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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Details were vague from the start about the Limetown research facility, which housed 327 of the world's greatest neuroscientists and civil servants in White Cotton, Tennessee. All anybody knew was that the facility was built to reach a "full understanding of the human brain," which sounds wacky, but you can do wacky with a billionaire investor. 

    It wasn't given much attention until Feb. 8, 2004, when 911 calls began pouring in from inside Limetown's gates, and the responding police officers and firemen were threatened with gunfire if they tried to enter the complex. 

    When the gate was opened on Feb. 11, all 327 residents had disappeared, leaving only smoldering fires in their place.

    That's how Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie's fictional podcast, Limetown, begins. It has the undeniable feel of an NPR program—in fact, the narrator is a reporter for a fictional public radio station called APR (American Public Radio). Her name is Lia Haddock, and she's looking into Limetown's disappeared residents for personal reasons: Her uncle was among the neuroscientists who went missing the night something went wrong and the facility was filled with screams, then silence. 

    That silence is not, however, found in the podcast. A massive cast keeps the story building through near-constant chatter. If a voice isn't engaged in an interview with Haddock, it's sampled from a fictional news broadcast that covered the incident, a phone call, or Congressional hearings. 

    Akers and Bronkie were filmmakers before diving into the pilot of Limetown, and quickly realized that scheduling is a massive pain with both mediums.

    "The pressure of the production days doesn't change from film to audio."

    "We had a stacked cast, over 27 people—many SAG actors and actresses—but with limited time on set, and no time before production for rehearsals, things had to go perfectly in our precious windows in the studio," Bronkie told the Daily Dot. He's the co-creator, producer, and one of the show's five story developers. "The pressure of the production days doesn't change from film to audio."

    "Post-production was actually the thing that made me go insane, but that's sort of always the case," Akers said. He's a story developer and co-creator as well (the third is Dave Yim, another story developer and the series' editor), and also helms the writing and directing of the episodes. "Finding solutions in the audio format were different from visual storytelling, but equally as awful in their own ways... It's still hard as hell." 


    Work on the podcast began during the summer of 2013, with the pilot recorded nearly a year later in May 2014. The development, recording, and post-production were all done during Akers and Bronkie's nights and weekends—Akers was working on several other projects, and Bronkie held a full-time job. Eight months would pass before they had a finished cut of the pilot episode, which went on SoundCloud as a private link. The next step was the search for distribution. Bronkie explains that was a lengthy period: "It was really, really hard to have this baby and not ship it."

    While they went into the pilot episode with carefully metered expectations, they really, really liked the finished product.

    "We realized we sort of had something special, something we hadn't heard before in this medium," said Bronkie. "We wanted to see if we could find a distribution partner, rather than simply release it on our own"

    "We like rattling the idea that podcast episodes have to be released on a regular, weekly cadence."

    That didn't work out. After six months of hounding distributors for a partnership, Bronkie decided to leave his full-time job and founded Two-Up Productions with Akers. 

    "We made Limetown our first official project," Bronkie said. "We green-lighted the rest of the first season, and self-distributed the pilot starting August 2."

    Episode 2 debuted Sept. 13, so there's quite a gap between releases so far. 

    "We like rattling the idea that podcast episodes have to be released on a regular, weekly cadence. We think about this more like a mini-series, with seven installments, that will hopefully be like nothing you've ever heard online before."

    The gap between the first two episodes was something the two counted on, and they hoped it would allow plenty of time for a fanbase to build.

    "Our subscriber numbers have grown exponentially over the post month," said Bronkie. "One unique characteristic of the podcast medium is that you're dealing almost entirely with subscribers, so they'll have new episodes automatically downloaded to their phone." 

    This allows listeners to feel like they're actively involved in Haddock's investigation. With a fictional show presented as a non-fictional event that's unfolding in real time, the alert of a new episode gives fans the rush of new clues and information.


    The first episode is all questions: What was the Limetown facility working on? Where did the 327 people inside its gates go? Were they dead or alive? Why was it that anybody able to share info on these matters had either gone missing or was in hiding? Who ordered the security team to guard the gates of Limetown against emergency responders on the night everything went awry? 

    Episode 2 could be described a podcast noir. 

    "Story-wise, we could not have done this without knowing where we were going," Akers said. "We know what each episode is, and what the story is we're trying to execute in season 1."

    The series is still just two episodes deep, so it could all go south. Luckily, Bronkie and Akers seem at ease with that happening.

    "Even if episode 2 completely bombs, and everything goes to hell, this whole thing still wouldn't be a failed experiment," said Akers. "I think it shows a hunger for something different in this medium, and it would be cool if this inspires others to do the same, or leads to the next great show."

    Is it possible that the practice of inviting friends over to sit around the radio and listen to dramas—something that was put to death by the advent of the television—could come full circle and return as a facet of podcasting's evolution? Limetown is certainly a good testing ground. 

    Look for more clues in episode 3, which will appear whenever Lia Haddock unravels more of Limetown's mysteries.

    Photo via Limetownstories.com


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    After just a few short weeks, John Oliver’s evangelical church is no more after receiving seed of a different nature from some of his patrons.

    He broke the news on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, explaining—with Rachel Dratch as his wife Wanda June by his side—that the time had come for him to shut down Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. But it wasn’t due to any involvement from the government for breaking any laws or trolls sending him real seeds, a shirt calling him a rat-faced bastard, or a giant wooden penis Oliver had actually become rather attached to. A few people sent him jars and vials of semen, and while some of them appeared to appear fake, others … didn’t. And he didn’t want your “penis grigio.”

    “We live our lives by one hard and fast rule: When someone sends you jizz through the mail, it’s time to stop doing whatever you’re doing,” Dratch said.

    The website for Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption has now been replaced with a farewell note from its founder.

    Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption started nearly a month ago as part of a 20-minute segment exposing just how big of a scam televangelists are. They ask people to donate to the church to plant the seeds of their own wealth they will one day harvest, but it mostly results in televangelists becoming rich. They’re hardly ever investigated and even considered tax-exempt by the IRS. Oliver setting up his own church as a way to test the IRS and encouraged people to send him their “seed”—in the form of money.

    Not only did it result in growing pressure for the IRS to investigate these churches, Oliver and his staff received plenty of gifts, including thousands of dollars, beef jerky, fake checks, and actual seeds.

    True to Oliver’s word, now that the church has been shut down, the thousands of dollars he raised as part of his fake church have been donated to charity.

    “All previous monetary donations have been forwarded to Doctors Without Borders,” the site reads. “We did not send the sperm.”

    That’s probably for the best.

    Screengrab via LastWeekTonight/YouTube


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    David Lynch isn’t happy about Twin Peaks set photos being leaked online.

    Welcome to the Internet, bud. 

    Production has started on the new iteration of Twin Peaks, and photos and details from set are being posted by @TwinPeaksArchve and other accounts.  

    This apparently did not please director Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost. 

    Fans have already vowed to chill out, and many are now circulating #KeepTheMysteryAlive and #SpoilerFreeTill2017, some even going as far as to institute a Twitter policy on the show. 

    But should Lynch and Frost really expect the Internet’s collective lips to stay sealed while the show is in production? Twin Peaks is being remade in a very different time than its original iteration, so it’s interesting to see how a show that developed a cult following before social media and thrived on an absence of spoilers for years adjusts to this new landscape. 

    Also, fans were a driving force online when it looked like the show might not happen with Lynch attached. They can’t help but want to be involved, if only virtually, in its (re)creation. And, as a few commenters have noted, the discussion around these details on Twitter has become its own sort of mini-series. 

    It’s understandable that they’d want fans to respect the mystery, and fans are religiously devout—these hashtag mantras are proof. But the Internet-era remake of Twin Peaks has to keep fans engaged somehow, even with little mysteries. 

    H/T Zap2It | Photo via _titi/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    For three seasons Project Greenlight tried to show an uncompromising look at young, aspiring filmmakers trying to make their first feature-length film. The HBO reality TV show, created by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, was always more dramatic and captivating than the three films it ended up spawning. So when the fourth season premiered last night, many were wondering if the show could still be as addictive 10 years after the last season aired. After all, the media landscape has changed significantly in a decade. More to the point, would it still produce a movie that no one really sees and isn’t very good?

    The answers are yes and, judging by the premiere, most likely.

    When it was announced that Affleck and Damon would be re-teaming with HBO for a new season of Project Greenlight (the last season aired on Bravo), young filmmakers everywhere naturally leapt for their cameras and immediately began submitting their films to the program in hopes of getting discovered. The desire to be the next Affleck or Damon is a sizable one for filmmakers—especially since making it big in Hollywood can be such an uphill battle. After all, who would pass up a chance to make a $3 million movie for HBO with Batman and Jason Bourne as your producers?

    Project Greenlight has never really delivered on what it has always promised it would from the very beginning.

    It seems Jason Mann would. Mann, the gangly, introverted filmmaker who ended up winning the competition, was quick to remind us (and the producers of the show) that Project Greenlight was never about showing the true ins and outs of the independent filmmaking process but instead to provide a melodramatic 40-minute reality program. Before winning, Mann tells the camera he doesn’t really even care about winning (as the show cuts to the nervous looks of other contestants). Within minutes of winning the competition, Mann confronts Affleck, Damon, and the other producers (including Dear White People’s Effie Brown) to say he has two demands: He wants to shoot on film, and he wants to fire the film’s writer, Pete Jones. Drama ensues. Peter Farrelly, one of the filmmakers meant to guide Mann in directing his first major film, laments that Mann is more “destructive” than a team player. Well, duh. This is reality TV; the more destructive he is, the better it will be watching him slowly unravel over the course of the season. Therein lies the problem with the core concept of Project Greenlight.

    Furthermore, Damon talks about wanting to find a filmmaker who’s “talented” and has the merit to make a really good film. However, when Brown brings up a lack of diversity among the contestants and how a female contestant might bring a different perspective (especially when the subject material includes some overly sexist stereotypes), Damon politely objects. It’s not about finding someone diverse (or female) among the contestants, Damon argues; it’s about finding diverse actors instead. The look of befuddlement and shock on Brown’s face sums up the show’s aim in an abrasive nutshell—and succinctly proves that a predominantly white industry is still struggling to come to terms with the idea of racial diversity.

    Why find someone both diverse and talented when you can just pick the guy that seems like he’ll make the most fuss? Even when Mann interviews with the producers, many of them comment on how pretentious and ill-suited he is for the project. So it makes perfect sense why he was chosen… But even if it makes perfect sense for the show, it doesn’t make perfect sense for what the show promises us it is trying to accomplish.

    Then again, Project Greenlight has never really delivered on what it has always promised it would from the very beginning. Damon and Affleck can talk up the show’s ability to provide an in-depth look at what it takes to make a movie and to give a complete novice a chance as much as they want, but what has that really achieved for any of the previous winners? The first film produced by the show, Stolen Summer, received mediocre reviews (garnering a 36 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and an even more mediocre box-office take. In a depressing twist, the first season’s winner, Pete Jones, ended up coming back two seasons later to the very show that was supposed to start his career. Reviews for the other films are less than encouraging as well. Ruthe Stein of SF Gate called The Battle of Shaker Heights “a dispiriting mess,” which is the nicest thing she says about the movie. The reviews for Feast were a little more favorable, although they hardly whet the appetite. Michael Esposito of the Chicago Tribune gave this ringing endorsement for the film: “When monsters attack, the camera gets all jerky, creating the horror effect known as motion sickness.”

    For many filmmakers, though, a chance on Project Greenlight is like a deal with the devil. Sure, the previous films might have sucked and the people behind the show might only want to create more drama behind the scenes than in front of the camera, but it is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In the interest of full disclosure, I fully admit I was among 200 contestants who competed for Project Greenlight. I knew going in the risk I was taking: If I won, I could be in Mann’s shoes, saddled with a script I didn’t like and being forced to make something more commercially viable than artistically worthwhile. I was prepared to take the risk. Judging from the premiere, Mann was simply there because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Jason Mann is clearly talented, even if he doesn’t want to make the film the Project Greenlight producers want him to make, and you can’t really blame him. The script is often touted by the producers as “broad,” “commercial,” and needing “a lot of work” (viewers may begin to wonder why they even selected this particular script to begin with). It honestly seems more like an effort on the producers’ part to shove as many obstacles in Mann’s way just to see how he deals with them, not to see if he can actually make the best movie possible.

    Shane Carruth awed audiences and critics with Primer, a thinking man’s sci-fi film that cost him only $7,000.

    Here’s the “reality,” though: Project Greenlight isn’t out to make “the best film possible” and that’s OK. Young, aspiring filmmakers don’t need the show to make it big. With the advent of YouTube, Vimeo, and even Vine, it is becoming easier and easier to make a film with no budget and get noticed. Christopher Nolan got his big break with Following, a film that cost $11,000. Shane Carruth awed audiences and critics with Primer, a thinking man’s sci-fi film that cost him only $7,000. Or take Tangerine for example: a film shot on an iPhone that got into Sundance and is getting rave reviews. It’s a film full of diverse characters and a storyline that doesn’t belittle or stereotype genders or minorities. You don’t need Ben Affleck or Matt Damon or HBO or any stereotypically “commercial” script to make content that one day could match their best efforts—if not surpass them.

    Reality television and filmmaking have both changed for the better since Project Greenlight was last on television, and young filmmakers simply don’t need it anymore if they want to succeed—and neither does Jason Mann. It’ll make for some damn good television, though.

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


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    Watts, California, rapper Jay Rock enjoyed a flash of viral success last week when he posted an unexpected album. The Kendrick Lamar associate has been a trending commodity since he stole the show on 2012's "Money Trees."

    This time, he brought friends.

    The new LP, 90059–named for the zip code where he grew up—is Jay’s first high-profile release since 2011, and it’s specifically long-awaited by rap fans who keep up with the esteemed independent rap label Top Dawg Entertainment like its members are the Kardashians.

    The album itself is a thin-air upload, as the release date has been in flux since it was announced a month prior. First, the date listed on iTunes was for next August, then next May, then December, and finally its actual Sept. 11 release date—all in under a month. That shuffle was a half-baked attempt to either raise or gauge interest by moving the release date up depending on the number of album pre-orders. More traditionally however, Jay Rock has been releasing songs in anticipation of 90059, including one with Black Hippy on the day the album dropped.

    Black Hippy, of course, is the quasi-supergroup of the four main rappers on TDE records: Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Rock. The four have been rapping together for years, but they more-or-less officially formed the band in 2010 when they made a few songs together as bonus tracks from their respective albums. And at the time, the name Black Hippy wasn’t terribly far-fetched, with the foursome loosely rapping over jangly guitars and psych-rock samples about drugs and girls. “Vice City,” the posse track on 90059, shows how much has changed between the members of the group.

    Kendrick Lamar leads the way over a dark and sinister beat provided by the usually sunnier producer Cardo, rapping about “big money/booty bitches.” He uses an uneven flow that weaves around and descends to the last couple words of each bar. Jay Rock follows suit but flies even further off the rails and also outperforms Kendrick. The third verse has Ab-Soul straying from the formula and rapping the line, “I’m more spiritual than lyrical,” and Jay Rock adds a couple bridges which are better than the main chorus by Kendrick. Batting cleanup is Schoolboy Q, who leaves the rhythm and comes back to it, gets extra ignorant in luxury cars, and utters the hilarious line, “Like philosophies, man you weird homie.”

    Black Hippy will likely never release a full album because the rights to it would be owned by the legendary Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne’s Strange Music imprint. It might benefit the SoCal posse to spend the time it takes to make a full length stuck in the studio together, forced to find the right amalgamation of each member’s more left-field inclinations. Though that theoretical meeting of the minds is hardly necessary these days. 

    In the video for “Vice City,” each rapper leaves the screen as soon as another comes into the camera’s view. Compare that with the “Zip That, Chop That” video from 2010, where the youthful quartet starts out alone, moving through the city separately; they meet up and all walk together as the rappers trade lyrics. 

    Part of this difference is just artist progression and how videos get made once there’s more money involved, but that’s the point. These four rappers have all evolved into different people than they were five years ago. Besides Kendrick’s dreadlocks, Ab-Soul’s conspiracy theories, and some of Schoolboy Q’s sartorial choices, there’s not much the group has in common with actual hippies. The four of them used to benefit from each other filling the gaps across solo material. But as they’ve become more fully formed artists, the sum of their parts overlaps more and adds up to less.

    Screengrab via Top Dawg Entertainment/YouTube


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    If you're a '90s kid who dreamed of hanging out with the Rugrats, getting slimed, or letting Clarissa explain it all, then you want to pay attention to Nickelodeon's new viral trend #TheSplat. 

    So far, there's been no confirmation of what exactly "the Splat" is, though it already has a Facebook page with more than 20,000 likes. The popular theory is that it's a new channel from Nick with a focus entirely on resurrecting all your faves from two decades ago.

    Fans have been freaking out for days since the launch of a new website, numerous social media platforms, and this YouTube promo featuring a lineup of classic '90s Nick shows, from Doug to Ren & Stimpy.

    The Splat also showed up at 90s Fest Saturday night in Brooklyn, New York, with artists like Smashmouth and Salt N Pepa jamming in the key of slime.

    Theories have abounded, from speculation that the Splat will be a new channel, or will be a rebranding of the Teen Nick channel. 

    However, a Facebook comment left yesterday from the official Facebook page for Australian network Fetch TV reveals a third possibility: The Splat could be a new regular programming slot scheduled out on one of Nick's existing channels.

    Nickelodeon has yet to confirm this information, but it seems likely given that "the splat" has always been an organic part of Nick's overall marketing rather than something standalone. In a report from last year on the history of slime and Nickelodeon, Vice tells us "splat" is the word for the packaging that its commercial version of the gooey green stuff comes in. It's also the name for popular "splat balls" and for the Nickelodeon logo itself, as well as for the longstanding Twitter and Tumblr accounts used to promote its '90s products.

    Given how popular the idea is, however, it seems unlikely a mere programming slot will be enough to satisfy ravenous Nickelodeon fans. Already, cries to include favorite shows from Kablam to Are You Afraid of the Dark? can be heard across the Internet.

    But whether the Splat is a new channel or just a tiny sliver of reruns for the regular Nick viewer, it's good news for fans of older television.

    H/T Buzzfeed | Screengrab via TheSplat/YouTube


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    Do you love digital creators so much you’ll watch them on television?

    That’s the overarching gamble of Hollywood’s flirtation with YouTubers and Vine stars in the past 12 months, so it’s no surprise that the Streamys, digital video’s premier awards show, is making the leap as well. For the first time, the show will air on VH1, and while viewers don’t have to use a traditional TV to gain access, the Streamy Awards, Dick Clark Productions, and VH1 are all betting that the elevated status of digital creators means they’re worthy of a splashy televised award show for 2015.

    While last year’s awards happened as digital media edged into Hollywood’s space, Thursday’s event is set to cement at least the interplay of the mainstream media world with that of the digital stars who’ve been increasingly making waves into the traditional space. One might not be trumping the other, but there’s definitely no ignoring either. And with the TV’s lens on the evening, for the first time the show has to wow beyond the event ballroom’s walls.

    “We are trying to be interesting and compelling enough to the viewers at home who may not be watching YouTube and be online all the time, and to the people in the theater that may not be watching TV,” explained Assaf Blecher, VP of Programming and Development for Dick Clark Productions, which partners with Tubefilter to produce the annual show. “It’s an hour and a half of nonstop digital music and mainstream celebrities. Everybody is showing up and wants to be part of it.”

    While the night is hosted by YouTube wunderkinds Tyler Oakley and Grace Helbig, many of the presenters and performers, like Paula Abdul and Hailee Steinfeld, speak more to the traditional media space than the Web. Blecher explained that the digital community will be woven throughout.  

    “It’s going to be a really interesting night because mainstream is meeting online,” he said. “Every category will be presented by a mainstream star and a YouTube star together. Every performance almost is going to [have] an online element. I know there’s a lot of mainstream names, but they’re not isolated. It’s always with the community; it’s always with online.”

    One other facet of the evening that will involve the community is the nomination packages, which were fashioned by big-name creators and will play before each awards is announced.

    “Every package was custom made by a huge online creator,” explained Blecher. “The Beauty category will look completely different than the Gaming. It’s not a show we’re creating in a vacuum like many other award shows. The creators were a part of creating the show.”

    Of course, digital takes center stage in the awards categories, which shift yearly to keep up with the changing face of digital media. For example, last year there were no awards for Snapchat, and this year a Snapchat series is leading the pack for nominations across the board.

    “There was a moment when it was just YouTube, but then they needed a whole category for Vine,” explained Freddie Wong, who’s nominated seven times in some capacity for his work, including for SnapperHero, the Snapchat series leading in nominations. “It’s the sort of thing where as things evolve, there are more platforms with things that are interesting to watch on them. These awards are a way of highlighting where those are and what to keep an eye on.”

    Wong is poised to launch a Hulu series in the fall, and he wondered if that would keep him out of the Streamys for 2016. It won’t, at least not by current standards, since Hulu nabbed a nomination this year, but as the Streamys have proven each year, the rules of engagement and the structure of the awards are always subject to reinterpretation.

    “There’s the question, right,” Wong laughs. “At what point, as we all evolve and start to show up in things, at what point does that no longer become [Streamys]? … I’m curious to see where that goes!”

    For the creators, winning isn’t so much the focus of the annual event, televised or not. Last year Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein joked that everyone at the microphone was a millionaire. Even if that wasn’t completely accurate, it speaks to the digital set’s ability to achieve and create to high levels, with or without awards.

    “Regardless of the outcome, that night is really about celebrating all the people that are doing what they love for a living,” said Matthew Santoro, a Toronto-based YouTuber who won Breakout Creator award at Monday’s pre-event reception. “If I walk away with an award, that’s just a huge cherry on top.”

    Santoro holds a master’s degree in accounting, and he started his YouTube channel as a diversion during his boring day job. He eventually quit the job, went full-time making comedic list videos, and saw his career take off—to the tune of 4.5 million subscribers.

    “My dad and my mom, while they were supportive, were both cautiously optimistic,” Santoro said about his jump from stable carer life to creator. “They were like, ‘Are you sure you want to give up five and a half years of school to do this whole thing?’ I just said, ‘I do.’ It’s my passion.”

    Santoro will follow attending his first Streamys with a hosting gig at the Global Citizen Festival alongside Hugh Jackman, Stephen Colbert, and AsapSCIENCE YouTubers Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown. While he might be making forays into the mainstream, he still says he and other YouTubers still see themselves as the underdogs.

    “It creates a very strong community,” he said. “That’s what I love about it, that we all kind of still look out for each other. If another creator can’t do a brand deal, they’ll pass it off to me. I love that. You don’t see that in Hollywood, I don’t think.”

    So despite the Streamys dipping its proverbial toe in the Hollywood waters, it’s not forsaking its digital roots. VH1 will be simulcasting the event on its own website and YouTube channel, so that viewers can choose to engage with the entire experience online, if they wish. Dick Clark Productions’ Digital Distribution VP Ariel Elazar also said they’re working with digital platforms like Tumblr and Instagram to create content that exists within those individual communities.

    “You’ll be seeing a lot of custom content around the show specific for Instagram, for Vine, for Tumblr,” said Elazar. “I don’t want to give that much away, but there’s a lot of that element of surprise.”

    With the massive 90-minute undertaking on the horizon for Thursday, the production team has just one goal for the future: They want to do the show for 3 hours next time, Emmys style. That just might run counter to the expectations of the digital world.

    “The people online, they’re watching really quickly,” said Blecher. “They’re on to the next thing within a minute. We need to give the viewers what they want. It’s fast, it’s entertaining, it’s going to be different every minute.”

    In the end, the Streamys might be getting a shot at television, but hopefully it won’t be the television we’re used to: Get ready for a melding of the digital and mainstream worlds, at least for one night.

    Screengrab via Tyler Oakley/YouTube


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    We probably won’t be getting Idris Elba as James Bond anytime soon, but now we know just what we’ve been missing without him.

    Vulture combined footage from Luther, The Gunman, Takers, Spectre, and a Jaguar ad to create a fake James Bond movie around Elba, and we’re already on board. The story itself is somewhat on the thin side, but we think that Elba’s suaveness tied in with his inner struggle could definitely carry it. Now where do we sign up?

    Elba’s name has been linked to 007 since last December, but while he’s denied those rumors, the idea has stayed with fans. Earlier this month, current James Bond writer Anthony Horowitz called Elba“too street” and “a bit too rough” to play Bond (for which he later apologized). Some critics saw this as coded racism—especially when compared to his praise of current Bond Daniel Craig for essentially the same things he criticized Elba for. On Elba’s part, he responded with absolute class.

    H/T Vulture | Screengrab via New York Magazine/YouTube


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    James Corden became a puddle of emotions after Stevie Wonder sang one of his hit romantic songs to Corden’s wife Julia Carey.

    The duo teamed up for Corden’s recurring “Carpool Karaoke” segment, in which they sang a bunch of Wonder’s hits while Corden made his way to work—which was possible after Corden offered to drive. Carey initially didn’t believe Corden when he told her he was spending the day with Wonder, so he had the singer call her to prove it.

    He then sang her a slightly edited version of “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” which easily floored Carey, but it also moved Corden to tears.

    How will Corden ever top this? Perhaps he'll join a band and sing new songs to the tune of Stevie Wonder songs when Wonder isn’t obsessing over FaceTime. It’s at least half a hit in the making.

    Screengrab via The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube


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    Streamys week got off to a memorable start, although not in the way organizers intended.

    In a stunt-gone-wrong at the Streamy Awards Nominee Reception, where 35 categories honoring the best is digital video were announced, co-host GloZell Green never made it to the stage, and instead left the event at YouTube Space LA in an ambulance.

    Green, who’s known for her over-the-top presence, tried to make a grand entrance by sliding down a fire pole. She landed hard, and didn’t stand back up. “It’s broken,” she mouthed to attendees near her, and production stopped to address her injury. We reached out to organizer for an official comment on Green’s status, but she did leave the event in medical care.

    While the incident did put a damper on the evening, Green took to the mic while waiting for her ambulance to encourage the festivities to continue, and posed for pictures with fellow YouTubers like Colleen Ballinger.

    Streamys co-founder Drew Baldwin stepped in for Green, and the night continued with the event bulging at the seams, having clearly outgrown its home in the YouTube Space lobby. With too many attendees to fit inside, guests spilled out into the courtyard, but the rest of the evening was comparatively smooth sailing.

    Epic Rap Battles of History was the big winner of the night, taking home three awards including Collaboration, Costume Design, and Editing. Coming in next were Video Game High School, which won Ensemble Cast and Directing Streamys, and Corridor Digital, which won for Action Sci-Fi series and Visual and Special Effects. Perhaps the most surprising Streamy winner of the evening was James Van Der Beek. Best known for his teen heartthrob status on Dawson’s Creek in the 90s, Van Der Beek won the acting category for his role in Adi Shankar’s Bootleg Universe.

    A full list of winners are below. The remainder of the Streamy Awards will be handed out Thursday, Sept. 17, live on VH1 at 10pm ET.

    Awards for channels, series, or shows

    Animated: Cyanide & Happiness
    Breakout Creator: Matthew Santoro
    Drama: BlackBoxTV
    Indie: Eat Our Feelings
    International: Racka Racka
    Non-Fiction: Good Mythical Morning
    Spin-Off: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Backstage

    Subject awards

    Action or Sci-Fi: Corridor Digital
    Documentary or Investigative: Atari: Game Over
    Fashion: Lauren Elizabeth
    Food: Epic Meal Time
    Gaming: PewDiePie
    Health and Wellness: Blogilates
    News and Culture: The Young Turks
    Science or Education: Vsauce
    Sports: Dude Perfect

    Performance awards

    Actor: James Van Der Beek, Adi Shankar's Bootleg Universe
    Actress: Colleen Ballinger, Miranda Sings
    Collaboration: Nice Peter, EpicLLOYD, Grace Helbig, and Hannah Hart, Epic Rap Battles of History
    Dance: Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval
    Ensemble cast: Video Game High School

    Music awards

    Breakthrough Artist: Shawn Mendes
    Cover Song: “Foil” (Lorde), “Weird Al” Yankovic
    Original Song: “Here,” Alessia Cara

    Craft awards

    Cinematography: Devin Super Tramp, Devin Graham
    Costume Design: Epic Rap Battles of History, Sulai Lopez
    Directing: Video Game High School, Matt Arnold and Freddie Wong
    Editing: Epic Rap Battles of History, Andrew Sherman, Ryan Moulton, Daniel Turcan, and Peter Shukoff
    Visual and Special Effects: Corridor Digital, Sam Gorski, Niko Pueringer, and Jake Watson
    Writing: You Deserve a Drink, Mamrie Hart

    Social video awards

    Short Form Comedy: Logan Paul
    Short Form Creativity: SnapperHero
    Snapchat Storyteller: Shaun McBride (shonduras)

    Campaign awards

    Brand Campaign: Crazy Plastic Ball Prank #WithDad, Roman Atwood (Nissan)
    Social Good Campaign: #ProudToLove, Marriage Equality and LGBT Pride Month

    Photo courtesy of the Streamys


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    What happens if you latch on to the “baking pies with my baby” line from Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” and run with it? The most wholesome cover of the rap hit imaginable, as proven by YouTuber George Dalton.

    Dalton, a 10-year-old actor who most recently starred in Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, posted the doo-wop cover on his channel in July, but it only won mainstream attention after a Vine started circulating this week. His Kidz Bop-ified cover of summer’s hottest track, “Trap Queen,” removes all the drug references in favor of focusing mostly on the baking.
    In the clip—which was directed by Nayip Ramos and produced by Casey Schreffler, the duo that brought the mega-viral Jordyn Jones “Banji”—Dalton plays piano, rides in classic cars, and praises his “trap queens” on their baking skills. The lyrics are reworked to fit the PG mode.

    “I’m like hey what’s up hello / you look pretty awe-some as you come in the door/ She my trap queen / let her in the condo,” Dalton sings. They “hit the strip mall” and he has some “dough” for them to roll. Lyrics that don't have to shift too much are the references to “grams.” (It’s still a measurement in baking, after all.)

    Dalton hasn’t stopped at Fetty Wap covers. He also released a Sia cover on his channel and has started vlogging.

    Screengrab via George Dalton/YouTube


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    This article contains sexually explicit content.

    Model and actor Naomi Campbell is the latest public figure to test the limits of social media's nudity standards. She did so with an artfully topless still that hit Instagram like a stone.

    Tuesday afternoon the British icon accompanied a nude black-and-white photograph with a #freethenipple rallying cry. Not unlike Kim Kardashian's first attempt to "break the Internet," the gesture teased an upcoming Garage magazine series.

    For its part, Garage posted a version of the photo with preemptive censorship. 

    Despite protests from celebs like Chrissy TeigenMiley Cyrus, Madonna, and Chelsea Handler, Instagram's nudity policy doesn't permit topless photography of this nature. Seen as a perennial double standard, the rules have been a continued source of protest across social media. Instagram's policy states:
    We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. 

    Instagram does, however, permit breastfeeding and post-mastectomy photos. At press time, Campbell's photos remain live on both Instagram and Twitter. Let's see how long that lasts.

    Photo via Naomi Campbell/Instagram


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    YouTube singer Troye Sivan is now the driving force behind back-to-back top-5 releases—his new EP Wild sold 50,000 units in its first week.

    Last year's TRXYEclaimed the No. 5 spot with only 30,000 albums sold. According to Billboard, 43,000 of Wild's sales were digital, placing it at No. 4 on the Digital Albums chart this week. In Sivan's native Australia he topped the charts.

    The music video for "Wild," which is part one of a trilogy, has garnered 3.4 million streams since debuting on Sept. 3.

    Sivan also boasts high-profile endorsements. Shortly after the EP's release, Taylor Swift posted her support on Instagram. "Vibes. Moods. Feelings." she wrote, accompanying an image of Sivan's cover art.

    Sivan is back in Australia on a break with family, but he's likely to be YouTube's biggest musical success since perhaps Justin Bieber if he keeps moving in this trajectory.

    Screengrab via TroyeSivanVEVO/YouTube


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    YouTube's scariest video this Halloween season might be a simple set tour.

    YouTube Space LA is launching its annual Halloween sets with a spooky 360-degree tour of the space. Users can views all aspects of the set online, with occasional doors opening for no reason. The whole video you're wondering what might be behind you. By the time you reach the dentist's chair with its flickering apparitions, you're thoroughly freaked out. 

    YouTube partnered with Skybound Entertainment and comic book creator Robert Kirkman to give YouTube creators the opportunity to film on the new Halloween sets between now and Oct. 29. Additionally, 15 creators were selected for a special script-writing workshop and are in competition for a development deal with Skybound.

    This is the third year that YouTube has set up Halloween-specific sets for creators. This time out the directive is to create content around the theme, “What happened here?” The resulting videos will roll out between Oct. 26 and Halloween.

    Photo courtesy of YouTube Space LA


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    What happens on The Late Show not only ends up on TV and the Internet, but it may even come back to bite you.

    Last week, Amy Schumer told Stephen Colbert that she had rented Jake Gyllenhaal’s house and ate some of the old cheesecake she found in his freezer. Schumer recorded herself eating it and talking to Gyllenhaal as if she attended the birthday party where it was served. She could have easily made this up, but then she rolled the clip.

    When Gyllenhaal appeared on the show on Tuesday night, Colbert couldn’t resist relaying the story to him. While it’s unclear if he knew about it beforehand, Colbert gave him the perfect slice of sweet, sweet revenge—one that they shared onstage.

    That looks like it might have been even more satisfying than the actual cheesecake.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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

    With numerous channels, a webcomic, and job hosting the Vlogbrothers’ latest educational venture, Sabrina Cruz is firing on all cylinders on YouTube. And she’s just getting started.

    It’s so easy to feel a kinship for YouTube creator Sabrina Cruz, the woman behind Nerdy and Quirky. Between her National Geographic background and her smart humor, Cruz’s videos give you confidence in being different.

    The 17-year-old Toronto creator launched her home channel (NerdyandQuirky) in 2012, and in the past three years, she has earned over 6 million views through videos that straddle the line between thought-provoking and wildly entertaining. Her video menu serves a little bit of everything, from light-hearted, comedic vlogs covering education (“The Sad Life of Vincent Van Gogh”), fangirling (“How to Take Care of a Fangirl”), and general life (“Imaginary Boyfriend R.I.P.”) to conversation-starting videos on feminism, body shaming, YouTube culture, and creativity.

    In one recent video, Cruz weighs in on the recent controversy caused by Nicole Arbour’s now-infamous body-shaming video, “Dear Fat People,” pointing out that there is a difference between producing edgy comedy and just being offensive at the expense of other people. It is a great comfort to know that young YouTube viewers have Cruz to look up to as a role model and example on how to approach life with authenticity and boldness.

    Outside of her main YouTube channel, Cruz runs a daily vlogging channel and music channel (The Serious Biscuit), hosts the Vlogbrothers’ Crash Course Kids series, creates the comic strip Elise following the adventures of a teenage girl, and founded What the Fanfiction, a YouTube channel in which creators around the world read some of the Internet’s most peculiar fanfic. So in summary, Sabrina Cruz is taking names and kicking ass all day, every day.

    What continues to excite me about Cruz and her videos is the underlying message each holds of taking pride in being completely yourself. They’re a celebration of fangirls, nerds, feminists, and everything in between, and even as a 25-year-old woman, I’m inspired by Cruz’s appetite for creativity and passion for life. So cheers to you, Sabrina Cruz, and your many more YouTube milestones to come.

    Screengrab via Nerdy and Quirky/YouTube


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    We’ve already seen Ariana Grande do a spot-on Celine Dion impression, but how does she fare with other famous pop stars whose voices are just as big?

    Grande and Jimmy Fallon played a rousing round of Wheel of Musical Impressions in which the singer showed how Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera would perform nursery rhymes, and Grande's performance is, quite simply, incredible.

    Is it better than Aguilera’s own Spears impression? You be the judge.

    To top it all off, Fallon and Grande ended the whole thing with their Sting and Dion impressions duetting on “I Can’t Feel My Face,” which is something we can’t say we ever thought we’d see.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    The young men of 5Quad stand onstage, doing the Nae Nae. Then they play a timeless game, Never Have I Ever. After asking the audience, which is 95 percent tween and teenage girls, a series of normal questions, things take a turn.

    “Never have I ever… worn lingerie.”

    A dad, carrying nachos and bottles of water, does a double take at the stage.

    This is DigiFest, an arm of DigiTour, an IRL event for social media stars. On this Sunday afternoon, Dallas’s Southside Ballroom is essentially a mall for fans to engage in commerce and interact with their favorite Vine or YouTube stars. It’s not uncommon to see a performer wandering around in the wild, sans security, as girls scramble to take selfies with him or her.

    Many of these stars are simply famous from social media, but they have to do something resembling a performance on stage. Forever in Your Mind does an “Uptown Funk” cover, and then, inexplicably, a cover of “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band. They also do the Nae Nae. The Nae Nae happens onstage a lot.

    Near the Benzac Acne Solutions social media booth, where viral construct Alex From Target will be appearing later in the evening, fans quickly surround a blond boy wearing a backwards baseball cap.

    “Who is that?” I ask the fan to my left as a clutch of phones goes up.

    “Cole,” she replies.

    “Cole…?”

    “Cole!”

    Fans are on a first-name basis with performers here, thank you very much. Parents make up the rest of the population, but they mostly stand in parent-designated or VIP areas downing drinks, looking at their phones, and holding merch as their children scream for boys named Tez and Cole.

    This is an “IRL” event, a way for fans to meet performers like Jack and Jack, Nash Grier, Maddie Welborn, Aaron Carpenter, and Sammy Wilk. Performers ask fans to take a selfie with them from the stage, and the social media circle of life continues. Vine commodity Nash Grier will give you a kiss and pose for a picture, if you pay enough money. Alex From Target might take a selfie with you. 

    Last year, according to DigiTour co-founder Christopher Rojas, the event series sold around 130,000 tickets, and leaders were setting their sights on 250,000 this year. He told the Daily Dot they’re on track to hit 200,000 tickets for 2015, adding that the company has doubled in size in the last year. In 2016, they’re planning on producing a tour every month. In January, they’re going overseas for the first time ever. And while Snapchat was the emerging platform for talent discovery in 2014, he says this year they’re working with livestream video app YouNow, and five of its top stars were on the Texas DigiFest tour. However, he stresses that there isn’t the “next Vine or YouTube just yet.”

    While this show was a little more diverse than last summer’s DigiTour (meaning there were actually female performers), Rojas says the audience demographic is still 90 percent female, 10 percent male. Ages 13-18 represent the main fanbase, but ages 9-12 were heavily represented in Dallas as well. 

    Grier is DigiTour’s creative director, which means he’ll help produce and shape content for the website. At DigiFest, he announced several of the acts, and he has become a “go-to,” Rojas says, for meet and greets. The Grier event in Dallas largely consisted of girls handing phones to an intermediary, snapping a shot or two with Grier, and then being shuffled off.

    Grier faced criticism last year for old videos that showed him yelling a homophobic slur, and in 2013 he came under fire for a video that featured him and two other YouTubers offering advice on how women should look and act. Another DigiTour-related artist, Matthew Espinosa, showed up at this summer’s VidCon in what appeared to be blackface. I ask Rojas if they’ve seen fans react to those controversies.

    “Our relationship with the fans is very tied to our events,” he says. “So we’re mainly talking to them about how excited they are to come to the next Digi, and what the roster’s going to be, and fielding all of those sort of customer service questions.”

    He says for many performers, “DigiTour and DigiFest are the very first thing that they do offline. And through us, we’re able to get them their first brand deals or their first piece of press, and we always pride ourselves on helping them get to that next level, whatever that may be for them. We’re not their managers; we’re not their agents. We see them as friends, and the bigger they get, the better it is for DigiTour. And the bigger DigiTour gets, the better it is for them. There’s a symbiotic relationship there.

    “These digital lives of theirs, it’s definitely a living.”


    And what of the digital lives of their fans?

    The cost of being a fan no longer hinges on buying a ticket and carpooling to a show. General admission tickets for the Dallas DigiFest cost $50 plus fees. However, if you want to participate in the three-hour private meet and greet with Grier, that would be $100. VIP tickets, which include backstage and meet and greet access, ranged from $195-$324. If you happen to live outside Dallas, there’s the cost of commute and gas, possibly a hotel.

    The father of a 13-year-old and 11-year-old fan sits near one of the designated parent zones, draped with merch. They drove in from New Mexico, and while he’s hesitant to reveal how much they spent on DigiFest, he concedes that “if it makes [them] happy, and I only have to do this once a year, it’s OK.” Other chaperones, like the woman wearing an “Official Fangirl Transporter” shirt, seem to have a more defined role.

    This new economy has forced fans looking to get to shows to find other ways to fund their dreams: Many fans are turning to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to bankroll trips and concert tickets. The YouNow app has become an especially vibrant place to facilitate this. There, fans often exchange info on Vine and YouTube stars for comments and likes, connect with performers and other fans, and detail the minutiae of their lives.

    Fangirls” are often portrayed as obsessive, but that term somewhat minimizes the larger contributions fans have made, the intricate system that teenage girls have devised to get their favorite to No. 1 on the Billboard charts or iTunes—to click them into relevance. This organization of women and girls also came into play last year, when YouTube celebs like Sam Pepper and Jason Viohni were accused of sexual harassment, and fans encouraged other fans to speak up. You can’t discount the power that comes from having a collective voice. 

    The Alex From Target experiment was an especially interesting exploration of the fan-led push. In November 2014, a photo started circulating on Twitter of a handsome young cashier named Alex, who was quickly plucked from the obscurity of his North Texas Target job and turned into a meme. The photo was then labeled a hoax with a marketing campaign behind it, and many began to wonder if Alex From Target (real name Alex Lee) was even real. It turns out two 15-year-old girls from Texas were the first to tweet about him, and now Alex From Target is doing the worm shirtless at DigiTour.

    A recent Pitchfork article traced how One Direction fans took an old song they thought needed more exposure, “No Control,” and pushed it into the world via Project No Control:

    In May, Billboard reported the track "picked up 1 million U.S. streams in the week ending May 17 […] while its sales rose by a mighty 1,674 percent to 5,000 downloads." The band discussed PNC at the Billboard Awards and during their appearance on "The Late Late Show". Last week, "No Control" earned the band a Teen Choice Award for Best Party Song. All this because a passionate, predominantly female fanbase was savvy enough to identify a) that the band’s critical reputation would not change on its own, and b) the amplification required to chart a new track.

    They didn’t just want to consume the band’s music; they wanted to control what was on the menu.

    Rojas explains this is how largely DigiTour and DigiFest work as well.

    “The rosters come about very organically,” he said. “We listen to our fans; they very much evolve as our fan demand evolves. ...They’re emailing us, they’re tweeting us like crazy. On any given day, there’s 100,000 fans tweeting us something. And we’re there constantly listening.”

    That’s a two-way street, though.

    “[DigiTour] has become an aspirational platform for a lot of the talent who want to become social stars in some form, whether it’s a musical social star or a personality or a vlogger,” he said. “When they buy that first camera to start vlogging or vining, they… want to one day be invited to Digi, so much so that once they gain any sort of [fanbase], they have their fanbase tweeting at us, and they’re engaging their fans to tell us to book them. And sometimes they make enough noise that we take notice.”

    In this hall of commerce, phones were the lifeline between IRL and online: fans were always filming, tweeting, livestreaming—making sure they got noticed. Making sure they had a voice. 

    Photo by Andi Harman 


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    BY LARRY CARROLL

    In the last decade-and-a-half, Milla Jovovich has made five Resident Evil films, wielding impressive weapon skills, jumping off flying motorcycles and kicking the butts of numerous zombies. But as she’d be the first to tell you, she wouldn’t have been able to convince you she’d done any of it without the help of her stuntwomen.

    Now the actress is getting emotional on Facebook as Olivia Jackson, her stunt double on the currently-filming next Resident Evil film, nearly died in an action scene gone horribly wrong.

    RELATED: ‘Resident Evil’ video game series getting Universal Halloween treatment

    “I sit down to write this post with a heavy heart, because a terrible accident rocked our set on Saturday the 5th of September,” the 39-year-old actress says on her official Facebook page. “My incredibly talented stunt double, Olivia Jackson, collided with a camera crane while performing a motorcycle stunt and it put her in the hospital with severe, multiple injuries.”

    The accident happened on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which is currently in production and directed by Jovovich’s husband, Paul W.S. Anderson. “The cast and crew of ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ have been totally devastated and are waiting with bated breath for news on her recovery,” explains the actress. “We now understand she is stable and being carefully monitored by very experienced South African doctors.”

    According to the Daily Mail, Jackson—who also did stunts in the recent Mad Max: Fury Road and the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens—suffered major head injuries and was in an induced coma for a time. Jackson is reported to have been wearing no protective gear or helmet, and when the camera’s metal arm malfunctioned and didn’t lift, she drove into it.

    “I wasn’t personally there to witness it, but from the reports I got, it was awful,” Jovovich says in her Sept. 14 post. “None of us have experienced anything like this in our careers making action films and hope we never do again, but the production reacted very quickly to ensure she received the best care and also in reaching out to her family and making sure they were informed and looked after during this overwhelmingly difficult time. Thank God, they have been by her side through out this harrowing week.”

    “It’s a miracle that she survived. I didn’t know her very well, as we were all just getting going with the film, but the few times we rehearsed together, I really looked up to her because she danced through the choreography, beautiful and graceful,” Jovovich explains, alongside an image she posts of the stuntwoman posing with a tough-looking closed fist. “I would really appreciate it if you would take a moment out of your busy days ahead and pray for Olivia’s full recovery too. She needs all the help she can get right now.”

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


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    Amber Rose is reinventing the walk of shame one stroll at a time.

    Rose, who is hosting a SlutWalk in Los Angeles Oct. 3 to bring awareness to slut-shaming, victim-blaming, and gender inequality, teamed up with Funny or Die to paint a tongue-in-cheek picture of a perfect world. Instead of women being shamed or looked down upon for sleeping around, it’s something that’s celebrated. Everyone from the elderly to judgmental-looking women to young kids are all congratulating Rose as she takes pride in her stride after a night spent somewhere else, high heels in tow. She even gets a key to the city.

    She just had great consensual sex with someone. Why shouldn’t she be happy?

    The question of who she slept with is almost as good of a reveal, but something tells us it’s a message he supports as well.

    Screengrab via Funny or Die


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