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- 10/30/15--10:25: _PewDiePie opens up ...
- 10/30/15--14:08: _Under the covers: A...
- 10/30/15--16:42: _Selena Gomez's new ...
- 10/30/15--17:04: _The 'Force Awakens'...
- 10/30/15--17:53: _Washington Redskins...
- 10/31/15--05:00: _FouseyTUBE on findi...
- 10/31/15--06:17: _Webcomic artist fin...
- 10/31/15--07:00: _New Amy Poehler Sma...
- 10/31/15--11:16: _New website lets yo...
- 10/31/15--13:45: _Call Justin Bieber ...
- 11/01/15--07:00: _Analyzing the compl...
- 11/01/15--07:52: _The best celebrity ...
- 11/01/15--09:24: _Sufjan Stevens bust...
- 11/01/15--13:30: _DeAngelo Williams's...
- 11/01/15--14:29: _'Last Week Tonight'...
- 11/02/15--03:56: _John Oliver blasts ...
- 11/02/15--10:31: _Ariana Grande flawl...
- 11/02/15--12:23: _PJ Liguori's 'Oscar...
- 11/02/15--13:13: _The Fat Jew’s 'Mone...
- 11/02/15--19:00: _Lin Manuel Miranda ...
- 10/30/15--10:25: PewDiePie opens up conversation about ads and YouTube Red
- 10/30/15--14:08: Under the covers: A dispatch from Tyler Oakley's book tour
- 10/30/15--17:04: The 'Force Awakens' trailer, now with Luke Skywalker in every shot
- 10/31/15--05:00: FouseyTUBE on finding the balance between real and online life
- 10/31/15--06:17: Webcomic artist finds a new storytelling platform in Instagram
- 10/31/15--13:45: Call Justin Bieber on his cellphone for a 'Hotline Bling' remix
- 11/01/15--07:52: The best celebrity Halloween costumes of 2015
- 11/01/15--09:24: Sufjan Stevens busts out his awkward dance moves for 'Hotline Bling'
- 11/02/15--10:31: Ariana Grande flawlessly shuts down sexist interviewers
- 11/02/15--12:23: PJ Liguori's 'Oscar's Hotel' set a sales record for Vimeo
- 11/02/15--13:13: The Fat Jew’s 'Money Pizza Respect' is the worst book I’ve ever read
- 11/02/15--19:00: Lin Manuel Miranda is annotating 'Hamilton' lyrics on Genius
The vlogger (real name Felix Kjellberg) already makes a lot of of money from his channel, but he's concerned that AdBlocker makes it impossible for smaller YouTubers to get off the ground and start generating a profit. This cutoff in ad revenue, Kjellberg says, is why YouTube is moving forward with Red.
In the post, which Kjellberg begins by disclosing that his show Scary PewDiePie will be available on Red, he says that his analytics regularly show around 40 percent of viewers using AdBlocker when watching his videos. He also conducted a Twitter poll (the tweet has since been deleted), asking his followers if they watch YouTube with an AdBlocker enabled. The results were the same: 40 percent of people said they did.
This substantial pocket of unprofitable viewers doesn't stop Kjellberg from taking in big paychecks, but if that 40 percent rings true for the rest of the platform as a whole, it would definitely keep channels that are just starting out from seeing any return on their work.
YouTube isn't ignorant to what's going on, Kjellberg says. YouTube Red, which just started its one-month free trial period Oct. 28, will charge subscribers $9.99 a month for an ad-free YouTube experience. But because what percentage of that profit will actually go to creators is yet to be disclosed, YouTubers across the board have had mixed reactions to the service, and the conversation has largely been comprised of two topics: "wtf is this service?" and "lol they must not know AdBlocker exists and is free."
But Kjellburg thinks it's important to drive the conversation back to advertising and AdBlocking.
"Using Adblock doesn’t mean you’re clever and above the system," Kjellberg writes. "YouTube Red exist [sic] because using Adblock has actual consequences."
He ends the post with some statements for people to think over:
Will YouTube Red actually be beneficial for smaller channels? Is the $10 price actually justified? These are all important questions about YouTube Red. But right now, it’s more important that we understand what the actual problem here is.Class dismissed.
Tyler Oakley is not exactly sure how many days he’s been on the road, but he does know he’s not heading home any time soon.
That’s understandable when you consider the year Oakley’s had. The 26-year-old YouTuber has made a habit of keeping busy in 2015, with a tour that brought him, pajama-clad, to cities around the world showcasing his video style IRL. His first book, Binge, hit No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list in its first week, and it’s what has him not sleeping in his own bed for much of October on the road to support its release. He’s hosted the Streamy Awards live on VH1, defended the honor of digital creators everywhere, and become one of the official public faces of YouTube in the platform’s media campaign. In December he’ll cap off the year with a documentary, Snervous, under Awesomeness Films.As his team works efficiently to get him through signing over 500 books for his last American in-store event at Los Angeles’ The Grove, Oakley keeps up with questions about his latest endeavor and how it’s different from his last tour, hand flying at his practiced scrawl all the while. “It’s interesting because with the Slumber Party Tour, it lent itself to being kind of a younger crowd, and the book is a lot more adult,” Oakley explains. “I see high school students, college students, parents coming to the meet and greets without kids.”
As for the kids who might be reading his racy tales of Grindr hookups and accidental drug use, Oakley laughs that he’s no one’s parent and it’s not his business to decide what a youngster gets to read. For him, he’s mostly focused on the relief of finally having his words out there in the world. As someone who’s built his brand on the immediacy of the social media world and videos and podcasts he can record and turn around within hours, Oakley says a book was a great departure.
“It’s been the slowest build-up and countdown to coming out compared to anything I’ve ever done,” he laughs. “To finally have everything out there and to have the reaction out there and see the reviews, it’s been really refreshing. Even if it’s kind of critical and negative, even just to hear what people think, that’s all that I wanted. It’s felt so solitary for so long.”
The experience isn’t so solitary anymore, with between 500 and a thousand fans lining up each night for signed books and a photo with Oakley. They dot the Barnes and Noble, despite being instructed to scatter by security, planning hashtags they want to circulate about their day and snapping pictures with their orange wristbands held aloft. When Oakley moves, Starbucks in hand, from where he’s been signing books next to the children’s section to a more private room to relax before the event begins, fans snake after him, snapping photos and gawking—but relatively respectfully. That might be thanks in part to chapters in his book where Oakley details the darker moments of Internet fame. In particular he recounts instances of fans screaming and hitting a van he was in during a YouTuber event, as well as the pressures and exhaustion he faces in his own career. It’s a side of YouTube that most creators don’t share.
It’s a side of YouTube that most creators don’t share.
“The best feeling about the last two chapters, where it’s kind of more about the other side of YouTube, has been the viewers reading it and empathizing with it,” Oakley said. “It’s not that they’re feeling like they’re being slighted or I have any animosity toward it. It’s just the truth, and for them to see the other side, I think they appreciate it. I don’t think any other YouTuber has talked about it.
“It’s this fun crazy, hectic moment,” Oakley says of the times when fans are face-to-face with their digital favorites. “But I don’t think a lot of people talk about how it feels about a human on the other side of it. I was really afraid to include that. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it; it’s just something I never expected. And I’m just trying to figure out how to deal with that, the good and the bad.”Oakley didn’t just have fans to worry about with the reception to the book. He also peels back personal history, sharing stories from within his family and from his dating life. While his mother, (Mama Jackie to the fans) has been part of the Oakley narrative for some time on his videos, he’s been more cautious with other parts of his personal life. However, in one of the standout chapters of the memoir, Oakley details his first major relationship, with a boy named Adam from his college with whom he’s still friends.
“I let him read the chapter ahead of time, but I said, ‘nothing will change, I’m just letting you read it,’” he says. “Fortunately he was like, ‘that was so spot-on and I think fair.’ We had dinner the other night after one of the book stops. It was refreshing to talk through everything else, and have those conversations about stuff that’s in the book that’s super private and intimate, that nobody knows even in my life, to have those conversations with them, feels like I’ve shed a burden. It’s totally therapy; it’s cathartic.”
He’ll continue that catharsis with Snervous, his first documentary film that trailed him during his last Slumber Party Tour, and Oakley says it explores the same themes of fame, identity, and relationships.
“The cameras were rolling, even when I was like, ‘please don’t roll the cameras,’” he laughed. “There’s some times where I’m literally asking, ‘do we have to be filming this right now?’ They were very tense moments.”
While Oakley said he felt nervous about including certain moments in the film, after “a lot of conversation,” everything he was worried about ultimately made the movie.
“There’s plenty left to tell.”
“I’m happy they’re included, especially now that I’m happy I included certain chapters were [included] and I’ve seen the human reaction to human me,” he said. “I think fans will have a very similar reaction to those human moments. In the book there’s not very flattering moments. And a lot of embarrassing and cringe moments. I read it, and I’m like ‘why am I like this?’ Watching the movie, I think the same thing.”
With so much on his plate, Oakley seems to consistently have room for more. He’s characteristically coy about revealing too much of his future plans at any point, since he commands his own media outlet of 7.7 million fans excited for him to break news directly to them, but he does allow that he’d like to do more writing someday, be it a fictional narrative, a children’s book, or something else entirely. He says he’s even got stories on the backburner that are even more adult than he shared this go-around.
“It’s funny, with the first book, there’s so many chapters people were like, ‘hmm, I don’t know if you can put that in a book,’” Oakley joked, noting that even if Binge is more adult than his channel or tours, it’s still PG to him. “There’s plenty left to tell.”
Illustration by Max Fleishman
The most surprising thing about Netflix's newly announced seriesThirteen Reasons Why is not that the streaming giant gave its second direct-to-series order for the show, or that it's a return to series for Disney child star turned Spring BreakerSelena Gomez, or even that Gomez will executive produce the series.
The real shocker is that Jay Asher's sleeper young adult hit finally wended its way to a television series after thriving on nearly a decade of word-of-mouth praise.
When Asher first published his dark psychological teen drama in 2007, it had nothing working in its favor—no major reviews in mainstream media outlets, no attention from prominent book lists. What this eerie, all-too-believable story of a teen girl's suicide did have, however, was an immediate impact on readers—enough so that everyone who read it immediately wanted to share it with their friends.
Asher's novel tells the story of a dead girl, Hannah, who leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for 13 people who impacted her decision to end her own life. Over the course of the novel, Clay, the boy whose longtime crush on her warranted a tape of his own, learns about the girl he never really knew over the course of listening to the 13 tapes.
While Asher's story could have been melodramatic, its poignant writing wove a compelling, memorable tale that offered no pat conclusions about modern teenage life. Its subject matter, which covers everything from bullying to abuse and sexuality, has remained relevant over the years, as fans of the book continued to spread it around. A year after its publication, it ended up on an NPR recommendations list; a year after that, the New York Timesfinally noticed the book's growing acclaim. And in 2011, four years after it was published, Thirteen Reasons finally hit No. 1 on the Times bestseller list.
Though the story of Thirteen Reasons is clearly aimed at teens, Gomez's casting as Hannah continues her trend of choosing darker, more serious roles. Along with her role as producer, writer Brian Yorkey, who won a Pulitzer for the musical Next to Normal, will pen the script for the Netflix series, produced by Anonymous Content and Paramount TV.
On his Twitter yesterday, Asher shared the good news and excitement for the production:Fans of the book were celebrating as well: Gomez and her mother, who were fans of the book, shopped the project to Anonymous Content as a film before deciding on the series format for Netflix.
Photo via Thirteen Reasons Why
If you’re like most Star Wars fans, the recently released final trailer for The Force Awakens left you with a question on your mind as massive as Jabba the Hutt: Where’s Luke Skywalker?
Now thanks to a fan-made trailer that fixes the problem, there’s a simple answer: He’s everywhere.
As it turns out, when Rey and BB-8 were walking across Tatooine, they were just following Luke. When that TIE fighter exploded? Luke fell out. Presented by Lukefilm Ltd., this revisionist history has Mark Hamill hilariously peeking out from behind Kylo Ren Pete Rose-style, photo-bombing Han Solo with his blaster drawn (and he hasn’t aged a bit!) and even somehow using his speederbike for intergalactic travel.As the clip goes on, it hilariously makes even less sense. Wait a minute, are there two Lukes in that shot? Now is Luke’s head on Han Solo’s body? Nevertheless, the effects are impressive, especially in the shot where Luke slaps John Boyega’s Finn on the back.
Of course, the whole clip is a response to the building “Where’s Luke?” buzz of the last several days. Suspiciously missing from the trailers and the posters, director J.J. Abrams had to finally tell the Associated Press that Skywalker’s absence is “no accident… these are good questions to be asking.”
Although Hamill is most certainly in Episode VII, fans likely won’t find out how much—or why his appearance has been hidden—until the film opens on Dec. 18.
Screengrab via Gritty Reboots/YouTube
Piling on to what has been a crappy month of news for daily fantasy sports sites—except for the fact they recently had their busiest (and most profitable) weekend ever—one is now being sued by Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon.
"I am bringing this lawsuit against FanDuel for using my name, image, and likeness in both daily fantasy contests and through advertising on TV ads and infomercials. FanDuel has taken the liberty to engage in these actions without my consent and without proper licensing rights," Garcon said in a statement, via Fox Sports. "As a result of these activities, FanDuel daily fantasy contests have shown increasing revenues leading to large profits. Therefore, on behalf of myself as well as any other players who are being treated unjustly, I chose to file a complaint."
The lawsuit brought by Garcon isn't the only one that is suing the sites, and FanDuel and DraftKings have been hit hard by allegations of what basically amounts to insider trading with the FBI and Congress taking notice and the state of Nevada banning them.
Now, at least one NFL player has decided he doesn't appreciate FanDuel.Interestingly enough this isn't the first time Garcon has been involved with FanDuel. As of early last season, he used to promote the site on his Twitter account, as pointed out by the Big Lead. Also, it's interesting that Garcon has set his sights only on FanDuel and not on, say, DraftKings. Now, why do you suppose that is? As Business Insider points out, though, a federal court ruled in 2006 that fantasy leagues can use a player's likeness and his stats without a licensing agreement. Major League Baseball had said that fantasy leagues were illegally making money off players and their stats. But the U.S. District Court judge ruled that the First Amendment took precedent.
Said FanDuel in a statement to Business Insider: "We believe this suit is without merit. There is established law that fantasy operators may use player names and statistics for fantasy contests. FanDuel looks forward to continuing to operate our contests which sports fans everywhere have come to love."
My most pressing question, though: What does Jeb Bush think about all of this?
Photo via Tom Newby/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
BY BREE BROUWER
Yousef Erakat (aka fouseyTUBE) hit some impressive milestones in 2015. The 25-year-old YouTube star known for his comedy and prank videos reached more than 7.3 million subscribers on his main channel, over 1.8 million subscribers on his secondary vlogging channel, partnered with Collective Digital Studio, signed with CAA, and won the Streamy Award for the fan-voted Show of the Year award.
But Erakat has more serious, important things on his mind for the coming year that go beyond analytical accolades and industry achievements. In preparation for an upcoming appearance at Stream Con NYC Oct. 30-31, Erakat sat down with Tubefilter to talk about his recent rise to prominence and what plans he has in store for 2016.
Tubefilter: You’ve been making YouTube content for over four years now. What’s been the most rewarding thing to come from your digital career?
YE: The most rewarding thing that came from my digital career was showing everybody where I started and where I am now. When I go back to my first video and I tell everybody [watching], “Hey, guys, I’m going to be one of the biggest YouTubers and here’s some of my inspirations,” to now having more subscribers than some of my inspirations when starting out, I feel that holds as a testament to motivation, inspiration to everybody else no matter what their dream is. So it’s just amazing to show people that no matter how big your dreams are they are achievable.
TF: How do you continue to come up with new content ideas?
YE: I don’t sit around and come up with my content ideas like at a round table or anything. They actually just have to come to me randomly, so if I ever don’t have a video idea, there’s not much I can do about it because the video has to come from a source of inspiration that’s happening in my daily life. So sometimes I will have an idea, sometimes I won’t. I just have to go out and do new things, and through trial and error and just living my life, a video will present itself.
TF: What would you like to start making or doing next? For example, many other YouTubers are writing books and starting singing or acting careers. Do you have any goals outside of the platform?
YE: I definitely have a lot of goals outside of the platform. One of my biggest goals is to be a motivational speaker. So if I were to create a book, I’d want it to be a self-help book. And although I go through many things myself that I actually need motivation to get through and I need to read self-help books to get through, I can practice what I don’t preach in a sense, because I know what it takes to get by my depression. I know what it takes to get by my obstacles every day, but it doesn’t mean it’s that easy to carry through with it and get them done.
So I feel like by taking the knowledge I’ve learned by going through what I do on a daily basis, and turning those [experiences] into self-help books and becoming a motivational speaker, that has the potential to help a lot of people, no matter their age.
TF: What happened to FouseyFitness?
YE: That’s kind of an awkward situation, because I was really out of shape and I showed everybody that I got into great shape in 90 days and got a huge motivational video out of it. I was expecting to start FouseyFitness, but just as life treats everybody, I got dealt the same cards that many people in my situation got dealt, and I’m going through the same path I’ve been through many times before where I get into great shape, I lose it, I get back into great shape, and I lose it. So although I got into great shape, I didn’t do what I needed to do to maintain it. It’s another obstacle life has thrown my way.
But I feel like whenever I’m ready mentally to get back into serious shape, I will do it, and if I decide to create content around it and call it FouseyFitness, I will do that. But most importantly, I think I just need to find a common balance between being healthy myself physically and mentally before I start preaching to anybody about why health is important.
TF: You recently won Show of the Year at the 5th annual Streamy Awards and gave a fantastic speech. How long have you been wanting to share that message with your fans? How big of a driver is sharing that message in your content and in your life?
YE: I actually didn’t know I was going to give that speech when I won the award. It’s something that just came out and lived in the moment, because that’s a message I preach every single day, whether you watch my vlogs, or read my tweets. So although my videos on fouseyTUBE are very comical and provide laughter, I actually live a very different life in my personal life. The speech I wanted to give I guess was deeply rooted inside me, and when the opportunity presented itself, it just came out at the perfect time.
TF: What advice can you give to creators looking to build a digital empire like yours?
YE: I really am not the best person to give advice, because there are so many different routes to get big now, it’s like [whichever] one that they choose to do. In 2011, when I started, it was a whole different ballgame than it is now in 2015 to start their own digital empire.
But the advice I would give to everybody is go in with the right reasons and don’t go in with the foresight of “I want to make that YouTube money” or “I want to be famous.” Have the right intentions going into becoming a digital creator and understand what it means to put your life on the line for millions of people worldwide to view, because with all the great reward comes not only a lot of responsibility, but also criticism and backlash you have to face for being a digital online creator.
TF: What’s next for your channel, or other future endeavors, for 2016?
YE: I have a lot of future endeavors coming for 2016. I definitely want it to be the year I make my transition into television and film. I also do see my motivational speaking tour starting, and I can almost guarantee I will have a book completed in 2016.
The most important thing in 2016 is I want to find happiness in my life and just true happiness outside of getting the new milestone of subscribers or the new milestone of views, because if anything I’ve learned, it’s that when I hit six million subscribers, it still didn’t feel right. When I hit seven million subscribers, it still didn’t feel right. Even if I hit 40 million subscribers, it wouldn’t feel right if I’m not feeling right on the inside and own happiness in my life. Most importantly, I’m going to be finding a balance of my personal life between who I am online and who I am in my real life.
Screengrab via fouseyTUBE/YouTube
Meet Regina, an outgoing Polish girl who loves the color pink. Instagram tells the story of her life, from romance to parties to family time, like any young adult.
But there is a catch—Regina isn't real.
Illustrator Katarzyna Witerscheim, aka PannaN, started a webcomic series by creating an Instagram account for her original character Regina, or Regi for short. Through Regina's handle, @1995regi, Witerscheim draws the photos that Regina posts, illustrating both the drama and day-to-day happenings of Regina's life through her entries. Other than the fact that Regina's life is illustrated rather than captured, her account feels less like a story and more like a friend you'd follow IRL.
Regina’s origins began in the concept of a roleplaying game Witerscheim was planning with her friends. While she was one among a few new characters, it was Regina who caught Witerscheim’s attention the most.
“I made those first selfies of her and I really liked it very much,” Witerscheim said. “I was like, 'Maybe I should put them on Instagram because they look like Instagram selfies.’" From there, the idea to create a life and history through the platform took shape.
After consulting some fellow comic artist friends, Witerscheim didn’t receive much encouragement: “They said, ‘No, it's not going to be a good idea. People won't like it!'"
Save for two friends and her boyfriend, Witerscheim received many suggestions to do more work like the Disney princess artwork that was featured on DesignTAXI. “No, I'm not gonna do a fan art again,” she told them. “I want to do something that's mine—completely mine. I'm going to take a risk."
With more than 1,200 followers of Regina’s Instagram, it looks like that gamble paid off. And while she’s got an audience, she’s got a message to spread, too—written all in pink.
Much like in America, the color pink carries a certain stigma in Poland. If you ask the average Polish person, they’ll associate the color with “babies and stupid girls,” according to Witerscheim. “In Poland, pink is a stereotype of a stupid blonde girl [wearing] white boots and pink outfit, and that’s a problem,” she said.To combat this issue, Witerscheim incorporated the color pink as an integral part of Regina’s character. “I wanted people to think that she's a stereotypical pink girl but over time, people can realize that she's a cool girl—that she's not that stupid.”
Through the illustrations of Regina’s life, the artist hopes to portray the inaccuracy of such misconceptions and let Regina speak for herself. Literally. Whether through the comments section on Instagram or a message via Facebook, Regina's pretty diligent about replying to her followers.
“I thought the project would be great to be interactive,” Witerscheim explained. “You can write to her, you can talk to her, you can say to her about what she should do. I don't have one solid script. The plot can change because of the people who write to her.”Of course since Regina only exists in the digital confines of Instagram, Witerscheim roleplays as her behind the scenes. But bringing Regina to life can prove difficult for someone who's her complete opposite.
"I'm definitely not like Regina," Witerscheim admitted. "I don't even think I have friends who acts like her." But the challenge is part of the fun, and Witerscheim has a couple tricks to help her uphold Regina's character.
"It makes me roleplay her better if she likes some things that I like," she said. "If you look closer to her selfies, you can see that she is reading some books about science fiction, and I like that stuff. She's a big fan of Drake, and I love Drake. She likes the movie Grease, and I like that movie."
But Regina isn't the only character in the story, and for each character exists a separate Instagram account (except for Regi's dad, because he's not "hip" enough to be on Insta—only Facebook). Witerscheim needs to act through each of them and embody their personalities.
Probably the biggest players in the story besides Regina are the guys in her life: Sasha, Amen, and most recently, Regina's childhood friend Corey. While roleplaying these characters isn't as vital for Witerscheim, she uses them for different means.
"I wanted people to find out some stuff by themselves—searching for information," Witerscheim said. "If you find out that her dad have a Facebook profile, you can see what's her last name and see where they live because Regina has no address on her Instagram profile."
Readers can still keep up with Regina's story just fine through her Instagram account alone. Following the other characters just allows them to paint a better picture of the world she's living in.
It's also a little bit like being a member of a priority club in the sense that followers can learn new information faster than Regina posts it. "I didn't show Amen's face for a long time," Witerscheim explained. "But the people who friended him on Instagram could see the photos of his face earlier than the people who did not."
As the story grows, followers will continue to piece it together. Witerscheim aims to update Regina's Instagram at least once every few days—a moderate amount for the average Instagrammer. Witerscheim mentioned that she will be busy preparing, as the next couple of weeks are looking busy for Regina. "We have Halloween coming up," she noted.
"Regina is going to Amen's party on the ranch. It's gonna be crazy."
"There's a really big twist in the story," Witerscheim teased. "[Corey]'s gonna be really important."
Illustration via Katarzyna Witerscheim/Instagram
If you love makeup as much as you love a good ghost story, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls has a new webseries that will steal your heart.
Annamarie Tendler, host of The Other Side, pairs makeup tutorials with tales of the paranormal. Tendler skillfully shows guests, like Girl Code’s Nicole Byer how to apply a perfect red lip, cat eye, or bold brow. But there’s a catch: Tendler only applies one side. Guests then try their hand at the makeup trick while gabbing with Tendler about their close encounters with spooky specters.
Much like a good sleepover, the series also includes ample discussion of Tendler’s favorite Hollywood heartthrob, Leonardo DiCaprio.Screengrab via Amy Poehler's Smart Girls/YouTube
Horror movies are not the same as other movies.
Yes, sometimes a little overlap occurs—Bubba Ho-Tep works as both a horror movie and a comedy, because you can talk about it in public without somebody overhearing things about "eyeballs" or "bodies in the freezer" and dialing 911 on you—but ratings have always been off on horror films, because fans simply aren't interested in movies that are considered "good" in the classical sense.
Redditor Hoppscott may have just answered the question that's plagued reviewers since the invention of motion pictures: How do you properly rate a horror film, and in a way that actually connects fans with the entertainment they want? His solution: Reelscary.com.The homepage explains, right off the bat, what horror movies should be judged on: Disturb, Gore, and Suspense. I think "Disturb" is a typo of some sort, because it's far from the only one on the site (it's essentially still in beta testing). Below, you can scroll through some movies the site deems to be the "scariest." As you can see, Hostel: Part II is in the mix, which means the rating system is clearly, in these early stages of the site, working absolutely perfectly. Below that, and to the left, you can check out the top films in each of the three rating criteria: To the right, there's a section called "Popular Movies," but who gives a shit about that? Let's skip to the site's searching system: It includes the three previously mentioned criteria, as well as "Overall," for movies that aren't top-ranked in the three main categories, but are still good. I tested the system by putting a minimal score of 8, and a top score of 10 in each section, sorted by Gore, and chose the minimally required amount of votes for a film to be fetched by the search engine (which is 10).
I didn't get any results, but my demands were admittedly quite extreme. I switched the lowest acceptable score to 6 for each category, and got nine movies to come up. Switching the "sort order" did just that: The same movies came up, but in a different order. Because it's one of the best movies ever, here are the results for The Thing:The site is still working out some major kinks, and the biggest one—that users can't add films to the database manually, but instead have to email Hoppscott to have them added—is a fairly crippling issue for a film site that hopes to grow. (He claims it's being worked on, though.)
Reel Scary can probably still point you toward a winner. After all, it's the reason I'll be watching Martyrs, which I'd never heard of, on Oct. 31 (or while nursing a hangover on Nov. 1). I only looked into Martyrs briefly, so I will eat my own shoe if I'm not entertained by it.
The "Hotline Bling" remixes can't stop, won't stop. And now Justin Bieber has figured out a way to get in on the action.
Last night, Bieber pulled a Lana Del Rey and tweeted out a number where fans could hear his remix of the Drake hit. He's in the process of promoting his upcoming album, Purpose, but thankfully this promo does not involve surprise photo shoots or creepy comments from his dad.
The two-and-a-half-minute cover has the appropriate landline static, and a trademark Bieber "Where are you, girl?" intro, but it's really missing Drake's interpretative dance. The remix's writer, Poo Bear, told Fader that they tweaked the song to make it seem like Bieber and his "brother for life" Drake were being played by the same girl: "I thought it was really like a little baby soap opera."
Now we just have to wait for the inevitable remix of Bieber's remix.
Illustration by Max Fleishman
Carrie Mathison: crazy or brilliant? Or both?
Almost every thinkpiece on the Showtime hit Homelandseems to lead with speculation about the lead character’s mental health—and almost no one can agree on whether the show’s spin on mental health conditions is positive or negative. In an era when mental health typically only hits the news in the wake of mass shootings, treatment of mental illness in pop culture matters as an important point of contact for mental health awareness, not just as character development.
The Internet—including mental health organizations, mentally ill commentators, viewers of the show, and mental health professionals—can’t seem to make up its mind on whether Homeland’s version of bipolar disorder is sensitive, self-aware, and accurate, or dangerously stereotyped. Perhaps the dichotomous viewing of bipolar disorder on Homeland mirrors poor social perceptions of mental illness in general, but perhaps it also illustrates the eager desire to have ideas about mental illness affirmed through the sane lens. A significant majority of viewers have limited experience with mental health conditions, and Claire Danes’ depiction is comfortingly familiar, because it matches what pop culture has already told them about people with bipolar disorder.
Carrie Mathison’s illness is an evident part of her character arc from the very first episode, where viewers learn she’s concealing her illness from the CIA for fear of being fired. From there, the depiction whipsaws: Sometimes she’s off her medication and experiencing mania and psychotic episodes; sometimes she has her mental health condition well controlled with medication and a strong safety net. Most recently, the show has swung to the negative end of the spectrum, with Mathison deciding to go off her medication because she decides it interferes with her work, in an episode titled “Super Powers.” It was a very literal nod to the popular and mistaken belief that mental illness, particularly symptoms like mania, confers some sort of superpower.With depictions of mental illness extremely rare in pop culture, Mathison’s bipolar disorder matters on both an artistic and social level.
Those weighing in on the side of good have included the National Institutes of Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental health providers, viewers, and mentally ill people themselves—who are the most obvious choice of experts on their own experience of mental illness. Perhaps most notably, Jamie Stiehm, the woman who provided the research basis for Mathison’s illness, believes her experiences are portrayed accurately. “How rare to see a sparkling and spirited representation of what it’s actually like to walk through life with bipolar disorder,” Stiehm wrote for the New York Times. “So let a thousand conversations bloom.”
The common pop culture depiction of mental illness is something very much mirrored in Homeland.
NAMI similarly believes the show provides an accurate look at mental illness, specifically suggesting that it works to take on stigma and misinformation about bipolar disorder. One of the issues the organization cites is Mathison’s attempt to hide her illness for fear of losing her job, a common experience for many bipolar people. This is a particularly extreme problem for members of the intelligence community, who typically lose their clearance if they are diagnosed with mental illnesses.
Hannah Jane Parkinson, also bipolar, similarly believes the show is an accurate and affirming depiction of her mental health condition. She was particularly pleased by the show’s depiction of the struggle to balance changes in mental health status, from well-managed mental illness to spinning off base with mania or depression to the slow struggle to refocus and gain control again. Describing the show as a “triumph,” she clearly feels that it offers a fresh and important take on mental illness.
Psychiatrist Jeffrey A. Lieberman, writing for Psychology Today, praised the show as well, claiming that it was a dead ringer for the symptoms and actual experience of bipolar disorder. He cited the fact that Mathison’s story revolves around herself, rather than her disease, as a compelling argument for supporting this depiction of bipolar disorder—mirroring one of the most common critiques from disability rights activists when it comes to pop culture, in which disabled people are typically portrayed as disabilities, rather than human beings.However, the very things he identifies as positives were cited as negatives by other critics. He associates bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses with unusual creativity, for example, writing: “She is in, perhaps, the highest stress job there is, yet she carries it off (no pun intended), brilliantly, either in spite of, or because of, her mental illness.” Such characterizations of mental illness as a predictor of creativity are an issue that mental health advocates have long taken exception to. Moreover, he plays upon common stereotypes about bipolar disorder, including the notion that bipolar women are sexually promiscuous, unable to control themselves, and dangerous. The Mathison he describes is narcissistic, edgy, unreliable, and frenetic—all accurate characterizations—but he implies that these traits are the result of her mental illness, rather than more complicated factors. For all that the show is cited by a number of authorities as a striking depiction of mental illness, there’s a considerable portion of the Internet that begs to disagree. Unfortunately, as is commonly the case with critiques of depictions of disability, their voices are often drowned out by those seeking to shower the show with accolades. Troublingly, characters like Carrie Mathison are charged with a particularly heavy burden, speaking for a huge and diverse population with many different experiences of mental illness. Many mentally ill people and advocates think that Homeland is getting it gravely wrong, and dangerously so, perpetuating the stereotypes that keep mental health conditions in the shadows and force people to be afraid of being open about their mental illnesses.
There are a considerable number of problems with Homeland—the stereotyping of mentally ill people, the inaccurate depictions of the security services, the racism, the Islamophobia—and they’re often glossed over in critical discussion. Some of those problems, moreover, are the very same things that critics are praising, like her out-of-control behavior, the depiction of unmedicated mania as a form of brilliance and creative inspiration, and Carrie’s frequent self-destructive spirals. The situation is particularly fraught because it involves not just the extremely common case of disabled critics versus nondisabled fans but also mentally ill people themselves debating whether Homeland is fair to bipolar disorder.Writing for the Conversation, commentator Meron Wondemaghen had a great deal to say in her detailed analysis of the show’s handling of bipolar disorder in the first three seasons, and much of it was unflattering. She speaks particularly strongly about the emphasis on dysfunction, isolation, and rebellion, noting that these are common stereotypes about mentally ill people, along with the notion that mental illness is a predictor of dangerousness and irrational decisions. The common pop culture depiction—and accompanying social attitude—of mental illness rendering conditions like bipolar disorder as something that fundamentally ruins the ability to function in society is something very much mirrored in Homeland.
Bethlehem Shoals, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder over a decade ago, isn’t very impressed with the use of bipolar disorder as a simplistic plot device in the show, as explained in an essay at GQ. Like many disabled critics of this and other depictions of bipolar disorder, Shoals expresses frustration with the very binaristic handling of the condition, and the common trope that audiences see into Carrie’s world and understand she’s not “crazy” for seeing things that others don’t, but don’t see the more complicated nuances of mental illness. Shoals suggests that Carrie’s mental health condition serves only to parallel the “topsy-turvy structure of Homeland,” rather than acting as something that might complicate and enrich her character.These sharp critiques of the show underscore completely bizarre and troubling storylines. In a recent dramatic storyline, Carrie goes off her meds because she feels stalled out on a case, but she tells her boyfriend to stand by with a sedative just in case she gets out of control—a painfully stereotyped depiction of mania that strikes at the core of social attitudes about bipolar disorder. Mentally ill people, in this framework, are wild and dangerous, and need to be subdued with psychiatric medication for the good of people around them. Critics concerned about mental health in television and film charge that the bipolar disorder of Homeland is simplistic, lazy, and frustrating, but more than that, it’s dangerous. They’re not wrong. It’s hard to imagine a world in which people would want to be open about their mental illness only to be confronted with the attitude that they must be “just like Carrie”—wild, out of control, narcissistic, dangerous, at times threatening and scary. When the only version of mental illness that people know is promiscuous, self-harming, and deeply pathological, it creates a hostile atmosphere for mentally ill people—including those who are trying to explore treatment options and want to reach out for help from those around them.
Screengrab via Showtime
A person's Halloween costume choice can say a lot about their character. Store-bought or homemade? Classic witch or zeitgeist-friendly pizza rat? Harmless Disney character or potentially offensive joke?
With these factors in mind, it's time to judge some celebrity Halloween costumes.
Straight off the bat, we already knew that Neil Patrick Harris and family would choose some of the best costumes on the market. Harris and his husband David Burtka always make an effort for Halloween, taking a different themed family portrait every year. This time round, it was Star Wars.
Then there's Heidi Klum, whose joint Halloween parties with ex-husband Seal were downright iconic. This year she hosted the party solo, dressed as a terrifyingly realistic Jessica Rabbit.Justin Bieber's costume choice was a little more obscure: Will Ferrell's '70s basketball player character from the movie Semi-Pro. Sure...?
We're loving Gerard Way's decision to go as Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens.Jessica Alba and her friend Kelly Sawyer went for an awesome two-person costume: Romy and Michele from the underrated '90s classic Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Ryan Reynolds dug out his Deadpool costume, but let's face it: He probably wears that thing around the house. Superheroes were a popular theme, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Alyssa Milano threw back to her Wonder Woman costume, while Kourtney Kardashian cosplayed Captain America with a team of superhero kids as backup. Taylor Swift for staying on-brand for Halloween. She dressed as Olaf from Frozen and brought Idina Menzel (dressed as Elsa) onstage to join her in singing "Let It Go." Swift never passes up an opportunity for a concert cameo.
Photo via NPH/Instagram
The singer-songwriter brushed off his best falsetto and covered the song at a show in Jersey City, alongside singer Gallant and a giant image of Drake's face. Stevens also attempted his best Awkward Drake dance moves. Or maybe that's how he normally dances.Now we just have to wait for Weird Al's cover.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, but Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams will have his mission of spreading awareness fulfilled thanks to his two daughters.
Williams was fined $5,787 by the NFL last week for wearing “Find the Cure” eye black. The gesture, for which Williams was essentially fined for raising breast cancer awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, outraged fans just as news got out that Steelers cornerback William Gay was also fined $5,787 for violating the NFL’s uniform policy with purple cleats in honor of his mother.
October is over and Williams has to go back to the Steelers’s usual uniforms, but his daughters don’t. A photo from Adam Schefter showed Williams’s two daughters wearing pink in solidarity (along with shirts donning Williams’s number, 34) in honor of breast cancer awareness since their father wasn’t able to do so.
After all, as they point out, “The NFL Cannot Fine Us!”Breast cancer is a cause near to Williams, who lost his mother and four aunts to the disease. He was one of the most visible advocates for pushing breast cancer awareness in the NFL during its Crucial Catch campaign—which, according to reports, doesn’t actually raise money for cancer research—and his own foundation provides free mammograms for women every year.
“Breast cancer, whether I like it or not, is part of my family’s story,” he wrote in Sports Illustrated last year. “That’s why I am so passionate about raising awareness, because I have seen firsthand how it can impact others.”Williams wants to raise awareness every month, not just October, but his efforts to do so have received pushback from the NFL. He made headlines last month after ESPN’s Lisa Salters reported that Williams asked the NFL if he could wear pink beyond October and it denied his request because its strict uniform policy prohibits players from displaying personal messages. Williams instead dyed pink streaks in his hair.
Although some fans offered to pay his fines so he could continue wearing pink, Williams indicated that he'd adhere to the NFL’s uniform policies in the future. But people were quick to point out the hypocrisy of the uniform policy.H/T Bleacher Report | Photo via DeAngelo Williams/Facebook
While many late-nighttalk show hosts, cable news networks, live variety programs, and political commentators are keen on getting Donald Trump on their shows (and that Trump ratings boost), there’s at least one host who has appears to have no interest in hosting Trump.
Last Week Tonight host John Oliver—who has yet to dedicate a full segment explicitly about the 2016 presidential election on the show—addressed the elephant in the room Friday on CBS This Morning. When asked if he endorsed Trump in any way, Oliver said that he doesn’t “really care about him in any capacity.” Pressed further about whether he’d invite him on Last Week Tonight, Oliver doubled down on his stance.
“I haven’t really got anything to say to him,” Oliver explained. “There’s nothing—he’s said everything he wants to say. He has no internal monologue, that man. So it’s not like you’re going to find the secret nugget he’s been holding back. He’s an open book, and that book doesn’t have many interesting words in it.”Trump, who is more than in-tune with what’s being said about him in the news, got wind of what Oliver said about him. He then claimed that Last Week Tonight had invited him onto the show (despite Oliver’s indifference to him) but he turned it down, blaming the “boring” show and low ratings. Last Week Tonight’s social media accounts replied straight to Trump’s tweet Sunday with two comments to Trump’s claims: While it doesn’t deny Trump’s claim that the show is boring, it never invited the Republican candidate onto the show. Also worth mentioning: No matter the TV ratings, Oliver’s a massive hit online. His Last Week Tonight videos have been viewed nearly half a billion times on YouTube alone.
Photo via TechCrunch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
With characteristic poetry, John Oliver has found a way to compare health insurance to a pair of gym shorts that aren't quite big enough to cover your junk.
He is, of course, referring to the "Medicaid gap."
Although the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") expanded health-insurance coverage, it left some people in a difficult position: too poor to qualify for Obamacare's health insurance subsidies but still earning slightly too much to qualify for Medicaid.
The law's plan was to expand Medicaid until it covered everyone who needed insurance, and in many states, that's exactly what happened. But twenty states opted out of the Medicaid expansion because their elected representatives disapproved of the idea on principle. As Oliver explained, this left more than three million people without access to affordable healthcare.
The Medicaid gap is a solvable problem, but some people seem determined not to solve it.
Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/YouTube
Ariana Grande is ready to skewer sexist interviewers with the power of the unicorn emoji.
While stopping by radio station Power 106 to talk up her new single "Focus," the pop singer had to deal with a couple of ignorant questions from hosts Eric D-Lux and Justin Credible. But instead of brushing them off, she took the two fools to task.
Their first question: If she could only use makeup or her phone one last time, which one would she pick? She quickly responds, "Is this what you think girls have trouble choosing between?" and is visibly a little annoyed.
But the sexism didn't stop there. While discussing the new emoji update, the hosts were convinced that only girls use the unicorn emoji. That's when she lays into them, saying, "You need brushing up on equality... who says unicorn emoji isn't for men?"
You can watch the most frustrating parts of the interview below:
This isn't the first time the 22-year-old has called out double standards and intolerance. When comedian Bette Midler said some not-so-nice things about Grande, she was ready to point out that Midler's statements about her "silly high voice" weren't the most feminist. Midler eventually apologized.After the sweeping judgements about girls, their phones, and makeup, along with the unicorn emoji chat, Grande said, "I changed my mind, I don't want to hang out at Power 106 anymore."
We're there with you, Ari.
Screenshot via ArianaGrandeVEVO/YouTube
BY SAM GUTELLE
At Stream Con NYC, Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor sat down with StreamDaily’s Darah Hansen to discuss his company’s pay-to-view platform,Vimeo On Demand. One of the more interesting takeaways from the conversation concerned Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures, a series created by YouTube star PJ Liguori that arrived on Vimeo On Demand on September 15th. According to Trainor, Oscar’s Hotel set a “single-day sales record for Vimeo On Demand,” while netting its creative team a sizeable amount of revenue in the process.
Liguori, who is known for the videos he shares on his KickThePJ YouTube channel, teamed up with production company New Form Digitalto create Oscar’s Hotel. The series follows a young man named Oliver who must interact with the monstrous patrons of a colorful hotel; it boasted not just Liguori’s involvement but also a cast filled with YouTube stars, whose devoted fans certainly contributed to the series’ record-breaking sales figures.
It’s not surprising to learn how well Oscar’s Hotel sold; after all, feature films led by YouTube stars have performed well on VOD platforms. If anything, the series’ success has convinced Vimeo to broker more deals with online video content creators.
The new YouTube Red platform stands in the way of Vimeo’s plans, but Trainor isn’t worried about the launch of the $9.99-per-month service, or the premium content that will be contained within it. Instead, he believes Vimeo On Demand has several perks–including full price controls for creators and a generous revenue split–that YouTube Red cannot match. “We’re going to be investing a lot more in those creators, and bringing them a lot more to Vimeo and Vimeo On Demand,” he said, “and showing the value of charging for their work.”
Screengrab via New Form Digital/Vimeo
I wish I liked the Fat Jew’s new book. It would make a far more interesting piece if he exceeded our expectations. No one I talked to expected it to be good. “I bet he didn’t even write it,” said one friend. “I bet he had his interns write it.”
To contextualize this for people who aren’t on the Internet all the time, Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky became the center of controversy when he was accused of stealing memes and jokes from comedians this summer. Ostrovsky had been doing this for years, and amassed millions of Instagram followers with his admittedly excellent meme aggregating skills. But comedians took a stand when he signed with the talent agency CAA in August.
Upon reading Money Pizza Respect, there is no doubt in my mind that the unfortunately titled book is penned by the Fat Jew himself; I confidently assert that Money Pizza Respect is singlehandedly the worst book I have ever read.
His actual sense of humor—and I’m talking about humor, not the memes he “aggregates”—is painfully abject. He relies on a Tucker Max-esque style of storytelling, glorifying cocaine and alcohol abuse and fucking his groupies, who all embody a different type of “crazy girl” stereotype.
In a chapter ironically titled “The Eleven Commandments of Not Being the Worst Person Ever,” he warns readers that if you aggressively and frequently talk about your sex life, people will think you’re gay. “When you tell me that you ‘tackled a slam pig and stuffed her axe wound,’” he writes, “I assume that your actual goal is having anal sex with men.” Ostrovsky makes sure to note that the only exception to this rule is Dan Bilzerian, who has literally thrown a woman off his roof, breaking her foot, and been accused of kicking another woman in the face.
Money Pizza Respect is laced with homophobic comments. He writes a note to P. Diddy: “Sorry for outing you as a homosexual. I’m pretty sure you are, but I’m sorry.” There’s also a healthy dose of sexism, describing his female groupies as “a bunch of fours and fives who have giant lady hands [and] hate their dads.” To complete the trifecta, he also manages to be transphobic, referring to transgender women as “trannies” in a chapter chronicling his brother’s bachelor party. (When his brother and friends found out the strippers who were giving them lap dances were trans, they left the club immediately.)
Before I met Ostrovsky, I was confused about how he was so successful, especially after reading his book, where he brags about his selfish and generally gross behavior at every possible moment, proudly displays pictures of him wearing a thong made out of beef jerky, and writes things like, “Cocaine is the greatest gift the world has ever seen.”
When I sat down with him at a press junket, located at an arcade in Chinatown, I immediately understood why he’s garnered so much success. He is unfortunately charming and is actually a naturally funny person. He’s like the cool, mean boy in 8th grade, the type who introduced pot to all your friends and made fun of girls for being ugly or not having boobs yet. The type who definitely bullied me, and yet I tirelessly tried to gain his affection.
During our interview, Ostrovsky remained on the defensive, masterful at answering my questions with non-answers. He is somebody who has never taken life seriously, which is perhaps not too difficult for a straight, white, affluent male. He is fundamentally interested in his conception of fun, and hopes you’ll join him for the ride. If not, fuck off.
It’s not that I began to like Ostrovsky or his book any more after meeting him, but I went from hating him to feeling an iota of pity for him. His flamboyant and unapologetic immaturity, his bratty affect: This is what has brought him success, and what I imagine will be his inevitable downfall.
So my approach for this interview, because I know a lot of people have been shitting on you, is to not shit on you.
No one’s been shitting on me.
I was curious about how that affected you emotionally, and how you felt about getting blasted by the media.
It was definitely a shitty situation. I’m of the Internet, so it’s like a lot of people screaming about things. I respect trolling. I respect people screaming at one another, which is why the Internet is so fucking great. I definitely didn’t take it personally. It was also something that needed to get talked about. People were not on the same page. Like a 38-year-old comedy writer and a 16-year-old Filipino millennial were not seeing the issue the same way.
I try to look at it like I was the face of the whole thing. I mean the Internet is a giant, lawless fuckin’ thing. Sometimes we need some rules… But not too many. Because that would be weird. No parents. But you know, sometimes people get pissed. I obviously see it from the 16-year-old Filipino millennial side. I don’t look for credit on my stuff and I don’t ever watermark or anything like that, but I also get the other side too. I’m old enough to understand both sides. I just want everyone to be happy so we’re fuckin’ partying.
Instagram [is] for fucking photos of dogs playing volleyball in sunglasses and iguanas surfing. I just want to have everyone get heard, fix the problem, and then get back to surfing iguanas. It didn’t rock me emotionally because I just saw it as something that needed to be discussed. It definitely got dangerous and exciting at some points. People just get so crazy, there’s a portion of people who don’t even know what they’re screaming about. I got chased by TMZ. Some guy followed me around a Duane Reade recording my phone call. That was tight.
You liked that?
I kinda felt like Leo [DiCaprio], for like a second. It was also scary. No one wants that life. I was trying to look at it like this is a conversation that needed to be had. I didn’t look at it as being shit on. The Internet is more important to me than my family or anything. I would love to be with the Internet, have sex with the Internet, I love the Internet. Now it’s a better place.
Why was it important for you to celebrate drugs, specifically cocaine, in your book?
It’s a mixed bag. I refer to it as the best and worst thing ever. Part of the ethos of this book is that it’s a how-to guide in that it’s like I don’t know what you should be doing but I know what you shouldn’t be doing. I’ve seen every horrible thing. I basically think you read this book and you don’t do coke. Because you’re like, it’s gonna make me unbearable. Like my breath is gonna smell like a diaper and get into a super intense conversation about stuff I don’t even care about.
I think it depends on how old the reader is. For me, I’ve done coke so I understood more where you were coming from in that it can be great and terrible at the same time. From a teenager’s standpoint, it might just look really cool.
It depends. I’m pretty explicit that it’s been responsible for the greatest things that ever happened, but also some of the most horrendous things, too. I think it’s more self-reflective than it is encouraging.
Your book is provocative is many ways. People are going to interpret some of the content as transphobic and homophobic. I was thinking of the chapter where you refer to trans women as trannies.
I don’t know what you’re specifically referring to.
You wrote about “tranny” strippers. That’s a contentious word. Many trans people have spoken out about how hurtful they find that term to be. I was curious about how you would respond to those critics.
[The transgender stripper story] is a factual account of what happened. You’re talking about an actual pejorative word?
Yeah. It’s a slur. There were a bunch of moments in the book where I read something and immediately thought about how angry it would make social justice activists on the Internet.
Social justice people are angry at everything.
I was wondering if you included some things specifically to be provocative.
No, definitely not. First of all, any social justice person can come at me at any time. I literally have more transgender friends who will vouch for me than anyone. They self-identify as “trannies.” Ask a transgender who is not a nerd from the Internet how they identify, and I bet you will find hundreds who identify as “trannies.”
I know transgender folks who identify that way. It’s like the N-word. If they call themselves that, it’s OK. But having a cis person is a different story.
Any person who would find offense in that kind of minutia is not someone who should be reading this book.
It’s not your audience, that’s probably true.
That shouldn’t be anyone’s audience, as far I’m concerned.
No, that’s like bro culture stuff. This is completely different.
Tonally, there were similarities.
I’ve never read it, but I also think that in terms of this book, like I’ve been living performance art long enough to write a book full of debaucherous stories, but I wanted to go with more pathos, truth. From what I understand from Tucker Max’s stuff, he doesn’t really go into too much stuff like that. Not all the stories here are particularly turnt up, as far as I’m concerned. There are some that are honest family stories, not every story is about partying.
But a lot of them are.
We can go through it… When I was writing it, putting in some emotion and truth, and some real feeling on it, like talking about my mom having sex with Shel Silverstein and being a 9-year-old child actor diva. Shit like that, to me, that is not the same as walking around a bar with a breathalyzer [something Tucker Max has written about]. I don’t not relate to it, but I’ve never read any of his stuff.Do you differentiate between the Fat Jew as your performative character and yourself as Josh?
No. I don’t go home at night and unscrew the hairection [hair erection], sit down, and listen to This American Life and be like, “Oh, what a hard day at work! Being the Fat Jew!” No, it’s all one in the same. To me, that would be disingenuous. I was doing this stuff long before there was anywhere to share it, long before anyone knew about it. Ten years ago, people in New York would be like, “Oh that’s the Fat Jew, the guy who does crazy stuff.” It wasn’t something I created and cultivated in order to share on social media for the masses.
But this is your career, this is your passion, but a lot of artists and actors differentiate between their performative self, which is still their self, and who they are when they’re not performing.
I’m not an artist or an actor. I’m neither.
How do you identify?
I’m the only one who’s really just going for it. I’m genuinely making it up as I go along. I could start a rosé company and that could become a real thing. I’m about to do the world’s first EDM [electronic dance music] cologne.
What is that gonna smell like?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. Like I don’t even know what that means but I’m gonna do it. It’s 2015. Anything is possible. The world is so ridiculous at this point. I might open a yoga ashram in Toronto. Who knows? I’m one of the only people who doesn’t consider anything on or off limits. I don’t think that it can be defined. We have this human need to compartmentalize, to be like, “What are you?” But I don’t know.
I guess it’s my job to say, as a writer trying to make sense of what you do.
I don’t think there’s anything to make sense of. I don’t know. What do you think I do?
I think you’re a content creator and performer.
That’s vague. But yeah. I’m not not. But that’s what I’m saying. I like to keep people guessing, keep people off kilter. If people think I’m a comedian, I will move in a totally different direction and start making cologne. I wanna make people go, “What the fuck?” Keeping people guessing, keeping genuine conversation going about me, whether it’s, I don’t want to say the word negative, but whatever it’s gonna be, that’s what I am. A conversation starter? I don’t know.
Conversation piece? Idiot? All of the above?
What’s your goal with your book? Why do you do what you do? Aside from the fact that you just want to do it.
The end goal with the book is that I think I can get some turnt-up 18-year-old to read. That’s the challenge, like, can you get fuckin’ some kids to read and think it’s really fuckin’ chill? Is that doable? I’ll literally do it just for that.
We’re doing reading raves to promote the book. IRL is what the program’s called. It’s just like huge DJs and books. Like, can you make them read? I think it’s doable. I don’t think publishing knows how to do it. I don’t think parents know how to do it.
So you want to make reading cool?
Kind of. What if I’m somehow the guy to do it?
What are your favorite books?
I love Shel Silverstein, and not only because my mom fucked him. Mostly, I’m the type to read 100 listicles. Like, what kind of bagel is Rihanna? You know what I mean? One-hundred times Rihanna ate fruit. I’m not reading enough books.
No one’s reading enough books.
Maybe now? That would fucking [be] weird. To get a fucking 17-year-old who’s over it to sit down and read an entire book? I mean I put in some stuff to break up the chapters, like you can color in a picture of Tyrese. I mean, I don’t want you to have to read too much.
Illustration by Max Fleishman
What's the only thing better than Hamilton?
Hamilton complete with annotations and actual rap references.You can now read all about composer Lin Manuel Miranda's thoughts as well as the actual rap influences behind the duels, love affairs, and turbulence of everyone's favorite hip-hop musical theater retelling of U.S. history. The recently awarded MacArthur "Genius" has been annotating the lyrics of his own hit musical on the appropriate website Genius, née Rap Genius.
Over the past day, Miranda has dropped a number of choice annotations of his own lyrics on Genius's Hamilton pages. While the website's community has already chipped in meaningful explanations and background context for Miranda's lyrics, the composer himself has been sharing true insights and background context from the making of the show, such as comparing George Washington and Alexander Hamilton to "Lil Wayne and Drake, Dr. Dre and Eminem."
Here's Miranda writing about his portrayal of the first U.S. president:
George Washington is just this moral authority. He’s the one that everyone could agree was above reproach. Like regardless of how you felt about America, this was the dude.
So in my head he was like this mix of Common and John Legend and that’s pretty much Chris Jackson — who plays him on Broadway. Just sort of this kind of unimpeachable moral authority.
Miranda discusses the backstories to many of his lyrics, and even includes anecdotes about lyrics that didn't make it into the final product. He also reveals that a line fans thought was an extra-sly reference to his most famous song from his previous musical, In the Heights, was actually a random weird coincidence.
The best part is that Miranda also includes musical references here and there, so you don't just get a breakdown of how the centerpiece "Ten Duel Commandments" is a colonial-style beef with pistols, you also get to hear it in context with Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ten Crack Commandments:"
“Ten Crack Commandments” is a how-to guide for illegal activity in the 90s. And this is a how-to guide for illegal activities in the 1790s.This isn't the first time Manuel has shared tidbits and scenes from Hamilton on various social platforms—including hand-delivering scenes to the large corner of the fanbase on Tumblr. But it's the first time the community platform has dovetailed so neatly with the hip-hop culture that inspired Miranda to spend years synthesizing the influences of rap and musical theater.
It's also probably the first time many Broadway fans have spent this much time on a site better known for its rap references than its Rodgers & Hammerstein. All in all? A pretty good reason for Hamil-fans to be "Satisfied."
Screengrab via CBS/YouTube