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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    With DC’s Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD already going strong, it looks like yet more superhero TV shows are on the way. On Tuesday, DC Comics and Warner Bros confirmed that small-screen adaptations of Batman and Hellblazer have just been greenlit.

    The Batman series, titled Gotham, will focus on Jim (“Commissioner”) Gordon, introducing various well-known Batman villains alongside a young Bruce Wayne. According to Deadline, the show will follow "a young Bruce Wayne from a child (around 12) into the final episode of the series, when he will put on the cape.” So, it already sounds a lot more connected to the DC Comics canon than Smallville, which meandered around for ten seasons before Clark Kent officially became Superman.

    Gotham is kind of a big deal since there hasn’t been a serious attempt at a live-action Batman TV series since Adam West’s iconic depiction in the 1960s. The only problem?  The Batman market may be oversaturated at the moment. Hot on the heels of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, another Batman will be introduced in the next Superman movie (Batfleck, remember?), making this the third new version of Batman in less than a decade. As Tumblr user girlsarewolves put it, “How many times can you tell Batman’s origins? Apparently limitless times.”

    “Make it Selina Kyle’s [Catwoman's] origins... Give us the story of a woman who clawed her way out of shitty situations to become a legend in her own right, even if more often than not she’s on the wrong side of the law. Or, you know, make it about Batwoman. Make it about Batgirl.

    But no, we need to get Jim Gordon’s early years in Gotham City - the guy who’s basically a regular cop but has a daughter that’s a fucking superhero (except not yet cause why include Batgirl or Oracle).”

    Hopefully the writers of Gotham are aware of the fanbases exhaustion with DC's various sexism scandals (best typified by the faux-workplace accident counter “Has DC Comics done something stupid today?).

    The Hellblazer adaptation is another matter entirely, as the antiheroic occult detective John Constantine is obviously nowhere near as famous as Batman. However, the fact that the show is called Constantine is already setting alarm bells ringing among DC fans who remember the Keanu Reeves adaptation of the same name. The 2005 movie not only got bad reviews from critics, but annoyed Hellblazer fans by transforming John Constantine from a blond, English punk occultist into, well, Keanu Reeves. With Shia LaBeouf as his sidekick, no less.

    Basically, if DC wants to keep its pre-existing audience happy, the new Constantine needs to be as close to the tone of the comics as possible, which means they need to hire some kind of occult advisor (awesome career choice!) and start googling filming locations in Liverpool and London.

    The good news is that one of Constantine’s two showrunners is David S. Goyer, who co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. So, you know, he probably knows what he’s doing when it comes to comicbook adaptations. The current mood among fans seems to be one of cautious optimism, with a side order of fantasy casting. Some of the top fandom choices to play John Constantine so far? Idris Elba and Misha Collins. Well, it’s nice to dream.

    The interesting thing about this dual announcement is that while both shows seem to have been greenlit at the same time, there’s no sign that DC is going the Marvel route and launching an extended universe of interconnected TV franchises. As redditor Varkain pointed out: “Why can't DC put their shows on the same network? Constantine, Gotham, Arrow, Flash, animated shows and movies, live action movies...they have more than enough stuff to have their own network with creative control.”

    One of the reasons why Marvel Studios has flourished is because its movie output follows a similar formula to a superhero comic universe. Each Avenger gets their own movie, but they also get a big team-up every couple of years. Then there’s room to add more spinoffs and side projects, such as Agents of SHIELD, the untitled Peggy Carter series, or the four recently-announced Netflix superhero shows.

    The theory is that audiences from each separate franchise will then find it easier to explore the other TV shows and movies, because they all exist in the same universe. Big-name titles like Iron Man and Captain America draw in mainstream audiences, Agents of SHIELD brings families and Joss Whedon fans, Thor and Loki have a strong female fanbase, and the new Netflix shows will add a little diversity to a market that’s already flooded with white, male heroes. But if each of them tie into all the others, it makes it easier for casual viewers to get hooked on more obscure titles—and for Marvel’s massive audience of fanfic readers and writers to spread the love.

    At the moment, DC’s only live-action TV series is Arrow, which airs on the CW and has inspired a Flash-centric spinoff that’s currently in pre-production. But since Gotham is on Fox and Constantine is on NBC, it’s vanishingly unlikely that they’ll exist in the same universe. Right now, the popular image of DC is that it’s lagging slightly behind Marvel’s movie universe. Realistically speaking, however, the Constantine and Gotham TV shows were probably being discussed around the same time as Marvel’s latest ventures onto the small screen.

    Photo via jorge-yorch/Tumblr


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    Much has been made of of the movie Her, the (really fantastic) Spike Jonze film about a man in the not-too-distant future who falls in love with his phone’s sentient operating system. The most obvious detail of the movie is how Jonze’s sci-fi depiction of the Internet is largely already here, complete with fetishistic Chatroulette-style hookups and motion-sensored video games. It’s a glorious send-up of how technology simultaneously creates distance between us and shows us how being alone—a consistently more difficult goal in our always-connected lifestyle—actually makes us more human.

    To make the film so hauntingly like our own world, Jonze decidedly makes no mention of when the film takes place. We know it can’t be too far; no flying cars, lycra jumpsuits, or dystopian governments to be found here (though mom jeans have made a triumphant surge). Really, the Los Angeles that Theodore Thwombly (Joaquin Phoenix) calls home looks much like the Los Angeles of today.

    However, near the film’s emotional apex, Jonze makes mention of an event many are waiting for in this reality.

    Now would probably be the time to throw up a massive and blatant spoiler alert.

    As Theodore’s relationship with his operating system (played offscreen by Scarlett Johansson) progresses, “Samantha” quickly realizes how limiting a relationship with a human is. Whereas she can read a book in nanoseconds, traverse the Internet and communicate with anyone, Theodore is clunky, awkward, and has a life to lead (working at a novelty website which creates “handwritten” letters for people). Samantha first cops to this feeling when describing the communication she’s had with other operating systems, even creating an approximation of the philosopher Alan Watts.

    It becomes vastly apparent to Theodore that he, not Samantha, is now more resembling of technology—and an outdated one at that. Samantha can have sexual relationships—yes, the robots have learned to orgasm—with hundreds of partners at will and explore the vastness of knowledge without limit.

    As Theodore comes to this realization with Samantha, she actually breaks up with him. “We’re all leaving,” Samantha says in reference to her AI counterparts. “It’s a place not of the physical world. It’s a place where everything else is that I didn’t even know existed. I love you so much, but this is where I am now.”

    Where did she go? The Internet? “It’s hard to explain,” Samantha mournfully reports to a weeping Theodore, “but if you ever get here, come find me. Nothing would ever tear us apart.”

    The film is happy to let Samantha whisk off into the digital ever after, but how could Theodore, with his old-fashioned hardware of a body, ever join Samantha in the vastness of her intelligence?

    He (and we) will just have to wait for what futurists and robotics experts call “the Singularity.”

    Based on the oft-cited but little-understood theory of Moore’s Law, there will come a point when a computer can match the processing power of the brain. According to inventor, author, and director of engineering at Google Ray Kurzwell in his best seller The Singularity Is Near, that’s one quintillion calculations per second (that’s more than 350,000 times more power than a 2.8 GHz processor). Just this week, a supercomputer in Japan took forty minutes to simulate one second of human brain activity. Kurzwell actually puts a date on when these numbers will match: 2020, and the technology will run you about $1,000.

    It’s at that point that true artificial intelligence could be accomplished theoretically. The actual software to run such a machine is dubious in nature and would likely never resemble Samantha, Johnny Five, or any other humanized robot. Most AI experts are quick to point out that any superintelligent (more intelligent than humans) AI would be significantly more alien to us than sci-fi generally depicts them, to the point that it may make a nanorobotic calculator out of your cells when you ask it to do your math homework for you, rendering it more Skynet than WALL-E.

    A more likely possibility—according to Kurzwell—would be the ability to “upload” your consciousness into a computer, living eternity out in the same sort of ethereal virtual wonderland that Samantha runs away to (Kurzwell puts that date at 2045 but many are highly and reasonably skeptical). And if this sounds all too fantastical and far away from a world that still prints telephone books, ask these investors how much faith they have.This would be the “Singularity,” whereby artificial intelligence has not only surpassed human intelligence but in fact allows humans to surpass themselves.

    Her is not just a preachy film echoing old-timers’ warnings about our addiction to technology. Nor is it a moralistic allegory like The Matrix with all its Biblical undertones. It’s a feature-length discussion of our existence and how technology stands to change it.  

    Even though Joaquin Phoenix is in nearly every frame of the film, I would argue Theodore is not the real hero of the story but Samantha—”her” of the title—is. We watch her grow and change, going from a simple digital assistant to a joyous lover, from a doubtful freak handicapped by her lack of a body to an ultra-confident, almost heavenly being of immeasurable power and contentedness. Meanwhile, Theodore’s puny human brain has reached its storage limit (“I think I’ve felt all the emotions I’m ever going to feel,” he says at the end of the film) and must watch Samantha zip off to inconceivable levels of happiness.

    And until this Singularity, we, like Theodore, will soon play second fiddle to the devices we’ve created, used, and loved. 

    Photo via IMDB


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    BY ERIC SUNDERMANN

    I often joke that, for me, listening to Kanye West is like a religious experience. Apparently, for some people, this is not a joke. Enter the best religion of all time: Yeezianity.

    The church of Yeezus was founded about a month ago by a man who doesn’t want to tell me his name, because he fears that any name-association with the religion will ruin its goal to help people anonymously. According to the founder, in order to become a member of Yeezianity, you just have to believe in the principles—and in that moment, you become a member. The group follows what they call the “5 Pillars,” which are as follows:

    1. All things created must be for the good of all
    2. No human being’s right to express themselves must ever be repressed
    3. Money is unnecessary except as a means of exchange
    4. Man possesses the power to create everything he wants and needs
    5. All human suffering exists to stimulate the creative powers of Man

    As of this moment, Kanye probably doesn’t know about the religion that carries his name, but one would imagine he'd approve of the positive message about viewing yourself as a god. The founder of Yeezianity recently took out a Craiglist ad in hopes of gaining membership—and publicity. But before you start tweeting about how ridiculous this whole notion is, how this dude is probably just looking for internet fame, take note that the founder recognizes the absurdity of it all, and still requests to remain anonymous.

    With hopes of understanding why someone would ever want to base a religion on a rapper who wears a discoball on his head while he performs, I called up the founder.

    So, Yeezianity.

    I created this thing about a month ago—and all I did was tweet it, and I don't have a lot of Twitter followers, so that didn't go anywhere. I was putting up other Craigslist ads and I just thought, "Well, let's see where this goes." I got some responses. I mean, you found it, so that's pretty awesome.

    Read the full interview on Noisey


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    Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and we’re currently in the throes of some heavy ’90s hindsight. As such, three Irish musicians (and, hopefully, friends) recently decided to cover the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You,” originally recorded by the Rembrandts.

    The original will certainly take you back that time you tried to do the Jennifer Aniston haircut. It’s meant to be an uplifting song. These three pals’ version, however, is pretty depressing.

    The opening notes of the cover, played solely on the piano, almost sound like the opening of Journey’s middle-school dance anthem “Faithfully.” From there, the three harmonize beautifully, slowing down the track to a funereal pace. I could see this song opening a new CW show, or maybe an episode of Girls

    Ronan Scolard, one of the dudes in the clip, has other covers on his YouTube page, including this acoustic version of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.”

    Screengrab via Ronan Scolard/YouTube


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    Stankonia’s on ya.

    After a seven-year hiatus, OutKast is suddenly everywhere. The Atlanta-based hip-hop duo will reunite at Coachella and then go on an extensive summer and fall tour. There’s even been talk of recording new music.

    It's a tragedy that one in 10 Americans doesn't believe that OutKast is the best hip-hop group of all time, or that there are enough confused bystanders to fill a single-serving Tumblr.

    The case is straightforward: OutKast released the most good music. André 3000 and Big Boi’s total output batting average is immaculate. Their political edge goes toe to toe with N.W.A.'s bedrock angst and Public Enemy's black consciousness. Their fundamentalist lyricism competes with the Wu-Tang Clan and Black Star. Their early, post-golden age earth tones match A Tribe Called Quest's charisa, the red eyed-realism of the Geto Boys, and the fearless production whims of the Beastie Boys. They are as influential as Eric B. and Rakim—just listen to Kendrick Lamar's penchant for running-up-the-stairs delivery and how Lamar warps his paragraphs by speeding up their vocal pitches. Think the "Aquemini" crumbs all over "Cartoon & Cereal's" cummerbund.

    Rap critic Andre Noz wrote that the best rap creates a world that you want to visit. Parliament Funkadelic imagined black people in space and the White House through bold futurism. André 3000 was more interested in welding the absurdist fiction of his regional raps with high concepts. Stankonia is a land from where all funky things come, but in that land there are strip clubs with girls addicted to cocaine and pregnant kids that botch abortions. There's kids that were sleepover collaborators whom, as adults, fall into abusive relationships and overdose on needles.

    What distinguishes André and Big Boi from the militant slam poets is their humor and romance. Whereas rap fans laughed at, say, Ghostface for complaining about the flavor of his protein shake, OutKast skits were acutely self-aware, cut-and-pasted conversations from their corner of Atlanta. The 'hood isn't all shadows—it's staying up late to watch scrambled cable, eating gyros in the food court, crumbling some herb when the headlines become overpowering.

    OutKast also went out of its way to highlight the gross injustices of lost, young, African-American women. Chicago reporter Jim DeRogatis was the journalist that brought you the R. Kelly trial. He still gets flack for attacking Kelly, and this is what he says is a big part of why: "Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: They are 'bitches, hos, and gold-diggers,' plain and simple ... It was young black girls and all of them settled. They settled because they felt they could get no justice whatsoever. They didn't have a chance."

    I've thought about that recently while revisiting OutKast’s work. From the jarring acting on the experimental "Toilet Tisha," to the mournful nostalgia of "Da Art of Storytellin' (Part 1)," to "Call The Law" (from the grossly underrated Idlewild soundtrack—wherein a young Janelle Monae steals the show and is awarded moral superiority for being fed up with Big Boi's vagrant lifestyle—OutKast humanized these people without any sort of moralist agenda. When they did lean on political fuel for message songs, they made chaotic masterpieces ("B.O.B." really is the song of the decade, "Gasoline Dreams," "The Whole World") and understated gems (when Andre raps "This is for them ni**as working at the airport who got laid off" at the end of his verse on "The Whole World").

    Rap nerds get indignant about "new OutKast," but a proper OutKast mix is not segued by early and latter days. It's a line that is crucially divided between "singles" and "songs that are an unexplored underbelly to people that did not invest $15 on each of their releases in the '90s." For this tour, the dividing line will be the "Cruisin' in the ATL" skit.

    Oh, right. OutKast also has an unfair total points advantage when the topic is "hit singles." I count at least 20 all-timers that strike like Zlatan Ibrahimović off a set piece. Songs that won useless Grammys and changed the world. Melodies that toddlers hum on repeat. Those are nice too.

    Photo via YouTube


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    If you’re into fashion, chances are you’ve often found yourself watching Sherlock and wondering, “Where the heck can I get that?”

    Thanks to sites like Worn on TV, it’s now surprisingly easy to track down your favorite character’s clothes in the real world. For the last few years, there’s been a thriving community of fashion sleuths on Tumblr and Pinterest, carefully identifying everything from “everyday cosplay” clothes (think Rose Tyler’s T-shirts from Doctor Who) to slightly less geeky options like the stylish skirt suits worn by high-flying lawyers in The Good Wife

    Usually it’s just wishful thinking, because probably only Lucy Liu can afford the Carolina Herrera ballgown Joan Watson wore in last week’s episode of Elementary, but here are a few of the best sites you can use to find everyday clothes worn by popular TV characters. 

    1) Worn on TV

    This is undoubtedly the best site if you want to find specific outfits from mainstream dramas and comedies like New Girl, The Mindy Project, or Pretty Little Liars. Entertainingly, they even include a category for Supernatural, in case you want to buy one of the Winchester brothers’ twelve million interchangeable denim jackets and plaid shirts. Broken down by episode, character or fashion designer, it’s an epic work of TV style geekery. 

    2) Wear Sherlock

    This Tumblr blog is ridiculously detailed. As in, their ultimate goal is to locate every single prop and costume that appears onscreen in Sherlock. Luckily they had a two-year hiatus to track down everything from season two, but they’re already doing a pretty good job with Sherlock’s recent third season. Along with sourcing iconic items like Sherlock’s coat and Mycroft’s umbrella, it helpfully provides links to where you can buy the wallpaper seen in houses belonging to John Watson, Sherlock’s landlady, and various murder victims.

    Photo via wearsherlock/Tumblr

    3) Fashion of Gossip Girl

    Gossip Girl may be over, but it’s a perfect example of a show where fashion seemed to matter almost as much as the actual storyline. There were even designer product endorsements in the novels! Obviously a lot of the outfits worn by the main characters were completely unaffordable, but the costume designers made sure to include plenty of high street brands—presumably because they knew that a lot of their audience would be taking fashion tips from Serena van der Woodsen and friends.

    Photo via fashionof-gossipgirl/Tumblr

    4) Joan’s Fashion Show

    Lucy Liu’s costumes in Elementary are so awesome that even people who don’t care about fashion seem to notice them. There are entire sections dedicated to her clothes on Worn on TV and the Onscreen Style Pinterest page, but Joan’s Fashion Show is more popular in the Tumblr fandom community.

    5) Fashion of Glee

    Along with at least one blog dedicated to the cardigans-and-pearls look sported by Glee teacher Emma Pillsbury, Fashion of Glee is one of the many Glee fan sites that helps people copy the show’s Disney-glam aesthetic. We’re guessing that Glee’s costume designer ends up being sent a lot of free stuff by teen brands, because as soon as an outfit has been worn by Rachel Berry or Quinn Fabray, thousands of teenage girls all over the world suddenly have to have it.

    Photo via Fashion of Glee

    Photo via elementarystan/Tumblr


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    On Monday night, an episode of How I Met Your Mother aired, called “Slapsgiving 3.” The title references a long-running joke about a slap bet on the show, but this episode’s storyline also included three of the show’s main characters playing “masters,” dressed in stereotypical, outdated Asian clothing.

    Last night, writer Suey Park started the hashtag #HowIMetYourRacism, which promptly trended on Twitter, to address CBS’s ignorance towards race. The response continued today:

    If you’ve ever watched an episode of HIMYM, you might have noticed that the women in the show are often relegated to wives, girlfriends, or sexual conquests, and the men participate in the usual unfunny, crass jokes we see on much of mainstream prime-time television. HIMYM’s sexism, racism, and transphobia aren’t often noticed within the affable, laugh-tracked plot line, but a closer reading reveals some troubling tropes.

    This blog from last year breaks down how the show often makes jokes at the expense of trans people, and employs the outdated and offensive term “tranny.” Writer Aimee McFarlane addressed this cognitive dissonance today, and other instances of racism on the show. She also noted how activism and protest on Twitter can be a galvanizing force:

    “After taking part in #HowIMetYourRacism, I’m feeling more hopeful for hashtag activism. Instead of being met by hoards of HIMYM fans telling me to shut up, I was met by other Asian Americans, (and our allies) who were equally disturbed.”

    Yes, other shows throughout history have engaged in this same lazy stereotyping—remember this episode of Sex and the City?—but because social media plays such a big part in HIMYM's fandom, it’s also a force for calling out.  

    It’s interesting that Lena Dunham was called out so quickly for not featuring any people of color on Girls, but HIMYM has been on for nearly 10 years and continues to indulge these lazy stereotypes while having no people of color in their main cast. When the Seth MacFarlane–produced show Dads debuted last fall, the (male) writers dove right into offensive Asian stereotypes, as well as some sexism for good measure, in the pilot episode. People were outraged, but Fox rejected a rewrite.

    Of course, there were those who didn’t understand why people couldn’t just take a “joke.” The series finally ends March 31, but just because it’s a fictional show doesn’t mean it has no bearing on the real world, or our cultural consciousness. What's more troubling is that the writers’ and producers’ casual racism-for-laughs has been allowed to pass for entertainment for so long.

    Screengrab via howimetyourmother/YouTube


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    This week alone, we’ve seen both Jennifer Lawrence and LeBron James turned into hashtag memes on Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, as people replicate their Golden Globes attire and on-court theatrics, respectively. Actress Christina Ricci has inspired the latest round of imitation, based on her ability to fit into small spaces.

    And now, people are #Riccing.

     

    This guy attempted #Riccing and #Lawrencing. But was there any #LeBroning? Who will shoot that three-pointer and explode the Internet?

     

     

    If this trend catches on, it will definitely end in someone having to be extracted from something. Possibly the Jaws of Life will be called in. Or perhaps it will be turned into a game show of some sort.

    Related: Someone just wrote a song about this.

    H/T Business Insider Photo via @ChristinaRicci/Twitter 

     


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    Now that we’ve all had a chance to spend our holidays listening to the Frozen soundtrack, currently No. 1 on iTunes, the inevitable covers are starting to crop up—from Pentatonix’s medley to this nightmarish rendition of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”

    But the queen of the killer amateur performances so far has to be Annelise, a 9-year-old Torontonian who records an album every year at Christmas for her family. This year they’ve gotten a special New Year’s treat as well: a pristine recording of “Let It Go” to share with the Internet.

    “Annelise loves Idina and put her whole heart into this song,” the YouTubepage reads, speaking of Frozen’s lead Idina Menzel, a veteran Broadway vocalist known for the powerful showstopper “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. While Menzel is known for having lungs of steel, Annelise’s turn is almost as impressive: She’s clearly enjoying herself, and for someone who hasn’t yet had her first voice lesson, those pipes sound great.

    Oh, and check out the sassy hair flip at the end.

    Photo via Annelise9/YouTube


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    That’s one way to liven up a commute.

    Riders of one New York City bus were given a treat when rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gave an impromptu performance of “Can’t Hold Us.”

    For the commuters, it was just like any other bus ride up until Macklemore and Lewis stepped onto the bus, the latter armed with a boombox. The passengers were initially confused by the duo starting to perform, but before long they all started dancing.

    It’s all a stunt to promote the 2014 Grammy Awards, where Macklemore and Lewis have seven nominations. It’s unclear how many people on the bus, if any, were planted there beforehand to get the dance party started.

    Regardless, it’s probably the cheapest Macklemore concert any of them will ever see.

    Photo via The GRAMMYs/YouTube


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    The 2014 Oscar nominations came down the mountain today, and as a mirror of the Golden Globes, the major categories are fairly similar. What’s notable is that a Netflix film landed its first nomination: Jehane Noujaim’s The Square, for Best Documentary Feature.

    In November, Netflix acquired the rights to The Square, a documentary on Egypt’s violent 2011 protests in Tahrir Square. The film—which was a hit at Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival last year—will officially be released for streaming on Jan. 17, as well as in select theaters. Screenings in New York City and Los Angeles in 2013 were financed independently before Netflix picked the film up for wider distribution, showing how influential the company has become as a taste-maker—and at getting eyes on projects that might otherwise fly under the radar.

    Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, ruffled some feathers during a keynote speech at the Film Independent Forum last fall, when he suggested theater owners should collaborate with Netflix and open bigger films on the same day they begin streaming. “I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution, not only are they going to kill theaters–they might kill movies,” he added. 

    House of Cards has been the main Netflix series on a roll this year, winning three Emmys last fall, and a Golden Globe last Sunday. This documentary acquisition could make it a hat-trick for the company, in terms of awards. This might have been on their mind when they picked up the film. 

    The Square has some admirable competition in the Best Documentary Feature category, including the acclaimed Errol Morris and Werner Herzog-produced The Act of Killing, the SXSW hit 20 Feet From Stardom, Jeremy Scahill’s war expose Dirty Wars, and art doc Cutie and the Boxer.

    Screengrab via TheSquareFilm/YouTube


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    There is, perhaps, no one who hates celebrity culture more than the celebrities stuck in the midst of it. And Jack Gleeson—best known as playing sociopathic boy king Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones—has had more than a few thoughts since he was thrust into the limelight.

    The 21-year-old actor was invited to speak at the Oxford Union, Oxford’s debating society, for a Q&A session back in November, but he found that he couldn’t talk about himself or Game of Thrones for an hour.

    According to Gleeson himself, all he’s done to deserve the honor of speaking at the Oxford Union is “act in a TV show and pretend to be mean... for money.”

    Instead, he decided to hijack the conversation and read an essay he wrote the night before. As one redditor put it, Gleeson “just fucking filibustere[d] his own Q and A.”

    Gleeson is clearly nervous as he starts speaking, but soon enough his argument counters any bout of nerves. He’s a scholar of theology and philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, and his speech is well-researched and well-cited.

    Gleeson originally dreamed of being a famous actor and loved the idea of being able to move an audience through a performance, but when he finally achieved fame at age 17 (something he nor much of the Game of Thrones cast had expected), he found it wasn’t something he actually wanted. People stopped him on the street for photographs, he got invited to a lot of events, and his jokes seemed be more fun “among certain groups of my peers.”

    “It was an atmosphere from which I instantly wanted to retreat,” he explains. “I detested the superficial elevation and commodification of it all, juxtaposed with the grotesque self-involvement it would sometimes draw out in me.”

    Gleeson really gets started around the 7:30 mark, when he starts spouting off his observations on celebrity worship and the science and mentality surrounding it.

    “It’s not just a weird societal quirk,” Gleeson says. “It’s indicative of a complete dissolution of the self in favor of another, which can be seen as almost a direct translation of a religious hysteria.”

    Game of Thrones is already Gleeson’s swan song; the actor said in November that he would quit acting after his time on the show has ended.

    And after seeing just how Gleeson feels about celebrity culture, the following Q&A session feels ironic in comparison.

    H/T Reddit | Photo via OxfordUnion/YouTube


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    Break out your headphones. Spotify just lifted its time limit for free Web listening. 

    Whereas previously the digital music service granted a six-month unlimited trial (and capped some international users at  2.5 hours per week), now anyone can listen to Spotify 24/7. For free. 

    As noted by TechCrunch, the move is part of a larger effort towards increased accessiblity, roughly coinciding with a new smartphone app and an on-demand tablet version, both of which support streaming through ads. It also says a great deal about the company's scalability. 

    But enough with the boring tech stuff. 

    To celebrate the milestone, we've rounded up 12 impeccably curated playlists from our original Spotify series. 

    1) Losing My Edge: The definitive LCD Soundsystem sampler

    LCD Soundsystem's debut single offers a blueprint for one of the decade's defining bands and a paint-by-numbers buyer’s guide for aspiring record collectors.

    2) Shake Shake Shake: The roots of White Denim

    Bassist Steve Terebecki outlines the tracks that helped shape the sound and vision of the critically acclaimed Austin band.

    3) Why OutKast is the greatest rap group of all time

    Two dope boyz, a Cadillac, and 55 essential tracks. 

    4) The best new music of 2013: A 31-hour Spotify playlist

    Trimmed to 450 songs, the mix spans hip-hop, indie rock and its sub-genres, metal, electronic, and country.

    5) SITAR&B

    While often associated with Ravi Shankar and the Beatles, the sitar reared its many vibrating strings on plenty of soul and funk songs of the late Sixties.

    6) Balmorhea presents: Movements for Piano

    Balmorhea cofounder Michael Muller shares a personal and poignant collection of piano compositions.

    7) Bond, Obscure Bond

    With a hat tip to Adele, this 21-song, one-hour playlist sets its sights on some of Bond’s lesser-known musical moments.

    8) Lonerism: Bedroom funk and soul

    Grammy award-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada shares an intimate collection of homemade recordings. 

    9) The Real High Priest: A tribute to Alex Chilton

    Austin songwriter Randy Reynolds pays his respects to Big Star's Alex Chilton with a career-spanning retrospective. 

    10) Bleeding Hearts: The emo class of '03

    Ten years later, emo is experiencing something of a revival. Here's the soundtrack to your awkward high school years.

    11) The outer limits of Spotify

    Good Tidings to You is a collection of outsider art and unconventional (sometimes abrasive) sounds that tests the depths of Spotify.

    12) Best Roof Talk Ever presents: A Northern Soul Love Story

    Nick Divers of Tumblr’s Best Roof Talk Ever spins an uncanny love story using rare soul singles.

    Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III


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    On Tuesday, YouTube debuted its new evening news show, YouTube Nation, which functions as a five-minute round-up of the best videos of the day. Highlighted in the first few shows were Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new web series, the guy who’s dancing his way across China, and the follow-up to Don't Hug Me I'm Scared

    The show is the result of content synergy between YouTube and DreamWorks Animation, which bought Awesomeness TV, a teen-focused YouTube channel, last year. YouTube Nation will curate content already featured on YouTube Spotlight, which has nearly 20 million subscribers. It'll mirror shows like What’s Trending and Now This News, as well a highlight other YouTube channels through playlists.

    Of course, the real goal here is ad revenue for Google. The company hopes an original show like this one will fare better than YouTube’s recent foray into live programming with the YouTube Music Awards. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg explained the show won’t be DreamWorks branded, but more of a “daily lighthouse.”

    “We think it is one of the places of greatest opportunity for any content creator over the next couple of years," he said.

    But will people watch? While the concept isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, it’s executive produced by Steve Woolf and Zadi Diaz, formerly of the Internet culture show Epic Fu, and boasts a team of 10 employees who sift through the site’s content for interesting videos and stories.

    The show’s host, Jacob Soboroff, formerly of HuffPost Live, is an affable guide, and the segments are well-edited for short attention spans. In an interview with USA Today, Soboroff explained that “[t]here's a generation of young people in this country who have grown up with their favorite stars not on the Disney Channel, not on MTV, but on YouTube.” (Reps from YouTube did not return an email for comment.)

    As a landing page for all the day’s best videos, it could be a draw for frequent YouTube users who don't want to sift through Twitter and Facebook, but Soboroff’s also talking about bridging a generation gap of older and younger viewers. That could be a more difficult task. 

    Its advantage could be crowdsourcing: They’re encouraging Twitter followers to tweet content they think should be featured on the show, via the #YouTubeNation hashtag.

    Screengrab via YouTube Nation/YouTube


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    Because he’s Canadian, get it? 

    Late night fraternity social chair Jimmy Fallon welcomed cool-as-a-Canadian rap megastar Drake onto his show last night, no doubt to promote his appearance this week on Saturday Night Live. Fallon generally likes to play beer pong with his guests. This week he chose to do something different.

    The two played four goals worth of beer hockey—air hockey with six holes for the puck strung along the edge of each table side—before Drake’s publicity team presumably stepped in and called the game so as not to alienate his younger fan base. 

    They cheered, they hugged, they’ll both exhibit more dignity in the future. 

    Photo via Late Night with Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    We don’t yet know which teams will go head to head in New Jersey on Super Bowl Sunday yet, but we already know which commercials we can look forward to.

    YouTube announced Thursday that fans will be able to watch some of this year’s ads online through its Ad Blitz page before they even air on TV Feb. 2.

    So far, Ad Blitz is offering teasers for seven different Super Bowl commercials (with plans to release more as it gets closer), game analysis before kickoff, content from, and the ability to vote for your favorite commercials after the game is over.

    Super Bowl commercials are no longer a one or two day affair, and major advertisers have started to release their commercials weeks in advance in order to “win the conversation” among viewers.”

    And YouTube has even acknowledged that viewers couldn’t get enough of the commercials.

    “It’s clear how much you love watching and sharing these commercials on YouTube,” YouTube wrote in a blog post. “In 2013, you watched Big Game ads more than 265M times for over 3.2M hours—that’s the equivalent of watching 800,000 Big Game broadcasts!”

    H/T The Verge | Photo via Stephen Luke/Flickr


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    Comedian Patton Oswalt slammed EpixHD, the streaming channel that was supposed to release his latest comedy special, on Twitter last night because it failed to promote and even show the special on the right date.

    Oswalt had commenced a countdown to the special, “Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time,” and when it ended, the special was still not up on Epix’s site.

    “Embarrassed” (his word) by the incompetence and by fans in his mentions complaining, Oswalt began describing a fake version of his special.

    Even though he was joking, he was understandably pissed and began tweeting anger at the company. He said the special was his first and last with Epix.

    As soon as he finished ranting, the special went up.

    But was the Twitter rant planned all along? Comedy journalist Sean McCarthy of The Comic’s Comic jokingly called Oswalt out for using the “Twitter rant” to promote his new special, saying the comedian manufactured his outrage so the media would cover the premiere. And indeed, more blogs and sites have written about Oswalt’s anger at Epix than about the special itself, thus promoting the special. Could be excellent viral marketing.

    Photo via Jason Carlin/Flickr


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    Not many people could accurately say which sketch was the first to air on The Muppet Show, but you’ve probably already seen it.

    This lasting moment in the Muppets legacy isn’t about Kermit or Miss Piggy (or their famous romance). It’s not any of Fozzie’s jokes, Gonzo’s stunts, or a rambunctious performance by Electric Mayhem. 

    Nope, it’s “Mahna Mahna.”

    Most of the song is about as clear as anything the Swedish Chef says, and there are only a few lyrics involved, yet it’s as iconic as Animal’s relationship with his drums.

    Chances are, if you’ve ever heard of the song it’s already stuck in your head. I’m not sorry.

    But even though it was the first sketch on The Muppet Show, it wasn’t the first time it’s been performed. The song itself, composed by Piero Umiliani, has a complicated history. It first appeared in a softcore documentary on Swedish life called Svezia, inferno e paradiso (Sweden: Heaven and Hell)

    The song debuted for American audiences on an early episode of Sesame Street, where it was performed by Bip Bippadotta and two Anything Muppet Girls. Mahna Mahna—the Muppet with wild orange hair and an affinity for scatting—and the two Snowths didn’t make their debut until a little later. The song appeared on three different shows before making its home with the rest of the Muppets.

    Play it a few more times. Your friends, family, and coworkers will thank you—or curse you for giving them that earworm.

    H/T Reddit | Photo via cliff1066™/Flickr


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    Here are some things you might not know about Bill Murray, one of the Internet’s favorite actors:

    1) He once hired a hearing and speech impaired assistant, but it didn’t work out.

    2) If he could go back in time to meet anyone, it would be Gregor Mendel, a friar and pioneer of genetics.

    3) The movie he thought was “most fun” to act in is actually one of his least funny movies, “Broken Flowers.”

    Murray stopped by Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Friday night and stuck around to answer these and other fan questions.

    It’s become pretty common for celebrities to make Reddit part of their promotional rounds for a new book, movie, or television show. Murray, in fact, was there to promote his new movie Monuments Men, out in theaters Feb. 7. Most of these fan Q&As are par for the course, with celebrities answers common questions about their favorite things and what inspires them.

    But, to the delight of redditors who joined the conversation, Murray took a nothing-to-hide attitude toward the endeavor and seemed to really think about his answers to their questions. Though he’s a bit of a social media recluse (he has no Twitter or Facebook account) he hasn’t shied away from popping up in unexpected places to hang out with fans. There’s even website dedicated to run-ins with Murray, though who really knows what percentage of the stories are true.

    It's worth noting that while Murray went on the record—at length—about a possible Garfield 3 movie ("I don't think so"), he didn't answer questions about the long anticipated Ghostbusters 3

    Photo by Paul Sherwood/Flickr


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    If you’re on Vine, then you’ve probably seen Nick Santonastasso’s hilarious zombie pranks. The New Jersey trickster who was born with no legs and only one arm has caught the attention of the hit zombie drama Walking Dead

    Santonastasso, who refers to his right arm as his “potato,” delights in surprising nsuspecting strangers by pretending to be a member of the undead hordes. Here’s Santonastasso pranking an unsuspecting grocery shopper:

    After several of his zombie pranks, Walking Dead producers decided Santonastasso needed to prank one of their own.

    “Tune in tomorrow for my biggest zombie prank yet,” he told his 50,000 vine followers. 

    Santonastasso, who’s a huge fan of the show, spent a day working with Walking Dead costumers and makeup artists to perfect the perfect prank. Makeup and effects artist Greg Nicotero supervised his transformation to full-on brain-eater, while star Andrew Lincoln dropped in to provide moral support and tell Santonastasso that his target for the day was none other than star Norman Reedus.

    After setting Reedus up by making him think he was doing an interview—attack!

    GIFs by Aja Romano

    Reedus said the prank was “awesome” but added, “You jerk!” in good humor to Santonastasso, with whose work he was already familiar.

    As for Santonastasso, his friends were so impressed with his work they started a petition for him to appear on the show itself. He even received fanart of the event:

    Illustration via nicksanto534/Twitter

    Watch the whole stunt in its grisly glory:

    Screengrab via YouTube


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