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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Hulu’s plan to become a dominant force in the online TV universe took a small step forward when it added 17 seasons of South Park to its lineup this weekend. Access to the acclaimed Comedy Central program will move to the network’s pay service, Hulu Plus, in mid-September.

    Hulu will make all 17 seasons available for free until South Park’s 18th season debut. After that, Hulu Plus subscribers will have access to the entire South Park library. New episodes will be available next day on Hulu and Hulu Plus. Comedy Central currently offers full access to the South Park back catalog on the show's namesake website, South Park Studios. After the show's Hulu Plus launch, Comedy Central will offer a selection of free episodes, powered by Hulu. 

    South Park represents a key building block in Hulu’s strategy by targeting the all-important male viewer between 18 and 34 while strengthening its growing alchemy of original programs, current shows and aftermarket (aka syndicated) fare. Despite a stellar 2013, which saw the company rake in more than $1 billion in revenue and grow its Hulu Plus service to more than 5 million subscribers, the network is still shaking off the effects of a tumultuous period which included putting itself up for sale without a satisfactory resolution. Playing second fiddle to Netflix (with its more than 40 million subs) will force Hulu to go far beyond its current programming vision to seek whitespace in the burgeoning multiplatform video streaming universe.

    With YouTube, Amazon Fire, Yahoo, and broadcast/cable/sports networks on the hunt for young, digital viewers, finding whitespace powerful enough to create differentiation is a challenge bound to become a LeBron-like free-agent bidding war. Options include original live programming (as opposed to simulstreaming of broadcast content), news, talk (which Netflix has targeted with its recent signing of Chelsea Handler), and sports. Coming up with a few Emmy Award-nominated and winning shows a la House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black wouldn’t hurt either.

    Sports, seen as a holy grail category, offers a triple-barreled opportunity to lure viewers across all viewing platforms, attract high-profile advertisers/sponsors and create a powerful social presence. While a bit out of reach for mere mortal networks, the 2014 World Cup final was a social media record-breaker as Facebook reported that 88 million people (including 10.5 million in the U.S., 10 million in Brazil, over 7 million in Argentina, and 5 million in Germany) had more than 280 million social interactions related to the game. The Germany-Argentina match broke the record for the highest level of Facebook conversation for any single sporting event. The previous largest event was the 2013 Super Bowl, which scored 245 million interactions. While final TV ratings have yet to be released, the numbers are expected to be World Cup records. That said, finding available sports content whose rights don’t approach the GNP will require some creative thinking.

    While sorting out its future trajectory as a major over-the-top force, adding programming that appeals to diverse audiences is a smart play for Hulu. Shows such as South Park, The Bridge (FX), and British imports like Moone Boy will attract new viewers with varied tastes and strengthen Hulu’s position as a diverse video outlet. 

    H/T Hollywood Reporter | Photo by MoonRockProductions on deviantART (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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    Epic Rap Battles of History finished off its third season this week with a four-on-four rap battle for the ages. It's Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo versus ... Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo. That's right, the fathers of the Rennaisance take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who inadvertently taught 90s kids about the historical era while also selling promotional toys and fighting ninjas.

    The series is a powerhouse, amassing over 10 million subscribers since its inception in 2010. The brainchild of creators Nice Peter and epicLLOYD, it has featured showdowns such as Mozart vs Skrillex and Adolf Hitler vs Darth Vader in the past. In the finale, they invite the duos of Rhett and Link and SMOSH to portray the artists, who go up against the series creators as the turtles. Perhaps the sickest burn is TMNT's Donatello questioning just who in the world his namesake even is:

    "Dona-tella who you are again dude? / Because I don't have a clue what you do."

    Who won? The originals or their mutant sucessors? All we know is this battle is well-timed for the release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, which has been making waves on social media by releasing new character posters as voted on by fans in the lead up to the film's release on August 8th.  Do we smell a brand partnership? Or just accidental synergy for Epic Rap Battles of History and the upcoming movie?

    Screenshot via Epic Rap Battles Of History/YouTube


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    For those of us who want to binge-watchOrange Is the New Black on our laptops while trolling the Internet, Netflix Enhancer is the Chrome extension we've been waiting for. The useful new tool adds much-needed features to the browser-based Netflix streaming experience—most importantly, a way to view your content while jumping between multiple windows.

    The Netflix Enhancer extension available for Chrome adds a pop-out player, which anchors the screen of what you're streaming to the bottom right corner of your monitor while you browse between other windows. You can resize the player as you wish to leave as much space as you want for other Web browsing.

    The enhancer also delivers other practical add-ons like an option to view the trailer of the film you're interested in before you watch, as well as Rotten Tomatoes ratings and IMDb information. It also lets you hide any of the rows on your Netflix front page and gives a "random episode" option when you arrive at a TV series landing page so you can try the series out without having to start with a pilot, which is great for watching reality TV series without having to feel completist about watching it in order.

    The extension is available in the Chrome Web Store now.

    H/T GizmodoPhoto by swruler9284/Flickr (CC By 2.0)


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    Blink-182 guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge confirmed yesterday via Instagram that his three-headed millennial nostalgia machine is working on a new album.

    “Rehearsals start today,” he wrote. “And yes there will be a new album #SorryForTheWait #Blink.”

    There’s still no release date. And actually, as Musicfeeds points out, DeLonge is really re-confirming that the band is working on a new album, as the band had already confirmed (“confirmed”) last August that they’d be releasing a new album in mid-2014. Which is right now.

    In April, bassist Mark Hoppus announced a new project, begun “while [drummer] Travis [Barker] and I have waited for blink-182 to get back into the studio this past year.” Was he implying DeLonge was the cause of the delay? Sounds like it!

    We need our fix of three-chord pop-punk jams before we get too old to pretend we’re in sixth grade again. Act your age, Blink.

    H/T Musicfeeds | Image via Kerry Key/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    Thanks to network TV broadcast rules, we already know that John Constantine probably won’t be smoking onscreen in NBC’s Constantine. Now, showrunner Daniel Cerone has also confirmed that Constantine won’t be bisexual either. This has less to do with NBC guidelines and more to do with the show’s writers having decided that Constantine’s sexuality is an unimportant facet of his character.

    When asked whether Constantine would be bisexual in the new TV series, Cerone pointed out that because relatively few of the character’s love interests had been men, they weren’t planning to include Constantine’s bisexuality in the show.

    “In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time,” said Cerone. “Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

    To the many fans who appreciated the widely accepted canon detail that John Constantine is bisexual, this is not great news.

    The weird thing is that it would’ve been easy for the new TV show to have sidestepped the issue entirely. Technically, Cerone is right: It did take a while for Constantine be seen getting into bed with another guy in the Hellblazer comics. Constantine generally seems to be attracted more often to women than he is to men. Plus, his first appearance was in 1985, with Hellblazer becoming a regular series in 1988. By 1992 he was already mentioning former boyfriends (issue #51), but it took a few more years before his bisexuality became more overt, mostly because in the 1990s, it would have been more controversial. 

    Cerone’s “maybe in 20 years” comment refers to the fact that it took until 2002 for Hellblazer to show John Constantine in a full-blown love scene with another man. But in the context of a TV series airing in 2014, it would be perfectly in keeping with comics canon for Constantine to date three or four women over the course of the show’s first season and just make an offhand comment about having dated men in the past. If John Constantine could talk about having “the odd boyfriend” back in 1992, then a TV show in the 21st century should be able to do something similar, fans argued when the news broke.

    Both Daniel Cerone and writer/producer David S. Goyer have spent several interviews talking about their battle to circumvent NBC standards and get Constantine to smoke on TV. The result is that he’ll be “a smoker,” but we’ll mostly just see him stubbing out cigarettes instead of actually smoking them.

    This is a smart workaround for a character who smokes constantly throughout the Hellblazer comics. However, just like how Constantine can still be a smoker even when we don’t see him inhale, he’s also still bisexual even when he’s not making out with another guy. So it shouldn’t have been too difficult for Constantine’s writers insert one or two casual references to his bisexuality, rather than ruling it out for the next 20 years. 

    Constantine’s sexuality has been a significant part of the character’s appeal for many fans, and he's one of the most high-profile LGBT characters in DC Comics history. Back in March, LGBT media site The Backlot even asked, “How straightwashed will NBC’s Constantine be?” after selecting him as No. 2 on their list of the 10 best gay and bisexual sci-fi characters.

    Sadly, it isn’t a huge surprise that Constantine’s bisexuality has been erased from the new TV series, because male bisexuality is regularly erased from popular media in general. Even if Constantine’s showrunners decide to backtrack on Cerone’s recent comments, new viewers will assume that Constantine is straight unless the show states otherwise. 

    Honestly, this isn’t just a disservice to longtime fans of the comics, but it may turn away potential viewers who aren’t familiar with the character. The urban fantasy genre is already overflowing with angry unshaven men who fight the forces of darkness: Just look at Supernatural and the Dresden Files books, both of which involve modern-day antiheroes in scenarios that often seem inspired by Hellblazer itself.

    The main thing that sets John Constantine apart from from the many other “awkward but tough guy with a dark past” noir fantasy protagonists, is the fact that he is meant to represent the counterculture. He’s a former punk, he usually has no money, he often either seems to be homeless or is living in crappy apartments, and he’s a noir antihero character who doesn’t give a shit if people know that he’s bisexual. Remove one or two of these traits, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell John Constantine apart from the ever-growing number of similar characters. 

    So with comparisons to Supernatural being an inevitable concern for NBC’s Constantine, the fact that John Constantine is bisexual should be a feature, not a bug. After all, good luck finding a bisexual protagonist in Supernatural.

    Photo via constantine/Tumblr


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    Seeing big-namecelebrities in music videos has become the standard, but Jenny Lewis, former singer for Rilo Kiley, took a different approach with her new star-studded video.

    “Just One of the Guys,” from her upcoming album The Voyager, was directed by Lewis, and features Brie Larson, Kristen Stewart, and Anne Hathaway flipping gender roles and satirizing macho tracksuit culture, as well as highlighting the pressure many women face to just be cool and hang with the guys. You know, like the movie

    Lewis explains that no matter how hard she ties to be one of the guys, there’s something inside that won’t let her, as Stewart, Larson, and Hathaway breakdance, post up, and, yes, cry. Apparently Hathaway’s rat tail was her idea, and the look she was going for “melancholy Backstreet Boy.”

    This is also a reminder that we need more Brie Larson in our lives. Everyone’s seen Short Term 12, right?

    Screengrab via Jenny Lewis/YouTube


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    Quick, what do college basketball and Lionel Richie have in common?

    Monday night at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Fla., iconic college hoops analyst Dick Vitale not only took in Richie’s headlining set, but made time to file an exuberant live scene report. Of course, music journalism isn’t as easy at it looks—Vitale’s recapping tweets mostly thrive as CAPSLOCKED upvotes for Richie’s catalog. 

    Within an hour Monday evening, Vitale took off his hoops hat—tweeting about incoming SMU freshman Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to leave school and play overseas—and jumped into full on fanboy mode. 

    Then it’s a night-long series of hearty Richie wonder. Early on, his emphatic support could be mistaken for promotional glad-handing as Vitale was a backstage presence, taking photos with Richie’s management, opener Cee-Lo, and assorted backup dancers.

    But once Richie hit the stage, Dickie V. proved himself a legacy fan with astute deep-cut knowledge. 

    Incidentally, I had to cover this tour for my hometown newspaper last year. Hashing out a live song-by-song rundown is harder than it seems—but not if you’re a bonafide Lionel fan like Vitale. Moreover, his postmortem was succinct and profound.

    He was likewise happy to retweet a fan.

    And then, subtly and masterfully, Vitale slid back into sports mode with a nonchalant question about Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby.

    Bonus mosh: Check out this Spotify playlist of Richie’s setlist from the 2013 Austin City Limits festival.

    Photo via BGSU University Libraries/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    “Weird Al” Yankovic has a big dictionary, and he’s just trying to educate ya.

    Most of the parodies that came out of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” in the past year focused on the misogynistic aspects of the song, but the parody king offers an entirely new take to it in his effort to release eight music videos in eight days.

    Yankovic has a giant bone to pick with the Internet, or more specifically, the lack of grammar on it. In "Word Crimes," he shows his Internet-savvy side and hits just about every angle, from Reddit to Twitter speak to texting and that blog post you just posted.

    With all of the “Blurred Lines” parodies out there, Yankovic said that he was looking for an angle that hasn’t been done yet in his take on it.

    “I don't think anybody, to this point, had done a ‘Blurred Lines’ parody about proper use of grammar,” Yankovic said recently.

    And if you were wondering if that Reddit post was real, it is. It looks like Al used the platform to tease the release, in a subreddit called r/HamsterGifs, back in January.


     

    The tune might get stuck in your head again, but it might not be a bad thing this time around. His 14th studio album, Mandatory Fun, is out today.

    Photo via  ruffin_ready/Flickr (CC By 2.0)


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    Facebook has a long history of censoring photos of breastfeeding and pregnant women’s bodies, while much more disturbing content goes unscathed. One artist found out how far into the past the social network’s censorship reaches.

    After Berlin-based photographer Peter Kaaden visited the Louvre, Paris’s expansive and historic art museum, he posted a photo of a nude sculpture to Facebook. This apparently violated their rules against nudity, and it was taken down. So he decided to make some SFW Louvre art, specifically to work around Facebook’s definitions of nudity.

    louvre censored

    “It's the Louvre and Facebook is censoring probably the most important art on this planet,” he told Dazed Digital. "That's why I decided to create my first non-100% photography series and make the Louvre Facebook-friendly in 2014. I think it's important to show how Facebook is workingit doesn't make sense for somebody to decide what the difference is between porn, nudity and art."

    louvre censored

    However, if you read through Facebook’s rules for nudity and pornography, you’ll see this:

    “Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo's David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

    louvre censored

    Was Kaaden testing the Michelangelo rule? Facebook recently lifted its ban on breastfeeding photos, but is a photo of an Italian or Greek sculpture really warping young minds? Kaaden explains that it shouldn’t be, since the Louvre is “the most important place for art in the world”:

    “School groups with kids of every age are running around there all day 365 days a year. People from all over the world who are not even interested in art at all are standing in lines for hours to get in there and to see some stone penises and weird devil sculptures who have sex with virgin angels."

    The pixelization adds a perverse layer to the work. Recontextualized this way, in the heat of our heavily pixelated online culture, it's almost more sexualized than if left untouched. What a time to be alive. 

    H/T Dazed Digital |Photo by Matt Biddulph/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    Have you seen this GIF before?

    Scanners

    If you spend much time on the Internet, you’ve probably seen it used as a reaction GIF to some figuratively mind-blowing piece of news. It comes from the 1981 David Cronenberg film Scanners, about people with telepathic powers who can make heads explode, and the Criterion Collection recently posted the story behind the famous scene that has now been GIF’d into our collective Internet consciousness.

    The film’s special effects team explains how they were initially going to blow up the head with air, but it looked “ridiculous.” So did a wax head. They eventually filled the head with leftover burgers, because that’s what they were eating on set, but they still couldn’t get it to explode properly. The solution? Well, let’s just say “getting the shot” was taken literally. 

    Here's our reaction GIF: 

    Screengrab via the Criterion Collection/YouTube 


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    Epic Meal Time will bring home the bacon, literally, after inking a new deal with Hormel to feature its products on their YouTube series.

    Hormel Black Label Bacon partnered with Collective Digital Studio’s Epic Meal Time as the official bacon of the channel, which is dedicated to over-the-top, often meat-laden creations. The bacon brand will also feature on “Handle It,” the channel’s quick cooking instructions segment. Although Epic Meal Time is making the jump to television this month with their new show Epic Meal Empire premiering July 26 on A&E’s FYI Network, they’ll continue to serve their more than 6.4 million subscribers with the kind of food and cooking content that could give you a clogged artery through your computer screen.

    According to the team at Epic Meal Time, it’s estimated that more than 1,300 pounds of bacon will be used in their videos in the next 12 months. That figure is hardly shocking, however, when you consider how much bacon they’ve used already in some of their most mouth-watering creations.

    Screengrab via Epic Meal Time/YouTube


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    Two summers ago, a YouTubeclip of NYC metal band Unlocking the Truth performing in Times Square started making the rounds. Last spring, another clip went viral. Fast forward to summer 2014, and the eighth graders have just signed a $1.8 million deal with Sony.

    In the two years since their clips went increasingly viral, Unlocking the Truth—comprised of 13-year-old guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, 12-year-old drummer Jarad Dawkins, and 13-year-old bassist Alec Atkins—was featured at Brooklyn’s Afro Punk Festival and Coachella, and in a Cole Haan commercial, which no doubt got more eyes on the group.

    According to Rolling Stone, the deal with Sony includes five albums a $60,000 advance. However, they’ll allegedly only see profit if their first album sells more than 250,000 copies, which is not easy for a young band—especially when its members are not even in high school yet, and might not have the time to devote to promoting and touring. An industry expert told the New York Post that goal is “extremely high.” The Sony contract also had to be submitted to a Manhattan judge, since they’re minors.

    The group’s manager, Alan Sacks, was contacted after a Sony exec saw one of their viral clips. Sacks claims they’ve nabbed a big-name producer for the album, but won’t reveal who. He adds they’ll start recording once the group’s done with Warped Tour. What are you doing with your summer vacation?

    Screengrab via Cole Haan/YouTube 


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    The Manic Pixie Dream Girl label is a prime example of something that, in ostensibly encouraging readers to critique the way women are portrayed in narratives, becomes in practice something that actually encourages misogyny instead. 

    When Jerry Spinelli’s young-adult novel Stargirl was released in 2000, it received instant critical acclaim. The titular stargirl’s freewheeling hippie lifestyle (she changes her name every few years, because she can) make a big impact on the story's protagonist, a boy trying to find his place in high school and in life.

    Of course he’s drawn to her nonconformist ways, her unconventional wisdom and beauty; and in the end, as she leads her high school in a conga line out the door and into the night only to mysteriously disappear, she has miraculously imbued upon all her classmates the ability to accept each other as they are. She leaves the boy's life as she enters: the Mary Poppins of coming-of-age narratives and mystical revelations.

    Stargirl was a bestseller, an award-winner, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. In 2007, author Jerry Spinelli released a sequel, Love, Stargirl. That same year, film critic Nathan Rabin published a review of Elizabethtown in which he coined the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl:

    The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.

    The phrase seems like it's been circulating in the pop-culture imagination for much longer than seven years, hasn't it? At once, it was an immediately recognizable and useful way of discussing a trope that was so ubiquitous across the miles of creative mediums that even to give it a label was to explode discussion about it. The concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, apart from being a description of a specific kind of winsome sweetheart delivered to an audience on a fall-in-love-with-me platter, was a deep stab at the basic mechanisms through which we tell stories.

    Stargirl is a book often cited as an example of YA fiction at its best. To defenders of the book, Stargirl is a complex and nuanced character who does have a life outside of the main character's fantasy of her. Bringing her up during a discussion of the manic pixie trope often provokes heated arguments. After all, is a female character who has all the traits of the dreaded MPDG automatically a failure, even if she has only one primary plot function?

    Today, in Salon, Rabin has written a lengthy apology for ever coining the term "manic pixie" to begin with. He writes in bemusement of the way the term took off and grew into a monster beyond anything he'd ever imagined.

    "The archetype of the free-spirited life-lover who cheers up a male sad-sack had existed in the culture for ages," he writes. "But by giving an idea a name and a fuzzy definition, you apparently also give it power. And in my case, that power spun out of control."

    Then Rabin iterates how using the term has essentially become as much of a cliche as the thing it's describing:

    At the film site The Dissolve, where I am a staff writer, my editor has gently discouraged me from using the phrase Manic Pixie Dream Girl in my writing, less because using a phrase I coined reeks of self-congratulation, but because in 2014 calling a character a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is nearly as much of a cliché as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.

    Rabin goes on to talk about how he feels the trope has not only outlived its usefulness but actively become a symbol of harm.

    In an interview with Vulture, “Ruby Sparks” writer-star Zoe Kazan answered a question about whether her character was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl by asserting: “I think it’s basically misogynist.” In a later interview, when once again confronted with the dreaded MPDG label, Kazan continued, “I don’t like that term… I think it’s turned into this unstoppable monster where people use it to describe things that don’t really fall under that rubric.

    Here’s the thing: I completely agree with Kazan. And at this point in my life, I honestly hate the term too. I feel deeply weird, if not downright ashamed, at having created a cliche that has been trotted out again and again in an infinite internet feedback loop. I understand how someone could read The A.V. Club list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls and be offended by the assertion that a character they deeply love and have an enduring affection for, whether it’s Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall or Katherine Hepburn in “Bringing Up Baby,” is nothing more than a representation of a sexist trope or some sad dude’s regressive fantasy.

    There's so much noise around the label at this point that even very deliberate subversions of it, like Paper Towns and 500 Days of Summer, are often billed as straightforward iterations of the trope by people who seem more content to point and laugh at a quirky girl character than listen to the quirky girl's message about how she's not just your stereotypical mystical male fantasy. The dark side of the Manic Pixie is that it carries the default assumptions that the writer, actress, and audience who together create that character ultimately intend for her to be no more than a vehicle for a man's emotional breakthrough or a catalyst for a man's self-actualization. 

    The difficulty is that while Rabin and other writers might have recognized how harmful those assumptions are, plenty of other writers and Hollywood moguls haven't. We may not live in a world where, as John Greenput it, "boys can save girls by being romantically interested in them," but we do live in a reality where Hollywood actively teaches screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel Test because of the pervasive and false belief that men only want to see movies about other men, and that if a female character is onscreen, she, too, must be all about the man.

    This contrast between reality and our general acceptance of the perpetual mythmaking machine of Hollywood is what can lead to a complex character like Annie Hall existing as a paradox. She stands, to much critical acclaim, against a backdrop of decades of films in which Woody Allen's autobiographical stunted man-children bumble their way towards happiness thanks to the shared insights and romantic love of the women around them. Regardless of how rich and complex these female characters supposedly are, they are all, ultimately, filmed through a man's POV and rendered as servants to narratives which continually turn them into catalysts for a man's personal journey rather than people with their own lives and narrative concerns that we get to follow and partake in.

    What the MPDG label delivered best, then and now, is a still-necessary discussion of the ways women are used to further plots that are all about men, the way the dreams and goals and aspirations of women are sidelined to help develop the prioritized narratives of their male counterparts, and the way, ultimately, these kinds of stories ultimately turn women into unwitting token male fantasies rather than people, again and again. 

    Rabin's callout of the way the trope has been stretched to its limits and then pushed beyond those limits into a concept that actually hurts women is probably long overdue. It's all too easy to use the label to malign every pink-haired waifling who comes along without really thinking about the purpose of the trope and how harmful it is. But if we retire the Manic Pixie Dream Girl from popular rhetoric, let's make sure we replace it with something equally pointed at calling out sexist narratives that only allow female characters to exist for the benefit of male protagonists. 

    We think the Mako Mori Test might be a great place to start.

    Illustration via Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-3.0


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    The Netflix model of binge-watching is now spreading to other sites: Come September, Amazon will release an entire season of one of its new original series for your nonstop viewing pleasure.

    Of all the shows Amazon is debuting, Jill Soloway’s Transparent is the most anticipated. The show focuses on a father struggling with how to tell his kids—Gaby Hoffman, who’s been great in everything lately, Jay Duplass, and Amy Landecker—that he’s transitioning to a woman. His kids, however, have issues of their own, and it feels like a mirror of Soloway’s former show, Six Feet Under.

    When the show debuts in September, viewers will be able to watch all 10 episodes in one sitting. Soloway made this announcement over the weekend, at the TV Critics Association press tour, where she said, “I think of it like a five-hour movie more than 10 episodes.”

    The release of Netflix’s original series Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards have become successful events. We all huddle around the digital campfire and offer real-time reviews, and if a show debuts on a Friday, the hardcore binge-watchers are going to have lots of opinions come Saturday. We now binge-watch to keep up, to feel and share something with the virtual room, even if maybe we should just power down already and mute Twitter.

    Amazon is going to need that event-status promotion if it wants to compete with Netflix and Hulu, the latter of which has also gotten on board with the binge. If you have Hulu Plus, you can watch all seven episodes of the new original series The Hotwives of Orlando.

    They still have Whit Stillman's The Cosmopolitans coming up, which sounds promising and could likely help Amazon with a breakout hit. That one sounds pretty bingeable too. Do we know any other way?

    Screengrab via Amazon Studios/YouTube 


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    This year’s Kickstarter Film Fest—featuring naught but crowdfunded watchables—will hit Brooklyn (July 18), Los Angeles (Sept. 12), London (TBA), and, really, anywhere you happen to have an Internet connection. Trouble is, you’ve got to pick what to see.

    Or do you? Here’s a cheat sheet to the films that people are likely to be buzzing about, some of which are already freely available online. But we know there’s nothing quite like a big screen and a packed house, and these lovingly crafted works have earned both.

    Kung Fury

    Where Michael Jai White’s Black Dynamite gave us a send-up of blaxploitation films that maintained a hilarious reverence for its source material, Kung Fury is like if a macho ’80s cop flick suffered a cocaine overdose that opened up a wormhole in space-time. If this trailer doesn’t have you fist-pumping like a sugar-addled 13-year-old, I pity you.

    The Burning House

    This polished dark satire should ideally have Wes Anderson fanboys rethinking their fussy materialist aesthetic. Based on a real-life blog, it asks whether a privileged man can survive disaster with nothing more than his most prized—and utterly useless—possessions, “including a pair of beeswax candles, a toaster, and a glass doorknob.” 

    First to Fall

    Your must-see documentary is a raw, front-lines look at the revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, narrowly observed through the eyes of two friends who fled their studies abroad to become part of history at home. It’s hard to recall, in recent memory, any warzone footage more bracing, and as Hamid and Tarek begin to experience what Call of Duty couldn’t prepare them for, a terrible kind of knowledge descends.

    Prospect

    A lushly beautiful and intimate sci-fi short in which even the lighted specks of dust floating through an alien forest seem significant, Prospect introduces us to a father and teenage daughter scouring a toxic planet for a rare and fatally precious substance. When they’re attacked by a stranger, the expedition becomes a life-or-death-or-worse struggle.

    WONDER

    If you find yourself in the mood for trippy animation, look no further than this 365-second Mirai Mizue piece, assembled from 8,760 pictures drawn by hand over an entire year. The psychedelically abstract and supersaturated WONDER stipulates that it boasts “not a story to tell but emotions to feel,” so yes, you should probably be stoned.

    Obvious Child

    Clearly the mainstream breakthrough of the festival, Obvious Child is more than just the long-overdue rebuke to the hideously retrograde Knocked Up—it walks a razor’s edge all its own and never once loses its footing. With a pitch-perfect ensemble and a star-making turn from Jenny Slate, it’s as fierce and funny an argument for abortion as anyone could ask for.

    Photo via Shep Films/Vimeo


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    It can be hard to keep up with an ever-changing platform like YouTube, but Rhett & Link aren't worried: They're leading the charge.

    Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, friends since grade school, have been making YouTube-like videos long before YouTube even existed. They went to college for engineering, but they quit their jobs soon after graduation to make videos, music, and online content, and they haven’t stopped since.

    Over the course of a decade and counting, they’ve created low-budget commercials (they introduced the world to Chuck Testa), made music videos, and performed comedy sketches on everything from a rap battle of geeks and nerds to singing “All Night Long” all night long and a middle school production of Breaking Bad. They even appeared on America’s Got Talent in a zebra suit—and later in an LMFAO music video.

    Like many stars on YouTube, they eventually made the transition to TV. McLaughlin and Neal were two of the first to make the jump with Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings on IFC, but it only lasted a season.

    But that setback hasn’t stopped them. They still make content on their original channel, and in January 2012, they started their morning talk show, Good Mythical Morning (GMM), in which they talk about their personal lives or a top news story. Since then they’ve made hundreds of episodes over the stretch of five seasons; the sixth season kicked off earlier this week. Between the two channels, they’ve got well over 600 million views, and GMM has taken over the main channel in number of subscribers.

    They also launched a podcast called Ear Biscuits in which they sit down and talk candidly with other content creators. And until recently, McLaughlin and Neal did all of it on their own; they signed with Collective Digital Studio in 2012, and they have help when it comes to creating content.

    I caught up with them at VidCon about protecting the “age of innocence” on the Internet, creating a GMM spin-off, and why they love picking their fans’ brains.

    Earlier, you were part of a panel discussing the future of online video. In layman's terms, what changes have you noticed since you started making videos, and what do you think will happen?

    Neal: There was an interesting discussion on the panel. One question from the audience referred to preserving the age of innocence on the Internet, and it’s an interesting thing. As more money comes into “Internetainment,” it’s necessary in order to create higher-quality content—and I mean in terms of it being better and better—you don’t want control to move from creators to just suits with money.

    So I think it’s an interesting question: how are we going to protect the innocence of this environment? I don’t know.

    McLaughlin: I think one of the things is, the typical model on YouTube now is a lot of things are very personality-driven. So you typically have somebody who builds an audience around themselves. And then at some point, because they either have higher creative aspirations or they want some sort of longevity, they start producing content that isn’t necessarily the same; it isn’t necessarily a vlog.

    They want to start creating stuff, right? Some creators are gonna be good at that; some are not gonna be good at that. I think that we’re gonna start seeing more and more people who started as a YouTube personality and now have their own studio, and they’re gonna start creating things: story-driven stuff, longer-form stuff that people have an opportunity to enjoy.

    We’re already seeing a little bit of that. I think we’re gonna see more and more of that. I mean, that’s what we’re gonna be doing. We’re gonna create more stuff. It is still personality-based, it’s still coming from us, it’s still a Rhett & Link production, but it isn’t necessarily gonna be the same exact things we’ve been doing all along.

    Do you have any of that coming out in the near future, or is that down the long road?

    Neal: The first major project that we’re working on launching is—I call it a sister show to Good Mythical Morning, or you can call it a spin-off show—but it’s the female version of our show. So we’re excited about turning the final corners so we can launch that back-to-school timeframe. Hopefully that will happen. That’s a major thing we’re working on. It doesn’t have a title yet.

    Have you figured who will be on the show yet?

    Neal: We’re very close. We received a ton of auditions, and we went into the far-reaching corners of the Internet and found candidates as well. So we’ve got two really good candidates, and we’re very close.

    What do fans have to look forward to on the next season of GMM?

    McLaughlin: We’re gonna do some new and different stuff. We’re doing something new with the way we handle the fan mail, we’ve got an all-new intro and theme song. It’s gonna be the same stuff that people like, but [with] some differences.

    Neal: Pomplamoose made our new theme song, so we’re pretty excited about that.

    What changes have you noticed since attending your first VidCon?

    McLaughlin: I think that the biggest change to VidCon is, originally, everything was very motivated by what was happening on YouTube, and it was building out from what was happening on YouTube. And now there are a lot of people who are interested in YouTube content. You have a lot of people who may or may not really understand the space as well and who are coming in and saying, “Hey, I want a part of this. What can we do? Let’s set this booth up. Let’s do this thing.” And it’s just interesting to see how there’s this natural validation in what’s happening on YouTube because there’s so many people who want a piece of it.

    Neal: It’s kinda switched from a pirate mentality, like raiding and taking YouTube talent and concepts—that even happened to us. Our show on IFC… it wasn’t pirated, we migrated it to TV, but it’s getting a piece of the action.

    How does balancing and prioritizing what to create when work out?

    Neal: GMM really surprises and has become the vehicle for our brand. So we’re very much focused on continuing to develop the show and add value to it and grow our audience from that baseline of GMM. And after that, Ear Biscuits is kind of a side project, more of a passion project for us. Not really making a lot of money off it, but important to document the stories of influencers and creators, and we really enjoy doing that.

    McLaughlin: The way we have balance though, is that we have a team that helps us now as opposed to doing every single thing ourselves. We still have a pretty regimented schedule of working during the day and ignoring it to be home with our families at night and on the weekends. But we have a lot of people who help us make this happen.

    Was this a recent development?

    McLaughlin: In the past two years. We’ve always had help, but in the past two years we’ve moved from having one or two people at a time to having a team of seven or eight people.

    What’s been your favorite part of VidCon so far?

    Neal: It’s always helpful to pick our fans’ brains to see what their favorite videos are and to figure out what the momentum of our channel is. Not just based on views or likes or dislikes, but anecdotally. When everyone’s talking about GMM last year, it’s like, “Oh, maybe we’re onto something.” This year, now we understand that. Not just meeting fans, but asking them pointed questions. “OK, what’s your favorite video?” You develop a profile we wouldn’t have otherwise.

    What’s surprised you about fan responses?

    Neal: This year, what did we learn? We just came from a signing. We just spent two hours signing. What did you learn?

    McLaughlin: What was the question? What did we learn from the fans?

    Neal: That’s my question, yeah.

    McLaughlin: I think that in the past, the majority of people would’ve said, “I know you from your music videos,” but now the majority of people say, “I know you from GMM and I watch.” I think it’s a great way for people to be a Mythical Beast. That’s what we call our fans. Almost every MB is a fan of GMM and a regular watcher of GMM. And then they find out about all the other stuff we’ve been doing from GMM as opposed to people finding out about GMM from a music video.

    Do you have anything else coming up?

    Neal: We’re excited about laying the groundwork for more narrative content that you can sink your teeth into.

    Photo by Michelle Jaworski


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    YouTube’s circuitous path to premium content supremacy finds the company in the midst of making the rounds in Hollywood in search of studio help. 

    A Reuters report claims YouTube wants to hire studios professionals and others experienced in production to assist its network of indie creators in coming up with bankable programming to compete with efforts from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and others. 

    In some ways this may be good money chasing bad money after YouTube’s well-ballyhooed 2011 original channel initiative, which saw the online video site invest an estimated $100 million to create original content to lure viewers and advertisers. This was followed by an additional investment of $200 million a year later for additional original content. According to the Reuters report, only 115 of the channels launched in those efforts are now in the top 2 percent most-subscribed-to channels on the platform. 

    As part of its original investment in original content, YouTube built video-programming incubators in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo to provide a clean, well-lit space for aspiring creators to produce, collaborate, and learn new skills, such as how to use a steadicam. Among the better-know shows to come out of the L.A. YouTube Space is SoulPancake, a project started in 2008 by noted actor Rainn Wilson (The Office, Juno) which tackles “Life’s Big Questions.” 

    Programming such as SoulPancake, which draws tens of millions of views, points to YouTube’s quixotic challenge—how do we go from being a popular online video destination to becoming a commercially successful, producer and distributor of multiscreen content that appeals to those on their smartphones, on their tablets, or in their living rooms. To date, that challenge has been unmet.

    The competition for original made-for-the-Web content and the ecosystem to produce, distribute, and monetize those programs is a crazy quilt of experienced and novice programmers, distribution partners, and consumption devices. YouTube/Google’s prime competition is Amazon, which is in its second round of new programs and recently released its Amazon Fire streaming hardware device. With Google’s June announcement of its Android TV platform, the search giant is desperate to fill the screens of its hardware partners Sony and Sharp with its own made-for-Web shows or fall even further behind Hulu and Netflix as well as Amazon and (perhaps) Apple.

    Photo by Jason Reed | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III


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    In a move that some will consider akin to taking the credit for small pox, Seth MacFarlane and the studio and producers of his 2012 smash Tedhave been accused of making “an unlawful copy” of an (until now) little-seen webseries.

    In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court, Los Angeles, Bengal Mangle Productions allege that Ted shares both similar physical attributes and a “vulgar, yet humorous character” with “Charlie,” the feature character in Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear which was originally exhibited across a slew of streaming sites between July 2009 and November 2010.

    According to the complaint:

    - Both Charlie and Ted are teddy bears that have come to life in an otherwise human world.

    - In both Ted and Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear, the Ted and Charlie characters, respectively, are so central to the story that they are the story being told.

    - Both Charlie and Ted use vulgar language, solicit prostitutes, drink alcohol, and use drugs.

    - Charlie and Ted each have a substantially similar persona, verbal tone, verbal delivery, dialogue, and attitude.

    - Charlie and Ted possess the same physical attributes, including the general look and feel of each character:

    - Both Charlie and Ted maintain an active social media  presence, including individual Twitter and Facebook accounts, with similar postings.

    With Ted grossing over $550 million at the box office (on a $50 million budget) and the film’s sequel to begin filming this month the timing of this suit seems hardly accidental. And if the makers of Charlie catch even a whiff of success in their endeavours, others like The Bear from Bo’ Selecta! are unlikely to remain unloved in the toybox they’ve been kept all these years.

    H/T Deadline | Screenshot via Ted/YouTube


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    The third installment of beloved parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic’s #8videos8days rollout for Mandatory Fun, his latest album, is “Foil,” a lampooning of Lorde’s omnipresent “Royals” and logical follow-up to 1984’s “Eat It.”

    But this song is more than just an ode to the crinkly stuff in which we wrap our sandwiches. Shifting from practical advice to utter paranoia at the speed of Internet, Yankovic soon finds a less conventional use for aluminum foil: blocking Illuminati aliens from reading his thoughts. Unfortunately, a collaborator (Patton Oswalt, otherwise in the midst of a social media hiatus) and two G-men (Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant) are onto him.

    Has this dude really been so on point for more than 30 years? If there’s not already a statue of him in his hometown, there really ought to be.

    Photo via CollegeHumor/YouTube


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    Moviegoers at one screening of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were surprised by a few of their patrons: a pair of damn dirty apes.

    Two-year-old chimps Vali and Sugriva, residents of the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, were granted temporary leave from the attraction to blend in with the species that they will one day conquer. An ABC News video shows the adorable chimps, accompanied by their trainers, not only watching and reacting to the film, but also buying their own refreshments.

    They couldn't have been any more disruptive than modern-day teenagers. In fact, they were probably a lot more hygienic.

    With upcoming blockbusters featuring everything from highly evolved turtles to raccoons, expect your local theater—especially if you live in South Carolina—to feel like even more of a zoo soon.

    H/T Daily Mail | Screengrab via ABC News Videos/YouTube


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