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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    With Christmas a few weeks away, it’s time to queue up your holiday cheer playlist and start stretching your caroling muscles. 

    But if Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé aren’t quite your speed, don’t worry: Eclectic Method songified all the best Christmas movies and TV episodes into one two-minute experience, and everyone from Kevin McCallister to Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo makes an appearance.

    It doesn’t hurt that it’s an earworm, either. 

    H/T AV Club | Screengrab via Eclectic Method/YouTube

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    Martin Shkreli has made quite a name for himself in the past few weeks.

    First, the Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO caused a stir in September by hiking the price of AIDS drug Daraprim 5,000 percent—charging patients $750 per pill when the price had originally been $13.50. It was a move that sparked a lot of public outrage and launched an antitrust probe into the company from the New York attorney general

    As Samantha Allen of the Daily Beast put it: “Shkreli, whose company only acquired Daraprim last month, has already dethroned the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion as the most-hated man in America.”

    Just when it seemed like the dust had finally settled on his media coverage, we've been handed another unsavory development regarding this guy's investments. Bloomberg revealed today that the previously unnamed private citizen who'd purchased the one-of-a-kind, single-existing copy of Wu-Tang Clan's album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, in 2014 was none other than Shkreli. His winning bid was "in the millions."

    He confirmed their report on Twitter:

    The album was recorded by Wu-Tang in secret over the course of a few years and features guest vocals from surprising artists like Cher. There was even a Kickstarter from fans who wanted to buy the album and share it with the world.

    But, in the band's own words, cash rules everything around us, and it looks like Shkreli's private funding won out over the fans' grassroots approach. Until this point it had been assumed that a private individual had bought the LP, but the fact that it's this particular private individual has people on social media riled up all over again. 

    Ever the troll, Shkreli stirred the pot this afternoon by asking whose music he should buy next:

    The replies have been less-than-friendly:

    Shkreli's name has been trending in the U.S. all afternoon.

    H/T Pitchfork | Screengrab via Martin Shkreli/Twitter


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    Can you “Nae Nae” through the ages? Can you imagine the classic “Charlie Bit My Finger” as portrayed by Dan and Phil?  With this year’s YouTube Rewind, the platform took a look back at recent history, and reimagined a bit of the past.

    In the annual star-studded video that pays tribute to the best moments of the year in YouTube, the platform found new ways to mash up the biggest moments of the year, but also celebrate YouTube's 10th anniversary with an even deeper rewind to the days of Mentos and Coke and choreographed wedding numbers. 

    This year’s Rewind kicks off with a tribute to the Love is Love Ad Council program featuring X-rays of skeletons, who, in their rewind incarnation, dance their way into various YouTube situations. Lilly Singh runs along a rainbow until she jumps into a giant YouTube ball pit, there are skeletons dancing on top of a school bus in the desert, driven by James Corden and Grace Helbig.

    “The biggest challenges in producing Rewind are probably balancing the scheduling and creative needs of the 150+ creators who we cast every year with the production realities of shooting in multiple cities across the globe,” explained Finley Wise, head of production at Portal A, which produces the yearly Rewind videos.

    Indeed, Corden isn’t the only mainstream celeb with YouTube prowess to make the annual video. John Oliver, who’s used the Web and YouTube in particular to bolster his HBO show, shows up in a section parodying Shia LaBeouf’s green screen art meme. LaBeouf’s influence is also part of another segment of the video, with a dance and sing-off inside the giant cage from his music video with Sia. Other highlights include a “Whip/Nae Nae” dance that pays tribute to the popularity of a hairstyle and makeup and fashion through-the-ages videos.

    The video goes even deeper into flashback mode in celebration of 10 years of YouTube, with Pewdiepie and Zoella (which YouTube joking referred to as their ship name, Pewella, in the credits) sending us back in time, with some of today’s YouTube stars like Tyler Oakley and Smosh acting out former YouTube highlights like the Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat.” Even stars who are still around, like Double Rainbow guy and Rebecca Black, reprised their iconic moments.

    To make such an epic video, shot across 18 countries, wasn't all smooth sailing; licensing and coordination for all these moving parts is tricky.

    Fortunately they had the help of Grammy-nominated music artist Avicii to score the video, and a few fun surprises on set.

    “HolaSoyGerman and Yuya were great sports to dance on top of a moving bus. And Todrick Hall busted out a full front handspring on concrete, completely unprompted,” Wise said.

    Now it’s fans’ turn to flip out to see how YouTube got all their favorite stars in one place to celebrate the year of YouTube.

    Screengrab via YouTube Rewind/YouTube


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    YouTube is making it easier to see what's moving the needle on the service with a new Trending Tab, debuting today on the platform.

    The Trending Tab will aggregate popular and buzzworthy video, filtering across all YouTube apps like Red and YouTube Music, as well as the desktop service. To emphasize the impact of YouTube trends, the service announced the 10 highest-trending videos in the general and music categories for 2015.

    Trending videos of the year are determined based on based on views, shares, comments, likes, and more, according to YouTube. Overall, the trending videos have been watched for 25 million hours, collectively, and have an aggregate of 6.5 billion views.

    For all trending videos, Silento's "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" performed by Heaven King marks the first year where a dance video hit the top of the trending videos chart. The song gained traction thanks to a partnership with multichannel network DanceOn, and skyrocketed up the music charts in addition to the YouTube ones. Other top videos include Super Bowl commercials, prank videos, and TV clips from shows like Lip Sync Battle and Britain's Got Talent.

    1. Silento- Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) #WatchMeDanceOn
    2. Clash of Clans: Revenge (Official Super Bowl TV Commercial)
    3. Crazy Plastic Ball PRANK!!
    4. Love Has No Labels | Diversity & Inclusion | Ad Council
    5. Lip Sync Battle with Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon
    6. Justin Bieber Carpool Karaoke
    7. 6ft Man in 6ft Giant Water Balloon - 4K - The Slow Mo Guys
    8. Golden boy Calum Scott hits the right note | Audition Week 1 | Britain's Got Talent 2015
    9. Dover Police DashCam Confessional (Shake it Off)
    10. Mean Tweets - President Obama Edition

    On the music video side, the official Silento video still makes the chart, but is down at No. 10. On top is Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's track from the Furious 7 soundtrack, paying tribute to Paul Walker. Adele's "Hello," despite breaking records, hasn't been on YouTube long enough to rack up enough longterm hits to move it above a No. 9 spot.

    1) Wiz Khalifa - See You Again ft. Charlie Puth [Official Video] Furious 7 Soundtrack
    2) Maroon 5 - Sugar
    3) Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do (Official Video)
    4) Major Lazer & DJ Snake - Lean On (feat. MØ) (Official Music Video)
    5) Taylor Swift - Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar
    6) David Guetta - Hey Mama (Official Video) ft Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack
    7) Sia - Elastic Heart feat. Shia LaBeouf & Maddie Ziegler (Official Video)
    8) Fifth Harmony - Worth It ft. Kid Ink
    9) Adele - Hello
    10) Silentó - Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) (Official)

    For the first time ever, YouTube also announced a trending songs list, which doesn't tie to specific video uploads, but instead tracks songs that are most popular as uploads in cover songs, dance performances, fan tributes, and in any other way across the system. Topping off that list was Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk," while longterm viral successes like "Gangnam Style" still make the chart.

    1) Uptown Funk
    2) See You Again (feat. Charlie Puth) 
    3) Thinking Out Loud
    4) Gangnam Style
    5) Blank Space
    6) Sugar
    7) Shake It Off
    8) All About That Bass
    9) Chandelier
    10) Cheerleader - Felix Jaehn Remix Radio Edit

    Screengrab via Tianne King/YouTube


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    Can you learn to talk like a vlogger?

    If you watch enough vlogger channels on YouTube, you start to notice that there’s a similarity to the way they speak, just as other demographics can sound similar, from Chicagoans to Californians. These linguistic similarities are often called dialects, when a geographic region or a speech community bound by other ties shares a set of norms. YouTubers, despite addressing a wide range of topics and being from a wide array of backgrounds and locations, are part of a larger community where norms for expressing yourself—from the jump-cut video editing to phrases like “the Dooblydoo”—get codified and ingrained into the experience. The phonetics, or sounds of the language spoken, are no different.

    Inspired by the noticeable similarities across popular channels,The Atlantic consulted Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University who studies mediated communication, to help illuminate four stylistic elements of the “YouTube Voice,” which can become a formula to mimicking the sound of some of the platform’s most famous vloggers. The key, according to Baron, is emphasis. YouTubers are using it a lot, and in a variety of ways. Four areas Baron noted were overstressed vowels, elongated vowels and consonants, addition of extra vowels, and aspiration of consonants.

    For example, in this video of Hank Green discussing success, at the 0:14 mark you can witness extra emphasis on the word “unusual” and, 48 seconds in, the extra aspiration—or a puff of air when he says the consonant—in the world “troubled.”

    Hank and his brother John Green are a potential patient zero for the YouTuber voice, some sort of standard bearer for the YouTube vlogger community. Their friends circle of vloggers all display the traits in some capacity. Franchesca Ramsey, in her “5 Tips for Being an Ally” video, shows off the extra vowel syndrome in her pronunciation of “five” at 0:36.

    In Tyler Oakley’s most recent “My Favorite Things” video, he starts off with vowel elongation on “everyone.”

    PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta also has the “YouTuber Voice,” and he’s often sneaking in extra vowels to his words. One example is his pronunciation of “time” at 0:30.

    He also does the “epenthetic vowel,” which is dropping an extra vowel in between consonants. For example, 35 seconds into “Is Ron Dumbledore,” he adds an “eh” sound in “trapping” between the T and R.

    The examples can go on and on, but overall, “YouTube Voice” is just a style of emphasizing your words, very similar what you find in modern TV broadcasting like The Daily Show, according to Baron. Another linguist, Mark Liberman of the University of Pennsylvania, compared it to sales-pitch voice, the type that a carnival barker would use to get you to come engage with their games.

    Most importantly, it works. Not everyone on YouTube has this voice, but those who do are clearly signaling that they are part of a specific community. “YouTube Voice” may not make you a successful YouTube in and of itself, but it does make you noticeably part of a certain YouTube landscape.

    H/T The Atlantic | Illustration by Jason Reed


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    The long-awaited second season of Serial is here, and as predicted, it covers the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

    Unlike the case of Adnan Syed, which the podcast's first season brought to the public's attention, Bergdahl's case is already well-known. Held captive by the Taliban from June 2009 to May 2014, he was released in a prisoner exchange greenlit by President Obama. He was later charged with desertion by the U.S. Army. 

    In September, Maxim reported that Serial host Sarah Koenig had been spotted at Bergdahl's preliminary hearing in San Antonio, Texas. Koenig has remained carefully close-mouthed about season 2 in interviews, but the first episode reveals that those reports were correct. 

     The first new episode, "DUSTWUN," went live at 6am ET Thursday, overloading the podcast's website. It opens with Bergdahl's first public interview about his experiences in Afghanistan, explaining in his own words why he decided to leave his Army base alone that night in 2009. 

    By tackling a story that has already been investigated by the media, the Army, and Internet conspiracy theorists, Serial is reaching past the high expectations set by season 1. And judging by the fact that people are still furiously refreshing the website in hopes of downloading it, the podcast's obsessive cult following is still alive and well.

    Photo via United States Army/Wikimedia (PD)


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    One of the reasons that Downton Abbey has been so successful over the years, especially in America, is because of the charming accents that come with a British costume drama. (Also, Dame Maggie Smith. Enough said.) But what happens when you take all of that classiness away?

    Stephen Colbert had Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), and Allen Leech (Tom Branson) on The Late Show, where he had them read an actual scene from Downton Abbey with authentically classless American accents, just to see what would happen. And it does not disappoint.

    Would we have cared as much about the petty problems of the Crawleys or any of their servants if they lived in the United States? Almost certainly not, but for a moment, it’s fun to imagine what—thankfully—never was.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    The 2016 Golden Globes nominations have been announced, with yet another strong showing from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Studios, Hulu, and a film originally funded by Kickstarter.

    Projects from these services count for 16 of the nominations this year; 14 of those nominations come from the TV categories, which now make up approximately 25 percent of the TV categories. If there was ever any doubt from critics, online content isn’t going away from awards season anytime soon.

    Netflix tops the streaming competition with eight nominations spanning six TV shows and the first nomination for its first feature film, Beasts of No Nation, which went to Idris Elba for Best Supporting Actor. Orange Is the New Black and Narcos were both nominated for Best Comedy and Best Drama, respectively, while Uzo Aduba (OITNB) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) are nominated again. New nominees include Grace and Frankie’s Lily Tomlin, Aziz Ansari (Master of None), Wagner Moura (Narcos), and Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline). For the first time, House of Cards and actor Kevin Spacey were shut out of their respective drama categories.

    Amazon Studios found its awards stride with last year’s Golden Globe Best Comedy winner Transparent, which is about to air its second season and grabbed three nominations for Best Comedy. Jeffrey Tambor (who won the award last year and the Emmy in September) was nominated for Best Actor, and Judith Light for Best Supporting Actress. But this year it also has a chance for gold with Mozart in the Jungle, which is competing against Transparent for Best Comedy and star Gael García Bernal is going head-to-head with Tambor for Best Actor.

    Hulu received its first nomination for Casual, which will be among the shows nominated for Best Comedy.

    On the film side, Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa is nominated alongside two Pixar films (Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur), Shaun the Sheep Movie, and The Peanuts Movie. And while it was distributed through traditional means—Paramount Pictures and Starburns Industries—it started out as a Kickstarter campaign that raised $406,237 from 5,770 backers more than three years ago.

    You can view the rest of the nominations on the Golden Globes website. The winners will be announced Jan. 10 on NBC.

    Screengrab via Paramount Pictures/YouTube


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    Once a day since Nov. 30, Shia LaBeouf has tweeted the phrase "touch my soul." On Thursday, he revealed what this actually meant: another one of his outlandish performance art projects.

    #TOUCHMYSOUL is a livestreamed performance from LaBeouf and his two longtime collaborators, artists Nastja Sade Ronkko and Luke Turner. The three performers have set up a call center in Fact gallery in Liverpool, England, where anyone can phone in and talk to them between 11am and 6pm GMT, Thursday to Sunday.

    LaBeouf's work with Ronkko and Turner usually draws from his status as a public figure, inviting audience participation. Previous efforts included #IAMSORRY (during which he sat in a public gallery wearing a paper bag labeled "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANY MORE" on his head), and a series of green screen video clips where viewers could superimpose LaBeouf's performance onto a background of their choice

    These projects were met with dubious feedback from audiences, especially in the light of LaBeouf's frought public image and brushes with plagiarism. The turning point came last month with #AllMyMovies, a livestreamed performance in which LaBeouf watched his complete filmography in reverse chronological order. As a less conceptual piece that engaged with his pop-culture background, people found it a lot less pretentious. (Also, it was entertaining to watch him be forced to watch the entire Transformers franchise on camera.)

    #TOUCHMYSOUL follows the trend of Shia, Ronkko, and Turner's previous collaborations, giving people a chance to call an A-list celebrity on camera and "touch his soul." (Or, more likely, awkwardly pause and then ask how he's doing.)

    We called the number, but the lines were already busy. No surprise there.

    Screengrab via touchmysoul


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    Yesterday, the Internet collectively shuddered as we learned that Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO/'80s-movie bully Martin Shkreli had purchased the single copy of Wu-Tang Clan's long-awaited album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, for a reported $2 million. But some good news has come out of this reality-collapsing situation. 

    Twitter user Rob Wesley posted part of the "contract" for the album yesterday, and it was also picked up on Reddit

    According to this definitely fake but amazing contract, during a period of 88 years, the seller can, at any time, attempt to steal back the album in a "caper" or "heist," which would return rights back to the seller. This heist can only be carried out by active Wu-Tang members or Bill Murray, naturally. 

    As many people on Twitter have already stated, a heist film starring Bill Murray and Wu-Tang Clan is the best movie that's not being made right now. 

    They already started filming in 2002.  

    Shkreli had no comment as to the caper clause. But sometimes, when the Internet wishes hard enough, things like this come true. 

    Hopefully Section 36 leaks next. 

    Update 3:07pm CT, Dec. 11: Wu-Tang producer and rapper RZA has addressed the viral, fake post. And while it doesn't change the contract, he certainly appears to have second thoughts about who his project was sold to.

    Photo via David Shankbone/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Paul Sableman/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed 


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    BY EVAN DESIMONE

    Yahoo’s original programming ambitions may have failed to the tune of a $42 million write-down, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still optimistic about online video. Today, the struggling tech giant announced the new Yahoo Video Guide app, designed to help consumers navigate the ever-expanding digital video landscape with a swipe.

    The new app is aimed at cord-cutters who might be struggling with myriad streaming options in what is being called the Peak TV era. The app aggregates data from HBO, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, allowing users to search and view content from all of those services in one location with a simple tap of the screen. The Yahoo Video Guide will also tackle the problem of new content discovery with a GIF-based recommendation algorithm that selects new content to match users’ moods.

    The app tackles the very real problem of content discovery and user management in a world where streaming options have exploded. With a huge amount of content distributed across multiple platforms and an increasingly heated series of licensing battles, popular shows are rapidly changing hands. Yahoo is betting that even a tech-savvy cord-cutting audience needs help to manage their viewing priorities. Bringing the app to a mobile setting is likely to heighten its millennial appeal.

    Ironically, such a tool would have been a boon to Yahoo’s benighted video efforts. Many users pronounced Yahoo’s video interface difficult to navigate, making it hard to find expensive shows such as Community or discover its high-quality originals, including Paul Feig’s Other Space.

    The app is available on iOS and Android mobile devices. 

    Photo via Pablo GarciaSaldaña/Unsplash (PD)


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    After a successful turn at his old stomping grounds at The Daily Show, Jon Stewart went to visit his old friend Stephen Colbert on The Late Show to discuss permanently renewing the Zadroga Act for the first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

    But because he was now going on broadcast TV, he had to pay the iron price in order to do it.

    Over his three months at The Late Show, Colbert has stumbled upon the same thing that many other late-night show hosts have discovered: the media won’t pay attention to the important thing you’re trying to say unless you’re Donald Trump. And while getting Trump himself wasn't happening, Colbert had a viable alternative.

    Even if it killed Stewart—who donned a Trump-inspired wig and cheese-doodle residue on his face—to have to stoop to Trump’s level just to talk about how important it was to renew healthcare measures for the 9/11 first responders, it was worth it. But we suspect that, as he went full Trump, he might have secretly missed the whole routine after being out of the game for four months of Trump stories.

    America’s listening, Stewart.

    Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube


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    Harrison Ford has a few choice words for Donald Trump after learning that one of his characters inspired the business mogul.

    In a recently New York Times article about how voters may sometimes look to fictional leaders in times of trouble, Trump spoke of his own inspiration. It's not Star Wars scoundrel Han Solo or archaeologist Indiana Jones, but rather Ford’s character in Air Force One, a president who has to fight a bunch of Russian terrorists who ha taken over his plane.

    “My favorite was Harrison Ford on the plane,” Trump told the New York Times. “I love Harrison Ford—and not just because he rents my properties. He stood up for America.”

    Ford, who’s in the middle of a global press tour for The Force Awakens, may have missed the initial news story where he was namechecked by Trump. But now he’s aware of it after a journalist from Australia’s Studio 10 asked him about it.

    “Donald, it’s a movie,” Ford said, displaying more than a hint of his trademark exasperation. “It’s not like this in real life, but how would you know?”

    Ford is 73 years old, and he can’t believe he had to actually tell someone like Trump that movies aren’t real life. Give Ford a medal.

    H/T NBC News | Screengrab via Movieclips/YouTube


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    I’ve never wanted to strip off all my clothes on camera more than I did on the set of Transparent.

    Even before Transparent premiered in 2014, I knew it was going to to be a standout show for me. With television a wasteland of trans storytelling, Transparent was part of the movement to change trans representations in mainstream media. Focused on the Pfefferman family, the show centers around their patriarch coming out late in life and the stunted growth of the rest of the family as they come into their own sexualities, genders, and identities. Amid concerns from the LGBT community that it wasn’t representative enough, accolades rolled in, including Golden Globe and Emmy awards.

    Now, I was going to be an extra on the show, and I’d foolishly turned down the option to do it in the nude.


    A friend tipped me off to a casting call for extras for a two-day shoot. After you sent a preliminary email, the production staff shot you one back asking if you wanted to be fully nude, just topless, or clothed for the duration. The less clothing you had on, the higher the pay jump. I thought seriously about the idea of being naked in the background of one of my favorite TV shows, and I even asked my mother what she thought about the prospect. She said I should do it, but knowing that at least one close friend would email me a screenshot if any part of my naked body appeared on Amazon for even a split second made me say no. I’ve taken great care to keep my naked self off digital media, and Emmy or not, I wasn’t going to change that, even for a story.

    Of course, I changed my mind almost the moment I stepped on set. For one thing, there was the heat: We were filming on a farm in the Valley, which is notoriously hot on a normal day in Los Angeles, let alone during an unfortunately timed heat wave. My character was apparently going in the exact opposite direction of the rest of the nude crowd. After the wardrobe stylist deemed all the clothes I’d brought along “too nice,” I ended up in a pair of pants and long-sleeved cotton top, with a pattern that hinted vaguely at cultural appropriation. I topped it off with a straw hat I bought so I could have some personal shade for what would turn into a very long day.

    At Transparent’s version of a Womyn’s Festival, practically every third extra was nude.

    Within five minutes on set, I was jealous of everyone who didn’t have layers of stiff fabric flush against their skin. We were all sweating, but I was just marinating, pretending to be carefree and making mimed conversations with other women who were able to just let the sweat roll off them and evaporate into the air. A few people wondered if we were allowed to strip down, but if you didn’t get the pay bump at the start of the day, you couldn’t get it retroactively just because you were hot. I’m frugal, and I am not going topless on the Internet without at least decent pay, so I decided to sweat it out.

    But beyond the fiscal issue and the sweat, what really made me want to be nude that day was the atmosphere of the set itself. Most sets looking for nude extras tend to be highly sexualized or trivialized; you go nude as an extra in an orgy scene, or perhaps as a streaker to be laughed at. At Transparent’s version of a Womyn’s Festival, practically every third extra was nude, just standing around and doing her own thing. The only men on set were crew, and they were, at least in my experience, respectful. Honestly, they were invisible to me, thanks to the sheer level of feminine energy around us. The festival may have been staged, but the emotions of an all-female space were real.

    When the principal cast walked on, they milled around with us, offering thanks and chatting with extras between takes. Jill Soloway, Transparent’s creator, sporting a practical swimsuit herself for directorial duties, sat down under a tent with the elderly extras who’d camped out there during the repetitive wide shots. At one point, I sat under a tree with a stranger’s head in my lap, braiding and unbraiding her hair, take after take, and I felt content, almost unaware of the camera sliding by us. Peaches came out on day one for a musical performance, with lesbian stalwarts Indigo Girls on the second day of shooting. Overall, the set felt like a female wonderland, which became an interesting contrast when the topic of the episode began to come to light.

    While we were all feeling comfortable, the story revolved around lead character Maura’s discomfort upon learning the festival is for “women born women”—not trans-inclusive. In the finished episode, viewers watch her experience head-on confrontations at the event (filmed away from the eyes of extras) and perceive her internal struggles; it was such a stark contrast to the vibe of the set that it hurt me even more to watch the final cut.


    In the end most of my day was spent walking: walking to a spot, then walking back to another place, and then walking again. Each time they yelled “Action!” I had to mill about, making our background cast of 100 or so seem larger. I made small talk with a mix of people, from an accomplished lesbian poet who was there, topless, as a guest of production, to serial extras who made their living on these gigs, to starry-eyed hopefuls looking for their big break. At one point I held hands with a topless set intern who was working on her day off as we crossed repeatedly in front of Jeffrey Tambor, who encouraged us all to act with him as we made eye contact and murmured our shock or confusion, as directed by Soloway. My potential big break came during a scene with Amy Landecker, the oldest child of the Pfefferman clan. The assistant director decided to keep sending me for “crosses” in the line of the camera, and then sent me to stand and listen to a music performance. A fellow extra told me with glee afterward that I was directly in the one shot they took of Landecker from a single angle in that scene.

    I’m somewhere on the cutting room floor, though—all frames of me, my awful outfit, and my giant hat lost to edits. The scene of dialog I sat directly behind while braiding hair doesn’t even exist in the final cut. The woman I held hands with makes the corner of a frame, presumably with me just beside her, as the camera cuts to a new scene.

    After my fleeting brush with digital fame, and I regretful that I didn’t go nude, in the end? I probably would have gotten actual screen time that way, but ultimately I am just not cut out for the life of an extra. At lunch break I sat down and ripped my pants, earning me a stern glare from the wardrobe department, and a reluctant return to my own jean shorts. While other professional extras jockeyed for extra hours to bump them into double overtime, I jumped at the first chance to clock out in hopes of a shower.

    Even though I’m invisible in the final product, the visibility that Transparent’s second season will enable for more trans actors, more queer actors, and not to mention behind-the-scenes jobs for people who are often overlooked in the hiring process is priceless. I’ll carry with me the rallying cry from Soloway on the first day of shooting: “We all know the world needs changing. You’re part of the change.” 

    Photo via Amazon Studios


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    “I recognize that I am a white, middle-class male in a world of white, middle-class males doing comedy,” explained Elliott Morgan, whose first standup special, Premature, premiered Dec. 10 on Vimeo. “For me to take that and be like, ‘Oh, I’m doing something different’ is kind of presumptuous.”

    But there is something different about Morgan’s style, and he borrows a description from a recent podcast with comedian and writer Mia Pinchoff.

    “I try to present a persona on stage that’s a little bit peaceful,” he said over short rib sliders in West Hollywood a few days before the special’s premiere. “I’m not trying to be crazy and loud. There’s sort of a peaceful, confident vibe. Confidence is maybe the wrong word, but an assuredness to the jokes that people haven’t really seen in my YouTube stuff.”

    That’s another difference. Although he might be relatively new on the standup scene, he’s been simultaneously honing his craft as an “influencer” in the YouTube world, most famously as part of SourceFed. However, he didn’t grow up with dreams of digital fame, instead starting his career doing theatre in Florida at age 8 and attending a performing arts high school before switching gears in college and majoring in zoology. Television and Hollywood were always on his mind.

    “I remember I asked my mom one day how movies worked,” Morgan recalled. “I really wanted to be Jim Carrey. I thought that the way it worked was the movie studios knocked on doors and said, ‘You’re going to be in this movie!’ I thought they knocked on Jim Carrey's door all the time. My idea as a child was if I moved into the neighborhood where Jim Carrey lived, they’d come by. Which is probably somewhat accurate, because Jim Carrey’s neighborhood probably has a lot of famous actors in it.”

    When Morgan did eventually move to Los Angeles, he began auditioning and eventually one of those outings led him to a role on SourceFed, a news and pop culture channel created by Phil DeFranco in 2012 as part of YouTube’s initial $100 million original channel program.  

    “I had no idea how big [YouTube] was,” he said. “I had no idea how much money was being thrown around. It’s insane. The channel went from zero subscribers up to a million subscribers very quickly.”

    Morgan calls his early days on YouTube “very green,” and recalls the show’s fans not liking him.

    “When it first started I was trying too hard,” he said. “The audience was like, ‘Kill him.’ I remember one comment was, ‘I’m going to hit you so hard your head falls off.’”

    For Morgan, transitioning to standup comedy was a reaction to being on YouTube.

    “It was weird because at SourceFed, I could say anything and people thought it was funny, but I wasn’t getting better at anything,” Morgan explained. “There was no honing or sharpening. How I was there was how I was going to be if I stayed there.”

    In 2014, he officially left the program, although he did recently do a series called The Study. In the world of YouTube, where people often find a lane and stick to it, earning them consistent views and traffic, Morgan hasn’t been afraid to shake things up and stop projects just to start new ones.

    “I’d have to probably ask my therapist why I have a desire to consistently left turn,” Morgan laughed. “I think it boils down to a desire for my product to be the most accurate representation of me. I don’t think I’ve got there yet. If whatever I’m doing isn’t the best representation of what I have to offer, I tend to deviate.”

    For example, Morgan’s long-running series Happy Hour was an attempt to deviate from the jump-cut-heavy world of YouTube vlogging. Instead, he developed and delivered a monologue three times a week, using his performance to circumvent the jump-cut style. But even that wore thin, and Morgan stopped when he hit a point where he'd everything he could with the concept.

    Standup is another kind of left turn, and after honing his skills at clubs and live performances, Morgan turned to Vimeo to help him release the Supergravity Pictures-produced special, Premature, which fans can stream for $5.99.

    “I was really impressed with how [Vimeo] did Oscar’s Hotel,” said Morgan, referencing the series from fellow YouTuber PJ Liguori that set a sales record for Vimeo earlier this fall. “The way that they supported PJ and the way they made his vision come to life. I thought that was so cool, and such a high-quality product and so creatively different. I think they established themselves as the HBO for digital content, where it’s premium and it’s different and they give the creator free reign.”

    Morgan doesn’t pull any punches on his special, discussing The Bible, feminism, and gender identity, among other controversial topics. They’re jokes he calls “semi-offensive,” but not overtly mean. His desire to play along boundaries came from existing on the YouTube and digital medium, where political correctness rules.

    “I think that kind of thing gave me a sixth sense for political correctness that I can play with, especially in the standup world,” he said. “With standup, if you get offended at it, that’s really silly. You’re entering this medium that’s known for being offensive, and I’m certainly not doing anything to push envelopes, but that’s one of the things that drew me to it.”

    With the release of Premature, Morgan has plans for a tour, and will also be auditioning for television roles while finishing drafts for a new webseries with his former SourceFed co-workers Joe Bereta and Lee Newton. For now, though, he’s getting used to letting his creation out into the world.

    “It’s my baby,” he said. “It’s kind of like the thing I care most about that I’ve ever done. So it’s terrifying. And I know that it’s not perfect yet, but that’s OK too.”

    Screengrab via SUPERGRAVITY Pictures/Vimeo 


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    Michelle Obama is a lawyer, a writer, and an avid proponent of healthy eating and education. But now that people online knows that the First Lady can rap, they’re quickly turning "FLOTUS" into the next rap superstar.

    Obama recently teamed up with Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah (who often impersonates her husband, President Barack Obama) and CollegeHumor to produce a rap song encouraging kids to go to college.

    The song, which promotes the Better Room Initiative, doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the whole thing works mainly because Obama gets completely into it.

    If she ever wanted to change careers after life in the White House, she could totally pull it off.

    Once people saw Obama's talent, they offered the budding star their own tracks through the Twitter hashtag #FlotusBars. She can accomplish anything if she’s got a sick beat and the rhymes to throw down.

    For one thing, she’s got plenty of inspiration to draw from her life.

    She pushes for change, both in policies and everyday life. She’s an inspiration.

    And if you're jonesing for yet another Hamilton mashup, Twitter's got you covered.

    She’s not throwing away her shot, that’s for sure.

    Screengrab via CollegeHumor/YouTube


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    It started raining as Tyler Oakley made his way down the red carpet last night in Los Angeles, in celebration of his new documentary, Snervous. Undeterred, Oakley spoke with big-name TV networks and smaller YouTube-based productions, eventually arriving at his fans, arms held out for speedy selfies. A bubble of photographers, assistants, and umbrella-holders stood around him, but Oakley was still the self-made YouTuber, helping videographers get the right shot. He even stopped and re-did his one-liners when they weren't perfect.

    "This is the most surreal thing I can ever imagine," Oakley told the Daily Dot as he finished the carpet. "I'm surrounded by people who are supporting not just me, but Team Internet. This feels like a celebration of Team Internet, 100 percent. I just feel really lucky."

    With 7.8 million YouTube subscribers, a best-selling book, and an upcoming stint on CBS’s The Amazing Race, it’s safe to say people are aware of Oakley. Now he’s releasing the deepest look into his life yet with Snervous. In a celebration of “Team Internet,” the world of successful Internet celebrities and the fans who celebrate them, Oakley hopes that allowing cameras to follow him during some of his most hectic times will give fans something his YouTube videos do not.

    “Hopefully they see a new side of me, hopefully they see that there is a lot more to some of their favorite YouTubers,” Oakley explained at the premiere. “I want people that don’t know what a YouTuber is to kind of get a glimpse into that world. Because it’s here, and it’s happening. I feel like this movie is a great example of Internet and fandom, and a way to understand it.”

    Fandom is front and center in Snervous. The film feels like an extended YouTube video that follows Oakley packing, sleepily traveling to Europe, and kicking off his Slumber Party Tour. Where a documentary of a musical tour might get around this by featuring a variety of songs performed as establishing footage, with Oakley we get his stage entrance on repeat, his secret handshake on repeat. The film lingers here, over-establishing Oakley’s life as a YouTuber in front of the camera, and only hints at the interesting bits. “I just want normal interaction,” Oakley explains in the doc as he walks back to his hotel room one night, after hours of meet-and-greet interactions with fans. So do his viewers.

    Snervous really shines when Oakley heads home and interacts with his family. His mom, known to fans as Queen Jackie, banters with Oakley as they drive around visiting his childhood haunts, like the two fast food chains and coffee shop where he “worked every corner” in downtown Okemos, Michigan. His middle school choir teacher visits and Oakley explains how she was the one who reached out to him most effectively when he’d succumb to an eating disorder as a teen and helped him get through that time. He sits down for lunch with his biological father, who offered to “fix him” when he discovered teenage Oakley was gay, and whom he stayed estranged from for years. The lunch isn’t their first meeting—they’d already reconciled before 2015—but a chance to rehash and emphasize the fact that they’d found a way to be family and to grow. “We’re like two old bulls who stopped caring,” jokes Oakley.

    Letting fans get a glimpse of the people who shaped him tells his story better than what they’ve seen on his international tour. Oakley sheds light on his relationship with Korey Kuhl, his former college RA and now production partner and de-facto personal assistant. Oakley breaks down in tears talking about their friendship, and how he both trusted no one else to help him when he realized he’d reached the level of needing it, and was terrified working together would ruin their friendship. He explains that he’d rather be Kuhl’s friend than be on YouTube, but that so far their dynamic has worked. There’s no better promotion for the duo’s upcoming stint on The Amazing Race.

    There’s also a look at the stressful side of YouTuber super-fame, in a segment that follows Oakley from a meet and greet at VidCon, the largest YouTube convention. As the official interaction ends, Oakley looks around waiting for direction as stragglers and the official photographer start to ask for more from him. Oakley doesn’t want to say no, but as soon as he’s around the curtain he’s visibly irritated and snaps at his team. Back at his hotel during some downtime, he’s even more frustrated that the original incident was caught on camera.

    He explains that the frustration is twofold, both at the lack of control over his own tours and in his own personal spaces, as he attempts to give fans what they want and give himself structure. Throughout the film, fans stalk him to his hotel, wait at loading docks at venues, and pass their phones through gates to get awkward selfies with him. Oakley had written about the stress of these situations in a powerful chapter in Binge, but seeing anguish on Oakley’s face as he battles his own feelings of frustration—torn between being the best for his fans and being able to function as a human being in the midst of celebrity—is the most enduring image.

    With a little less focus on the Oakley fans can already find on YouTube, Snervous would be a home run. His fans, of course, aren’t complaining about anything that gives them more to watch, and they dutifully stood on the red carpet snapping selfies with him and the rest of Team Internet, despite a rare drizzling of rain in Los Angeles. 

    As it stands, it’s the most genuine look at life behind the curtain of new YouTube celebrity so far, and hopefully indicative of more openness to come as Team Internet becomes simply the new normal.

    Screengrab via Tyler Oakley/YouTube


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    Netflix is premiering a new true-crime docuseries Dec. 18, and it's like Serial met The Jinxand had a creepy, compelling love child. 

    Making a Murderer catalogues the life of Steven Avery, a regular guy living in middle America who keeps getting charged for crimes he claims he hasn't committed. 

    The story starts in 1985, when Avery was wrongfully convicted of raping a woman named Penny Beernsten. Eighteen years later, he was exonerated and released after DNA evidence proved his innocence. Then, two years after that—in the middle of a $36 million lawsuit against the DA and law enforcement who'd overseen the investigation—Avery finds himself the prime suspect in a new case. This one's for murder.

    According to Netflix:

    "Making a Murderer examines allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering and witness coercion. The filmmakers look at what went wrong in the first case and question whether scientific advances and legislative reforms over the past three decades have gotten us any closer to delivering truth and justice in the system. 

    The series will be 10 episodes long, and if the trailer's any indicator, it's going to be amazing. 

    H/T Vulture | Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

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    Willow Smith surprise-released her debut album, ARDIPITHECUS, on Spotify Friday. Just like the artist herself, the songs are full of equal parts deeper-than-her-years insights and Tumblr imagery.

    Smith self-produced the 15 tracks, collaborating with her older half-brother Trey (credited as AcE) and her friend Jabs on some of them. They're exactly what I imagine it'd feel like to be 15 in 2015.

    Right out of the gate, the first track "Organization & Classification" hits you with feminism and sex-positivity. She delivers lyrics like, "I'm just a teenager/but I feel angrier than a swarm of hornets/They call us whores/but it's just because we do just what we want and don't look back once," over a Bjork-recalling electronic beat.

    Then later in the album, without batting an eye, she dedicates two pensive tracks to the half-demon, half-human, bass-playing Adventure Time character Marceline. 

    That's what being a teen is, isn't it? Simultaneously feeling the heaviest you've ever felt in your entire life while elbowing out a space for yourself within a culture you think you can see more clearly than everybody else. Smith's equivalent of, "I'm painting my nails black" is, "I'm writing two songs about my favorite TV show." 

    It's a huge departure from her first foray into the music world with "Whip My Hair," and I mean that in the best way. She's still making music with a pop influence, but she has perspective. The album reads like a zine—pathologically sincere. 

    When someone else from her generation of pop musicians, let's say Justin Bieber, sings a lyric like "What about the children?" you laugh. There's no way that guy is lying awake at night worried about the world's young people. In fact, a PR team probably requested that song be included on the album.

    That's not the case with Willow. When she sings something like, "So tell me one thing: Is it really bad to have experience that you know for yourself/rather than sit home and believe in this?" you can picture the diary page where she wrote that down. The late-night iMessage she sent to Jaden.

    It's that ability to let highbrow and lowbrow, the mainstream and the deeply personal, sit side by side and treat them with equal respect that makes the album rule. "Wait a Minute!" is basically a disco song, but it has lyrics like, "I left my consciousness in a sixth dimension." 

    Same. 

    H/T Vulture | Screengrab via Willow Smith/Instagram


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    BY LAUREN DUCA

    We need to talk about this movie on Netflix in which Katherine Heigl pretends to date her dad, because 1) she pretends to date her dad and 2) her dad is Gérard Depardieu. My Father the Hero is one of those movies where you see the description and go, “Haha, it’s so funny this even exists,” before shamelessly watching the entire thing. Or, anyway, that’s how My Father the Hero happened to me.

    There’s so much going on in this 1994 remake of the French film, including but not limited to: Katherine Heigl repeatedly referring to her dad as her “lover” and Katherine Heigl wearing a thong in front of her dad, all under the motivation of impressing a cute guy she meets at a resort. Before she manages to successfully kiss said guy, the story mounts to involve Depardieu being deathly ill and, briefly, a war hero (of course). Overall, an accurate logline might be: Boy meets girl, girl weaves intricate web of lies grounded in both incest and pedophilia.

    It’s the sort of over-the-top, snowballing plot construction that could only ever exist in the universe of an ’80s or ’90s romantic comedy. Somehow, titles like My Father the Hero, buried in the more mainstream love-through-hijinx films like There’s Something About Mary, Runaway Bride, or Never Been Kissed, are even more wonderfully absurd when resuscitated through streaming services. My Father the Hero was probably always kind of gross and absurd, but it’s even more ridiculous outside of the context of films that might render “playful Electra complex” a logical premise. And so, in honor of all the rom-coms with absurd conceits you would only ever watch because Netflix, here are six more.

    1) The Butcher's Wife (1991)

    The Butcher’s Wife stars Demi Moore as a clairvoyant woman who thinks she's met her one true love, except he’s actually just a guffawing, old butcher, who is like, "OK, Demi Moore is both hot and young, so this seems fine!"

    The two marry and move to New York City based on her premonition. Nearly as soon as they arrive, Demi’s mix of supernatural powers and country-girl naïveté make the good old folks of the neighborhood fall in love with her. That is, with the exception of the cynical psychologist Jeff Daniels. As a man of science, Jeff doesn't believe any of Demi’s crap. But of course, somehow, they fall in love despite their differences. And it’s all fine, because the butcher gets to hook up with Mary Steenburgen instead.

    2) Heartbreakers (2001)

    Heartbreakers is about a mother-daughter con artist team who have built a life for themselves by ripping men off with elaborate schemes (the most recent of which is played by Ray Liotta). It's all a sort of provocative, female-led twist on The Producers until daughter (Jennifer Love-Hewitt!) falls in love for real.

    What will win? Love? Money? Some combination of the two?! You have to watch to find out, but the answer is obviously love.

    Also important to note: At one point, Sigourney Weaver wears a long-sleeve lingerie onesie that is simultaneously sensual and scarier than anything in the 1979 classic Alien.

    3) While You Were Sleeping(1995)

    It is so hard to figure out what men are thinking, especially when you have never met them and they are in a coma, as is the case for Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Bullock plays a lonely toll worker who has to take the Christmas shift because she’s the “only one with no family.” Everything is awful and grim, because women who don’t have husbands are just so sad, but then she saves a handsome one from getting hit by a train, and suddenly her life is back on track!

    The handsome man’s parents mistake Bullock’s character for his fiancée, and it becomes a classic case of “Who’s who?” and “Who never met this person before and is pretending to be engaged to them?” That is, until she realizes she is actually falling for the handsome guy’s brother and also for the love of his family. If they can get past her potential insanity, the holidays next year could be a true delight.

    4) The Pallbearer (1996)

    Look, chemistry is hard to nail down on screen: You need that perfect combination of personalities that spits with excitement with just a look between co-stars. Unfortunately, that is not what occurred with The Pallbearer, featuring David Schwimmer and Gwyneth Paltrow, a pair so poorly matched that we fear for the safety and sanity of the person who cast them together.

    It’s the premise of The Pallbearer that makes it stand out as a gem of ridiculousness. The film opens with a shot of a young man who has just committed suicide, you know, as rom-coms do. Then, through a series of confusions, Tom (Schwimmer) is mistaken for the young man’s best friend. He’s loved Gwyneth since high school, but he’s also now sleeping with the dead young man’s mom, because, wait? What? No, there’s not a reason for it. Tom’s just one of those charming sociopaths who can’t help but get himself into mixups!

    5) Can't Buy Me Love (1987)

    Today, Patrick Dempsey is known as some McHotPants character who has been on Grey’s Anatomy for several hundred years, but before that he was the shriveled, pale, unlikely male lead of Can’t Buy Me Love. Indeed, there was a time when he was decidedly not hot, and Can’t Buy Me Love is the optimal way to revel in that moment.

    The plot follows young, unfortunate-looking Ronald (Dempsey) as he mows lawns and eventually earns enough money to buy a girlfriend. He offers $1,000 for the prettiest cheerleader at his school to pretend to date him. The plan is initially for him to vicariously become popular, but wait! How strange! He begins to fall for his purchase, counterintuitively enough, for reasons other than money (see: the title).

    6) Bed of Roses (1996)

    I am both shocked and disappointed that Bed of Roses did not end by revealing the entire thing is just an 87-minute Hallmark commercial. The film sets itself up when Lewis (Christian Slater) secretly sends his love interest—who he knows from seeing her through a window one time—a bunch of roses. He eventually reveals his identity, and then proceeds to send her more and more beds of roses. Most of the movie is a chivalrous display of nonsense that ends up filling her entire home to the very brim with flowers, like she is some kind of florist/hoarder. Then there is a little bit of basic relationship drama, though, really, most of it is just a lady being sent flowers.

    You will spend the entire movie hoping Slater’s character eventually turns out to be a psychotic murderer because 1) C'mon, it's Christian Slater, and 2) Why else is this movie even happening? That said, it's pretty fun to watch Bed of Roses, hoping things will take that turn. They won't—I mean, I'm telling you right now they won't—but it’s fun to pretend.

    Remix by Max Fleishman


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