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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Is “pulling a Beyoncé” the new business model for musicians?

    On Friday, Bey pulled off quite the feat, and covertly released her latest album online. She made people dust off their iTunes account, and collectively listen and weigh in, while enraging some big box stores in the process. Today, rapper Angel Haze took the same approach, though not so covertly.

    The link included in her tweet led to the Soundcloud for her new album, Dirty Gold. It wasn’t up for long before the tracks disappeared.

    So sorry to Island/Republic Records, but fuck you. I got here doing this for my fans and if you guys don't feel the same, it won't stop me.

    Gotta love that @AngelHaze's label works hardest for her when they scramble to kill her leak lol. Everything she said = #cosign

    Haze publicly bucked against label fuckery, and they tried to wipe up the leak, but not before she got the Internet talking about her album.

    According to Pitchfork, Dirty Gold was scheduled for March release, but in this new age of Twitter leaks, all bets are off. In an interview with Billboard on Dec. 9, Haze’s manager, Nicola Carson, has this to say:

    "If I didn't have Angel on lockdown, she'd just put [the album] up there," Carson says with a laugh. "She wants people to hear it now. She's so caught up in the moment and the creative space. She doesn't get caught up in the politics."

    Point, Angel Haze?

    Image via

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    In yet another attempt by Twitter to infiltrate every screen you own, Lionsgate announced today that it’ll be turning Nick Bilton’s book Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power and Friendship into a TV show. Bilton will be penning the script, and while it hasn’t been sold to a network yet, it’s not going to stop us from speculating on just who should be pulling a Jesse Eisenberg and starring in this trainwreck.

    Evan “Ev” Williams

    The Bilton bio:“The ambitious farm boy … who had already created Blogger and sold it to Google for millions … Ev is a shrewd businessman who made tough choices in the interest of his companies, firing cofounders and employees who were once friends.”

    Dream Casting: Zach Gilford. Perfection as a farm boy turned star quarterback Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights, but before you write him off as too sensitive, remember that he moved across the country without even telling his girlfriend, in pursuit of his dreams. Ice cold.

    Backup Casting: Jesse Plemons (right). Who better to play second fiddle if Gilford is unavailable than the guy who played second fiddle to Gilford?

    Jack Dorsey

    The Bilton bio:“The tattooed ‘nobody’ who helped mastermind the original concept of Twitter, became a billionaire tech titan, and convinced the media that he was the next Steve Jobs.”

    Dream Casting: Shia LaBeouf. Let’s be honest, LaBeouf went from the awkward, nerdy kid on Even Stevens to the smug asshole with the most punchable face in town. Factor in his latest bouts with plagiarism, and we’re giving LaBeouf the role he was born to play.

    Backup Casting: Andrew Garfield, because not only does he deserve a tech victory, but he can slam a laptop to the ground with the best of them.

    Christopher “Biz” Stone

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

    The Bilton bio:“The joker and diplomat who played nice with everyone … He was the only founder who remained on good terms with his friends and to this day has no enduring resentments.”

    Dream Casting: Chris Evans. As his recent cameo in Thor: The Dark World proves, even in tiny doses, Evans is endearing, lovable, and insanely hot. This might be a show about nerds, but we’re still in Hollywood folks.

    Backup Casting: Channing Tatum. Breckin Meyer. The golden retriever from Air Bud.

    Noah Glass

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

    The Bilton bio:“The shy but energetic geek who invested his whole life in Twitter, only to be kicked out and expunged from the company’s official history.”

    Dream Casting: Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Despite recent attempts at bad-assery in movies like Kick-Ass and Fright Night, only McLovin’ could bring effortless uncool to the part. Plus, Michael Cera has become a real douche lately. 

    Backup Casting: Ben Whishaw. Head of research and development in Skyfall, we’ll just pretend we don’t know that he’s about to tackle the role of Freddie Mercury as well.

    We’ve also taken the liberty of suggesting the supporting cast that should populate Bilton’s fiction-not-fiction universe:

    The Long-Overdue Female Board Member

    In a ripped from the headlines story arc, Bilton can focus on the backlash Twitter received over its all-male board, before naming Marjorie Scardino to the board as well.

    Dream Casting: Helen Mirren. We know she has the gravitas to play the role seriously, but if Lionsgate goes in a comedy direction with this, let’s not forget that the beloved Dame was also in the woefully underrated Teaching Mrs. Tingle.

    Backup Casting: Glenn Close. Have you seen Damages? There is no one better to instill fear in the hearts of overpaid men than Patty Hewes. 

    The Hoodie-Wearing Head of a Rival Company That Rhymes With Facebook, But Isn’t Facebook, Really (OK, It’s Facebook)

    Dream Casting: Jim Parsons. Given CBS’ target demographic, and the fact that Facebook has quickly become where our parents go, The Big Bang Theory’s Parsons is the smart money for the tech whiz who’s slowly being left in the dust.

    Backup Casting: Shia LaBeouf. We cannot emphasize enough just how smugly superior he is.

    The Token Asian Girl

    She exists as a trope to pass out witticisms and blowjobs in almost any movie or TV show about startups. Bilton would be remiss not to throw her in the mix.

    Dream Casting: That girl from The Social Network. Or that girl from New Girl. Or maybe the girl from Dads? Oh wait, they’re all the same girl! Good job, Hollywood, you’ve tokenized the hilarious Brenda Song.

    Backup Casting: Lucy Liu as a Marissa Mayer–type mogul, looking to buy out the company in its early days.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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    Last night marked the end of the Best Show on WFMU, after 13 years on the air, and the Internet support around it showed just how special and influential the Tuesday night radio show was to many people.

    I was turned on to the show through friends who had a radio show in Austin, and though their call-in comedy was a bit different than host Tom Scharpling’s, their approach was the same: The devotion to bits, the inner circle references. When Scharpling’s left brain Jon Wurster would call in as one of his characters, the sketch came together. Riffing and improvisation on a radio call-in show isn’t easy, but Scharpling and Wurster were old pros.  

    The first time I heard the show was a bit featuring Paul F. Tompkins, in which he and Scharpling listened and reacted to the promotional commercial for the Gathering of the Juggalos, circa 2009. They just couldn’t keep it together, and by the end, I was in tears with them. That’s sort of how the show worked, how it drew in fans.

    And Best Show fans were, and are, devoted, as the #BestShowForLife hashtag making the rounds last night and today proved. The show was about extended family, and those learning about it for the first time never felt excluded. Here’s what one listener wrote today:

    “The show is like a friend or a blanket. It’s comforting and dependable. It radiates kindness even when Tom Scharpling is hanging up on callers. I consider it a feminist show, and Scharpling is a feminist art hero to me. This may be my delusional own thing, but sexism is called out for sure and my existence is never the butt of a joke. A few weeks ago a caller called in to thank Tom for his non-sexist humor. I may have cried.”

    Everyone found something to relate to on the show, and she’s right, it is very much a feminist show, as well as a show for music fans, and pop culture fans. And it lasted more than a decade, so it was able to span several iterations of online social network revolutions. But it was its own social network.

    And their fans knew just the right way to pay tribute:

    If you’ve never heard the show, you can roll around in the archives right here.

    Photo by John Dalton/Flickr

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    Fans of such festive classics as Eazy-E’s “Merry Muthaphuckking Xmas,” and Afroman’s “Deck My Balls” are in for a special treat this Christmas season. To raise money for his non-profit and spread some good old Yuletide cheer, Snoop Dogg is taking requests for classic Christmas stories on Reddit. The story, song, or poem that gets the most up-votes will be read or rapped by DJ Snoopadelic himself, resulting in a heartwarming take on a Christmas classic that will probably contain zero references to marijuana, sex workers, and/or moderately priced brands of cognac.

    This isn’t the first time Snoop has gotten into the Christmas spirit: in 2007, he released a holiday album, Snoop Dogg Presents Christmas In Tha Dogg House, featuring his take on the Xmas classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” (sample lyric"Yo Santa what's up? Did you bring me some chronic?/And Tanqueray gin I can mix with my tonic?”).

    This Christmas, however, the idea for Snoop Dogg to read Christmas stories originated with Redditor Sportsnut19, who posted the request in the cannabis-themed subreddit r/trees. “Aya int a bad idea neffew!! lemme kno wut stories u wnt!!” Snoop responded, before posting a thread with the following image earlier today:

    (via Imgur)

    In addition to taking requests for stories (Redditors’ real-life Christmas stories and classics like “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” seem to be the most popular, though my personal vote is for a bong-themed version of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”), Snoop is also soliciting donations to his non-profit, the Snoop Youth Football League, which gives inner-city children ages 5-13 the opportunity to participate in youth football and cheer.

    While those who donate $200 or more will receive a signed pack of rolling papers from Snoop himself, one lucky donor will win the opportunity to intern for Snoop for the day: “we’ll get lunch at Roscoes, play some video games, plan out world domination n decorate some trees,” Snoop writes in the job description. Though this is probably shorthand for “fetch lattes for my dealer” and “sign back copies of Starsky and Hutch posters,” it’s a small price to pay for spreading holiday cheer to those in need (and for the opportunity to put “Intern: Snoop Dogg, 2013” on your resume).

    H/T Reddit I Photo: Flickr, Bob Bekian

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    Vancouverite Bradley Friesen has an enviable life: being featured in the Huffington Post for having the coolest apartment in town; getting rushed by investors when he announced his anti-hangover startup, Last Call, on Dragon's Den; taking the Grey Cup on a helicopter joyride, then losing 2/3rds of the footage in a bar thanks to celebrating too hard.

    Joining in a game of world class pond hockey with a 2000lb Robinson R-44 helicopter? Then pre-emptively saying "Sorry"  to Transport Canada? All in a day's work.

    "On December 9th, 2013, I filmed quite possibly the greatest hockey game in the history of the game... 4,000' in the mountains with 8 different cameras. 250gb of awesomeness. I'm pretty sure this should be a Canadian Beer commercial."

    True, particularly as Canadian icons Bob and Doug Mackenzie point out that beer commercials always feature activities you can't do drunk.

    There were four helicopters and eight former WHL hockey players involved in the stunt, as well as a whole lotta chutzpah. Okay, technically it's not helicopter hockey the way elephant polo is elephant polo, but it is skating on a stunning frozen lake in the North Shore mountains above Vancouver, just on a lark. Most of the videos on Friesen's YouTube channel aren't even monetized.

    Anticipating some blowback for the stunt from safety-conscious Transport Canada, the government organization that oversees aircraft operations, he wrote up a detailed explanation of precautions taken including consulting the Farmer's Almanack, multiple ice borings to determine thickness, establishment of an exclusion zone for player's safety, and putting the hockey players to the right of the helicopter and only experienced pilots to the left, the side on which the rotor is located.

    "Sunday morning, we all met at YPK for an initial safety briefing, and flew +3 back to the lake with and aStar, H300 and 2 R-44's. It was -12 overnight, and added more thickness to the sheet. I walked the entire surface with a chainsaw and tape measure, and inspected the whole ice sheet. It was thick all the way across and had no ridges or holes. There was a small section of open water caused by a waterfall at the far end of the lake. We determined a safety line that no skaters were permitted to cross based on our test holes."

    And so on, for 770 polite, Canadian words. Yes, this may indeed be the most Canadian story of all time.

    In the days since the video went up it's been featured on multiple media outlets (h/t Vancity Buzz, where we first saw it), and generated some mythology already. On December 12 the Vancouver affiliate of the national network CTV reported that Transport Canada was indeed investigating the incident. Their exact words were, "Transport Canada confirmed to CTV News that it is investigating whether any of its rules were broken, including whether Friesen had the correct paperwork and filming permits." We contacted Friesen via Facebook, and he had some choice scare quotes for CTV.

    "There is zero story to the 'investigation'," he told us. "CTV are just trying to make a story. I reported myself to transport and there has been no letter to me or response to me except a acknowledgement of the receipt of my email. CTV are the 3rd highest rated newscast locally who are trying to manufacture something. Pissed me off that they 'ambushed me' with pretending to do a story about the game, which was amazingly cool, and tried to make it about the 'controversy'. Is there a potential I could be investigated in the future? Yes. Is this a story? No. Who does a story about me writing a letter of explanation? It was fairly pathetic.

    So, are all those startlingly badass links that come up when you Google "Bradley Friesen" really you?

    Yes. Huff-po, LASTCALL, Helicopter Proposal, Losing the grey cup footage at a bar... all me. I'm kind of an all-round jackass. I've also been wearing a different t-shirt, every single day for the past four years, and plan on donating all my thousands of shirts to the homeless someday, once I figure how to turn it into a charity. I'm just guy who has fun and does things that interest him. Sometimes without thinking.

    Your latest video, Chips before Chicks, is entered in the Doritos commercial contest. Will it make it to the Super Bowl? I don't envy those models in bikinis in Canada in November.

    The Doritos commercial has a two in 24 chance of airing on the Super Bowl. First time I've ever entered. Never done videos other than for fun, so, learning as I go.

    He seems to be a fast learner.

    With three viral videos in rotation since November, Helicopter Hockey, Chips before Chicks, and the earlier Helicopter Proposal video, it's obvious that Bradley Friesen has scored that most Canadian of benchmarks, a hat trick.

    Images via Bradley Friesen

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    This year, YouTube’s influence was found not so much in specific personalities, but in pop-culture virality and suspension of disbelief.

    The parody video was unstoppable, namely the countless takes on Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball,” which nearly erased the original context of her song. Parodies of other inescapable pop songs—“Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky,” “The Fox,” “Harlem Shake”—further added to the copy-of-a-copy phenomenon.

    It was a year when viral videos made us ask what was real, and real life seemed impossible—a year when tragedy and comedy often happened in the same virtual breath. Here are some of the influential videos that blurred the lines.

    10) The real-time terror of nature

    Tornado videos capture the terror of Mother Nature’s randomness, but often from afar, or when victims are sifting through rubble. One video in particular of a rare late-November tornado that hit Washington, Ill. cut deeper than the rest. Marc Wells filmed as the EF-4 tornado approached, and we collectively gasp as the twister rips through his home while he and his daughter are inside. In less than four minutes, we see the devastation along with him, and the screams of his daughter amplify every goosebump.

    9) The real-time WTF of dash cams

    Russian dash cams have allowed us to witness a meteor stream across the sky,  a truck full of cows tip over, and some severe road rage. Dash cams aren’t new, but in 2013, the footage they captured could have filled a feature-length action movie. In Taiwan earlier this year, a dash cam captured a boulder nearly missing a car, another reminder of the randomness of nature.

    8) YouTube tries the awards show format, chaos reigns

    The first annual YouTube Music Awards seemed promising. After alll, more and more musicians are using the channel to find fanbases and market themselves. But as with any first-time venture, there are going to be banana peels. And there were a lot during the Spike Jonze-directed show, which demolished the fourth wall and let hosts Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts mingle with the crowd, the camera operators, and the stars. Macklemore was handed a live baby, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler pulled a “I’mma let you finish.” There was a general sense of being unmoored. Lady Gaga’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” moment might have been the highlight, which is saying a lot.

    7) The feel-good video in pop culture

    Deborah Cohan’s pre-surgery dance video was just one of many videos this year that got at our need for uplifting content. And not just the desire to view it , but also share it and pay it forward in a way. Cohan’s celebration of life in the face of illness hit on all the feel-good pulse points. Add in a Beyoncé and you’ve got gold.

    6) Charles Ramsey and the hero meme

    Charles Ramsey is the Cleveland man who heard Amanda Berry’s cries for help within the house of Ariel Castro and essentially ended a decade of unimaginable torture and abuse for her, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. Ramsey’s 911 call alone was epic, but the interview he gave afterwards fell into the Internet’s remix machine: It was Auto-Tuned and turned into a video game. His heroic story became entertainment for us to reshape, much like the story of Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker back in February. But does that take away from the good deed?

    5) Batdad and the rise of vines as entertainment

    Georgia father Blake Wilson stumbled upon a unique way to teach his kids manners: Address them in the deep, declarative tones of Batman. The impression, and his kids’ reaction to it, racked up the hits: Wilson now has more than 125,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. 2013 was also a year in which Vine became a medium not just for playing out ill-advised six-second stunts or pranks but for shaping personalities and concepts. Even the government harnessed the medium.

    4) When Sarah Slamen was called to testify in Texas

    June’s Wendy Davis-led filibuster put the Fort Worth senator and current gubernatorial hopeful on the radar, but it might have been Sarah Slamen's special session testimony after the filibuster that summarized many Texans’ frustrations. Much like the uplifting clip, we want to share righteous moments as well. One line in particular would come to represent much of 2013’s governmental arrogance and ignorance:

    “Everyone on the Internet can see what you’re doing right now. This is a farce.”

    3) The “I Quit” heard around the world

    Marina Shifrin’s documentation of her resignation—to a Kanye West song, no less—came so soon after the “twerk fail” video that many wondered if Jimmy Kimmel was behind this video was well. Shifrin tapped into our collective empathy in an era of hyper-self-documentation and low workplace morale, and she inspired parody videos in the process. Her “I quit” had another effect: It landed Kanye’s eight-year-old song “Gone” on the Billboard charts, showing how influential YouTube videos can be in the right hands.

    2) The "Twerk Fail" video and the new age of the hoax

    If a video seems too good to be true, is it? And do we really want to know the truth? In this brave new hoax economy, Caitlin Heller’s “worst twerk fail EVER” video was almost too perfectly composed, and appeared at the height of twerk mania, shortly after Miley’s VMA performance. It was shared more than 10 million times. Later, Heller was revealed to be stuntwoman Daphne Avalon, and Jimmy Kimmel admitted he was behind the whole thing, but not before the entire country discussed the pros and cons of twerking in front of lit candles. Point, Kimmel.

    1) Miley’s “Wrecking Ball” demolished pop culture

    Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball" was released in September, but the parodies that came in its wake almost overshadowed the original video, which now has more than 400 million views. YouTuber Steve Kardynal performed it on Chatroulette while students at Grand Valley State University caused a sculpture to be removed from school grounds after riding it like Miley. The song crossed cultural boundaries, and we subjected our poor, innocent pets to it. Each parody was the parody to end all parodies, but not even the Nic Cage-ization of the song could shut down the cycle of cultural collage. “We Can’t Stop” might as well have applied to the entire Internet this year.

    Photo by Jonathan McIntosh (remix by Jason Reed)

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    Lionsgate Television announced yesterday its latest project in development: a TV show based on journalist Nick Bilton’s book Hatching Twitter: The True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal. While the project hasn’t been guaranteed a series order yet, Lionsgate is the studio behind hits like Orange Is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, and Weeds. Unfortunately for Lionsgate, the Twitter television show just doesn’t look like it’s going to be good. 

    It was only a matter of time before some forward-thinking studio snapped up the rights to the novel—in Bilton’s case, it took exactly one month and two weeks from release date. Given the finite edge to the creation story, as well as the success of The Social Network, it’s an interesting move on Bilton’s part to shoot for television rather than film for the screen version. (It’s hard to imagine the constant theme throughout the book of greed didn’t rub off on Bilton a bit; a television series pays far better than a film can.) As Maud Newton foreshadowed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review of Hatching Twitter, “Bilton sketches the founders’ backgrounds and personalities in quick, skillful strokes that will serve the eventual screenwriter, director and storyboard artist well; these are characters made for the big screen.”

    Given its larger-than-ife story and sharply defined characters, why is the Twitter TV show doomed to fail?

    Primarily, television shows about Web culture have a hard time finding their footing. Given the ephemeral nature of what’s popular on the Internet, it’s hard to nail down what will be trending in the near future. In the year and a half since last May’s Facebook IPO, the Internet has seen the powerful rise of Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and the supplantation of Twitter over Facebook as the medium of choice among millennials. 

    Factor in the length of time it takes a show to go from the nascent stages of development to airing on-screen (if it airs at all), and the piece of the zeitgeist that it was trying to capture may well be old news. The failures of MTV’s series based on a website, The College Humor Show, and Bravo’s LOLWork, based on the Cheezburger Network, are proof positive that Comedy Central’s Web-based @midnight has had a modicum of success in its first season this winter, but chooses to focus on what’s going viral across the country, not just Twitter. 

    While a fictionalized account of a social network, with all its behind the scenes politics, could lend itself well to the sort of pulpy cable drama that’s popular now, the focus does eventually have to move away from the product and settle into just being a show about a nefarious corporation—and when it does, will an attempt from first-time screenwriter Bilton, who’s penning the script as well, hold up against stronger fare in the same genre?

    Much like Web culture is hard to nail down, so are hyper-topical storylines in television. Given the hope for extracting as many seasons as possible out of a good idea, ideally upwards of a hundred episodes so that all involved can cash in on syndication paychecks, studios generally like to focus on broad constructs that hold up to the test of time. Showrunner Alan Kirschenbaum, head writer of comedies such as Coach and Yes, Dear, would often tell his writers they were never allowed to use pop culture references when turning in their scripts, as jokes that were topical rarely played well for new audiences years later if a show made it to syndication, and was airing reruns regularly.

    While shows like South Park and The Simpsons buck this tradition (the argument being that long-running cartoon shows are able to take concentrated swings, given how often they air and how irreverent they can be), if you look at any show that’s popular in syndication—Friends, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, even Modern Family—there are rarely distinguishing time markers on the show; storylines instead focus on universal issues. By pigeonholing Bilton’s script as the Twitter story, even if the show manages to capture the intricacies of Twitter’s Web culture, when the time comes to make real money in syndication, its outdated premise will make other networks reluctant to pick it up for re-airing. 

    What will be interesting is how Twitter the company approaches Lionsgate and Bilton’s show, given that they do not endorse it, or the book. Shows about startups have been attempted (none more brilliantly than The Office writer Justin Spitzer’s comedy in development at USA, titled Startup), but other than the film The Social Network, no movies or television shows have focused on a specific startup and identified them by name. While Twitter has been making a concerted effort to partner with studios and networks to find innovative ways to advertise content (most methods just involve using a Twitter second screen to divert your attention away from your first screen), given the Twitter founders’ attempts to distance themselves from the book and refute Bilton’s allegations, it seems unlikely that even if the Lionsgate show finds its way to series, Twitter will be as helpful in coming up with custom ad programs to get the word out. 

    If the show moves forward, it’s sure to grab eyeballs—even if Twitter has becoming a passing fad by its premiere date, the concept of an inside look at a social network is interesting to see in a fishbowl. But as any casual social media user knows, fads come and go online at a constant pace. A Hatching Twitter movie, able to capture a moment without stretching it out past its limits of captivation, would have been a far better choice than a television show whose premise is shaky at best.

    Ilustration by Jason Reed

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    The next X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, looks like it’s going to be hideously complicated. A mashup between the X-Men trilogy of the early 2000s and the recent prequel movie set in the 1960s, it combines two ensemble casts and time-travels through at least two historical eras.

    Luckily, X-Men fans are used to complicated storylines, and the upcoming movie is already inspiring some amazing fanworks. Recently, a group of fan filmmakers known as Seidule Films came together to create a kind of mini-musical focusing on the time-traveling X-Men antihero Bishop, who will be introduced in Days of Future Past.

    Change the World follows Bishop as he tracks down Senator Kelly, with musical theatre-style interludes from Kitty Pryde. We were expecting a lot of cool new fanworks to come out of the new X-Men: Days of Future Past, but we couldn’t have predicted a hip-hop music video starring Gambit and Bishop cosplayers.

    We’d never actually considered this before, but X-Men would be kind of perfect for a musical: a huge ensemble cast for crowd scenes, lots of flashy costumes, and enough histrionics for several awesome solo numbers. If only Seidule Films had the resources for something longer than four minutes!

    Screencap via YouTube

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    The YouTube gaming community now has an ally in the fight against YouTube’s controversial Content ID policies: Kevin Smith.

    The filmmaker and video game enthusiast stopped by George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight to promote his show Spoilers, but when the news of the NSA spying on World of Warcraft came up, Smith decided to take the interview in a slightly different direction.

    He had assumed that the government had been spying on everyone for years, but the idea of a company stamping down on someone’s creativity is more concerning to him.

    “I know people who build careers on taking footage and running commentary under it or reviewing it and stuff,” Smith told Stroumboulopoulos. “So now YouTube’s gone, 'You don’t have the rights to do this.’ And they’re starting to pull back on the freedoms of expression people have been enjoying on YouTube for a while.”

    It got to the point, he explained, where even the gaming companies were standing up for the content creators.

    The content identification system has had its flaws since the new updates, even flagging someone’s own game for copyright. The company responded to the backlash earlier this week and offered little comfort to the gaming community, explaining simply that “rights ownership can be complicated.” Content creators argue that since they’re reviewing or adding commentary to the footage, their work is covered under fair use.

    “Don't stamp down someone's creativity,” Smith said. “Even if it's someone else's creativity with something else, other people's material. Because you make found art out of art that you find.”

    Photo via Strombo/YouTube

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    Take a moment and think about the sort of film you traditionally watch once a year, around Christmas. It’s a Wonderful Life? A little heavy on the dialogue. Love Actually? Too many actors. Die Hard? Would’ve been nice if they’d shot it all in one take. The crux of the matter is this: No supposed holiday classic holds a candle to the flaming genius of Fireplace for Your Home, a groundbreaking miniseries available to stream on Netflix.

    “Despite what some other critics have said, this series is NOT a Hollywood Remake,” the top review notes, but we would venture to call it an homage—a loving tribute to the original cozy yuletide fireplace. Break out the cookies and eggnog and settle in for a night of high drama and edge-of-your-seat suspense as the miracle of combustion unfolds before your disbelieving eyes.

    Episode one introduces us to a few logs burning in a small stone fireplace as instrumentals of public domain Christmas carols play. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition: just where are these songs coming from, and what could they mean? As the fire grows, so does the tension. I won’t spoil what happens, but let’s just say that there’s a lot less stoking than you might expect, and not every character makes it out in one piece. See if you can spot the cameos of a few embers, too.

    The second installment, “Crackling Fireplace,” is the most challenging and experimental arc of the series, a 21st-century answer to the minimalist films of Andy Warhol. Gone are the familiar strains of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” with all focus placed squarely on the transfixing, protean flame and its urgent, sporadic popping. As with many ambitiously immersive programs, I had some trouble following what was said, but with a little help from the subtitles, I got by.

    Finally, the masterstroke. Act 3, “Crackling Fireplace With Music,” proves to be an enchanting marriage of concepts explored in the first two hours of the piece, yet formally innovative enough to reveal more surprises amid the familiar blaze. The music has returned—albeit in non-denominational form—shifting from plaintive piano to gentle guitar and sensuous strings. It’s here that key details finally move to the fore: the sooty walls, the sturdy metal grill, elements without which none of this thermodynamic magic would be possible.

    Don’t expect Fireplace for Your Home to come away with any awards, though. It may be a prestige picture, but its refusal to score political points or vacuously praise the entertainment industry make it a tough sell to the establishment. Perhaps that’s as it should be—a quiet, intelligent piece destined to become a cult classic, something discovered by word of mouth and passed between the few fans who truly “get it.” Oh, and for those who do, the making-of documentary is required viewing (as is the Lil Bub–starring spinoff). See you around the hearth!     


    Photo by Todd Freeman/Flickr 

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    It’s the most wonderful time of the year: PornHub, which received around 15 billion hits in 2013, just released its year-end data.

    Earlier this year, the site released info on state-by-state viewing habits and search terms. It showed “teen” and “creampie” were the most-searched terms across the United States, which really put our country’s priorities in perspective. At the end of the year, not much has changed: The top three terms for the U.S. were “teen,” “creampie,” and “MILF.” The top search term worldwide was also teen, followed by MILF, pointing out that age is important, but the turn-on is at two extremes. Usually, women portraying “MILFs” in porn are far removed from what the term means in broader pop culture.

    Other countries were a bit more diverse in their searches. In Japan, the top search terms were “Japanese,” “Japanese wife,” and “Japanese MILF,” perhaps pointing to a more traditional or domestic take on pornography. In the U.K., porn star and Sarah Palin impersonator Lisa Ann got a lot of traffic, and her popularity extended to Mexico as well. An actress named Sara Tommasi, who was once part of Silvio Berlusconi’s private-party harem, was popular in Italy. In Spain, “casting” porn was popular. However, the most popular searches in every country but the U.S. were related to that country: German, British, French, Italian, etc.

    The most-watched video on PornHub this year: the Farrah Abraham sex tape, which is sort of sad but shows how closely reality TV and porn viewership might be linked. The Walking Dead's season 3 finale in March affected viewership the most, followed by the American Idol finale and the NCIS season 11 debut. So, to recap: zombies, singing contests, and naval crime dramas drew us away from porn this year. Also, the Super Bowl.

    Holiday-wise, many users across the globe stopped decking their halls on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day, perhaps as a reverent observance of the birth of Jesus. Or a bit of guilt. Japan, however, was all in on Christmas. Have they cornered the market on holiday pleasure, or multitasking?


    Americans spent more time on the site this year than last (around 10 minutes), while Japan got in and out in around seven minutes. Mississippians continued to stay on the site the longest, followed by Hawaiians. Desktop browsing still dominates worldwide, but mobile and tablet browsing increased in the U.S., U.K., and Mexico. It’ll be interesting to see if the debut of Google Glass changes viewing habits next year, or if everyone's just creeped out by it.

    These stats, while interesting, are pretty heteronormative and don’t necessarily represent the more niche or radical porn-watching public. In 2013, the porn industry embraced the rise of Bitcoinparodied virality and pop culture, and became more of social network. These results are most telling of how culture and world events continue to affect porn viewing.

    Photo via Anonymous Account/Flickr

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    Hey, how was your Saturday night? Good? Cool. Miley Cyrus touched herself and Instagrammed it.

    The 21-year-old former Hannah Montana, last seen flashing Twitter to support a campaign called Free the Nipple, teased herself and a new video, “Adore You,” on Instagram last night. In the clip, she writhes around in bed; her fingers eventually take a walk down to the dirty south.

    It’s a wink at what’s to come in her new single, which is set to debut Dec. 26 on Vevo. 

    If you think yet another sexed-up Miley stunt means she’s spiraling out of control, you’re fooling yourself. This woman is a marketing genius. 

    H/T BroBible | Screengrab via Instagram

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    They say country music is just three chords and the truth, and in 2013 the truth was a repetitive pastiche of pickup trucks on old dirt roads and the women in tight jeans who were persuaded to slide their “sugar shakers” (really?) into the shotgun seat.

    Later on, somewhere around the build-up to the second C-G-Am-F chorus, the dudes parked by the riverbank in the moonlight, took out a six-pack of that good stuff, and said two simple words to their dates that got them to first-and-a-half base: “Hey girl.”

    H/T Drop Fist! 

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    We just got a fantastic holiday treat from the man who made reading fun for an entire generation.

    Former Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton took to YouTube to read a Christmas classic for his viewers. The show ended in 2006, but since then it has lived on through Twitter and an iPad app.

    Just last week, the Reading Rainbow Twitter account reached out to its followers to find out just what holiday story they wanted Burton to read.

    With more than 1,000 votes, Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas easily won out. The classic story is a staple in many homes on Christmas Eve, so what better way to honor the tradition?

    There are no gimmicks, no comedic asides, no punchlines, no elaborate visuals. It’s just Burton, his iPad, and his soothing voice.

    Sometimes you just need a simple holiday tradition—but don’t take my word for it.

    Photo via Reading Rainbow/YouTube

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    Stop me if you've heard this one before: a member of a creative team steps too far over fandom's "fourth wall," says a few ill-advised things about the show and its large contingent of slash shippers, then releases a blowback of epic proportions from outraged fans.

    In the case of the weekend’s Once Upon a Time fandom blowout, however, the fallout united the production team and the show’s most prized fanbase of shippers—though it may not get them closer to their queer pairing becoming canon.

    Michael Coleman plays (wait for it) Happy the Dwarf on ABC's Once Upon a Time (OUAT), a dizzyingly complicated show with a rabidly loyal fanbase, and an especially large contingent of fans who ship the main character, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) with her complex antagonist, Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla). “Swanqueen” shippers are among the most devoted and vocal shippers in a fandom that really loves its ships. But in a now-deleted tweet from Friday, Coleman seemed to suggest that the Swanqueen femslashers were getting to be an annoyance to the creative team rather than an asset:

    Screengrab via uniquelykay/Tumblr

    Although he deleted the tweet, Coleman later insisted that he stood by it. In the ensuing melee of Coleman’s anti-Swanqueen tweets, which some fans dubbed “Happygate,” Coleman told fans that if they wanted the ship, they should “pitch a [different] show to ABC,” and that they should “follow a different show. Please.” In another now-deleted tweet, during one of many arguments he had with Swanqueen shippers throughout the evening, Coleman stated, “I know for a fact it won’t happen” regarding the outcome of the much-loved femslash ship. In a tweet that still remains, he added, “I didn’t kill your ship as it never had life.”

    He also went on to scoff at the idea that Swanqueen fans wanted queer representation, implying that another pairing, Mulan/Aurora, should be enough for them, even though that ship is so-far only an implied, one-sided crush that’s not actually the same as a queer pairing that faces the same narrative challenges that most heterosexual romantic relationships in television get by default. He also compared the show’s potential queer ships to “Toyota,” i.e. one of many possible makes and models of romantic pairings the show could eventually churn out. But having queer identity compared to a car went over about as well as you’d think.

    Coleman capped it all off by calling Swanqueen shippers “hateful,” stating he preferred “the writers to write the show and not the fans,” and implying that the whole cast thought they were “mean and entitled:”

    Coleman seemed to feel the outpouring of response he received from upset Swanqueen shippers was "bullying," a message he repeated throughout the night.  But as one observant fan noted: “Can he really call this cyberbullying if he threw the first punch?”

    If Coleman had only spoken for himself, his words might not have had as much impact. But by implying he spoke for the rest of the cast and the writers, he upset many fans—and angered other members of the production team.

    As the actresses whose on-screen dynamic has boosted the Swanqueen shippers, Morrison and Parrilla were both quick to support their fans:

    The show's co-creator Adam Horowitz distanced himself from Coleman’s tweets as well:

    The fans quickly latched on to what they viewed as the show’s main players standing up for them.

    Photo via uma-viciadaemlivroseseries/Tumblr

    In response the SQ fans trended the hashtag #SQLovesYou Saturday night. Meanwhile, Coleman's follower count ballooned as other subsets of fandom showed him support. Saturday night.

    While OUAT has generally gone out of its way to listen and respond to feedback from fans despite PR hurdles, it’s garnered a reputation for “queerbaiting” the Emma/Regina shippers and shippers of the show’s many other femslash pairings as much as any show with a major dudeslash pairing has. We’ve heard the (spoiler alert!) last scene these two had together before the most recent mid-season break was an all-out femslashy tearjerker.

    Some fans said they believed the support the show’s creatives showed the Swanqueen fanbase was a validation of sorts for their belief that the ship could become canon. But ultimately, Disney isn’t exactly the best horse to back in a race for onscreen queer representation; and while the fans may be celebrating now, Coleman’s words may hold a depressing amount of truth in the long run for anyone hoping for Swanqueen to sail into happily ever after.

    Photo via OUAT Google+ page

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    Legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden has a secret, and the government probably won’t like it.

    These days, in order to succeed in the music industry, you have to know how to reach your fans—even the ones who are pirating your work. So when the London Stock Exchange listed longtime Iron Maiden as one of the entertainment sector’s rare outperforming bands, it caught the attention of U.K. analytics specialist Music Metric

    Nearly every part of the music industry has been hurt by the era of online file-sharing, from record stores to music labels. How, then, is Iron Maiden pulling in revenue of up to $33 million annually?

    According to CiteWorld, the music industry analyst wanted to see for itself what Iron Maiden’s secret was, so it decided to run stats on Iron Maiden’s shares and social network performance globally to see what it could find. 

    Photo via CiteWorld

    In Iron Maiden’s case, Music Metric noticed that downloads of the band’s music were growing in South America and Mexico in conjunction with the band’s Twitter presence in those areas.

    Iron Maiden could have tightened security and worked on issuing takedowns in those countries. Instead, the band took a different approach. 

    Advocates of free distribution models in the music industry have been arguing for a long time that what musicians lose in distribution in today’s digital world they can make up through concerts, live performances, merchandise, and other sales that help build their fanbase and offset the loss of revenue due to filesharing. 

    Iron Maiden apparently bought into this argument. Instead of trying to restrict file sharing in Latin America, they started promoting more and more heavily there, touring extensively and filming part of their 2009 concert documentary Flight 666 there.

    Their focus and efforts paid off: in a single year, they grew their online social network presence by over 5 million. And more importantly, they’d successfully converted freeloaders into fans who were willing to pay for the Iron Maiden experience. A single 2011 concert in São Paolo alone grossed $2.6 million. The London Stock Exchange estimated Iron Maiden’s total revenue at nearly $33 million annually.

    Over a decade ago, one heavy metal band, Metallica, was one of the first artists to take a stand against illegal downloads of its music. Today, while filesharing is still controversial, approaches to the problem are evolving. For now, at least one classic rock band has embraced the ease of free distribution as a way to stay relevant in an industry that’s running free.

    Photo via Wikipedia

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    You’re now only 15 steps away from fulfilling your contemporary dancing dreams.

    Contemporary Eric (aka Robert Hoffman) and his assistant Bich (Krystal Ellsworth) want to pass on their knowledge of how to portray emotion in their dancing.

    You can put these moves in any order, as seen on So You Think You Can Dance, and just as easily pull off an emotional performance.

    However, it’s no ordinary tutorial. For one, you won’t see names like “I just came out of a well” or “the blind man” in a traditional dance class, and many of the moves are downright ridiculous.

    But, true to his word, when put together with music, it’s really something else.

    H/T Viral Viral Videos | Photo via PUNCHROCKET/YouTube


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    Chicago’s Second City theater is a special place in the comedy world. Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, Chris Farley, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, and basically every comedian ever started on the stages of 1616 N. Wells. The place is haunted by funny. The latest entertainer to grace the theater? Lil Bub.

    As part of a fundraising event, Internet cat Lil Bub and her charming owner Mike Bridavsky were slated to “perform” in an event alongside comedians like SNL and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen.

    Bridavsky is notable among celebrity cat owners* for his comparatively laissez-faire approach to Bub’s fame. Though he keeps a blog and actively participates in events, he has eschewed the services of meme manager Ben Lashes (who reps Grumpy Cat and Keyboard Cat), and he chooses projects based on how cool he thinks they are, not the cash reward. There will be no Lil Bubaccinos in the future (although there will be a special on Animal Planet about the cat featuring Amy Sedaris, another Second City alumni). Choosing Second City was clearly a choice motivated by an appreciation for the venue.

    Bridavksy and Bub sat down for a Q&A on one of the Second City stages, talking with Steve Albini, a talented comedian who happens to be Bridavksy’s former boss.

    Of course, things eventually tip-toed into a weird territory when it was time for Lil Bub to… perform.

    A team of improvisers came out to do a set with Lil Bub. Unfortunately, while Lil Bub is very good at being extremely cute, she is very bad at improvisational comedy. She sat on Bridavsky’s lap as the improvisers tried to concoct scenes around her presence, and then she scuttled offstage. The comedians, who I saw the night before absolutely killing it, seemed slightly at a loss with the situation, glancing at each other like “how the hell do I improvise with a cat?” They’d been up all night because the fundraiser also happened to be a 24 hour marathon, so perhaps it was not the best time to experiment with integrating animals into the act.

    Photo via

    Bub sat on Bridavsky’s lap as one of the improvisers talked to him like he was a child waiting to go see Santa. There was nothing particularly wrong with the execution, but regular improv is certainly funnier than improv awkwardly shoehorned around the presence of an animal meme. The improvisers coaxed some laughs from the crowd as one of them pretended to be Santa, but Bub was clearly unhappy off of Bridavsky’s lap, and when the improviser set her on the ground, she beelined off-stage. This left the improvisers with the unenviable task of trying to continue an improv set that was supposed to be about a famous cat without said famous cat. It’s a testament to their talent that it was still funny, but you could tell they weren’t overly thrilled with the entire conceit.

    There are two important lessons anyone can learn from Lil Bub’s improv debut. One, skittish cats are not generous scene partners. Two, improv shows are seldom made worse by the presence of an Internet cat, but they are seldomer made better (although Bub did raise $300 for Second City because apparently that’s the going rate for taking pictures with the petite meme.)

    While the comedy act itself might not have been improved by her presence, there was a certain charm in it all. And that is the weird magic of Lil Bub.

    *I cannot believe I just typed those words.

    Photo via Thee All-Nite Images/Flickr

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    Beyoncé has had a pretty spectacular December. She quietly released her self-titled album on iTunes and it shot to the top of the charts overnight. She embodied the holiday spirit and gave 750 people a $50 gift card to Walmart.

    And now she made one dying girl’s wish come true.

    Taylon Davis has an inoperable brain tumor, and her one wish was to dance with Beyoncé. The Make-a-Wish Foundation got involved, and the 12-year-old and her mom were flown out to Las Vegas to see Beyoncé perform for the Mrs. Carter World Tour.

    Sure enough, Queen Bey made her way straight to Davis, and she didn’t disappoint. Not only did they dance, but they also sang together.

    The encounter left Davis in tears, and as it turns out, many of us as well.

    H/T Hypervocal | Photo via Beyonce/YouTube

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    After a lot of teasing, vestal virgin Destiny Ray Cyrus released the music video for her latest single, “Adore You.” It is the mainstream media equivalent of a low-ranked X-Art porno. It is also the latest piece of evidence in my new theory that Miley Cyrus has maybe, probably, never actually had sex. 

    It’s still pretty dirty. It’s four minutes and 38 seconds of half-naked writhing. It’s tough to watch if you, like I am now, are visiting your parents for the holidays. I watched it with my mom looking over the shoulder, and this is what I got.

    Me: Miley Cyrus has a new music video out.

    Mom: Another one?

    Me: Yes. Will you live-chat watch it with me… for work?

    Mom: No thanks, I’m in no position to judge other people’s daughters’ sex tapes.

    I don’t have a sex tape.

    The music video, which racked up 19 million views when it leaked a day early on Christmas, features Cyrus engaging in every high school female’s idea of what solo sex constitutes of: soft lights, flattering angles, lacy lingerie, and unlimited amounts of writhing.

    It features none of what really happens during self-pleasure: untold amounts of time spent on finding free porn that doesn’t immediately cut to the blowjob portion of the video, constantly adjusting the volume in case your roommates come home, icing your nose after you drop your precariously balanced laptop on your face because it was too heavy to hold up one-handed.

    In a nod to vintage technology and homemade pornography, Cyrus at times films herself with a Panasonic handheld camcorder. No explanation is given for why her version of the night-vision mode renders her in a soft and fuzzy blue glow. Most mid-aughts-era camcorders generally leave subjects looking like The Blair Witch Project

    There are a lot of fluttering bedsheets and wandering hands as Cyrus wiggles about, crooning about how much she needs her lover, while visually making the oh-so-bold statement that, thanks to those wandering hands slowly creeping down her waistband, she actually doesn’t need a lover at all. Eschewing conventional wisdom on dermatology, Cyrus continually caresses her face, oily T-zones be damned! She also engages in other tropes of female sexuality: lip biting, hip gyrating, and eyelash batting (all before getting into a bathtub while wearing a long-sleeved lace bodysuit, because sex). 

    As any female who has spent more than $24 at Victoria’s Secret on anything other than “Buy Five, Get One Free” cotton underpants can tell you, most of the things Cyrus acts out in the video generally don’t come off very sexy when you try them in real life (see: the one and half million YouTube hits that pop up under the search term “sexy fail” as veritable proof). But hey: maybe we’re all just doing sex wrong. Maybe we should be marginalizing little people, jiggling our ass cheeks on everything possible, and cavorting, fully clothed, in tepid water in an effort to get properly laid. 

    Screengrab via YouTube

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