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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    It's official—more people are excited for D.J. Tanner's return than Piper Chapman's.

    The trailer for Netflix's upcoming original series,Fuller House, which is the sequel to the popular prime-time '80s and '90s sitcom Full House, has eclipsed season 2's Orange Is the New Black teaser trailer in views on YouTube.

    Since its release Dec. 17 the Fuller House teaser—which doesn't show any character—has amassed 10.4 million views, compared to the season 2 OITNB teaser's 9.5 million views since 2014. 

    Netflix announced the series in April, with the majority of the original cast members returning to reprise their iconic roles, save for the Olsen twins, who reportedly won't return as their role of Michelle Tanner. 

    To see how the rest of the family shakes out, fans will have to wait until Feb. 26 for the full season to premiere. Until then they can entertain themselves with more promo clips, like this one featuring DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy—or at least their actresses—doing the "Whip and Nae Nae."

    H/T Tubefilter | Screengrab via Netflix US & Canada/YouTube


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    Earlier this month, a free agent named Shiloh Keo started a Twitter conversation with Broncos coach Wade Phillips about why Denver had signed a defensive back that was not named Shiloh Keo.

    Eventually, Keo was signed by the Broncos and has played in a couple of games this season.

    Joe Anderson hopes the same future awaits him.

    Last month, the receiver loitered outside NRG Stadium in Houston, begging for a job.

    Since then, Anderson—who played nine games for the Bears from 2012-13—sprinkled his Instagram page with workout videos, footage of him with the Bears, and other inspirational messages.

    On Tuesday, all of his work (and panhandling) paid off, because the New York Jets worked him out and then signed him to their practice squad.

    "All I want is a shot to prove myself," Anderson told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm hungry, I'm determined and I will do whatever it takes to succeed. I just want a chance. I will never give up. I love this game."

    And understandably, Anderson was pleased by the latest news, especially since he's reuniting with his old Bears teammate, receiver Brandon Marshall.

    H/T Houston Chronicle | Photo via Joe Anderson/Instagram


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    The ladies of Litchfield are in the holiday spirit with their own parody of the holiday classic,'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

    In their version, "'Twas a Night In Litchfield," several Orange Is the New Black characters come together to tell their own story of Christmastime in the fictional prison setting of the Netflix series. When the women are awakened from their bunks by a clatter in the chapel, they think they're hallucinating and "drank too much hooch" when they find Saint Nick in their midst. They react in the only way they know how...

    Orange Is the New Black returns in 2016, although no release date has been set.

    Screengrab via Netflix US & Canada/YouTube


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    Zach Hodskins was born without his left hand and forearm. But that never stopped him from playing basketball and starring in high school in suburban Atlanta. Not only does Hodskins continue to play, he earned a preferred walk-on spot at Florida, meaning a ballplayer who was born with only one hand is on the roster of a high-level Division I basketball school.

    And now he's also on the school's career scoring list, because on Tuesday, Hodskins entered the Gators' game vs. Jacksonville and recorded the first points of his college life. It was an awesome occurrence and, simply put, one hell of a move to the basket for the sophomore guard.

    The crowd might not have sounded loud in that clip, but based on the video below, the fans in attendance were awfully excited.

    “Really happy for Zach,” Florida coach Mike White said, via the Gainesville Sun. “Great young man. Obviously overcoming a great deal of adversity. He’s a very, very likable young man, you can tell by the decibel level in the O’Dome when he scored. It was a fun moment for our team and for Zach.”

    Lest you think all of this was a fluke or that Hodskins doesn't have true skills, the video below should release you from that idea.

    Photo via University of Florida


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    BY BREE BROUWER

    Comedy Central has a new digital series for Snapchat users’ eyes only. The cable TV network launched the Snapchat-exclusive scripted comedy webseries Stalled, starring The Next Great Burger host and comedian Owen Benjamin, on Monday.

    Running each day on Comedy Central’s Snapchat Discover channel, Stalled tells the story of an apathetic mall worker (played by Benjamin) who would rather spend his time being lazy in the bathroom than doing his job. Throughout the series’ episodes, Benjamin’s character ends up meeting an odd mix of other mall employees who show up to use the bathroom, portrayed by comedians like Nick Swardson, Esther Povitsky, and James Davis. Stalled marks Comedy Central’s first scripted original series for release on Snapchat.

    This isn’t Comedy Central’s first foray into producing Snapchat-exclusive content. Back in September, the cable network released the comedy series Swag-A-Saurus with Davis as host, who each week tried to explain the meanings behind slang terms like “Bye Felicia” and “Looking Friday.” Comedy Central also launched four other digital series on Snapchat over the next few months, including Quickie with Nikki starring Nikkie Glaser and Like it with Liza: Trust Me I’m Right with Liza Treyger.

    You can catch all future episodes of Stalling within 24 hours of their airing on Comedy Central’s Snapchat Discover channel.

    Screengrab via Comedy Central/YouTube


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    In 10 years of YouTube, the platform has generated its own crop of highly influential talent—from vloggers to musicians to dancers to beauty gurus—and managed to keep the spotlight on already-established pop-culture figures. For 2015, the mix of the platform’s top creators reflect the growing diversity of its audience, the hot topics that have ignited discussion around digital talent, and what it takes to make a splash in a crowded marketplace of creators.

    1) Tyler Oakley

    One YouTuber’s name has become synonymous with success on the platform: Tyler Oakley. He may not be the most-subscribed-to user, but he’s one of the main faces of YouTube, from billboards to talk show appearances to books and movies. For the generation of teens and young adults who flock to YouTube as their main source of entertainment, Oakley is often their ambassador to a world of digital creation. Read more in our end-of-year Q&A with Oakley as he looks back on 2015 and discusses his plans for continued success. —Rae Votta

    2) Nicole Arbour

    Canadian comedian, actress, and musician Nicole Arbour has been active on YouTube for years, but all it took was one video for her to go completely viral—and earn the wrath of much of the YouTube community.

    She released “Dear Fat People” on Sept. 3, a five-minute rant in which Arbour makes fun of people are overweight or obese, compares the fat-acceptance movement to assisted suicide, and complains about the advantages that fat people have in public places—all under the guise of satire. Her channel was suspended and then restored, but her video struck a nerve on both sides. Many YouTubers and members of the body-positivity movement were outraged and spoke out against it, and it allegedly cost Arbour a role in a feature film, which she denied.

    Since then, Arbour has made more videos about abortion, black people, and the Syrian refugee debate, but most of them haven’t come anywhere close to the 8.7 million views she got from “Dear Fat People”; her follow-up video only got a quarter of that with 2.4 million views. —Michelle Jaworski

    3) Ingrid Nilsen

    This year, longtime beauty guru Ingrid Nilsen inspired the world with her personal coming-out video on YouTube. It quickly moved beyond her 3.8 million subscribers, gaining the attention of Time, People, CNN, Vanity Fair, and Teen Vogue. Today, the nearly 20-minute vlog has been viewed more than 13.2 million times, making it the most viewed coming-out video on YouTube.

    Nilsen first started her channel in 2009 while studying architecture in college. Obsessed with the beauty tutorials she was binge-watching at night, Nilsen decided to secretly upload her own.

    Today, the secret’s out: Nilsen’s success has traveled well beyond YouTube, with collaborations with CoverGirl, the chance to judge on Project Runway: Threads, and a Teen Choice Award nomination.

    Her channel is a balance between external and internal beauty tutorials. For every makeup tutorial, apartment tour, or clothing lookbook, Nilsen makes the point of talking to her young female audience about self care, sex education, jealousy, self esteem, and breakups. For many, she’s both a big sister and mentor. —Carly Lanning

    4) Todrick Hall

    If you can make a musical parody about it, Todrick Hall is there. The 30-year-old YouTuber got his start auditioning for American Idol, before eventually transferring to Broadway roles and YouTube fame, with 1.9 million subscribers and counting. His success even hit the atmosphere, literally, with an air safety video for Virgin America in 2013. This year Hall and his production team starred in their own MTV show, Todrick, which follows the production of his Web videos from start to finish. The finished product lives on his YouTube channel instead of on television, marrying traditional and new media.

    He’s parodied everyone from Nicki Minaj to fellow YouTubers Pentatonix with his musical numbers, and even taken his show on the road for the Toddlerz Ball. With famous friends like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lance Bass at the ready for a collab video, there’s no doubt Hall will soar into 2016 with more inventive music, dance, and comedy. —Rae Votta

    5) Sam and Nia

    You might not have heard about Sam and Nia Rader before 2015, but one pregnancy test changed all that. In August, the Texas couple uploaded a video to their channel, which has more than 380,000 subscribers, showing husband Sam “stealing” his wife’s urine from a toilet and using it on a pregnancy test. He then surprises her by telling her she’s pregnant. While many fans of the Christian vloggers thought it was cute, others thought it was a little creepy that Sam took the moment away from his wife and made it about him.  

    Thus began the domino effect, as the Raders posted another video just days later saying Nia wasn’t actually pregnant, and many called them out for using the news to drive clicks. Sam then followed that up with the admission that the videos were staged, but absolved himself of any responsibility by saying it was “orchestrated by God” and that his good Christian family was being persecuted by the anti-family media. If anything, it was an interesting experiment in clickable outrage, and how quickly that cycle can consume fans and creators on YouTube. —Audra Schroeder

    6) Franchesca Ramsey (Chescaleigh)

    Franchesca Ramsey is the definition of badass woman. The current host of MTV’s Decoded, Ramsey has made it her mission to expand our conversations on race, gender, racism, allyship, and more through her YouTube channel Chescaleigh. Ramsey first experienced her big YouTube break in 2012 after her video “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls” received over 11.6 million views. Ever since, Ramsey has continued to navigate tough but necessary conversations with her audience in ways that are engaging and encouraging. Her library is a mix of parodies, life vlogs, and beauty tutorials for the often-overlooked audience of women of color.

    During this year’s Race and Representation panel at VidCon, Ramsey inspired other creators to talk honestly about the added struggles they face being creators of color: lack of resources, invitations, and branding opportunities given freely to white creators half their size. The panel was the first of its kind and showed YouTube just how important diverse representation is to its campaigns and audience.

    Then, while covering this year’s VMAs, Ramsey’s press coverage quickly devolved into a fight between her and a racist white man sitting next to her. Attempting to explain why #AllLivesMatter was not more inclusive than #BlackLivesMatter, Ramsey approached the situation the same she would a YouTube video: Stand up for what you believe in and engage.

    Ramsey’s example reminds us all to be a bit braver, and that standing up against injustice is a privilege we should not take for granted. —Carly Lanning

    7) PewDiePie

    The 26-year-old Swedish gamer who’s known more often by his YouTube handle than his real name helmed last year’s most-subscribed YouTube channel, and in 2015 he showed no signs of stopping.

    This year, PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) became the latest YouTuber to write a book, chatted with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show (which introduced him to an audience who probably wouldn’t normally watch PewDiePie on YouTube), hit 10 billion views on YouTube, and became an early advocate for YouTube RedYouTube’s new ad-free service—by teaming up with the people behind The Walking Dead for a new YouTube Red-exclusive series.

    But PewDiePie has received his fair share of criticism from his viewers. He reportedly makes $12 million a year from his videos, which has led to fans complaining about the size of his paychecks. He can’t say how much he makes, but he has addressed his critics head-on and opened up about why he believes in YouTube Red. He may be successful in a career he never imagined himself, but that’s because he works his ass off. And it’s clearly paying off. —Michelle Jaworski

    8) Heaven King

    She may only be 5 years old, but Heaven King became one of music’s most influential trendsetters without ever singing a note. Before everyone from Disney characters to Hillary Clinton started whipping and nae nae-ing for attention, King helped birth the viral song on her YouTube channel, as part of an initiative between Atlanta rapper Silento and her multichannel network, DanceOn.

    Thanks to the campaign, sales for Silento’s track tripled, and he was signed to Capitol Records as the song dominated the airwaves. The video of King and her friend dancing to the track topped YouTube’s year end trend list for 2015 and has been viewed more than 117 million to date. King and her mother, Tianne, who runs her social media, have been frequent guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and have been making viral waves since King was 2 and dancing to Beyoncé tracks. Image what King will have up her sleeve when she hits double-digits. —Rae Votta

    9) Pentatonix

    It was a great year for Team Internet, and no musical group proved that better than Pentatonix. In 2015, the a cappella quintet went from serenading Tom Hanks to winning a Grammy to landing a documentary on Vimeo to grabbing the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts with their self-titled album, beating out Demi Lovato. The Arlington, Texas, group is known mostly for a cappella covers of songs, but this year they debuted their first original song, “Can’t Sleep Love,” signaling a natural evolution of sound that’s been propelled along by a solid YouTube fandom of more than 9 million subscribers. Winning over a bunch of Star Wars fans wasn’t a bad move either. —Audra Schroeder

    10) The Muppets

    Nevermind the Muppets’ new, adult TV show on ABC and one of the biggest celebrity breakups in recent memory; these puppets truly pop when paired with pop culture.

    Mix the nostalgic love of the Muppets and the Internet’s obsession with lip-sync videos, and you’ve got viral gold (and some unlikely hip-hop stars)—and the possibilities are endless.

    In Adam Schleichkorn’s mashups, the Muppets are anything we want them to be. The Swedish Chef, Animal, and Beeker are transformed into the Beastie Boys. Miss Piggy is the star of a revenge thriller, Kermit and Fozzie Bear team up for some M.W.A., Dr. Teeth makes for a perfect rapper, and Scooter proves he just might be the most underrated Muppet of them all.

    Now how long before someone brings Hamilton into it to create an unstoppable force? —Michelle Jaworski

    11) Matt Bellassai

    There are few things YouTube viewers love more than a booze-fueled story. Consider the immense popularity of the Drunk History wedding story, Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen, and now, BuzzFeed’s Whine About It with Matt Bellassai.

    Currently in its second season, “Whine About It” is a weekly series in which Bellassai drinks an entire bottle of wine at his desk and drunkenly dissects why Halloween/pants/mornings/skiing/etc. is the absolute worst. Following the upload of the series’ first video, Bellassai quickly saw its viral potential, telling the New York Times in a recent feature, “Four or five weeks into it, we realized we could hit a million or two million views pretty easily.” And from that second week onward, a viral star was born.

    The series’ appeal is just as much the content as it is Bellassai himself. His almost acrobatic usage of the English language has brought millions of viewers to tears every single week. He’s the sassy drunk Dumbledore of YouTube with a wisdom and comedic timing unmatched by few other online personalities.

    Out of this success, Bellassai has become a recognizable face all his own. He’s been nominated for a 2016 People’s Choice Award and is working on both a “Whine About It” book and national tour. —Carly Lanning

    12) Colin Furze

    You’ve probably dreamed about having real, working Wolverine claws, but Colin Furze made them a reality. YouTube’s mad scientist excels in taking ideas that we mere mortals have only thought of after, say, a bong hit, and creating an alternate universe where beds eject you, giant butts fart at France, Magneto’s magnetic shoes exist, bread can be toasted and cut at the same time, flames can be shot from wrists, and go-karts look like something out of Mad Max: Fury Road. The U.K.-based Furze doesn’t just show you his inventions; he lets fans in on the process as well, and doesn’t shy away from letting us know when something just doesn't work.

    Furze explains on his website that he’s not some master inventor or engineer; he’s a plumber who just decided to have a go:

    “The things I make are made with tools that proper engineers would laugh at but I'm proof you don't need an expensive lathe and huge welder to create something amazing. What you do need though is a place to do stuff and the right people to help ask when needed and also someone to tell you you will fail as that drives you on a bit more.”

    —Audra Schroeder

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    “I’m just very thankful for this year, and I’m just very tired,” laughs YouTube star Tyler Oakley, and for good reason.

    Since kicking off 2015, Oakley has mounted an international tour, continued a successful podcast, penned a bestselling memoir, released a documentary, hosted the Streamy awards, and seen his face on billboards promoting YouTube, all while continuing his main gig of digital video star for his 7.8 million fans. He’s topping the Daily Dot’s list of influential YouTubers for the second year in a row—a testament to his enduring influence in the world of creators and his growing influence to the world of general pop culture.

    Fresh off a month unplugged to be part of an upcoming season of CBS’ The Amazing Race and a week of promoting his documentary, Snervous, Oakley spoke to the Daily Dot about how 2015 was a very different year for him compared with years past and how his plans for 2016 include identifying and amplifying diverse new voices on YouTube. Tyler Oakley’s Dream Factory, anyone?

    What felt different or interesting about 2015 for you?

    “[Ellen] felt like a benchmark of my career and a moment for my channel.”

    Prior to 2015 I had kind of approached every year like “let’s hope for the best.” I always made these year-end videos with 100 things I did, and it would kind of build itself up throughout the year. When this year started, it was like I knew the 100 things before I even got to do them. It felt like everything that was going to happen this year I was ready for; it was in my calendar. That made it a little bit more daunting, if anything. At the same time, I feel like I did more things, bigger and better, than I’ve ever done before. If anything, it kept me focused on what I had to get done.

    Are you approaching 2016 in the same way?

    I’m trying to leave more of my calendar open for the spontaneous things. A lot of fun stuff that happened in previous years were things that were like, “Hey are you available next week?” I wasn’t really open unless it was planned months in advance. I’m excited to play it by ear and let a lot of stuff happen as it happens. I had to say no to so much stuff this year that would have been awesome and incredible.

    Any true surprises for you this year?

    Ellen, for sure. Being on Ellen was that moment for me. You can never plan that, and even the day before I was like, “There’s no way this is happening.” I’m 100 percent the type of person to think, “This is not going to actually happen; I cannot get my hopes up,” until it actually happens. And even then I’m like, “Maybe they won’t even air it.” Ellen was that for me. It felt like a benchmark of my career and a moment for my channel—a culmination of all this stuff coming to fruition.

    This year you checked off all the boxes for what a YouTuber “does next,” so to speak—a book, a movie, a tour, a podcast.

    It was never in my thought process to hit a checklist. I didn’t want to check things off. If it felt natural and it felt right to do it, then I should do it. It wasn’t like I wanted to be the first to do something, because I really wasn’t the first to do any of those things. But I wanted to do it in my own way, to watch my peers do those things and see how they work and absorb that. That’s hopefully why they were pretty successful for me, because I was able to witness them as they happened for my friends and consider how would I want to do that more “me” to enjoy it the most.

    How does your success this year at those projects affect how you’ll approach similar projects in the future?

    Doing those things the first time opened my eyes about how I would approach them the next time. Nothing was disastrously bad or terrible. Nothing traumatizing for me, but there’s little things I picked up along the way. If I ever do another movie of some sort, or development of a production, there are ways that I would want to do things a little bit differently. I’m learning as I go. Most YouTubers don’t come into those new mediums or separate worlds knowing everything. If anything, we’re experimenting as we go. We ask each other for advice.

    Have you seen changes to your fanbase in 2015?

    I think they’re as excited as before, but I think they express it a little differently. I think they approach everything a little more calmly. I think fangirlism, what you would think of for being a fangirl and crazy rabid, all this stuff I would self identity with years ago… I’ve calmed down, and I think they’ve calmed down. I think there’s more a desire for actual conversation and more meaningful discussion, as opposed to hysteria. I think it’s good for everyone.

    Is that difficult for you now, with the growth of your fanbase, to achieve that kind of meaningful interaction?

    I think I’m finding ways. This year was about finding ways to have those meaningful conversations, and the book was a huge way for that. The tour was a huge way for that. It wasn’t about quantity; it wasn’t a selfie line. It was making sure there was cushion and time to engage in meaningful conversations. It was finding ways not just to share more, but to allow the relationship between creator and consumer of the content to grow also.

    Having more of yourself—the personal you—out there to your fans with the book and the movie, how has that affected your own personal life?

    It has been really great for a lot of people in my life to better understand where I come from and what I’m doing and what it means to be a YouTuber. A lot of people in my personal life have a better understanding and can grasp what I do, whether it was them coming to the tour, or reading about [how] it’s not all red carpets and smiles and cameras. If anything, those things are easier to understand on the surface for non Internet people. They understand the concept of me releasing a book as opposed to me releasing a collab, and if they actually consume that content, they get it on a much better level. It’s really been positive, in all aspects.

    Looking forward, the biggest thing coming up for you that we know about is The Amazing Race. The influencers involved are so used to being in control of their own edits, but now it’s a TV show with someone else in charge. How’s that feeling for you? Do you have any concerns?

    I’m not too concerned, to be honest. If anything, I hope that people will understand that this is a high-pressure situation. If they were in a similar situation, they’d probably be frantic also. I’m really thankful I do what I do, because it’s really prepared me to be conscious of how things can be spun, so I was always aware I had a camera or a microphone on me.

    Has it been weird to come back from a monthlong hiatus from social media?

    It was literally life-changing and perspective-changing. To come back and to get back into my work thoughts and remembering all the stressors I had from before the race, I was like, “Why were those stressors? Why did some of those things matter?” It was really eye-opening. I feel so recharged from that, and although it was one of the most challenging things, it let a certain part of my brain relax for a minute. That was really nice.

    As you look into 2016, what are you most anticipating for the new year, both for your own career and for the YouTube community overall?

    Compared to previous years, where there’s always been new crops of talent, I look back at the last year and I can’t really think of the people who have shaken up the YouTube world, or changed the game. Yes, there are a handful, but compared to previous years where there were definite newcomers, I think 2015 was kind of lacking in that.

    In 2016, one of the things I really hope to do is discover new talent and help develop it. Take what I’ve learned and what I can do and help amplify those voices. Address the issue of diversity on YouTube and hopefully develop diverse voices, because I think as a YouTuber, you have a responsibility to help amplify the voices your audience might resonate with, and hopefully in 2016 I find a diverse set of voices to develop in whatever way they are hoping to, but maybe couldn’t without the assistance. I hope to introduce my audience to who I think is the next class of YouTuber.

    The Tyler Oakley Dream Factory?

    Maybe! We’ll see.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    Christmas is a time to spend with friends and family, but that’s no reason to give up your binge-watching habit. Luckily, there are plenty of episodes from great TV shows that you can stream right now, which are sure to fill you with holiday cheer. So go curl up alone with a bottle of Baileys, or sit with your loved ones by a roaring fire, and get ready for some Christmas spirit, courtesy of our our lord and savior: television.


    1) Doctor Who— “The Christmas Invasion” (Netflix, Hulu)

    Christmas specials are a staple of British TV, and Doctor Who is no exception. But “The Christmas Invasion” is one of the stranger holiday specials in recent memory. That’s because it puts the focus squarely on the Doctor’s companion, Rose (Billie Piper), while the Doctor himself is busy regenerating. As Rose does the best she can to stop an alien invasion with the help of her family and friends, the special gives her a chance to be the show’s main hero, rather than just playing second fiddle—a dynamic which Doctor Who explores all too rarely. Of course, when the new Doctor does jump into action, David Tennant proved almost immediately that he would be as compelling and as unique a Time Lord as the show ever had. —Chris Osterndorf

    2) Gilmore Girls— “The Bracebridge Dinner” (Netflix)

    Although “Forgiveness and Stuff” is a particular favorite among fans (and features a walk-on role from a young Jane Lynch), “The Bracebridge Dinner” is the Gilmore clan’s finest feast. Not only does the episode treat you to a Björk-inspired snowman (or woman, rather), this underrated season 2 entry features some classic Gilmore banter—including their riffs on The Godfather Part III and ugly baby Christmas cards. After receiving a card featuring a couple’s unfortunate-looking offspring, Lorelai asks, “Do they not understand we are unapologetic mockers?” Rory quickly retorts, “There’s an unexplained innocence in the world.” These little moments are why we keep going back to Gilmore Girls, well over a decade later.—Nico Lang

    3) The Sopranos— “To Save Us All From Satan’s Power” (HBO GO, HBO Now, Amazon Prime)

    The Sopranos is a dark show, and even when it gets Christmas-y, that doesn’t change. But unlike some of the more serious shows in this most recent Golden Age of Television, The Sopranos is also consistently funny and relentlessly clever, all of which is fully on display in “To Save Us All From Satan’s Power.” The episode finds patriarch Tony Soprano reminiscing about the life and death of former friend and business affiliate Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero—who perished at his hands—around the holidays. It’s a strangely poignant reminder of how Christmas makes everyone nostalgic, for better or worse. The episode also ends with a perfect, pitch black joke, when Tony gets a gift that calls back to Big Pussy’s untimely end.  —CO

    4) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — “My Mom, Greg’s Mom and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!” (Hulu)

    One of this season’s sweetest surprises, the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, took on the holidays’ most painful tradition: trying to win your parents’ approval. In the low-rated musical comedy’s first holiday-themed episode, Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) invites her mother (Tovah Feldshuh) to West Covina, California, to celebrate Hanukkah. Rebecca, a “Level-Five Mom Pleaser,” proceeds to Photoshop her life to meet her mother’s high demands. For instance, she tells Mrs. Bunch that her work, a legal firm populated by misfits, is a volunteer job. She’s helping “underprivileged lawyers.”

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend nails not only the lengths we go to keep others happy but also the complex relationships between parents and their children, ones motivated by stern disapproval just as much as they are by the even more elusive emotion of love.  —NL

    5) Frasier— “High Holidays” (Netflix, Hulu)

    For a show that always dared to be smart, “High Holidays” is so simple it verges on being actively dumb. Frasier’s elderly father, Martin (John Mahoney) eats a pot brownie intended for his brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce), and hijinks ensue. It’s one of Frasier’s most absurdly hysterical storylines, and the subplot, involving Frasier’s son, Freddie (Trevor Einhorn, who went on to have a recurring role on Mad Men), and his decision to become a goth, is also very funny. The fact that this is also a Christmas episode, tying back to Frasier’s main theme of family, is almost secondhand to the pure comedic joy of it all.  —CO

    6) Fresh Off the Boat — “The Real Santa” (Hulu)

    It’s rare that we get to see Christmas celebrations filtered through the immigrant experience. In “The Real Santa,” Jessica (Constance Wu) decides that Old Saint Nick is an “underachiever” and decides to “improve” him for her kids—by telling them that he’s actually an accomplished scientist. (Oh, and Santa is Chinese!) The episode is a sly critique of how the blinding whiteness of Christmas makes other cultures feel excluded, while being incredibly sweet. Jessica is so dedicated to the “Lao Ban Santa” myth that she creates a whole guidebook to his origin story so the family can keep up the tradition for years to come.

    Also, Constance Wu dressed as Lao Ban Santa—complete with a Yuletide Fu Manchu—is the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.  —NL

    7) The Twilight Zone— “The Night of the Meek” (Netflix, Hulu)

    “The Night of the Meek” is one of those Twilight Zone installments that tends to get left in the dust when talking about the series’ greatest episodes, but it’s a doozie nonetheless. Starring Art Carney (fun fact: He also appeared in that horrible Star Wars Christmas special) as a different kind of “Bad Santa,” this is The Twilight Zone at its most idealistic. When the aforementioned down on his luck Santa, named Henry Corwin, finds a magical bag which gives out presents, he sets out to help the less fortunate have a better holiday. In typical TTZ fashion, Henry’s journey is filled with twists aplenty, but it ends on a happy note. Turns out even deeply cynical shows like The Twilight Zone can believe in the spirit of Christmas.  —CO

    8) 30 Rock— “Ludachristmas” (Netflix)

    Although season 5’s “Christmas Attack Zone” is also a gem (points for a bonkers good Sullivan’s Travels homage), “Ludachristmas” marked the return of the late Elaine Stritch as Jack’s mother, Colleen Donaghy. Colleen attempts to show Jack the true meaning of Christmas—which, according to her, is that all families are equally screwed up. To illustrate her point, they spend the holiday with Liz’s family—including her brother (played by a spot-on Andy Richter), who can’t remember anything past an accident in 1985. Like in 50 First Dates, he thinks it’s been the same day for 20 years. Of course, Colleen’s influence pushes Christmas into chaos.

    It’s a dysfunctional message, but it’s strangely comforting to know that every family gets drunk and ends up fighting on Christmas, just like yours. —NL

    9) Seinfeld— “The Strike” (Hulu)

    “It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!”

    That’s really all you need to know. Jerry’s relationship with the “two-face” woman, George’s creation of “The Human Fund,” Elaine’s quest for a free sub sandwich, Kramer’s return to work at a bagel shop, a young Bryan Cranston: It all pales in comparison to Festivus, the alternative holiday made up by George’s father, Frank. Introducing us to such traditions as the “feats of strength” and the “airing of grievances,” Festivus has taken on a bit of a life of its own since “The Strike” aired. Like so many Seinfeldisms before it, the holiday has become part of the lexicon at large. This is Seinfeld employing all of its many powers, and the endurance of Festivus is proof of it.  —CO

    10) Arrested Development — “Afternoon Delight” (Netflix)

    When you’re the Bluths, Christmas is a time of togetherness, family, and running your son-in-law over with a car while you’re high on pain meds. Arrested Development was at the top of its game in its second season, and “Afternoon Delight” features a number of bits that would become classic moments from the show. As the title suggests, Maeby (Alia Shawkat) and her uncle, Michael (Jason Bateman), sing an accidentally risqué karaoke cover of the well-known Starland Vocal Band song. (They don’t realize it’s about a midday quickie.) Meanwhile, Tobias (David Cross)—in one of AD’s most inspired gags—disguises himself as a nanny named “Mrs. Featherbottom” in order to get closer to his family, following his estrangement from his wife.

    What’s Christmas without a little cross-dressing and incest?  —NL

    11) The Office— “Christmas Party” (Netflix)

    The Office did a lot of great Christmas episodes in its time, but none is quite so emblematic of the show as its first one. Perpetually childish boss Michael Scott throws the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company into chaos, first by going over their $20 limit for Secret Santa and buying intern Ryan an expensive iPod (holy 2005, Batman!), then by changing the game to Yankee Swap, which sets a bidding war in motion for the coveted music player. Feelings get hurt, naturally, and Michael fixes the Christmas party the only way he can—with booze.

    It’s an episode that showcases the American Office’s signature bittersweetness and contains some heart-wrenching moments between pre-married/pre-annoying Jim and Pam, which would get called back to later in the series.  —CO

    12) Community— “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” (Hulu)

    Throughout its six seasons (and counting!), Community has offered a diverse array of meditations on genre narrative—from spaghetti westerns (“A Fistful of Paintballs” and “For a Few Paintballs More”) to Ken Burns’ PBS miniseries (“Pillows and Blankets”). But one of its most radical experiments was the NBC comedy’s tribute to classic Christmas movies like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. After Abed begins seeing his friends as stop-motion animated characters, the episode is a Polar Express-style journey into Abed’s own psyche, but it’s also a reminder of the limitless bounds of television as an imaginative medium. Community offers us a simple reminder of the joy and communal power of gathering together in front of the TV during the holidays.  —NL

    13) Mad Men— Christmas Comes But Once a Year” (Netflix)  

    What most believe to be Mad Men’s best season also produced its best Christmas episode, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year.” Featuring one of the worst holiday parties in all of TV history (including the Office party mentioned above), and a particularly sulky Don Draper, who is preparing for his first Christmas away from his children, this episode just screams depression. If we’re being honest, that’s pretty fitting. While the holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, the stress of the season can push almost anyone to the verge of a nervous breakdown. Refreshingly, Mad Men had the audacity to suggest that the fact Christmas only comes once a year is a good thing.  —CO

    14) Parks and Recreation— “Citizen Knope” (Hulu, Netflix)

    What I love most about Parks and Rec is how life-affirming it is, the Golden Age of Television’s answer to Frank Capra. This is a show that profoundly believes in the power of the human spirit, whether it’s to build a better government or support a friend in need. Following a scandal resulting in a two-week suspension from the Parks Department, Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler) poll numbers drop in the City Council race. Her staff promptly quits, and her co-workers decide, as a Christmas present, to volunteer to run her campaign. Leslie is shown to be a compassionate friend to others, but rarely do viewers get to see her get something in return. Christmas is about giving, but this episode shows how important the act of receiving can be, too.  —NL

    15) The Simpsons— “Skinner’s Sense of Snow” (FXNow, Simpsons World)

    They may be far more famous for their Halloween shows, but The Simpsons isn’t too shabby in the Christmas department either. Casual viewers should start with season 12’s entry into the Simpsons Christmas canon, “Skinner’s Sense of Snow,” which finds Bart and Lisa, along with the rest of Springfield Elementary students, trapped overnight in the school. Though not as tender (“Marge Be Not Proud”) or as poignant (“Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”) as some of the series’ other Christmas specials, this is its funniest one, especially considering that it came out after the end of what most consider to be The Simpsons’ glory days.  —CO

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Whatever happened to predictability?

    Netflix is mixing nostalgia with modern pop by having Carly Rae Jepsen and Butch Walker rewrite the theme song for Fuller House, which will look at the future of the Tanner family after the original Full House went off the air in the '90s.

    For those of you who need a refresher, the classic Full House theme song is unmistakable.

    To find out what Jepsen did to the tune, fans will likely have to wait until Feb. 26. However, why even have Jepsen rewrite classic theme songs, when her own songs are perfect enough to be the new themes of a ton of shows?

    1) Song: "I Really Like You" | Show: The Bachelor

    "It's way too soon, I know this isn't love," should be the actual tagline of TheBachelor. The song also discusses oversharing and having to woo someone by proving you like them the best. You could also logically keep the music video as the opening credits, because who doesn't want Tom Hanks in their opening credits?

    2) Song: "Call Me Maybe" | Show: The Bachelorette

    You just met the guy and you want him to call you? Sounds like the roller coaster of love one finds on The Bachelorette. The song admits the premise is crazy, what with the concept of missing a person before you even met them. This plays to the fact that the contestants are often plucked from previous seasons—someone could feel like they know and miss someone before even meeting them.  

    3) Song: "Tonight I'm Getting Over You" | Show: Bachelor Pad

    Bachelor Pad was a second chance at finding love for previous loose-end contestants, which resulted in a lot of relationship swapping and heartbreak. You couldn't be sure you'd be in love with the same person week to week. Perfect for an anthem about moving on, and doing so quickly.

    4) Song: "Run Away With Me" | Show: Bachelor in Paradise

    Contestants on Bachelor in Paradise are at a remote location, so they've already "run away" from the pressures of the real world to find true love. Then, when they find someone they want to stay with, the safer bet would be to "run away" and avoid the game, where hearts can be broken and emotions can be shifted. A true anthem that encapsulates how to really win at Bachelor in Paradise.

    Screengrab via CarlyRaeJepsenVEVO/YouTube


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    Green Day is wishing fans a very punk Christmas with a special holiday song on the band's YouTube channel. Even better, it was a surprise for fans of the 29-year-old outfit from East Bay, California.

    "Xmas Time Of The Year" has a vintage vibe, with lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. The band, which hasn't released an album in three years, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class. They trio is currently working on a 12th studio album.

    Fans have been more than receptive to the holiday treat.

    H/T AtlPress | Screengrab via Green Day/YouTube


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    Money is tight in the YouTube ecosystem. 

    Although digital ad spending is projected to surpass television spending in 2016, and YouTube has seen upward trends in advertiser spending year after year, the bottom line for creators is that payouts are not as fast or plentiful as they might wish. One company thinks it has a solution—but at what cost?

    Some background: When an ad runs before a vlogger’s most recent video, they earn revenue for that display, but the gap between earning that money and getting a check to support themselves can leave a creator on unstable ground. That's where Payability comes in.

    “‘Why does it take 30 milliseconds to deliver an ad, but 30 days to get paid for an ad?’ That’s the question we set out to solve,” Payability CEO Keith Smith told the Daily Dot. Founded two years ago, but not fully launched until June, the company came from the minds of former ad tech executives who were looking for another way to help pay app developers.

    “The suppliers in the overall digital advertising world were always at the end of the line when it came to getting paid, whether you’re the app developer or the publisher or the content creator, you’re always at the end of the line,” said Smith. “If you start on Jan. 1 and you get paid net-30, you have to get to the end of the month and then wait 30 days, so you don’t get paid until March. It’s very hard to grow a business on that kind of delayed payment.”

    Payability links up to a YouTuber’s ads dashboard, generating payments based on expected ad revenue that YouTube provides in a real-time estimate, but can fluctuate between when an ad is served and when actual payment is made. Payability markets its loan rates as as low as 1.9 percent of the income, which Payability uses to finance the operation.

    But does the average YouTuber need a payment service to get their income quickly? In the app developer space, Payability says it works with clients who are regularly earning more than $10,000 per month in transactions, while YouTubers can vary along the scale depending on video output and trends. However, Payability is aiming to reach out to YouTubers who might want their capital expedited for expansions.

    “If you ask people if they want to get paid faster just about everybody will say yes,” said Smith. “But the question is then, what I am going to do with that money, and what will it cost me to get that money faster? YouTubers have fallen in two different camps. Some want the capital to grow and expand, while some think of it as a regular paycheck.”


    The creator community is not reacting warmly to the presence of Payability, at least not in public. (Payability declined to release the number of YouTubers it has participating, or the names of any YouTubers using its service.) Hank Green, who runs VidCon and several successful YouTube channels, tweeted about being approached by the service, calling it a “payday loan” and reacting negatively.

    He’s far from the only YouTuber who sees Payability and companies like it as predatory payday loan services aimed at the creator community.

    “It sounds like the kind of company you make if you assume your target client is naive and won’t notice that they’re better off without you,” Barrett Garese told the Daily Dot via email. Garese is CEO at the Horizon Factory, a company based on app building for digital content creators. “I’m not shocked that something like this exists—it’s a byproduct of the poor monetization of the present YouTube ecosystem—but what this says to me is that they assume YouTube creators to be easy targets, or generally unsavvy when it comes to business and basic accounting, and are willing to take advantage of either scenario to the creators’ detriment.”

    Gaby Dunn, a former Daily Dot contributor, who is also one half of the YouTube channel Just Between Us, called the idea "evil and exploitative."

    "This seems like a bad idea and could get a lot of YouTubers into debt,” wrote Dunn, who recently wrote about the financial struggles of successful YouTubers for Fusion, via email. “Loans are precarious things and many YouTubers are young. They might not understand what they're getting themselves into.”

    While Payability doesn’t characterize itself as a loan in its marketing, it is essentially cashing a YouTuber’s paycheck for them in advance of an actual payout. In the case of negative adjustments (when projected ad payout doesn’t match actual delivery) Payability says it manages those adverse effects by limiting payout to 80 percent of projected revenue, leaving 20 percent to resolve after YouTube pays them the true amount.

    “That way if there are adjustments that come along, we can allocate those against that reserve, and then when we get paid from the marketplace we release the rest of that reserve,” explained Smith.

    Digital creators like Dunn and Garese are less concerned with finding fast ways to access cash for a cost, and instead with how to increase the overall bottom line.

    “The best way to support creator sustainability is to raise their revenues,” said Garese, whose company is built to do just that. “For the vast majority of creators, the best pathway to doing so is to move beyond YouTube, and to have better control over their audiences and distribution channels. Creator sustainability isn’t built with predatory payday loans and finding more ways to shave another couple percentage points off of already low advertising revenues, but by supporting creators, increasing their revenues, and making it easier for them to deliver compelling content to their unique audiences.”

    While Garese points out YouTube is not incentivized to make revenue changes in favor of the creator, Dunn noted that transparent and standardized pricing for deals would be helpful in empowering creators to maximize their finances.

    “Or some oversight from an advocacy committee of YouTubers about pricing for ads and brand deals,” she added.

    Until that time, options like Payability are available to YouTubers looking for fast cash, but even Smith admits that their product is not for everyone.

    “While it’s always nice to get paid faster, if you don’t have a use for the capital when you get paid faster, it probably doesn't make sense to pay for it,” said Smith. 

    Photo via 401(K) 2012/Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix via Max Fleishman


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    Sure, the themes of A Christmas Carol are universal, but do they feature a hoverboard

    Thankfully, content studio Astronauts Wanted spent this Christmas retelling the classic tale for the digital age on Snapchat. Dubbed A Vlogmas Carol, it follows the tale of a man too obsessed with YouTube and making money to enjoy the world around him. It stars Vincent Cyr as Scrooge and Thug Notes' Greg Edwards as the various Ghosts of Christmas. 

    Thanks to Snapchat their carol may have been fleeting, but luckily Astronauts Wanted captured the whole experience for their social media channels just in time for Christmas.

    This is not Astronauts Wanted's first time experimenting with storytelling through Snapchat. They run multiple shows and segments on the platform, and they developed SnapperHero, a Snapchat superhero tale that was the most nominated program at the 2015 Streamy Awards.

    The carol is told at first from the perspective of a disgruntled intern peeping on her Scrooge of a boss through Snapchat. Eventually the ghosts come to visit them in thoroughly modern ways, including via hoverboard and wearing VR headgear. In the end, Scrooge helps others, and even offers to promote his intern's YouTube channel—clearly the greatest gift of all.

    Screengrab via Astronauts Wanted/YouTube


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    Save your outrage, YouTuber Nicole Arbour says her "Dear Fat People" was just a marketing stunt.

    "I made a marketing plan behind it, the same way that anyone makes marketing plans for anything. So, I kind of loaded the bases, like baseball," Arbour told Cosmopolitan of her strategy of posting increasingly controversial videos. "There's been tens of thousands of dollars just from that one specifically. It's changed my life financially."

    Prior to posting "Dear Fat People," Arbour did post several other baiting videos attacking the likes of Instagram Models and divorcees. "Dear Fat People" hit with 8.9 million views, making waves throughout pop culture this year, with celebrities like Chrissy Teigen reacting to Arbour's fat-shaming message in People, and Arbour making appearances on shows like The View.

    Arbour followed the clip up with other videos with controversial titles, like "Dear Black People" and "Dear Refuges." Her follow ups haven't done as well as the original, but Arbour claims it was all to build her brand, bring in income, and get her potential TV and film roles. 

    "I've got a bunch of really cool TV offers coming my way right now, and lots of sponsors coming to me to make cool videos for them, branded content for them or ad campaigns for them," she told Cosmopolitan

    While she denied reports that the video cost her a potential film role in September, neither she nor her representative  gave the magazine any specifics on future projects. For now, she's just continuing to make more videos in hopes of courting more attention via offense. 

    H/T Cosmopolitan | Screengrab via Nicole Arbour/YouTube


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    Some of the most creative art around disappears every 24 hours.

    Snapchat artists have become the newest social media celebrities, but their content doesn’t last long. When Snapchat introduced the Snapchat Stories feature in October 2014, the platform moved from a quick messaging service for friends to a place for a new breed of social media stars to build their brands. While many established social media stars from Vine and YouTube have flocked to Snapchat for more connection to their followers, the platform’s mixture of art, comedy, and real-world photography has also bred its own form of superstar. As you try to figure out the best Snapchat hacks, tips, and trips to beef up your personal account, we’ve got eight essential Snapchat stars to follow that will keep you entertained with their blend of pop culture, art, and silliness.

    1) Shaun McBride (Shonduras)

    McBride is the original Snapchat superstar, the first Snapchat-born success story. As a snowboard sales rep in Utah, McBride didn’t have much in the way of social media until his younger siblings bullied him into setting up a Snapchat account. Now businesses like Taco Bell pay McBride $30,000 to promote them on his channel, and prices for prime Snap real estate are only increasing.

    2) LACMA (LACMA)

    It may be new media, but Snapchat is also booming for an established art institute. LACMA, or Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is using the platform to engage a whole new generation with the world of fine art. It was the first museum on the service, and it manages to turn art into, well, more art—this time with funny captions.

    3) Geir Ove Pedersen (geeohsnap)

    For his snaps, this Norwegian artist combines pictures of unsuspecting people with creative drawing. He likes to infuse the mundane with elaborate stories to try and make up a brand new world for his subjects.


    4) Cyrene Quamico (CyreneQ)

    By day she’s a freelance graphic designer for Verizon, but on Snapchat, she transforms into a pop culture artist, mixing the photoreal and illustration for personal work and for profit, if you’re a brand looking for some Snapchat buzz.

    5) Christine Mi (Miologie)

    Christine Mi likes to take her followers on adventures, snapping shots from beautiful locales. She also adds the quirk of graphics to her photos, making her the perfect mix of aspirational living through Snapchat and high-end graphics creations (Mi says some of her art takes between 20 and 40 minutes per snap). She also likes to snap back and forth with her fans privately, meaning you can get some completely unique art from Mi if you’re a follower.

    6) Thom White (moochiemane)

    A dance major at the University of the Arts, Snapchatter Thom White is living a social media fantasy, reimagining himself as Disney princesses on the platform. This Snapchat artist takes normal pictures of himself, then transforms them into princess looks, from Tinkerbell to Snow White, all for his adoring audience. He can also turn himself into other looks, like old ladies, and shares dances on his YouTube channel.

    7) Mike Platco (mplatco)

    Mike Platco fancies himself a wizard or superhero in his Snapchat double life, using the platform to add some fantasy to his everyday reality. He’s also a professional Snapchatter, lending his artistic talents to shows like ABC’s Pretty Little Liars and NBC’s The Voice. That means as one of Snapchat’s premier artists, he’s turning his fun into a paycheck.

    8) Mark Kaye (MarkKaye)

    Snapchat isn’t just still art. It’s also a world of shortform video, and no one takes more advantage of that than Mark Kaye, who hosts the platform’s first talk show. On Talkin’ Snap, Kaye has been able to interview celebrities from the social media and mainstream world, covering the pop culture topics that matter to his dedicated Snapchat audience. He’s carved a niche out for himself as the “Jimmy Fallon of Snapchat,” and he’s continuing to entertain with his brand of semi-live entertainment.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Let’s face it: We’re all a bunch of suckers. We knowingly buy into a lot of cultural mythology that we really shouldn’t. Sure, we could take responsibility for our part in the elaborate ruse, but it’s a lot easier to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of popular culture. (Where it belongs, if you ask me.)

    From television, film, and the Internet to books, podcasts, music, and more, we’re under a constant barrage of lies and deceit—especially women. We’re being told some pretty outlandish things by the artifacts of our popular culture, and yet we sip our tea and munch our popcorn, eating up every last lie.

    Here is a list of the biggest, most insidious lies that pop culture tells women… and evidence that we are buying into them now more than ever.

    1) A makeover will change your life.

    How many times have we seen the mousy little nerd or the tragically awkward misfit be transformed into something glamorous and sexy enough to get the attention of her male crush? It happens so often, it’s become a pretty standard trope in TV and film. Apparently all it takes to achieve perfect happiness and contentment is a killer blowout and some clever contouring.

    See?

    Clueless:

    She’s All That:

    And the makeover to end all makeovers, Pretty Woman:

    2) Sex is so good all the time, every time.

    Yeah, right. This might be the biggest lie of all. Perhaps we’re so apt to buy into this fantasy because it’s so far from the reality of the situation. It’s kind of a “through-the-looking-glass” fascination that, intellectually, we know is impossible, but it’s the improbality that draws us in.

    Even though we don’t really see the actual sex happening in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, all the giggling and silliness is hard to buy, especially when nobody is exclaiming, “Ouch, you’re on my hair” or “Are we done?”

    50 Shades of Grey is a pack of lies as well. All of it. Lies.

    3) Even in the post-apocalypse, women are able to keep their hygiene game on point.

    Life without running water or electricity is a beauty burden, to say the least, but that’s not stopping women living in the end of times. If we are to believe what we see on the screen, it would appear that you just don’t really get all that dirty fighting for the continuation of civilization.

    Sure, there’ll always be some smudges artfully swiped on cheeks and foreheads to indicate their road weariness, and their sweat reads more dewy than drenched, but the true story is a bit more harrowing.

    Some of these ladies make the apocalypse look down right sexy.

    Katniss Everdeen is among these ladies taking on the end of the world, and looking good doing it.

    The ladies from The Walking Dead may not be quite as glamourous as Katniss, but I’ve never seen Maggie’s armpits look anything less than clean shaven. It’s a miracle.

    4) Money isn’t necessary for an extremely glamourous life.

    It’s a constant mystery how all the favorite leading ladies in pop culture can afford to live the life they lead. It seems like no matter their financial situation, they always have expensive clothes, pay their rent on time, and have plenty of money to eat out all the time.

    Anybody remember when Rachel Green was a waitress on Friends?

    Or when Carrie Bradshaw was a writer for newspaper and could afford dozens of pairs of Manolos?

    5) A man isn’t really all that interesting unless he’s tortured, brooding, and dark.

    In recent popular lore, somehow the character of the antihero has morphed into just the plain ol’ hero, so if a male character isn’t dark and twisty or doesn’t have a dodgy past, he’s just not as sexy. It’s just an added bonus to attractiveness if he’s recovering from sort of addiction, childhood trauma, or psychological abuse, apparently.

    Buffy would have never looked twice at Angel if he were any less dangerous or complicated.

    Ray Donovan has demons coming out his ears, and we love him for it.

    Walter White IS the danger who knocks.

    6) Smart girls are asexual.

    The quickest way to identify a woman who is the least sexual in a movie or show is to look for the glasses. Along with those glasses, she’s probably brainy and clever and has a lot to say about a lot of things, but she’s not usually the girl the guys lust over.

    Liz Lemon was desexualized in about a million ways—the least of which being her love for hoagies.

    7) Being a housewife makes you desperate and vapid.

    See any Bravo show ever.

    8) The size of your boobs is directly proportional to your libido and the decibel of your voice.

    Big-busted women in pop culture are uniformly over-sexed. Just like you can spot the asexual woman by her glasses, you can spot the sex-obsessed one by her rack.

    Both Max and Sophie on 2 Broke Girls are examples of this.

    And you must include Gloria from Modern Family in this lie as well.

    9) Women can’t really have it together both professionally and personally.

    The idea of “having it all” is so antiquated that it feels gross to see it in print. But pop culture doesn’t mind reiterating that women can’t possibly have every facet of their lives in working order. If they are rockstars at work, then their personal life must be falling apart, or vice versa.

    Take a look at Rebecca from My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She was a very successful attorney at high-profile law firm in New York City, but she cried all the time because she wanted a boyfriend. Sigh.

    Mindy Lahiri swings wildly from badass gynecologist to completely absentee employee as her love and family life wax and wane.

    Looking for alternatives to the bleak mainstream? Check out these excellent feministwebseries and YouTube creators instead.

    Photo via Kevin N. Murphy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    At his year-end solo concert this week, Psy lived up to his reputation of outrageous K-pop performances with his sexy cover of girl group EXID's song "Up and Down."

    The singer reenacts a viral girl group performance at his concert, All Night Stand, every year. Last year he transformed into popular idol and "Gangnam Style" guest star Hyuna, for her wildfire track "Red." With his red leotard, tights, and giant banana, it seemed like a difficult performance to beat—but he did it. 

    This year's version includes a skin-tight yellow-and-black outfit (sans tights, to show off Psy's surprisingly toned legs) complete with fake boobs that shoot fireworks.

    Psy's performance has elicited a lot of positive reactions from fans, with many hoping for a response from EXID themselves.

    It's not unusual for male K-pop stars to dance to girl group songs, especially in variety shows. EXID's "Up and Down" proved a favorite among male idols, with members from top groups like BTS and Got7 dancing their own renditions.

    Here's the original version. Looks like Psy could fit in with the five EXID girls just fine.

    Screengrab via stardailynews/YouTube


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    James Bond fans have long hoped that Radiohead would record the new Bond theme—a rumor that has resurfaced again and again over the past few years.

    This week, those fans got what they'd been hoping for. 

    In an unexpected Facebook post, Radiohead revealed that they had already recorded a song for Spectre, but "it didn't work out."

    The band shared the track on SoundCloud, titled simply "Spectre." While it does share some familiar motifs from other Bond soundtracks, it's very clearly a Radiohead song—and one that fits well with the darker, more Jason Bourne-influenced tone of the recent Bond movies. 

    Sam Smith's Spectre theme music provoked mixed reactions from fans of the James Bond franchise, with many saying that it felt like a bland pastiche of earlier 007 theme songs. But that doesn't mean it was a flop.

    Smith's track, "Writing's On The Wall," was the first Bond theme to reach number 1 on the British singles charts, but we suspect there are plenty of Bond fans who now wish the film had used Radiohead's song instead.

    Photo via James Bond 007/YouTube


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    Is Guns N' Roses finally getting back together? If these signs are any indication, the answer may surprise even the biggest fans.

    The original Guns N' Roses lineup hasn't been intact since the band kicked out drummer Steven Adler in 1990. And the band's remaining members—singer Axl Rose, guitarist Slash, and bassist Duff  McKagan—haven't played together since 1993.

    Though Rose has maintained a band under the Guns N' Roses name, he's the only original member in it.

    In recent months, however, there have been major rumblings about a potential reunion of the original GNR lineup. Though none of the members are talking publicly, a few signs have percolated to the surface that suggest such an announcement is brewing.

    The latest signs occurred on Christmas Day, when the GNR website mysteriously began featuring the band's classic logo.

    The band also updated its Facebook cover photo with the following picture, leading some to speculate that GNR is about to announce a reunion and a subsequent tour (kicking off at Coachella in April, according to rumors).

    Making matters even more interesting, this quick, mysterious trailer featuring “Welcome to the Jungle” has begun showing up in the previews before the latest Star Wars movie.

    The rumors truly began in earnest when Slash said this past summer that he and Rose had reconnected and that their past personality problems had dissipated.

    “It was probably way overdue, you know,” Slash said in August. “But it’s…. you know, it’s very cool at this point. You know, let some of that, sort of, negative… dispel some of that negative stuff that was going on for so long.”

    Asked at the time about a possible GNR reunion, Slash remained frustratingly vague. “Oh, I couldn’t answer that one, though,” he said.

    Photo via Guns N' Roses


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    Sometimes the simplest sounding passwords can be deceiving.

    In a clear tribute to the classic Abbott & Costello "Who's On First" gag, the team at RocketJump released a sketch titled "Worst Wi-Fi Password Ever," a more modern twist on the flight of deciphering Wi-Fi passwords. 

    As Jimmy Wong tries to explain the new password to three coworkers, they can't figure out what words, how many words, and if they should be uppercase or not.

    See if you can figure out the actual password without looking in the YouTube comments or without beating Jimmy Wong with a router.

    Screengrab via RocketJump/YouTube


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    Atlanta emperor Future bullied rap music in 2015. It was the year one of the genre's most authoritative voices used free online mixtapes to develop and flourish a style that conquered all. But it was also the year that the mixtape tide finally turned back, and rappers moved away from using free music hosting sites like Datpiff and LiveMixtapes as the default vehicle for putting out their music—instead focusing on making money.

    The most popular rapper on the planet put out two mixtapes and no albums in 2015. But unlike Drake’s seminal mixtape So Far Gone (still on Datpiff), which launched his career from Canadian television to the pop charts, both If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and his collaborative project with Future, What a Time to Be Alive, were instead dropped into iTunes with a price tag. The ridiculously titled IYRTITL and WATTBA will live on forever under the “Mixtape” section of Drake’s Wikipedia page, but there isn’t a determinable difference between these “mixtapes” and his albums–especially with If You’re Reading This being available at Target and Walmart, and casually going platinum.

    Perhaps Drake wanted to eschew traditional albums so he wouldn’t have to make liner notes giving credit to all of the dudes who actually wrote his raps. Even so, there seemed to be a shortage of mixtapes this year. For-pay music websites like iTunes, Bandcamp, and CD Baby have been accessible for years, but in 2015 overwhelmed my blog feeds. Rappers have become more efficient at getting remastered singles a proper release after they blow up on SoundCloud or YouTube. (See: Wap, Fetty.)

    The landscape should get even more capitalistic next year, but in the meantime here are the year's best free rap songs. Criteria for this list is simple: any rap song released within a free mixtape in 2015. That leaves out any song on a proper album. No To Pimp a Butterfly, no Dirty Sprite 2, and no IYRTITL or WATTBA. Other songs released as singles but not for free download or in a free mixtape—like the otherwise great “No Bankrolls (Remix)” by Tate Kobang and “Run Up” by Cam & China—were equally disqualified. 

    This list is as much a product of who put out free music in 2015 as it is taste. That is why a bunch of these come from Chicago and Atlanta, where fans still care enough about street music to download dang near anything off Datpiff.


    10) D.R.A.M. — “Cha Cha” (prod. by Gabe Niles), 1 Epic Summer

    When Drake first uploaded “Hotline Bling” on the Internet as a SoundCloud one-off, he titled it “Hotline Bling (Cha Cha Remix),” after the Hampton, Virginia, artist D.R.A.M. hit “Cha Cha.” Of course, Drake–forever the politician–didn’t immediately sample “Cha Cha” nor the original Mario Brothers sample that ended up getting D.R.A.M. in trouble. By the time D.R.A.M. had to change the beat for the official single release, Drake was long gone, erasing any ties to the original “Cha Cha.” But that version, with the uncleared Star World sample, was one of the most fun songs of the year. 

    9) K Camp — “Lil Bit” (prod. by Big Fruit, AP), One Way

    Only slightly under the radar, Atlanta rapper K Camp had a quietly productive year. Now two years removed from his biggest hit, “Cut Her Off,” he was able to drop three solid singles in 2015, along with an album on which they all appear. “Comfortable” is easily Camp’s best work to date and may point to more singing in his future, but “Lil Bit” is also better than people give it credit for. Vaguely calling back to 50 Cent’s 2005 hit “Just a Lil Bit,” K Camp’s version is even more of a menacing turn-up. A looped noise that sounds like a chopped and screwed electric drill makes way for Camp to order, not ask, for listeners to “get fucked up.”

    8) RJ & Choice ft. IamSu — “Get Rich” (prod. by DJ Swish), Rich Off Mackin

    After the West Coast ruled last year with the passing car radio ubiquity of YG’s My Krazy Life, rappers like RJ were supposed to have next. But even Dr. Dre’s first album in 16 years, Compton, only featured one young rapper from the Los Angeles city limits. 

    RJ is at least releasing gems over DJ Mustard-inspired beats. RJ has a more nasally voice than Big Sean and he hasn’t developed much of an on-record persona, but the features from IamSu and especially Choice fill that void. Su winds between rapping and singing, and Choice appears both fed up and feeling himself. RJ still deserves top billing for lodging that chorus in my brain though.

    7) 2 Chainz — “Watch Out” (prod. by FKI), Trapaveli Tre

    When Tity Boi started officially going by 2 Chainz in 2011, he was born a new man. Charting mixtape singles and multiple platinum album singles made him something of a household name. But his second album didn’t chart as well despite being better than his debut, and now he’s right back to being the expert mixtape rapper he was circa the name change. “Watch Out” comes from Trap-A-Veli Tre, the third in a mixtape series that he hasn’t resumed since changing his name from Tity Boi. The mixtape itself was largely ignored, but Mr. Chainz is more natural underdog. The song itself is an obvious copy of the piano-driven OG Maco song “U Guessed It.” (2 Chainz was on the remix.) But where Maco garnered attention was with his cathartic screams, Chainz is all charisma, barely raising his voice. “You getting mad, I’m getting rich.”

    6) Lil Herb — “I’m Rollin” (prod. by Southside), Ballin Like I’m Kobe

    The second-generation drill rapper Lil Herb (aka G Herbo) often gets cast in the shadow of his frequent collaborator Lil Bibby. I’ve always been unsure as to why, since Herb is almost obviously better at rapping, and it was Herb that uttered the amazing opening bars on their most popular song “Kill Shit.” Maybe it’s because Bibby tends to make more cohesive mixtapes, and fitting with that, Ballin Like I’m Kobe is pretty lopsided.

    Still, “I’m Rollin” is a dizzying anthem full of violence, drugs, and remembrances. The song starts with a familiar Three 6 Mafia “yeah, ho” sample, and Herb listing off his slain friends, saying that if they were here, “They’d be off a hitter.” He repeats the song title a total of 32 times each chorus and it creates a delusional effect from the repetition and circling production. Let's hope DJ Paul takes into account how good this song is when he sues the shit out of Herb for using his “yeah, ho” sample.

    5) Tink — “The Afterparty” (prod. by DJ Wes, Chef Byer), Winter’s Diary 3

    Chicago rapper Tink tried to make a splash in 2015 with a couple of ‘90s-referencing singles. One was “Ratchet Commandments,” a messy ode to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments”; and the other was “Million,” a remake of Aaliyah’s “One In a Million” that was a little too on-the-nose for a collaboration between Timbaland and a young female artist. It turns out she should have been referencing ‘80s tracks all along. “The Afterparty,” from the tight Winter’s Diary 3, is pure synth pop. The song brings to mind another Chicago rapper who took similar influences, Kid Sister, but the lightness of the track and the detailed story of two people orbiting each other’s infatuation at a party might as well make it a Carly Rae Jepsen song.

    4) White Gzus — “Foe da Summer” (prod. by Mr. E), Stackin N Mackin 3

    Summer anthems came either in the form of icy detachment or leaned-out slurring. Leave it to Chicago, where the “Chiraq summer only like two months” and the beaches lead to Lake Michigan instead of some picaresque ocean, to fully encapsulate the mood of a weekend cookout. Lines like “I’m trying to see some bitches’ booties baking in bikinis” give escape to a city that can hardly go a weekend without more shootings.

    3) Meek Mill ft. Migos — “Basic Bitch” (Jahlil Beats), Banned from CD 2015

    While Philly rapper Meek Mill finally emerged into the mainstream in 2015, he had maybe the most bittersweet year of his career. Meek got his first gold plaque and toured the world with his girlfriend, but was also thoroughly humiliated by Drake and every rap fan who suddenly stopped caring who wrote their favorite songs. It was his throwback one-off from a random DJ Clue mixtape that Meek seemed to have the most fun on, going back to his early cornrowed mixtape days. Along with Quavo and Takeoff from Migos, Meek kicks some truly old-school misogyny that still sounds better than their last collaboration, “Migos Dreams.”

    2) Young Thug — “Best Friend” (prod. by Ricky Racks), Slime Season

    Young Thug had a busy year. In addition to releasing three mixtapes; appearing on singles by Jamie XX, Tinashe, T.I., and Yo Gotti; getting featured on Lil Boosie’s comeback album and the Furious 7 soundtrack; plus doing a song with Justin Bieber; the Atlanta rapper also got engaged and tangentially implicated in an apparent attempted murder of his idol. 

    Whether Thug was putting out proper-ish singles like “Hercules,” “Pacifier,” and “Speed Racer,” or random loosies found their way to the Internet like “Beast,” “I Mean,” and “Spaghetti Factory,” his output was breathtaking. Even without climbing the charts like the year prior, Young Thug did crack the Billboard Hot 100 with “Best Friend” at No. 98. Built around a plucking harp and a borrowed chorus, Thug expels some of his most unique phrases.

    1) Future — “March Madness” (prod. by Tarentino), 56 Nights

    Future ran 2015, even without so much as an album going gold (yet). He took the momentum he gathered from last year’s Monster mixtape and put it into hyperdrive with Beast Mode and 56 Nights in the first half of the year. He also dropped probably the album of the year and let Drake ride his coattails with their shared project. And even though Future’s biggest hit of the year was “Fuck Up Some Commas,” it was the single that didn’t even chart which made the largest impact.

    “March Madness” isn’t even be the best song on the fantastic 56 Nights mixtape (that would be “Never Gon Lose”) and barely got any airplay, but it was omnipresent. It might’ve been that the song kept showing up everywhere besides the radio–the club, passing cars, NBA games–or that it felt like the most politically charged rap hit of the year not by Kendrick Lamar, if only for the chorus line, “Balling like the March Madness/All these cops shooting n***as, tragic.” Either way, it never left the CD player in my car. 

    Screengrab via Loud Music/YouTube


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