound up rescuing one of them from drowning—by jumping, fully clothed, into a pool after the puppy decided to go for an impromptu swim and sank to the bottom.

    So, now we have this photo of The Rock smiling widely in a wet t-shirt while holding a puppy in each hand. You're welcome, Internet.

    Photo via The Rock/Instagram


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    Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams may play a budding assassin by day, but by night, she’s taking on a different role: YouTuber.

    The 18-year-old actress launched her new YouTube channel with a Q&A video early Tuesday, explaining that it was a way to celebrate her one million Twitter followers. But Williams also has ties to the YouTube community—she’s appeared on multiple episodes of the Fine BrothersTeens React and has guest-starred in videos with Caspar Lee and SUPERFRUIT (Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi).

    “I have a lot of friends who are in YouTube, and I just find it really, really interesting what they do and I thought I’d give it a shot myself,” Williams explained.

    Although Williams said that she wouldn't be posting on a regular basis, she plans to use her channel to share anything that makes her laugh, plus short sketches and likely more Q&As. In the video below, she covers everything from Game of Thrones and Arya's blind contacts to questions about her personal life and embarrassing moments in the business—along with a cameo from her TV sister Sophie Turner.

    Many of Williams' fans weren't surprise to see her start a YouTube channel; she been tweeting about it for some time now, beginning with figuring out the logistics of it.

    As she’s demonstrated, she’s already having a pretty authentic YouTube experience. From asking her fans for questions for her first video...

    ...to getting used to the editing process...

    ...and experiencing the many woes that come with editing.

    She also had plenty of teases for the people who were awaiting her first video.

    But just with so many other YouTubers, even when everything finally went according to plan, some technical difficulties still occured.

    She's already a pro.

    Screengrab via Maisie Williams/YouTube


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    This article contains sexually explicit material.

    The Erotic Memoirs of a Male Chauvinist Pig, Champagne Orgy, Massage Parlor Murders. Ryan Emerson knows the basic reason why someone would want to visit Exploitation.tv

    “Blood and sex, that’s what people want to watch.”

    Emerson is the co-founder of Exploitation.tv, a streaming site devoted to exploitation films, and Vinegar Syndrome, a Connecticut company that restores cult and exploitation films from what many would argue is the genre’s golden age: the ’60s-’80s. 

    Vinegar Syndrome originated in Chicago in 2012, after Emerson and co-founder Joe Rubin were brought together while working on the digital restoration of the 1975 horror film Poor Pretty Eddie. 

    “We just got to talking after that and decided to start a film archive in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with a couple of other partners,” Emerson said. “A couple months later, we founded Vinegar Syndrome.”

    Exploitation.tv, which launched Sept. 1 on the Web and Roku, (it’ll be available for iOS and Android later this year), is Emerson and Rubin’s attempt at putting these films—Emerson says they’ll have more than 300 available—in a more modern cultural context. 

    “It’s a genre that’s long been underappreciated,” he said. “The exploitation film era from the ’60s through the ’80s—some of the most lost films come from that period.

    “You’re not going to find these on Netflix, you’re not going to found these on Hulu,” Emerson added. “Exploitation.tv is going to be the only place to see the vast majority of these films.”

    Emerson’s favorite film in the archive, Nelson Lyon’s The Telephone Book, was one of the first titles Vinegar Syndrome updated. “I think that film really encompasses what we’re all about,” he said. “And until we released that film, it wasn’t really available anywhere. And it’s experiencing kind of a cult-like resurgence in the last couple years. It’s really neat to see that happen.”

    Exploitation.tv is searchable by genre—action, arthouse, comedy, drama, horror, thriller, and shorts—and you can find more well-known classics like Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos, House of Seven Corpses, and I Dismember Mama alongside obscure titles like Sex World, Did Baby Shoot Her Sugar Daddy, and Hot and Saucy Pizza Girls. Many of these films have been kept alive via film fan sites and IRL screenings like the Alamo Drafthouse’s devotional Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday. 

    Austin Film Society programmer Lars Nilsen, a former Weird Wednesday programmer, says these films still offer some important cultural context. 

    “It’s always fascinating, and strangely comforting, to see members of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations doing and saying crude things—to get a sense that there was a rudeness and untidiness to life in those good old days,” he said. “Every narrative has a documentary aspect. We’re not only watching a film about, say, a nudist colony, or a gangster war. We’re watching the performers enacting what those transgressive concepts meant to them.”

    While there are certainly current films that could fall in the exploitation category (Eli Roth’s long-delayed The Green Inferno, Harmony Korine’s surreal Spring Breakers), and directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have paid homage to the genre several times over, this type of filmmaking thrived in a much different political, sexual, and social landscape. Exploitation films kept their finger on the pulse of expanding minds, changing mores, and social anxiety while on a low budget. Films like 1936’s Reefer Madness, the poster for which is now a staple of college dorm room walls, blotted out a place for critiquing heightened drug paranoia on the edge of World War II. The ’60s offered Russ Meyer’s take on a new type of feminism—and satire.  

    “To me, an exploitation film is exploiting a current trend,” Emerson said. “Whether it be a trend in cannibalism, a trend in, you know, in the ’60s with wife-swapping, that kind of thing. It’s exploiting a certain cultural trend of the period; that’s the true definition of an exploitation film. And it encompasses a lot of genres: horror films, action films. All sorts of films could be considered under the exploitation umbrella.”

    A large part of Exploitation.tv is X-rated films from the ’70s, a time when the production of pornography was largely unregulated. Several titles focus on rape or kidnapping storylines, and there’s also more than one film where a man “hypnotizes” a woman into sexual acts. With the many conversations currently taking place online, these films might not translate past the kitsch or arthouse tag.

    Still, there are several titles in which women (and men) “awaken” to their sexual needs and desires and explore taboo fantasies. In the book Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films 1919-1959, author Eric Schaefer posits that “[b]y shaking the entrenched industry’s definition of acceptable form and subject matter, exploitation paved the way for the greater freedoms the screen began to enjoy in the years following World War II.”

    Moreover, by simply invoking certain issues, exploitation films offered a degree of freedom for men and women who had little access to information on sex and other topics at a time when such knowledge was restricted by law as well as social convention.

    Unsurprisingly, Emerson says the XXX films are the most in-demand titles. We’re at a cultural point where there’s growing interest in vintage smut and schlock, and exploitation films can offer a respite from Hollywood’s desperate reboot culture

    “We’ve been engaged in a culture-wide irony O.D. for over 30 years now,” Nilsen said, “and these dispatches from the pre-irony age (sometimes the proto-irony age) can make us feel alive again and free us from the shackles of these ironic quotation marks, which we all bear like cumbersome and punitive medieval stocks.”

    Emerson says that with Exploitation.tv, they’re attempting to add some artistic and historical value to the conversation, not just dangle clickbait.

    “When it comes down to it, we’re preservationists at heart,” Emerson added. “We’re preserving film from a certain time period—the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s—and to me that’s the most important thing. To make sure these films aren’t lost. That they don’t disappear forever.”

    Image via Exploitation.tv | Remix by Max Fleishman 


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    Felix Kjellberg, the 25-year-old Swedish video star who goes by PewDiePie on YouTube, has become the first person to reach 10 billion views collectively across all of his videos.

    Kjellberg made the announcement Sunday on Twitter. There have since been another 14 million views on his videos, generated from just shy of 40 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

    Kjellberg built his massive audience over a five-year career and now also sets records for the amount of money earned annually by a YouTube star, pulling in $7 million in 2014. Some angry reactions to his financial success prompted a six-minute video wherein Kjellberg responded to critics.

    In August 2014, Variety declared PewDiePie as the third most influential figure among Americans ages 13-18, right behind the Fine Bros. and Smosh comedy teams, who are also huge YouTube stars. Being so dominantly in the public eye means that Kjellberg finds himself in the crosshairs of social commentary, such as being the subject of an entire episode of South Park.

    Kjellberg is releasing a book titled This Book Loves You on Oct. 20.

    H/T GameSpot | Screengrab via PewDiePie/YouTube


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    The NFL has good news for fans who don’t want to shell out for cable—but there’s a catch.

    With the NFL attempting to cater more of its business to cord-cutters, the league now will offer a new version of its domestic Game Pass service that will allow fans to watch games on computers, mobile devices, or connected TVs… as soon as the live game is complete.

    The NFL had previously announced that it will livestream the Bills-Jaguars game in Week 7 on Yahoo, and last week, the league said that CBS for the first time would livestream a pair of regular-season games this season, along with the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

    Previously, the NFL had offered a service called NFL Now Plus for $1.99 per month that allowed fans to watch instant highlights and archived league material. But for this season, the league has folded that service into the $99.99 Game Pass, with which fans can watch on-demand HD replays of every single game as soon as it’s finished—including camera angles and other content that were not available on the live broadcast—along with the ability to listen to (but not watch) the games as they’re played live.

    The service will also include content provided by NFL Media and the 32 teams, along with other select NFL Network programming, including The Rich Eisen Show. Fans living in the past can watch full replays of games going back to 2009.

    “It’s a simplification for our fans,” said David Jurenka, the NFL’s VP of digital media operations. “We looked across every single app in our portfolio and found we were due for simplification.”

    Clearly, the NFL is thinking long and hard about how to keep cord-cutting fans engaged in the product. So far, the NFL isn’t allowing mobile access to compete with the actual broadcast games—all the regular-season games that are livestreamed occur during times when no other NFL games are being played—but the NFL also wants to make it easier for fans who don’t have cable or satellite services to watch the games (and, of course, to pay to do so).

    “This is a real game-changing year,” NFL chief digital officer Perkins Miller told CNBC. “You’ve seen so much growth in these pure-play native digital apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. ... We know our fans are watching broadcast TV; we know they’re touching their mobile phone and want and expect to get content there. We know there’s an emergence of connected TV applications and that we need to be directly accountable to our fans to deliver content there.”

    H/T CNBC |  Photo via Andy McLemore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)


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    Spotify is offering its users a new way to cut through the noise and see what's popular on the streaming service. 

    The company's new Sorting Hat tool, part of the Every Noise at Once project that it bought in 2014, offers a bit more insight into the rankings and genres of newly released albums on Spotify. 

    Last week, Eliot Van Buskirk, Spotify's "data storyteller," explained exactly why users should check this organizational tool. He quoted data alchemist Glenn McDonald, the engineer behind Every Noise at Once: Sorting Hat, obviously named after the hat in Harry Potter, is an "experimental attempt at an algorithmic organization of the week’s new releases." Simply put, its purpose is to keep users in the loop about new music.

    But one part of the service is seeing some particularly interesting activity. 

    We use the Internet for everything, so it makes sense that we often use it as a sleeping aid or to be more mindful. A look at new albums for the week of Sept. 4 shows that, out of the more than 2,400 albums released, 282 of them fell into the environmental/sleep/relaxative genre.  

    White Noise For Baby Sleep was a solid pick, but it also caused me to zone out and involuntarily drool a little bit while working. I can't say the same for 100 Chilled Cafe Beats by Chill Music Universe. Their early stuff is better. 

    You might think that these types of albums are seeing a spike in popularity, but McDonald, the Spotify data engineer, told the Daily Dot in an email that he's "[n]ot sure 'popular' is the right term here!"    

    "I think it's more about ease of repackaging," McDonald said. "Soothing Piano for [study/sleep/meditation/babies/yoga/focus/concentration/relaxation]. You can take the same music and claim any of these purposes for it."  

    The insights gleaned from Sorting Hat, which updates every Friday, vary significantly from week to week, McDonald added.

    "One week there'll be dozens of albums of rain sounds, the next week we'll get a raft of archival folk collections, the next week there'll be a sudden blast of grisly death metal." he explained. "It's always interesting to scan down past the big-name stuff at the top to find out what else is happening somewhere in the world. 

    "If I had infinite time, I'd listen to a little of literally everything," McDonald said. "As it is, I spend a LOT of time scanning through a few seconds of many, many records both to see how the clustering is working and just to have a better personal sense of what it all means." 

    H/T The Guardian | Illustration by Max Fleishman 


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    Today, Comedy Central has announced that it is developing series exclusively for Snapchat.

    Snapchat started as that app your granddaughter is using to send her boyfriend nude selfies. But it’s now evolved into a social media platform where anyone from your Aunt Gladys to Kylie Jenner can share a “story” with the world.

    And now it’s the future of television.

    Comedy Central’s first original series for Snapchat, titled Swag-A-Saurus and starring comedian James Davis, premieres today. Tune in to watch the “hood-adjacent”—Comedy Central’s words, not mine—comedian teach viewers the meaning of esoteric slang words like “trap queen,” “bye Felicia,” and “looking Friday.”

    Quickie With Nikki will see Nikki Glaser dishing about sexy topics, unapologetically, as a precursor to her 2016 Comedy Central series Not Safe With Nikki Glaser. The network also has Snapchat series from Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Michelle Wolf, stand-up comedian Liza Treyger, and Yassir Lester on the way.

    What does it mean to premiere scripted series on an app originally designed for ephemeral image sharing? Time will tell. With only one series live so far—which streams like an annotated Urban Dictionary entry on Vine—viewers will have to tune back in often to see how this experiment pans out.

    Photo via Japanexperterna.se/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman


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    Netflix is rumored to be producing new episodes of the hit Channel 4 sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror

    According to a report in RadioTimes citing sources involved with the project, Netflix has been in talks with creator Charlie Brooker to create season 3 of the series. It was reported back in May that Netflix was attempting to get Brooker on board for new episodes, after earlier rumors that Endemol Shine might be trying to redevelop it. Sources say Brooker and his production company are set to make "multiple episodes" with Netflix. 

    Black Mirror debuted on Netflix last fall and quickly became a subject of fevered obsession. And with good reason: The show sharply critiques how we currently use technology and foreshadows what it will probably do to us. The final episode of season 2, "The Waldo Moment," isn't that far removed from this current election cycle and its cartoonish contenders. 

    Netflix has not publicly confirmed this news. We've reached out for confirmation and will update if and when we hear back. 

    Update Sept. 8, 6:16pm: A Netflix representative told the Daily Dot the company has "Nothing to confirm at this time."

    H/T RadioTimes | Screengrab via Netflix 


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    The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCW onTwitter andInstagram, by highlighting female creators onYouTubewhose work we admire.

    Like the regretful fashion choices you make during puberty, death is unavoidable. But what mortician and death theorist Caitlin Doughty hopes to instill is that this natural process doesn’t have to be something we fear.

    A doppelganger of Wednesday Addams, Doughty fascinates YouTube audiences with her enthusiastic personality and honest, light videos about all aspects of death. Since 2011, the mortician has used YouTube to answer questions about death most wouldn’t even think to ask: What happens to breast implants after death? Corpse poo: natural or nasty? Exploding caskets and, of course, necrophilia: Are they prevalent in the funeral industry?

    Doughty has been obsessed with death since she was an 8-year-old growing up in Hawaii. As an adult, she turned her love of the afterlife into a Medieval Studies degree and years later, became a certified mortician. She is now the founder of The Order of Good Death, an international group of funeral professionals working to change the way we approach death, and recently, she opened Undertaking LA, her own alternative funeral home that teaches families how to handle a corpse and ways to be more environmentally mindful ways while burying their dead.

    In an interview with NPR around the release of her book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Doughty was perfect captured as someone who strives “not to make light of death, but to make death light.”

    I first discovered Doughty through her collaboration with Anna Akana and was immediately taken with both the podcast’s topic (seriously, who isn’t fascinated hearing about death?!) and her passion and self-assurance. Since then, I have spent hours scouring her videos, and at the end of the rabbit hole, I came out a bit smarter and greatly appreciative of the honest conversations she’s started around taboo topics.

    By being our guide across the river Styx, Doughty gives viewers confidence to be exactly who they are and encourages us all to use our curiosity and fascinations to make the world a more educated place.

    Screengrab via Ask a Mortician/YouTube


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    Nine months after ending The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert finally introduced the nation to the “real” Stephen Colbert in an episode of The Late Show full of weirdness, complete geekery, and the political junkie we’ve missed so dearly.

    Aside from Trevor Noah, who takes over The Daily Show at the end of September after Jon Stewart’s departure last month, Colbert probably had the biggest shoes to fill in the late-night host shuffle. Jimmy Fallon, who only started his reign on The Tonight Show last year, just had to push exactly what he was doing on Late Night up an hour (and onto a new stage). James Corden has been making The Late Late Show his own since he started in March, but he probably had no pressure to follow in Craig Ferguson’s footsteps—and could’ve been encouraged not to, for all we know. Larry Wilmore took over Colbert’s time slot, but he brought over a show of his own.

    Colbert, however, was taking over for David Letterman, the first and only host of The Late Show. The show was created for him after he lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno more than 20 years ago. That legacy, paired with the perfection we likely expected out of Colbert and his writing staff, ultimately guaranteed some people would be disappointed.

    But will people tune out because of it? It’s got to be a much better option than more reruns of The Mentalist, both for the audience and Leslie Moonves at CBS—although the latter did threaten to switch over to the reruns if Colbert didn’t work out.

    Prior to his debut Tuesday night, Colbert and his crew ran two weeks of complete test shows for audience members who grabbed a ticket (including this reporter). The process is a little different than it was at his old stomping grounds at Comedy Central: You check in at the Ed Sullivan Theater, where you’ll get a hand stamp and a ticket noting your place in line.

    After getting your picture taken in the lobby—we were told that Colbert wanted photos of every audience member who sees him—you can leave and come back later, when you’ll wait for just a bit before you’re seated and the show begins. The night I went, it took nearly two hours for everything, including warm-up comedian Paul Mecurio, Colbert’s Q&A, the show’s run-through, and wait time in between segments. The staff asked that we not post any pictures or spoilers about what we saw (which some people risked).

    Colbert’s first episode was rocky at certain points and brilliant at others, but there’s plenty of potential for him to grow into something great and iron out some of the kinks. After 10 years of perfecting a character, he’s starting out new again—and well, it’s not going to be completely polished right away.

    He began the episode on a patriotic note, with scenes of him traveling to different parts of the country to sing the National Anthem in a nod to his old character’s massive patriotism. Stay for the end; the cameo from Stewart (who’s an executive producer of The Late Show) at the end is worth it alone.

    “We have been working so very hard to get the show ready for you,” Colbert said. “As long as I have nine months to make one hour of TV, I can do this forever.”

    While some hosts are getting rid of the monologue, Colbert stepped right into it before his stunning opening credits featuring a toy-like model of New York City (which he announces live, and which needs to go online ASAP) started to roll. Although it ran that way during the test show, it’s unclear if Colbert will continue to keep the format of coming on stage before the credits.

    Once seated, Colbert addressed the elephant in the room: While he was taking over the show from Letterman, he’s not going to try and replace him. There’s nobody, not even him (real or otherwise), who could do that. And he’s not going to try.

    Then he introduced the audience to the newly renovated Ed Sullivan Theater, which is even more impressive in person. I sat on the lower level, about five or six rows from the front and right in front of Colbert’s desk (which is on the left side of the stage). Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Colbert’s band, were on the right side of the stage, which keeps the red, white, and blue theme of The Colbert Report. To the left of Colbert were his many books and some trinkets the Colbert Nation would be sure to recognize: his Captain America shield, the pennant his mother had from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington (an event Colbert attended in utero). The balcony obscured my view a bit, but I swear I could also see Aragorn’s sword from The Lord of the Rings.

    Fallon even made an appearance wishing him luck, throwing away the notion that there was yet another late-night war brewing among the new batch of hosts. They even joked they’d see each other in the locker room, a bit that would pay off later.

    But one of the weirdest moments of the night came right afterward. Colbert apparently pledged his soul to an ancient cursed amulet that made him continually endorse Sabra hummus.

    The endorsements continued as Colbert paid his daily dues to to Donald Trump, a man who late-night talk show hosts are obligated to talk about, as he joked in the test show. He went hard for Trump’s comments about never eating Oreos again and even compared the cookie to covering Trump himself: He tries to treat himself to one or two but ends up eating the whole container in one sitting.

    Something tells us he’ll be eating Trump-esque Oreos by the bucketful by the end of the 2016 election season.

    His interview with George Clooney, who wasn’t there to promote anything, showed some of his faults. It was awkward (although it could’ve very well been scripted that way), a softball interview, and resulted in Colbert’s only foray into true celebrity sketch territory: Clooney eventually started promoting a fake movie he shot on The Late Show.

    But when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came onto the stage, that’s when it got interesting—and showcased Colbert’s greatest strength. Here, Colbert was no longer playing the ignorant, right-wing political pundit. Even as himself, he could throw politicians for a loop. He might be an entertainer now, but don’t expect him to go easy on the presidential candidates vying for everyone’s attention.

    “I used to play a narcissistic, conservative pundit,” he told Bush. “Now I’m just a narcissist.”

    And considering there was already a stir after Bush attempted to make money off his appearance, Colbert wasn’t going to go easy on him; he wouldn’t let Bush joke his way out of a question regarding the policies of his brother, former President George W. Bush.

    But perhaps one of the best parts of The Late Show is one the audience at home only got a glimpse of: Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

    Batiste, the 28-year-old musician who once dared Colbert to improv his way through his own interview, is a force of his own. His take on music, social music (which happens to be the name of his album), is designed to be shared as well as encompass the very nature of his performance. He and his band (most often accompanied by alto saxophonist Eddie Barbash and drummer Joe Saylor, who’s often on the tambourine) explore the very edges of Colbert’s stage during breaks; Batiste plays the melodica (a wind instrument that looks like a miniature piano) while he dances and sings, often bringing the band with him into the audience.

    It’s downright infectious. Colbert and Batiste’s chemistry is already strong, and I’ve got a feeling we’ll see the two perform together almost as much as banter from their respective places. (Colbert himself promised there would be singing in his show, something he’s already fulfilled.)

    The show ended on a high note, with Batiste and Stay Human accompanied by Mavis Staples—keeping a promise she made back in May to Colbert about appearing on his show once it launched.

    While there were some rough spots in this first appearance, the show can only get better with time, and with enough practice and the right slate of guests, Colbert could potentially prove unstoppable.

    At that test show on Sept. 2, Colbert introduced himself to the audience with a tradition he had at The Colbert Report and Wilmore’s taken on (along with, presumably, the other late-night hosts): He opens the floor to questions to the audience. The first one pointed out something the audience at home will likely notice in the coming days: Why doesn’t Colbert’s Late Show sign have Colbert’s name on it?

    “I’m right here,” he told the audience as he stood under the sign. He didn’t need to have himself there twice.

    And so he is.

    Correction 12:01pm, Sept. 9: An earlier version of this story misquoted Colbert: He worked nine months on this show, not nine hours.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    After living through the hellish humidity of June and July, we finally got what we were waiting for: On Sept. 3, Spotifydeclared that the song of the summer is “Lean On” by Major Lazer.

    “Cheerleader” by OMI—a song I find truly unbearable—came in second place, while “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa (featuring Charlie Puth) fell into third.

    If you have somehow miraculously avoided hearing this song and decide to click on it, don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

    However, the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” was the most streamed song in the United States, so that could also be considered the song of the summer for us red-blooded Americans.

    But according to the Billboard Hot 100, “Cheerleader” is the song of the summer. And according to Google Trends, Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” is the song of the summer.

    If you look at Google Play statistics, it’s clear that the song of the summer is Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.” But then again, according to YouTube’s statistics, Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” snags the No. 1 spot. Billboard’s online poll, undoubtedly infiltrated by One Direction fans, says the Zayn-less “Drag Me Down” is the song of the summer.

    So what does this all mean? Due to the rising popularity of so many different streaming platforms, perhaps it’s time we kill the song of the summer. What does it even mean to snag the title anyway? And why is summer the only season to get a song? (Look out for my forthcoming Change.org petition, Let the Liberal Media Know: All Seasons Deserve a Song!)

    It comes down to this: The song of the summer is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. We all have music that reminds us of a certain era in our lives. For me, the song of this summer is up-and-coming indie darling Eskimeaux’s “Folly,” but for you it could be Moses Sumney’s cover of “O Superman” or Beethoven’s timeless “Symphony 5.” 

    Of course, tracking the popularity of new releases is important, but it’s OK to have more than one song of the summer. And dear god, let’s promise ourselves that next summer, a song as bad as “Cheerleader” won’t even have a chance. 

    Screengrab via Ultra Music/YouTube 


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    HBO has been nailing it on the documentary front this year, and now it’s bringing back an old favorite after 12 years: Project Greenlight

    The documentary series, hosted by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is heading back to HBO this Sunday, Sept. 13. The show follows first-time director Jason Mann as he attempts to direct a feature film, The Leisure Class, and cameras follow the grueling process. The Mindy Project’s Ed Weeks stars in the film. 

    The show last aired on HBO in 2003, before moving to Bravo for its third season in 2005. 

    Screengrab via HBO


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    Social media has changed a lot about the way we conduct our relationships, and according to their new song Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg want to go back to a simpler time before flirtation happened over Instagram likes. It's the anti-"Call Me Maybe," if you will.

    Last night on Khalifa's birthday, the two released “No Social Media,” a nearly-four-minute-long jam about how he “just wants to fuck with you with no social media.” However, times being what they are, it was released on Soundcloud and Khalifa tweeted about it. What, did you expect a carrier pigeon with an MP3?


    It may be the first rap song to make explicit reference to a selfie stick (“I don’t give a fuck how many likes you get / Fuck a selfie stick, suck a healthy dick”), and Snoop finds time to take a dig at TMZ. And while mostly it’s all about how they don’t need Twitter to have a good time, Khalifa raps how he’ll “take you to a private place with no social media” while Snoop implores you to “leave your purse and your phone.” It’s all well and good to not be tied to Snapchat all night, but please practice basic safety precautions, ladies!

    In its continuing irony, the song has inspired a hashtag, where social media reactions have been mostly positive.



    But what about the non-social media reactions? Shouldn’t those be what we’re paying attention to? And if so, how do we even find them anymore? If we don’t have a public opinion, is it an opinion at all? And if an artist writes a song about how social media is destroying relationships but promotes it through social media, do relationships even exist? Damn, Khalifa, dropping some existential quandaries on us.

    Photo via thecomeupshow/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    How did a lowly webseries become the best bet of Hollywood star James Franco?

    In the first series of Making a Scene—AOL Originals’ movie mashup webseries—it was impossible to get past just how disinterested the star, James Franco, looked during the planning stages. Propped up by cushions with assistants a frenetic blur around him, the main man couldn’t even be bothered to open his eyes, let alone spin the wheel that determined the two subjects for each episode. It added an extra layer to the collage, everything imprinted with the vibe of Weekend at Bernie’s. The performances were still admittedly great, but here was a man who knew his worth, a guy in demand who was acting like this was all some sort of favor that he was doing instead of churning out another blockbuster—or, equally, making love to a snowshoe filled with his own toenail clippings in the name of art.

    But what have you done for us lately, James? Cast an eye over his work in the last year, and since The Interviewyou’re met with a bunch of stuff that premiered eons ago at random festivals but hasn’t found distribution yet. It is the sort of trend that makes agents very nervous. And while it’s correct that Franco is wont to make odd choices, it seems perverse even for him to choose only stuff that no one would ever see. Even the film that was deemed fit for release was a clanger: True Story transformed a thrillingly unbelievable slice of reality into 99 minutes of Jonah Hill’s puzzled reaction shots and banished the director, Rupert Goold, back to the London theater.

    A lot of this has nothing to do with Franco; who’d know that films by Wenders and Herzog would be left on a shelf? But it means that suddenly, maybe, Making a Scene is the best gig that he’s got. It’s a great concept, it’s guaranteed to be seen by a load of people, and most of the work is done for him. And don’t you know it, the boy gets it! There he is—sure, still not spinning the wheel, but baby steps—in the first episode of the second series, back straight, bright-eyed, and ready to go.

    This time round, it’s television shows rather than movies, and although we’re all wishing for Boy Meets World v The Golden Girls (Topanga! Blanche!!), fate delivers us Walter White and Carrie Bradshaw, both of whom are played by Franco in Breaking Sex.

    And predictably, given the fun of the previous series, it’s smartly done. There are some nice gags over Samantha Jones’ clodding affection of terrible sexual puns, Alicia Silverstone takes time out of her busy schedule, and Franco makes a pretty good teacher turned meth cook who just wants to get Carrie back to his RV. It’s short at just a few minutes—knowledgeable in the fact that there isn’t really anything holding it together other than the goodwill of the audience and the enthusiasm of its creators. But that’s all you really need from something like this, an engaging piece of distraction that reminds you of Franco’s star power and leaves you curious for more.

    Unfortunately, unlike the previous series, which dropped half a dozen of episodes at a time, this time AOL seems committed to leaching out episodes weekly, every Wednesday. It’s slightly infuriating, but the possibility of Franco channelling Lorelei Gilmore (!!!) is worth the hassle of regularly checking back alone.

    Screengrab via AOL Originals/YouTube 


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    Tom Hardy knows you've seen his old Myspace photos—he's cool with it.

    The A-lister knows exactly where to prioritize his cringe-worthy selfies on his long list of stellar moments in the limelight. These include taking his dog to the recent premiere of upcoming gangster film Legend, in which Hardy plays identical twins. It also includes the famous meme, "some people just want to watch the world burn," an immortal line said not by Bane but by Hardy himself in an interview for The Dark Knight Rises. Then there's his recent Dubsmash pwnage, during which he posted perfect 50 Cent covers.

    Is it any wonder Hardy, who's rumored to be the leading choice to play James Bond (sorry, Idris fans), can't be arsed to find his still-circulating 2005 and 2006 selfies all that embarrassing?

    "I've got no shame about my Myspace photos, especially the one of me in my underpants which is a glorious photo of a man in his natural habitat," he told SkyNews earlier this week.

    "I might not be an Adonis, but I like to think of myself as an Adonis in that photo."

    Ahem. Let's revisit the photos in question, shall we?

    OK, so he won't be winning any modeling contests with these photos—though Hardy did win a modeling contest early in his career. But Hardy is clearly still owning his selfie game, judging by his frequent updates to fan website TomHardy.org. Here he is posing last month with his mum:

    And here he is showing off his beard in July:

    On the subject of Bond, Hardy hedged, refusing to confirm or deny rumors that he'd been approached for the part. "I think anybody would consider doing Bond, wouldn't they?" he told Sky News.

    Judging from his previous sky gig as scene-stealer Eames in Inception (I love him so much favorite character ever please universe never stop letting Tom Hardy wear suits and flirt with teammates and shoot things), Hardy would undoubtedly make an excellent Bond. But we have to note that if he does get cast in the role, it would make writer Anthony Horowitz's criticism of popular black British actor Idris Elba as being too "street" for the role even more absurd:

    While the media has yet to get over Hardy's Myspace photos (even though they've been circulating the Internet for years), we applaud the attention it continues to bring him. Especially because there's one other arena where Hardy surpasses most of his fellow A-list actors: supporting feminism

    It would be nice if we heard as much about that as we did his baggy underpants.

    Photos via tomhardyparty/Tumblr


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    Lilly Singh and Tyler Oakley want you to give YouTube a chance.

    Oakley and Singh, who boast just under 14 million subscribers between them, began appearing in print, digital, and television spots promoting their own channels, as well as YouTube as a whole, on Sept. 8. They follow other breakout YouTube stars like Hannah Hart, Michelle Phan, and Dude Perfect as part of YouTube’s advertising initiative.

    Oakley’s ad focuses on the creating being himself on the platform, with the tagline, “Dare to be you.” It got a particular bump on social media when it aired during Stephen Colbert’s inauguralThe Late Show episode.

    Singh and Oakley both have a lot on their plates for the fall. Oakley is finishing a world tour before releasing his debut book and starting another tour in support of that project. Singh finished her A Trip to Unicorn Island international tour this summer, and will be releasing a documentary film about her and her fans this fall. Singh’s ad focuses on her wildly popular character work, with the tagline “You give life character.”

    Screengrab via Tyler Oakley/YouTube


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    When you invite Ellen DeGeneres to compete in a lip-sync battle, a mic drop is imminent.

    Even though Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake already performed a History of Rap earlier in the episode, Fallon was still dead-set on challenging DeGeneres to a contest of fake singing. They even traded some jabs prior to the contest.

    As Timberlake judged, the duo definitely brought it, with showings from the Killers, Silento, Diana Ross, and Rihanna. Fallon might have the upper hand from pure experience, but with DeGeneres’s arsenal, the Tonight Show host never had a chance—no matter how much he tried to bribe Timberlake or bring out the whip and nae nae.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    Justin Timberlake brought the moves and the music by reuniting with Jimmy Fallon to perform their latest collaboration in the “History of Rap” series.

    This medley includes hits from R. Kelly, Jay Z, LL Cool J, Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar, and the Beastie Boys, and while Fallon is ready to go all-out at any moment, Timberlake is more than ready to bring him back to reality at the same time—gently reminding him that he’s not really straight outta Compton.

    After they filmed The Tonight Show, Fallon and Timberlake took their bromance straight to the tennis courts to watch the U.S. Open—and even continued to entertain the crowd in the middle of the semifinals match between Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    After succeeding on her channel with 1.2 million subscribers, YouTuber Jenn Johns decided to quit school in 2015.

    It’s not quite as dramatic as a teen creator deciding to give up on education for a life of crime. Johns is quitting her job as a teacher to focus full time on Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio, her wildly successful baking channel.

    “We’ve been doing this since 2011, and I’ve been teaching all the way through,” she explained to the Daily Dot. “It’s a night-time thing, and I never felt like I could give either job everything. It’s a disservice to that and a disservice to YouTube. I’m excited to be able to give everything to this YouTube channel.”

    For 12 years, Johns defined her identity as a school teacher, working and living in the small Canadian town of Cranbrook, where her digital fame only surfaced occasionally.

    “I could tell at school if another teacher had played my video, because all of a sudden there’d be random kids saying hi in the hallway at school,” she said.

    YouTube has a reputation for being the domain of the teen stars, but Johns is a full-fledged adult who turned to YouTube as an extension of her home baking business, encouraged by her husband, who has a media background.

    “[He] figured, ‘You’re already doing it; let me film you,’” Johns explained. “We had no idea about lighting, we had a teeny tiny camera… The early stuff is garbage! People just started watching, and the views kept increasing—slowly.”

    Her videos are informative and straightforward, with inspiring baking ideas like a rainbow cake or giant gummy bears. You won’t find any crazy jump cuts or elaborate graphics on Johns’ videos, but you will ideally know how to bake a dream concoction once you’re done watching. Johns made her inaugural trek to VidCon this summer, where teen stars reign. Despite not being in the target demographic, Johns said she met a wide range of fans, including those teens, but she also said she met some very young kids, and, of course, their parents.

    “All the moms kept coming up and saying, ‘thanks for having something for us,’” she said.

    “I’m excited to be able to give everything to this YouTube channel.”

    Before VidCon, Johns had never done a meet-up. In fact, VidCon 2015 had the same number of attendees as her entire town in British Columbia.

    “We come from a town of 20,000 people, and there’s 20,000 people at VidCon,” Johns laughed. The big difference between VidCon and Cranbrook? There’s a lot more teen boys being chased, Johns said.

    “There’s a couple people we’ve met through other YouTube events, but the people they’re screaming at… I’m just not watching the vloggers. Great for them, but I’m watching food.”

    There’s diversity inside YouTube’s food bubble, with food shockers like Epic Meal Time sharing space with Johns’ baking contemporaries like My Cupcake Addiction. Johns said she always assumed she’d use the Web to simply do a blog with recipes, but video was a game-changer in her kitchen.

    “It became bigger than I thought it would be,” she said.

    As Johns transitions from the world of education to the world of full-time digital stardom, she knows she’s got to pick up on more of the expanding world of digital platforms to grow her brand. But unlike other YouTubers who are teens and digital natives, Johns said she’s struggled with new things like Snapchat.

    “I had no idea what I was doing,” Johns laughed. “I have a couple of friends who have kids, and [I had to ask] them to come over and show me how to use this. Nothing makes you feel older than not knowing how to use an app.”

    While she might be giving up teaching for YouTube, she said he hopes to return eventually to working hands-on with kids, not just through the computer screen. Johns focuses on family-friendly entertainment, the kind of stuff families can watch together. Her channel is part of the kid-safe YouTube Kids app, and she often gets fan videos from young children pretending to be her and cooking with clay. She said it took her a while to realize her channel was changing young lives, just as she did in the classroom.

    “I remember the first time we ran a contest, and somebody wrote to me the impact I had on her life through the videos,” she said. “That was kind of the moment where I thought, ‘wow.’”

    With her decision to drop her steady job and focus on the Web, Johns said she’s faced some concerned reactions, especially from her parents, who are both teachers.

    “They’re super happy for me, but it’s frightening for them,” Johns said, emphasizing that they’re still supportive. “They’ve seen how hard we’ve worked.”

    She may be a grade-school dropout, but she’s definitely poised for success.

    Screengrab via Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio/YouTube


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    Earlier this year, teen-and-tween-focused digital media company AwesomenessTV and YouTube announced a partnership through which they would produce a slate of films led by online video stars. Now, the first movie born from that pact has been revealed: It’s called Dance Camp, and it stars YouTube personality Meg DeAngelis and actor Nadji Jeter.

    As its title implies, Dance Camp will focus on a group of characters who “discover the power of dance.” In order to ensure a dance flick filled with top-notch moves, AwesomenessFilms (the moviemaking wing of AwesomenessTV) and YouTube are working with producer Jon M. Chu, the director of Hollywood dance film Step Up 3D.

    Dance Camp be a vehicle for DeAngelis, who is a rising star in the YouTube community and one of the most prominent figures within AwesomenessTV’s multi-channel network on YouTube. Other digital video stars, such as Jake Paul and Josh Leyva, will also appear in the film.

    “With Dance Camp, we are combining some of today’s most popular YouTube stars with dance – one of the most watched genres on the platform,” said Kelly Merryman, Vice President of Content Partnerships at YouTube, in a press release.  “AwesomenessTV has a proven track record of creating content that audiences love and our multi-film collaboration will deliver several movies over the next few years aimed at a global fanbase.”

    While Dance Camp will be the first film in the AwesomenessFilms/YouTube pipeline, it is not AwesomenessTV’s first feature-length offering. The digital media company has also produced Expelled, starring Cameron Dallas, and Smosh: The Movie, starring its titular duo.

    A release date for Dance Camp has not yet been announced.

    Screengrab via MayBaby/YouTube


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