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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Chrissy Teigen got to relive all of our childhood dreams by getting an Easy-Bake Oven… and then she went and trolled Instagram with a nude photo with it.

    Teigen, who’s currently co-hosting FABLife, decided to show off her new Easy-Bake Oven while she had some time in her dressing room. She appears nude in the photo, using the Easy-Bake Oven as a prop to cover herself, and tells her Instagram followers to come get the goods she’ll be baking.

    While the photo appears to follow Instagram’s guidelines, Teigen isn’t a fan of the company’s policy when it comes to nudity in photographs; back in June she tried to post a photo of a toples shoot she did, but Instagram kept deleting it.

    But for now Teigen, who is an accomplished cook, decided to try out the Easy-Bake Oven out for herself. Although she was excited at first, she soon discovered one of the disappointing things about the Easy-Bake Oven’s pint-sized portions.

    We’re left with one question: will there be Easy-Bake Oven-sized recipes in her upcoming cookbook? Inquiring minds want to know.

    H/T Huffington Post | Photo via chrissyteigen/Instagram


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    Alan Tudyk's Con Man has more than just Indiegogo backer rewards to fulfill. The Firefly actor's take on fans and fan culture has some high expectations to meet—and we're not sure it quite hits the mark.

    The first four episodes of the webseries premiered Wednesday on Vimeo, with the remaining nine episodes to air in installments of three over the next three weeks. While some backers can view the episodes, which are about 10 minutes long, others have the option of renting the season for a three-month viewing period. 

    Fans can also tune in to Entertainment Weekly Wednesday at 10:00pm ET to stream the first three episodes for free.

    The results of Tudyk and co-star Nathan Fillion's crowdfund campaign, which grossed more than $3 million, are a mixed bag. The show boasts a litany of guest stars—everyone from Wil Wheaton to Felicia Day. Despite being billed as Extras meets Galaxy Quest, Con Man feels more like Tudyk's attempt to draw comedy from his own awkward encounters with Firefly fans. For instance, the opening scene, which shows Tudyk's character Ray Nerely getting hilariously pestered for autographs while sitting on a toilet, comes from his own experience. Astute con-goers will recognize other characters, like Mindy Sterling's agent, as being inspired by real people as well.

    The basic plot of Con Man is a well-trodden trope by now: A minor celebrity goes to a con and is baffled by fandom culture and suffers encounters with awkward fans, but gradually discovers fans are OK after all. It's one that fans have seen many times before—and not always so lovingly handled, as in Tim Allen's 1999 film, Galaxy Quest. In addition to watching that same trope play out in an endless litany of articles about fandom (replace "baffled minor celebrity" with "baffled journalist"), fans have seen similar themes in shows like Supernatural and The Guild. In fact, Supernatural actors crowdfunded a very similar webseries just days after the Con Man campaign launched.

    The problem with this trope is that often attempts to "lovingly" skewer fan communities often veer too far in the direction of laughing at, not with, those fans. Tudyk does utilize plenty of self-deprecating humor, to be sure: Nerely is clearly too neurotic and concerned with his floundering career to kick back and enjoy the fan culture around him, so fans will have a good time watching him learn to relax.

    But in the first two episodes alone, there's a running joke on an ableist slur, a running joke about Felicia Day's diarrhea, and a gag mocking an overweight, broken-accented Latino man in an angel tutu and tights. In other words, Con Man's humor is often as awkward as the fans it wants to poke fun at. 

    The show's loving view of fans is voiced from the perspective of Sean Astin, who shows up to deliver a hobbitlike mantra about the relationship between celebrities and fans: “We’re the music makers. They’re just dancing to the dream.”

    But Con Man might be a little overhasty in dragging its core base, instead of dragging fans along to the party where everyone is dancing together.

    Screengrab courtesy of Vimeo


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    The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are developing a TV show based on Serial, the popular whodunit podcast.

    Contrary to the sentiment of more than a few critical tweets, the show will not be an adaptation of the case that season 1 focused on—the unsolved murder of Hae Min Lee. Instead, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be "based on the experience of making the hugely successful podcast."

    Fox 21 Television Studios has optioned the rights to the adaptation, and Fox president Bert Salke told THR that the project was something special, with a "once in twenty-five years creative team" working on it.

    Both Sarah Koenig, Serial's host, and Ira Glass, the host of This American Life, are onboard. They were apparently pleased with Lord and Miller's idea for the show before it was even presented to Fox 21.

    Lord and Miller have a large slate of highly anticipated projects in their future, perhaps none more so than the Star Wars film about young Han Solo that they are directing.

    H/T The Hollywood Reporter| Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Snapchat founder and world's youngest billionaire Evan Spiegel joined Stephen Colbert on The Late Show Wednesday night to discuss rainbow vomit and the 2016 election.

    The app's hugely popular barfing-rainbow selfie lens has already been mothballed, but its legacy endures. Colbert managed to dig up barfing rainbow snaps of all the major presidential candidates, allowing the conversation to segue neatly into Snapchat's Live Story function.

    Spiegel touted Snapchat as an ideal way to experience the 2016 election, as it allows users to live-snap political events like debates from their own perspective.

    Could the upcoming election herald a new era of Snapchat-based political coverage? Evan Spiegel hopes so, anyway. 

    Screengrab via The Late Show With Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    Nobody's ever recorded a ramble about Obama on their iPhone, posted it to SoundCloud, and woken up to an inbox full of sponsorship deals and donations from adoring fans. Despite what hosting services with monthly fees may tell you, successful podcasters don't usually start out as unknowns who work their way up into the big bucks.  

    When a new medium emerges, it's fun to think, "Hey, maybe that's what I'm meant to do—it just hasn't existed until now." The truth, though, is that most successful podcasters are veterans of other mediums—ones they were successful in. For their podcasts, they bring a mixture of pre-loaded knowledge and a built-in audience that helps facilitate their show's launch.

    Karina Longworth is no exception to this rule, although researching her career made me realize something else about successful podcasters: Almost all of them have been nobodies before. In fact, podcasting seems to be the rewardfor being nobody for a long time. It's the medium of the career freelancer, of the musician who spent 1994-2013 in a studio apartment located 40 miles from downtown, and of the cinema-obsessed blogger.

    That last one's directed at Karina, who started her career by co-founding the movie blog Cinematical—by the time she left in 2007, it had reached 2.5 million viewers per month. It had also been purchased by AOL, which eventually folded the thing into MovieFone. By 2011, the site that had helped to define and legitimize the world of online film criticism was practically dead—but Karina's career wasn't. She worked in a pasta factory before moving to Los Angeles to make Cinematical her full-time gig, and her work and experience with that site made it highly unlikely that she'd be returning to the pasta game. 

    According to the bios of 2008's Fantastic Fest jurors, Karina was Cinematical's editor, lead contributor, de facto festival reporter, and produced three-plus features per week. Oh—she also wrote about 12 news hits on the site per day. 

    That sort of energy doesn't just disappear when a bad corporate takeover comes along.

    After leaving Cinematical in 2007, she became an editor, film critic, and staff writer for the LA Weekly. She's also written three biographies, and lectures college students on the side.

    Last year, she came to the conclusion that she wasn't busy enough and spent 10 days working on the pilot for a podcast about the strange histories and idiosyncrasies of Hollywood's most-gilded times. 

    She called it You Must Remember This. On the iTunes charts, it occupies the No. 3 position for movie and TV podcasts. It's two episodes into its fifth season, dubbed "MGM Stories."

    The Daily Dot spoke with Karina Longworth via email about everything.


    I hate to immediately make this comparison, but with Serial having debuted in October, did that series inspire you at all to make the pilot episode for You Must Remember This? You describe the show as "creative nonfiction," where the truth is proven to exist between the blurred lines of conflicting recollections and details, which I suppose generally describes all great historians' approach to the past. Are there any specific historians who particularly influenced your show's style? 

    I made the pilot for my show in April 2014 and was making weekly episodes by June 2014, so I can't say Serial was an influence. I wasn't influenced by any specific historian or previous podcast—if anything, I had an idea for the way I wanted a show to sound in my head, and I had to make it because that would be the only way I could explain to people what I was thinking. 

    After several episodes, I assumed that much of your narration was improvisednot in a bad way, but because your tone is so conversational that the narration feels like you're discussing a subject that's stuck with you, after you've dug into it at some point in the past. When the script was released for the first, and "lost" episode on Kim Novak, I couldn't believe that it was nearly 4,500 words that had actually been written down. Has the show maintained that level of scripting, or has it loosened up a bit as you've become more comfortable with recording them?

    Every episode has a script of between 4,000-5,000 words and nothing is improvised. I'm not good at that.

    You write, narrate, record, and edit each episodeand the writing alone is way more intense than I'd imagined it to be. Between teaching, working on books, contributing articles to major publications, and making all sorts of appearances on other programs, both for your knowledge of cinematic history and to discuss your new show's popularity, well... How in the hell do you find the time to do it all? I mean, each show has a fully comprehensive bibliography paired to it, for fuck's sake. And you still get weekly releases out. Have you gotten more help on the show since its early days? 

    To be perfectly honest, I am starting feel like it's a lot of work, but it's exactly what I wanted to do so I can't complain too much. Since joining Panoply they have taken over the work of editing the show, so that definitely helps, and I've started to work with an intern to help with the research and some of the administrative stuff surrounding other things that I'm doing. 

    Looking back at your notes on the pilot episode, where you wrote that the show would never be a completely professional production, is it weird to have maintained that DIY power of control with the show, and to simultaneously see it at the No. 3 slot on the iTunes TV and film podcast chart? The first two episodes of this season are showing their popularity bars as being 100 percent full on their iTunes listingsI don't fully understand what that means, but it seems like a major positive. Did you ever think the show would get this big, back when you made that first pilot while teaching yourself GarageBand?

    I did not think the show would become as popular as it has become, but at the same time, I don't know if I would have continued to put this much work into a project if it didn't feel like people wanted the thing I was making. 

    On the show's Wikia page, a section claims to be designated for all your future ideas, where you also encourage fans to pitch in with ideas of their own. Are you really behind that section? If so, has fan interaction been an important aspect to you since the very start of the show? How do you think your beginnings as a blogger influenced how you communicate with your current fan base? 

    The Wiki page you're talking about was just something I was trying out, before I settled on another way to foster conversation between me and the listeners, which is our forum.

    I do participate in the forum to the extent that I have the time, and I did pull ideas from the forum for this current season (every episode includes a listener of the show telling me why they asked for that specific topic). I can't imagine making something that is distributed on the Internet and not have a community conversation be some kind of part of it. That said, I turn off comments on the blog posts where I post the episodes, because for some reason comment threads seem to invariably have a really high jerk to smart person ratio. 

    You claimed that the pilot episode took 10 days to completehow long does it generally take now? 

    It doesn't really take less time than that, if you factor in all the research, but the process has become less painful. 

    Can you feel any sense of an end to the show in sight, or do you think it's something you'll continue doing? Do you still get the same satisfaction from completing an episode as you did at its beginning? 

    Right now the show is a full-time job and it's the only job I want (other than writing books, which I'm also doing). I do still really like doing it. It's not yet profitable and I can't continue to do this much work for free forever, but I have faith in the show's new network and its prospects for the future.  

    What's your favorite, and most far-out episode that you've released so far? The bar was set pretty high with the first post-pilot episode on Frank Sinatra's songs about the future and outer space.

    Maybe "far out" is subjective, but most of the Charles Manson episodes are pretty weird. My favorites are the ones that I have emotional connections to, like the Carole Lombard show, and the ones where I attempt to do something a little more elaborate with the production, like the Lena Horne episode.

    Why was the pilot episode "lost" for so long? Did you team up with Panoply right after the pilot was made, and it just kinda got left off the bus? 

    I made the pilot in April 2014 and I joined Panoply in September 2015, so the network didn't have anything to do with that episode's status. The short story is that I didn't know that it was a bad idea to use large swaths of copyright music in a podcast when I made the pilot, and then the project file of that episode got corrupted so I can't re-edit it.

    Photo via anokarina/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    A new CBS series about aliens eating politicians' brains is getting an exclusive home on Amazon

    The streaming site's in-season licensing deals with Under the Dome and Extant have paved the way for even more CBS content, and today the companies announced a "multi-year, multi-series agreement to make Prime Video the exclusive subscription streaming home for three new CBS summer series through 2018." 

    That third new series is BrainDead—which debuts next summer—a political comedy from the producers of The Good Wife.Its premise: Aliens have eaten the brains of several members of Congress. Amazon Prime members will be able to stream new episodes just four days after air. 

    This deal will also open up CBS and Showtime's catalog to Prime members, and include access to the original Twin Peaks, The L Word, and I Love Lucy. 

    Amazon's competitor, Netflix, just nabbed exclusive streaming rights to How to Get Away With Murder, Jane the Virgin, and Zoo, and Hulupicked upThe Last Man on Earth, highlighting just how essential monetizing TV content has become for streaming sites.  

    Illustration by Jason Reed 


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    Taylor Swift has been giving back to the fans for a long time, but her latest contribution hits close to home for the singer.

    Ayden, the 13-month-old nephew of one of Swift's 1989 World Tour backup dancers, Kim “Toshi” Davidson, was diagnosed with cancer this week after spending more than two weeks in the intensive care unit. He needs further testing to determine what type of cancer he has, so his family set up a GoFundMe account to help defray the costs. Ayden's mother Lindsey was let go from her job because she chose to stay by her son’s side.

    Davidson shared the news of his nephew's condition on Instagram and directed his followers to the GoFundMe campaign.

    The family asked for $20,000, but they received more than double that thanks to a $50,000 donation from Swift.

    “Baby Ayden, I’m lucky enough to perform with your uncle Toshi on tour,” Swift wrote on the GoFundMe page. “All of us are praying for you and your mama and sending so much love your way. Love, Taylor.”

    Davidson didn’t find out about Swift’s donation until after he arrived in Toronto Wednesday for the next part of the 1989 World Tour. He called Swift “an incredible human being” and thanked her for the donation in another Instagram post.

    This isn’t the first time that Swift, whose mother is also battling cancer, has donated a large sum to help someone else in a similar situation. In July, she donated $50,000 to a GoFundMe campaign for a fan with cancer.

    Because of Swift’s donations, which had to be split up at the time, GoFundMe raised the donation limit on its site.

    Ayden’s family was floored by the donations from Swift and others over the past day.

    “Thank you so much for ALL of the outpouring of LOVE and PRAYERS and SUPPORT!!! TEAM AYDEN you are AMAZING!!!” the family said in an update on the campaign page. “Little Ayden was transported yesterday to the Children's Hospital where he will undergo a biopsy to determine exactly what type of cancer he has. We are praying for you Ayden! We love you!!! Thank you so much everyone!”

    H/T People | Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    There's finally some good news for Furious Pete.

    The YouTube fitness expert, otherwise known as Peter Czerwinski, has been publicly battling testicular cancer that spread to his lymph nodes on his channels, from updating fans on his hair falling out to what radiation treatment really looks like. Now he's got positive news to share. 

    In the tearful video, Czerwinski shares that after doing his blood work his HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) levels have dropped below 1, which Czerwinski describes as "super low."

    One of the indicators of testicular cancer is high HCG levels. Czerwinski said they were up at 11 before he started treatment, and now they're in the normal range. 

    The joy on Czerwinski is unmistakable, and we're so happy for him. Next up for the YouTuber: a trip to China.

    H/T BroBible | Screengrab via Furious Pete Vlogs/YouTube


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    The social media push to humanize Pope Francis reached an ecstatic pitch last week, when his holiness visited the States and the news cycle was enraptured: He’s kissing babies! He’s visiting inmates! He’s laying down deep truths about our political system! Cool pope!

    Once he left the States, some dark truths started to emerge: He’d met with Kim Davis. He’d possibly been conned into meeting with Kim Davis. Maybe he didn’t believe in same-sex unions. ...Cool pope?

    Lana McGilvray, principal for the Austin, Texas-based Blast, the public relations company behind some of the social media blitz that anticipated the pope’s arrival, was tasked with getting people amped about cool pope, and keeping the momentum going online once he left and our attention was drawn to other topics.

    “In my opinion, our biggest challenge is keeping messages like this phenomenal one alive post-campaign and blitz,” she said.  

    Blast was approached by Kathleen Hessert, CEO of Sports Media Challenge, to create a social media campaign for the visit. The third part of the trinity was Aleteia, a Catholic media network, which proposed the central hashtag-worthy concepts of the messaging: “Good is winning” and “Pope is hope.” The focus was on millennials, but not necessarily just Catholic millennials.

    Blast had two months of lead time to conceptualize the campaign, and worked with emoji keyboard creators Swyft Media to create something shareable: Popemoji, which were deployed on Snapchat and Facebook. Blast then tracked engagement and saw social and traditional media intersect, like when Jimmy Kimmel mentioned the emoji. 

    According to McGilvray, the custom pope emoji keyboard was downloaded more than 86,000 times, and there were 799,000 Popemoji circulated in the span of two weeks, with more than 8 million interactions.

    He’s eating a cheesesteak! He’s running up the steps like in Rocky!

    “I think they were really authentic,” McGilvray said. “It struck me that he actually looked quite like the emojis when he actually was doing the physical tour. ...In one case, he’s headbutting a soccer ball. He likes soccer, and he’s been very vocal about that. ...I think the clever was very wrapped around the authentic, in this case, moreso than anything super humorous. The humor was in the true communication of the type of person he is.”

    Millennials were the driving force behind the digital #goodiswinning campaign, which was headquartered in Philadelphia. The volunteers worked out of a “social listening center," and tweeted pro-pope messages from their personal social media accounts. There were even COWS, cell stations on wheels, placed around sites where the pope was speaking to handle massive data usage and literally offer a signal boost.


    “I think the thing that knocked my socks off was just how positive it was,” McGilvray said. “We’ve communicated with lots of different campaigns and subjects people don’t know about or are less interested in. We’ve communicated around crises. And this particular engagement, I was just overwhelmed by how positive the engagement with the pope messages were. I think there were probably a couple things feeding into it. I think time and place; I think we needed it, maybe, as a culture, this kind of visit. But I was getting more personal outreaches from people who saw this campaign than I’d ever received in my life." 

    But it wasn't just millennials who got into it. 

    "I had someone ask if I could share the emojis because her [92-year-old] mother was staying alive to get through this visit.”

    Illustration by Max Fleishman 


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    Ryan Adams, one of the most in-demand musical artists this side of Taylor Swift after he covered her entire 1989 album, took to The Daily Show stage on Thursday and played as Trevor Noah's first musical guest.

    Adams and his five-piece band performed a solid rendition of Swift's "Bad Blood," one of the peppier covers on Adams' 1989 album. It was a fine performance for the song that Daily Dot colleague Ramon Ramirez called "a stuck-in-Gainesville, Tom Petty makeover." In fact, the rendition played by Adams on Thursday night might have been a little harder and faster than the album version.

    After the final commercial break, Noah said he was a huge fan of Adams and of Swift, and he told Adams, "What was interesting to me is that a lot of people thought you recorded this album ironically, and yet, you did not." Adams looked all around the studio for two or three beats and simply said, "Yes" before the two dissolved into laughter.

    After a brief interview in which they talked about the process for recording the album, Adams played out the show with his version of "Style," which was harder and faster than "Bad Blood." Or as Ramirez wrote, it "rocks and pops like early U2."


    Before he kicked off his first week of Daily Show tapings, Noah talked about why he wanted Adams as his first musical guest—and why he wants more musical guests in general.

    "He took Taylor Swift and... remade that to much acclaim and has done exceptionally well, and I really appreciate that," Noah told journalists last week, via the Hollywood Reporter. "… He’s done in essence what we’ve done here—he's taken something that was loved by many, cherished by many, and has created a new version of it for himself. And people have gone, 'Wow, this is amazing. We can still like Taylor Swift but we can also like Ryan Adams' 1989."

    Noah certainly can appreciate that sentiment as he tries to fill the slot that made Jon Stewart one of the nation's most-trusted newsmen—fake or otherwise—and tries to fill people with the joy and laughter that Stewart did for most of this century. He wants to prove that people can like Stewart and Noah at the same time. 

    During his first week on the job, Noah did well. The interviews were unexceptional, but Noah and his correspondents were funny as they ran through the most pressing news stories of the week.

    The only question left to be answered: When will Noah invite Father John Misty on the show?

    Update 5:30am CT, Oct. 2: Added video.

    Photo via Comedy Central


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    Thanks to a bit of hands-on detective work, Conan O’Brien and Starlee Kine have finally solved one of the Internet’s biggest mysteries.

    Kine, creator of the podcast Mystery Show, rekindled the Internet’s obsession with celebrity heights—but out of countless celebrities, it was Jake Gyllenhaal who caused the most debate. It was a matter of inches, and it created pages upon pages of debate. Gyllenhaal appeared on Mystery Show and told Kine that he was 5 feet 11.5 inches tall. That solved it for some, but others didn’t exactly trust the source.

    Conan O’Brien took matters into his own hands on Thursday night. He brought Gyllenhaal onstage, even making him take his shoes off, before finally measuring him and putting the matter to rest.

    Is this finally the end of it? Given that some are pointing out that Gyllenhaal wasn’t exactly standing up straight when he was measured, probably not.

    Screengrab via Team Coco/YouTube


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    “Sometimes things piss us off a lot.”

    That’s host Anna Lore gives in What’s Trending Fem’s inaugural video. In the teaser trailer posted a day before the channel’s official debut, she promises to alert viewers to viral videos and trending topics before everyone else—but with a feminist slant.

    What’s Trending Fem is the feminist offshoot of What’s Trending, a website that gathers, reports, and promotes viral content as it’s gathering steam in real time. While What’s Trending also boasts its own YouTube channel, What’s Trending Fem is the latest after What’s Trending India to get a page of its own. With columns like Trending, Popular, and Latest, you can’t look anywhere without spotting a cat, a tweet, or Taylor Swift. If memes had an official lair, this would be it.

    The teaser video lists Hayley Hoover as the writer and producer of the channel, which makes sense: Hoover’s Internet footprints extend back to the beginning of YouTube itself (she was one of the first 1,000 members of the site), when she got her start as “Thursday” on the channel fiveawesomegirls and on her solo channel, where she continues to make videos about everything from Harry Potter to sexual harassment.

    What’s Trending Fem has a cast of rotating hosts: Anna Lore, Ava Gordy, Whitney Moore, Kylie Sparks, and Jay Walker. The format is similar to that of What’s Trending: Each episode is generally two minutes long, with a segment breaking down the viral content and a segment reacting to it, usually by providing commentary or reading tweets.

    But what makes What’s Trending Fem different from its parent channel is the type of trending topics it chooses to cover. Anything from Pretty Little Liars to BuzzFeed posts is fair game, but the events involve more hot-button issues such as sexuality, race, and gender. The channel’s first official video slammed the stationery, lighter, and razor company Bic for its South African “Think Like a Man” ad campaign. The channel has since covered other Internet flare-ups including the harassment claims against MuggleCast host Ben Schoen and the Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume.

    While What’s Trending and What’s Trending Fem take a modern approach to news, choosing to cover solely Internet content, the concept itself is unexpectedly antiquated. It could feel somewhat like reading a book about movies, or a newspaper article about blogging. It is unlikely that anyone watching these videos has found them without already having encountered the viral content, considering you’d have to already be plugged in to Internet culture to discover the channel.

    For a concept like this to stay afloat, it can’t just tell the viewer what they likely already know. It has to move things forward, which is what gives What’s Trending Fem an advantage. Its feminist angle allows room for not just critique, but also discussion, which is the basic ingredient needed for any kind of change. In aiding the Internet in kicking up a fuss about Bic’s ad campaign, the channel was one of many voices that prompted Bic South Africa to take down the ad and issue an apology on its Facebook page.

    One month and 1,695 subscribers later, What’s Trending Fem is climbing its own way up the viral video ladder. The channel’s most popular video sits at a cushy 18,912 views, with most other videos pulling in between 1,000 and 5,000. What’s Trending Fem may also be at the mercy of what is truly viral, but as far as its hosts are concerned, feminism is always trending.

    Screengrab via What’s Trending Fem/YouTube


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    Stephen Colbert has crowned PewDiePie the emperor of the Internet.

    Colbert was teasing, of course, when he welcomed the Swedish YouTube Let’s Play star to television, but there’s an element of truth to the moniker. PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, currently sits at 39.6 million YouTube subscribers, which is the highest number of subscribers for any YouTube star to date.

    Last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the talk show host had a little fun with the 25-year-old Internet warlord, and PewDiePie said some Swedish curse words that are apparently so bad they even had to be bleeped for an American audience.

    Of course, some words are universal…

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    A former YouTuber who ran a “players” channel is facing charges of sex trafficking and child pornography for videos he allegedly made featuring underage girls.

    Donald Clifton Allen Jr., the host of D’Nero’s Player Show on YouTube, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

    Clips from D’Nero’s Player Show still live online, although it was last updated five years ago. In them, the 50-year-old Allen lip syncs, reviews nightclubs, and hosts clips of girls dancing in lingerie. It’s not so different from any number of amateur YouTubers trying to find a niche, but now Allen faces charges after Detroit authorities began investigating him in 2009.

    Police eventually raided his home and confiscated video footage, including at least one clip that featured a 17-year-old in sexual positions. In 2012 a grand jury indicted Allen, and he's been awaiting trail in prison. Meanwhile his most popular video, a woman twerking in slow motion, has hit 147,000 views.

    Allen’s trial begins Dec. 8 in Detroit.

    H/T NY Daily News | Screengrab via D’Nero’s Player Show/YouTube


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    It was only a matter of time before an app came along and shook us out of our Dubsmash haze.

    LiPP allows users to dub their own voices over clips, rather than lip-syncing to Dubsmash’s soundboard of TV, movie, and song samples—as long as the clip is 15 seconds or shorter. It’s sort of like the Mystery Science Theater 3000 of apps.

    If Twitter is any indication, people are already obsessed. Apparently it’s like Dubsmash, but better.

    This app could certainly be interesting for fandoms. Cheeky Harry Potter and Game of Thrones humor? Check. 

    Students across the pond are enraptured, and we’re guessing American teens will be soon.

    Celebrities have co-opted Dubsmash. Will they make the transition to LiPP, which is less about showing the world you’re just like us or that you know how to lip-sync and more about adding crass dialogue and fart noises to Frozen?   

    Illustration by Max Fleishman 


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    In the wake of Umpqua Community College shooting that claimed the lives of 10, including the gunman, and injured more than 20, many are thanking one man for his heroic actions.

    Chris Mintz, 30, reportedly charged at the shooter in an attempt to save the lives of his fellow students. A former Army vet, Mintz suffered seven gunshot wounds during his selfless act, on his son’s birthday, no less.

    The kind, well-meaning denizens of Twitter took it upon themselves to thank Mintz, but unfortunately his name is similar to Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin’ from Superbad).

    Mintz-Plasse has been inundated with tweets wishing him a swift recovery, and he is doing his best to direct the well-wishers to the actual hero.

    The Superbad actor responded commendably to the swell of support for the actual Chris Mintz.

    The Mintz family set up a GoFundMe page, with aims to raise money for the Umpqua student during his recovery. 

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


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    Next month, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough are launching Peeple, an app that lets you rate people in your life like you would a business on Yelp. 

    But they’re far from the first.

    The app's creators have been fielding backlash for weeks, but it came to a head after Cordray’s interview with the Washington Post went live on Wednesday. The report highlighted some of Peeple’s potential downsides, like how you can be added to the app without your permission and can’t opt out, the bias and cruelty that can come from people you know, and potential harassment, along with the problem of assigning people a number.

    As word of Peeple grew, more people became upset and sent negative feedback straight to the founders across social media.

    While they quickly pointed out what they believed were inaccuracies, they eventually backtracked on at least some of the proposed policies. (Although a report from Snopes gives doubt that Peeple will actually be developed.)

    Comparisons to similar apps that allow users to rate other people, such as Lulu, Facebook’s Honestly, Facefeed, Frank, and Hot or Not—apps that also faced negative feedback before falling into obscurity—were inevitable. But you don’t need to look at a bunch of startups, some which are unknown to folks outside of media and the tech industry, to see that something like Peeple is just a disaster waiting to happen. Just look at what we’ve already created in fiction.

    Did these fictional apps predict Peeple? Or did Peeple help create the fiction? It’s hard to tell because, after all, content is a flat circle.

    1) Community

    Before NBC canceled Community in 2014, it took on the mediocrity of tech culture and our obsession with what other people say about us on social media with the season 5 episode “App Developments and Condiments,” which saw Greendale become the beta testers for an app called MeowMeowBeenz. You give fellow users anywhere from one to five MeowMeowBeenz.

    As is the case in Greendale, MeowMeowBeenz quickly turns the college into a dystopian society, with the app being the only source of validation and determining the hierarchy. And it only takes Jeff Winger, who initially doesn’t care about the app, to game the system and start a revolution along with the lower-ranked members of Greendale, bringing the whole system down.

    And then some Community fans brought it full circle and made it a real app, although the real version is a lot less harmful.

    2) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    A season 10 episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphiaintroduces us to Buncher, the show’s version of Tinder, which allows you to rate people after you’ve slept with them. While Dee loves using it just so she can give men a one-star rating, her twin brother Dennis uses it so he can get high ratings.

    Obviously that doesn’t work out so well.

    And at least one of the show’s stars has acknowledged the similarities.

    3) Amazon Women on the Moon

    This 1987 comedy is a satire that touches on the whole idea of watching the low-budget movies that air late at night. One of the plots within the film involves Rosanna Arquette scanning Steve Guttenberg’s license and credit card through a fax machine-like contraption that will tell her the names of every woman he’s dated or slept with, and just how often he used certain pickup lines.

    Now imagine if something like this happened with Tinder messages.

    4) Dinosaur Comics

    Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics have been around since February 2003, featuring the same pictures with different dialogue each time. But in April 2015, the comics used apps that allow you to rate people as a punchline about the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s horse erotica.

    5) Super Sad True Love Story

    The 2010 novel from Gary Shteyngart takes place in the near future, introducing readers to a corporate dystopian society where everyone is obsessed with technology and oversharing, which could be a commentary on our own obsession with technology. There, everything from someone’s personality to sexual prowess can be rated with an äppäräts that everyone wears, which sorts by whether they’re high or low “Net Work” individuals.

    Welp.

    H/T Uproxx | Screengrab via NBC/YouTube


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    Press briefings that end in mic drops and a photo of Whitney Houston as vice president? All just a part of Smosh’s version of a Kanye West presidency. 

    When West made the announcement during his VMA acceptance speech that he’s got plans to run for president in 2020, Twitter exploded, and the minds of comedians everywhere went into overdrive. YouTube masters Smosh were no exception, and they’ve released a video that imagines a world post-eight years of President West.

    The video’s highlight is perhaps Anthony Padilla’s turn as First Lady Kim Kardashian, who starts off simply posing at West's side endlessly and campaigning for Internet for everyone, but eventually takes over as acting vice president and, well, pulls it off.

    We just have four and a half more years to find out if West makes our dreams a reality.

    Screengrab via Smosh/YouTube


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    YouTube clips and live snakes? That’s the formula behind the latest edition of Top Five Live, AwesomenessTV’s newest series for the recently launched Verizon Go90 app.

    At its core, Top Five Live is a top five countdown of the best videos of the day, as voted on by fans. It’s Total Request Live for a generation too young to remember TRL, but for viral clips instead of music videos. But because the show shares videos that fans can already get on their smartphones with a click, Top Five Live has to do a little more to earn that click.

    “I like [TRL] but I honestly feel like our show—and again, this is biased because it’s my generation—but this show feels so much more connected to a home audience,” said host Hunter March. “They were delivering something that nobody could get elsewhere. Music videos weren’t available online. We’re delivering something you can get online, but the way we deliver it is what people come for.”

    As for that particular delivery method? Well, the daily countdown show doesn’t always include spiders, snakes, and worms, but it made a special exception when YouTubers Jc Caylen and Kian Lawley stopped by.

    “I really don’t know what I’m expecting,” Lawley told the Daily Dot before their episode taped. “I’ve never had to deal with tarantulas and snakes. I’d much rather deal with pain. This is going to be a mental pain.”

    Once the animals were on stage, Lawley, who kept losing challenges and having to subject himself to more creepy crawlers, drew the line at a snake and passed it off to Caylen.

    “We didn’t even know what we’re signing up for,” laughed Caylen. “We did make a deal, because he hates snakes and I hate spiders.”

    Adrenaline was probably high for the stars, but the taping pace for a Top Five Live episode can feel manic too. About 20 teenaged audience members file in, and host March jumps right into a 10-minute episode recapping the best videos. Even when an episode is not for the same day, the pace is faster than a traditional TV set. In lieu of an applause sign between segments, a producer swings a rubber chicken in the air to cue the crowd. During the show fans stretch to be in the selfie moments, which are broadcast immediately from March’s phone to the screen for the audience’s viewing pleasure. They also line up afterwards for individual selfies with the guests.

    Connor Franta, who said he’s a little too young for the TRL that inspired the show, used his appearance on the program to plug his birthday charity fundraiser for the Thirst Project, and he played a game of identifying his Instagram style just by the pictures (he won, hands down). For YouTubers who are used to having a chance to edit themselves, doing a live show is a welcome break.

    “I feel like it’s a fun atmosphere,” he said. “It gets into who you really are. I won’t be perfect at all; I’ll mess up my words and make weird noises, as opposed to a YouTube video.”

    Franta’s episode is available on YouTube, but the rest of the series has moved to Go90, Verizon’s new app that just moved out of beta and to the general public. In addition to trying to win viewers for videos that already exist in the digital ecosystem, the show faces the added pressure of winning people over to a new medium, so Top Five Live has its work cut out for it in the coming months.

    “I feel like we have an extra burden on us to make it that much better,” said March.

    Photo courtesy of Top Five Live


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    BY TODD LONGWELL 

    The new book spin-off of the YouTube hit Thug NotesThug Notes: A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature, written in character as Sparky Sweets, PhD (played by comedian-actor Greg Edwards)—follows the series’ lead and gives synopses of literary classics ranging from Hamlet to Catcher in the Rye that are both informative and comically gangsta.

    But the genesis of Wisecrack—which produces Thug Notes and other funny-but-smart webseries such as Pop Psych, 8-Bit Philosophy, and Earthling Cinema—is anything but street. The seeds for the L.A.-based company were sown at the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-2000s, when two of its co-founders, Jacob Salamon and Jared Bauer, met in astronomy class. Salamon was a business major; Bauer was pursuing a degree in radio, television, and film.

    “We sort of hit it off, two Jewish guys in Texas who loved entertainment and film,” recalled Salamon, who is Wisecrack’s CEO. “We became fast friends, and we kind of made a pinkie promise that once I had made some money in tech, I was going to come out to L.A. and come create content— movies specifically.”

    At the time, Salamon was interning for Bazaarvoice, which provides customer ratings and reviews technology for online retailers. He was only the third employee at the company, and he watched it grow from an idea on a laptop into a multi-national operation.

    “It was the best business school ever,” said Salamon, who eventually took a full-time position at Bazaarvoice as director of marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, working out of the company’s London office. “Every single element of it, from the technology to the entrepreneurship, connects back to building Wisecrack. I saw what to do and what not to do.”

    After Bazaarvoice went public, Salamon took his windfall and moved, as promised, to L.A., where he formed a production company (initially called Napkin Note Productions) with Bauer and fellow co-founder Todd Mendeloff.

    “[The Bazaarvoice money] gave me the latitude to be able to move out here without the stress of saying, ‘I’ve got to go wait tables.’ I had the means to say, ‘Let’s go dabble,'” Salamon said. “I did put in some of my own money, about $15,000, to bootstrap the company and develop some initial pieces of content.”

    Instead of movies, they wound up producing Web shows. Their first project was Bubala Please, a comedic series about a pair of latke-making, dreidel-spinning, menorah-lighting gang-bangers that racked up close to 1.5 million views on YouTube.

    They followed with Thug Notes, inspired in part by co-writer Joseph Salvaggio’s experience studying classics at Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

    “He was pursuing his PhD, and he became so frustrated by the ivory tower nature of academia, where the higher you went studying literature, the more and more exclusive it became,” Salamon explained. “Joe had this kind of manifesto that literature should be enjoyed and understood by everyone. So Jared said, ‘Why don’t we try to create a show.’ It’s pretty much dead-on in terms what we’re trying to do with all our shows, which is put this knowledge in the hands of everybody.”

    Thug Notes debuted in June 2013. As it gained popularity, people started coming of the woodwork with offers for Wisecrack. One of them was a representative of Vintage, a division of publishing giant Random House, who contacted them via email about a possible book deal.

    “It was a very heartfelt message that was like, ‘We publish all of these books that you are analyzing and getting out into the world again. You’re breathing new life into this literature,'” Salamon recalled. “We had no idea what to do or how much to expect, but they were absolutely in love with the project and they walked us through the process of finding an agent and doing everything else that we needed to do.”

    Wisecrack isn’t finished with its spin-off efforts for Thug Notes—it’s currently developing a 22-minute linear TV adaptation of the concept—and it’s developing new series concepts that it hopes to incubate for traditional television outlets.

    “There’s plenty to be made in digital alone, but right now, the big money is still in linear TV,” Salamon said.

    But, co-founder Mendeloff added, “We love digital. Digital is deep in our DNA. And we have a great love and affection for the audience that we’ve developed in digital, and that’s not going away.”

    Screengrab via Wisecrack/YouTube 


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