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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Vine star Nash Grier conquered the Internet, and now he’s aiming for dominance in the print world, too, writing a book to be published later this year.

    The book, which is still untitled, will "uncover what life was like growing up in North Carolina pre-fame, finding his calling as a creator, the love he has for his family, what Hollywood has changed about him (nothing), and what his fans mean to him (everything)," according to a press release.

    Gallery Books, part of Simon & Schuster, will publish the title on Sept. 13.

    Grier is far from the first Web celebrity to jump on the book trend. Fellow stars like Grace Helbig and Shane Dawson have written non-fiction work recently. Networks like AwesomenessTV and StyleHaul have launched their own book divisions, and established publisher HarperCollins has launched a new imprint, called HarperLegend, for these books.

    Grier has also faced backlash for his social media presence after vining and tweeting homophobic and misogynistic content. Grier told the Daily Dot in December that he no longer held those attitudes. He recently relaunched his YouTube channel and has a five-episode scripted comedy, Confessions of a Teenage Cupid, debuting in June.

    H/T Mashable


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    Spotify announced its first lineup of original programming this week, with 12 new shows set to premiere as part of the streaming service's push to produce music-oriented video. 

    Former VH1 President Tom Calderone joined the company in March as the global head of content partnerships, and this rollout is the executive's first initiative to address his belief “that the Spotify audience has a strong connection to artists and wants to go deeper into their worlds, see their performances and expressions, and hear their stories.”

    The shows will be viewable in Sweden, the U.S., U.K., and Germany to all free and paid Spotify customers using the iOS and Android app.

    Here's what to expect from the new series: 

    • Rush Hour: An up-and-coming hip-hop artist and a popular hip-hop artist are picked up in a van during peak Los Angeles rush hour and must remix or mashup one of their well-known tracks before reaching their destination. The van drops them off at a downtown L.A. parking lot stage (that happens to be at Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital offices), and they perform their new song for a live audience of superfans.
    • Landmark: Each episode explores the story of an important music history moment through exclusive interviews, archival footage, and multimedia. Every episode will also have an accompanying longform podcast as a "bonus features" reel, with even more analysis of songs mentioned in the episode.
    • Focus On...: For this series, Spotify will use its usage data and statistics to identify a popular band in a key market and have it play an exclusive show for fans. Each installment will include segments profiling the fans and music culture of that particular region.
    • Public Spaces: This docuseries will feature interviews with artists about their most notable performances in public spaces. Macklemore will speak about performing in Union Square and A$AP Rocky will explain what it was like to play at the Brandenburg Gate.
    • Drawn & Recorded: This animated series will explore a different story from music history in each episode, featuring narration from T-Bone Burnett and animation from Drew Christie. Think Pitchfork's "Frames."
    • Rhymes & Misdemeanors: This true-crime series will profile a different notorious crime from the music world in each episode. Topics include "the PCP-fueled cannibalism of rapper Big Lurch" and "the murder-for-hire plot hatched by the singer of metal band As I Lay Dying."
    • Life in Short: This anthology series will aim to celebrate music’s most enigmatic artists. Each 24-episode season will cover a single artist, and each episode—which lasts less than two minutes—will employ a different narrative device (like animation, documentary, or tribute performance) to highlight a key aspect of that artist’s life.
    • Trading Playlists: Cameras follow two celebrities as they trade Spotify playlists for a day—and learn more about each other in the process.
    • Singles: Think MTV's Unplugged. This series will be shot in Spotify’s New York studio, and will feature "intimate, low-fi" performances from your favorite artists.
    • Ultimate/Ultimate: This mockumentary series from Tim Robbins follows several contestants in a competition to become the next great EDM star. Like Best in Show but for DJs. 
    • Generations: This performance series will pair two generations of hip-hop stars together to create new versions of their most notable songs.
    • Flash Frame: A monthly series that will showcase A-list artists performing at Spotify’s NYC office and splice in animation, archival footage, or other video to build an updated music video.

    H/T Variety


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    After five years in the business, Fullscreen announced a rebrand at its NewFront presentation on Monday in New York City. It will become Fullscreen Media.

    Fullscreen’s work is divided in three buckets: Fullscreen Creator Network, Fullscreen Entertainment, and Fullscreen Brandworks. The company hopes a grasp on the buckets of creators, entertainment, and brands will set it apart as the multi-channel network turned media company of choice for advertisers.

    In the Entertainment division, Fullscreen launched its own streaming video on demand (SVOD) service last month, with a Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart-helmed film Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. The $4.99 per month price tag is half the price of YouTube Red.

    “You can think of it like HBO Now for young millennials who grew up on digital media,” said Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos of the 3-week-old venture. “We’re seeing an average time spent per use of 48 minutes.”

    It also runs a standalone Rooster Teeth subscription for $4.99 a month. The company has also fronted tours like Girls Night In and INTOUR, showcasing the biggest names in digital entertainment in an IRL setting.

    “Technology and tastes have shifted, and we’re not going back to where we were,” explained Fullscreen General Manager Pete Stein. “We move toward the content ecosystem model. In this new world, audiences are harder to find, yet they’re more engaged. The line between media company and audience is very blurry, and the power of influence is massive.”

    For brands, Fullscreen Media announced its All-Star Collabs initiative to put creators like Eva Gutowski and Devonsupertramp in direct partnership with brands. It’s also added more star power to its roster, tapping new creators including Andrew Huang, Mia Stammer, Shannon Beveridge, Cammie Scott, Carly Cristman, and Neels Visser.

    Fullscreen’s SVP of Entertainment Billy Parks announced another demographic that Fullscreen will focus on: millennial parents.

    “These families just aren’t making TV shows on the Internet,” said Parks. “What they want is parents to create shows that feel like friendships.”

    Fullscreen called the millennial parents video movement a reinvention of the format, partnering with six families to create shows to connect with advertisers. It’s also packaged their channels into offerings called HisScreen and HerScreen, groupings of the top 50 channels targeted to female and male audiences. HerScreen boasts 14 million viewers a day, placing Fullscreen on par or better with shows from the biggest television networks. For men, HisScreen can beat the biggest male-oriented shows like The Walking Dead or the NBA All-Star Game.

    “These are the millennial men you simply cannot reach through sports,” said Kevin McGunn, Fullscreen’s head of sales.

    Of course, to the consumers, advertising buckets, and demos don’t matter so much. What matters is the content and creators delivered. A great example of that is Rooster Teeth, one of digital’s most dedicated communities. Founder and CCO Burnie Burns took the stage to show offImmersion 360, its newest offering, that puts viewers in the center of the action using virtual reality. He also highlighted how the Rooster Teeth brand drives viewership and loyalty, pointing out that the soundtrack to animated series RWBY hit No. 1 on the iTunes charts this year.

    “Just to show you how engaged our audience is, No. 2 on the charts was Drake, and No. 3 was Beyoncé,” explained Burns.


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    YACHT is a synth pop band from Portland, Oregon, who has made waves with its quirky music and entertaining videos. It features Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans, who also have been in a romantic relationship for the past decade.

    Unfortunately for the duo, Bechtolt and Evans recently discovered that a sex tape they made had been stolen from them and leaked onto the Internet. The response of the couple, though, was different than you might have guessed. Instead of trying to prevent the Internet-watching world from seeing it, they're joining in on the action and selling the tape themselves for $5 a pop.

    For one, neither Bechtolt nor Evans need to apologize for making a private sex tape that apparently was not for anybody else's eyes. Secondly, it must be somewhat empowering that they've decided to use this violation to their own advantage. This was what they later wrote on Facebook.

    Hi everyone. We’re deeply touched by the overwhelming support you’ve shown us. This is an uncomfortable and pretty bizarre situation for us to be in, but it’s made better by the evidence that we have fans like you. Since this happened we’ve been researching sex tapes. It shouldn't have come as any surprise that Pamela Anderson never saw a dime from the tape she filmed with Tommy Lee, and Paris Hilton lost a court battle with the man who leaked their private video. We’re not as savvy as the Kardashians, but something occurred to us this morning: we could try and distribute the video directly to you ourselves. Lemonade? 

    This video is out there now. We can’t change that. But we can try to be “as YACHT as possible” about it and take some kind of ownership over what has happened. So we’re asking you one thing: if you feel like you 100% have to see this tape, don’t stream it on some tube site, or download a torrent. Instead, we beg of you to download the video, Louis C.K.-style, directly from us. 

    If you'd like to watch, all you have to do is not chuckle at the URL—https://fuck.teamyacht.com/—click the link, and then pay.

    As YACHT wrote on the website, the band won't judge you if you want to watch. But the duo also wants you to pay to see it. As YACHT wrote, "Controlling how this video is seen, and who profits from it, is the only form of agency we have left over this exploitative situation. Please do the right thing."

    H/T Fader


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    Jon Stewart has, for the most part, stayed out of politics since his retirement from The Daily Show, but he finally seized his chance to insult the presidential candidate he once mocked with glee.

    While Seth Meyers and Samantha Bee have been called the heirs to Stewart and new Daily Show host Trevor Noah has failed to meet unrealistic expectations, the late-night crowd has largely fallen short in the late-night political comedy department. In the face of nastier-than-usual politics and the rise of Donald Trump, fans have continued to mourn Stewart’s exit at a time when people have never needed him more.

    Stewart delivered with an epic Trump rant on Monday when he joined former Obama adviser David Axelrod on the Axe Files podcast in Chicago. If this were The Daily Show, it probably would’ve been a segment full of contradictory clips, terrible impressions, graphics, and downright mocking of both Trump and the media. (Meyers and John Oliver have both done this to little real-life effect.) But it’s not, so instead we just have Stewart getting riled up—but we've sure missed that.

    “I’m not a constitutional scholar, so I can’t necessarily say, but are you eligible to run if you are a man-baby, or a baby-man?” Stewart asked. “He has the physical countenance of a man and a baby’s temperament and hands.”

    Trump may have received the most direct fire—Stewart pointed out that the businessman has very thin skin—but the comedian also criticized the state of both the Republican and Democratic parties, the politician–media relationship, and Hillary Clinton.

    Stewart said that Clinton was “a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions, because I'm not even sure what they are.”

    "That is not to say that she is not preferable to Donald Trump because, at this point, I would vote for Mr. T over Donald Trump," he added.

    You can watch the interview in its entirety below.

    H/T Politico


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    Some digital-media debates are as old as YouTube itself. Should a star sign with a multi-channel network (MCN)? Which is more important: quantity of videos or quality? Is taking a brand deal selling out? And if a creator is serious about pursuing YouTube full-time, do they need to move to Los Angeles?

    It’s certainly possible to be a YouTube star outside of L.A.: Look at the Vlogbrothers, Emily Graslie, Smarter Everyday, Olan Rogers, Natalie Tran, Zoella, Casey Neistat, and PewDiePie, to name a few. With millions of views on their channels, each discredits the idea that L.A. is the end-all, be-all of YouTube success. And yet, YouTube creators are flooding en masse to take up residency in the City of Angels. Why?

    In an investigation of digital media’s growing influence in Los Angeles, the Daily Dot emailed with Vanessa Hill, Jake Roper, Jon Cozart, RJ Aguiar, and Arielle Scarcella. The creators broke down the pros and cons of being a YouTuber in L.A., what inspired their moves west, and what they want people to know before they make the same choice.

    Pro: Opportunities on opportunities

    After years of creating viral one-offs from his Texas dorm room, the a cappella wizard Jon Cozart rang in 2016 by moving to Los Angeles to pursue YouTube full-time. Known for his original mashup “After Ever After,” Cozart is unique in that over 98 percent of his videos hold at least a million views (his channel Paint has racked up 265 million cumulatively). But despite his influence, he’s only created 28 videos over the past 10 years. In the past three months, inspired by his move, Cozart has nearly quadrupled his output, signed with a new manager, and is set to tour the U.S. with three other YouTube musicians in May.

    “In the early stages of someone’s YouTube career, location doesn’t matter,” Cozart said. “In fact, it might benefit you more to be in a remote location so you’ll have an interesting worldview and create unique content. Once you’ve reached a certain level, it’s important to try and grow your channel through other means, and that can mean picking up and moving to a place with agents, bigwigs, and other YouTube talent.”

    Vanessa Hill, the creative force behind the science education channel Braincraft, echoed Cozart’s sentiments. After years of making psychology videos in New York, Hill and her longtime love Jake Roper (VSauce 3) moved west in order to expand their content off of YouTube. “I really wanted 2016 to be the year I grew my YouTube presence, and everyone told me that L.A. was the place to do this,” Hill shared. “I really want to explore opportunities to communicate science in other mediums.”

    Dormtainment is also proof the theory works. After years in Atlanta, the six best friends moved to Los Angeles, crammed into a two-bedroom apartment, and sold and filmed a show for Comedy Central. Pentatonix found world tours, huge collaborations, and a Grammy. Shameless Maya moved after years in New York to expand her channel and in the process, began acting in feature films.

    While listing “Occupation: Professional YouTuber” might inspire giggles in other cities, in L.A. it’s just as commonplace as being a dentist. It’s the mecca of opportunity because it gives creators direct access to the people they need to advance their careers. By moving to Los Angeles, creators have access to Hollywood studios, the booming marketing industry of Santa Monica, collaborations with fashion companies, music labels, and the infinite number of YouTubers who have paved the path before them.

    Con: YouTube is kind of Hollywood’s stepsibling

    For every YouTube creator who has broken into the mainstream—every Lindsey Stirling, Todrick Hall, or Anna Akana—there are hundreds still trying to prove they’re just as talented and hardworking as traditional actors. “I think people here are more open to the idea of YouTube being a viable job, since they recognize that social media is completely changing the way people view media in general,” said RJ Aguiar, one half of the daily vlogging channel Shep689. “But on the other hand, YouTube and other similar platforms are kind of the red-headed stepchild of entertainment. Traditional media recognizes that we have pull, but a lot of them don’t really see what we do as being anywhere close to the same tier as film and TV acting.”

    This past year showcased some of the biggest wins for YouTube creators: Late-night hosts began leveraging their channels to produce viral series such as “Carpool Karaoke” and “The Whisper Challenge”; Grace Helbig debuted her own talk show on E!; Superwoman Lilly Singh released a documentary; Roman Atwood, Vitaly, and Dennis Roady brought Natural Born Pranksters to the silver screen; movie actors such as Paul Rudd and Amy Schumer collabed with YouTube creators to promote their movies; Casey Neistat nearly broke YouTube; Tori Kelly rocked the MTV Music Awards; Todrick Hall starred and wrote his own show for MTV; and PewDiePie and Troye Sivan visited the late-night circuit. Yet, there is still so far to go in changing how Hollywood views YouTube—both the platform and its creators. While each accomplishment is changing how YouTube is viewed as a whole, these accomplishments tend to skew toward straight, white creators already in the upper echelons and fail to include creators of color, LGBT creators, or creators living with a disability.

    This relationship to traditional media is complicated by many YouTube creators’ dependence on brand deals which to some, cheapens the aesthetic of YouTube. Prominent YouTube creators Anna Akana, Meghan Tonjes, and Gaby Dunn have all spoken out about the myth that millions of views means millions of dollars in the bank, when in actuality creators are scraping by every month even with brand deals. While each YouTube-to-Hollywood transition is important, it’s more than just a celebration, but a moment to educate traditional media about the cost that comes from gaining the trust and devotion of millions of fans.

    Pro: The culture

    Probably the greatest benefit of moving to Los Angeles is the ability to collaborate. There are few easier ways to create awareness around your channel than making a video with another equally engaged creative. “From a personal standpoint, I think location does matter. While YouTube is a pretty solo endeavor, it’s also a very lonely endeavor,” said Braincraft creator Vanessa Hill. “I don’t have a large support network or another job in the U.S., so being able to get together with other YouTubers is really important to stay sane and also to stay relevant in the world of education.”

    This point was reinforced by nearly every creator I interviewed. “Since a lot of creators are based out here, it makes collaborations much easier. Plus, if you want to have a meeting with your MCN or manager, you can schedule a lunch rather than a call, which helps you build a much closer relationship,” said Aguiar who frequently highlights YouTube friends in his and his fiancé’s vlogs.

    Con: The culture

    Los Angeles is a city that quickly makes enemies. Traffic jams, parking tickets, and the juicing/spinning/tanning culture aren’t a natural fit for a lot of creators. And thank goodness: If everyone were in the same place with the same experiences, YouTube would be diminished to one shade of purple versus the 10,000-piece crayon set it is now. “New York City people get shit done,” shared Arielle Scarcella, a creator known for her LGBT comedy and experiment videos. “L.A. people tend to be on ‘L.A. time,’ and it drives me crazy. The fact that NYC is NYC offers me almost everything that I’d ever need. NYC is a melting pot of culture. L.A. doesn’t have that.”

    Pro: Affordability and space

    Jake Roper has a theory, which, if you’re one of his 2.8 million subscribers, shouldn’t surprise you.

    There seem to be many more independent YouTube creators in L.A. than NYC. It doesn’t take long to realize how expensive living in New York City is, which I think is a deterrent for would-be YouTube creators. Having to work all day at a job to afford to live in a tiny apartment makes it difficult to find time to create content full-time. It takes a while, if ever, to get to the point where you can live off AdSense, so it is hard for people to take the time to dedicate to growing on YouTube when you have to survive in the city. L.A. is much more affordable, which allows people to pursue their passion more freely.

    With cheaper rent, creators have more money to spend toward high production quality of their videos and, due to the nature of Los Angeles, more opportunity to work with a variety of filmmakers, crews, and actors. Plus the sun. Almost 80 degrees every day, L.A. always affords creators the opportunity to film outside which adds little to no cost to their production.

    Con: L.A. doesn’t serve all YouTube communities

    If you’re a vlogger, gamer, comedian, beauty guru, filmmaker, or musician, being a YouTuber in Los Angeles is your jam. But for many niche communities, the entertainment-focused culture of Los Angeles doesn’t yield the same opportunities as it does for their fellow creators. “I haven’t been able to find a science communication and writing community in L.A. like the support I found in N.Y.C.,” shared Hill who previously worked almost every month with another PBS Digital Studios educator. “But just because you move somewhere that has more opportunities available, it doesn’t mean that more opportunities come your way. It’s really hard to make new friends, build a new community, and meet people in whatever industry you’re trying to break into.”

    Cozart has found himself in a similar situation. “It’s an industry. It’s not somewhere where other YouTubers are your best friends,” he said. “Rather everyone has an individual path and a lot of people’s paths run into yours. L.A. is a place for people who want to make it in a difficult and cutthroat industry, and it can be rough to always put your career first. But it’s also overflowing with people who are very willing to help you as long as you’re willing to ask.”


    Ultimately L.A. depends on what kind of content are you making and what you want out of your YouTube channel.

    Be sure to establish your passion and voice as a creator, and let that help you stand out from the thousands of hours uploaded to YouTube every hour. If this is a hobby, make like Olan Rogers, and stay in the place that inspires you. But if breaking into entertainment and online media is your dream, then maybe it’s time to risk the move.


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    One of Cyndi Lauper’s biggest hits is getting a modern-day upgrade encompassing some of the things that women crave today.

    With some help from James Corden, who’s wearing in a bright pink wig that matches Lauper’s hair, the duo launch into “Girls Just Want Equal Funds,” an anthem for the modern woman who wants to be paid the same as men and see fewer stereotypes in movies and TV.

    No, they don’t have PMS if they’re angry, they want comfy shoes, and they’d pay for dates when they make the same amount of money.

    Sure, girls want to have fun. But they’d also like to be able to afford that fun. It’s all they really want.

    H/T Vulture


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    The countdown to season 4 of Orange Is the New Black has begun. With the show's return just a month away, Netflix is whetting our appetites with a new trailer.

    It looks like a lot is still the same: Piper's pissing off the other inmates, Taystee is as hilarious as ever, and Caputo continues to scream orders. But of course, there's also a lot of new shit going down at Litchfield, with the prison turning for-profit after the events of season 3.

    What does a slew of new inmates mean for our beloved ladies? Well according to Aleida, "It's sardine time, bitches!" 

    And with no sign of Alex in the trailer after that season 3 finale, we're wondering what exactly went down with the former drug dealer. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what's in store for her—and for the prison. 

    The new season premieres on June 17. 


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    Meghan Trainor released her video for “Me Too” on Monday, but if you blinked, you might have missed it.  

    In a Snapchat video posted yesterday, the “All About That Bass” singer claimed that she never approved the final video, and that editors “Photoshopped the crap out me.”

    “My waist is not that teeny,” she says. “I had a bomb waist that night, I don’t know why they didn’t like my waist. But I didn’t approve that video and it went out for the world. So I'm embarrassed.” 

    It's not clear who “they” are, but last night, Trainor went on Watch What Happens Live to address the issue, explaining that when she saw the video, she “thought the fans were doing it online, and they were screenshotting it, and I was like, ‘What's going on?’ And then I saw my video and was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s my own video.’ And I called the gods of Vevo and said, ‘Take that down now.’” 

    Trainor, who became thinkpiece fodder after “All About That Bass,” has seen controversy with every video she’s released. She claimed that “All About That Bass” was about body positivity and loving your curves, but then came claims that she was shaming skinny people, and in a 2014 interview with Billboard, she asserted that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist. 

    Last year, she faced more criticism for the video for “Dear Future Husband,” which featured her scrubbing floors in stereotypical ’50s housewife attire. In March, she released the video for “No,” which is ostensibly about consent and not needing a man to feel good about yourself—the polar opposite of “Husband”—but it seemed to rub people the wrong way too. Trainor has spoken out against Photoshopping in the past, and last month, fans called out Seventeen for altering her cover. 

    There’s a cognitive dissonance around the 22-year-old singer, who provides what appear to be empowering anthems for women and girls but doesn’t fully give into the labels associated with that. We want young female pop stars to stand for something, to find power in their message, to start a hashtag, even as their bodies are digitally altered. Writing for Nylon, Anne T. Donahue tried to figure out the Trainor dilemma too: 

    We want her message to mean something. We want another pop star to step up and Beyoncé the shit out of her platform because we know how influential pop music can be. We want her to be more than someone who writes and performs songs; someone who creates tracks like “No” with a larger perspective attached.

    But she’s 22, and perhaps she doesn't have a larger perspective just yet. On Tuesday, a new version of “Me Too” appeared on her Vevo page, with her real waist apparently starring in the final dance scene. She posted a side-by-side comparison on Instagram. 


    Trainor’s latest album, Thank You, comes out Friday. It seems like in the lead-up to a big album release, the artist should have seen the final product for a big video. We’ve reached out to Vevo for comment. 


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    Soon, YouTube will smell what the Rock is cooking, thanks to Studio71.

    Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson announced Seven Bucks Digital Studios, his channel in partnership with Studio71, in advance of its NewFronts presentation on Tuesday with an Instagram video.

    Johnson promised the, “best, biggest, bad ass, baldest YouTube channel ever!” and vowed to create and curate content from creators that is “entertaining, provocative and funny AF - as we say in the streets.”

    Studio71’s commitment to out-there entertainment was echoed by German DJ and Pitch Perfect 2 standout Flula Borg, who performed a looping dance number with his own face in the background reacting to NewFront buzzwords like “optimize” and “ snackable formats,” while teaching us words like “immersive.”

    “What distinguishes digitally native content creators from film and TV stars is they’ve honed their craft on speaking directly to their audience,” explained Reza Izad, Studio71’s CEO, emphasizing the importance of authenticity for Studio71’s creators and viewers. “You wouldn’t partner with Ellen DeGeneres and try to write her monologue.”

    Izad and co. showcased their own marketing efforts on produced content to show how they can bring success for brand messages as well. Studio71’s most recent success was the Natural Born Pranksters film. Izad explained that during production Studio71 produced 100 videos, generating 150 million views. The fanbase created an additional 14,000 videos, generating 800 million views. They went No. 2 in the iTunes store globally, falling only to Star Wars.

    Studio71 also touted success outside of the video model. When Cyanide and Happiness wanted to make a tabletop game, Studio71 made small daily spends on Facebook and generated video shoutouts from other creators to generate $450,000 in sales, breaking the Kickstarter mold. Epic Meal Time also deconstructed the channel’s dominance in the bacon field, and how it landed a partnership with Hormel. For them, the entry point for a partnership was pretty low.

    “They gave us endless bacon, that’s really all that’s required,” joked Harley Morenstein, before expounding on why it works for them. “There’s a bacon craze, whereas we just like to use bacon. We don’t get caught up in the bacon gimmicks. We wanted to pair up with somebody who has the same mentality in this.”

    Studio71 showcased more partnerships, from Hawaiian Tropic and Shay Mitchell, and Smashbox for its lifestyle creator—announcing a product collaboration with YouTuber Lilly Singh, who created a lipstick called Bawse for the company.

    “I want to partner with Smashbox Cosmetics because they’re all about empowerment,” said Singh in a promotional video.

    Studio71 shared data from its Creators Insights Platform, intel on millennials derived from surveying fans of its top talent. It spiced up the occasion by having Borg return to “interpret” the announcement with sarcastic commentary.

    While it was able to bring out several YouTube stars like Roman Atwood and Morenstein, Johnson celebrated his partnership with a pre-recorded video from him home.

    “For those who wanted to work with us, the train is leaving the station,” prodded Johnson about involving advertisers with his robust social network. The team rounded out the event by showing a series of new pilots, including Matthew Espinosa’s The Text Committee,  Family Fun Pack’s Family Fun Day, a weekend show from the Good Mythical Morning gang called Good Mythical Crew, and Matt Santoro’s Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Made.

    “Don’t miss an opportunity to marry organic views and creative content,” Chief Content Officer Gary Binkow urged of the advertisers in attendance. Message received.


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    If you were sitting in an audience and a person who appeared to be Donald Trump took the stage, would you cheer or clap? Would you boo? What about when this Trump starts declaring terrible things, either drawn verbatim from Trump speeches or taken to a logical Trumponian end?  

    You might find yourself in this position when watching actor and comedian Anthony Atamanuik perform as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. And as someone who has witnessed this impressive impersonation on two occasions—first during his Trump vs Bernie tour with fellow actor and comedian James Adomian and second at his Trump Dump show at the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest in Austin, Texas, last month—I can assure you this moral and comedic quandary never quite goes away.

    For Atamanuik, the reality of a Trump nomination and possible presidency was always within sight. Performing to audiences as Trump since August, Atamanuik has gradually evolved his impression from an improv show at an Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City—where he performs and teaches—to one that exudes nuance amid the signature Trump bluster. The fact that he can pull off this parody when Trump is already seen as a parody of himself is remarkable. 

    Atamanuik, who watches the newly minted politician perform his political theater every day, used to have a slight bit of affection for the reality show star, who he initially perceived as a buffoon. But as the possibility of a Trump nomination has continued to solidify under the guise of unapologetic xenophobia and tribalism, he now feels like his performance must exist almost as an anathema to the idea of a Trump presidency. 

    “The show has evolved to become a rebuke of him, a disappointment in him,” he tells the Daily Dot.

    One major source of inspiration for Atamanuik’s conception of Trump is Charlie Chaplin’s character in The Great Dictator.

    "That was a very brave and surreal thing [Chaplin] did back in the day," he explains. "Let’s take this ugly, hateful image, this thing that’s horrifying and frightening to people, and let’s speak through that vessel with honest language that’s not really attached to character. So that became a part of the show, too—speaking with my own voice but through Trump to show the absurdity of it and to defang it. I think the brilliant thing that Chaplin did was he took the image and he changed the symbol somewhat. He changed the symbol of Hitler because he had this character speaking lovingly and as this grotesque person."   

    In order to properly formulate a Trump who exists as anti-Trump, Atamanuik's ability to empathize with the man and his supporters is an important point of entry. The key is not dismissing them as “monsters," but understanding them. It is within this grey area of avoiding easy, reactive binaries, where opposites overlap and constructive ideas can be formulated, that good art tends to find a nuanced voice and becomes a method of inquiry.

    “I have empathy for those people—they’re lost and they’re consumed with xenophobic, tribalistic hate,” Atamanuik says, explaining how the job economy and lack of a social safety net has marginalized large groups of people across race, gender, and class. “It’s every man for himself in this country and that is really sad. And it’s a very large, hateful group of people and it’s sad because those people, and I really believe this, that if you want to change your enemy, you have to love your enemy. We can’t hate them. You have to love them. Love is empathy and empathy does not mean I endorse who they are. 

    "I mean, I’m a Jew. I can take it to Adolf Hitler... It doesn’t mean I endorse him, but I can understand he’s a human being and that something took him to that place. You’re way better off in that space than in believing people are monsters because when you believe they’re monsters you remove the humanity from them and that’s how you get into situations where you have monsters running the country.”

    To truly access the Trump way of thinking and being, Atamanuik had to dig deep into himself to discover how he and Trump are alike—something that hasn’t been easy.  

    “I think I can bloviate, as evidenced through this interview," he says. "So I can run at the mouth. I want to be approved of and loved by the audience. I have a deep sense of unfairness when I think things are unfair. When people react to me poorly, I want to kick them out of the audience. And I think we’re similar because I imagine he can work a room really well, and I think he’s got a very sharp, wry sense of humor. We probably have very similar personality Venn diagrams. The difference is that I have a reflective self and he has no reflective self.”

    There were moments during the Trump vs Bernie tour when it got really dark, he explains: “It affects you because you’re thinking in his head and that level of aggression for that long is taxing."  

    But from this point of access, the comedian has been able to see Trump more clearly than Trump might see himself. If he lacks a reflective self, then Trump is only as good as his audiences’ approval. The nonsense and bluster he sputters obviously fills a hole, one of anger, frustration, and rash decision-making.

    According to Atamanuik, an uneasy feeling exists among the crowd at a Trump rally. “I’ve never seen people cheer and have dead, frowning faces," he says of a rally he attended in Manchester, New Hampshire. "People cheering, but yet no happiness. Pure anger." 

    In his performances, he attempts to cultivate a similar air of discomfort and fear. “I enjoy making it feel like it’s almost real," he says. "It should be immersive and absurd but to the point that the absurdity is real. ... It’s incumbent upon me when I’m doing the show to make that point, that this is a for-real dangerous guy." 


    During the Trump Dump performance, I watched as his Trump chastised a couple for leaving the theater, saying he wished they got shot outside. About 30 minutes later, I had to pee really bad, and even though I wasn’t very close to the stage, I was petrified to make a move—I didn’t want him yelling at me, even though it was all part of the show. 

    Atamanuik relishes the discomfort of the audience and uses it to feed into the Trump persona while also taking the opportunity to say things that he really feels, like shaming an audience member for using his phone during the performance. He channels the frustrations we have and uses humor not to cope with or escape reality, but to delve deeper into it and expose its potential threat while asking audience members to recognize their accountability. In one bit from a recent Fusion special, he discusses his idea for an alternate energy source—white power.

    Fake Trump holds nothing back when exposing who the real Trump is and how we’ve all been complicit in his “success.” In another bit, he thanks the media for creating him and providing $1 billion in free advertising for his campaign.

    “I have had $1 billion of free advertising when people cover my rallies, my incredible rallies, and they’re so much fun," he says in the special. "And they’ve gotten even more fun and the media loves that, you know, it’s more fun when we think that someone might get beat up, right? And what a great image on-screen. We have black people getting dragged out of my rallies and beaten and the white news media just creaming all over it on camera, right? Absolutely wonderful. What a group of collaborators they’ve been. And what’s been so amazing about them is their constant surprise at who I am. It’s as if they’re a dog and you went on vacation and came back and they think you’re a new owner. That is the media. That is the media.”

    As a member of the media, it’s hard not to feel guilty about giving Trump more coverage. Even if it’s through a profile of a different person. Atamanuik feels this ambivalence, too. 

    “It does feel a little bit like a deal with the devil," he explains on Inside Joke. "I’ve made more money, just at a base level... playing him, so then you wonder, does he have, like, a magic power? If you just play him, do you make money? If you get a shot at doing this where you have an opportunity to maybe change the view of… a dangerous person running for president, and you could do it through comedy, then why not do it and have fun?”  

    If people are paying attention to Trump, chances are they'll pay attention to a fake Trump and perhaps this performance could sway perceptions of the candidate. Atamanuik confirms that Trump supporters have attended his shows and told him that he's changed their minds about Trump, though he doesn't win them all over. 

    Through this vessel, Atamanuik uses the candidate’s messages to agitate and give permission for people to explore the truth of our country’s circumstance. Just like the real Trump, Atamanuik’s version takes viewers through waves of offense, strange delight, embarrassment, disgust, and amusement—all to underscore the frustration and terror at the state of things. Ultimately, Atamanuik's Trump is a character and political analysis: It's not simply him talking and acting like Trump.

    Atamanuik has journeyed to the heart of the matter and returned with a message and warning, in the form of a poem that he reads at the end of his performance. In it, he appeals: 

    You, depart from Plato’s cave
    Stop screaming silent at the shadows on the wall
    Agitate me
    Disrupt me
    Save me
    From myself

    And what does “saving” Donald Trump look like to Anthony Atamanuik? 

    “My utopian view is... put him back on TV, let him be inflated in a way that’s not affecting other people to the degree he would as president,” he explains. 

    Perhaps he's on to something. Maybe that's all his ego needs. And maybe Trump is the best defense we have against Trump. 

    The next Trump vs Bernie debate airs May 11 on Fusion. 


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    The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCW on Twitter and Instagram, by highlighting female creators on YouTube whose work we admire.

    Carly Fleischmann just made world history as the first autistic journalist to host a speechless talk show. And her first guest? Magic Mike himself.

    Born with autism, oral-motor apraxia, and cognitive delay, Fleischmann spent the early years of her childhood unable to communicate with anyone around her. But after years of speech therapy and her own personal determination, she taught herself how to spell and write out paragraphs using one finger on a talking tablet. In 2012, Fleischmann and her father made international news after publishing her memoir, Carly’s Voice, based on her struggles and experiences with autism. The book is the first of its kind and shatters the oft-misunderstood perceptions society places on autism such as a preconceived notion of low IQs (Carly holds an above 120 IQ), and a lack of an internal dialogue.

    In talking about her book, Fleischmann wrote on her website, “After my story was played I kept on getting lots of emails from moms, dads, kids and people from different countries asking me all sorts of questions about autism. I think people get a lot of their information from so-called experts but I think what happens is that experts can’t give an explanation to certain questions. How can you explain something you have not lived or if you don’t know what it’s like to have it? If a horse is sick, you don’t ask a fish what’s wrong with the horse. You go right to the horse’s mouth.”

    Earlier this month, Fleischmann debuted a new YouTube series, “Speechless With Carly,” and in the first episode sat down to chat with Channing Tatum. The video was one of the biggest of the week with 2.7 million views, a huge spike due in part to Fleischmann’s unexpected interviewing technique. Typing into her tablet, Fleischmann balances her sassy inquiries about Tatum’s days as a stripper and his wife’s fairy collection with layered questions about his fears of not being taken seriously in Hollywood. 

    Through her YouTube series, Fleischman is taking control of her own narrative and expanding the public’s idea of what autistic individuals are capable of.

    In the United States, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism and Fleischmann is a rare instance of representation, authentically, in the media. For the general public, Fleischmann is providing a touchstone to a developmental disorder that may not have previously impacted their lives. 

    Fleischmann follows in the footsteps of digital media creators such as blind vlogger Tommy Edison, one-armed fashion guru Grace Mandeville, comedian Zach Anner, and more who are using YouTube to enable others with disabilities. But her most important message? Fleischmann proves that being speechless doesn’t mean you have to stay silent. 


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    Chelsea Handler is finally getting to do her kind of show. 

    She drives this point home in the first episode of her new Netflix talk show, Chelsea, which debuts today. In the introduction, Handler surveys her accomplishments and boasts that though she’s childless and unmarried, she’s amazing because she raised two dogs as a “wealthy, single, white female.” 

    With this new show, which airs Wednesday through Friday each week, Handler is reentering the late-night sphere, crafting something more like The Daily Show than her long-running E! series Chelsea Lately. There are jokes about the election and a sketch about Netflix University, featuring actual series stars like Robin Wright and Will Arnett, which leads into a touching interview with Secretary of Education John King. 

    Handler’s dog, Chunk, wanders into view every once in a while. Later, a second faux Netflix ad pokes fun at its algorithm and how “fucking boring” users are. Then Drew Barrymore comes out, and they drink wine with Pitbull.

    It’s a more random structure than Kimmel or Fallon’s, and Handler told the New York Times that she’s been purposeful in making the series stand out and stretch beyond celebrity news: “All these shows try to start out selling something different, and ultimately all become the same, just with a different guy.” 

    Now we have Handler and former Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee’s new show, Full Frontal, which breaks up the grid a bit. But Chelsea is also Netflix’s big experiment in daily TV, which has the added bonus of being commercial-free. Will people want to watch this in chunks like they do other series? Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told the NYT that it’s flexible for a reason: 

    Most people are going to watch it a day or two later, a week or two later, or even a month or two later. And the show is built for that. Meaning that it’s topical, but it’s not a melting ice cube.

    Earlier this year, Netflix debuted another project with Handler: Chelsea Does..., a four-part docuseries that found her tearing into the founder of Ashley Madison and going to Peru to vomit up a psychedelic experience. It felt more like Handler’s warm-up lap. In the lead-up to her new show, Handler did some crafty PR, too. Instagram became her public platform for testingtheboundaries of censorship. 

    She’s testing boundaries with Chelsea, too: She mentions in episode 1 that the show is streamable in 190 countries. This means Handler is an ambassador of sorts, which is a delightful scenario if you’re familiar with her humor. According to Wired, after the show finished taping on Monday, a team started translating it to make sure nothing about Handler’s delivery was lost or softened. In episode 1, that includes explaining that she’s not doing monologues: 

    I know this seems like a monologue, but this is not a monologue. This is an explanation. And if you don’t know the difference then you can log out or log off or fuck off or whatever.

    It’s a big gamble for Netflix, but also a welcome reprieve from the current late-night landscape, where hosts are nice and agreeable and don’t tell their viewers to fuck off.


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    Azealia Banks made waves this week after tweeting some pointedly prejudiced remarks at former One Direction member Zayn Malik.

    The feud started on Tuesday when the rapper Instagrammed screenshots from Malik's new music video for "Like I Would," and hinted that he may have lifted her aesthetic.

    Malik chose not to reply to her directly, perhaps familiar with Banks' controversial Twitter presence and remarks-as-publicity-stunts strategy. He instead chose to fire off a couple of general tweets about an unnamed, thirsty account later that afternoon: 

    Looks like someone's been subtweeting. Banks saw the tweets and replied to Malik directly with several racially prejudiced remarks (Malik's family is of Pakistani heritage). 

    Malik's enormous fanbase swiftly swooped into the conversation, along with Desi Twitter users who took Banks to task for her inflammatory choice of words:

    This is when Disney Channel star Skai Jackson comes into the picture. Jackson's made a unique name for herself on the Internet; known for a photo of her sitting in a chair that's exploded into an enormous smiling-through-my-awkwardness meme:  

    It's doubtful that Jackson thought the second thing she'd be known for online was a burgeoning feud with Banks. The 14-year-old actress weighed in on the issue delicately, suggesting that maybe the rapper needed to "simmer down." Predictably, Banks took the opportunity to lash out at her: 

    Jackson wasn't shaken, though. She hit Banks back with a deliciously shady comeback tweet: 

    Perhaps the best replies emerging from the kerfuffle came from Desi women, who appeared to detect no problems at all with being called "curry scented" bitches. The hashtag #curryscentedbitch soon gained momentum, becoming a worldwide trending topic. Thousands of people took back the insult as a means to celebrate their heritage. 

    While it's highly unlikely that this will be the last offensive statement we'll see from Banks, at least we know Twitter will be there to put her in her place.

    H/T Buzzfeed


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    DanceOn is ready to go beyond its dance roots.

    The multichannel network that's home to the Web's top dance talent is expanding to the music sphere, formalizing its place in the music business with a new parent company, izo.

    “We are not just about dance anymore,” said Amanda Taylor, who remains CEO, in a press release. “In 2015, DanceOn pushed five new artists into Billboard’s Top 40. Our creative team and creator community develop programming that impacts music discovery and pop culture. Launching izo helps us further cultivate our audience of music fans and super-serve the DanceOn creator community and audience.”

    DanceOn has had a hand in determining music trends already, including a partnership that drove Silento’s track “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” to chart -topping success on the shoulders of stars like Heaven King. 

    The name izo references intermezzo, “the musical piece that connects different works of music together,” according to DanceOn’s press release. Connectivity will be the company's focus, aiming to align fans, artists, and dancers into a mutually beneficial experience. Izo will build music-related series around some of DanceOn’s established programming.

    DanceOn already generates an estimated 300 million monthly views and attracts 75 million followers across multiple platforms. 


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    The three teenagers that form the Japanese metal band Babymetal are making waves in the U.S. They’re headlining a tour in this country for the first time, and after making an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and playing the metal-friendly Carolina Rebellion festival last weekend, the band’s combination of thrash metal and J-pop has divided those fans who enjoy headbanging.

    Some love Babymetal and some do not (and others are simply confused).

    But for those people who believe that Babymetal is unfit to perform, long-respected metal singer Rob Zombie has taken to Facebook to defend his colleagues. After he posted a picture of himself posing with Babymetal on his Facebook page, one fan lambasted him. Those comments eventually were deleted, but they live on in screenshots.

    The reason Rob Zombie had to defend the band? Some fans, it would seem, don’t enjoy the pageantry, the costumes, and the synchronized dancing that Babymetal brings to the stage. Simply put, some wouldn’t categorize this as metal (although, let’s remember, there’s nothing in this world that’s less metal than thrash band Testament selling air freshener on its website).

    “There’s so many things about Babymetal you cannot just grasp with the sound,” Suzuka Nakamoto (also known as Su-metal) told the Daily Dot last month. “The visual has to complement the sound, the costumes have to complement the sound. The sound is already a mixture of everything and it could get overwhelming, but if you come to a concert that’s where you get to watch the whole package. The only place to find out what Babymetal is about and what Babymetal aims to do, you have to come out to a show.”

    Plenty of American fans have been doing that lately, and Babymetal's popularity is undeniable. After all, the band has broken 50 million YouTube views with its “Gimme Chocolate” video.

    Yet, the band is aware that its music doesn’t please everyone—and it also seems to understand why.

    “Su-metal says that this is the exact same reaction that they had toward metal,” an interpreter for the band recently told Noisey. “For them, when they first heard metal they were like, ‘Oh my God, what is this?’ It was scary, dark, loud, just something that was alien to them. And that’s probably the same perception that metal fans have towards Babymetal: it is alien to them. No metal band is dancing on stage to metal music, no metal band is wearing what they wear on stage, no metal band is making music like Babymetal.”

    But if one is still confused about whether to love or hate, welcome or seek and destroy the band, there are only two questions that truly need to be answered. Does Babymetal rock? And if so, does it rock hard?

    The answer to both questions is an uncomplicated (and an undeniable) yes.

    H/T Metal Injection


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    We all spend countless hours doing monotonous activities—sitting in rush hour traffic and doing chores around the house—but thanks to Netflix, there's one thing we don't spend time doing: watching commercials.

    In fact, according to Cord Cutting, Netflix saves us from about six days worth of cheesy ads and nefariously catchy commercial songs per year. 

    To touch on the arithmetic behind this, the average hour of cable television has 15 minutes, 38 seconds worth of commercials. That's more than a quarter of the time. Netflix boasts a 75 million subscriber base that streams 125 million hours of content per year. Thus, the average subscriber streams 1.67 hours daily. Do a little bit more math, and we get that individual subscribers are spared 160 hours worth, or 6.67 days, of commercials annually.

    So with all this free time, courtesy of Netflix, what else can you do instead? Well, you could...

    1) Smoke 160 pounds worth of BBQ brisket

    According to pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin's Barbecue in Austin, Texas, it takes 12 hours to smoke 12 pounds worth of Texas-style brisket. What could be better than eating deliciously smoky barbecue while marathoning The Office? Just make sure you have enough barbecue sauce.

    2) Jet Ski round trip between California and Hawaii twice.

    The average Jet Ski speed is somewhere between 60-65 mph, and Google says the distance between the two coastal states is 2,467 miles. One way should take you about 38 hours, and doubling that puts you at 76 hours. So two round trips would take 152 hours. That leaves you with eight hours to spend suntanning on the beach in your state of choice.

    3) Work toward getting a commercial pilot's license.

    For those who have dreamed of global travel while simultaneously operating a giant hunk of metal gliding through the air, this one's for you. Although you won't be able to complete all the flight time necessary for a commercial pilot's license, you can get about halfway there. You'll need 40-60 hours for a private pilot license and an additional 250 for a commercial certificate after that.

    4) Play/watch 200 games of basketball, 106.67 games of soccer, or 160 games of football.

    Although that may be an overestimate depending on how shitty the ref is.

    5) Learn K-pop choreography.

    If you ever get tired of binge-watching shows on Netflix, give binge-watching attractive Korean men and women a try. From colorful style to addictive music, K-pop has something for everyone. And come on, have you seen their dance moves? Try learning a dance for yourself! It's a great workout, too. Examples here and here.

    6) Ride Space Mountain at Disney World 70 times.

    Since summer's coming up, we'll assume a peak wait time of 135 minutes. Add that to the two minutes, 30 seconds of ride time, and you could stand in line and ride it just about 70 times. If it weren't for those darn lines, you could get on and ride 3,840 times straight. That, though, is not recommended.

    7) Walk 480 miles.

    Average walking speed is three mph. Now it's just a matter of choosing your location. With 480 miles, you'd get about 3.6 percent of the way along the Great Wall of China. With some comfortable shoes, you're good to go!

    8) Become 1.6 percent a master of anything.

    Malcolm Gladwell's famous rule states that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master of something—martial arts, dancing, your golf swing, you name it. Whatever you hope to achieve, why not get a head start with the six commercial-free days Netflix affords you?


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    Donald Trump is far from the only person whose politics, rhetoric, and policies have been cause for alarm.

    There are far more Trumps in the world than Trump, Trevor Noah explained, and while more people are trying to move to Canada, that might not be enough to distance them from a President Trump. Other countries have their own Trump—and they’re actually in power (or soon to be getting even more of it).

    Like Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands’s Party For Freedom who has shades Trump’s hair, Twitter presence, and anti-Muslim rhetoric (even telling Turkey that it won’t be welcome in the European Union) nailed down. Or Rodrigo Duterte, the now president-elect of the Philippines, who is regularly sexually inappropriate, brags about brutality, and wants to bring back public executions—even noting he’d bring the dead bodies to funeral parlors. His name may be familiar because John Oliverdevoted part of his show to him a few days ago.

    “But what it shows you is, although America might have its own set of problems right now, don’t forget, a lot of those problems exist everywhere in the world,” Noah said. “So rather than try and flee, maybe you do need to make America great again. Cause it turns out, there’s a lot of places like home.”


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    At a glance, South Korean boy band BTS looks just like all the others out there: Candy-colored hair, glowing skin, layers of eyeliner. Its members have mastered the art of the devilish grin. They dance in perfect rhythm, never breaking a sweat.

    What they're actually doing is revolutionizing what K-pop stands for—and they're starting to win awards for it.

    K-pop bands have been in the international spotlight long enough to earn scorn from outside the fandom. They're trained monkeys, they're recruited too young, they're locked in abusive contracts

    BTS is young. Eldest member Jin is only 23. Members are also well-trained, which is clear from the level of expertise they show in their finely choreographed videos. But their true mark of difference is that they seem to be truly happy making music, a quality that shines bright through every performance, fan meet, and social media post. They are the symbol of what can be right within the K-pop industry—and other bands should follow.

    They are only one part of this evolution, though they are at its heart. 

    They are represented by small label Big Hit Entertainment, which only has one other band under its wing. Compared to well-known companies like YG Entertainment (Big Bang, PSY) and SM Entertainment (Girls Generation, Shinee, Exo) that are known for mass-producing stables of perfectly groomed idols, Big Hit has chosen to focus its energy on making only a few bands very good. In the process, the label is turning the tide against K-pop's sullied reputation of treating its stars unfairly.

    The beginnings of the 'Bulletproof Boy Scouts'

    BTS made its official debut in June 2013, ascending to fame at three times the rate that major fellow musicians did in their own time. Most bands take a while to warm up, but BTS was running out of the gate thanks to the leadership of a deeply motivated rapper.

    Kim Nam Joon, known as Rap Monster, was recruited as BTS's first member back in 2010 during a Big Hit talent audition. He was already active in Korea's underground hip-hop scene, where he used the moniker Runch Randa and performed alongside Block B's Zico. Rap Monster trained for years with two other underground rappers, Jung Ho Seok (J-Hope) and Min Yoon Gi (Suga), feeling as if the band would never get to actually debut.

    "New members weren’t being recruited, so I felt anxious and restless," Rap Monster said in an interview with Sports Seoul. "People around us kept asking, 'When in the world are you debuting?’"

    The wait was worth it, although BTS's fledgling members could hardly have imagined what would come next. They were joined by a new member, Jeon Jung Kook, who had been heavily scouted, receiving offers from eight different entertainment agencies. But after seeing Rap Monster perform, he realized he had found what he was looking for.

    Members Kim Seok Jin (Jin), Kim Tae Hyung (V), and Park Ji Min (Jimin) were also added, rounding out the group with dancers and a "visual" leader in Jin. Finally ready to roll, the boys pushed to debut their first album as part of a school-themed trilogy. Called 2 Cool For School, it was released in 2013 with a clear difference from most of the K-pop it shared airwaves with. Like their idols from Big Bang, the band penned most of their own songs.

    Breaking the K-pop mold

    Being allowed to invest in their own thoughts and create exactly how they wanted was something that many K-pop bands never get a chance to do. Big Hit made a key choice in developing BTS this way, one that gave the boys a clear industry advantage. J-Hope, Suga, and Rap Monster were first to contribute regularly, as all were well-versed in writing thanks to their background in the hip-hop scene. 

    As BTS released the second and third entries in its school trilogy, O!RUL8,2? and Skool Luv Affair, the sound started to morph from the clear underground hip-hop influence that the rappers brought in to something with more balance and depth. And as the boys experimented, they all started to become more comfortable with writing their own material.

    "At first, they didn′t participate a lot, but these days, they′re really into it," Suga said during an interview with M-Wave in 2015. "The speed of growth is blinding." 

    Rap Monster also differentiated the group by taking an open stand in favor of LGBT rights, a topic which is still highly incendiary in South Korea. Idols typically don't take sides in such topics.

    "A song about homosexuality. I heard this song before but I didn’t know the lyrics,now I know them and I like the song twice as much," he wrote about the Macklemore& Ryan Lewis gay rights anthem "Same Love" in a 2013 tweet.

    Creating the true self

    By the time BTS released Dark and Wild, its first full length, non-trilogy album in 2014, fandom was gaining major traction. Calling themselves A.R.M.Y. (which stands for Adorable Representative M.C for Youth), the participants began to churn out fan art, fanfic, and general adoration for the boys at a stunning pace.

    BTS's members were called "the breakout stars" of South Korean culture festival KCON when they performed there as rookies in 2014, and the media was starting to take notice of these seven talented boys who seemed to be having such a good time making music.

    They decided they were ready to tell another concept story with their next album series, and it was one that touched fans deeply—cherishing the here and now. Called The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt 1, it also introduced BTS to its most complex choreography yet.

    The single "Dope" broke new ground for BTS, telling a story of the boys' determination to succeed above all else. The lyric "our youth rots in the studio, because of it we're closer to success," seems dark—but it also sent a clear message to the rest of the industry: They were willing to do anything to find stardom, and they'd do it with good cheer.

    "This is BTS style," they sang, smiles of triumph on their faces.

    This is Bangtan

    The band also fulfilled a lifelong dream of playing at a South Korean landmark for musicians during their recent Epilogue concerts, which marked the ending of the Most Beautiful Moment in Life trilogy. The shows were held at the Olympic Park Gymnastics Arena May 7 and 8 and attended by hundreds of thousands.

    The concert was such an emotional one for the members that several cried onstage, overwhelmed with gratitude. Suga's parents, who previously did not accept his decision to become an idol, were in the audience for the first time.

    "To be honest, I rarely cry onstage," he said during the show. "The more you chase perfection, the more you can't achieve it. Compared to being the perfect Min Yoon Gi, I think being together with you all and a Min Yoon Gi that is constantly improving would be better. And to my parents, I think I'm a son that makes you proud now. Dad, Mom, hyung, I love you all."

    BTS has been invited back to KCON this year—now as headliners on each coast, in Los Angeles and New Jersey. It'll put the boys back in the United States to the glee of a larger international fanbase. Millions are following the trajectory, inspired by their effort to move beyond traditional boy-band metrics.

    After only three years in K-pop, they're not only succeeding wildly in the industry, but setting a standard for the bands that will come after them. Their souls are in their performances because they helped to create them—an investment that makes all the difference between memorizing dance routines like a marionette, and embracing them with passionate, authentic joy.


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    In the first episode of The Newsroom, newscaster Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels), who's been sitting on a lackluster panel and shooting off soft answers, gets a question from a young woman that makes him break: "Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?"

    It's become one of the show's signature scenes, and yesterday, in an interview with MSNBC, Daniels channeled McAvoy when asked about Donald Trump and why he's the "best-case scenario for Hillary Clinton." 

    The segment quietly transforms into The Newsroom, complete with the audience prompt from the original scene and stunned producers watching from the control room. Daniels goes off on Trump's tiny hands as part of the gag, but there's also some real talk there. 

    Makes you wonder what the show would have done with Trump. 

    H/T AV Club 


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