Articles on this Page
- 07/18/14--12:25: _This supercut of ch...
- 07/18/14--14:18: _Fred Durst is now d...
- 07/19/14--04:30: _Fullscreen taps War...
- 07/19/14--08:30: _Shakira smashes Fac...
- 07/19/14--14:41: _Remembering Les Hor...
- 07/20/14--06:00: _The definitive guid...
- 07/20/14--08:27: _Ultra Records sues ...
- 07/20/14--11:46: _Weird Al calls out ...
- 07/21/14--05:36: _'Inmates With Talen...
- 07/21/14--06:00: _John and Hank Green...
- 07/21/14--06:38: _'Star Wars' hype re...
- 07/21/14--08:03: _Kids are just as te...
- 07/21/14--08:10: _John Oliver uses pu...
- 07/21/14--08:32: _The story of Silk R...
- 07/21/14--09:22: _Weird Al's 'Mission...
- 07/21/14--09:59: _Get lost in the fie...
- 07/21/14--10:38: _The definitive rank...
- 07/21/14--13:07: _Benedict Cumberbatc...
- 07/21/14--14:38: _This 'Games of Thro...
- 07/22/14--02:15: _YouTube stars partn...
- 07/18/14--12:25: This supercut of child actors swearing is %*&$ing adorable
- 07/18/14--14:18: Fred Durst is now directing commercials for eHarmony
- 07/19/14--04:30: Fullscreen taps Warped Tour creator for massive YouTube concert
- 07/19/14--08:30: Shakira smashes Facebook record, notches 100 million likes
- 07/19/14--14:41: Remembering Les Horribles Cernettes, the first band on the Web
- 07/20/14--06:00: The definitive guide to failed Netflix originals
- 07/20/14--08:27: Ultra Records sues YouTube beauty vlogger for copyright infringement
- 07/20/14--11:46: Weird Al calls out celebrity culture in his latest video
- 07/21/14--05:36: 'Inmates With Talent' takes the reality competition behind bars
- 07/21/14--06:00: John and Hank Green finally add ads to their YouTube channel
- 07/21/14--08:32: The story of Silk Road is headed to the stage
- 07/21/14--09:22: Weird Al's 'Mission Statement' is a giant lesson on business jargon
- 07/21/14--10:38: The definitive ranking of Weird Al's 8 new tracks
- 07/21/14--14:38: This 'Games of Thrones' intro remix is perfect for your next rave
- 07/22/14--02:15: YouTube stars partner with Target for new decorating webseries
Anyone who ever said that "children are better seen and not heard" has obviously never heard two straight minutes of children swearing.
Vimeo user Avaryl Halley has spliced together a compilation of young actors and actresses from different movies letting loose like sailors. The words that would get their less-famous contemporaries in trouble flow here like a wonderful NSFW harmony. Kicking off with Peter Billingsley's classic "Oh fudge" from A Christmas Story, the video collects colorful language from such stars as Macaulay Culkin, Chloe Grace Moretz, and pretty much every character in The Sandlot. And if you watch closely enough, you will spot a young Wil Wheaton letting a "fuck" slip out in Stand By Me.
Kids, George Carlin would be so proud.
Have you been on eHarmony lately? Probably not, since dating sites like OkCupid and apps like Tinder have captured our attention and manage to feed our need for constant stimulation. In 2014, eHarmony seems like a quaint Internet footnote. The company needs to rebrand. And they need Fred Durst to direct their commercials.
It was announced back in May that the Limp Bizkit frontman would be part of their rebranding campaign, to the surprise of pretty much everyone. The site is apparently popular with the 25 to 40-year-old demo, though many of their previous commercials featured couples over 40. So how to reach those under 25? Durst, apparently. He’s eHarmony's millennial whisperer.
Durst directed three spots, the first of which features eHarmony’s founder and CEO, Neil Clark Warren, and two adorable children discussing the joys of eHarmony.
This isn’t Durst’s first directing credit: He was behind 2007’s The Education of Charlie Banks and 2008’s The Longshots, and recently released a short film, The Truth, with Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland.
“Everybody thinks that I'm the most serious guy in the world, but I'm not," Warren told Advertising Age. "They think that Fred Durst is the most fool-around guy in the world, and they couldn't see how the two of us would be put together. But he just talks our language and I feel so comfortable around him."
Sounds like Warren and Durst have some chemistry! The two remaining Durst-directed spots are set to debut in August and September.
Photo via eHarmony/Twitter
INTOUR, the company’s entry into the space, will take place Sept. 13, at the Pasadena Convention Center in southern California. The lineup features a who’s who of Fullscreen talent, including Connor Franta, Ricky Dillon, Jc Caylen, and Sam Tsui—most of whom have seen success at VidCon or on previous DigiTour and DigiFest appearances.
To produce the event, Fullscreen tapped teen tour veteran Kevin Lyman, the man behind the Warped Tour. It’s a smart move, as Lyman has been cultivating a traveling circus of teen culture for years. Transitioning to the world of digital creators feels inevitable.
“When approached by Fullscreen to help produce this event, it made total sense given our history of developing longstanding music festivals,” Lyman said in a press release. “These creators have built incredible relationships with fans with their videos, and we’re excited to bring that online experience off the screens and onto the stage.”
The tour offers general access starting at $42, but in its FAQ, fans are only guaranteed to meet their favorites if they upgrade to VIP access, which starts at $80. There’s also a $150 option that promises an intimate dinner experience with the creators for only 75 lucky fans.
Perhaps the most telling bit of its FAQ is that underage fans are welcome with or without supervision, but that they will offer free guardian tickets to anyone over the age of 26 attending with a minor—a clear indicator of the age range Fullscreen expects to attract. Plus, the over-18 area promises adult beverages for weary parents and late-20-somethings alike.
Older fans, now is the time to offer to take your niece or nephew to an event if you too want to meet your favorite YouTubers.
Photo by Tiffany Ronquillo/Flickr (CC By 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III
Facebook combed through all of the data it has on Shak’s fans—did you know Shakira sometimes refers to herself as “Shak”? —to put together a series of infographics.
Here are two of the more interesting revelations: Shakira’s most-liked post received 3.5 million likes in four days, and of those 100 million subscribers, 4,642 are also named Shakira.
There’s also video taking a look back at all of Shakira’s most-moving moments, as captured on Facebook—and a lot of Gerard Piqué.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
The group was created by Michele Muller, who was working at CERN, Europe's renowned particle physics lab, in the early ‘90s, and dating a CERN scientist. She became frustrated with the chaotic work schedule of a scientist, and decided to write a song. Thus, “Collider”: “I fill your screen with hearts and roses/I fill your mail file with lovely phrases/They all come back: “invalid user”/You never let me into your computer.”
Muller eventually asked a few friends to join the group. According to the Les Horribles Cernettes website, which remains a glorious artifact of the early ‘90s, they sing about “colliders, quarks, microwaves, antiprotons and Internet.” Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova dug up a few of the songs from the CERN archives.
Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, was working at CERN at the time. The first website was text-only, and Berners-Lee apparently wanted something visual for his new invention. After seeing LHC perform at CERN’s Hardronic Festival in 1992, he asked Muller’s boyfriend, Silvano de Gennaro, for a photo of the group, which he then scanned and uploaded to the Web on July 18, 1992. De Gennaro took this photo at the festival.
And, as Popova points out, Muller and de Gennaro ended up getting married.
The devoted fandoms and accolades that have sprung up around Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards create an impression that Netflix is becoming a real player in original programming. Nevertheless, it's ultimately new to the game: It has produced a fair number of go-nowhere series and dud specials—just like the old TV networks it seeks to disrupt.
Below, we’ll take a glance backward—sometimes fondly, sometimes in disgust—at efforts that, for one reason or another, didn’t make the grade. But hey, there’s always next time.
If you asked people to name a terrible Netflix show off the top of their heads, most would mention this glacially plotted, wretchedly written, haphazardly acted excuse for a horror tale. It even managed to land on Time critic James Poniewozik’s list of TV’s worst atrocities in 2013, though why we should expect anything less from executive producer Eli Roth (Hostel, Hostel: Part II) is anyone’s guess. The best user reviews are still fairly tepid, and among the true fans, there’s marked disappointment on the quality drop-off between seasons. This dreck wouldn’t have made it past the front door at HBO.
John Hodgman: Ragnarok
You probably first enjoyed Hodgman’s dry wit on The Daily Show, where he styled himself a wealthy, out-of-touch pundit with a touch of NPR somnolence. He wrote The Areas of My Expertise, a hilariously phony almanac complete with hundreds of hobo names, which was followed by another two superfluous volumes, and finally hit rock bottom with this deeply unfunny conceptual comedy special whose laziness is almost certainly part of the point. We’d dare you to watch the whole thing, but some jurisdictions have laws against encouraging self-harm. Time for a new schtick, dude.
The collective “meh” that greeted Lilyhammer was a damn shame, and probably had something to do with the American hostility toward subtitles. If you can make it through the incongruously cheesy and awkward setup (about five minutes, maximum), you’ll be rewarded with a surprisingly deft fish-out-of-water-but-loves-the-snow story of a mobster (Steven Van Zandt, essentially continuing his Sopranos run as Silvio Dante) fleeing New York for Norway and making a new—but very familiar—life for himself. Luckily, the show is a hit among real Norwegians, thanks to its stellar regional cast and canny way of blending dark humor with genuine warmth, which means we’ll get a deserved third season.
Arrested Development (Season 4)
Here’s the real heartbreaker. There’s no harsher group of critics than a cult following, and it was all too inevitable that the resurrection of this screwball single-camera sitcom would crash and burn in the eyes of its own greatest evangelizers. Cries of “it’s just not the same” pepper the Netflix ratings page, and plenty of viewers never got through the whole season—too bad, considering it represents the boldest experiment in binge-watching culture to date, linking its 15 episodes in simultaneity rather than sequentially (translation: there’s no wrong order in which to watch). The run isn’t without its missteps, but all the ingredients that made the original series shine are there. Plus we end on a perfect thematic note, with Michael and his grown-up son finally engaged in the open antagonism that characterizes the rest of the Bluth clan’s internecine feuding.
Richard Nixon famously remarked, following an election loss that should have ended his political career, that the press and public wouldn’t have him to kick around anymore. Failed candidate Mitt Romney didn’t even bother with a disingenuous line—he just signed off on a documentary cobbled together from home movies shot by a family friend, perhaps with the idea of rehabilitating his oily image. The awkward, bland result tells us very little we didn’t know, meanwhile exposing Romney’s lack of coherent motivations for seeking the presidency in the first place. In the end, it’s a solemn reminder that we needn’t go “behind the scenes” when there’s nothing at stake going on backstage.
I’m sorry to sound cruel, but has anyone so much as heard of this ostensible comedy series? That you can’t actually watch it on Netflix anymore says it all. There are no jokes to speak of (unless you count Andy Dick making references to sex between homeless people), and the leads are so manifestly boring as to shut down your frontal cortex entirely. The premise isn’t bad—a group of petty criminals doing community service in a different location each episode, which makes for a Party Down-like format—but the zingers are off, the stereotypes broad, and production values minimal. It’s no exaggeration to say there are better things to watch on YouTube. Paint drying, for example.
Photo by Pat Guiney/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)|Remix by Max Fleishman
Fans often view Michelle Phan’s videos to learn makeup tips, but the soundtracks to those tutorials were called into legal question Wednesday.
Electronic music label Ultra Records and Ultra International Music Publishing LLC are taking the beauty vlogger to court over her alleged unlicensed use of their music in several of her popular YouTube videos, according to a case filed last week in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles. The suit alleges Phan used songs from their catalog in her videos without a license, including tracks by Grammy-nominated DJ Kaskade. One example is her “Night Life Favorites” video, which features Kaskade’s “4AM” and has 1.4 million views.
According to a report by Reuters, the suit states that Phan had been notified of the infringement and that she needed a license, “and yet continues to willfully infringe in blatant disregard of Plaintiff’s rights of ownership.”
Many vloggers use music on their channels, often with some sort of credit given to the artist, although there’s little indication of which channels have obtained proper licensing. In cases of users who are not monetizing their content and including copyrighted music materials, YouTube generally exercises a Content ID claim on the video that allows monetization by the proper copyright holder. In Phan’s case, if she’s using copyrighted audio material on her monetized videos, Ultra has rights to the revenue earned. Ultra is seeking $150,000 per infringement or unspecified damages, taking into account that Phan has built a multimillion dollar empire on her videos that includes books, brand deals, and a makeup line.
Phan and Ultra Records did not respond for comment.
Do you remember the week you willingly watched seven new Weird Al videos?
Yes, Weird Al Yankovic has pulled off the best experiment ever for waning Internet attention spans: To promote his new album, Mandatory Fun, he’sreleasedavideoa day as part of the #8VideosIn8Days experiment, starting last Tuesday with his “Happy” parody. (His video for “First World Problems” got an exclusive debut on PopCrush yesterday.) He’s even approaching a No. 1 record—his first ever—if he can elbow Jason Mraz out of the way.
His latest video is for “Lame Claim to Fame,” which doesn’t parody a specific song, but rather calls out our obsession with celebrity culture, and knowing somebody who knows somebody. The clip features a guest appearance from Dr. Demento, the radio personality who brought Weird Al to a larger audience, so there’s some genuine hat tips amongst the call-outs.
No doubt some people are experiencing Weird Al burnout after this run. He’s been everywhere this week, the fly in the ointment. And yet, he’s done what many of the celebrities he calls out have not: He’s stayed true to his image and his mission. He’s simply continued to be Weird Al.
Screengrab via alyankovic/YouTube
In the modern TV world of hot housewives, survivors, naked dating and sanctioned spouse swapping, prison life seems to be on the tamer end of the spectrum when it comes to programming. Women behind bars (OITNB titillation factor aside), kids getting scared straight and hyperbolic glimpses into cellblock life are among a few themes that have emerged to date in this odd-yet-growing category of entertainment. So why not inmates competing in a talent show?
For Johnny Collins, Producer/Director/Co-Host of Inmates with Talent, his upcoming film, which he describes as American Idol meets Last Comic Standing, represents the intersection of personal interest and greater societal good. The film, currently in post-production and about to enter a Kickstarter campaign for final touches and distribution, captures a talent show held at an Indiana medium-security prison which houses more than 2,000 inmates. For Collins, this goes behind his quest to perform comedy in unusual places; one of the catalysts for Inmates with Talent was to prepare inmates for life after incarceration and boost self-esteem while serving their time.
In pure serio-comic tone, Collins asks “If we can recycle bags, why can’t we recycle peoples’ lives?”
What started out as a casual conversation between Collins and his friend Joel Jerome about new venues to perform quickly turned into an idea that married their love of comedy and desire to find the next Tim Allen. Prior to his days as a stand up comedian and sitcom star, Allen spent five years in a Michigan prison for drug trafficking, later telling Esquire that comedy saved his life. The concept of comedy as a form of rehabilitation resonated with Collins, as his friend Jerome had spent a short time in jail.
As you might gather, one does not walk into the a warden’s office and announce you are holding auditions. The process took Collins to two state prison systems, focusing on those that were open to progressive ways of rehabilitating their population. After reviewing the idea and viewing some sample performances, Doug Garrison, chief communications officer for the Indiana Department of Corrections, gave Collins the green light and Inmates with Talent was filmed at the Putnamville Correctional Facility in Greencastle, IN. The inmates weren’t limited to telling jokes; there were also categories for spoken word and singing, with 25 inmates participating in the show which included some standup shtick from Collins and a few of his friends including Steve WIlson and Edwin San Juan.
Rapper-actor Ice-T acts as narrator for the show, and his presence is for more than just show: “Before we started Inmates With Talent, Ice-T had a history of visiting America’s prisons and speaking to guys about getting on the right path in life," says Collins. “Another reason Ice-T is a great fit for our project is because of his talents on camera, which are fueled by his deep life experiences.”
The net result of Collins’ efforts is 60 hours of footage which he hopes to pare down into a two-hour end product. To date, the project has been funded out of Collin’s pocket via savings and credit cards, but it will be taking to Kickstarter to raise money for post-production. Collins would not state how much money he hopes to raise to complete the show, although he hopes to distribute across all platforms (in theater, on the web) and perhaps eventually turn into a series.
Collins, who has a background in corporate PR, should realize he may not have an easy sale on his hands. The current public perception of life behind bars is a mixed bag of angry violent felons (Lockup, Oz), women struggling to survive harsh conditions (Orange is the New Black) and a show, Beyond Scared Straight, that hopes to put out-of-control juvenile offenders on the straight and narrow. Will the public be amenable to putting up money to help along a new show that focuses on offering prisoners a way to build self confidence and prepare for a life after incarceration? Collins believes Inmates with Talent will get the support it needs.
“The biggest surprise to me was that I was expecting to meet hardened criminals and would find it difficult to help them,” Collins says. “It was quite the opposite. I learned that sometimes people make bad mistakes.”
Screenshot via Inmates with Talent/YouTube
No one likes pre-roll ads. You just want to watch a video, not have YouTube force you to sit through a 30-second commercial beforehand.
But viewers of the uber-popular Vlogbrothers channel seem to think otherwise: They recently voted to include pre-roll ads before the videos they watch.
Last week, author and Vlogbrother John Green asked his YouTube subscribers whether they’d support the channel switching on pre-roll ads, and the viewers voted overwhelmingly in favor—not because they love ads, but because the money is being split between the Vlogbrothers’ charity Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck and a new initiative to fund educational videos.
Hank Green has shared the channel’s revenue data from the first day of pre-roll ads, and it looks like their earnings have already skyrocketed. Answering a question about his desire to be transparent about the channel’s earnings, he wrote, “I see our business as being owned by Nerdfighteria more than it is owned by me. If I have an unofficial board of directors with 200,000 passionate, caring people on it, that’s fine with me.”
The relationship YouTubers have with advertising is very different from that of music videos or other commercially produced clips. For people who subscribe to indie, usually amateur YouTube channels, sitting through a pre-roll ad is more like paying a subscription fee. It’s a passive way of supporting an artist or YouTube personality you enjoy, without actually having to buy any merchandise or sign into Paypal.
In the case of the Vlogbrothers, there’s an additional aspect of social responsibility. Thanks to the transparency of the Green brothers’ various charitable ventures, viewers can easily understand how pre-roll ads can be used to their advantage, instead of just being a frustrating roadblock in the way of watching the next video.
Photo via popwrapped/Tumblr
Warning: This story contains unconfirmed spoilers for the upcoming movie Star Wars Episode VII
It never rains but it pours: There's an overload of Star Wars news going on today. Firstly, a respected film blog has got its hands on extensive (unverified) details of the plot of Star Wars Episode VII, and a video publicizing a charity initiative offering fans the chance to appear in the upcoming blockbuster has given us our first official look at an X-Wing from the movie.
Scroll down for the video.
Film blog Badass Digest has got a hold of what it claims are extensive details about the plot of the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII. Teasingly, the respected blog says that they're "going to keep this vague… [and] have no interest in spoiling Star Wars Episode VII"—before doing exactly that.
Using broad strokes, writer Devin Faraci sketches out the synopsis of the hotly anticipated sequel, from its opening scenes through to a quest to find a missing character and an emerging evil building a superweapon.
"Imagine the standard Star Wars crawl, and when it ends the camera pans up to the stars. But instead of a spaceship zooming into frame we see… a hand! A severed hand, tumbling through space. A severed hand gripping a light saber."
The hand is subsequently discovered by actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega—slated to play leading roles in the upcoming trilogy—and they determine to return the lighsaber to wherever it came.
The hand is of course Luke Skywalker's, lost in The Empire Strikes Back decades before. The duo manage to find Han Solo and Chewbacca ("who aren't flying around in the Millennium Falcon anymore but are piloting… well, that could be a spoiler")—but alas: "they say they haven't seen their friend in thirty years, since the events of Return of the Jedi."
Meanwhile, as the gang begin their search for the missing Jedi, "on an ice planet nefarious forces are building a super weapon, one capable of destroying not planets but entire solar systems…"
Badass Digest also reports positive news about the actors: "again and again I'm hearing that John Boyega owns this movie." It's unclear where the leak has come from, whether a stolen script, a loose-lipped production assistant, or some other unnamed source. The film has already been plagued by leaks and on-set photographs, forcing director J.J. Abrams to take to Twitter to plead for calm, and some fans have taken it a step further by creating their own—fake—leaks.
Reaction on social media to the new leak, meanwhile, has ranged dramatically, from displeased to rejoicing:
This is fake and so scientifically retarded if true, a new SW high http://t.co/wVKBAAfps1— der Führer (@_AdmiralAwesome) July 21, 2014
Just read a leaked Star Wars episode 7 plot, I hope it's fake— Jafid Corncrake (@maximusmarcus) July 21, 2014
Concerning today's supposed Star Wars plot leak I haven't heard so many "hand puns" since Jaime Lannister... well. http://t.co/3h6ZpWx0Yj— John J. Perez (@johnjoeyperez) July 21, 2014
Next up: A video released by Abrams on the official Star Wars YouTube channel publicizing a charity initiative has officially confirmed the inclusion of X-Wing fighters in the forthcoming film—something that had previously been teased in photos leaked to TMZ that appeared to show an unfinished model.
The video—raising money for UNICEF by promoting the chance to feature in the film and win an advance screening in the winner's hometown—also shows off a MSE-6 mousedroid. As of July 21, there's four days left in which to enter the competition.
Star Wars Episode VII has yet to receive an official title (though Badass Digest is unofficially calling it Star Wars: The Hand Of Skywalker), and is believed to be on schedule for a December 2015 release—ahead of which it has stoked controversy amongst fans by nuking the entire extended universe.
The film is also set to star faces both new and old. Fresh blood is being injected into the franchise in the form of Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong'o and Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, whilst Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford are also set to reprise their roles (with the latter sustaining an injury on set delaying filming for weeks).
In addition to the new trilogy, there are at least three more confirmedStar Wars spinoff movies on the way.
The new Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie comes out next month, and from the trailer alone, you can tell it’s going to be somewhat terrifying for kids, and possibly adults. These aren’t the silly cartoon turtles I remember as a kid. When did they get so... ripped and angsty?
The Fine Brothers decided to show the old-school turtles to kids, as part of their Kids React: Retro TV series. Unsurprisingly, many of the kids didn’t know there was a ‘90s version. “I should know about the past,” one girl says, somewhat distressed.
When shown the explosion-filled trailer for the new movie, the reviews were mixed. One girl remarks that they’re trying to make the turtles look too much like humans. There’s also some nuanced discussion of what happens when a cartoon from your childhood is remade and ruined. Did these kids know there have been Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies in the past?
“Yes,” one boy says. “That’s why they have Netflix.”
Screengrab via TheFineBros/YouTube
If straight-up discussing a much-ignored issue doesn’t work, just recruit some puppets to help sing about it with you.
This time around, John Oliver’s tackling the U.S. prison system and its accompanying corruption, racial bias, sexual assaults, and inhumane conditions. But when half of the prisoners incarcerated are drug offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences, and with so few people caring, it’s probably not going to get any better anytime soon.
In what’s becoming a much-watch on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, Oliver's clip is an eye-opening look for those who were previously ignorant of the issue.
But in case the lengthy segment didn’t do it for you, Oliver took the Sesame Street approach. The show’s already covered the issue of incarcerated parents, maybe a few puppets singing about the broken prison system will make an difference.
Photo via Last Week Tonight with John Oliver/YouTube
The seedy world of the Deep Web is bleeding into the realm of art.
Just the thought of a dramatic recreation of an Internet community might bring an unwelcome shudder as memories of Hackers and The Net come rushing back—memories where “hacking” took the form of some sort of 3D Tron-esque computer game and the limits of the ‘Net's future utility is the buying of pizza.
So there’s good reason to be skeptical of Oates'sSilk Road, right? Maybe not.
“It’s something that’s difficult to blag," Oates tells the Daily Dot. “Those awful, cringe-inducing hacker tropes were prevalent because they were just tasking middle-aged screenwriters to try and do something 'current' without really getting to grips with the technology or interacting with the communities.”
Oates says that he, along with other young artists, actually understand how to translate the drama of the Internet world for the stage. For example, Oates mentions Enda Walsh’s Chatroom as the play “that made me realise it is possible to do tech on stage without having a bunch of people wiggling their fingers air-typing on imaginary keyboards.”
Oates’s Silk Road is inspired by interviews and interactions with anonymous users and vendors on Silk Road’s forums. It follows Bruce Blakemore, “a struggling young tech-head” from Newcastle in the United Kingdom, who, along with his grandmother, are drawn into an “Underworld Wide Web of new-age pirates and local gangsters."
As a plot, it is not as far-fetched as it may sound. “These aren't simply jejune junkies who just happen to know their way around a computer. Debate about international and national drug policy is in depth and well informed,” says Oates. “There are also a lot of discussions surrounding libertarian ideals and global economic and socio-political systems.
“The revolution may not be televised, but I'm wondering if it might be streamed.”
Oates is not the first to see the dramatic possibilities in the Silk Road takedown. Last October, 20th Century Fox licensed the rights to a Wired article by journalist Joshua Davis, which told the story of the site's seizure by the FBI and the arrest of alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross William Ulbricht.
In Oates's version, Silk Road is portrayed in a positive light in his play, he says, both as a technological acheivement and as a refutation of the worldwide War on Drugs.
“We explain the site and how it works in a down-to-earth and passionate fashion because, frankly, it is a pretty exciting development in technology,” he says. “People clinging to the concept of the War on Drugs may find it difficult that the play upholds it as a potentially safer and generally better alternative to street drug dealing.”
Not only is Silk Road one of the first theatrical productions to tackle the world of the Deep Web, it’s also one of the first—if not the first—to accept the Internet’s favorite form of payment: Bitcoin.
“I created a new account on Silk Road 2.0 forums telling them all about the play. One of the most well-established vendors sent me a private message saying that once they could ascertain that the play was for real they'd donate to our cause,” says Oates. “I launched the appeal for bitcoins on our website and immediately we received the donation.”
While Oates is accepting Bitcoin donations through the Silk Road website, the two bitcoins he received after chatting with a Silk Road vendor didn’t actually go toward the production itself.
“Because taking a play to Edinburgh is so expensive, and because so much of that cost has to be shouldered by the team and paid upfront, we sold them straight away to pay for the deposit on our flat for the month.
“We sold them for £600, they would currently get us about £740 and are predicted to be worth £2000 by the end of the year. So I'm a bit gutted.”
Photo via Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed
“Weird Al” Yankovic has charmed the pants off of us for the past seven days, and his final video for his #8videos8days campaign to promote the hell out of Mandatory Fun ends with an oldie but goodie. While his earlier videos—as well as the album’s “Inactive,” a parody of “Radioactive”—are more focused on today’s Top 40 charts, “Mission Statement” is a call back to the very best of Crosby, Stills & Nash: “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
The video is very much in the style of illustrated educational tutorials like AsapSCIENCE, and it took 10 months to bring the song to life.
“I wanted to do a song about all the ridiculous double-speak and meaningless buzzwords that I’ve been hearing in office environments my entire life,” Yankovic told Speakeasy. “I just thought it would be ironic to juxtapose that with the song stylings of CSN, whose music pretty much symbolizes the antithesis of corporate America.”
While many artists may might have requested a parody of their songs at some point, Yankovic had what he called “instant feedback” on “Mission Statement.” In a recent RedditAMA, Yankovic explained that he recently run into Graham Nash shortly after recording the song.
“So I walked over to say hi... he sees me, and the first words out of his mouth are, ‘So, when are you gonna do a parody of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”??’” he wrote. “I whipped out my iPhone and played ‘Mission Statement’ for him. Instant request! (He loved it, BTW.)”
Just like the Devil, the Westboro Baptist Church is good at tricking people. They’ve somehow turned their manufactured hate machine into an Internet punchline, and made a name for themselves by protesting bands and concerts that fit whatever agenda they happen to have that week. Mining outrage never gets old, does it?
Most recently, they protested Sunday’s Panic! at the Disco show in Kansas City, Mo., after releasing a song called “You Love Sin What a Tragedy,” a clumsy parody of Panic’s song “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” In response, the band turned the protest into a charity drive for the Human Rights Campaign, but WBC continued their social media surge.
There are originals, like “Why Did God Destroy Sodom,” but originality isn’t really where WBC excels.
In a week where Weird Al has proven himself a master of parody, WBC is certainly giving him a run for his money. They have 139 parodies posted to SoundCloud, like “Nuthin’ but a Bible Thang,” their take on Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ but a 'G' Thang.”
And, of course, they tackled “Let It Go.” This is bordering on Weird SoundCloud territory.
And who could forget their spirited cover of “I Will Always Love You,” tweaked to let you know how God really feels about you.
Same with this “We Are the World” cover.
This “Big Pimpin’” cover is so bad you’ll wonder if there is a God!
Is it possible to make a Carpenters song sound bad? Yep!
Don’t forget: WBC keeps it topical. They covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” after a March landslide in Washington state killed some 40 people. “Thank God for this righteous judgment,” they wrote on SoundCloud. “Now. Is it time to repent of your same-sex marriage sin, Washington? Yes.”
They also recently weighed in on the Malaysia Airlines crash. Perhaps they should package all these songs into some sort of Now That’s What I Call Music!–style compilation. Now That’s What I Call Tasteless Exploitation of Tragedy and Opportunistic Manufacturing of Hatred, in Accordance With God’s Teachings!, perhaps? Too wordy?
Photo via Elvert Barnes/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
And on the eighth day of ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, we got one final video.
The past eight days have brought us more Yankovic than we’ve had in years. It’s been one giant promotional tool for his 14th studio album, Mandatory Fun, and we’ve seen the music videos, which have ranged from a stop-motion animation on lame celebrity culture to a single take full of celebrity cameos and an original “Blurred Lines” parody over a year after the original. When we first saw his tweet, we had no idea what to expect.
But now it’s turned into a cultural event, as we collectively waited to see what the next video would be and where it would premiere. It was a huge win for the Yankovic promotional juggernaut, but it was also like a holiday for the eager audience who lapped it all up.
Even when it seemed that we were suffering from a bit of Weird Al fatigue, Yankovic proved that he’s still at the top of his game—despite having seemingly the entirety of YouTube to compete with in making parodies. But in case you’ve missed any of them, we’ve got them all here, and ranked. Now that we’ve effectively received two-thirds of Mandatory Fun in music video form, you might as well buy just the album and help launch him to the top of the Billboard 200.
1) “Word Crimes”
“Blurred Lines” was arguably the biggest song of summer 2013, so Yankovic had the challenge of making the song relevant again while avoiding what other parody artists on YouTube have already done with it. He succeeded and created a grammatically correct song that grammar nerds and even the most stringent of copy editors can enjoy.
However, even Yankovic’s version of “Blurred Lines” wasn’t without its controversy. The song contains the word “spastic,” which is considered a slur against people with disabilities. Yankovic, not having realized this earlier, took to Twitter to apologize.
If you thought I didn’t know that I ended “Word Crimes” with a split infinitive… you don’t give me nearly enough credit.— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 20, 2014
If you thought I didn’t know that “spastic” is considered a highly offensive slur by some people… you’re right, I didn’t. Deeply sorry.— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 20, 2014
2) “Mission Statement”
Yankovic ended his eight days of videos with “Mission Statement,” which parodies Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” It’s a song that Graham Nash himself has been waiting for for years, and it almost makes you forget that you’re listening to a song all about corporate jargon.
And if it introduces a younger generation to Crosby, Stills & Nash, then Yankovic has more than done his job.
Packed to the brim with bright colors, wacky patterns, and celebrity cameos, Yankovic’s first hit will get stuck in your head as easily as the original did … and maybe, just maybe, make you want to put on a tacky sweater.
What first looked like a sequel to The Food Album twisted itself on its head by the second verse with a tip of the aluminum foil hat to one of everyone’s favorite conspiracies on the Internet. If you didn’t like “Royals” before, you probably found yourself liking it now.
6) “Sports Song”
An ode to every college and high school fight song, this hit captures the general gist of any sports game for those who don’t understand what's going on, all while including just enough nostalgia for those who’ve played in the game, been in the stands, or marched down there on the field.
7) “Lame Claim to Fame"
Our obsession with celebrity culture is front and center in “Lame Claim to Fame,” a stop-motion music video in the form of a scrapbook. Don't miss the name-drop of Dr. Demento, who first brought Yankovic to a larger audience in his early days.
8) “First World Problems”
Yankovic is more focused on paying homage a style than a specific song with “First World Problems” as he calls out the inane things we complain about in our everyday lives in the style of Pixies.
Photo via Nerdist/YouTube
Alan Turing may have given the world the first primitive computer, but his life as a misunderstood gay man in mid-century Britain was by no means an easy one. Naturally, this means his life story is prime awards-season material, especially when paired with a cast full of all stars and a lush production teeming with historical details and the kind of heady film scoring that begs to be played beneath an acceptance speech.
Mark Strong, Keira Knightley, and that guy who plays Tywin Lannister all get great turns in the new trailer from Weinstein Films, but it's Cumberbatch whose awkward bashfulness will prove the real box office draw. And by "box office," we mean all the Tumblr fangirls who will inevitably turn up to see if Cumberbatch has given them a new slash fandom, and all the Reddit fanboys curious about whether this film is another kind of The Fifth Estate, his WikiLeaks biopic where he played controversial ringleader Julian Assange.
Despite early fears that the movie would gloss over Turing's homosexuality, it seems to give a decent amount of plot time to the subject. Though the trailer itself couldn't be more vague about the "illegal" secret Cumberbatch is keeping, the YouTube description notes that Turing was persecuted for his gay lifestyle.
Turing's life is one of history's great triumphs as well as one of its great tragedies. Cumberbatch, if the trailer is any indication, makes Turing's pain and passions come to life.
Let's just hope his performance isn't overshadowed by the hero worship of his fans on the Internet.
Screengrab via YouTube
As water is to earth, so is 70 percent of the Internet covered by reinterpretations of the Game of Thronesopening theme. From smooth jazz renditions to goats yelling, you'd think at this point humanity would have exhausted all the conceivable ways to cover and recover the show's beloved theme.
But before you buy your ticket to DJ Hodor’s “Rave of Thrones,” take a minute to enjoy the MetroGnome’s remix of the Web’s favorite tune.
It might just seem like a fan and his drum machine at first, that is until a beat more explosive than the Battle of Blackwater Bay drops with Tyrion screaming "Fuck the king!" This EDM remix is sublimily woven with screams of "Hodor" and Arya naming the list of men she intends to kill over the finest dubstep in all of the seven kingdoms. It's truly a song of ice and fire like you've never heard it before.
Photo via itsMetroGnome/Youtube
Big brands have started to realize that if you want millennial audiences, traditional advertising is not the way to go. Target is making a branding splash by teaming up with popular video creators for a college dorm-themed campaign that lives where the millennials are, on YouTube.
Target will team up with YouTubers Todrick Hall, Anneorshine, Mikey Bolts, and iHasCupquake and use their various perspectives to create a webseries aimed at getting college-bound consumers to make Target their shopping destination. Hall kicks off the episodes with a teaser of what he does best, a musical number, when he takes two real roommates on a singing and dancing trip down Target’s aisles.
His actual episodes deal with creating a space for roommates Ronnie and Steve, with the help of designer Veronica Valencia. The series will showcase 16 episodes in all, released fully by August 16 in time for back-to-school shopping season, along with bonus clips offering decorating tips from the personalities. Each star will have a four-episode arc released daily during a single week, taking the room from shopping trip to finished dorm. Most importantly, the main videos will live on creators' own channels with supplemental material existing on the Target channel.
“YouTube celebrities have a built-in fan base and get a ton of exposure,” Rick Gomez, senior vice president for brand and category marketing at Target, told The New York Times. “To engage the millennial guest, we need to be part of the ongoing conversation.”
It’s yet to be seen if the creators' regular fans will flock to these obvious marketing videos, although in the past marketing partnerships have flourished on YouTube and been accepted by users. Hall, for one, is no stranger to musical numbers for corporate sponsors, as he created Virgin Atlantic’s popular safety video shown on flights. So far, the response to Hall’s first Target video is positive, with fans asking if they can have their rooms made over or congratulating Hall on securing the gig. Target may have hit the YouTube bullseye with this series.
Screenshot via Target / YouTube