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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Riding the success of its Modern Lovepodcast, the New York Times is building an audio team to help create a new slate of original shows. 

    According to a memo sent out on Thursday, the paper is bringing on a handful of staff to build out a new roster of podcasts, with plans for a "two-fold strategy": 

    [T]o launch a handful of shows with outside partners which, like Modern Love, have a strong prospect of quickly attracting a wide audience; and then use those shows as a platform from which we can build audience for shows produced within The Times that are as integral to our coverage as our live events and visual journalism efforts. 

    The memo cites the success of Modern Love: The Podcast, which debuted in January and quickly shot to the top of the iTunes charts, as one of the big reasons for forging a podcast team. The popular column about love and relationships translates easily to radio, but Kinsey Wilson, the NYT's editor for innovation and strategy, told Nieman Lab that "the idea is not to take the New York Times as it is today and simply render an audio version. Modern Love is probably the exception, where we’re able to take the printed word as it was published in the newspaper and create a really engaging listening experience." 

    The names and number of shows has not yet been announced, but the NYT might be attempting to model its version of Gimlet Media, home to a handful of popular podcasts and public radio vets. Adam Davidson, co-host of Gimlet Media's Surprisingly Awesome podcast, was named as an advisor on the project. This announcement comes as local papers like the Des Moines Registerand Atlanta Journal-Constitution have started experimenting with longform podcasts, but the NYT is getting more ambitious in launching its own pilot season. 

    Shows are scheduled to launch later this year. 

    H/T Nieman Lab | Illustration by Max Fleishman 

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    There's something very special going down in Chicago. Every month for the past three years, Tyler Jackson and Danny Maupin have been putting on Late Late Breakfast, a standup comedy show like no other. It features some of Chicago's best comedians trying to do their sets while completing all manner of insane challenges. 

    They might have to perform while eating chili, or lip-syncing to one of their own pre-recorded sets, or putting on a puppet show. Every show is different and the comics have no prior knowledge of what they might have to do when they get on stage.

    The show's been such a hit in Chicago that there's now a second incarnation in New York, and Jackson and Maupin have even taken it on the road, hitting up well-known comedy festivals like Green Gravel in Iowa City and the New York Comedy Festival.

    Now, thanks to a successfully funded Kickstarter, the duo will be filming a television pilot so they can bring their madness to the small screen.

    The Daily Dot caught up with Jackson and Maupin over email, and here's what they had to say about the joy of doing their show and what they hope the televised version will be like.

    When was the first LLB show?

    Jackson: The first show in Louisville was, I believe, in early 2012. The first show in the Chicago incarnation was June 2013.

    The show started out in Louisville, right? How has it changed since its inception?

    Maupin: Louisville's show, mainly based on setting and time slot, had to be a much tighter show. It was in a comedy club in Louisville and it's at a music club (the Hideout) in Chicago. The Hideout gives us all of the control over the show and that freedom has made the show bigger in scale and more chaotic. It's really allowed us to create a clubhouse vibe for comics that is still entertaining to audiences.

    Jackson: It started at the Comedy Caravan in Louisville. They asked me to run a show in a Sunday early evening spot. I initially had this idea to do comedy showcases with specific themes that changed every show—everyone performs the first five minutes they ever wrote and then their most recent five minutes, everyone performs as a different comedy stereotype, etc. (Interestingly enough, this is kinda what we do with our "Breakfast for Dinner" showcases now: one-off showcases with strange, specific themes.) That wasn't pulling in a crowd at all, so I decided to change it to a simple late afternoon open mic. That started to pick up some steam with local comics, so I started to introduce some of the weird ideas back into the show via making a few comedians each show take on some kind of challenge or game during their set.

    When I moved to Chicago, I started hitting open mics every night of the week and noticed that they all kinda felt the same. It always felt like I was performing to an audience of the same comedians at every show. I wanted to start a mic that audiences might want to actually watch and that could be super silly but still low-stakes enough that people could mess around and do new and weird material. I figured that same "mic with games" idea could work for that but didn't know anyone or any venues in Chicago. Danny and Liz moved up here shortly after I did, though, and had some contacts at the Hideout who were looking for a Saturday afternoon event. We decided to increase the number of games and make them a bigger part of the show to make it weirder and stand out from other shows. Comics and audiences loved it, and we started getting a following who really enjoyed the games, so we just kept making the games a bigger and bigger part of the show, and the show just got weirder and weirder and more elaborately themed, and it eventually just mutated into what it is today. It's basically been a long, long process of trial and error. We do a lot of dumb stuff that doesn't work that we learn from.

    Also, when it started in Louisville, we served donut holes, but now there are pancakes at every show.

    Comedians usually hate having anything interrupt or mess with their set, but every comic I've talked to loves doing LLB. Why do you think that is?

    Maupin: That is something I have never been able to figure out! Sometimes I am baffled that comics let us do what we do to them. I think one thing that helps is that almost every comic on the show is getting their set disrupted in some way. It also helps when comics see another comedian really crush a game and it elevates their set. People want that to happen to them, too!

    Jackson: Yeah, I think maybe people enjoy watching other comedians get their sets messed with, and it becomes some kind of group experience, like, "Oh well, I laughed at this guy [to] have his set ruined, I guess I should participate and have my set ruined too." Like it's some kind of weird community that involves laughing at watching everyone else squirm, and then knowing that by potentially bombing you can also help in creating this weird thing happening.

    You've taken the show on tour a bit now. What's the reception been like? Do any cities stand out as particularly good or bad?

    Maupin: Taking it on the road was great! We got to see if our show could hold up without the hometown support and it totally did. It was also a blast to write a new show for every city and meet all of the great comics. The biggest standout city for me was Denver. Nothing but fantastic things to say about that city and its top-notch comedy scene.

    Jackson: Oh yeah, the tour was really fun! Doing road shows and festivals over the past few years has been an absolute blast, and running a show that involves so many people lets you really get to know each scene that you pass through, too. I think my favorite shows were Cincinnati and New Orleans. Cincinnati just really embraced the weirdness—we had dudes eating chili out of each other's hands, and at one point every single person in the bar laid facedown on the floor. I've never seen anything like it. And gosh, New Orleans. Man, we wrecked the New Movement theater down there. We just got powdered sugar and Mardi Gras beads and crushed goldfish crackers EVERYWHERE. They had to mop the floor after us, it was nuts.

    How often do you change games between shows? Are there some favorites that show up every time?

    Maupin: We really try to make every show different. Every show is based around a theme that we pick, so we try to make the games based on the theme. We always repeat the game Let's Be Frank Caliendo, where the comic has to do their jokes in a series of celebrity impressions that we hurl at them every 30 seconds, and our You're Killing It game, where the comic has the BEST set of their life. We just make the audience go nuts, like bonkers crazy for every joke. It's really funny to see how doing great can disrupt a comic's set.

    What's the craziest thing you remember happening during one of the shows?

    Maupin: Oh man, that's tough. I mean, we invite so much chaos into the show so sometimes it can get pretty nuts. One of the big ones for me, and this is pretty hard to describe, is when a comedian decided to use their set to say every name that has ever been used for Satan. All the while they keep inviting people on stage and playing weird music. People started running around in costumes and the music was really dark and the place really did kinda turn into a nightmare for a minute. The whole set ended with people casting away spirits and paying homage to a comedian in Chicago named Dave Maher that everyone had been told had passed away. Turns out that Dave was actually in a coma and had recovered a couple months later and is alive to this day. I don't know if some weird voodoo happened our stage that day, but that was just crazy to watch.

    Jackson: What Danny said is definitely the craziest thing we've had. I would also like to add, though, that there were several people naked onstage during that, covering their junk with signs that said "69" and that they all joined hands at the end and sang "That's What Friends Are For." Gosh, apart from that, our last show had a human centipede on it. Um, we once made a comedian at a special backyard show smoke pot onstage in front of her parents. That was pretty weird. We once made the Hideout smell overwhelmingly like onions. I love that we've managed to create an environment where comedians feel free to just do the craziest things they can think of.

    How did the second show in New York get started?

    Maupin: We did our show at the Comedy Exposition in Chicago and Peggy O'Leary from NYC was a featured comedian on the festival and really liked the show. She talked to us about doing a similar show in NYC with Lindsay Boling. Craz[il]y enough, Tyler, my wife Liz (who is also a LLB producer), and I know Lindsay all the way back from our Louisville, Kentucky, days. We all decided that instead of starting a similar show, how about we team up and just have LLB in NYC, too. So now we have a second branch at the Creek and the Cave.

    When did you decide to try and turn LLB into a television show? What was that conversation like?

    Maupin: Tyler, Liz, and I had been kicking around the idea casually for a few months. We had heard from a lot of people, very nice people, that LLB would be a great show to watch on TV. We've been gaining some good steam for a couple of years now, getting some solid press, and it honestly sounded like the next natural step to try and get it on TV. There's a lot of great comedy happening in television right now, between streaming services like Seeso, and I think networks are ready at this particular point in television for a show like LLB. Shows like The Chris Gethard Show are really paving a way for unique comedy to have a place on television.

    Jackson: I believe the idea came about after we wrapped up our tour last year. I think we had a month where we did like three festivals and a road show in a row, so we were exhausted and taking a breather and looking at next steps. Where to go from there. More road shows and fests were already in the works, and so somehow we settled on the next thing in our downtime being how to figure out how to create a pilot. We spent a lot of time planning out the timeframe, the Kickstarter, the pitch video, what form the pilot would take, etc.

    When you started looking into what it would take to film an actual high-quality television pilot, was it overwhelming or did you pretty much anticipate what would be involved?

    Maupin: I'd say a little bit of both. My wife Liz is basically a project management/line producer genius and spearheaded a lot of getting the costs organized, hiring the crew, and even helping us book our fantastic lineup. We are also pretty fortunate to have some very talented friends in L.A. and here in Chicago who will be on our production team.

    Jackson: Liz was definitely on-point with figuring out a budget and lining up a lot of stuff. There are certainly a lot of little pieces that popped up over time where we'd be like, "Oh yeaaaah, we should figure that out," but for the most part it's actually been pretty organized. The crew came onboard pretty easy, and a lot of the comics are friends of the show who were happy to help out.

    Are there elements you think you're going to need to change in order to make the transition to TV? What's important for you to keep?

    Jackson: Really, we're trying to keep the show pretty much the same—randomly assigned games, comedy teetering on the edge of falling apart chaotically, a lot of anticipation about what the hell is going to come next in this crazy show. The only thing that really has to change drastically is the structure of the show. Our normal show is a 90-minute open-mic-style thing where we put up a bunch of comics, but since we're shooting a half-hour pilot, we're cutting it down to five comedians with slightly longer sets and more elaborate games. 

    According to Kickstarter, you've already booked the comedians for the pilot. Any chance we can get some names, or are you saving that for a surprise? 

    Maupin: Very happy to tell you the lineup! We have Will Miles, Giulia Rozzi, Ryan Singer, Ben Kronberg, and Megan Gailey.

    Jackson: Yeah, Danny's got it. They're all very funny and have been involved in lots of cool projects. A few people with Chicago roots, too! And gosh, we know Singer back from when he was in Cincinnati. They're all great!

    What's been your favorite thing about doing the LLB show?

    Maupin: SOOOO MUCH! I love how unpredictable it is. It's honestly like a house of cards that we set up every time and then spend the whole show knocking it down. I get to work with some of my best friends. I work and travel alongside my wife and play with fantastic comedians.

    Jackson: Oh gosh, yeah, traveling and touring with Danny and Liz and meeting comics from all over has been really fun, and having this dumb show where we can take every single silly idea in our heads and throw it on stage and see what happens and know that people are going to embrace it is just an absolute dream situation.

    I also love, love, love the fact that at Late Late Breakfast, everything is so unpredictable and weird, that regardless of whether you have a great set or a terrible set, it's always a great set, if that makes sense. Like, if any set ever fails, it fails in such a spectacular way that it's still enjoyable. And the games act as a kind of equalizer, where newcomers and headliners alike are all thrown into unexpected situations and everyone gets a chance to shine. Everyone gets their moment in the deeply weird spotlight.

    Screengrab via Liz Maupin/YouTube

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    Jenn McAllister has made a name for herself on her YouTube channel, with vlogs and top 10 lists for her 2.4 million JennXPenn subscribers. 

    Now she’s ready for a digital foursome.

    Get your mind out of the gutter. Foursome is a YouTube Red series all about high school friendships, and the first Red project McAllister’s been a part of. The series, however, didn’t start out destined for the subscription platform.

    “We were just shooting it and didn’t know where it was going,” she told the Daily Dot of the AwesomenessTV-produced series. “If it ended up being just a regular YouTube thing and not on YouTube Red, they were thinking about cutting that 30-minute [episode] in half. That’s an interesting thing to think about as an actor because then the start and stop points are very different.”

    The series follows a group of four friends who bond specifically to help one, McAllister’s character, overcome the awkwardness of having an overbearing brother watching over her as she tries to date.

    “One of my best friends in high school had an older sister who had that whole vibe going on, so I kind of drew from that experience,” explained McAllister.

    The cast is stacked with other digital stars like viner Logan Paul and YouTuber Rickey Thompson. The show is the first scripted fiction series to appear on Red, which has so far played host to documentaries, reality shows, and feature films for its $9.99 monthly subscription service. Foursome draws from the well of teen comedy, and amps up the reality of high school life.

    “It’s not far from reality, it’s just a little crazy. My character is kind of the straight man so that brings it down to earth,” explained McAllister.

    She says the relationships between the characters also ground the show with a positive message.

    “The underlying message of the whole show, why it’s called Foursome aside from the sexual pun, is the fact that it’s four best friends,” McAllister said. “It’s really a heartwarming show to see these four characters who are really different from each other, in the end they’re very supportive of one another. It has a great friendship feeling throughout the whole show.”

    Good feelings aside, Foursome is a comedy at heart and McAllister’s biggest wish is her fans come away in hysterics.

    “I hope it makes them laugh, and I don’t even have to hope because I know it will make them laugh,” she said.

    Screengrab via Awesomeness TV/YouTube

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    Once the NCAA basketball tournament is concluded next week, DraftKings and FanDuel will drop out of the college game. On Thursday, the NCAA confirmed, via ESPN, that the DFS sites also would stop taking action on all college sports.

    Daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel have been on a losing streak lately with both sites agreeing to pull out of New York and with FanDuel no longer operating paid games in Texas.

    "We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel's action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "We will work diligently with our member schools over the coming year to ensure such amateur sports 'carve outs' are included in pending states' legislation."

    ESPN notes that college football and college basketball only represent 3 percent of FanDuel's revenue and that the NFL market is 10 to 20 times larger than that of college football for DraftKings.

    But this latest development continues a run of mostly bad news for the DFS sites, an avalanche that began in October when a DraftKings content provider won $350,000 on FanDuel the same week he accidentally leaked inside information that would have helped him succeed in his betting. 

    While the sites won a victory when the state of Virginia legalized daily fantasy sites and though the legislatures in other states like Washington and Maryland are trying to determine their relationships with DFS sites, the industry is in a state of flux.

    Meanwhile, ESPN writes that more than 30 states are considering fantasy sports legislation this year.

    "The future of fantasy sports will be defined in those state governments, where leaders are hearing a resounding call from their constituents who want to continue to play the games they love," FanDuel said in a statement. "The action we are seeing in states across the country makes it clear: the future is bright for the millions and millions of people who play fantasy sports."

    Just not if you enjoy wagering on amateurs.

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    The whole thing could be one giant prank.

    At least that’s the way you feel when talking to YouTubers Roman Atwood, Dennis Roady, and Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, especially when you can’t see their faces. Their film, Natural Born Pranksters, premieres April 1, and they’re in publicity mode. They started a phoner with the Daily Dot making diarrhea jokes, joking about their pants being off, and coolly stating that their favorite website is every website but mine.

    But for all the jokes, in the highly saturated world of pranks, getting it right is serious business.

    “There was massive amounts of planning to create something completely original,” explained Atwood. “There were definitely a lot of times where we went, ‘Oh we can’t do that, we’ve seen something like that before.’ Obviously in this genre it’s hard to be original, but we really did try to make this something nobody’s ever seen before.”

    The trio, who boast more than 28.2 million collective subscribers, sat together for months, often welcoming guest writers from other prank projects like Punk’d to their ranks to help develop concepts. That came full circle when the group celebrated the film’s release at the premiere.

    “The whole thing was just surreal and a little blurry, actually,” said Atwood. We had people showing up that we went and saw their movies premiere, like Steve-O. Guys we’ve always looked up to showing their support.”

    “It felt like we got a blessing from the people that inspired us to be doing what we’re doing today,” continued Roady. “To have them come to our movie premiere, it was a big step. It’s something outside of YouTube.”

    The process to create Natural Born Pranksters took two years, and unlike on their YouTube accounts, their best ideas were subjected to the perils of insurance and the legal department.

    “We had 400 pranks that we came up with, but then we had to whittle those down to the ones we really loved,” said Roady. “On top of that, we had to get those approved by the legal department. Once we got our pranks figured out, we knew exactly what we were doing. It took two years to create the movie, from the writing process to getting production set to getting our schedules in sync.”

    Sometimes their favorite ideas just weren’t possible.

    “I wanted to find a girl who would use me for money, like a gold digger video,” explained Zdorovetskiy of a concept that would follow a girl who didn’t want to date him until she saw a fancy car. He wanted to take it to the next level. “I want to do a private jet one, where I tell her ‘Let’s go to Vegas on a private jet.’ Then I jump out of a plane with a parachute and say, ‘I don’t like gold diggers.’”

    To up the ante, Zdorovetskiy wanted the plane to then drop the woman off in Alaska.

    “Aside from legal reasons, the plane also cost more than our entire movie,” laughed Atwood.

    Aside from fiscal constraints, the trio also had to be cognizant of pranks that walk the line of acceptability. Pranking culture has come under fire within the YouTube community for issues of legality, especially in cases of sexual misconduct. Their response to the naysayers who don’t like prank culture is swift and to the point.

    “I just upload another one,” quips Roady.

    “Like Dory says in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming,” philosophizes Atwood. “The fastest way to fail is please everyone. We just move forward.”

    “The people that hate it are actually the ones watching every single day, so I appreciate it,” laughs Zdorovetskiy.

    For the film, they’re just as ambivalent about how their fans and non-fans react.

    “This movie is a roller coaster ride,” said Roady. “It’s full of emotions and feelings. They’re going to be grossed out, they’re going to be laughing their butt off, they may be offended, they’ll think ‘This is great!’ The takeaway is whatever one they feel the most about.”

    They culture of pranking isn’t just under fire from outsiders, either: A flood of new creators into the pranking waters has also contributed to the issues in the genre.

    “When we started, we were pretty much the pioneers of the shock-and-awe kind of pranks,” Roady explained. “We didn’t have any real competition. We were able to do what we do and keep it safe and keep it right on the line and not cross it so much. Fast forward a couple years later, everybody is jumping in on the platform and they have to stand out. So they’re doing a little more extreme, a little more crazy. You look at them and wonder, ‘How did you get away with this, that’s super illegal.’ They’re just doing it to capture some eyeballs.”

    To break back out of the pack, the crew knows they need to evolve, adapt, and capture new opportunities. Roady sees himself as an action film star.

    “I’ll be doing big movies with Lionsgate, action stuff,” he said. “And still have the YouTube presence. I don’t think I’ll be doing a whole lot more prank movies in my future.”

    Atwood says his next move is retreating to a remote island.

    “I actually just purchased a small Island south of Australia,” he deadpans. “I’ll be out there in three weeks. Taking my kids and I’m out.”

    For all I know, that could be real—or it could be his next great prank setup. There’s only one way to find out.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    The zombie apocalypse of lip-syncing is coming our way, and the stars of The Walking Dead are ready for a fight.

    Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) are battling on the Lip Sync Battle stage, and although they don’t have the usual weapons their characters carry, they’ve both got an impressive arsenal of skills and dance moves. In one of the rounds, Cohan steps off the ballet bar with “What a Feeling,” while Martin-Green whips and nae naes her way across the stage, even smacking down a couple of Walkers along the way.

    We don’t know which character will meet their fate when Lucille, Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat, comes swinging on Sunday, but here, at least, there’s a clear winner—and it’s not just Chrissy Teigen.

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    We already know that Snoop Dogg can pretty much improve any video he's part of, but now Google is finally making a Snoop Dogg YouTube a reality.

    For April Fools’ Day, the site released a beta version of SnoopaVision, a new tool that lets you watch any video in 360 degrees with Snoop Dogg by clicking a simple button. Getting Snoop Dogg on board was key to the operation, the YouTube team explained, but he didn’t just record footage to add to the videos. He was also an important member of the team that helped make the beta what it is today.

    “We thought his involvement would be limited to a few recording sessions, but somehow, someway he kept coming up with these groundbreaking ideas like every single day,” 360° Product Manager Preeya Khanna says in the announcement video.

    SnoopaVision is limited to 10 different videos at the moment but will start to take effect more widely in 2138.

    So until then, enjoy the extra Snoop Dogg in your life.

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    Friday morning around 7:30am TST (Taylor Swift Time), the singer offered followers a chance to see her relatable side. She’s getting ready for a run and her bob is perfect. She hates cardio, just like us. 

    In this new ad for Apple Music, Swift settles on the perfect workout music: Future and Drake’s “Jumpman.” We relate to Swift because she is apparently very bad at running. 

    In no time, #TAYLORvsTREADMILL became a trending topic on Twitter, as we united as a nation to watch her (or perhaps her stunt double) fall over and over again. 

    It was just last June that Swift took on Apple Music with an open letter and plea to pay artists during its free trial period, though she said the issue was not about her. Apple quickly caved. Now she’s falling off treadmills for the streaming entity. Happy April Fools’ Day. 

    H/T Verge 

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    After the heckler was efficiently and devastatingly put back into place, Steve Hofstetter and the standup comedians with whom he's traveling retreated back to the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne in Orlando. Though the hotel's Wi-Fi signal was spotty and slow and made his life temporarily tedious, Hofstetter edited the action of the night and uploaded his latest video—maybe the video that will make him a star—onto his YouTube channel.

    He told his traveling partners—Danny Jolles and Matt Ritter—that he figured the video might get 8,000 views before they had to wake in six hours. He knew it was a good heckler video, but it wasn't the best he'd ever done.

    Yet Hofstetter rose the next morning, and suddenly, life was different.

    The video hadn't garnered just 8,000 hits. More like 50,000 since the night before. And the views counter kept on climbing.

    Here's the video that might shoot him into the standup stratosphere, the 206 seconds that could change everything.

    Does Hofstetter seem used to dealing with hecklers? Does he seem the slightest bit uncomfortable during the women's disruption? Of course. And of course not. If you're constantly on YouTube watching comedians ply their trade, you've probably come across Hofstetter and his heckler videos. He's got dozens of them, and in part, his online identity was built on putting hecklers back into their place for the YouTube audience to see. 

    Notice in the video that he's perfectly at ease. He hits the heckler with a metaphorical gut punch, and he sips his water as the laughter crashes over him like a tension-relieving ocean wave. (Watch his other videos; the sip-of-water move is consistent.) "I've got this," he tells the crowd when he realizes that the woman has basically walked herself into his already-prepared material and that he's about to make her look silly in front of a bunch of strangers.

    And he does. Hofstetter is good at shutting down the heckler before he or she starts to make the show unpleasant for everybody else in the room.

    Again and again, Hofstetter shuts them down and then shuts them up. Over and over, he proves that he, in fact, has got this.

    The heckler video, though, from this week feels different to Hofstetter. Some of his YouTube clips have eclipsed 4 million views. But 48 hours after his encounter with the older woman in a Titusville, Florida, club called Bar IX, the latest video had recorded 3 million clicks, and the rest of his channel had added another million.

    For a gig that paid Hofstetter $70, the kind of publicity he's received since going viral has been priceless.

    "My success has been from the Internet," Hofstetter, who figures he'll make $10,000 from YouTube for that video, told the Daily Dot. ''I met my wife online, and everything I've had that's been worthwhile has started somehow on the Internet. I've said to friends, 'What would my career be like if I had been born 20 years earlier?' But I'm the kind of guy who takes whatever opportunities are given to me and uses it."

    That said, Hofstetter had no idea how quickly this video would resonate. For that, he can credit a U.K. fan who posted the link on Reddit. From there, it spread on aggregation websites, superstar comedian Joe Rogan tweeted about it, and former NFL receiver Chad Johnson wrote a blog on it.

    "There's an element of justice porn there," Hofstetter said. "She not only heckled, but she heckled in such an awful way. That loud, 'bullshit,' was so rude. Everybody who's ever given a speech or been an entertainer wanted me to get her. There's an element of schadenfreude, I guess. It was all just kind of the perfect storm."

    To be clear, Hofstetter doesn't care for hecklers ("I think they're terribly selfish people," he said), and he wishes they'd stop disrupting his show. But because he records every one of his sets and because hecklers seem to enjoy challenging him, he's happy to publicly humiliate them.

    "If someone interrupts the show, I don't just move on," Hofstetter said. "I make an example out of them. ... You want attention? You have no idea what the fuck you're in for."

    And now that the storm has been unleashed, Hofstetter is trying to figure out what it means. He, after all, is no overnight sensation. He's been a standup comedian for 13 years. He's been the host and executive producer for the Laughs TV show on Fox. He's written for Sports Illustrated and He was's original writer, and he's released six comedy albums. He has his fans, but Hofstetter is no superstar.

    Before the latest video emerged, he and his two traveling partners were about to play to a half-full house at a small club in central Florida on Tuesday night. After the video exploded, the gig sold out.   

    "I don't want to jump the gun, but it's very different than it was three days ago," Hofstetter said. "Whether that holds, I don't know. I've been recognized a couple dozen times in my career over the course of 13 years, but suddenly, there's an awareness of who I am. What comes next, who knows? Maybe, this will all fade away and I'll be a flash in the pan. But I think I have a real chance to turn this into something more."

    So, he needs a new strategy. He's putting together new tour dates for the summer, and he has to carefully consider his next video.

    "I had 95,000 YouTube subscribers before this. Now, I have [125,000]. That's a big culture shift," Hofstetter said. "I can't just put up a pretty good video as my next video. If it's a pretty good video, I have to save it. I have to follow [the latest video] with an excellent video."

    But as Hofstetter talked late Tuesday night—while driving back to the hotel from his gig and having to pause three different times to pay Florida toll fare—he knew the real test would be Wednesday night.

    Every week, Hofstetter is at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood. He's either hosting the show or doing a regular set, and on Wednesday, his name was on the marquee. If the place was full—if he and his heckler video—drew in a sold-out crowd, perhaps life would be different for good. If just the regular customers showed up and it was half-empty, well, then, maybe Hofstetter simply had a fun week.

    Reached late Wednesday night by the Daily Dot, Hofstetter sent this photo from the Laugh Factory.

    As for what that means...

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    Netflix has been catching people by surprise pretty much as long as it’s been producing original content. Whether it’s unexpected resurrections like Arrested Development or Longmire or bold originals like BoJack Horseman or Sense8, one thing you can’t call the streaming giant is predictable. They cemented that reputation even further with the recent Full House sequel, Fuller House, which reunited most of the cast of the presumably beloved ’80s/’90s sitcom for further adventures of the Tanner family.

    While Netflix has proven willing to bring back long-gone shows and recently cancelled cult classics both, it almost never takes the obvious route: Witness the lack of “Netflix Presents: Firefly, Season 2.” But if Netflix is opening the doors to disinterring classic sitcoms that have spent decades in syndicated nirvana, well, we’ve got a few suggestions.

    1) WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982)

    This classic series followed the misadventures of the DJs, reporters, and others who kept a struggling Cincinnati radio station on the air. WKRP racked up 10 Emmy nominations over the course of its four seasons and 90 episodes, but its most lasting legacy is the infamous Thanksgiving episode “Turkeys Away,” in which a misguided promotional stunt results in a blimp dropping turkeys onto a crowd of horrified onlookers. (Giving us both a Hindenberg joke and the immortal line “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”)

    The shape of the music industry has so fundamentally changed over the ensuing three-plus decades, adapting WKRP into the modern world would certainly be a challenge. WKRP itself probably would have changed format a dozen times since its heyday, and most of the staff would be old enough to be retired at best, if not dead. Hell, it’s long odds that the station even survived to see the rise of Napster, satellite radio, and Spotify. Still, I’d love to think that, somewhere out there, Johnny Fever is still running a board during an obscure night shift, sneaking in the classics in between mandatory Bieber double-shots. But if not, well, we’ll always have Thanksgiving…

    2) Family Ties (1982–1989)

    Created by Gary David Goldberg (who went on to create a later entry on this list, Spin City), Family Ties was, along with long-running series like Cheers and The Cosby Show, one of the shows that defined the ’80s. The Keatons were that decade in cross-section: Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter-Birney as Steven and Elyse, the idealistic, ex-hippie parents; Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton, a staunch Young Republican with a Nixon poster on his wall; Justine Bateman as the ditzy, materialistic Mallory; and Tina Yothers as the other one.

    The culture clashes on display in Family Ties have only gotten more dissonant in the decades since: The country is more divided than ever, and Reaganomics has given way to Donald Trump: Presidential Candidate. With the Republican Party currently tearing itself apart at the seams, where would Alex P. Keaton be in the midst of all the modern political madness? Would he be a Tea Party true believer or one of the conservative establishment frantically trying to stop the Trump train? Hell, maybe he lost the faith and started feeling the Bern. Either way, catching up with the Keatons in 2016 would be great fun, but it’s Alex we’re most curious about.

    3) Night Court (1984–1992)

    Cheers was by far the bigger of the two, but Night Court was always the ’80s workplace comedy I loved best. Set in the wee-hours shift of a Manhattan municipal court, Night Court brought all manner of madness before the bench of Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson), an unconventional optimist who loved magic and Mel Torme in equal measure. The crazies on the docket are only slightly more eccentric than the folks on staff, including lecherous prosecutor Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), good-natured but naive public defender Christine Sullivan (Markie Post), and that gold-hearted lunk of a bailiff, Bull (Richard Moll).

    Unlike many of the shows on this list, it isn’t the many societal changes of the past few decades that would make a Night Court sequel fun. Instead, this would be a much-welcomed chance to catch up with the characters from the original. I have no doubt Judge Stone is still holding court—he never struck me as a “retirement” kind of guy—and it’d be enormously satisfying to see Dan still stuck in the same gig he hated 30 years ago. Like the aforementioned Cheers, the brilliance of the setting and concept is it invites an endless variety of nutty possibilities, and it’d be a blast to see modern comedy maestros such as Dan Harmon or Mitch Hurwitz pen an episode. It might be a real long shot, but I’ll keep holding out hope that Court will one day be back in session.

    4) Small Wonder (1985–1989)

    Sitcom history is chock-full of “high-concept” shows that marry the standard tropes and structures of the format with truly out-there premises, from Mork & Mindy to I Dream of Jeannie. One of the goofier examples from the ’80s was Small Wonder, in which a good-hearted engineer designs a robotic little girl named V.I.C.I. (Voice Input Child Identicant). The initial plan is for the cutting-edge V.I.C.I. to help disabled children, but engineer Ted instead smuggles the android girl home and begins posing her as an adopted daughter. Unfortunately, V.I.C.I. might look human, but she’s got the standard robot tells: no emotions, a monotone speaking voice, the tendency to short out and begin killing all humans. OK, maybe not that last one.

    I can’t imagine there are many out there clamoring for a straightforward, irony-free continuation of Small Wonder, but that just makes the notion of a clever, post-modern sci-fi spin even more appealing to me. And part of the glory of Netflix’s programming decisions is that they often veer off in wholly unexpected directions. I mean, who saw Fuller House coming? Or the Gilmore Girls reunion? So Small Wonder is my longshot, my dark horse, my “what the hell are they thinking?” option. In my ideal Small Wonder sequel, V.I.C.I. is still operational and incognito after all these years, but the family that raised her is long gone, and some shady government organization is chasing her. How would V.I.C.I. have evolved over the years, and how would her Reagan-era programming have adapted to this era of smartphones and social media? We’re more connected to our machines than ever before, so the viewpoint of an android who’s spent the past three decades becoming steadily more human could be fascinating. Especially if Netflix does its usual unpredictable thing and gets somebody like Bryan Fuller to run the show.

    5) The Larry Sanders Show (1992–1998)

    Created by star Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein, The Larry Sanders Show earned three Primetime Emmy Awards, two Peabodys, five CableACE Awards, and enough other trophies to fill a supply closet over the course of its six-year run on HBO. Shandling starred as Sanders, the host of a late-night talk show, a narcissist who somehow balances out his own arrogance with abundant insecurities. As somebody who doesn’t particularly enjoy people, Larry’s probably the last person who should be hosting a chat show, but thankfully his neuroses are either shored up or just further complicated by co-host Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) and producer extraordinaire Artie (Rip Torn). Damn near everybody who was anybody in Hollywood put in a cameo on the show at one point, including memorable appearances from Alec Baldwin and David Duchovny, to name just a couple.

    The late-night landscape has changed dramatically since Larry Sanders went off the air in 1998, with both Leno and Letterman having handed the baton to their successors. With Shandling now gone, the show could never be the same, but a send-up of the late-night circus is timelier than ever.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman

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    A woman pulled over for a carpool-lane violation offered an excuse that wouldn't fly with most cops, but it helps if your husband is the sheriff. 

    In the video below—which is quite obviously staged—the sheriff pulls over his wife for being the only person in her car.

    Her excuse? She's driving for two. 

    The video quickly went viral, and it currently has more than 662,000 views. Those hundreds of thousands of people might not be very interested in the videos that the Orange County Sheriff's Office usually posts, such as information about a flag football fundraiser and an adorable clip of the office's newest search-and-rescue bloodhound, Puppy Royal. 

    But it turns out that the office's YouTube channel hosts other potential viral hits, too; they've just been overlooked.

    There's a 20-second clip of OCSD Harbor Patrol Sharks, showing a shark in the water with no sound except the waves lapping at the camera. There's also a surreal 10-second clip of a gas leak spewing into the air.

    The sheriff's office might have had its first viral hit with a pregnancy announcement—a tried-and-true YouTube staple of virality—but it definitely shows promise beyond that stunt.

    Screengrab via OC Sheriff/YouTube

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    According to a report released last week by AllFlicksNetflix's content library has shrunk by a third in less than two and a half years.

    The selection for the streaming giant’s U.S. subscribers has gone from 8,103 titles (494 movies and 1,609 TV shows) in January 2014 to 5,532 titles (6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows) as of March 23. That’s a 33.2 percent drop in the number of movies and a 25.6 percent drop in the number of TV episodes.

    The reasons aren’t hard to fathom.

    First, there’s increasing competition from a multitude of players—from fellow giants such as Amazon and Hulu to niche players like Acorn TV, which specializes in British TV shows.

    In August, when Netflix tried to renew its deal with the cable network Epix, it was outbid by Hulu, causing it to lose a list of high-profile films including Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z, and Transformers: Age of Extinction; along with scores of other titles from from Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount, including franchises such as the James Bond films, Rocky, Star Trek, Paranormal Activity, Beverly Hills Cop, and Friday the 13th.

    At the time, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos posted a not-so-assuring blog, in which he wrote, “While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods.”

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    Good news for Spotify, Google Play, and iTunes users: A month and a half after it was released exclusively on Tidal, Kanye West's new album The Life of Pablo is available to stream on the other major services.

    Earlier in the week, Pablo track and apparent lead single "Famous" appeared on Spotify and iTunes, with "I Love Kanye" appearing on Wednesday. But it wasn't until Friday that the full album dropped. 

    One important thing to note is that West fully intends to keep rolling out updates to the songs in the coming months. According to a statement from Def Jam, the current version of the tracks is part of "an innovative, continuous process, the album will be a living, evolving art project."

    The only question left for Kanye or the label to answer is whether the tracks will update on the streaming services each time West tweaks one of the songs. 

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    Stop-motion is a staple of Web video, but Joe Penna—better known online as MysteryGuitarMan—created his latest masterpiece on Snapchat with only a pile of fruit and tons of patience. 

    The resulting "8-bit" adventure turns an orange into our hero on a video-game quest to take down menacing fruits. It levels up and follows popular gaming tropes, set to upbeat music.

    Penna took to Reddit to answer questions about how he made the masterpiece. To get the video to flow seamlessly his team shot 30 frames per second, with the majority doubled. In total, there are 2,364 screenshots in the clip, so Penna wasn't lying about it taking "a LOT of free time." While this proves Snapchat is rife for interesting creation, there might not be as many creators out there with the patience.

    H/T VentureBeat 

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    If you're a wrestling fan and love apps, you're in luck, because the WWE just signed a multi-year contract with Snapchat to bring you behind-the-scenes content.

    The announcement comes just days before WrestleMania, one of the company's biggest events of the year.

    According to Variety, the partnership is "aimed at driving users to sign up for the WWE Network online service, which will stream WrestleMania live starting at 7 p.m. ET Sunday. The company, which has been struggling to grow the WWE Network, is offering a free one-month trial to the service to new subs including this year’s WrestleMania."

    It's definitely targeted the right app to speak to young fans with, but whether those teens will actually be willing to throw in money for a wrestling streaming service is another question entirely.

    H/T Variety

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    Something cute is on the way from Dreamworks and Netflix

    The companies announced this week that they've teamed up to turn the 2015 animated movie Home into a TV series, and that the first season will debut this summer. 

    Rihanna and Jim Parsons will not be reprising their voice roles as Tip the little girl and Oh the alien, but Rachel Crow (Rio 2, X Factor) and Mark Whitten (Rolling High) have been chosen to take over. 

    Additional voices will reportedly be provided by Ana Ortiz (Devious Maids, Ugly Betty); Ron Funches (Get Hard, Undateable); Matt Jones (Breaking Bad, Mom); Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live, Liar Liar); Abby Elliot (SNL); and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, Blades of Glory).

    Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh will be available to watch July 29.

    H/T Variety 

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    It’s supposed to be a golden age for digital entertainment, but one popular webseries is facing the harsh reality of crowdfunding your way to creative freedom.

    The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy won a 2015 Geekie for best scripted series, was nominated for a Streamy Award, and received press coverage in Entertainment Weekly and USA Today. But now it's hit a wall.

    “We were mentioned in Forbes as a webseries that deserves an Emmy and we can’t raise enough money to do a third season,” said Shawn DeLoache, series co-creator and writer.

    Peter and Wendy emerged in 2014 as a vlog series akin to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which retold a classic tale through a modern lens. The series also uses transmedia elements to emphasize storytelling. The first season they raised $9,230 on Kickstarter to fund episodes, which they buffered by putting production costs on credit cards to make ends meet.

    “It’s more expensive than you think to make a series, and then you have to have contingency money,” said DeLoache. “The first season we had no contingency money.”

    To cut corners, they all wore different hats. Kyle Walters, series co-creator, learned how to color correct with online tutorials instead of hiring a professional.

    “What would take someone two hours took him two days,” DeLoache said.

    It was the pure ethos of making your own webseries, but not the ideal.

    “There’s no such thing as too much money,” DeLoache joked about the production process. As they picked up critical steam and tens of thousands of viewers each episode, they made plans for a second season. Only days after season 1 concluded, they started a campaign for the follow-up. Their ask was higher at $55,000, but they surpassed that in a month, this time using Indiegogo. They also added actors to the cast, like Supernatural’s Jim Beaver and YouTuber Meghan Camarena.

    Between seasons, they filled their YouTube channel with behind-the-scenes clips, cast and creator vlogs, and other content. Season 2 aired July 15 and ran for 29 episodes, but following the epilogue six months ago, the channel went silent until just three weeks ago. 

    DeLoache said the series was always imagined as a three-season experience to follow the arc of the book, and they went into planning assuming they wouldn’t have to crowdfund again.

    “We didn’t want to [do] this again, ask for money every year,” said DeLoache. Investors and companies had stepped in, suggesting they’d fund production. When those offers fell through, the team behind Peter and Wendy realized they’d waited too long between the end of the last season and starting a fundraising campaign. Fans were less invigorated from having watched the series days prior, and DeLoache says it’s shown in their new campaign.

    “That’s the advice I’d give to other creators, never have that gap,” DeLoache said. “You lose the momentum and it’s hard to get it back.”

    While the YouTube landscape has changed since Peter and Wendy’s inception in 2014, it’s especially changed in the time between season 2 and the new campaign. YouTube launched Red, its own subscription service for high-budget productions; the Emmys have opened up awards to digital series; and there are more players competing for direct dollars from fans in pay-per-view films, subscription services, and Patreon support.

    While it may appear the fount of funding is endless for digital properties, the Peter and Wendy team found that relying on fandom for funding can be limiting.

    “Nothing about traction automatically equals funding,” said DeLoache.

    Even with a slightly lower goal of $50,000 to fund 12 episodes, they’ve only raised a third of it in three weeks. Thankfully, their flexible funding arrangement on Indiegogo means they’ll be able to keep and use any money raised so far, but they’re also giving fans an extension to help raise more.

    Fans will have two more weeks to help up the goal, and more perks offered to help get them get there before a new April 17 deadline. No matter what happens, DeLoache says they’ll make a version of season 3, even if it has to be on a season 1 budget.

    “I want to finish and I want to finish it right,” he said. “We’re out of favors.”

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    Korea's K-pop could be a twin of American mainstream media. Think of it like the Parent Trap: The two share very similar features—catchy music, visual appeal, and strong fanbases—but maintain their own cultural identities.

    But just like in the Parent Trap, they inevitably meet.

    Being a fast-growing global presence, it only makes sense that K-pop would learn and borrow from one of the most successful music industries in the world. But in the quest for a hard-hitting single, all too often artists become guilty of cultural appropriation—a nagging issue plaguing the genre's evolution.

    One—if not the—main avenue for cultural appropriation in the industry is through K-pop's use of concepts, or themes, in music. Concepts act as a major differentiation between American pop artists and Korean pop artists. 

    In K-pop, groups often adopt a concept or theme when promoting their singles (known more regionally as "title tracks"). A concept ranges anywhere from broad themes like love, youth, or partying, to specific ideas such as secret agents. Regardless of the choice, the music, lyrics, choreography, and clothes all contribute to convey the idea.

    When another culture becomes the concept, controversy ensues.

    Ph.D candidate Stephanie Choi is a native Korean studying ethnomusicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While she focuses her research on K-pop, she also finds time to enjoy the music, her favorite group being BTS, a seven-member, hip-hop-inspired group.

    When defining cultural appropriation, Choi called it "[taking] an element of another culture for your own use or advantage." That entails the economic profits and reputation, but leaves the responsibility of conveying that culture and the meanings behind it, she said. Essentially, it's like a one-and-done kind of deal where the artist or company gets to choose how to enterprise that identity and leave once it's served its purpose. 

    "The people of the culture they use become voiceless," Choi told the Daily Dot. "They lost their voice to properly convey the culture, meaning, or values of their own culture."

    In Korea and among K-pop fans, the term K-pop really refers to idol music, or the musicians who make up the immediate mainstream. If we're talking "Korean popular music," there's more to it than just pop, Choi said. It includes K-hip-hop, K-indie, K-rock, and more. K-hip-hop especially has a very prominent position next to idol music and is more or less just as guilty of appropriating culture—especially black culture.

    Sometimes the offenses come in small doses, such as one member of the group sporting cornrows and bandanas. Just like in any romantic relationship, little things matter: It's a subtle means of perpetuating stereotypes and taking from an appearance that belongs to someone else.

    Sometimes the cases are much more blatant, and in those instances, fans respond—especially those who feel directly offended.

    An older, but classic example of brazen cultural appropriation is girl group T-ara's 2010 release of "YaYaYa." The title track offends Native American culture on a multitude of levels. For one, the lyrics feature very little words (in English or Korean) in favor of chants and yells. Stereotypical gestures make up the choreography, including T-ara's members bobbing their hands over their mouths and prancing around an attractive male tied to a pole. Feather headbands, face paint, beaded jewelry, teepees, tribal patterns—it's all there.

    CL, the leader of YG Entertainment's girl group 2NE1 is often under fire for the music videos she releases. CL's most recent solo release, "Hello Bitches," features the New Zealand-based ReQuest Dance Crew. You might recognize the group for their dancing in Justin Bieber's Purpose: The Movement videos for "Sorry" and "What Do You Mean?

    None of the girls from ReQuest who appeared in CL's video are black, but that didn't preclude the tanned skin, cornrows, and abundance of twerking.

    In the past, CL has also struggled with cultural appropriation claims. In her 2013 single "Baddest Female," she presents herself wearing grills and gold chains. In 2014, the backlash came raining down after her solo track "MTBD" (short for "Mental Breakdown") was released on 2NE1's Crush album. The track sampled a boy reciting verses from the Qur'an, which Muslims found very offensive, especially considering music is a point of contention in the religion.

    Choi's dual definition of K-pop extends to artists outside the idol world as well, which includes rapper Truedy. It's more fitting to call her a K-hip-hop artist as opposed to a K-pop idol, but it doesn't discount the fact that the musician is guilty of appropriation. Last year the star performed on a survival-style reality show called Unpretty Rapstar 2 that featured female rappers. 

    Truedy's flow and aesthetic led people to believe she was of both Korean and black descent. With some research, fans discovered that this wasn't the case, inciting a fair amount of rage. K-pop news outlet Omona They Didn't! called her "Korea's own Rachel Dolezal."

    Why does this keep happening? The answer is rooted in economics. There's millions to be made riding the coattails of American pop culture. It only makes sense that K-pop would look to it for inspiration.

    "Most of the stereotypical images that [K-pop] portrays comes from American media," Choi said. "It's not something they experience from their actual lives, they're just imitating what they see."

    Without understanding a culture and its meanings, we get caught in an endless cycle of appropriation. K-pop is considered the Hallyu wave—it represents Korea worldwide—but by no means does it accurately depict its day-to-day culture. Yet it's not uncommon for people to think it's normal for Korean men to wear makeup the way male idols do, Choi said.

    "People learn about the entire nation [of Korea] through K-pop," she explained. "It's the same with Koreans too, they learn about black people through American mass media."

    The money may be in the trends, but it has to flow from somewhere. Ultimately the source lies deep within the fans' pockets—more specifically, Korean fans' pockets. Choi has noticed that the average age of Korean fans can be much higher than that of American fans. 

    While K-pop is gaining traction in America, the fact that its stateside fanbase is primarily teenage girls can't compete with the young adults and professionals who make up a substantial demographic in the Korean fandom. They simply have more disposable income to invest in the genre.

    When it comes to international fans, it's not even American fans—or Western fans in general—that make up the majority, Choi said. It's Japanese fans. So it makes sense for K-pop to cater to that market, which is why we often see Japanese releases. Groups like Shinee are affiliated with Avex Group, a popular Japanese entertainment company, and regularly release title tracks geared for Japanese fans. There's also a common tendency to avoid any kind of controversy with its Japanese counterparts, Choi said. As a result, any Japanese cultural appropriation in K-pop is carefully vetted. 

    It's also important to know who's responsible for the concepts, lyrics, and clothing. When it comes to cultural appropriation, the entertainment companies are the ones to blame, according to Jennifer Gabriel, author of Korean culture blog Western Girl Eastern Boy. Gabriel lives in Seoul, but hails from Austin, Texas. She brands herself as "a legal and marketing consultant in Seoul by day and Korean culture blogger by night." On her blog, she often writes about her life in Seoul as a black woman and happenings on the K-hip-hop scene.

    "Ideally, we would get less cultural appropriation and more creative expression," she added. 

    Gabriel thinks the K-pop industry is tightly scripted. "We often blame idols for cultural appropriation in K-pop, but it’s not the idols that are producing their songs, styling their outfits, and coming up with their choreography," she told the Daily Dot in an email. "They're just the final products, products made by an entire agency." 

    This presents the problem of idols being unable to take full responsibility for their actions, whether right or wrong, Gabriel said. And if they could take responsibility, it would give them the freedom to express themselves on a more genuine, legitimate level, Gabriel argued. "Ideally, we would get less cultural appropriation and more creative expression," she added.

    Until then, spicing up the diversity would probably help, Gabriel said. "You don't see more diversity in K-pop, be it the people producing idols or debuting as idols," she said.

    But if that's not enough to convince you, perhaps it's time for a condensed history lesson. Choi noted how the history of Korea vastly differs from the history of America, for example. Unlike the Americans, it was Korea that was conquered by others. 

    "Korea was colonized by Japan, and they are still suffering from the colonial history," she said. Out of fear and hardship, a prevailing sense of xenophobia blanketed the public. "Very often, xenophobia is [used] to defend ourselves against these foreigners," Choi said.

    Gabriel also weighed in, citing the Korean War and how it gave generations a bad impression of foreign soldiers. "That’s why there is this continuous sense of being on the outside looking in, no matter where you are from," she said. "We are all foreigners."

    The biggest hurdle to clear is shared by Korean fans and entertainment companies—they don't appear to care about fallout from cultural appropriation. 

    "I don't think the industry is affected by anything," Gabriel said. Whether the music offends certain minority groups or paints a negative image of them, it doesn't matter so long as those groups aren't from a main market group. "Why would companies care what a small minority think? They are not even aware of us," she added.

    Referencing the CL/Qur'an controversy, Choi pointed out that despite the international Muslim fan reaction, it took an official complaint from a Korean Muslim group to elicit any kind of response from YG Entertainment. "That shows how they really don't care about international fans unfortunately," Choi said.

    But it's on the fans too, according to Gabriel. "You have to realize that most K-pop fans do not care about cultural appropriation," she said. "They do not acknowledge it. If they do, then they defend their idols or attack the victims of cultural appropriation and say we shouldn't care."

    It's easy to write off when you aren't the subject of appropriation. "It's never helpful and always harmful—at least to and for black communities and black people," Gabriel said. "K-pop is consumed on a global basis now, and perpetuating negative stereotypes of black people does little to change the current undercurrent of racism in South Korea, even Seoul, and the rest of the world."

    Of course there are some cultural aspects to be shared. It's not as though wearing basketball jerseys in a music video automatically makes it guilty of cultural appropriation. But there's a very fine line, and if something is going to be borrowed, it's crucial to have understanding and awareness. "It's an ethical issue," Choi noted. "You need to respect other cultures and you need to properly convey their cultural values."

    Screengrab via 2NE1/YouTube

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    We’ve made it to the Final Four, in college basketball and in candidacy for America’s highest office. Tonight North Carolina takes on Syracuse in the national semifinals, while Oklahoma tangos with Villanova.

    This year, the team’s essences match candidates like ovals in perfectly round holes—which is to say it’s an imperfect science with which we will nevertheless experiment. (John Kasich didn't make the cut.)

    North Carolina is Hillary Clinton

    The Tar Heels are the prohibitive favorites and resident blue bloods of the group and the college basketball world. Like Hillary Clinton and her strong foreign policy experience, the Tar Heels should win the national championship. The program is privileged, with just a smidgen of liberalism, but not too much blue. 

    The state of North Carolina isn’t living its best life, with its legislature passing LGBT laws onto the public like kidney stones. The team, however, hasn’t looked better. They are experienced, have excellent guard play, and a dominant player with a knack for rebounding—which is, incidentally, one of Clinton’s best attributes. It runs in the family.

    Despite his two national titles, coach Roy Williams has a reputation for buckling under pressure more recently, but also dating back to his days as the head man at Kansas. He continually plays with stacked decks, in regard to his usual NBA-level talent. But there’s always something in the way, the thing you should’ve seen coming. Similarly, Hillary couldn’t keep (future) President Obama out of the winner’s circle, when it seemed to be her time.

    To prevent the upset, the Heels will need to keep Bernie Sanders from winning more states Syracuse to one shot per possession, and wear down the interior of the Orangemen’s vaunted 2-3 zone D.

    Syracuse is Donald Trump

    Perfect match, same color and everything. You have an annoying (and apparently dangerous) fringe entry, from a traditionally elitist set—a set that would much rather be represented by someone else—saying and doing whatever is necessary. Like Donald Trump, the Orangemen weren’t even supposed to be here at this juncture. They backed up into the tournament, simply through affiliation to the Republican Party, err, the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Yet, here they are, front and center—doing amazing things like dominating Virginia in their Final Four play-in, during a most improbable comeback performance. Suddenly, the Washington Generals-recalling Virginia Cavaliers forgot how to make shots from the floor. It was so unusual—a choke job so unique and specific—that you’d think the game was thrown, if you didn’t know any better. Filled with upset fever, public sentiment is at an all-time high.

    (The Cavaliers have to be Marco Rubio. I mean could he have lost to Trump given his money and good looks? He played it entirely too safe, on-message, when his trademark antagonism should have been the choice—because constant passive aggression was usually his political play. Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist stated, with prescience, “He may not be angry enough to win a Republican primary this year.” The same could be said about the Cavaliers’ smothered quest.)

    Back to the Orangemen and Trump. They can’t win. (You know he’ll ruin America like the USFL, right?) As for the basketball team, Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson need to dominate Carolina’s wings, and consistently draw contact from Carolina’s magnificent front line—especially Brice Johnson, who’s a basically a less crazy Kenyon Martin minus the shot-blocking presence.


    Carolina, like Clinton below, should win comfortably, something like 77-65.

    Why do you have the feeling it’s going to be closer than it ought to be? If you’re a betting person, take the points. Heels win by less than the 9.5 given over 'Cuse.

    Oklahoma is Ted Cruz

    Makes sense—so red, it’s maroon. Politics aside, Ted Cruz is an impressive man. He graduated cum laude from Princeton, magna cum laude from Harvard Law. The senator was once voted one of the best 50 lawyers in the country, and then became Texas Solicitor General. Unfortunately, Cruz hasn’t proven himself quite trustworthy in the Senate—much less a presidential candidate—losing in odd situations

    One of the principle reasons lies in his nebulous state of being. He’s almost American, technically a Canadian posing as a Texan. Like how Oklahoma pretends it’s almost Texas. The Sooners are close and the imitation is flattering. 

    Psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” The problem with the perimeter-oriented Sooners, like Cruz and his hyper-agressive conservatism? A penchant for leaning too heavy toward one way to score—Buddy Hield's outside shooting. The senior can be completely devastating. What happens if a team can turn off that valve?

    Villanova has been defending like crazy, all over the floor. The Wildcats limited Kansas—one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country—to a paltry 4-of-18 from range. Like what Cruz should’ve done to Trump, Oklahoma must overwhelm the Wildcats early and often, and inform them of their slight talent advantage. If Nova is within low single digits with, say, four minutes left, the Sooners will probably lose. If Hield scores less than 25, the Sooners will probably lose. If the game hovers no higher than the lower 70s, the Sooners will probably lose.

    There is a theme. Despite the Sooners’ domination of the Wildcats in a December non-conference matchup—a 23-point victory—Oklahoma must show the complete toolset to make the final.

    Villanova is Bernie Sanders

    Bernie Sandersjust gets a lot done when you’re not looking. The “roll call amendment king” pulls up with an impressive record, by most counts. Fitting the Wildcats’ deep blue uniforms, Sanders’s resume, in regards to socioeconomic justice and equality, ranks first among his competitors by a country mile.

    While significantly fuzzy across some fronts—chiefly economic equality specifically for African-Americans, or any minority grouping born starting life from behind—Sanders is on the same frontlines he fought along during the Civil Rights era. However, let’s be honest with ourselves. He doesn’t look presidential. Like Villanova, there is not one ounce of apparent star quality. The Big East champions actually don’t appear to be anything special at all.

    But the senator from Vermont offers lessons for foes who underestimate and overlook. Led by Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Ryan Arcidiacono, Jay Wright’s Wildcats are likewise skilled, but do it by committee, no man more important that the other. What they lack in physical talent is more than made up with tremendous toughness, effort, and resolve. Holding most of the hallmarks of championship teams—excellent guard play, good-enough rebounding, efficient offense (1.27 points per possession in the NCAA tournament)—there is definitely some sense of destiny. Most junkyard dog-laden teams don’t find themselves with 30-plus wins in a season, after all.


    Even as highly seeded team, it feels like Villanova shouldn’t be in this position. A program with the eighth-most NCAA appearances, five Final Fours, and a national championship on its resume—located in a city with deep basketball roots—shouldn’t require a double take, even among casual fans.

    Wildcats win by five over Hield's Sooners, 75-69, gaining an opportunity to add another banner. 

    0 0

    Guns N' Roses made April Fools' Day pretty frickin' awesome for a handful of daring Los Angeles fans. 

    The band announced it'd be playing its first reunion show on April 1 to kick off the Not in This Lifetime... tour Friday night at the Troubadour. Tickets were available at the old Tower Records for $10. The announcement sounded simply too good to be true. This was no joke, though.

    Those willing to take the bait were treated to a 14-song set list featuring hits like "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" along with a two-song encore. Joining the likes of original members Slash, Axl, and Duff were Melissa Reese on keyboard and Richard Fortus and Frank Ferrer on rhythm guitar and drums, respectively.

    The venue may have banned cellphones and cameras from entering the building, but that didn't stop some enterprising attendees from somehow snapping a few photos and shooting some sick footage.

    This is good news for festival junkies heading to Coachella, where the band will be headlining in just a few weeks. Expect even more shaky YouTube footage, vines, and excited tweets when the band heads to the desert. 

    The Not in This Lifetime... tour is running from now until the summer. Don't worry about having to hit up a defunct record shop to nab some seats. Tickets are available on the Guns N' Roses website.

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