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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Prufrock451 is at it again. James Erwin, Reddit’s literary master, author, and historian, scored a movie deal when he answered a thread about what would happen if a group of U.S. Marines were somehow transported back to the time of the Roman Empire under Augustus Caesar. He’s still got the writing bug, and he’s got a big fanbase on Reddit, so he parsed out some brand-new literary fiction on a new topic: Mars.

    What would happen if humans discovered Neanderthals living in a similar Earth atmosphere on the red planet? In an r/AskReddit thread, Erwin started piecing together what may be his next work. It includes characters like Richard Nixon and Carl Sagan. 

    Erwin is an accomplished writer, father, and smartie (he’s a two-time Jeopardy! champ) who lives in Des Moines, Iowa. After his 2011 post about Rome went viral, Erwin’s idea was optioned by Warner Brothers. In January, he was replaced as a screenwriter by Apollo 18’s Brian Miller. He is also working on another novel, Arcadia, which has its own subreddit for him to post updates. 

    Erwin may be on to something with his Reddit-inspiration schtick. He’s great at working off premises thought up on r/AskReddit. Already, plenty of readers are excited to be witnessing a “Prufrock in progress.” 

    In Erwin’s own words:

    Mars. It's been the subject of a thousand passionate debates since Galileo first turned his telescope there and found the Roman Sea, the twinkle of blue and green on the Red Planet's face. The next leap waited centuries, until Percival Lowell and his detailed maps. By the turn of the 20th century, every schoolboy knew there was an ocean on Mars, white ice on the poles, red deserts and a belt of green around the equator. Darwin and Goddard and Einstein and Rutherford, all of the great minds of that time; they all offered speculation, but that was all it was. The third great leap had to wait, until the world was bathed in fire and blood, until the dreams of Nazi Mars (and Nazi Europe, and Japanese "Co-Prosperity") were stifled. Until a few bands of misfit geniuses, backed by chest-beating militaries and a technology which demanded rockets to deliver its payloads of nuclear fire, hijacked the Cold War to make their own insane dreams reality. Sputnik. Vostok. Gemini. Luna. Mariner.

    Nazi Mars. God, this guy is good.

    H/T Reddit | Photo via J Gabas Esteban/Flickr


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    Last night, comedian Sarah Silverman posted some sad news to Twitter: Her longtime canine companion, Duck “Doug” Silverman, had passed away, after 14 years together. Duck appeared in several episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program and even had his own unofficial Facebook page. He was, like many fur-children, her other half. The beautiful obituary she penned will make you feel feels you didn’t know existed:

    "He was a happy dog, though serene. And stoic. And he loved love. Over the past few years he became blind, deaf, and arthritic. But with a great vet, good meds, and a first rate seeing-eye person named me, he truly seemed comfortable.

    "Recently, however, he stopped eating or drinking. He was skin and bones and so weak. I couldn’t figure out this hunger strike. Duck had never been political before. And then, over the weekend, I knew. It was time to let him go.”

    Scrolling through photos on her WhoSay account, it seems Silverman had been documenting Duck’s slow decline. The final part of her obituary is devastating:

    “14 years.

    My longest relationship.

    My only experience of maternal love.

    My constant companion.

    My best friend.

    Duck.”

    Alec Baldwin even re-activated his Twitter account to express his condolences.

    Photo via WhoSay


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    In nearly three days, nearly 55,000 people have signed a Change.org petition for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie to be recast. Brilliant idea! Hollywood executives always take online polls into account after they’ve already publicly announced the lead actors for a massively popular blockbuster movie. 

    Specifically, the petition wants current Fifty Shades stars Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson to be replaced by Matt Bomer and Alexis Bledel, who were fan favorites from the start. As the petition’s original author explains on Change.org:

    Matt Bomer is the PERFECT DESCRIPTION OF CHRISTIAN GREY AND ALEXIS BLEDEL IS THE PERFECT ACTRESS TO REPRESENT ANASTASIA STEELE and if THEY ARE NOT, NOBODY WILL BE And I read the whole trilogy and I can assure that Matt is the perfect actor for this movie and Alexis too. So please PLEASE, all of the GREYsessed and Bomerettes in the world NEED those actors. They always will be for us the Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. WE CAN DO ANYTHING GUYS, ANYTHING.

    While the fan reactions to this week’s casting announcement were decidedly mixed, few people were expecting this level of active campaigning against the casting. Which makes it kind of sad that there’s basically zero chance that the people behind the Fifty Shades movie are going to pay one iota of attention to this petition. 

    Here are a few reasons why:

    1) Since the target audience for the movie is fans of the Fifty Shades books, the filmmakers definitely knew about fan favorite actors like Matt Bomer, Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Alexis Bledel already. And yet for whatever reason, they still didn’t cast them. 

    2) While most people remember Alexis Bledel from her days in Gilmore Girls, she is now ten years too old to play Anastasia, a virginal, 21-year-old undergraduate.

    3) Not only do Bomer’s Wikipedia and IMDb pages suggest that he has a pretty busy schedule filming White Collar and other commitments, but he’s also a dad. No one with youngish children was ever going to sign up for Fifty Shades, because it means signing up for a lifetime of uncomfortable sex questions during publicity interviews. As a result, your kids would almost certainly rebel against your Embarrassing Dad-isms by leaving home at 15 to join a hyperconservative cult. 

    4) Although it’s comforting to know that Fifty Shades fans don’t care about the sexuality of the actor playing Christian Grey, Matt Bomer is openly gay. And Hollywood is still way too homophobic to cast a gay guy as the leading man in an erotic romance movie.

    5) Did anyone ask either of the actors if they actually like the Fifty Shades books? Well, nothing from Bledel yet, but Matt Bomer has just released a polite but firm statement saying that he’s “looking forward to seeing the movie with Charlie and Dakota.”

    Oh, and Fifty Shades producer Dana Brunetti has already weighed inon Twitter, pointing out that fan-casting is very different from casting a real movie. Sorry guys, but it’s probably not going to happen. 

    Photo via itsoktobegay101/Tumblr


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    Are you tired of having to go to rap shows to see rappers school each other? Would you prefer to login to a site, and see rappers battling each other all over the world? Someone had the same dream.

    Wednesday night, a new site called Rapt.fmlaunched in beta. The year-old Detroit-based startup is the brainchild of CEO Erik Torenberg (a.k.a. T-berg), and offers 24-hour live one-on-one rap battles, or cypher battles. You can just observe or throw your rap in the ring. As an inclusive entity, Rapt.fm wants you to be able to “rap with anyone.”

    That real-time capability allows for some interesting interactions; you can suggest a topic on which emcees can freestyle, for instance, sort of like attending an improv show. As I strolled through the site, I saw mostly guys rapping in front of webcams in dorms or offices, which didn’t really translate the energy of a typical rap battle. Thankfully, the battles are timed.

    With this open forum, there will definitely be a lot of amateur night, but as a platform for discovering new talent and promoting music, it has potential. Rapt.fm is holding a YouTube song contest, in conjunction with Tommy Boy Records. The winner will get to record and distribute a single via the label.

    Torenberg and his lead front end developer, Jarrett Abello (aka Johnny Gigantic), even wrote an original rap for the beta launch, called “The Launch.” Sample lyrics, via another rap startup, Rap Genius:

           Check, we need checks somebody invest quick
           Rapt bout to blow like chat roulette except less dicks
           Striving for stardom you clearly living in fear
           Started at startup weekend now we here.

    Hopefully Rapt.fm does not devolve into Chatroulette. Might have to give that rhyme the Gas Face, though.

    Photo via Asylum DC/Flickr


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    RiffTrax just might be the funniest support group on the Internet. You might not have ever heard of the website that produces snarky commentary tracks for movies you can't stand (and a few you actually enjoy). But its three main "riffers," Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy, have been making a living for over two decades on the backs of the terrible B-movies they once mocked on a little cult favorite called Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). 

    Now they offer commentary tracks of movies old and new, great and terrible—and their fans are as loyal as ever.

    With the RiffTrax team fresh off the heels of a wildly successful Kickstarter-funded party in which they wound up doing a live "riffing" of the cult hit Starship Troopers, Corbett, who voiced the part of Crow T. Robot for the latter seasons of MST3K, spoke to a packed ballroom at Dragon Con. Looking back at the 25 years since MST3K first aired on the fledgling Comedy Channel, he gave us a hint about what's next for the group.

    Originally the RiffTrax team had hoped to do a live RiffTrax performance of Twilight, arguably one of their most popular riffed titles. The Kickstarter fundraiser was originally to help them purchase performance rights for the film; but when Summit Entertainment proved unwilling to let Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett make light of their mega-hit, the trio moved on to another, more understanding franchise. 

    Their riff of Starship Troopers turned out to be a huge success.

    “I think Starship Troopers was the best we could have gotten," Corbett said. When asked what other titles were on the list, he declined to reveal what followed Paul Verhoeven's satirical cult favorite, but admitted that he "would have loved to have gotten something like The Avengers or 300.

    Although The Avengers is arguably a good film—and one for which they've already created a commentary track—Corbett stated that was part of the joy of doing a project as flexible as RiffTrax. During the decade that MST3K was on the air, the trio gaily mocked terrible movies from Roger Corman, Ed Wood, Coleman Francis, and a litany of other notorious directors. But with RiffTrax, the team can mock mainstream blockbusters along with older films, because their comedy tracks are released separately as inexpensives downloads. Finding a copy of the movie itself is up to the fans.

    "Mostly I like doing the bad movies," Corbett confessed, "but what I like about RiffTrax is that we're able to do a mix of just wretched movies and good movies." 

    Asked if he ever got feedback from the directors of either kind of film, he quipped, "Not often because they're usually dead. Is there a cause and effect? I don't know."

    Of course, the downside is that with so many tracks released solely as audio files, there's a demand for illicit downloads that contain the riff track overlaid with the film. Fully aware of the culture to which they're appealing, RiffTrax has a simple donation page on their website, wherein they all but acknowledge the popularity of their titles at the Pirate Bay and other corners of the Web.

    "[W]e realize there are times when you may find yourself in possession of a RiffTrax that you didn’t pay for (hey, it’s the Internet – it happens)," notes the site. The laissez faire approach works; RiffTrax fans seldom produce a download without linking to the Donation page and encouraging each other to contribute to the website. When asked if this system was working, Corbett was positive about the arrangement, though he couldn't say how much money was coming from direct purchases versus the donate route:

    We're doing alright, and we're really happy that folks are keeping with us. [Piracy] is a fact of the Internet. There's no exact calculus on this… but that Donate page gets a surprising amount of donations.

    Of course, raising over $250,000 through Kickstarter can't hurt, either. But while the crew is re-airing August's live performance of Starship Troopers in theatres across the country next week, Corbett told the audience they were "exhausted" and might not be doing another Kickstarter fundraiser for a while yet. 

    In the meantime, there's a possibility that the RiffTrax team might be joining forces with the other comedy trio to come out of MST3K, creator Joel Hodgson's troupe Cinematic Titanic. While the two riffing groups represent different eras in the life of Mystery Science Theater, they've stayed on good terms, and during the 25th anniversary marathon later in the convention, Hodgson placed two films from the Nelson/Murphy/Corbett era in his Top 5 films.

    One of them, the hilariously corny Canadian film Final Sacrifice, made the top of Corbett's list when a fan asked him what was his favorite film out of everything he's riffed from both MST3K and RiffTrax. "Rowsdower!" he answered, referring to Final Sacrifice's unlikely, beer-bellied main character. "Walking beer can!"

    As for worst film, that's one that RiffTrax fans know well: "Transformers 2," he stated without hesitation. "I have so much more respect for those old directors now."

    Still, as happy as a reunion between RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic would make MST fans, don't count it a certainty. "We'll see," was as committal as Corbett got on the subject.

    Throughout the session, Corbett remained gracious, speaking about the way the group had attempted to move away in recent years from comedy that could potentially alienate groups of viewers. He also noted that while "the only thing we really care about is whether we can make [a joke] work," they try to stay away from both comedies and extremely serious subjects. "If we try to do something like Hotel Rwanda or Schindler's List, we would look like monsters!" He added that out of all the people the trio takes potshots at, they make more fun of "sad sacks like ourselves" than anyone. 

    It's a formula that seems to be paying off. Corbett gets so into "riffer" mode sometimes that once his wife had to ask him, "Would you stop riffing breakfast?" Asked how he avoids the urge to deliver mocking commentary of everything, he says it's all about balance:

    "I try to balance it out by occasionally being quiet, saying nice things to people, and shutting up—especially at the movies."

    Photo via RiffTrax


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    Mamrie Hart stands on a small wooden stage opposite a fire pit and welcomes the camper's parents to visiting day. Unlike her fellow counselors, she wears an authoritative polo shirt and whistle; the rest of them are in green-and-white Camp Takota tees. Hart’s clearly in charge here—onscreen and behind the scenes.

    The red-haired host of the YouTube bartending show You Deserve A Drink not only stars in Camp Takota, she helped write the feature-length film, which draws from her own experiences as a summer counselor and co-stars close friends Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig. Mamrie plays Maxine, a woman who is poised to become the camp’s new director—if the camp can manage to stay open.

    The Dot visited Mamrie on set during the final days of production to learn more about her big-screen and screenwriting debut.

    .

    The most exciting part to me is that you have a writing credit on this movie. How’d that happen?

    Yeah, dude! I met [producer] Michael [Goldfine] and we were just shooting the shit, and I told him I’d started a screenplay about a woman whose life falls apart and she goes back to camp. I had about 30 pages written and immediately his eyes lit up, and he turned into the crazy man that he is, because he’s always wanted to do a camp movie.

    We started working on it together to take it from my original idea to a three-piece story with three leads. Me and Michael worked on the treatment together, and we brought it in a writer, Lydia [Genner], to do a first pass, because we were on our No Filter tour. Then I got the script back and got to rewrite dialogue and change it however I wanted so it’s really fun.

    I know you originally wanted to be an actress.

    I moved to New York to be an actress, and I fell into the comedy thing. I’ve been doing live comedy forever and then fell into the YouTube thing, but the original goal was to do acting. It’s a dream to be doing your first feature and to be hearing the words you wrote. It’s surreal.

    You guys are sharing a trailer?

    Yes, it smells so bad.

    That’s what Grace and Hannah said.

    Well, OK, originally they were blaming it on me because I very openly took a dump in there.

    This all checks out.

    But it wasn’t that! It’s the air conditioning unit that smells weird. It was not me! Don’t listen to those bitches. But now it smells because we all are wearing these tennis shoes, and Grace and Hannah’s characters don’t wear socks. And so now it smells like their feet.

    I feel like now as a journalist I have to go back to them and be like, “Well, Mamrie says…”

    Story checks out. Point, counterpoint. Then, the movie just falls apart, and I refuse to work with them.

    Tell me about your character.

    My character is named Maxine. Our three characters were best friends growing up at camp, and my character is obsessed with camp. She teaches school during the school year, but she works at camp every summer. This is the summer that the camp director is retiring, and she is going to be passed the torch at the end of the summer if the camp still exists. Spoiler alert!

    No spoilers I was told!

    They’re very protective. It’s not the new Star Wars film. I’ve been vlogging every day, so I’m pretty sure people will figure it out. Those internet sleuths find everything. It’s amazing.

    Plus, we’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s no service here. That’s one of the nice things we’ve found. We’ve become obsessed with our crew, and it’s because we haven’t had Internet so we’ve actually been communicating like real people do. It hasn’t been talking while checking Facebook, so yeah, we’re tight.

    And this is based on your experience at camp?

    I actually didn’t go to camp. I only was a camp counselor.But I went to a wedding at my summer camp three months ago. I’m in love with the place. It was called Camp Merriwood, outside Asheville, North Carolina. It was an all-girls camp. It didn’t have the same troubles that Camp Takota has. It actually has tons of money. I didn’t go there because I couldn’t afford it.

    I went to camp for 10 years. What do you think makes people into camp lifers?

    Camp is cultish. There’s secrets, the history of the camp, secret handshakes, and songs you only know if you went to that camp. It’s kind of like a sorority, which is a bad comparison, but it really is such a community and it brings people back. There’s something special.

    How is it working on a movie versus working on YouTube?

    Well, Michael’s been like, “We don’t have a script yet? Yeah, all right. Let’s make this movie this summer.” And it’s happened. It’s crazy.

    It’s awesome too because with the YouTube mentality, if you want to make a video, you just do it. There’s no procrastination in YouTube, which it’s really awesome working with Michael because he’s like, “Oh we’re just going to make it, we’re not going to talk about it.” I’ve spent years before putting on a sketch show, and we made a movie from start to finish in under a year. It’s fucking nuts.

    Screengrab via You Deserve a Drink/YouTube


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    It’s the greatest weed-related teamup since Cheech and Chong: The king of kush, rapper Snoop Lion (née Dogg), is now a moderator of Reddit's largest marijuana community.

    The rapper accepted his new position in r/trees late Thursday night after holding an AMA ("ask me anything") session with rapper 2 Chainz

    Snoop is one of Reddit's favorite celebs, and he regularly hops into subreddits like r/todayilearned, r/braveryjerk (where redditors share stories of bravery), and r/videos to comment. This is the second AMA Snoop has done in the past nine months

    Snoop is also a moderator of r/bravery and r/circlejerk, a popular subreddit that skewers Reddit’s dominant “hivemind” culture with satire.

    "This is history," vivelamangie commented

    In celebration of Snoop's new position, check out this video fellow r/trees moderator expert02 shared:

    Photo by jasonpersse/Flickr


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    This might be the most embarrassing video to come out of Kazakhstan since Borat. Kanye West reportedly got paid $3 million to perform at the wedding of the grandson of Kazakhstan’s longtime president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Alleged photos of the performance hit Instagram soon after.

    Instagram photos and video of the performance went viral, and they look very sad. 


     

    This last girl looks like the creepy Firestarter girl meme. The New York Timesreported that West’s performance drew ire from critics of Nazarbayev, who “has ruled Kazakhstan in an autocratic fashion since the fall of the Soviet Union, and was criticized for a brutal police crackdown against striking oil workers in the city of Zhanaozen in 2011 that left more than a dozen killed.”

    Someone please rescue Kanye West. #SaveKanye

    H/T Instagram | Photo via Instagram


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    The ongoing saga of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has had more twists and turns than the German autobahn. To help make sense of it all, Reddit user Salacious decided to adapt Snowden's story into songs from Les Miserables.

    “Obama, at last / We see each other clear / ‘M’sieur President’ / Your party shall lose seats next year!” Salacious wrote on Reddit's r/explainlikeIAmA, an offshoot of the popular forum r/explainlikeimfive, a community where people search for simple answers to life's questions. (In this case, the answers are all in character.)


     

    The lyrics are great, but there was never a chance to actually listen to it. Until now!

    Aja Romano is our fandom reporter. She covers topics like Teen Wolf, comics, and One Direction fans. She’s also a classically trained singer. Late Thursday night, Aja set Salacious's lyrics to music and uploaded them to Soundcloud.

    One of the songs is a parody of the “The Confrontation,” a pivotal scene in Les Miserables. Antagonist Javert enters the hospital to arrest and imprison protagonist Jean Valjean, who is there to mourn Fantine, a former factory worker. Here, the confrontation is between Snowden and Obama.

    The other is an adaptation of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Both are fantastic.

    OK, Snowden and Les Miserables don't have much in common. 

    Snowden's tale began in late 2012 when he reached out to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald with classified documents detailing the NSA's expansive spy programs. Greenwald reported on these documents in June, bringing the NSA under worldwide scrutiny

    Snowden was charged with espionage and theft of government property. He was ultimately forced to flee from his hotel in Hong Kong. He is currently in hiding in Russia where President Vladimir Putin has granted him temporary asylum.

    It's not imposible to imagine a Snowden musical, directed by Les Miz's Tom Hooper. There'd be a lot of close-up shots. 


     

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    Should consumers pay the price because Apple and TV networks can't agree on what actually constitutes a season? Noam Lzebnik certainly thinks not, and he's suing Apple to prove it.

    Months ago, Lzebnik purchased a "season pass" for the fifth season of Breaking Bad, the AMC hit about a high school teacher who becomes a methamphetamine kingpin after getting diagnosed with cancer. The show took a famous and, no doubt for Lzebnik, hard-to-endure break halfway through this final season. When it finally returned, Apple demanded that users who'd already bought one season pass buy another.

    They're not the only company hoping to make a little more profit off of long-suffering Breaking Bad fans: Everyone from Amazon to Sony is trying to sell the first half as a separate season, and force consumers to fork over more cash to watch the second half.

    That would be fine—companies are free to charge what they want whenever they want—except for the fact that Apple appaears to be violating its own terms. Here's how Apple itself described the pass that Lzebnik purchased: "This Season Pass includes all current and future episodes of Breaking Bad, Season 5;" and "Purchasing a Season Pass gets you every episode in that season."

    It's not like AMC has been anything other than explicit. As The Verge's Sean Hollister explains:

    AMC has advertised 'Season 5' as a single season since at least May 2012, and has been adamant that 'Season 5' would be the 'Final Season' of the show. Last year, AMC clearly stated: 'The final season... consists of 16 episodes." AMC also continues to advertise each new episode as part of the same season as the original eight aired last year.'"

    “When a consumer buys a ticket to a football game, he does not have to leave at halftime," Lzebnik argues in his claim. "When a consumer buys an opera ticket, he does not get kicked out at intermission."

    That's not a bad analogy at all. But in the case of Breaking Bad, the intermission lasted a year. That's a long wait. Is it enough to justify Apple's attempt to rewrite the very definition of a "season," just so it can rake in more cash from its customers?

    H/T GigaOm | Photo via AMC


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    BY ERICA GOROCHOW

    The next chapter of digital graphic novels may look a lot like those by French animator and illustrator Stephen Vuillemin. His comic, Schoolgirls, utilizes GIFs to infuse panels with bursts of animation. The tenth and final episode in the 300 GIF series premiered this week as part of theArte supported publication, "Professor Cyclope."

    "I read comics very fast. I don't spend a lot of time looking at the pictures," explained Vuillemin. "I wanted my readers to be able to do the same with my comics, despite the animation. So I came up with some rules. One: If there is a speech bubble, it stays on for the loop, so that the reader doesn't have to wait for it to appear to read it. Two: a single frame of each picture should give enough information to understand the action. The animation is kind of a "bonus" to it, but you should be able to read it without looking at the animations."

    Vuillemin's innovation to use gifs stemmed from his frustration with the traditional publishing world. "I was just back from the Angouleme comics festival with my comic book project. I showed it to a few (French) publishers there, and I was a bit disappointed. It seemed to be a very slow process to get it published. Some of them were interested by the book, but none of them were ready to pay me anything before the full thing was done. Also, I was surprised to see that some young comics artists/publishers would pay to get a really tiny stall there, in a shady corner of this festival, instead of thinking to open a blog or a website. I decided not to do it like them, and to make an online comics: faster, cheaper, more efficient. I wanted to use the specifics of the internet, that how I came up with gifs."  

    Read the rest of the comic here. View the full story on Motherboard


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    "4chan got me super famous had my shit on autoplay on /b/ / And it is time for me / to switch it up and change the game."

    If you visited 4chan's random imageboard, /b/, on the afternoon of Aug. 21, these are the lyrics you would have heard coming from your computer. In between /b/’s usual porn posts and casual racism was a thread autoplaying the music video of Josip on Deck's latest track, "4chan."

    /b/ seems like the last place any black, 20-year-old rapper would think of promoting his music. But for Josip—real name Josip Opara-nadi— it was the perfect match.

    That's because Opara-nadi is the Internet's otaku rapper. Instead of fast cars and fast money, he's obsessed with Japanese anime.

    "The Internet is a huge jungle but at the same it's so important to Otaku and so important to life," Opara-nadi told the Daily Dot from his home in Jackson, Miss. "So I knew that if I could gain access to the Internet by just being natural, then I could get these people to see who I was. Let me make a good-ass song and explain what people on 4chan do. I guess the people on 4chan liked it."

    Opara-nadi has frequented 4chan since he was 12 years old, but he never expected the site to embrace his music—especially since 4chan’s original purpose has long been eclipsed by its most controversial imageboard, /b/. 

    4chan was founded in the fall of 2003 by Christopher "moot" Poole, then a 15-year-old living in his parents’ New York City apartment. He envisioned the site as an American spinoff of Futaba Channel (2chan), a Japanese message board.

    In its early days, 4chan offered a place for anime fans to share comics and images. The first two imageboards Poole created were /a/ (anime), and /b/ (random). Over the next nine years, /b/ would overshadow /a/—and the rest of 4chan—with its high profile hacks, vote-rigging vendettas, and justice-seeking brigades. It can also be one of the most racist forums on the Internet, featuring frequent threads about "n**gers." 

    Despite all this noise, Opara-nadi felt right at home on /a/.

    Through anime classics like Dragon Ball Z and FLCL, and an almost academic obsession with Tokyo district Akihabara (which he described as "a Disneyland for anime"), Opara-nadi got hooked on otaku culture.

    The term “otaku” is generally used to describe "Japanese enthusiasts of animation and manga in the early 1980s," scholar Lawrence Eng writes in "The Origins of 'Otaku.'" 

    The literal definition of the word, on the other hand, has resulted in these superfans being criticized and mocked. 

    "Another common theory about the term 'otaku' is that it refers to the fact that otaku rarely leave their homes, since 'otaku' literally means 'your home' as well as 'you' (formal)," Eng explains. "This proposed etymology of the term is generally used in a deprecating manner, negatively stereotyping otaku as being antisocial and isolated from the world at large."

    With his wealth of otaku knowledge and his musical talents, Opara-nadi began recording at home, but his music went mostly unnoticed for years. That all changed last spring with the help of the biggest Dragon Ball Z fan on the planet.

    The video opens with a scrawny black teenager starring into the camera, explaining how all he ever wanted to be when he grew up was a Super Saiyan, one of Dragon Ball Z’s superhumans who summon their power by yelling at the top of their lungs. YouTube user KillaKarisma confesses that he feels "worthless" and wishes he could be as powerful and exciting as the superheroes he idolizes. 

    "I feel like anything you set your mind to, your mind can create that force," KillaKarisma explains from his bedroom in Atlanta. "Because your mind is this powerful machine. Whatever you set it to, and you believe, and you work toward achieving it, you can do it. I believe I can be a Super Saiyan."

    At about the 3:40 mark in the video, KillaKarisma makes good on his promise by popping his shirt off and letting out a primal scream you'd never imagine a kid of his size could produce.

     

    KillaKarisma's video has since been seen more than 7.6 million times on YouTube. At least one of those views came from Opara-nadi.

    But while most of those millions of viewers mocked Karisma, Opara-nadi recognized him as a kindred spirit.

    Last July, Opara-nadi flew to Georgia to record a music video with KillaKarisma for the song "Anime Pussy." They shot in KillaKarisma's bedroom, wearing winter hats and palming Nintendo Gameboys while they jammed out to the chiptune beat. They also threw in some screenshots of 4chan's hentai board, /h/, a place to find all sorts of anime porn. That decision ended up making all the difference.

    "Anime Pussy" collected more than 50,000 views in its first 24 hours, and ultimately caught the attention of 4chan moderators. They contacted Opara-nadi and asked if they could feature the video on the site (which, according to Alexa, ranks in the top 400 most visited in the U.S.). By the end of the month, it had collected 200,000 views. 

    A year later, Opara-nadi released "4chan," an ode to the site that helped shape his otaku obsession. Moderators once again let his music autoplay for anyone who visited 4chan.

    Despite his apparent sincerity, /b/ wasn’t sure if the rapper was serious or just a master troll. 

    "You've derailed this entire site with one simple fucking post," one anonymous user wrote. "You magnificent fuck."

    In the end, it doesn't matter—Opara-nadi is making music his full-time job. And although it’s a full-time job he has yet to collect an honest paycheck from, he's not discouraged. 

    Opara-nadi explained to the Daily Dot that mainstream rappers like Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West have incorporated parts of otaku culture into their formulas for success. In 2008, Fiasco formed the rock band Japanese Cartoon and featured anime-inspired art on its album. The same went for West's 2007 album "Graduation." He even took his anime love a step further when he infamously played anime porn during a listening party.

    Will Opara-nadi ever achieve this level of success? He thinks so.

    On the hook of "4chan," he calls himself Otaku Kami-sama—"Otaku God"—and that combination of geeky obsession and braggadocio is more than just a punchline. It could be enough to inspire his fellow otaku to stop hiding from the world and take pride in their hobbies.

    "I wanted to be an otaku leader," Opara-nadi says. "I knew I could encourage them to believe in what they love more by making music."

    Screengrab via YouTube


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    Ariana Grande is the star of Nickelodeon’s new comedy, Sam & Cat. She had a summer hit with “Baby I,” and her debut album was just released. Her social media fanbase is legion, and her “Arianators” could be the next Beliebers. The 20-year-old star is about to break big.

    She’s been making the talk show rounds lately and stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Friday night to rework some rap songs. With Fallon on piano, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain,” and Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” all get the Broadway treatment, and the latter song actually sounds like it could be a big-production number. Well, minus the extended beep at the end.

    As Grande transitions from teen star to pop star, dropping an f-bomb seems like the perfect move.

    Screengrab via Ariana Grande/YouTube


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    Not content with skewering politics and other social concerns, comedian Patton Oswalt took to Twitter yesterday to take good-humored potshots at one of the entertainment industry’s biggest red carpet affairs—the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF).

    Once a bastion of international cinema and high art, TIFF seems to have turned into a media blitz of glamour and buzz—at least if tweets like “How much Hemsworth can one camera take?” and “Dakota Fanning just took my #” are any indication. 

    Amid this year’s TIFF highlights: Triumphant debuts for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Ron Howard’s Rush, and praise for Alfonso Cuaron’s space-thriller Gravity (everyone agreed Sandra Bullock looked amazing). But in between the actual film-going, there were also moments like these:

    Meanwhile, amid all the celebrity-chasing, a few people complained that real film reviews were getting lost in the glitz:

    Enter Patton Oswalt. Perhaps disenchanted with the current crop of film reviews for this year’s TIFF, he decided to get in on the madness with some one-line reviews of his own—for fake films that weren’t exactly about to climb the A-list:

    In addition to taking down the glam pretenses of TIFF, Oswalt leveled a few potshots at his recent nemesis, Salon.com:

    Many of Oswalt’s tweets mocked white journalists and filmmakers tackling issues of race. This is a popular line of comedy for Oswalt, but in the case of TIFF, it’s also a valid comment. For instance, this year, the Idris Elba-led biopic Mandela:Long Walk to Freedom, which is directed and scripted by middle-aged white British men, received a standing ovation at TIFF. Meanwhile, the festival’s many films originating from South Africa and other African diaspora countries have gone largely overlooked.

    This wouldn’t be the first time Oswalt took to Twitter to have a little fun while mocking social mores. In August he amused and offended in equal amounts when he used Twitter’s 140 character limit to play on the prejudices of unsuspecting Twitter users who only read half of his two-part tweets on various social issues. On MetaFilter, Oswalt fans and skeptics briefly debated the merits of his using the Toronto festival as the scapegoat for his running commentary, before taking a closer look at the dazzling array of inane, non-film-related tweets coming from the tag and deciding that, on second thought, Oswalt should have free reign to poke all the fun he wanted.

    Naturally, fans and followers joined in:

    The film festival runs through Sept. 15, and Oswalt’s followers seem to have taken up the fake film mantra for the duration. And if some of these sound like actual ill-advised Hollywood scripts—

    —well, the less said, the better. At least in Toronto.

    Photo via zachklein/Flickr


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    It's official: Sir Patrick Stewart had the balls to get married.

    Since joining Twitter in June 2012, the legendary actor’s profile image has been a photo showing him swimming in colorful plastic balls.

    On September 7, Stewart tied the knot with his girlfriend of over three years, jazz singer Sunny Ozell. Sir Ian McKellan, Stewart's co-star in three X-men movies, officiated the ceremony. To share the happy news with his 600,000+ Twitter fans, he tweeted an updated version of his longtime profile image the day after the wedding.

    Finally, Sir Pat Stew is no longer all alone in the ball pit. 

    "Yes, married" Stewart said in the tweet, which was retweeted more than 5,200 times. 

    Ozell is no stranger to her new husband's Internet antics. She famously taught the actor about the concept of pizza slices, and in August 2013, she recorded an adorable YouTube video highlighting Stewart's "quadruple take" acting method.

    The marriage is the third for the 73-year-old Stewart. 

    Photo via Patrick Stewart/Twitter


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    Miley, you should get that compulsive-licking thing checked out. We’re not too concerned about the nudity and the twerking and what outraged middle America might call an attempt to break away from your Hannah Montana days. But tongue-sliming a sledgehammer is a hygienic issue. We’ll address that later. 

    Cyrus’s latest video, “Wrecking Ball,” begins with a extreme close-up, tears running down Miley’s face like Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables. But then it gets real freaky real fast. 

    Rocking a white crop-top with matching bottoms, Miley grabs a sledgehammer. She licks the sledgehammer. What else should you do with a sledgehammer? Suddenly, pow! She’s naked, like, as naked as you can get in a music video. Straight-up underboob and side-butt. Now she’s riding the wrecking ball. She’s belting her heart out. The wrecking ball smashes some walls, Miley rolls around in the rubble, and Maude Flanders burns her children’s Hannah Montana paraphernalia. 

    Her music video for “We Can’t Stop” marked the beginning of her twerking obsession and party-girl persona. Cyrus’s recent performance at the MTV Music Video Awards was notable for grinding on Robin Thicke, maneuvering a phallic foam finger in a dirty way, and even more awkward licking. And this weekend, she was seen on German TV show Schlagg Den Raab spanking a twerking little person. Spanking. A. Twerking. Little. Person. 

    Miley, we get you. You are grown-up. You do what you want and say what you want. You do you, girl. One thing, though: You gotta stop using black people and little people as spank props in your performances. And seriously, get that tongue thing checked out. We checked WebMD. It could be pica

    Screenshot via YouTube/MileyCyrusVEVO


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    Edward Snowden is about to get truly famous—the kind of famous you only get as the subject of a Canadian independent film.

    Vancouver filmmakers Jason Bourque and Travis Doering are asking the Internet to help them fund a movie about the former National Security Agency contractor's life. Called Classified: The Edward Snowden Story, it begins with Snowden's time in the U.S. Army reserve, and will continue with his time working for the CIA and NSA through independent contractors.

    The filmmakers sent us the opening:

    We open with a young man in his early 20s, he is being interviewed by a military officer. The series of rapid fire questions are very personal and at times uncomfortable. As the interview progresses we cut between the interviewee and an anonymous man working on his laptop. The questions begin to subside as the interviewers asks one final question, “Can you please state your full name for the record?” There is a pause as the man steadies himself and replies, “My name is Edward Joseph Snowden.”

    "Even with a subject as interesting mass surveillance, without having a practical character for the audience to relate to, it's very hard to build an emotional connection," Borque says in a YouTube clip pitching the concept to potential backers.

    The main roles have already been tentatively cast with Canadian actors. The upcoming The Mortal Instruments' Kevin Zegers of the will play Snowden, Stargate SG-1's Michael Shanks is journalist Glenn Greenwald, and journeyman actress Carmen Aguirre plays documentarian Laura Poitras. The script is being reviewed by intelligence officials and people who know Snowden personally, Bourque says, and filming should begin in Vancouver at the start of 2014.

    The filmmakers plan to release the movie under a creative commons license, meaning it'll be impossible to sell to a distributor. So they're asking anyone who can to pitch in over the next three weeks, though only one person has donated so far. And yes, they take bitcoin.

    h/t Adrian Chen. Illustration by Jason Reed


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    Does this Twitter photo mean we get a new Dumb and Dumber?

    Jim Carrey shared a photo of his (very real) busted fang on Twitter as he starts work on the follow-up to Dumb and Dumber. His costar Jeff Danielsconfirmed the sequel in July, but the photo Carrey's broken tooth, a hallmark of his character Lloyd Christmas, is the irrefutable proof for many that Dumb and Dumber To (sic) is going in front of cameras.

    Redditors, many of whom would have been the perfect age to appreciate the Farrelly brothers' brand of lowbrow humor when their directorial debut was released in 1994, fawned over the return of Christmas and Harry Dunne.

    "If they can make it even half as good as the original Dumb and Dumber was, then it'll be the best comedy of the year. I am excited," wrote Dorian182.

    "Given how many times they must have asked him and how many scripts he's probably rejected, I bet it's gonna be awesome!" enthused erikthemighty.

    Many quoted the original movie to show their excitement, though others, perhaps with the critically maligned (10% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) prequel Dumb and Dumberer in mind, had more tempered expectations. 

    [Dumb and Dumber is] a movie I watched almost daily as a kid and still never fails to make me laugh," said literaryboner"It's a movie I will probably love forever. But obviously to expect the same from any sort of reiteration or revival of the franchise would be foolish."

    Meanwhile, as one redditor pointed out, some of Carrey's Twitter followers had no clue what the tooth photo referred to. 


     

    Screenshot via nurvtv/YouTube


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    Gucci Mane sent shockwaves through the rap world last evening when, during a strange spell of tweets that seemed to have come out of nowhere, the Atlanta rapper revealed that he'd been sleeping with fellow hip-hop celebrity Nicki Minaj—as well as likeminded pop stars Monica, Keyshia Cole, Fantasia, and Black Chyna, the wife of rapper and part-time porn mogul Tyga. 

    The boasts started flying around 6:30pm EST, when Mane claimed that "Nikki [sic] Minaj can do a trick with her mouth." The tweet received more than 13,000 retweets, and Gucci was off and running. By 9pm, he'd made claims about moving the vibrant star down to Atlanta, called Nicki Minaj a "g hoe," and claimed that he had "pix" of the artist, asking his 2.07 million followers "who got millions in exchange for photographic evidence of their affair.

    Nobody would need to scrounge up any money. Shortly after the claims got made, a series of images started to surface online (NSFW) that suggested the two had been intimate with each other. One in particular showed what looks to be a naked Nicki Minaj sitting in a straddling position in what Gucci suggested was his own bedroom. 

    Shortly after its posting, the pictures made it onto Reddit subreddit r/hiphopimages, where redditor ProfessorEmmJay was quick to note that the image was not of Nicki Minaj—but, rather, a pornstar named Alyssa Smyles who quite regularly gets paired to Minaj on film. 

    "I recognize those rolls," ProfessorEmmJay wrote happily, linking to a porn video. "Skip to 2:58 for the picture."

    I checked it out this morning—for science—and can confirm that the image at 2:58 is the same as the screencap that Gucci proclaimed to be Minaj. It's the same angle, the same everything—even the red walls he suggests are his bedroom's are the same color as the walls on the set in the clip. 

    Gucci Mane hasn't done much to deny the photos' legitimacy—and neither has Minaj, who doesn't have Twitter. When he last posted anything onto the site, it was to purport the claim that he'd bedded Minaj, writing that she "got dat killer…"—well, we'll just let you fill in the rest.

    Photo via XHamster


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    An author who once landed a movie deal from a Reddit post is now working on a new project.

    James Erwin, known as "Prufrock451" on Reddit, first rose to fame in September 2011. In an AskReddit thread, Erwin used redditor The_Quiet_Earth's prompt, "Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?" as a springboard. He produced a detailed, compelling response that spanned several comments. As the upvotes flowed his way and demand for continuation of the story grew, he created the subreddit r/RomeSweetRome to appease his new fanbase. Roughly a month later, he was approached by Warner Bros. to turn Rome Sweet Rome into a motion picture screenplay.

    Now Erwin has set his sights on a new goal: publishing a science-fiction novel. Entitled Acadia and set in the future, the story follows the trials that humans and artificial intelligence creations alike must face in the dawn of space colonization. Unlike Rome Sweet Rome, the story wasn't born from a Reddit thread.

    "Acadia began as a screenplay pitch, and I reworked it when an editor asked if I had any novels," Erwin revealed.

    To secure funding, Erwin launched a Kickstarter page. He has a goal of $9,999 to meet by October 9. The perks are plentiful, with $20 getting you both a digital and print copy of the book. A $500 pledge will not only get you top-shelf benefits like a signed hardcover edition of the book and passes to its New York City launch party, but also the opportunity to name one of the book's characters. So far, 250 backers have managed to raise in excess of $7,500.

    "I'm doing this as a Kickstarter project so it will be about my ideas," he explained. "I have worked with traditional publishers and a manager, and I would love the opportunity for people to hear my voice."

    As his streak of success continues, Erwin has never forgotten the Reddit community that first rocketed him to Internet notoriety. In fact, if all goes as planned, he would like to see a heavier involvement from them in his projects.

    "We have plans to include the community, and bring in lots of illustrators and artists in other media," he said.

    Regardless of what the community's role turns out to be, one thing that is never changing is Erwin's love and appreciation for his fellow redditors.

    "I am very grateful for everyone who has encouraged me during all of this," he said. "I'm extremely lucky. I'll do my best to live up to this by creating something great."

    As for Rome Sweet Rome, it continues to make its way through Hollywood, but without Erwin’s involvement. 

    Needless to say, a story plucked from the comments of Reddit isn't nearly polished enough for major film studios. Erwin discussed the erosion of his own creative control over the Rome Sweet Rome project as it moved forward to become an actual screenplay.

    "It's difficult to let go of something you created and believe strongly in, but that's the only way to make something the size of a movie," he said. "That balance between consensus and solitary vision - I can't believe anything ever gets made."

    "Hollywood is full of great people - all very smart, very committed, very creative," Erwin told the Daily Dot about his new career. "Are they aggressive? Yes. Enthusiasm requires conviction."

    Screengrab via James Erwin/Kickstarter


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