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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Tetris turns 30 in June, and lovers of classic games are already starting to celebrate the famous geometrical challenge.

    This Saturday, hundreds of Tetris fans gathered to play the classic block-arranging video game on a 100,000-square-foot screen. Using the glass lighting system of Philadelphia’s 29-story Cira Centre, gamers gathered to compete using joysticks that transmitted data using 4G. Their movements were projected onto two sides of the building. The game kicked off Philadelphia Tech Week, and it has likely broken a record for the world’s largest Tetris game, as well as the world’s largest gaming surface.

    Frank Lee, an associate professor of digital media at Drexel University, oversaw the project. Lee already holds the Guinness world record for the largest architectural game for projecting Pong onto the same skyscraper, so he’s a seasoned pro in the extremely niche field of Making Video Games Gigantic.

    This isn’t the first time people played Tetris on the side of a building. In 2012, hackers projected a game onto MIT’s Green Building. But this time around, the facade was a skyscraper, and the dimensions were much larger.

    Lee may be hard-pressed to top himself after successfully creating the world’s largest video game. Maybe we’ll see Super Mario projected on the moon in a few years’ time.

    H/T New York Times | Photo via Flickr/andromache (CC BY 2.0) 


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    Years from now, we might look back on Whoa, Dude! as some sort of watershed in gay comedy. At its core is the germ of an idea that could be both relevant and interesting to a wider audience than just those that already identify with gay culture. That's if anyone outside of those communities actually sees it.

    Traditionally, to an outsider, gay comedy has been pretty terrible. But it isn't hard to understand why. Anything that is produced under a cultural banner is immediately restricted in its content and a strange scenario arises where topics have to be spoken of or there is an implication that they are being ignored. Try being a novelist in South Africa and not mention race or Apartheid, for example. For purveyors of gay comedy (not to be confused with gay comedians) their targets seem limited to themselves and other gay people, and their narrative is almost exclusively their own experiences. This makes for a particularly exclusive art form.

    What sets Whoa, Dude!, a series of five-minute YouTube clip shows in the vein of Tosh.O, apart is the engagement with and lampooning of straight culture. It is not just straights that feature in the "intentionally and unintentionally homoerotic videos," but they are the butt of the joke for the first few episodes, a decision that I am sure was conscious.

    The source of its humor is pretty simple. Seeing groups of frat boys, jocks, and military types gyrating and rubbing up on each other is funnier than it sounds especially as it interrogates that fine line between masculine swagger and homosexuality. Of course for this to work the viewer must have prejudged the groups featured and decided that they are likely to be homophobic, or at least ordinarily squeamish with male contact. Whether it is right to do this is immaterial, as frankly you're probably going to do it anyway.

    This sounds like basic stuff, but if you think about it, this is all pretty groundbreaking. Sure host and creator Jonny McGovern is more enthusiastic than actually funny on his own accord, but what he presents here is a cunning subversion of comedy that has come before it. For decades, homosexuals were mocked by comedians for acting 'gay,' so now it has so much bite when those that have been made fun of in the past return the favor in the same way.

    Not that you should take this as some sort of retaliation; it doesn't feel like that at all. This isn't lashing out—it doesn't come from a place of insecurity. It is light, fun, and isn't nasty in the slightest. It is, however, inaccessible for those who aren't gay. The title card alone is probably enough to turn most off, featuring a line-up of more six packs than I can appreciate as well as visible pubic hair. Sure I'm not the target market, and I'd be the last to suggest someone dilute their message, but it seems that with even the slightest paring back of some of its extraneous gay iconography this show could have wider appeal.

    I have no idea whether McGovern wants this, but he should try and break out of his comfortable niche because he’s onto something. In an article for Out magazine last year Bret Easton Ellis blamed “The Gay Gatekeepers” (most prominently GLAAD) for putting forward to straight culture a homogenized version of homosexuality that excluded those that didn’t want to be a symbol for “Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves” and those that are “real” and human (i.e. flawed).”

    But here, GLAAD isn’t holding McGovern back, McGovern is. The format is his creation and it is his choice to package it in a way that will repel a lot of straight people. Is it because he isn’t confident making fun of straight people in an open forum? Perhaps. But when he has a man dance, naked only for an elephant thong behind him for no reason other than titillation, it serves not only to alienate those that would make his humor important but also weakens the intent behind his comedy.

    Screengrab via Whoa, Dude!/YouTube


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    It’s pretty easy to find your new favorite band or song online, but what about your new favorite filmmaker? When’s the last time you fell in love with a movie and couldn’t stop watching?

    Over the last couple years, the video site Vimeo has quietly become a source for showcasing those films you might want to watch on repeat. More specifically, the company’s Staff Picks have become stamps of approval for new talent.

    “What we’re really looking for is something we love, something that makes you feel good.”

    The Staff Picks are curated by Jordan McGarry and three staffers in New York. They pick five daily videos during the week, and three on Saturdays and Sundays.  

    “We try to really feature a blend of work,” says McGarry, Vimeo’s U.K.-based lead curator for Staff Picks.  “We feature music videos, short films, animation, motion graphics... and we really try to make sure we’re featuring a mix of content every day, rather than doing four short films or five music videos. We’re also very keen to look for new talent, so it’s not the same people again and again.”

    In contrast with a network like YouTube, which is heavily populated with videos that might go viral then disappear into the noise within a day or two, Vimeo is attempting to create a dialogue around experimental, sustainable videos that warrant more than an “LOL” or “Fake.”

    “Vimeo is well-known for being the place where everybody who really cares about what they’re making uploads their videos, so we have a lot of people who are highly skilled in their craft, people who create really beautiful work,” McGarry says. “Sometimes we’ll see something that was shot on a phone, and doesn’t have the super-high production value, but what we’re really looking for is something we love, something that makes you feel good and you can’t wait to show it to more people.

    “At the end of the month we put together our staff favorites, and during that process, one of the things we think about is, we might have put the video on the channel and we loved it, but have you watched it again and again? And most of the videos that make it into Staff Picks are videos we’ve watched more than once.”

    “The staff pick stamp of approval goes a long way.”

    There’s a focus on interaction with Vimeo. It’s home to many Criterion Collection nerds and obsessives who like to find patterns in film, and there’s a “shout box,” which is sort of like Twitter—a place where filmmakers and artists can trade links and discuss new projects. Unlike YouTube, there aren’t related videos cluttering up your vision or ads playing before clips. The focus is on the content.

    At Sundance this year, Vimeo announced its audience development program, which offers financial assistance and marketing to chosen films that raised more than $10,000 via crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, in exchange for an exclusive premiere on Vimeo on Demand, a platform launched in 2013 that allows creators to sell their films. At SXSW, Vimeo announced a $10 million fund to help those creators with distribution.

    McGarry says they’re seeing more filmmakers with short films in Staff Picks make the leap to feature films and bigger projects. Most recently, Fox picked up an original sci-fi pitch from Dan Blank, director of the 2012 viral hit “Monster Roll,” which was a Staff Pick.

    “I think that’s one of the major kicks of our job,” she says. “When you see someone who’s maybe not professional but is enthusiastic, and they make a brilliant piece and you see it do well on Vimeo and take them into the industry.”

    Riley Stearns’ short film The Cub was included in Staff Picks and featured on Vice. He screened his first feature, the thriller Faults, at this year’s South By Southwest Film conference, and sees Vimeo’s Staff Picks as a visual nod to other outlets looking for interesting content.  

    “Not only did it mean more views amongst the Vimeo community, it also brought the short to the attention of several media outlets and production companies who use the staff picks as a tool for sort of wading through the sometimes overwhelming amount of short-form content available online,” Stearns says. “People respect what the team at Vimeo does and their taste level and the staff pick stamp of approval goes a long way.”

    Celia Rowlson-Hall is another director whose shorts caught the eye of Vimeo staffers. Her fantastic three-minute short “The Audition” was awarded a Staff Pick in 2012 and featured at SXSW in 2013. She recently crowdfunded her first feature, MA, “the story of a virgin mother on a pilgrimage to Las Vegas to give birth to our savior.”

    “Even when you get your work into prestigious festivals, the max amount of people that will see your work is a couple thousand,” she says. “But when my work gets staff picked, hundreds of thousands of people get to see my films. And that is great because that is why I make work, to share it with others, and not just those who can make it to a film festival.

    “I look at Vimeo as a place to share my films with others and to also enjoy what other creators are doing around the world. I think it's a safe place and very rarely do I get a creepy comment.”

    Music videos have become a big part of the Staff Picks repertoire, alongside short films and documentaries. One recent Staff Pick—Kansas musician Kawehi’s cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” —elicited a shout-out from Courtney Love. Dimitri Basil’s lovely video for Vance Joy’s “Riptide” is another one of those videos that’s easy to watch over and over, and McGarry is excited about Saman Kesh, who’s directed short-form videos for Placebo and Calvin Harris. She also pointed to fashion and music video artists Harrys as ones to watch; their short documentary on design duo Proenza Schouler is a recent Staff Pick, and it looks like a music video.

    With all the groundbreaking work Vimeo features, could they one day debut original programming? McGarry says perhaps, in the future, but right now they’re focused on helping you find your new favorite filmmaker.

    Screengrab via Dimitri Basil/Vimeo 

     


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    Casey Wiegand started blogging after having a miscarriage in 2011. Her blog, The Wiegands (the other Wiegands are her husband, Christopher Wiegand, a filmmaker, and their three children) has created a passionate following. It’s embraced as a mainstay of the “mommy blogger” genre, though as previously mentioned, also dives into some heavier emotional territory. One thing is certain: It’s a very popular site. Her husband, inspired by Casey's blogging and the community she'd created, decided to produce a documentary about the blog, as well the entire blogging culture and industry.

    "We were at the mall and people came up to us and recognized me like, 'Oh, you're Chris. I read your wife's blog.' That got me thinking," Wiegand tells me. "Not in a narcissistic way. Just more like, there is a lot of power here, a lot of influence. It's a huge responsibility."

    "I want to validate these bloggers," he says. "It's really cool and can have a huge impact on society."

    Christopher interviewed 51 of Casey's closest blogger-friends over the course of a two-month road trip he took last summer. The idea was to explore and explain what is a very diverse, all-encompassing movement. 

    The trailer for the documentary—American Blogger—was released yesterday:


    The trailer alternates between interviews with bloggers and Tererence Malik-esque landscapes, because nothing says “blogging”—but also “America”—like the Grand Canyon and wheat fields. While the trailer can put you in something of a trance, you might notice there’s a certain consistency to its subjects: It just so happens that all of the bloggers—those featured in the trailer, at least—are remarkably well-dressed and attractive white women (with one minority being the exception) who ask themselves questions like "What is a blog?" and say things like "I think the human experience in general is interesting to people."

    "I imagine that a lot of these girls will send this movie to their dads, like 'Hey dad, you wonder what I do, you never really understand what I do, or why I love doing it but watch this movie, you're gonna see by the end of the movie why I love blogging,'" Wiegand speculates. "I kinda wanted it to be a mouthpiece for them.

    Wiegand gets defensive when I bring up the overwhelming whiteness of it all.

    "I wasn't sure if anybody would try to question my motives on picking people or something. I filmed the women who said yes. It's not intentional if it's heavy one way or another," he says. "I would hope that nobody would ever look at that and make some political argument out of it."

    "I hope that's not what people think about ... I'm a documentarian. I see myself as a journalist. I can't force something that's not there," Wiegand explains. "I just film what is presented to me."

    At one point the trailer's voiceover intones, "Follow along as he [Christopher] travels the United States, interviewing a range of bloggers." At 1:48, in a stroke of editing genius, Christopher sits down with the only woman-of-color in the whole thing, literally as the narration hits the words "a range of bloggers."

    "I'm not the kind of person who's going to slot someone in there just because I don't want to be accused of something. I'm not going to throw in a..." he pauses, "random person just to be able to check it off my list."

    None of this means Christoper Weigard is racist; he spent a summer interviewing his wife's bogger friends and colleagues, which could very well be mostly white. But to call a documentary about a specific demographic American Blogger is missleading.

    "I'm an artist, so I'm gonna make it the way I feel like, the way I want to make it and not because I want to appeal to anybody ... I don't know if there is something inherently about people who have blogs," he says, trailing off. "You'd be able to say the same thing about every Hollywood movie."

    H/T HyperVocal | Screenshot via American Blogger

     


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    During World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania XXX Sunday night, legendary brawler Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway wasn’t the only person to have his winning streak broken.

    Reddit user Dolphins1925, who became famous for accurately predicting the winner of eight WWE matches in July, had his streak snapped after his source within the WWE failed to provide the right intel.

    Dolphins1925 expressed his outrage on Twitter, freaking out over the sight of Brock Lesnar breaking the Undertaker’s 21-match winning streak.

    In July, Dolphins1925 made headlines after he picked the winners of WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view event. Before the match, Dolphins1925 wrote on Reddit how he got his “information from a source who has VERY credible inside information regarding the outcomes (win/losses) of the matches themselves.”

    Given that this information is out there, we both feel that I should continue to share this information until it garners the attention of WWE. Vince and upper management are not taking reasonable measures to prevent this information from being leaked. These people whom are leaking this information are profiting off it at the expense of the WWE, the fans, and the integrity of the product. It is for these reasons that I am hoping to put an end to WWE insiders leaking PPV outcomes.

    While Dolphins1925 may not have picked the right winner, the online sportsbook Bovada knew the 49-year-old Undertaker would get beat. 

    According to Forbes:

    The Undertaker opened at -3000; in other words, you’d need to bet $3,000 just to win $100 on an Undertaker victory. That line later moved to -4000, and by Saturday afternoon was at -5000.

    Photo by Vishal Somaiya/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)


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    The opening scene of Silicon Valley’s pilot episode, “Minimum Viable Product,” does swift work world-building the money-flooded, dorky, pompous, slightly misogynistic off-kilter version of northern California’s technology hub. It begins with misdirection: For the first few seconds, viewers might think they’ve mistakenly flipped to the middle of a Kid Rock concert. The aging musician flings himself across a stage with flashing lights, fireworks and a giant American flag, energetically performing like he’s at The Gathering of the Juggalos or wherever it is Kid Rock normally performs these days.

    But this is no juggalo gathering. It’s barely a concert—as the camera pans back, we see the sparse crowd is in the backyard of a mansion. They are subdued and utterly uninterested in the music, and clustered into gender-segregated groups of gangly men and bored-looking women. Later we see there are more party guests gathered around a video game than the live performance. “Fuck these people,” Kid says. That might as well be the thesis for this show, which displays sympathy for its protagonist but has no mercy for the tech companies and culture it dissects.

     


    We meet our hero, meek programmer Richard Hendrix (Thomas Middleditch) as he attempts to navigate this sad, weird party; he’s flanked by his fellow nerds Big Head (Josh Brener) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjani, nailing every line). Even though Richard works at Hooli (a very, very thinly fictionalized version of Google), he lives rent-free with these men at a tech incubator run by Erlich (T.J. Miller), a gloriously gross wannabe-Lebowski who sold his company (Aviato, which he makes sure to pronounce with an inexplicable Spanish accent and mention at every opportunity) and uses the profit to host the motley gaggle of guys with hope one of them will churn out an even better startup idea.

    Rounded out by Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), a self-described “LaVayan Satanist with some theistic tendencies,” the hoodie-wearing programmer tribe has about 79000 percent less swagger than its Entourage counterparts, but because they’re both HBO comedies with contemporary California settings and a group of young male leads, I feel obligated to point out that Big Head is totally the Turtle. And now I will never compare Silicon Valley to Entourage again since they fall on opposite ends of the smarm/snark binary and also, no one should talk about Entourage ever.

    In the pilot, at least, Richard’s milquetoast personality gets in the way of feeling invested in his emerging dilemma, but even if Middleditch’s character continues to be a goober, the supporting cast may be strong enough to compensate, although the lack of female characters will be a problem if they don’t introduce at least a few tech players with two X chromosomes.

    The party’s host (we learn he sold his company to Google for $200 million) jumps onstage with Kid Rock and starts spewing self-congratulatory platitudes. “We’re making the world a better place through constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility!” he says. Would you be surprised if I was quoting that line from any number of different tech company manifestos or transcripts from back-patting conference round tables? It’s eerily similar to some of the grandstanding hogwash startup founders and venture capitalists spew on the regular. Like the spot-on set design for the glossy-chic Hooli campus, Silicon Valley’s dialogue barely has to veer from reality to poke fun at its puffed-up subject. “Oh god. The marketing team is having another bike meeting… douchebags,” Big Head says as he and Richard go to work at their lower-tier Hooli day jobs. If that exact sentence hasn’t been uttered on Google’s campus, I’ll eat my hat.

    Silicon Valley comes from Mike Judge, who is responsible for one of the most dreadfully accurate on-screen depictions of corporate culture: Cult-classic film Office Space (1999). Judge briefly worked for a Silicon Valley startup and reportedly quit because he loathed the company’s culture, and contempt for the hollow do-gooderism that cloaks the fundamentally acquisitional nature of large tech companies is on full display here.

    Quivering Richard’s story is propelled forward by a deux ex software design: turns out he accidentally engineered a tech marvel. Buried inside his “Google for music” app, Pied Piper, there’s a compression algorithm that becomes the subject of a bidding war between two viciously-drawn tech executives. Richard must choose between a $10 million offer from Hooli’s founder, Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), and an investment from rival tech magnate Peter Gregory that will allow him to keep control of Pied Piper. Belson’s delusional Hooli leader has a cult of personality, an unnerving stare, and a glorious lack of self-awareness.

    The scene introducing Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) is this episode’s sharpest: He’s railing against attending college in a TED Talk (an obvious jab at PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who has a similarly zealous crusade against higher education in real life). Richard and Big Head go to try and pitch Pied Piper to Gregory; they get his ear for a moment after threatening to enroll. “DON’T GO BACK TO COLLEGE!” Gregory roars. It’s funny. Welch died last December, so it’s unclear how the show will handle writing his character out, which is unfortunate for many reasons; he’s terrific here. And Gregory’s excessively narrow smart car is one of the episode’s funniest sight gags.

    The lone female character, Gregory’s head of operations, Monica, is played by Amanda Crew. She seems to be set up as Richard’s love interest, even though he’s about as appealing as a piece of soggy toast, and I hope they do something more with her character and bring in a few more women. Yes, startup culture is dominated by men. But Silicon Valley’s satire is best when it is sly, and there’s no need for such a hyperbolic gender segregation; even Girls has fleshed-out male characters. It’s appropriate that even sweet-seeming characters like Big Head are clearly misogynistic; on the Hooli bus, he casually shit-talks an older lady riding a bike, and he’s responsible for an app called “Nip Alert.” From what we’ve seen time and time again, that’s not a leap from brogrammer culture at all. But Silicon Valley will be a better show if it can temper its satirical portrayal of sexism in tech by spending time with characters that play women in the world.

    Silicon Valley’s pilot establishes the world it is set in well, but I’m hoping Richard becomes less of a weenie as the series progresses, and that the gender ratio evens itself out. 

    Realism index

    • The names of the fake startups were so accurately awful. +10
    •  Erlich’s hair clip is so wrong it’s right. +10
    • Gavin’s assessment of programmer friend groups (tall white guy, short Asian guy, fat guy with a pony tail, guy with wacky facial hair, and East Indian guy) is contradicted by the show’s main tribe of weirdos. -10
    •  That final scene, where the guys sit around drinking beer, smoking weed, coding, and messing around, was warm and felt true: We get a glimpse of why they’re friends beyond a love of tech. +10
    •  I can’t even imagine how many doctors pitch their mHealth apps to tech sector patients +10
    •  Seriously, why are there no women? -50
    • That Steve Jobs vs. Steve Woz argument was spot on. +10
    • I’m actually surprised Nip Alert isn’t already a thing. +10

    Screengrab via HBO 


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    After announcing his retirement from the Late Show last week, host David Letterman invited Martha Stewart on as a guest. And it got weird, fast. Stewart had brought with her a tray of devilled eggs, and two glasses of beet lemonade, as you do.

    Almost dropping the tray, Letterman enjoyed the eggs so much that he began to eat the filling directly from an icing tube. And then instead of drinking Martha Stewart's prepared drinks, he began chugging from a bottle of vodka. Now, while it was funny to watch, there’s one thing to remember: David Letterman is a recovering alcoholic, and has been for around 30 years.

    Normally during the Late Show, alcoholic drinks are replaced with either water or juice, and aside from a few accidents, he has not fallen off the wagon. While it's likely that the bottle was simply filled with water, the segment only becomes more awkward as Letterman attempts to feed Martha Stewart directly from a piping bag.

    Letterman jokingly chugging "vodka" from the bottle has been a long-running joke on the Late Show, with previous targets including Betty White and Lindsay Lohan. 

    But perhaps as Letterman approaches the end of his long run on CBS and the network obsess over his successor, he has simply decided to let his show descend into anarchy. After inviting Bill Murray and Lady Gaga on the same show, it looks like David Letterman is content to let things get really weird.


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    Game of Thrones has reigned supreme as the top-pirated show three years in a row and last weekend’s premiere of Season 4 is no different.

    After HBO’s streaming service, HBO Go, crashed under the weight of worldwide demand, the episode clocked a million BitTorrent downloads in just the 12 hours after its release. More than 300,000 BitTorrent users shared the episode simultaneously, according to TorrentFreak, making it the most popular pirated show ever.

    While services like HBO Go can be crippled by millions of users attempting to access it, BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer architecture means that more people sharing the episode actually increases download speeds.

    In addition to download issues, HBO Go has another problem. Despite the slogan “It’s HBO. Anywhere,” the service is simply not available in much of the world due to international licensing issues, likely driving even more viewers toward piracy.

    TorrentFreak sampled 18,333 IP addresses and found that the download was most popular in Australia with 11.6% of the total. The United States, United Kingdom, and Canada followed.


    Photo via GameOfThrones/YouTube


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    Stare at the new issue of Rolling Stone awhile and you may notice something odd. No, it’s not that Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus appears to be aging backward. Think bigger. Think historic.

    Give up? Then you may want another crack at the sixth grade:

    Yes, John Hancock’s signature, though famously enormous and well-flourished, does not appear on the U.S. Constitution—rather it’s the Declaration of Independence that bears his massive mark. But Americans do tend to think of their founding fathers as a unit, don’t they?  

    Louis-Dreyfus, however, seemed to indicate that she and Rolling Stone—which has yet to comment on the matter—were in on the joke, alluding to a hapless White House staff character on her HBO political comedy as the guy responsible for the gaffe. Makes sense!

    Whether intentional or not, John Hancock’s John Hancock here is likely to leave the country even more confused than it was. Who can keep all these little details straight?

    Oh, well. It’s not like the media does such a great job of fact-checking the present, either.

    H/T Daily News | Photo by stan.faryna/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    If you like Zach Braff, you’ll love the trailer for Zach Braff’s new movie, starring Zach Braff as that character Zach Braff always plays, written and directed by Zach Braff.

    Funded via Kickstarter, Wish I Was Here is Braff’s follow-up to the 2004 Manic Pixie Dream Girl hit Garden State. It follows the story of a 35-year-old struggling actor as he tries to find meaning in his life, and is essentially the Zach Braffiest movie imaginable.

    Much as we like to avoid using the word “quirky,” it’s really the only way to describe the trailer for Wish I Was Here. Surrounded by an ensemble cast of white people plus Turk from Scrubs, Zach Braff goes wig shopping with his children, visits various picturesque natural locations, and sinks into a dream world where he’s an astronaut—all soundtracked by whimsical indie music, of course.

    Garden State was one of those “love it or hate it” kind of movies, so Braff was on the receiving end of a fair amount of pushback when he announced his Kickstarter campaign. However, people paid up $3 million for this movie, and the resulting trailer is precisely what every Zach Braff fan would’ve hoped for. Mock all you like, but Wish I Was Here was successful before it was even filmed.

    Screencap via YouTube


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    It’s been around since December, but you likely first saw a trailer for The Principle—a far-out “documentary” that claims the sun revolves around the Earth, a “fact” that NASA is obviously committed to suppressing—sometime this week. And if you’re a geek in the purest sense, you may have recognized the voice of the narrator who tickles our curiosity with a vague but sweeping pronouncement: “Everything we think we know about our universe… is wrong,” says Kate Mulgrew, best known for playing Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager

    The juxtaposition is baffling. How could an icon of the sort of science fiction that prides itself on a correspondence to the laws of reality be a geocentrist? Moreover, the film is the brainchild of Catholic apologist Robert Sugenis, who, besides writing a massive tome entitled Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right: The Scientific Evidence for Geocentrism, has openly questioned the facts of the Holocaust. Physicist Lawrence Krauss, also featured in the preview clip, called shenanigans over at Slate, nevertheless admitting he could not explain his involvement:

    I have no recollection of being interviewed for such a film, and of course had I known of its premise I would have refused. So, either the producers used clips of me that were in the public domain, or they bought them from other production companies that I may have given some rights to distribute my interviews to, or they may have interviewed me under false pretenses, in which case I probably signed some release. I simply don’t know.

    Following up on that puzzled disavowal, Mulgrew came out with a Facebook post that described her rejection of Sugenis’ junk science and indicated that she had been “misinformed” about him.

    So, did anybody in The Principle actually agree with its core thesis? Or conduct a little due diligence with regard to its director? Because we’re sort of impressed that Sugenis could put together a project like this without his collaborators knowing what it entailed or how their likenesses would be used therein. If it weren’t ignorant propaganda that makes climate change deniers look sane, you might even call it “guerilla filmmaking.”

    As things stand, it’s more like “a pending class-action suit.”

    H/T National Post | Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Over the last month, CNN has devoted most of its coverage to finding missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and tweeting out the hard-hitting questions. Despite the sensory overload of their 24-hour plane coverage, the channel's ratings for March were impressive.

    You can now look forward to more of those tweets: CNN is debuting a news show made specifically for Twitter.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the network is launching CNN Digital Studios, in an effort to bring original content to the Web and perhaps capitalize on the ratings boost. CNN's starting with a Twitter-based show called Your 15 Second Morning, which will feature video clips and hurl short blasts of news at Twitter users. Chris Berend, CNN’s VP of video content development, told Mediaite that the show will “live natively on Twitter” and is “specifically for Twitter users who are checking their phones first thing in the morning.” Instead of viewers turning on CNN, the network is bringing the news to them—to accommodate the way we read now.

    CNN's attempting to attract a younger demo as well and promises more entertainment-based programs like Related With Dave Franco, a Funny or Die co-production featuring James Franco’s brother musing on celebrity siblings; a show hosted by the “urban chef” protege of Anthony Bourdain; and Crossfire Reloaded, which will include that show’s hosts musing about stuff like weed, man.

    More was announced at today’s CNN Worldwide Upfront presentation, including more CNN prime time debuts and HLN’s foray into more social media-themed programming, including Shira Lazar’s What’s Trending, and America’s Most Liked, a game show that can “take someone from Internet nobody to web superstar” with on-screen “likes.” 

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Stephen Colbert will take over as the next host of The Late Show, CBS announced Thursday.

    Follwing David Letterman's announcement that he would retire as host of The Late Show after 21 years in the chair, The Colbert Report host quickly became the front-runner for the position.

    “Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Colbert, who has been the host of The Colbert Report since 2006, said in a statement released by CBS. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

    Colbert has signed a five-year deal with CBS, and will take over for Letterman in 2015. Letterman's exact retirement date has not yet been announced. 

    “Stephen is a multi-talented and respected host, writer, producer, satirist and comedian who blazes a trail of thought-provoking conversation, humor and innovation with everything he touches,” Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment, said in a statement. ”He is a presence on every stage, with interests and notable accomplishments across a wide spectrum of entertainment, politics, publishing and music. We welcome Stephen to CBS with great pride and excitement, and look forward to introducing him to our network television viewers in late night.”

    No decision has been made on how Colbert, who has hosted The Colbert Report under a persona of a right-wing pundit, will host The Late Show. However, the Wall Street Joural reports that Colbert will drop his character as part of the move. CBS says that the creative elements and location of the Colbert-hosted Late Show "will be determined and announced at a later date.”

    On Letterman’s run as host of The Late Show, CBS Chairman Les Moonves said, “David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night.”

    The Colbert Report is slated to wrap up in December, according to Comedy Central statement to The Verge. Comedy Central says that it “is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades. We look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best."

    Photo by Peabody Awards/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    But will he be Stephen or "Stephen?"

    The Internet is having a collective braingasm over the news that Stephen Colbert is going to be replacing the legendary David Letterman as the new host of The Late Show. In an era of passing late-night torches, Colbert, the beloved host of the Colbert Report, will be stepping into compete with equally charming recent Tonight Show ascendant Jimmy Fallon.

    There's just one question: Will Colbert be taking his Colbert Report persona, in which he plays a cluelessly lovable Republican espousing satirically backwards views, with him? On the one hand, the network that brought us The Good Wife is clearly eager to break out of its stodgy mold, and Colbert's carefully cultivated persona—even his name, "Col-behr," is a pretentious twist on Col-bert—seems primed to do that. On the other hand, if "Stephen" makes a cluelessly racist remark cleverly designed to mock racism, will conservative CBS viewers appreciate the satire? After all, not even the Internet is in on the joke all the time. We can't imagine that the kind of humor that resonated with the audiences of The Colbert Report and comedy partner Jon Stewart's Daily Show will sit well with older Late Show fans.

    The news left the Internet scrambling with questions:

    CBS acknowledged Colbert's satirical skills as part of the draw in the network's press release Thursday, though they didn't address the Stephen/"Stephen" conundrum.

    "Stephen is a multi-talented and respected host, writer, producer, satirist and comedian who blazes a trail of thought-provoking conversation, humor and innovation with everything he touches,” said Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment.

    Though the network narrowly avoided hiring a white guy named Jimmy, the choice means that the thrones of late night comedy remain entirely populated by, wait for it, white dudes. To all those people who predicted Ellen would be the only one worthy of taking over for Letterman: You forgot about the Report, the Peabody-award-winning GOP elephant in the room.

    And what of Colbert's career? Will his satirical creative bent still flourish if it's not tied to the "Stephen" persona?

    Whatever the case, we're excited, and we'll be tuning in next year when Letterman's reign officially ends. Hopefully, that will be more than enough time to work out the kinks. 

    Photo via mhimmelrich/Flickr (CC-BY-SA-2.0)


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    So, this is, like, literally a story about one word. Literally.

    When actor Rob Lowe answered questions in a Reddit AMA on Thursday, the Internet essentially reached its daily quota for the word “literally” by early afternoon.

    Lowe’s Parks and Recreation character, Chris Traeger, uses the word “literally” in speech as often as humans use air in breathing. To be clear, that last sentence was both hyperbole and simile. It was intended to be understood figuratively, which used to be the opposite of literally. 

    A simple Cmd-F search reveals that Lowe and his audience, with all of the nearly 1,800 questions and answers displayed, combined to type “literally” 137 times. (Note: This doesn’t include every reply to every comment. The page crashed when I tried to display them all.) 


     

    As a comparison, the word “time” came up 135 times—after subtracting the three times it’s used on the sidebar and the five times it appears as part of “sometimes.” 

    “Time” is about the 50th most common word in the English language. “Literally” is literally the 2497th most-common word, according to EnglishClub.

    Let’s not even get into the fact that redditors came up with alternative spellings such as “Litch-rally” and “LIT-chrally,” in attempt to mimic the way Lowe’s character pronounces the word on Parks and Recreation.


     

    Redditor bamface, who thinks Lowe is “literally the best,” asked Lowe how often the word has crept into his everyday vocabulary.

    “I literally cannot stop saying that word,” Lowe replied. “Although now that literally has become such a catchphrase, I literally need to find a way to begin to not say it.”

    Despite previously trying to “banish it from [his] personal vocabulary for a while” in 2012, it seems Lowe not been able to kick the habit. He even used literally as a hashtag on Twitter as recently as this week.

    This is not meant to be an indictment of Lowe or the writers of Parks and Recreation or anyone who uses the word too often. We all do. 

    Rather, this is just a unique opportunity to reflect on our changing language and how pop culture can create a feedback loop, amplifying linguistic trends. Chris Traeger says “literally” because Michael Schur, the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, noticed that a lot of people were misusing the word. Now, it’s a safe bet that the word is misused more than ever.

    It has reached the point where the primary definition of “literally” has been sullied beyond repair, and dictionaries now include newfangled usage options. “Literally” now also means figuratively, and it carries hyperbolic and comedic undertones. Though as Reddit user ChaosScore notes, the comedy of “literally” may be sucomming to atrophy. 

    “Literally every comment in reply to him has the word literally,” ChaosScore said. “I think the joke is literally dead now.”

    Aziz Ansari, who appears with Lowe on Parks and Recreation, did a Reddit AMA of his own in November. After displaying the first 2,000 comments on the page, the word “literally” does not appear one time.

    Photo via Twitter/Rob Lowe


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    Rappers often posture themselves as kings, gods, or reincarnated deities, and their aesthetic mirrors those assertions. But what if there was a deeper parallel? Say, between rappers’ aesthetics and pre-16th-century art?

    That’s what the Tumblr B4XVI is exploring. It’s the project of Cecilia Azcarate Isturiz, in collaboration with Ferdinando Verderi, and attempts to highlight “an invisible conversation between hip-hop and art before the 16th century.” Isturiz, a freelance art director, spent a lot of time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as on their website, where you can zoom in on images.

    “I went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York where I live,” she explains. “And I started seeing the unexpected. It all started with these guys and the hat on the floor. And then I started remembering all the Flemish, and the ancient civilizations in Italy, and then the furs, the chains, the gold, etc. Art that I loved so much back when I lived in Europe because I always thought they represent power. And that's when I started making connections.

    “Then I got interested in the iconography of power. Is there a timeless representation of swag? When I shared the idea with Ferdinando Verderi, he had just visited the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico, and we noticed that pre-Columbian art gives a whole new layer to this. It meant this idea was older than the old word.”

    To illustrate that yes, swag might be timeless, they posted images of contemporary rappers next to works of art, like this Mesoamerican artifact and a photo of Young Thug:

     

     

    And this portion of Flemish painter Quentin Massys’ 1520 painting, Ecce Homo, paralleled with 2 Chainz:

     

    This detail of The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, 1465, and ASAP Ferg:

     

    She says the goal is to imagine hip-hop and art as rooted in the same history, and hopes that B4XVI might be a “retroactive style guide.”

    “We hope that this will inspire looking at the past with new eyes,” she adds, “so that hip-hop can become a door through which people can discover art, and so that art institutions can consider hip-hop’s place in the history of art.”

    Image via B4XVI/Tumblr 


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    The biggest question people have since CBS announced that Stephen Colbert would take over as the next host of The Late Show is how Colbert, who plays a right-wing pundit on The Colbert Report, will be as himself. By looking back at old interview footage, we might get some clues.

    Colbert has appeared on David Letterman’s show multiple since starting The Colbert Report, and while it might be hard to beat Colbert’s ridiculousness at the top of his game as he promoted his cameo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug back in December, it’s his first appearance that shows a different side to him.

    He went on the show in 2005 before The Colbert Report premiered, and in it he opens up about growing up in a family with 11 children in South Carolina and competing in a boat race with his own children. There’s plenty of humor involved, but with Letterman’s last show still up in the air, it’s a small preview of what Colbert might actually be like on The Late Show.

    He seldom does interviews nowadays out of character these days, so it’s real treat for the people who have followed him for years.

    On last night’s show, Colbert paid tribute to Letterman and said that he learned more from him than he did many of his college courses.

    “And I gotta tell you, I do not envy whoever they try to put in that chair,” Colbert noted.

    And then it was back to business as usual.

    Photo via Late Show with David Letterman/YouTube


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    Drake indulged Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday night with a prime real estate, six-minute version of "Lie Witness News." You've seen these: a correspondent in the field prays on the accommodating and fame-chasing nature of people by asking them about fictional developments, only for the interviewees to nod along while America laughs at their vanity and dishonesty.

    The twist for this "Lie Witness" segment is that Drake would be gauging his popularity by asking strangers about Drake.

    "In person people are nice, because you can punch them in person," Kimmel says.

    And so our hero dons glasses, a beard, and a mop-top wig to ask unsuspecting civilians about … Drake and his hosting of the ESPYs on July 16. "It's almost like when Tom Sawyer went to his own funeral," Kimmel adds.

    Here's where Drake wins: His impromptu questions are razor sharp and hilarious. A sample:

    "How do you feel about Drake refusing to acknowledge Caucasian athletes at the ESPYs?"

    "How do you feel about Drake publicly urinating at a Baby Gap?"

    "How do you feel about Drake singing 'As Long As My Bitches Love Me' at Malia Obama's birthday party?"

    "How do you feel about his surprise performance at Coachella where he'll be airing his sex tape on the screen?"

    Drake captures folks at their most dismissive and casually racist with respect to hip-hop ("They all do that”) but ends on a sweet note when he surprises an unsuspecting fan.

    And since it’s Friday, here’s a throwback Drake playlist to get your weekend started.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel/YouTube


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    Last night, Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and while it’d been rumored Joan Jett would front the band’s performance (she did “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), other singers stepped in to front songs as well: Kim Gordon, Annie Clark, and Lorde.

    It was quite an impressive lineup, one that shows the generational legacy of Nirvana 20 years after Kurt Cobain’s death. Lorde performed “All Apologies,” a song released three years before she was even born, but she managed to color it with old-soul pastel gothic-ness. 

    The show will air on HBO on May 31, for those who weren’t there in person, and didn’t want to pay $20 to watch the online telecast.

     

    H/T Gawker Photo via annettegeneva/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

     


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    This is modern romance: Boy asks corporation to go to prom with him on Twitter, corporation agrees, boy goes to prom and gives corporation its own unique brand of social media promotion.

    That’s the story of Muthana Sweis and Netflix. Back in January, the 17-year-old junior at Chicago's Marist High School asked the streaming giant to accompany him to prom, if he got 1,000 retweets on the tweet. The Internet’s all about a genuine love story, and granted him his wish. Netflix said yes the next day, and “accompanied” him to prom on March 29.

    Yes, Sweis actually had a date; Netflix was more of a virtual chaperone. They offered Sweis a car, driver, and tux, all based on movies they stream: a Grease-themed Buick driven by Danny Zuko, and James Bond’s tux from Skyfall. (I personally would have picked Ben Stiller's suit from Zoolander, and the Breaking Bad RV driven by Jack Sparrow, but it seems Sweis wanted to keep it "classy." Teens are so weird!)

     

    No word on what happened after prom: Did Sweis spend 30 minutes picking a movie and then fell asleep two minutes into it? (Netflix joke!) However, this stunt did set an interesting precedent for how we interact with brands on social media, and how they interact with fans. There’s a likelihood Sweis didn’t actually approach Netflix, but rather, the other way around. Still, people are now talking about that time a teenager went to prom with Netflix, so it worked.

    It also raises a somewhat terrifying question: So, what brand will you ask to prom?

    H/T Ad Week | Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube


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