Articles on this Page
- 12/11/13--11:07: _Super selfie dancer...
- 12/11/13--16:44: _YouTube's biggest v...
- 12/12/13--08:12: _Check out the websi...
- 12/12/13--10:19: _Follow 5 Internet a...
- 12/12/13--13:26: _This metal-T-shirt-...
- 12/13/13--05:27: _While you were slee...
- 12/13/13--07:00: _Checking in with th...
- 12/13/13--09:07: _These 9 real-life T...
- 12/13/13--09:49: _How Beyoncé's surpr...
- 12/13/13--10:27: _Gamers are outraged...
- 12/14/13--14:36: _There's a reason Mi...
- 12/16/13--04:00: _'Cache Monet' woos ...
- 12/16/13--09:50: _Seth MacFarlane moc...
- 12/16/13--10:55: _Former Disney star ...
- 12/17/13--08:24: _Did Shia LaBeouf pl...
- 12/17/13--10:06: _How 'Homeland' fina...
- 12/17/13--10:34: _iTunes releases Bea...
- 12/17/13--15:47: _To make any engagem...
- 12/18/13--05:00: _The top 10 single-s...
- 12/18/13--06:00: _Meet Brini Maxwell,...
- 12/11/13--11:07: Super selfie dancer duets with his dad
- 12/11/13--16:44: YouTube's biggest videos, channels, and parodies of 2013
- 12/12/13--08:12: Check out the website hidden in the 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' trailer
- 12/12/13--10:19: Follow 5 Internet addicts as they spend a week without their fix
- 12/12/13--13:26: This metal-T-shirt-wearing guy has taken photos with every celebrity
- 12/13/13--05:27: While you were sleeping, Beyoncé dropped a brand-new album on iTunes
- 12/13/13--07:00: Checking in with the tenants of 'Apt 8 News'
- 12/13/13--09:49: How Beyoncé's surprise album got us all listening a little closer
- 12/16/13--04:00: 'Cache Monet' woos art collectors with GIFs
- 12/16/13--10:55: Former Disney star shows up on Tumblr—naked
- 12/17/13--08:24: Did Shia LaBeouf plagiarize his apology for plagiarism?
- 12/17/13--10:06: How 'Homeland' finally redeemed itself
- 12/17/13--10:34: iTunes releases Beatles album for all the wrong reasons
- 12/17/13--15:47: To make any engagement special, just add Aaron Paul
- 12/18/13--05:00: The top 10 single-serving Tumblrs of 2013
- 12/18/13--06:00: Meet Brini Maxwell, the cross-dressing queen of DIY
A 15-second supercut of Valenciano dancing enthusiastically to the Space Jam soundtrack went viral in September, and now he brought his dad, Gary, along for another super selfie.
Both father and son are putting on their best “dance as if nobody’s watching” moves and wearing ridiculously dated outfits as they jam out to a song that was made for dancing by yourself.
But what exactly makes a super selfie, anyway? It’s what The Independent is calling President Obama’s selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, but Valenciano’s video predates the selfie seen (and memed) around the world—plus, he’s already got 10 super selfie videos on his YouTube channel.
According to Valenciano, his term has nothing to do with one of the selfie’s staples.
“I guess it’s a ‘selfie’ that has nothing to do with taking a photo of yourself,” he explained to Social Daily News. “Rather, a video of yourself disregarding (most important word) your self-image, letting loose and just tearing it up.”
If that mentality could also apply to the traditional selfie, the world leaders’ photo (along with thousands of other selfies online) have a whole new meaning.
When the world ends, it will just be cockroaches and a beloved Korean pop sensation in a bow tie. At least, according to YouTube’s 2013 rankings.
YouTube has released YouTube Rewind 2013, a compilation of its top videos for 2013. The winner for top music video is Psy’s “Gentleman,” the Korean sensation’s followup to 2012’s “Gangnam Style.” The top trending video was, of course, Ylvis’s “What Does The Fox Say?” Meanwhile, Steve Kardynal’s hilarious Chatroulette cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” was the most popular parody video of the year.
There were also 1.7 million videos of or about the Harlem Shake uploaded to YouTube this year, “ranging from a squad in the Norwegian Army to NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson after winning the Daytona 500,” YouTube reported. Harlem Shake videos were watched more than 2.5 billion times, and “harlem shake” was the top rising search on YouTube in 2013.
YouTube’s top 10 trending videos had 850 million views between them and the top 20 channels racked up 18.7 billion views.
As evidenced by the reigns of Psy and Ylvis, more than 80 percent of the top videos this year came from outside the United States. Here are the complete top 5 lists for 2013:
Top 5 Music Videos
1) PSY - GENTLEMAN M/V, officialpsy
2) Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball, MileyCyrusVEVO
3) Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop, MileyCyrusVEVO
4) Katy Perry - Roar (Official), KatyPerryVEVO
5) P!nk - Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess, PinkVEVO
Top Trending Videos of 2013
1) Ylvis - The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?), tvnorge
2) Harlem Shake (original army edition), kennethaakonsen
3) How Animals Eat Their Food, MisterEpicMann
4) Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version), SteveKardynal
5) "baby&me / the new evian film," EvianBabies
Channels That Grew The Most In 2013
Photo via YouTube
The trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends in a montage of explosions, web-slinging, and a plane crash. In the middle of this special effects bonanza, there’s a two-second scene of the antagonist, Electro, talking straight into the camera.
While the words he’s muttering aren’t that interesting, what is going on over his left shoulder is.
If you watch carefully at around the 2:05 mark, you can see a URL hidden inside one of his electric beams.
The message can only be spotted when watching the trailer at 1080HD and if you’re paying close attention. I captured the moment and tweaked the brightness levels in Photoshop to make it more visible.
The links leads to electroarrives.com, which features a looping animation of Harry Osborn watching an explosion on a glass screen. There’s a also a countdown to New Year’s Eve, when Spider-Man is expected to show up in New York for the ball drop festivities.
“Expect an exclusive clip to premiere on Times Square's many screens, possibly a bit of stunt work, and a shit-ton of bad jokes based around the words ‘webs’ and ‘amazing,’” i09 reported.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is due in theaters May 2.
It’s a simple experiment, but the results are astounding: take the Internet away from those addicted to it, and changes take place practically overnight, as a Mother London camera crew observed when following five so-called “digital natives” who opted to go cold turkey for a week. “Would it be reminiscent of a scene from Trainspotting?” the filmmakers wondered, given that the dopamine rush for social media and email junkies resembles that of a drug user. “Or would they regress to some kind of IRL utopia?”
The participants ranged from a connected teenager to young professionals for whom heavy web activity is part and parcel of a career, and while all of them expressed some apprehension going into the blackout, most felt instantly liberated and newly sensitive to the world around them. Their loved ones noticed the difference too—a boy mentions that his father is nicer to be around when he’s not scrolling through Twitter all the time, and a woman is praised for not checking her phone during a meal, a habit of which she had never been aware.
Toward the end of the week, some signs of strain appear: a geographic crisis results in an emergency Google Maps search that turns out to be fruitless, and a pretty sky practically begs to be shared on Instagram. Still, when the group gets together for a debriefing, they reflect that though the Internet has plenty of good points, it can be mentally exhausting to “keep up” with its perpetual, churning flux. The crucial talent, they agree, would be knowing how to sort what’s important from the static. If that’s even possible.
Photo via Mother/Vimeo
Yes, it’s a bit hyperbolic, but the guy does have a lot of photos with A through C-list celebrities, some of them taken selfie-style, some taken by an anonymous bystander. The Imgur gallery hosts 101 of them. His Facebook photos contain even more.
But one thing you’ll notice while scanning through images of him and Elijah Wood, Alyssa Milano, and Gary Busey is his clothing. Namely, his array of band T-shirts.
The man’s identity was not revealed in the Reddit thread, but several commenters said they know him, and he’s a “regular” guy and music fan who does this as a hobby.
Let us celebrate this man and his dedication. It’s comforting to know that as time passes on, and celebrity fades, our Avenged Sevenfold T-shirts never will.
Photos via andrewgoldstein4/Imgur
So crazy right now. While you were sleeping, Beyoncé crept down your chimney and gave your the best gift of the season you never saw coming—a 14-track, self-titled “visual” album, released exclusively on iTunes.
Guest stars include Frank Ocean, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Drake, Jay Z, and Knowles’s own daughter, Blue Ivy.
Best thing to wake up to ever ever ever ever ever ever ever.— bobby finger (@bobbyfinger) December 13, 2013
Here’s her promo on Instagram:
The 32-year-old singer also released 30-second previews for every video on her YouTube channel.
And this happened:
Weirdly, someone named Boots is all over the album credits. Who is this mysterious collaborator? BuzzFeed’s Myles Tanzer got to the bottom of it.
We’ll update this with a lot more because we have to actually finish listening to it.
GIF via fuckyesbeyonce/Tumblr
It’s a good day for quiet releases. Lorde has a new track called “No Better,” and it looks like Britney Spears is gearing up for something too:
Have a little surprise coming for you all in a bit…any guesses as to what it is?! #BritneySurprise— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) December 13, 2013
If you haven't heard it or if you’re just a hater, stay off social media today because it’s going to be all Beyoncé, all the time. Oh, and if you want the tl;dr version, this is the only comment you need to read.
Update: Beyoncé is now No. 1 on iTunes—without any promotion. It seems the element of surprise, not to mention the fear of missing out on Beyoncé (a.k.a. F.O.M.O.O.B.), got a lot of people to shell out $15.
Photo via Jason H. Smith/Flickr
There’s a scene in one episode of Apt 8 News, Slacktory’s original webseries, in which Jackie and Alex welcome you to their newscast, then get right to the top story: There’s a mouse in the apartment.
And there you have the foundation of Apt 8 News, the brainchild of director and writer Kristofer Wellman. Two roommates, Alex (Chelsea Kurtz) and Jackie (Lizzie Bassett), present their domestic issues like breaking news, using the confines of their small apartment as the stage for physical comedy and emotional chaos, like a modern-day Laverne and Shirley. Wellman explains this mixture of tragedy and comedy has real-life origins.
“The idea came from the fact that a lot of my friends found their roommates on Craigslist, resulting in some pretty terrible match ups,” he says. “Whenever I would go to their house, there would be some update on the latest ongoing conflict. ‘Go see what he did to the sink. It's been like that for days.’ The problems were always small and petty, but they were being described as if they were devastating war crimes. Of course, the other roommate would be equally as pissed because his Greek yogurt was stolen or something, and there would be this constant game of ‘whose crisis is worse.’”
Crisis as comedy is the driving force of Apt 8 News. In one episode, Kurtz’s emotional breakdown over an ex, and the resulting distressed splatter of food and wine that ends up on their apartment wall, is repurposed as a weather report by Bassett. Casting the two stars wasn’t random: Wellman says the idea of two women reporting the chaos was funnier than two men.
“I wanted two women because I think two guys would be more willing to let things slide and not call each other out on it. Women can be just as filthy as men, if not worse, but I think men have the potential to ignore black mold in the shower for much longer to prove their manliness.”
In another episode, Bassett is lured to the apartment by her roommate’s texts about her grandma’s birthday cake, which she’s not supposed to touch. This is played out like an episode of To Catch a Predator, and the scene ends with the two women covered in cake, struggling on the floor. In fact, food drama is a consistent plot line of Apt 8 News.
“The food stuff was my idea,” Wellman contends, “but I have to commend Lizzie Bassett for being game to eat, and be covered in, just about anything in the name of comedy.” (Bassett recently left the show, but there will be a replacement roommate soon.)
Nick Douglas, Slacktory’s editor, came across Apt 8 News via Channel 101, the Los Angeles and New York-based screening series decided by viewer votes.
“Kris made a show that isn't just ‘funny for the Internet,’" he says. “I could easily imagine watching 22 minutes of Apt 8 News every week on TV.”
Slacktory’s content largely skews towards the montage and supercut; they’re pop-culture obsessives making videos for other pop-culture obsessives. But Douglas, a onetime Daily Dot contributor, says Apt 8 News is the kind of original programming they’re looking to engage more often. The love-hate relationship storyline of the sadly canceled Don’t Trust the B— in Apt 23 can be found in Apt 8, and so can its scene-driven absurdity. Douglas sees hints of another show.
"Apt 8 News reminds me of Community, whose creator Dan Harmon also started Channel 101,” he explains. “Its news-show format turns the mundane into the sensational, and wraps a genre around relatable everyday events to give them a satisfying narrative arc. It heightens the characters into heroes and villains, and it provides some clear concept episodes, like the most recent episode, a ‘special report’ from Alex locking herself in the bathroom.
“This fits perfectly into Slacktory's media-savvy point of view. Our supercuts and remixes already get millions of views by providing smart yet goofy commentary on pop culture. Now I want Slacktory to be just as well-known for our original comedy. I'm hunting for more shows like Apt 8 News, as well as one-off sketches and character portraits, that are just as compelling as our remixes.”
Next year, Slacktory’s releasing the second season of the original comedy series Tough Love, about two best friends (Blaire Wendel and Steven Bell) navigating New York City together. The first season was shot mainly in their apartment, but season 2 was able to expand the cast and locale. Douglas sees Slacktory more as a jumping off point.
“I want Slacktory to be the place where future Internet celebrities did their gritty early work, honed their talent, and took one step closer to building their own loyal audiences.”
Disclosure: The Daily Dot has a syndication partnership with Slacktory.
Screengrab via Apt 8 News/YouTube
As Will Ferrell and company blanket mainstream media and the Internet alike with promotional material for Anchorman 2 (which hits theaters Dec. 18) we're reminded of those real local TV news reporters whose on-air antics and mistakes got them unexpected—and often unwanted—Internet fame. With Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and other online communities constantly poised to share the next viral phenomenon, on-air TV personalities constantly find themselves under close watch.
Here are nine such broadcasters whom the Internet decided should be popular well beyond the boundaries of their respective cities.
1. Mark Mathis
In the world of Internet-famous local TV broadcasters, Mark Mathis is king. His hilariously unorthodox approach to weather forecasting in Charlotte, N.C.—which included costumes, rapping, and just plain yelling—made him a YouTube hit. His onscreen mania was unfortunately a side effect of alcoholism, for which he sought extensive treatment.
Today, he tours the country as a seminar speaker and is still on the air as a meteorologist in El Paso, Texas.
2. Brian Collins
In 2005, visibly nervous Ball State University freshman Brian Collins uttered four words that would go on to become an early Internet meme: "Boom Goes the Dynamite." First adopting the unusual phrase to describe a stellar basketball shot, Collins continued to use it throughout the remainder of his bumbling report.
These days, Collins works as a content producer at Premier Content Source in Cincinnati, Ohio
3. Sheinelle Jones & Mike Jerrick
Broadcasters often have to interview strange, bitter, or just plain stupid people—but few have expressed their opinions as blatantly as Philadelphia morning anchors Mike Jerrick and Sheinelle Jones. And who could blame them? Their interview subject was Olympic swimmer, reality TV star, and all-out buffoon Ryan Lochte. Lochte stuttered through the exchange with an extremely dopey demeanor and phrases like "My philosophy is if you're a man at night, you gotta be a man in the morning."
The second the interview was over, Jerrick and Jones simply lost it, laughing uncontrollably and commenting on Lochte's dimwitted answers.
4. Jennifer Livingston
TV news personalities regularly engage with their viewers through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. When one viewer took advantage of this to refer to La Crosse, Wis., reporter Jennifer Livingston as "obese" on Facebook, adding that she should reconsider her position as an on-air personality, the reporter decided to take a stand and reply.
Livingston addressed the hateful words and used the episode to further advance the ever-growing anti-bullying movement. Her response went viral on Facebook.
5. Tom Murphy
If Mark Mathis is ever looking for a successor, he may want to consider Alpena, Mich., weatherman Tom Murphy.
In February 2012, a sampling of Murphy flavoring his forecasts with hip-hop lyrics and pop culture references exploded on Reddit. In a medium that tends to cater to older generations, it's comforting to know that there is at least one person out there who will cleverly remix the weather report with Fat Joe lyrics.
6. Anderson Cooper
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is known on television for his hard-hitting journalism, reporting from the front lines of warfare, and a truly awful morning talk show. Online, he is well-known for exposing heinous subreddits and firing back at Twitter users who dare question his facts.
In 2012, when Twitter user Pamela Weiss attacked Cooper's reporting on rockets being fired in the Gaza Strip, he decided to set the record straight. A seasoned journalist, he dug into her Twitter history and responded.
7. A.J. Clemente
The first day on the job can always be rough, but almost no one had it as bad as A.J. Clemente during his first professional on-air stint in Bismarck, N.D. During the broadcast, Clemente uttered "fucking shit," unaware that he was still on air. In doing so, he broke one of the cardinal rules of TV news: Describing murders and fires in graphic detail is OK, but there is no place for foul language.
Clemente's gaffe, which got him fired immediately, exploded on YouTube, and his story was picked up by major media outlets, including NBC's Today Show and Late Show With David Letterman. He had gone from the rookie leagues to the big leagues in a matter of days—but not in the way that he wanted.
The seemingly blacklisted Clemente temporarily worked as a bartender in Los Angeles following the incident. According to a Nov. 27 tweet, he will soon be moving back to New York City to pursue his broadcasting career.
8. Melissa Theuriau
Thanks to sites like Fark and 4chan, French newscaster Melissa Theuriau became well-known outside of her home base of Paris in 2007. The explosion of her popularity wasn't due to her journalistic skills, but rather to her stunningly beautiful looks.
Theuriau lamented her fame, claiming that she was "absolutely not seeking this publicity." She is still on the air at M6 just outside of Paris.
9. Bob Herzog
Since traffic conditions in Cincinnati, Ohio, apparently never get too out of control, traffic reporter Bob Herzog decided to spice up his reports with everything from music to props like oversized glasses.
That's the latest on the Internet's favorite TV news personalities. Back to you in the studio.
Screengrab via tvdirector38/YouTube
Last night, around midnight, Beyoncé quietly released a self-titled album to iTunes. There was no marketing push, no promotion, no chance for certain critics to get an exclusive, no advance talk on Twitter or Facebook to dilute the release.
Beyonce has found that power that women start to feel in their 30's & i am here for it!!!!!!!!— Sister Outsider (@FeministGriote) December 13, 2013
This was something big: The virtual world was listening to it in real time and weighing in. Instead of seeing reviews on music blogs, we saw unfiltered reviews in the middle of the night, on Twitter (some 800,000 of them, as of this morning). There were no music-industry hierarchies to elbow out of the way. There was just us and Bey.
Beyonce did this as yall were wrapping up hair and at ur most vulnerable to let yall know u may be called upon at any time to serve— Bryan. (@GtMyAutographNw) December 13, 2013
The album is an extremely personal one, so it makes sense she would release it on her terms. From the first track, “Pretty Hurts,” she’s addressing body image and the media pageantry women endure: “Shine the light on whatever’s worst,” she sings. She’s also addressing women of color, a group that’s often dismissed when we discuss eating disorders and body-image issues.
On this album, Bey’s showing us artist, wife, mother. She’s also showing us we can be sex-positive (“Partition,” “Blow") and, literally, explicit about sexuality and pleasure. On Twitter, several women pointed out another message:
Whenever feminists talk about body image, they ignore Black and Brown girls. Beyonce directly spoke to an (almost always) ignored group— A$AP Feminist (@FeministaJones) December 13, 2013
And that extends to “Flawless,” on which she samples the TED Talk of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We tell girls, you can have ambition, but not too much.
A few tracks later, there’s “Blue,” a song about (and featuring) her young daughter Blue Ivy, and an extension of feminist thought and encouragement to the next generation of girls who run the world.
In addition to the tracks, Bey also released music videos to accompany the songs. In a time when artists are struggling to produce one possibly viral video for a song, she went and did 17. (You can find 30-second previews on her YouTube page.)
The videos link together as a feature-length picture of a woman in charge of, and exploring, her image. This is beyond Sasha Fierce. These are all the mirrors of Beyoncé: The video for “Flawless” is a celebration of womanhood, beauty, and her H-Town roots; “Grown Woman” features Bey and her mother sitting like royalty; “Pretty Hurts” offers images of how exactly women’s bodies are co-opted and broken down. I can’t say I’ve seen a video that straightforward, well, ever.
There's a lot to sift through, but this is a radical album, not just in message but in approach and push. She got us to presumably hand over $16 in the middle of the night, and less than 12 hours later, the album is currently No. 1 on iTunes.
If there’s a new model for releasing albums online, she might have just nailed it to the wall. Beyoncé is a grown woman, and she can do whatever she wants, as she just proved.
Screengrab via Beyoncé/YouTube
The latest addition to the team building the spiritual successor to Mega Man is facing a mega backlash online.
The drama surrounds artist and designer Dina Abou Karam, the new community manager for the Kickstarter-funded indie game Mighty No. 9. The project was started by Comcept USA, with a team of veteran developers led by Mega Man co-creator and illustrator Keiji Inafune. It has received $3.8 million from 67,000 backers.
Abou Karam was hired after she backed the project and created a piece of fan art depicting Beck—a protagonist with a striking resemblance to Mega Man—as female.
This illustration set other backers off, as did the introduction she made after she was hired:
“I've grown up on video games and have an undying passion for this magical medium,” Abou Karam wrote Monday. “I am a Zelda fanatic, a Tim Schafer lover (figuratively speaking), and an unrepentant Final Fantasy 8 hardliner. (No, that’s not a troll!) ;) Also, to clear up any forum confusion: Mega Man X is best Mega Man!”
Who was this woman, and why was she reimagining the main character in Mighty No. 9 as female? Did she have an agenda?
Some backers dove into her social media history, and they didn’t like what they found.
In tweets that have now been deleted, Abou Karam supported feminist ideals and allegedly admitted to having never played a Mega Man game in her life. She also linked to a video of Anita Sarkeesian, who faced sexist trolling after she successfully launched a Kickstarter to fund a Web series on sexism in games.
As Sarkeesian’s experience has shown, the gaming community often reacts with outright hostility to anyone who raises issues of gender representation in games, especially if that person is a woman.
Now Abou Karam is facing more of the same:
To top it off, YouTube user InternetAristocrat created the following 20-minute video to share his disgust.
“I feel really bad for these people,” InternetAristocrat said. “They gave a lot of money, $3.8 million. All they wanted, the only thing they asked for, was a successor to Mega Man. They just wanted a game to play. Now it seems like somebody with an agenda, somebody with an idea they want to push, is now in a position where they can get in between that dream, that desire, of the community and its realization in the hands of the actual developer of it.”
But there’s no evidence that Abou Karam’s “agenda” will affect the game at all.
Nowhere on the Kickstarter page for Mighty No. 9 does it say that the main character, or any supporting characters, will be female. Abou Karam is a community manager, not one of the game’s developers, and she hasn’t used the game’s official social media channels to share her personal views.
Abou Karam joins the likes of Sarkeesian, developer Zoe Quinn, and countless others who have been mistreated by the video game community, despite the fact that women account for 45 percent of gamers. This needs to change. And Comcept USA has taken the right step.
Update: In the Mighty No. 9 forums, the company has officiallly clarified that its new community manager won't be influencing the content of the game.
"Will the community manager be skewing things the way they would personally like to see the game? Will the community manager ignore views that don’t match with their own personal ideals? Will the community manager lose the community’s desires due to unfamiliarity with the type of game we are making? Will the community manager be creating their own robots and levels and programming, or changing the game in any way, from what the core creative team wants?! A lot of these or similar questions have been raised.
The good news is that the answer, in all cases, is no.
The job of the community manager is to act as a conduit between the community and the team – basically help keep the team filled in on what all of you are talking about, and help keep all of you filled in on what’s going on with the team internally. A community manager who filtered this process to further any personal agenda would not, by definition, be a community manager! :) and the fact that they were doing so would be immediately obvious to the team, who is plugged into the community in more ways than one.
When it comes to feedback, a Community Manager needs to be detached and impartial, and rest assured, Dina is and will be (in fact, one of the first bits of feedback she passed along were the concerns some had about how she would work in her new role, which is why I’m posting this here, today. :)"
Photo via Kickstarter
This just in: Miley Cyrus has come out in support of nipples.
And it’s actually for a really good cause. She posted a selfie on her Twitter account holding what can only be described as a boobie monocle in support of Free the Nipple, an indie film that challenges the disparity in U.S. media censorship when it comes to violence versus the naked female form.
A trailer for the film asks, “What is more obscene, violence or a nipple?”
Miley, having been known to flaunt her unclothed form now and again, lent her support to efforts to release the film, bringing it to the attention of her nearly 16 million Twitter followers.
The film itself is finished but in limbo while filmmaker Lina Esco looks for ways to get it to general audiences. She launched a Fund Anything campaign to create a direct distribution path after the MPAA, apparently missing the point, tried to give Free the Nipple an NC-17 rating, essentially a “kiss of death” when it comes to traditional means of release.
“To bypass the MPAA's rating system, I've teamed up with a crowdfunding company as a next-level marketing and distribution platform to reach the audience directly,” Esco wrote in a column on the Huffington Post. “I want people to see the film I intended to make not some Puritanical version that the MPAA feels is appropriate for American audiences. It's hard enough getting a film made in this world, without being censored in a country that ironically prides itself on freedom.”
She goes on to point out her censorship problems aren’t just from the Hollywood censorship machine. Even Facebook removed photos she posted of the film production because they contained (gasp) boobies.
Fortunately, Esco will have a lot more luck bringing attention to sexist censorship practices now that she’s got Miley’s ladyparts on her side.
BY NADJA SAYEJ
A screenshot of Cache Monet
On Nov. 13, the Brooklyn-based interactive creative Tim Nolan launched Cache Monet, a retro site filled with 1990s-inspired GIFs. In three weeks, he had over 880,000 visits, received offers from galleries, and sold a four-minute video clip to a social network founder for over $3,000.
He's inspired by the unusual combination of computer caches and impressionist painter Claude Monet, and the result of this eclectic blend aims to be autonomous and generative. The website is a mixture of curation by Universal Scene, code by Lasse Korsgaard, and music by Jib Kidder.
Cache Monet's unending loop of GIFs, both custom made and hand-picked from Tumblr, are hinged on net nostalgia. Everything from MS Dos to potato chips, VHS and Windows XP capture a time when Nolan first saw the internet as exciting, experimental and fun to explore, and this focus brings an old school vibe to the work.
One retro GIF makes up the foreground, and another the background.
While digital art is undoubtedly popular, it can be notoriously difficult to sell in an increasingly conservative art market. As the Digital Art Collection notes, only a handful of collections worldwide focus exclusively on digital art. But at the same time, Rhizome reports that collecting contemporary art has to mean buying digital art.
Nolan has a day job at an ad agency, but Cache Monet is nevertheless a good example of how digital artists can profit outside the typical art world, where galleries take up to 50 percent of artist’s profits: Selling your work online means removing that middle man.
Nolan spoke to me from his studio about curating Tumblr, 'net nostalgia, and why he remains hopeful about the future of digital art.
Read the full interview on Motherboard.
You may recall that last month saw a grassroots Internet campaign to resurrect Brian, an acerbic talking dog from the animated sitcom Family Guy, who was summarily killed and replaced in a stunt-promotional episode. One misguided soul allegedly got a memorial tattoo.
Trouble is, as of last night, Brian’s back from the dead, thanks to the time-traveling intervention of megalomaniacal baby and best friend Stewie Griffin. After the episode aired, show creator Seth MacFarlane, who also provides Brian’s voice, pushed a sanctimonious reading of the bizarre story arc on Twitter:
And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) December 16, 2013
Gone in a flash, risen from the grave, whatever! As long as we're learning about reality from cartoons. But MacFarlane wasn’t content merely to spell out the maudlin meaning of these plot twists; he also had to ridicule fans for falling into his trap (i.e., expecting logical narrative continuity).
I mean, you didn't really think we'd kill off Brian, did you? Jesus, we'd have to be fucking high.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) December 16, 2013
Yes, why couldn’t you guess what these hacks were really up to? Gosh, it’s like you didn’t even get a copy of the script back in pre-production. As an added bonus, this post serves to further undermine what MacFarlane had just held to be the point of the whole exercise. Your loved ones may vanish in an instant, but if they do, it’s likely just an elaborate ploy for attention.
There was one final smarmy comment to be made, however.
Oh and hey... thanks for caring so much about the canine Griffin. He is overcome with gratitude.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) December 16, 2013
Indeed, a heartfelt thank you to anyone so irrationally attached to a fictional TV character that they find the time to write petitions about him—it’s that level of dedication that has made Seth MacFarlane, who clearly thinks you’re a bunch of idiots there to be toyed with for his own amusement, a very wealthy man. Though he probably could have made more money with the rumored spinoff series that turned out to be a hoax. Next time!
Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr
A little more than a year ago, no-longer-teen heartthrob Cole Sprouse, who starred on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody alongside his twin brother Dylan, caused an uproar by pulling the plug on his Tumblr and announcing it had been some ill-conceived, data-mining, sociological experiment (or head game) all along.
Now it’s Dylan who finds himself on the wrong side of the social media platform, for a different reason: A young lady posted his nude selfies on her blog. (NSFW, clearly.)
Despite the amateurish photos—sexts really ought to feature a setting other than “depressing NYU dorm bathroom,” and a visible erection might be preferable to clutching your genitals like you’re defending a free kick in soccer—Sprouse took the doxing with good cheer, both on Twitter and his own Tumblr account. He even reblogged a popular list of the best social media reactions thus far.
Whoops, guess I'm not 14 and fat anymore— Dylan Sprouse (@dylansprouse) December 16, 2013
I messed up... but I'd be a fool not to own up to it. Got to move past it I suppose— Dylan Sprouse (@dylansprouse) December 16, 2013
move past it in a sexy way tho ~~ pic.twitter.com/rG7mgjyvZM— Dylan Sprouse (@dylansprouse) December 16, 2013
At least you can't see my third testicle— Dylan Sprouse (@dylansprouse) December 16, 2013
Sprouse’s diehard followers found a lot to love in his self-deprecation but weren’t quick to forgive the girl who had betrayed his trust. Fan site Sprouseable posted a photoset of the supposed culprit with the caption “I believe this is the girl that leaked Dylan’s nudes. Her tumblr is distinctpromises.tumblr.com. I’m normally very respectful of people’s privacy but I think she already crossed that line.”
The URL, of course, led to a deleted blog, though as the Sprouses have both discovered, rejecting fame doesn’t mean that fame is done with you.
An unlikely celebrity has come to the forefront of a debate about transformative art and plagiarism: Shia LaBeouf.
When LaBeouf’s short film HowardCantour.com was made available online this week, people immediately began noticing similarities to a comic by acclaimed graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. In fact, not just similarities. Some parts seemed to have been lifted directly from Clowes’ book Justin M. Damiano, dialogue and all.
Clowes isn’t credited on the film, or mentioned in any of the original publicity materials. Even if you go for the charitable explanation that LaBeouf meant the film to be a partial adaptation, HowardCantour.com was promoted as “a film by Shia LaBeouf,” which doesn’t really leave much room for misunderstanding. LaBeouf was obliged to make some kind of public statement, but he did it in the worst way possible: by using language that may actually have been copied from another source.
Yes, that’s right. It seems like LaBeouf’s plagiarism apology may actually have been plagiarised itself.
Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
Im embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
LaBeouf actually has four other directing credits to his name, so “naive amateur filmmaker” may be pushing it a little, but then there’s the fact that one of these apology tweets looks suspiciously similar to a Yahoo! Answers post from four years ago. In a discussion about the difference between plagiarism and artistic influence, one Yahoo! poster wrote: “Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work, and it may even revolutionalize the ‘stolen’ concept.” Sound familiar?
Now, this may just be an incredibly weird coincidence. It might also be a vaguely trollish meta joke, referencing that other time Shia LaBeouf plagiarised someone else’s words during a public Twitter apology. But right now, the simplest explanation is that he thinks he can still get away with copying other people’s writing word-for-word.
In light of the many people who are now retweeting copies of the original Yahoo! Answers post LaBeouf allegedly plagiarised, it seems like his final apology tweet is even more relevant than before.
I fucked up.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
Photo via ibwk/Flickr
Never has a redhead incited more fervor than Nicholas Brody, the Marine turned terrorist turned CIA asset turned who-really-even-knows-anymore on Homeland.
His and Carrie Mathison’s doomed relationship plotline, along with the twists and turns masterminded by acting CIA director Saul Berenson, have taken the must-watch aspects of the tightly honed first two seasons and turned them into hate-watch rubbernecking from critics and fans alike, with one bombastic reveal after another.
But if executive producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon know how to do one thing, it’s how to keep an audience engaged. And Sunday night’s finale may have finally restored Homeland to its former gut-wrenching glory. [Note: Spoilers abound for season 3, as well as Sunday night’s finale.]
To understand the backlash toward the recently wrapped third season, it’s important to remember that the second season of Homeland wasn’t without its fair share of criticism. The Abu Nazir terrorist plotline, which culminated in him not only coming to the United States but controlling Damian Lewis’ twitchy Brody via Skype phone calls (with clarity never seen in real life on a Blackberry), was just one of the story arcs that felt like it moved in a direction that didn’t jibe with the intentionally slow storylines from the first season. But if season 2 took some creative liberties, season 3 chose to throw every manner of plot twist in that it could, stopping just short of renaming the show M. Night Shyamalan Presents: Homeland. Throw in a clunky storyline about Dana Brody doing what she does best—needlessly brooding—and it was a recipe for disaster.
It was right around episode four of the third season, when viewers found out that Carrie’s most recent involuntary psych ward commitment (something we saw once before at the end of season 1—back then it felt shocking and fresh) was actually masterminded by her and Saul in the wake of the Langley bombings, that the call for Gansa and Gordon’s head became loud and pronounced.
Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan, one of the most vocal critics of the show’s latest season, wrote, “I know that Homeland is unstable and changeable, but I can't escape the feeling I'm seeing it start to really go off the rails.”
The twists piled on at that point, careening wildly deeper into madness: Saul finds Brody where Carrie hid him deep in Venezuela! Farah finds a trail of $45 million embezzled from Iran! Despite plotting against the United States multiple times, Brody becomes a CIA asset! Bruce Willis is actually a ghost himself! Oh wait, that last one was Shyamalan again. These plot twists are hard to keep up with.
And it was the twists that seemed to almost do the season in—against all odds, everything seemed to keep coming up Carrie, despite the fact that counterterrorism just doesn’t work that way. And for a show that started so grounded in reality with just flashes of shock value, so poetically placed, they actually did mirror the poor choices we make in our everyday lives. It’s hard for a loyal viewer to suddenly accept the tonal shift. As Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz said in his finale recap, “If Homeland had more of a sense of humor about its ridiculousness, we might have accepted such events as examples of nightmare logic rather than trying to poke holes in their plausibility.”
Yet the events of the finale—namely, the fact that none of our major players got the major victories they’d been striving for, despite a season of implausible victories along the way—may be what brings Homeland back to some of its former grace. Brody dies. After inexplicably avoiding death and incarceration for multiple seasons, despite literally being in the clutches of both the CIA and the Iranian government, it had become a foregone conclusion that the tortured ex-Marine would find a way to slip out of trouble yet again. But he doesn’t. He dies, in a manner befitting a war criminal, strung up in a public square for all to judge him for his perceived sins.
Saul doesn’t become director of the CIA. Sen. Lockhart, designed specifically to be hated, prevails. Despite being hallowed as “The Maestro,” Saul receives nothing for his work other than being warned to not let the door hit him on the way out. For a man who received two huge victories in the closing moments of episodes 10 and 11 when he was convinced he had failed—finding that Brody infiltrated the Iranian border, and then had murdered the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard—it was almost expected that the closing moments of episode 12 would give Saul some sort of victory over Sen. Lockhart. But it didn’t. Even in his return to Washington, D.C., we see little conversation among fellow coworkers and Saul. He is a specter where he once used to be a bear.
As for Carrie, even though she earned the title of youngest ever station chief (as Saul suggested she might at the close of the second season), did she really get what she wanted? As she talked to her sister about giving up her and Brody’s baby, she cried out what she really felt: “I’m scared. And I’m sad.”
And thus comes the redemption of Homeland. Argue all you want about whether the choices made this season were creative liberties taken by the mercy of earned victories in seasons past or grave errors in storytelling that alienated a loyal fanbase, but the finale finally melted the waxen wings of a season that flew too close to the sun. And by doing so, it grounded the show back in reality, because it would be too trite (and at this point, almost too expected) for everything to work out in favor of any of our flawed protagonists.
The comeuppance was necessary: Brody’s needs no rationalization, nor does Carrie’s. Saul’s bears some analysis: For someone so beloved and smart to fall flat on his face makes no sense, but as brilliant as Saul was this season, he was also ruthless. We saw hints of this in season 1, when he wearily chose his career over his marriage, but for a man willing to sacrifice his protege for a harebrained shot at an asset, no parades can be commissioned just yet.
Bringing everyone back to square one was the reboot both the characters and the fans needed, to allow us to believe that Homeland might one day be just as good as it was before.
Photo via Homeland Tumblr
iTunes just pulled something that a few years prior was unthinkable: they released a score of obscure Beatles songs.
Apple made 59 previously-unavailable tracks from the Fab Four available for paid download Tuesday, the majority of them outtakes from live BBC performances. But many have pointed out that there’s a conspicuous timing to the move: every single one of those live songs is from 1963.
It used to be the case under EU law that a song recording could be copyrighted for 50 years after it was taken, meaning those Beatles songs would be available now. But thanks to a revision in 1993, that got bumped an extra 20 years, with a catch: those recordings actually have to be released.
With apparently no options left, Universal Records has decided to bring you the gift of previously unreleased Beatles songs, all for the low low price of $39.99.
It’s not the first time. In January, Sony Music did the same thing with Bob Dylan songs, but was even more blatant, titling the record “The Copyright Extension Collection” and only releasing 100 physical copies.
So if you’re a Beatles fan, go ahead and thank the copyright lobbyists in Europe who only forced Universal to make those songs available for purchase. Because if everyone followed U.S. law, The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 wouldn’t enter the public domain until at least 2067.
Photo via jacilluch/Flickr
Aaron Paul will do a lot for his fans (especially in the name of charity), and now he’s brought two of them that much closer to holy matrimony.
According to Chicagoist, Jason Lord won a personalized video from Paul after donating to his wife’s charity. Like Matt Hulbert, who recruited Zach Braff into helping propose to his girlfriend in July, Lord decided to use his video message to surprise his girlfriend Jackie Prater, whose favorite actor is Paul.
Lord first recruited friends to perform Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” on Sunday, a song that has been an inside joke for the couple since they started dating three years ago.
Some elaborate proposals might have stopped there, but to Prater’s surprise, Paul came on the screen afterwards to introduce the all-important question.
Not many people would be able to get away with saying “yeah bitch” to a newly-engaged couple, but Jesse Pinkman’s real-life counterpart might be one of them.
Almost seven years after it was founded, Tumblr encompasses more than 155 million blogs and nearly 70 billion posts, an eclectic network of rebloggable words, sound, and visual content that spans the globe. At this point, most users maintain a diary- or scrapbook-like blog, mixing various media to create a uniquely personal feed, but others take a very specific idea and spin it out to its logical extreme, maintaining a consistent format for each carefully curated post.
The so-called single-serving Tumblr is, in some ways, a vestige of the platform’s more experimental past, when many users were still anonymous and figuring out what would attract new followers. Today, the most common posts tend to be text jokes or GIF sets that receive hundreds of thousands of notes, though it still takes just a drop of novelty for a single-serving blog to to go viral. (See this year’s briefly if intensely popular Hot-Dog Legs, for example.)
Other such projects, however, never break through to mass popularity, which doesn’t mean they don’t deserve some recognition. Here, then, in the interest of a comprehensive accounting, are the Daily Dot’s 10 essential single-serving Tumblrs—some runaway successes, some sleeper hits—from 2013.
Add them to your dashboard or risk pop-cultural irrelevance. Your call!
Nostalgia-Packed: 70s Sci-Fi Art
Tumblr is a hotspot for assorted fandoms in part because it provides countless esoteric niches. The art of the book cover is touched upon by numerous blogs, including Googly Eye Books and Cover Spy, but perusing this archive of dazzling sci-fi illustrations from the 1970s—well before CGI advances and the rise of cyberpunk conspired to saddle any fiction set in the far or not-so-distant future with horribly limp and generic mass-market imagery—is a rare delight. And while scrolling through its pages is akin to running your fingers along the spines that fill an obscure and dusty library shelf, the material is hardly limited to books: There are also frames of animation, standalone paintings, and even a space-themed Romanian stamp.
Stranger Than Fiction: How May We Hate You?
This blog became a smash hit overnight, if not in the space of a single afternoon, and it’s not difficult to see why. Run by two concierges who are constantly pushed to the breaking point by the dumb tourists who stay at their Times Square hotels, the blog now takes submissions of ridiculous customer service conversations from a wide range of hospitality professionals facing unbelievable questions, requests, and downright rudeness.
Read a few of these entries and you’ll wonder how anyone constantly instructed to make day-of reservations for a nationally famous restaurant keeps their head from exploding. Also, quick tip: That “place where there is no buildings”? We just call that “the 9/11 memorial.”
Just Plain Cutest: Corgis Begging For Stuff
The Internet loves Corgis; they may be the lone breed of dog that can challenge cats for dominance of the Web. With their stubby legs, roly-poly bodies, perky ears, and intelligent faces, they’re truly the total canine package and consistently achieve near-fatal levels of cuteness (as almost every listicle-based website has deduced).
The little buggers are especially adorable when putting on a show in pursuit of assorted treats, and human food in particular: There are hind-leg balancing acts and slack jaws, wide eyes and hangdog expressions, and no two Corgis beg alike. Will that one ever get ahold of the baby carrot in his master’s hand? Can this one stretch far enough to sample the sub sandwich sitting on the coffee table? Rest assured: One simply doesn’t say no to that face.
Coolest Videos: Body God
This dude scrapped a similar blog about a year ago but has continued to produce some of the finest, strangest video content the platform has to offer. Mining shimmery old R&B and pop songs, he loops musical and lyrical phrases of decades past against distorted vintage footage from obscure films, MTV videos, and commercials.
The results are short, slick, and above all catchy bursts of repetitive sounds and colors that slowly reveal the odd nuances of their source materials even as they recombine into something fresh and hallucinatory. In a landscape where DJ mashups have become a bit passé, Body God’s supersensory experiments are a step into the realm of serious art.
Conceptual Triumph: Printed Internet
In 2013, there were a lot of pixels spent gushing over “BuzzFeed Minus GIFs,” which stripped the site’s viral and heavily visual listicles of everything save their mind-numbing text. But Daniel Kolitz’s off-kilter, collage-based, skewering assault on all forms of Internet writing, from Facebook to the New York Times, and yes, even BuzzFeed, puts all other media criticism to shame.
Typed up as satirical riffs in a given outlet’s style or voice, then cut-and-pasted together with the website’s familiar layout and logos, and finally scanned and uploaded to the blog, each piece crystallizes something awful if not utterly inhuman about online discourse. Thankfully, it’s also funny as hell. Where else could you find the Vice column “Hello, I Work For A Regional Sporting Goods Chain In Delaware”?
All-Around Saddest: The Worst Room
Simultaneously a comfort to anyone dissatisfied with their apartment and a scathing indictment of the real estate industry in the city of New York—and, eventually, everywhere else—the Worst Room collects some of the dingiest, drabbest, most depressing images of hovels being sold as living spaces, whether they be converted closets, poorly constructed lofts, or just a cobwebbed crawlspace under some stairs.
The digs are insulting enough, but combined with the felonious asking prices and revealing amenities (what renter could do without a “window to the hallway for ventilation,” really), there’s not much you can do besides shake your head out of shame for the entire human race.
Weirdest Webcomic: Garfbert
Squeaking in toward the end of the year, Garfbert is undoubtedly worthy of a master’s thesis on remix culture. Garfield, a lasagna-addicted housecat, and Dilbert, a meek engineering drone, may be two tired cartoon characters run into the ground over decades—and the former already once reimagined as an illusion projected by his owner, with creator Jim Davis’ blessing—but Garfbert breathes new life into both with a surrealistically deadpan and shakily penned deconstruction of the comic strip medium itself.
Will we ever see the final panel coming? Will “Jim Jadams,” author of the series, eventually run afoul of intellectual property lawyers? The only thing we know for sure is that newspapers really ought to be syndicating this stuff while they can.
Outstanding Image Macros Award: Porn Hub Comments on Stock Photos
The Internet has had a lot of fun with stilted, awkward stock photos in the past (“Women Laughing Alone With Salad,” anyone?). Meanwhile, the rise of streaming, YouTube-clone pornography sites has resulted in a deluge of horny, not-at-all proofread, and in some cases truly disturbing anonymous comments on human anatomy or intercourse. Pair the two brilliantly and you’ve got this inspired blog, which finds an appropriate face for every filthy remark.
Follow it long enough and soon everyone staring at an open laptop in a coffee shop will start to seem on the verge of noisy public masturbation. They may also criticize any nearby breasts.
Most Elegant GIFs: Museum GIFs
Here are your typical options: Pay the exorbitant asking price at a museum and try to see every exhibit in just a few hours, or look up some still images of the institution’s most famous possessions. Museum GIFs falls somewhere in between, giving us a lively, almost stereoscopic view of not just priceless paintings and historical artifacts but the rarified air and space of the museum itself.
It’s impossible not to feel, when watching the pool water ripple in the Met’s hall of ancient Egyptian art, like you aren’t standing there yourself. Static works, meanwhile—this Edward Hopper classic, for example—become the subject of sensuous animations that elucidate the play of form, line, light, and shadow.
Seriously, WTF: MИLOCEЯDИE
Unlike the other entries on this list, MИLOCEЯDИE—styled as “miloserdie” on the Tumblr dashboard—has been around for a while. It really seemed to take off in 2013, however, as Western users began to delve into its eye-popping, often NSFW archives. Mainly a blog of uncaptioned, decidedly low-quality snapshots, along with the occasional video clip, it provides glimpses into what we can only assume are the lives of ordinary Russians: cuddling with bear cubs, wearing hats made of garbage, brandishing oversized handguns, and creating some of the worst (but therefore best) Photoshops on the planet. The lack of context is key here: You’ll never know why someone is lying in a puddle, or what mystery meat they’re enjoying with their vodka, but you certainly won’t be bored.
Illustration by Jason Reed
Brini Maxwell is showing me how to fold a pair of slacks. In her YouTube segment, The Maxwell Moment, she's demonstrating how to properly hang up a pair of trousers—not pants, she explains with a polite titter, “because in England, pants means, well, unmentionables”—without creasing them. A cool blonde in a cream-colored sheath and a colorful Pucci imitation scarf, she has the soft-spoken, mid-Atlantic-infused timbre of a 1940s MGM contract star and the composure of a Milhouse-dazed, Eisenhower-era housewife.
“Its very important when you’re hanging up a pair of trousers that you don’t close the front closure before putting it on the hanger,” she says.
If I watched a video of anyone else teaching me how to fold pants, I’d be bored to tears. But when Maxwell folds pants (sorry, trousers), mundane household tasks become almost glamorous.
Described as the love child of Martha Stewart and 1950s sitcom star Donna Reed, Brini Maxwell is a retro-inspired domestic goddess whose YouTube channel is a library of household how-tos: how to fold a napkin, how to practice hot tub etiquette, how to finish an antique wall unit, how to make the perfect Old Fashioned. (She also has a line of home design products, Felix Populi, including pillows, linens, bath products, and DIY crafting kits.)
Earlier this month, Brini released an ebook, Have A Ball With Brini (part of a series called Here’s How by Brini Maxwell), that advises readers on how to make the perfect spherical foods for entertaining guests.
Today, there are literally millions of YouTube channels, Etsy vendors, and Pinterest users embracing the DIY crafting trend, teaching you how to do everything from fold napkins to making earrings out of bedazzled tampons. Yet Brini Maxwell, in many ways, precedes them all: Since 1996, she’s been taping her home and lifestyle show, The Brini Maxwell Show, which later aired on the Style Channel for two seasons.
Created and performed by Ben Sander, an FIT grad with a passion for all things mid-century modern, The Brini Maxwell Show aired on public access cable television—which he says was “the YouTube of its day”—during the mid to late '90s. The character was inspired by Sander’s love for all things midcentury modern, as well as his parents, a theatrical professor and an actress who threw glamorous faculty parties when Sander was growing up in the Midwest.
“It’s that sense of midcentury graciousness, that style of entertaining that has fallen out of favor with a large portion of the population, that’s looked at with nostalgia these days,” Sander says of the inspiration behind Brini.
Originally conceived as a jet-setting woman of the world called “Tigs van der Veer,” Brini Maxwell came about by combining the first name of a character from a 1980s Stefanie Powers TV movie with the last name of Barbra Streisand’s role in Sander’s favorite movie, What’s Up, Doc? The pilot, a segment on how to make Swedish meatballs, was produced in 1996. It also marked the first appearance of Maxwell’s hapless sidekick, Mary Ellen, played by New York City drag legend Thom “Panzi” Hansen, whom Sander describes as a “proxy” for the American public.
“She’s the one who always asks, ‘Why are we doing this? Why aren’t we just throwing some crackers on a plate?’” Sander says. “It gives Brini the opportunity to explain there’s something nice about taking your time and making things happen in pretty ways.”
In its early days, The Brini Maxwell Show was shot in Sander’s retro Chelsea apartment (Sander’s mother helped direct), reflecting the unpolished, do-it-yourself aesthetic that’s currently seen on most YouTube channels. Yet the show was an instant hit, which Sander attributes in part to his platform on public access television.
“At the time, the content I was producing for public access was so far beyond what anyone else was putting out there. It immediately became a sensation because no one had seen anything like it,” he says. “So I didn’t really have to promote anything. It’s harder to do that on YouTube today. There’s so much content and so much of it is well-produced and some of it isn’t, but it’s a broader, bigger field and it’s harder to stand out.”
In 2004, the show was picked up by the Style Network, where it ran for two seasons. Sander then launched video and audio podcasts for the character, as well as a line of home design products. Sander, a lifelong crafter, also appeared in character to lead craft workshops nationwide—his passion for “taking raw material and turning them into something useful or pretty” aligning with the widespread popularization of online DIY craft culture a few years ago.
“I am really glad to see that crafting has become more popular, and the Internet is a great place to foster that kind of content because it’s something that’s searchable and people can really have interact with its creators,” Sander says. “I’ve always thought it was fun to incorporate that into the character, to capitalize on that aspect of homemaking. I don’t think I can take any credit for the explosion of the whole genre online, but I certainly took part in it.”
Sander’s passion for midcentury modern, exemplified by the sleek, candy-colored, kitschy-classy aesthetic of Maxwell’s apartment and wardrobe (much of which consists of pieces Sander sewed himself), also preceded the trend of cultural nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s, years before Mad Men, ModCloth, and Etsy vintage vendors popularized retro chic. Where the character may have seemed like a campy novelty or delightfully regressive blast from the past a few years ago, today Maxwell seems more in step with our nostalgia-crazy cultural milieu.
For his part, Sander is pleased by the cultural tendency to nostalgize the recent past, or at least he understands the impulse to do so. “There’s a sense of appreciation for the glamour of that era in today’s sweatshirt and sweatpants way of going about our daily lives,” he says. “Travel was glamorous, people dressed up to go out to dinner. People liked the idea of caring about things and making choices that are about presenting yourself to other people in a positive light, and we’re certainly taking things in a different direction now.”
Yet Sander—and, by extension, his cool, elegant, long-stemmed alter ego—is keeping an eye toward the future as well. “Socially we’re moving forward with leaps and bounds,” says Sander, who was recently ordained to perform same-sex weddings and plans to devote his follow-up ebook to the subject.
“We’re in a place now where we can better appreciate the past. A lot of the things that I talk about and feature on the show, that were considered bourgeois and ordinary and mundane, now when you look at them in perspective with the time, they seem unique and exotic. I like that I can take those things and present them to a new audience.
"It’s that distance between then and now that makes them interesting.”
Screengrab via BriniMaxwell/YouTube