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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Another day, another crossover food project by a hip-hop artist. But could this one be the cream of the crop? Meet Fuck, That’s Delicious.

    What separates Action Bronson’s new webseries from the culinary efforts of his rapping contemporaries? For one, it's neither a cheesy add-on nor a midlife crisis (sorry, Coolio); the series actually feels like a continuation of his musical output. You need only to read the titles to some of his tracks (“Ceviche”, “Jerk Chicken,” and “Roasted Bone Marrow”), check his mixtape, or pay attention to the opening scene of the music video for “Brunch” to realize that the time spent in his family’s restaurant and as a sous chef has always fed his rhymes.

    But it takes more than just a passion to make a spin-off like this palatable to a cynical public. So it isn’t a surprise to find that the highlight is not the food featured in the first episode of this monthly 10-minute series (which all looks great, but frankly, so it should): Rather, it's the same charisma that has driven Bronson’s ascendence in rap. 

    Look no further than his interview with Nardwuar, where he crosses seamlessly from recommending a Korean restaurant in Flushing (“right across the street from the library”) to opining on the E. coli risk of pre-bagged salad—the Mexican pickers, you see, angry at America “wipe it across their grundle … put it on their assholes”.

    Now I don’t know whether that's true, but either way, he’s effortlessly funny, and Bronson’s tendency to jump quickly from the profound to the profane is placed front and center in Fuck, That’s Delicious. It is layered for such a short show, featuring footage from a past tour and Bronson's reminiscences on favorite haunts in his hometown. He visits Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Queens to have a vanilla and chocolate malt milkshake; he confesses his eager anticipation is “fucking sad.” But it’s nostalgia that’s the major draw: "I come here to feel like a child again,” he says. 

    It may seem that a natural progression for future episodes land Bronson behind the stove, but he's already done something similar before, and it’s debatable if he’s any better a cook than any old person with a camera phone.

    As a food tourist, however, Bronson is peerless. Hopefully Fuck, That's Delicious continues to find him at his best.

    Screenshot via Munchies/YouTube


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    Amazing Spider-Man 2 featured an unnecessary number of advertising tie-ins, but it looks like the new X-Men movie is going to give it a run for its money.

    While Spider-Man wound up playing a dancing baby in a truly embarrassing Evian commercial, we’re assuming it wasn’t the real Andrew Garfield inside the Spidey Suit. The cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past weren’t quite so lucky.

    Mystique (played by an unknown actress, presumably because Jennifer Lawrence refused) filmed a Hardees ad so pointlessly sexist it might as well have been penned by someone from Mad Men. She literally has to shapeshift into a dude to eat that bacon burger, because Mystique is simply not man enough to manage it.

    Then, from the other side of the bacon burger gender divide, there’s this commercial in which Quicksilver uses his super-speed to... catch pieces of bacon when they fall out of his sandwich?

     

    There’s also a third Hardees/Carls Jr. bacon burger ad, this one starring Colossus. Just in case the “bacon gives you superpowers” message hadn’t gotten through already.

    The weird thing here isn’t so much that these commercials exist, but that the concept around them is so blatantly nonsensical. Surely there’s a more appropriate X-Men related product than Hardees? Leather jackets, perhaps? Or beer, for Wolverine? Sadly, the movie’s other product tie-ins are equally embarrassing. Just check out this Axe commercial, in which Havok and a couple of extras act out an incredibly stilted scene at Professor X’s school for mutants. It’s honestly not clear how this is supposed to persuade us to buy Axe products, particularly since the ad never explains which character is wearing Axe, if any.

     

    Finally, there’s the “limited edition” X-Men: Days of Future Past Twinkies. Someone at MTV has taken the time to review them, but for those who don’t actually want to ingest any mutant Hostess products, you can just marvel at the packaging on their Facebook page.

    Is the X-Men: Days of Future Past audience meant to be made up of people who chow down on a hearty meal of Hardees burgers and Twinkies, before dousing themselves in Axe body spray and going to the movies? According to these marketing campaigns, apparently so.

    Screenshot via YouTube


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    Along with Batman backstory reboot Gotham, DC/Warner Brothers have two other comicbook adaptations in the works: Constantine and The Flash. On Thursday, both shows were officially commissioned for a full series.

    The Flash will air on the CW as a spinoff to Arrow (now in its second season), while Constantine will be joining NBC’s Fall schedule. The Flash is by far the most traditional superhero show in the new crop of live-action DC Comics shows, with the first few teaser images showing the title character in a slightly updated version of his iconic red costume.

    The Flash will star 24-year-old Grant Gustin, previously known for his role as Kurt Hummel’s erstwhile love interest Sebastian Smythe in Glee. Combine this casting with the show’s presence on the CW, and it’s safe to assume that The Flash will be aimed at a teen audience, much like Smallville. It also kicks off with a classic example of the superhero origin story genre: a young forensic investigator being caught in a chemical explosion after lightning strikes his lab.

    Out of DC’s three upcoming TV series, Constantine looks like it has the most potential to do something interesting. Gotham’s first trailer suggests that it will tread familiar ground in the Batman mythos, while The Flash will be making an effort to introduce a superhero who has never found a mainstream audience before now.

    Constantine, on the other hand, is an adaptation of a comic from DC’s adult-rated Vertigo imprint (home to titles like Sandman, Swamp Thing and V for Vendetta), and could wind up being anything from a cheesy supernatural detective show to a true noir drama that reflects the smirking pessimism of the original Hellblazer comics. All we know for sure is that it’s already trying to distance itself from the 2005 Constantine movie, which alienated Hellblazer fans by casting Keanu Reeves as an American reimagining of the blond, English occult detective protagonist, and Shia LaBeouf as his irritating sidekick.

    Constantine’s pilot episode was directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) and written by David S. Goyer, who previously worked on numerous superhero adaptations including Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the Blade movies, and Man of Steel. With people like this at the helm, it would’ve been downright embarrassing if the pilot didn’t get picked up for a full season. However, this does mean that the stakes are a little higher for Constantine than for something like The Flash.

    The only downside here is that for audiences who have spent the past few years being inundated by Marvel Studios movies, the lack of cohesiveness among these new TV shows may be a little confusing.

    Although DC/Warner Bros. are ramping up their plans to launch multiple new TV and movie franchises over the next few years, most of these adaptations won’t exist in the same universe. So while Gotham’s young Bruce Wayne is growing up in what appears to be the present day, Ben Affleck will be playing a completely unconnected version of Bruce Wayne in the Man of Steel sequel. Similarly, if Warner Bros. decide to include the Flash in their upcoming Justice League movie, it will probably be a different Flash from the one we see on the CW. Also, Gotham, The Flash and Constantine will all be set in different universes, for the obvious reason that they’re airing on different networks.

    Compared to Marvel Studios’ plans for four interconnected Netflix shows that tie into the same storylines as the Avengers movies, this not only seems confusing from a storytelling perspective, but is kind of clumsy marketing.

    With multiple TV shows and movies set in the same universe, Marvel viewers are encouraged to watch everything—hence how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. instantly had an audience, despite mostly starring a cast of unknown actors playing brand new characters. The lack of crossover potential between DC’s upcoming movies and TV series means that each one will be playing to an isolated audience, except for the relatively small number of core DC Comics fans who will watch everything no matter what.

    Essentially, Marvel Studios are treating their cinematic universe just like their comics universe, making sure that minor characters and big-name stars are all somehow connected to the same overarching storylines. Meanwhile the DC/Warner Bros. model of selling separate titles to different TV networks will keep fans happy on a short term basis, but will do nothing to progress their extended universe past the type of comicbook adaptation we’ve been seeing for decades.

    Screencap via cinelander/Tumblr


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    It’s been a year since my first interview with Chester See, and while many things have stayed the same—the minimal decorations in his pool house-turned-home, his warm hospitality, the white baby grand piano in the corner, the whiskey drinks—there is a certain enthusiasm about See as he prepares to capitalize on all the great things this year has to offer. 

    His motto: Be surrounded by good people, keep writing songs, and enjoy the fame he’s gained from seven years on YouTube.

    “I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer," See excitedly exclaims. "I just now embrace the fact that I am an entertainer and I get to do it the way that I want to. I love the way I do it. I love it.”

    See’s legacy on YouTube has been built upon a genuine personality that fans can't help but fall in love with and years of trying the unexpected. His channel, which boasts more than 1.4 million subscribers, is a mix of stripped-down pop covers, viral original songs, comedy videos, and vlogs documenting See’s everyday life.

    But like most Internet personalities, it was never in See’s plans to become a YouTube star. Upon graduating from UCLA in 2005, See began hosting the short “Disney 365” while simultaneously songwriting with popular artists signed with Warner/Chappell. It was through this partnership that See met YouTube musician David Choi, who convinced See to start putting his work on the platform.

    “That was the start of YouTube. David help my laptop and recorded in iMovie HD and held it to the best of his abilities trying to keep it steady,” recounts See. “It wasn’t until 2010 I started thinking, 'This is actually something more than just a place to have music heard. You can start creating a brand.'”

    From there, See began making a name for himself as a songwriter, musician, actor, producer, and activist campaigning for traditional media’s respect for the digital platform. But looking back, See admits that he was originally inspired to pursue a career in Hollywood for incredibly superficial reasons.

    “I think I was the same age from 20 to 28 mentally. By that I mean I was naive to what was going on in the industry and had my eye set on becoming a musician and actor, [but] I was doing it for the wrong reasons,” states See, throwing his hands into the air with a laugh. “It took me a while to look back and see in hindsight I wanted those things for the wrong reasons. I wanted to be a musician or actor because I felt it came with a certain unwarranted respect, and it was the greatest thing ever when I realized that’s not why I do what I do.”

    Through his many years on YouTube, See has always worked to push the boundaries of how an audience interacts with content. In 2013, See produced and starred in “Side Effects,” a 40-minute feature film released specifically on YouTube. And while critics scoffed that the film would never hold the attention of millennials, the project racked up 2 million views in the first week alone. Earlier this year, See also acted alongside YouTube’s golden trio—Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig, and Mamrie Hart—in the highly anticipated feature film Camp Takota.

    “I’ve had so much excitement with what’s happening with the space that I’ve almost become anti-TV, anti-film, to the degree [that] whenever I’m on a panel, I’m always arguing with anyone who is taking the other side," See says. “I go into meetings and there is a lack of respect for what is happening online, and it’s absolutely ridiculous. When you step back and you look at it completely rationally, the work that someone does on YouTube compared to the work that someone does on TV, I think the person who has found success on YouTube, nine times out of 10, probably works harder because they’re not just creating content, but they’re having to play so many roles.”

    While See has already achieved a level of success felt by few creators, he readily admits he doesn’t care if he becomes a fat, old songwriter. In fact, he sees everything from this point on as just icing on the cake, including his debut album set to be released this year.

    “I feel so happy and content with what I’ve already done that now, it’s become some much more fun and less about needing to reach whatever stupid, fake, successful level I thought I needed to reach. Now, I’m in this really amazing situation where I feel like I can create things and people are listening. I only want to put out content that I wanted to make from here on out,” smiles See.

    For creators looking to branch into the YouTube scene, See has one piece of advice: consistency.

    “Nobody's changing the amount of time they spend watching YouTube. That’s a fixed number; that’s a fixed amount of time,” advises See. “What does change is the content within their fixed time. So if my fixed time is, I spend an hour watching YouTube every day, if I stumble across something I want to watch, I’m going to unfortunately bump something out, and being that consistent and retaining that attention is key right now in the game of YouTube.”

    As for his new year’s resolutions, See is keeping his promise, employing friends such as Grace Helbig, Andy Lange, Josh Golden, and Andrew Garcia to help him fill his channel with great music and vlog collaborations.

    “Because none of this shit matters. None of that shit matters at all. All that matters is if you’re smiling and you’re happy,” See insists. “Figure out what makes you happy; pursue that. Everything else is bullshit.”

    Photo via Chester See/YouTube


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    World Star Hip-Hop videos have become their own unique launching pad for Internet stars: Who could forget Sharkeshia, or the girl who was hit in the head with a shovel and now wants to fight Sharkeshia?

    But World Star is more than grainy, vertically filmed fight videos; it’s part of the larger hip-hop culture, and it's become a brand. The great minds at Adult Swim have taken notice of World Star’s influence and partnered with the site for a new comedy series, which is yet to be titled. The show will be produced by Devon Shepard (Weeds, House of Lies) and Q, World Star’s founder and CEO.

    Shepard says they’ll take elements of the World Star site “and try to create a hyperreality show.”

    “It’s scripted, kind of a mockumentary, a day in the life of your favorite rappers,” he adds. “What would Rick Ross do on his day off? Well, maybe he gets involved in a violent game of Dungeons and Dragons. We’re going to come up with these things that you wouldn’t expect from hip-hop artists, with a little bit of sketch. …It will look and feel almost like you're watching the website on your TV.”

    Over the last five years or so, Adult Swim’s content has focused more heavily on hip-hop culture. Loiter Squadfeatures members of L.A.’s Odd Future spoofing Cribs and David Blaine. The Williams Street label released Killer Mike’s critically acclaimed 2012 album, R.A.P. Music, and its Upfront concert series reunited OutKast for a May 20 performance in New York City. World Star regularly spotlights underground rappers, like Shy Glizzy and Stitches, a Miami emcee with an AK-47 tattooed on his face.

    Shepard says Adult Swim has always aimed to represent hip-hop culture, which makes this the perfect partnership. He thinks black culture is starting to be represented on a larger scale once again.

    “We really don’t have that presence like we use to have in ‘90s and 2000s,” he says, “but we’re slowly moving the needle back to black culture. It’s cyclical. They love us and then they don't need us. We’re back to them loving us. ...That culture has always had its finger on the pulse, but when those voices are muted, entertainment gets pretty damn boring. They’re now actively looking for those voices again.

    “Anthony Anderson’s show just got picked up, Kevin Hart has his pilot. The interest is starting to manifest itself again, giving us another platform to have those voices. The Cartoon Network always tried to keep that culture present more than anybody. They’re hip-hop heads. They get it.”

    Screengrab via WorldStarHipHop.com 


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    Morrissey nearly cancelled a sold-out performance Thursday night in California in a strange saga that played out over social media.

    Glasgow’s Paws was reportedly notified early Thursday that its performance in support of We Are Scientists at Santa Ana, Calif. venue, the Constellation Room, would be shelved because Morrissey would simultaneously perform that night at the Observatory.

    Both venues share a building, and Morrissey allegedly did not want Paws’ music to bleed into his set.

    Paws—despite being promised double the payout for its troubles—was indignant by the prickly behavior from Morrissey’s camp and complained via Facebook. Its since-deleted post went viral.

    “It didn’t sit right with us that we were essentially, very much literally, being silenced; being bought out, and for reasons that, when explained to us as above, not only seemed trivial but seemed to fit the unfortunate egotistical stereotypes that Morrissey has come to embody in recent years,” the band wrote Friday morning on Facebook.

    “The fact that this would not only need to be considered by anyone but in fact enforced, suggests a mentality surrounding performance and production that is selfish and unreasonable.”

    Sensing public relations backlash and tangible consequences, management got involved.

    “After hours of calls back and forth in a McDonalds car park at a service station - free wifi - we realised that news sites had picked up on the story and the whole thing went apeshit.

     “[The promoter for Morrissey’s show] informed us that - in light of the exponentially-increasing web traffic, there was a possibility that this could shine badly on the entire operation and that if anyone from the Morrissey camp was to see this, there was a very high chance that he could threaten to cancel . . . The promoter, genuinely upset, told us that there had already been a sizeable six figure sum deposited to Morrissey and if he cancels the show, that will be completely gone and that would be disastrous for the venue, which we were told could potentially go under.”

    The promoter explained that the request to cancel Paws’ set came from Morrissey’s security, not the singer. The band was told to apologize. Paws deleted the original post, its show was given a late green light post-media storm, and both concerts went off without a hitch—almost.  

    Morrissey’s tour manager confronted Paws in its dressing room right before the band was about to go on.

    ”After thinking that everything was FINALLY sorted, this man started screaming at them both, practically squaring up to them and trying his hardest to tear us apart for how big this story was getting, doling out blood-curdling screams to the effect of ‘I AM THE BOSS OF YOU!’ Frankly, beyond being insulting, unreasonable, and to be honest a little hilarious, we simply couldn’t believe that this situation had escalated to this point. Far from a reasonable conversation or settling of differences, this seemed like a ‘telling off’ and to be honest put pretty much everything in context. To feel like you’re being demeaned, disrespected and almost bullied by ANYONE feels terrible but to feel like this is happening and that are hands are tied purely because of the perceived stature of a celebrity, seems utterly ridiculous and frankly, unacceptable.”

    We Are Scientists, however, took to Twitter to attack Morrissey afterward.

    Morrissey has yet to comment publicly.

    Photo by Man Alive!/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    The late-night shuffle continues.

    When Stephen Colbertannounced he'd be leaving The Colbert Report to take over David Letterman's Late Show hosting duties, that answered one question but introduced another: Who'd assume his slot after The Daily Show With Jon Stewart? At last, there's an answer: Senior Black Correspondent Larry Wilmore.

    The Minority Report With Larry Wilmore (also, presumably, with the usual pronunciation of "report") will premiere at the 11:30pm ET slot in 2015. Wilmore has been a regular contributor to the Daily Show roster since 2006, and he's provided plenty of straight-faced insight and wry humor as he helps host Stewart deliver the day's news.


    He's also a very welcome minority contribution to the late-night lineup, albeit not Comedy Central's first stab at a black-centric news show: David Alan Grier's Chocolate News premiered in 2008 and lasted precisely 10 episodes before being canned by the network. Given the success of Colbert's show, Wilmore's Emmy-winning experience as a co-creator of The Bernie Mac Show, and Jon Stewart's role as executive producer, it's probably safe to assume Minority Report (not to be confused with the 2002 Tom Cruise movie) will fare better.

    The world's still waiting to hear who will take over Craig Ferguson's spot in the late-night landscape. Could a woman be next?

    Photo via Clparish/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY SA 3.0)


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    When promoting something (say, a TV show), there’s a fine line between bragging about the quality of your product and actively insulting your competition. For some reason, the showrunner of the new Batman reboot decided not to err on the side of caution in this regard.

    Gotham’s first trailer was only released a few days ago, but showrunner Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) is already 100 percent sure that the series will be a huge hit. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he stated that the show’s 13-year-old star is “without doubt, the best actor ever to play the part of Bruce Wayne. Without doubt—including the people who played Batman.”

    In other words, better than Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, and the many voice actors who played him in the various animated series. No pressure, kid.

    Heller went on to compare Gotham to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. When asked if he was concerned about unfavorable comparisons with the recent Batman movies, he said, “I’m not at all concerned. … [I]n that area, I would say in terms of what [we] are doing—visually—Gotham will surpass the Batman movies. The movies are a very rigorous, kind of Germanic take on that world. They’re visually stunning, but not particularly visually pleasurable. I would say this is much more on the street level of Gotham.”

    Confident in his work or overly cocky? Heller was probably just trying to make sure people know that Gotham will have a different aesthetic than Nolan’s Batman movies, but saying that his show will be better is setting the bar very high.

    The Dark Knight is one of the most critically acclaimed superhero movies of all time, not to mention hugely popular among Batman’s core fanbase of comics fans. Saying that it wasn’t “visually pleasurable” probably isn’t the best way to endear himself to huge audience of Batman fans who made Nolan’s trilogy one of the biggest hits of the genre.

    Photo via Twitter


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    Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It's the psychological force driving 90 percent of viral listicles on BuzzFeed. And on YouTube, entire cottage industries have developed around our collective, wistful longing for crap we liked as a kid.

    Take this latest offering from musician Scott Bradlee and his band, Postmodern Jukebox. They've effortlessly transformed the theme song from '90s cartoon classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a slow and smooth R&B jam. "Splinter taught them to be ninja teens/He's a radical rat!" never sounded so sexy.

    Here's the original:

    Covering cartoon theme songs is hardly an original idea, but Bradlee seems to have struck a nerve with his slow jam renditions. The first in the series, the Pokémon theme released on April 29, brought in 675,940 views, followed by a sultry Duck Tales cover that clocked in at over 1 million. 

    That's all well and good. But if he has any interesting in appealing to the hipster kids out there, he should try covering The Tick next.

    Screengrab via ScottBradleeLovesYa/YouTube


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    How many romantic movie scenes rely on weirdly creepy gender roles? A lot, it turns out. In this new video from Buzzfeed, we see just how many female character roles become super awkward as soon as they’re played by men.

    Sharon Stone’s most famous scene from Basic Instinct is an obvious choice here: Of course it’s going to be uncomfortable to watch a man seductively cross and uncross his legs, because it was kind of uncomfortable to see Sharon Stone do it the first time round. However, this video goes on to reverse the roles in several more romantic movies including Twilight and Pretty Woman, and these relatively tame scenes feel just as weird.

    By replicating each scene as closely as possible, this video highlights the huge differences between how male and female characters are presented in Hollywood movies. Kate Winslet in Titanic and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman both use the kind of passive body language that you basically never see among male characters, particularly during love scenes. And in virtually every one of these examples, women are something to be watched and appreciated like a piece of art, while men take the active role. By extension, the audience is far more likely to identify with the male character as a viewer, rather than the female character as an object of desire.

    Why is it creepy-romantic when Edward Cullen stalks a girl and climbs through her bedroom window, but just plain bizarre when it’s a woman doing the same thing? Maybe next time you’re watching a Hollywood love scene, think about whether it would still seem OK if you switched the characters around.

    Screengrab via YouTube


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    James Franco's career has been steadily devolving into hipster meta-parody for a while now, but we've no one to blame but ourselves for letting him bottom out this way.

    The 36 year old Franco has rapidly been augmenting his film career with what seems to be an ever-worsening career as a hipster: a pretentious, insufferable character constantly engaged in performance art. Now he's topped it all off by taking a selfie composed of himself wearing a shirt printed with hundreds of James Franco selfies.

    We hate ourselves so much for showing you this.


    Photo via Instagram

    Over the last several years, Franco has cut back on his admittedly hugely prolific career in order to play... himself. He's played himself in movies, including This Is the End with Jonah Hill and a cameo as himself in Veronica Mars. His Instagram account is home to hundreds of selfies. When he's not taking selfies, he's writing poems to himself, and then writing letters to himself about the poems he's already written.

    Then he uses his reported $20 million net worth to go on talk shows and complain about how people can't stop looking at him:

    Ostensibly, Instagram is for my fans. But, you know, now all the bloggers are following me on there, so they’ll just take it and use my images for whatever they want. I didn’t ask you [Letterman] to look at it. It’s what the people want.

    Is it, James Franco? Is it really?

    As I gaze upon the abject misery in your expression, James Franco, I know you're wondering where you went wrong. Fortunately for you, it's not too late. We can fix this.

    I know that with your PhD candidacy in English and your simultaneous post-grad studies in filmmaking, writing, poetry, and design, you might not have learned this, but your Instagram is still part of your public persona—and that has implications beyond your desire to have fun goofing around on the Internet.  Although you've studiously devoted your time to writing, directing, and starring in films about white men like yourself, if you turned the camera around and pointed it at other people, you might discover there is a diverse, vast, and interesting world outside of Franco.

    But, I hear defenders saying, James Franco frequently does tireless charity work and shines a light on the queer community, especially through his portrayal of gay men like Hart Crane, Sal Mineo, and Allen Ginsberg!

    Well, yes. But let's be real, here: Charity work is only one way to offset Hollywood's eagerness to hand him a microphone and boost his film career. Meanwhile, actual openly gay men have trouble achieving careers of his stature. And let's not talk about how his portrayal of Ginsberg conveniently left out the little-known but appallingly well-documented issue that Ginsberg was an aggressive pedophile.  

    Increasingly, audiences want diversity. Theoretically, Franco is primed to give it to them. He's a hipster's hipster: liberal, progressive, a champion of indie art projects and a passionate supporter of gay rights. But on paper, Franco's efforts wind up looking like his Instagram: an endless array of vanity projects in which he surrounds himself with other white dudes filming narratives talking about white dudes. It's all done with a surprising lack of self-awareness for someone who once wrote, " I get paid to pretend to be a person like those people with no empathy for others." Ugh, see, this is why we didn't fund your Indiegogo campaign.

    James Franco supporters, look at your life, look at your choices. Only you can prevent James Franco from thinking his playful ego indulgence isn't tied to his creative output, or that the two don't combine to drown out the voices of other people we want to hear more from. I'm looking at you, all 117,000 people who "liked" this ridiculous collective selfie-gasm. 

    Someone actually sewed that shirt together, someone actually wove Franco's silk-screened faces into a coherent whole, then handed James Franco the shirt. Someone gave James Franco a camera. We all told him this was OK.

    It's not okay, James Franco. Stop taking selfies. Stop soaking up liberal arts education and go write a starring role for Lucy Liu. Go adapt the works of Randall Kenan instead of William Faulkner. Be the change.

    Point your camera in the opposite direction.

    Photo via Instagram


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    Are you one of the boring people who don’t want to be beautiful?

    That’s the question posed by the Plastics, a supergroup comprised of real people who got plastic surgery to look like their favorite celebrities. In a new music video, Toby Sheldon, the guy who underwent $100,000 worth of plastic surgery to look like Justin Bieber; Kitty Jay, the woman who dropped $25,000 to look like Jennifer Lawrence; and Venus D’Lite, the RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant who attempted to sculpt herself into Madonna, join surgically altered forces to celebrate looking like celebrities for the rest of their lives.

    Over a bad dance track, the Plastics look back at their lives before plastic surgery and assure us all the Botox and butt jobs were worth it. Not everyone gets to wear a terrifying forever mask of the celebrity they're obsessed with. This video also likely doubles as an advertisement for the plastic surgeon featured throughout the video. So, everybody wins?

    Screengrab via GR Media/YouTube


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    Ah, Eurovision. That wonderful time of year when Europe comes together to celebrate peace, love, pyrotechnics, and a twisted desire to downvote a trashy disco band because your countries were enemies 50 years ago.

    For once, the biggest highlight of the Eurovision Song Contest was actually the winner, rather than one of the more eye-catching runners up. Bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst definitely received the most public attention before the competition began, and went on to gain even more fans with her power ballad, “Rise like a Phoenix.”

    Illustration via farny/Tumblr

    Conchita’s victory also sparked a wave of homophobic backlash on Saturday night, particularly on Russian social media, where several men made the slightly ridiculous statement of shaving off their beards in “protest.” Apparently there is nothing more secure and masculine than a man removing his body hair because he feels threatened by the popularity of a celebrity drag queen.

    Either way, Europe has spoken. Conchita Wurst will spend the next year as the reigning winner of Eurovision, with many people hoping she will be hired sing the next Bond theme. If you listen to her performance, you’ll understand why.

    Thanks to the infamously biased nature of the Eurovision judging system, even the blandest of winners tend to be somewhat controversial. So, it was difficult not to interpret Conchita’s victory as a political statement against Russia’s recent human rights record—particularly since their own contestants were loudly booed by many people in the audience.

    Still, political statements weren’t the only interesting thing at this year’s contest. For example, there was Poland’s unnecessarily phallic performance of a song titled, “We Are Slavic.”

    GIF via getinkshedtears/Tumblr

    Each country’s scores are tabulated half by professional judges, and half by a popular vote. Hilariously, Poland’s sexy laundry girl performance was so divisive that Britain and Ireland’s public voters all gave Poland top marks, while their judges gave them zero.

    It’s difficult to label anything as the “worst” part of any Eurovision Song Contest, but this year a strong contender was surely the Danish presenters themselves, one of whom spent the entire night making awkward (and slightly racist) jokes about China. Pointless? Inexplicable? Offensive? All of the above, and more. Presumably this is why they hired Borgen star Pilou Asbaek to deliver those particular lines, but even a professional actor couldn’t manage to make them anything other than cringeworthy.

    For an idea of just how weird and surreal his presentation style was, look no further than the music video Denmark produced to entertain viewers while the points were being counted at the end of the contest.

    Of course, it wouldn’t be Eurovision without some kind of deeply awkward and bizarre statement from one of the presenters or performers, so in that sense, this video is perfect. Combine that with Conchita Wurst, Ukraine’s dancing hamster wheel, Armenia’s X-Men villain singer, Poland’s cleavage performance, and the Greek trampoline rappers, and this was one of the most entertaining Eurovisions we’ve seen in years.

    Photo via wesleywalesandersons/Tumblr


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    There’s only one music festival that’d advertise by showing one of its attendees getting killed by a meteor within the first minute of its infomercial. And no, it’s not Coachella.

    The Gathering of the Juggalos, the annual debauched festival for Insane Clown Posse fans, is now in its 15th year of mayhem. It draws a crowd of over 100,000, so it probably doesn’t need to advertise anymore. But the Gathering releases an annual infomercial, and it's always as highly anticipated as the event itself, which features a line-up from Psychopathic Records, as well as carnival rides, wet T-shirt contests, wrestling events, and a variety of other activities.

    Plus, the cheesy green screen hijinks get better every year. 


    Juggalos are known for spraying Faygo pop on each other, and they once tried to stone Tila Tequila, so it goes without saying that the events get rowdy. This year, you can “sue your homie in Juggalo night court.” As always, there is a "Big Butts" afterparty. 

    The raucous five-day party will be moving from Illinois to Ohio this year after facing problems with their original relocation plan to Missouri. Perhaps inspired by the negative press in Missouri, this year’s video shows a Juggalo getting accepted in heaven by a profanity-spewing St. Peter.


     

    He also goes to hell, which might be how you feel if you sit through the whole video. 


     

    This year’s infomercial isn’t quite as ridiculous as the Saturday Night Liveparody videos about the Juggalos… but it’s not that far off. 

    H/T Grantland | Screenshot via YouTube 


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    The way 18-year-old Miami rapper Stitches tells it, he’s lived alone since 14, sold bricks of cocaine like an industry titan, and owns multiple automatic rifles. Like a young Jay Z (or James Franco's character in Spring Breakers), he’s using drug money to fund a rap career. His jarring video for “Brick in Yo Face” has tallied over 8 million World Star Hip-Hop views since its April 30 premiere, and it’s everything your parents are scared of. 

    Stitches threatens like an unhinged Juggalo and screams like Fred Durst. He raps over a Dade County fastball beat—all stock brass samples, 808 claps, trap hi-hat loops, and Miami Bass roots—that would be at home on a Slip-N-Slide record. What he lacks in lyricism, he makes up for in barking the phrase “pay up” with the self-assuredness of the guy carrying the bigger stick.

    In no time flat, Stitches has transcended low-budget World Star fare to become a polarizing figure in hip-hop. He’s an alpha dog from a new class of snowballing-into-focus shock artists, heisting ideas from the Internet in a bid at stardom that bypasses context and often the genre at large. I call it White Rapper 4.0. 

    The Beastie Boys reacted to the unmissable celebratory nature of hip-hop and took rap to the American kegger. Vanilla Ice stole the right dance moves but fabricated a résumé that included gangbanging in Miami and set back his kind indefinitely. Eminem moved the underground past battles, backpacks, and scribbles to become the blueprint for credible white rappers henceforth: Only after a rigorous training program of writing and technical work will you earn respect.

    We’re now, however, five years into an era where mainstream hip-hop has transcended regional markers. Whereas Dr. Dre was as synonymous with the West Coast as U.G.K. was with Houston or Nas with Queens, New York City’s last two veritable exports, Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky, are churning out hits without sonic borders or calling cards. The former cut her teeth as Young Money Entertainment sister to Gardena, Calif.’s Tyga, Toronto’s Drake, and New Orleans’ Lil Wayne, while the latter blends subway nostalgia with post-DJ Screw vocal effects and synthetic drugs.

    Nowadays, distinct patois molded on local nuance are rare in a world where most Americans are at the mercy of—and have access to—YouTube’s meritocracy. An era of rap that does not sort by culture, class, or skin color is approaching, and what we’re seeing from Stitches is the tip of the iceberg in terms of potentially problematic, irresponsible, and talking-point art.

    Kids are gravitating toward familiar sounds with no context; they’re educated through random clips where it’s easy to emulate thematic blueprints. In fact, doing so is the choice way to hustle new music. The problem is that rock and roll’s fundamental curse lingers, and you get white empires built on the shoulders of black ideas.

    Take Iggy Azalea, a blond Australian who borrows liberally from American voices like Trina, Mia-X, and Eve on the mic. Last month, her single “Fancy” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart. Azalea writes fun, sardonic, almost subversive rap music, and it is generally exceptional, light, and comfortably built for pop.

    “There's enough of a digital infrastructure for white rappers to completely sidestep the (still problematic) ‘gatekeepers of rap’ like Macklemore and appeal to a large audience that knows nothing about rap,” wrote rap blogger and former RhymeJunkie.com editor Clyde Lovellette via email. “But even Iggy Azalea is on T.I.'s label, Mac Miller kinda came up through Wiz Khalifa, Machine Gun Kelly has songs with Flocka, Rich Hil was hanging out with Fat Trel for a while.”

    In a Los Angeles Times trend piece from 2000, Jay Z predicted that the rap stars of 2010 would skew white because most of his audiences were white and those eager kids were the most voracious readers of hip-hop in history. Ice Cube disagreed—and was proven right, by the way—because he maintained that the fundamental purpose and appeal in rap is its proximity to and ability to report on perilous American conditions.

    "Not only is it music driven by the youth, it's a music driven by the street and by the black culture,” Cube said. “The lingo is always changing, and that lingo comes from the bottom of the ghetto.  … The reason that won't change is I don't think the white experience in America is as interesting as the black experience in this country. Art comes from the worst conditions and that's why."

    Problem is, Stitches and his nascent contemporaries are more interested in taking gangster imagery and its lingo mainstream than they are in polishing some passe rhymebook. More than ever, rap is about conveying moods through blunt choruses, singing, and new slang than it is conventional wordsmithing that aims for standout metaphors and punchlines. That’s terrific—rap will always be about young people finding artistic fits with which to splash—but now that emphasizes standing out, often by disturbing means.

    On April 10, Vine user Bryan Silva posted a mirror selfie with a couple of cornball, unintentionally hilarious raps: “That fufu lame shit I ain’t wit it / I send some shots at your fitted.” 

    The clip ends with a machine gun onomatopoeia that doubles as an awesomely addictive hashtag, “gratata.” Within 20 days, his two Vine videos garnered almost 200,000 revines. The high school crowd—Vine’s core experimental demographic—blew it up.

    Turns out Silva is a former porn star turned bodybuilder who loves to drink cough syrup. In a recent interview, he uses and qualifies rampant use of the N-word. He’ll no doubt cash in the post-meme attention for a full-service single. When he does, it’ll be on the heels of 12 seconds of material. 

    Meanwhile, Stitches’ followup to “Brick In Yo Face,” “Mail,” premiered last week, and it’s an Auto-Tune ballad about moving cocaine through the U.S. Postal Service.  

    If Stitches is a ridiculous if authentic product of the environment, Chicago area rapper Brewski is the moment’s suburban tipping point. Marketed as the “White Chief Keef,” Brewski molds his swag into Chief Keef’s footprint: mosh pit anthems built on repetition and chants, complete with block-bleeding production from Keef architect, Young Chop. Instead of the captivating house arrest parties about Molly, guns, and the streets from 2012’s Finally Rich, Brewski’s drill sound is transposed to mirror the college parties where Keef’s music already rotates. We get videos filmed in what has to be a campus dormitory for songs about Snapchat hookups and shotgunning beer. 

    Brewski is a naive and flatly poor rapper by traditional metrics, but he taps into reckless youth with the deft expertise of Blink-182 in its prime. Moreover, with this strain of rap, what matters is the hook, and his are catchy and often excellent. His crosstown cultural tourism is balanced by the multi-ethnic, respectful partying that goes on in Brewski’s better videos.

    His clip for “Chauffeur” premiered a week ago and is the breakout hit. Brewski’s fundamental style and point of view hides nothing. It embraces the fact that he’s a privileged, good-looking white dude that you can take home to mom. As such, he gets the girls and rages like a flip-cup king. The Duke basketball and Boston Celtics jerseys are intentional bro badges; they’re toasts to white iconography and stand-ins for moments of clarity and dominance in a traditionally black medium. What becomes deeply problematic is that the “Chauffeur” video—like Miley Cyrus at the VMAs—casts black women as sideshow decorations that exist to twerk in slow motion, to say nothing of lines like “pull them panties down, bitch pull over.”

    Rap does not need guardians of the tradition to expound on lost virtues—to act as if modernist geniuses like Future are somehow less intelligent or sanctimonious than Ice Cube when he rapped about death certificates. There’s more at stake now. Like Pat Boone for the Internet age, rappers like Stitches and Brewski are going to land on college tours and record deals just by blowing smoke.

    Photo by /flickr (CC By-SA 2.0)


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    Last night on The Tonight Show, Neil Young and Jack White made history with Willie Nelson in a recording booth.

    Young and White, which is an excellent rap duo name, demoed White’s refurbished Third Man Records’ Voice-o-Graph recording booth, which allows musicians, and the general public, to record straight to vinyl.

    Young recorded his upcoming album, A Letter Home, in the booth. He toldSpin that the album will be “retro-tech,” and straddle the divide between analog and the high-resolution sound of his Pono listening device, which debuted at this year’s SXSW:

    “You can make a lo-fi, analog record, direct to vinyl, transfer it to 192, and you have a high-res copy of a lo-fi vinyl record.”

    Young captured the booth’s warm sound last night, when he recorded a one-take cover of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” which was pressed directly to vinyl. The seven-inch single was then played at the end of the show, as Young, White, and guest Louis C.K. looked on.

    That’s a lot of pressure to record a song in one take on live TV, but Young’s like, “I got this.”

    Screengrab via NBC


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    Duo Harbatah, an Indonesian comedy duo comprised of Usama Yusuf and Harun Syarief, has only been on Vine since March, but they’ve quickly become one of the most popular Indonesian channels on the app. In their very first vine, they satirize the universal narcissism of social media: A young man takes selfies, oblivious to a masked robber behind him, who then succumbs to the pull of the digital reflection pool.

    Yusuf says Vine isn't that popular in Indonesia; Twitter and Instagram are the preferred social media platforms. In fact, Twitter was one of the main tools used to get the word out to a younger generation about Joshua Oppenheimer’s recent documentary on Indonesia’s 1965 genocide, The Act of Killing.

    He adds that most Indonesians on Vine aren’t using the platform for comedy, but that’s slowly changing. The hashtags #indonesianviners, #indonesianvinecommunity, and #vindo show a fairly vibrant community of Indonesian teens and twentysomethings spoofing the “Selfie” song, remaking American Vine star clips, and addressing issues of racism and sexism.

    Duo Harbatah’s vines also touch on pop culture, spoofing Frozen and the “Nae Nae,” as well as exploring family relationships and our obsession with our phones. Their YouTube channel takes that idea even further, parodying American Idol, Flappy Bird, and Paranormal Activity.

    In a few clips, they satirize the Middle Eastern terrorist stereotype.

    “Well, actually, I am Indonesian,” says Yusuf, “but our ancestors are coming from Middle East, so that’s why our Arabic culture still running in our blood. That’s why sometimes we make a joke about our culture, just to make people aware that Arab people also have a funny side.

    “And not all our Vine is about Arab stereotype,” he adds. “We also make Vine about young people, about art, about family, but still in a comedy way.”

    Duo Harbatah started to make YouTube videos in 2013, but in March they switched to Vine. Yusuf says it’s both easy and challenging, because “you have to be creative in only six seconds.” As for the #vindo community, Yusuf highlights its importance:

    “[It’s] a community of young viners [in] Indonesia who share their thoughts and ideas to improve Indonesian [Vine] and to introduce Vine to Indonesian people. They’re kind of like the first Indonesian Vine community in Indonesia.”

    Screengrab via DuoArab Harbatah/YouTube


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    I know when you hear the word “parkour,” you’re all, “dude, parkour peaked with Casino Royale in 2006, what new spin could you possibly have to offer?” Answer: pogo sticks. 

    Not just any pogo sticks, of course. We’re talking about devices custom-engineered for the newfangled sport of Xpogo, or Extreme Pogo—these things get up to 10 feet of air on a decent bounce. But don’t take my word for it; instead, check out “Cooligans,” a greatest-hits trick compilation filmed over the course of four spring-loaded months.   

    And if that’s not enough hot pogo action for you, never fear: the Pogopalooza tour kicks off at the end of this month in Montpellier, France, making its way to Pittsburgh, Pa., in July and Helsingborg, Sweden, come August. Viva la pogolución! Or whatever these guys say.

    Photo via Xpogo/YouTube


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    Well, you reap what you sow, and we really only have our collective culture to blame for this one. In February, we learned a sitcom called Selfie was getting a pilot over at ABC, and earlier this week ABC announced it had picked up the show about a 20-something obsession with social media and her marketer friend on a quest to “rebrand” her.

    Now ABC is offering a first look at the show. You’ve been warned: The protagonist says the words “totes,” “coolio,” and “dunzo” in a single sentence.

    Selfie is based on My Fair Lady, with the vapid main character Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) standing in for Eliza Doolittle. Instead of teaching her how to talk like a lady, John Cho’s character, Henry—likely a stand-in for Henry Higgins—teaches Eliza how to be less obsessed with herself.

    The first-look trailer is all kinds of bad, but don’t write the show off yet. Cougar Town has a terrible name and turned out to be a funny hangout comedy, and Trophy Wife was saddled with a pretty crappy name and iffy premise and managed to spin it into something funny. And Emily Kapnek is the creator; she also created Suburgatory, which was a good show. And John Cho is an underutilized treasure.

    But it’s still called Selfie, which guarantees no one will ever take it seriously.

    H/T Business Insider | Screenshot via Youtube


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    Another 12 hours have slipped by without Andy Lange taking notice. Secluded in his basement-turned-music studio, Lange’s forgotten to eat—again. With his cat Steve cozied up on his lap, Lange spins around in his chair as he burns his latest musical track to a CD before heading out to check the levels on the sound system of his 2003 Buick Century.

    Lange’s basement studio is the perfect balance of function and personality, with hundreds of Star Wars toys and posters of Lange’s favorite movies interspersed among the instruments, sagging leather couch, recording equipment, and giant computer monitor that take up the majority of his space. It’s not unusual for Lange to lose hours down in the basement of the three-story condo he shares with friends, because to him, music is everything.

    Lange has become known on YouTube for his Beach Boys-meet-the-blues musical style and producing viral hits such as “Nice Guys” with Ryan Higa and Chester See. Since joining YouTube in 2009, Lange has grown to become the go-to producer for such major creators as See, Higa, Andrew Garcia, and Josh Golden. When not creating content for YouTube, Lange mixes audio for popular television shows such as FXX's Legit; he's even been nominated for an Emmy for his work on Librarian 3: Curse of the Judas Chalice.*

    “It’s so funny because people are still under the impression that you need a record deal. There are all these tools now that let you just do everything yourself,” Lange explains while trying to stop his cat from running across the piano.”It’s just so amazing to have all these tools at your fingertips and just be able to do stuff on your terms and not have to sign away ownership to your bread and butter. These songs are my life; they are everything to me, and I don’t want to sign away portions of those just to get some deals.”

    With a mother and grandmother who were both singers, Lange was born to be a musician. While he was always involved in music growing up, it wasn’t until high school that he found his niche performing with his school’s top choir. Upon attending Michigan State, Lange began studying computer engineering before switching into the much more agreeable audio mixing major.

    “I asked my professor at the end of my college career—I was just like, ‘So what should I do now?’ He’s like, ‘You should go to Los Angeles and meet one of my first students and see if he can give you an internship,” Lange laughs. “There weren’t a lot of jobs, so I took a not-so-great job just so I could stay in the city. I was getting kind of bummed out, but then a buddy from college who I sang with in my a cappella group called me up and was like, ‘Do you want to sing on a cruise ship?’”

    Sailing the high seas of the world, Lange produced what would become his first demo album and was subsequently introduced to Chester See. Lange’s friendship with See led him to produce the viral video “Nice Guys,” which pushed See himself, Ryan Higa, and KevJumba into the YouTube limelight. And while Lange's YouTube page continues to grow in subscribers and viewers, his work as a producer continues to go unknown on the platform. His only regret? Not getting into the YouTube game sooner.

    “I wish I had gotten into it earlier and embraced it earlier, but as far as the path I took, it’s been amazing being able to work with these guys and some of these big YouTubers. I’ve been able to help them create funny songs and stuff like that. As much as I love producing stuff, I do miss doing the artist thing sometimes,” says Lange.

    Lange’s career as a musician only continues to gather steam as he works on his next album, focuses on bolstering his YouTube channel, and produces See’s debut album. Lange has filled his channel with beautiful and unique covers featuring the talents of See, Andrew Garcia, and Josh Golden. And despite his constant juggling of audio mixing and music, Lange believes his life would be too boring if he had to give one up.

    For those looking to launch their own YouTube channels, Lange has some advice: “It’s all about just creating quality content that people will pass around. It’s a crowded space now if you’re just starting out so you can easily be discouraged but as long as you make things that really show your personality, as long as they’re the things you really believe in and will have others connect to it, that's what’s most important, I think.”

    *Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the work for which Lange won an Emmy. The correct title is Librarian 3: Curse of the Judas Chalice.

    Photo via Andy Lange


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