Archive for August, 2012

16
Aug
12

Time.com caught amid second plagiarism scandal (sort of)

I learned two interesting facts while browsing the internet today: 1) Soliciting sex from 14-year-olds is widely regarded as illegel, and 2) Time.com recently published this blog.

Go ahead and read that blog.  Seriously, click the link and read all of it.  Savor it, take it all in, and then savor it some more.

Now go ahead and read this blog.  Notice any similarities?

Ok, for those too lazy or illiterate to read those links, I’ll sum up my point here: Time.com contributor Jon Meacham recently posted a blog explaining the importance of Mitt Romney’s upcoming vice presidential pick, and he used failed VP picks from the past like Thomas Eagleton and Sarah Palin to illustrate his point.  Now that’s all fine and dandy, except for the fact that I wrote the same damn blog all the way back in April!

I see how it is, Mr. Meacham.  What, is the internet just some vast, unregulated frontier where everyone’s ideas are at jeopardy of being stolen and manipulated?  Oh, just because you’re the executive vice president of Random House publishing, a Pulitzer Prize winning political commentator and former editor of Newsweek, you think it’s acceptable to steal some lowly blogger’s idea?

Meacham is seen here describing how to stealthily rob ideas from unemployed WordPress bloggers.

I always knew I couldn’t trust Time.  Despite its name, I learned that carrying a Time Magazine in your pocket is not a reasonable substitute for wearing a watch.  And is it simply “Time” or “Time-Life,” anyway?  And where does the “Lifetime Channel” factor into all of this??  If only they would settle on one shitty name so I could figure out which address to send all my hatemail to.

Even though it’s difficult to type while standing up, I’m not going to take this injustice sitting down.  No sir.  Think of how easy it is to catch plagiarizers with the power of the internet.  Look what they did to Jonah Lehrer – they caught that mofo redhanded.  And who is that other popular columnist that recently made headlines for plagiarism allegations?  None other than Time Magazine’s own Fareed Zakaria!

Zakaria illustrates how to massage the creative teat of anonymous internet bloggers.

That’s right people: Time Magazine has been operating under a culture of theft and lies, and I possess the half-assed evidence to prove it.  While none of my words were technically lifted verbatim by Meacham, my idea can be seen in his writing plain as day.  I’ll let Time sum up their views on idea theft from their statement released after the Zakaria controversy:

Time accepts Fareed’s apology, but what he did violates our own standards for our columnists, which is that their work must not only be factual but original; their views must not only be their own but their words as well.

Now I am no expert on copyright law, but I do know how to jump to conclusions and get angry when I feel that I’ve been slighted.  So, WordPress Nation, reread the aforementioned blogs and tell me if I am justified in feeling slighted.  And while you’re at it, be sure to rereread this blog and relish in its unique blend political commentary and witty humor.

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14
Aug
12

A how-to guide to creating internet memes

Memes are taking over the internet, and for good reason.  They are funny, topical, and easy to make.  Essentially, they remove the time and effort required for crafting a good joke and turn it into a neat, pre-made joke package that anyone can use.  Also, they are a reasonable substitute for following the news – just check your Facebook news feed for memes addressing all the top current events.

So, as a fan of both the internet and things that make me go “Ha,” I recently set out to discover the secrets to creating the coveted internet meme.  Here’s what I found:

Step 1: Wake up and eat.  A good meme won’t make itself.  Crawl out of your parents’ basement and eat some Doritos, because sustenance is key.

Step 2:  Determine a subject.  Memes must be timely and topical.  Refer to the front pages of Yahoo and Reddit for what’s trending now.

Step 3:  Examine other memes.  The inspiration for your meme must come from others before it.  A good meme must be immediately recognizable and cannot stand alone.  Creativity is not wanted here (or in any of these steps, for that matter).

Step 4:  Choose an image.  The photo or movie still that you choose must have no relevance to anything, whatsoever.  Don’t worry – meme-savvy internet goers will get the joke even if you don’t.

Step 5:  Add a caption.  The caption must have a cynical, snarky tone.  Feel free to make your joke mean-spirited or hurtful.  Remember, this is the internet!

Step 6:  Post your meme.  Social networks like Facebook and Twitter and content sharing sites such as 4chan and Reddit are always solid go-to’s.  Meme creators who commonly starve for attention will be sure to find it on these sites.

Step 7:  Look outside.  It is dusk now, and the realization that you just spent an entire afternoon creating internet memes will begin to set in.

03
Aug
12

Why Hollywood will turn the Batman shootings into a night at the movies

Murder suspect James Holmes was charged with 24 counts of murder on Monday for his alleged role in the Aurora, Co. massacre.   Though the charges are satisfying to many, several debates still surround this case.  Whether prosecutors should pursue the death penalty is to be decided, and a deeply entrenched debate regarding gun control has dominated the media since the shooting occurred on July 20.

While America searches for answers, an even more difficult question has recently crossed my mind: how many years will have to pass before Hollywood turns the Aurora massacre into a major motion picture?

Somewhere, Quentin Tarantino lets out a sigh and mutters to himself “Did that.”

That question (and the above picture) may seem insensitive, and that’s because they both certainly are.  But one must step back and look at Hollywood’s long track record of capitalizing from real-life tragedies before jumping at my throat for making these observations.

The early days of cinema were practically fueled by movies depicting events based on real tragedy and suffering.  The Birth of a Nation, arguably Hollywood’s first and most important blockbuster, was essentially a film that depicted newly-freed slaves as unstoppable rapists, while America’s only white knights came in the form of the Ku Klux Klan (Pun).  Was it wrong for Hollywood to portray a violent, bigoted group like the KKK as heroes in a time that real-life African American citizens were being assaulted and murdered by said group?  Probably.  Regardless, the 1915 film earned $10 million upon its release, which is like a gazillion dollars in today’s money, and totally reshaped the way storytelling was done in film.

From there, basically every movie released for the next 30 years showcased American wars or the Wild West.  Massacres, racism, slavery and genocide were box office gold.  Western films made light of Native American genocide, and battles from the American Civil War, WWI and WWII provided endless motion picture fodder, despite the millions who actually died those horrible deaths.

Another brave soldier sacrifices his life for a John Wayne film.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good war movie.  There are many tasteful war movies that depict the fighting solemnly and hold reverence for those who died.  But just as Hollywood got good at that, disaster films hit the scene in the 70’s, a genre often guilty of exploiting actual disasters.  From there it was a complete cinematic smash and grab.  Film producers latched onto any subject so long as it had audience drawing potential, despite the risk of offending real-life victims.

Here are some films from the past 20 years that turned harrowing real-life events into box office bucks:

Films based on actual serial killers are popular (Zodiac, B.T.K., The Black Dahlia, Monster, From Hell, Dahmer, Ted Bundy, etc.), and so are ones depicting tragic national events (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, Philadelphia, Titanic, Munich, Bloody Sunday, Chernobyl Diaries, etc.)  Thirty Minutes or Less received criticism for its apparent similarity to a failed bank robbery that occurred in Erie, Pa. in 2003, and a film depicting the Oklahoma City Bombing is currently in production.  Hell, Hollywood portrays tragic events that haven’t even happened yet (Day After Tomorrow, any of the shitty 2012 doomsday movies, etc.)

Then there was the holy grail of Hollywood middle fingers in the face of victims and their families: United 93 and World Trade Center.  Though I was still young when these movies came out, I was mature enough to know that no film could ever match the horror many Americans experienced while watching the events live on TV.  Did we really need a dramatized rendition of an event that happened only five years prior?  Were those earth shaking moments not vivid enough in our minds that we needed two films to remind us of the senseless tragedy?

The mustache of a thousand Nic Cages couldn’t fill the void left in America’s heart.

I recently read an article about how internet memes have gone too far by poking fun at the Aurora shootings.  Success Kid, Condescending Wonka and Y U NO are only a few memes that approached the massacre with a calloused and irreverent jab.  A community of bloggers who mimic James Holmes’ traits, known as “Holmies,” is also making headlines.  But this is to be expected on the internet, which is basically run by childish assholes (such as the author of this blog).  So while sweaty bloggers and Reddit frequenters are being condemned for poking fun at tragedy too soon, Hollywood only has to wait a few years before it is acceptable to exploit death and destruction.

So who’s the guiltier party: the insensitive Lulz crew that joked about a massacre too soon, or Hollywood producers who will inevitably profit from the massacre by turning it into a riveting metadrama examining violence, entertainment and Hollywood’s worship of the almighty dollar?  If the latter seems oddly specific, that’s because I am currently working on a script called “Fire in a Theater,” a film loosely based on the Aurora massacre.  Anyone interested in a spec script is urged to contact me via telegraph.

01
Aug
12

The Strangest Videos on Youtube

Youtube has truly revolutionized the way we watch video content.  While network executives and film producers used to control what media saw the light of day, now anyone with a camera and rudimentary internet skills can publish whatever they like.

Giving ordinary people the ability to publish videos for the entire world to see has frightening potential, and Youtube littered with some of the strangest things out there.  Trust me, I have spent many hours as an empty shell of a human being, compulsively mining Youtube’s archives for no particular reason (mostly during breaks from my crippling masturbation habit).  So, I have decided to put together a list of the most peculiar things I found.

This list was not done with the intention of uncovering precious internet gems.  There is nothing viral or Tosh.O-worthy about these videos – no Rebecca Blacks, Kony 2012’s, or Charlie biting his brother’s finger here.  This is a list of abandoned thoughts, broken ideas and half-assed production value.  These videos had only one criteria: weird.

Washing Machine Porn

I like wearing clean clothes, who doesn’t? (answer: hipsters).  I am fortunate enough to have a washer and dryer in my apartment, but unfortunate enough to have to pay $2 for each load.  So as I browsed Youtube one day for an instructional video on how to hack those bastards for free, I came across something strange – there seemed to be an odd amount of videos showing the various cycles of people’s home washing machines.

This wouldn’t seem too strange if one or two people were posting these videos, but there appears to be and entire community of users who enjoy watching clothes spin around for half an hour.  The guy in the video above actually gets requests to film different washing machine models, and his videos have thousands of views!

Ever wonder what a 1986 Sears Kenmore looks like when it washes clothes?  Well, here it freakin is!  Or are you dying to see how they wash clothes in Germany?  Check this out!  Got an hour of free time? Why not watch this guy do his laundry; 26,000 other users did!…  My brain hurts now.

Hey look, it’s Ian!  Yay!

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this piece of work, but from what I can gather this is a regular web series hosted by Ian, and we should all look at him.  Apparently this Ian guy had hopes of creating a video blog where he uses his unique and witty jabs to tear apart current events.

But none of that seemed to happen.  “Hey look, it’s Ian! Yay!” only lasted two episodes (the first can be found here), if you don’t count this menacing preview that reached an audience of 88 people.  The rest of Ian’s Youtube channel features videos of children playing and this nightmare inducing clip of what it must look like when a baby trips on acid.

Look, this Ian guys seems to have meant well.  He looks like a decent father, and judging by his decorations, he must be a religious man.  But his web series sucks.  It’s unprepared, strained and awkward.  Also, he’d got an unsettling, psychopathic look about him that is only aided by his need to shake a stuffed monkey to the camera.  Your video sucks, dude, and thus deserves relentless ridicule.  As long as videos like this are public, assholes like me are watching.

The Holy Mountain + Sleep = Intense Mindfuck

The next entry on the list is an exception because it is not some strange, throwaway crap, but the amalgamation of works by two acclaimed artists: filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and metal band Sleep.  See, Sleep released the seminal stoner-rock song “Holy Mountain” in 1992, and some wise Youtuber  got the genius idea of laying that song over footage of Jodorowsky’s 1973 cult film, also conveniently titled “The Holy Mountain.”

A quick note here.  I described Jodorowsky’s movie as a “cult film.”  However, I believe the “cult film” label does not do it justice, especially in an age when films as popular as “The Big Lebowski” and “Napoleon Dynamite” enjoy cult status.  That term is an understatement for The Holy Mountain, a film so pointless, grotesque and unnerving that it took over 30 years for an official US video release.  Throw the crunching guitars of Sleep over top of that and you have one frighteningly intriguing video.

Sleep’s 9 minute song eerily overlaps with the footage of this film, approaching Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz territory.  And for those unwilling to sit through the entire duration of this video, please do: the clip’s climax involves a smoldering jar of human excrement.  Too weird to pass up!

The Warrior Brothers

John-Paul Riley and Dave Ruechelle are amateur wrestlers, and lovers apparently, who started a Youtube channel chronicling their growth as submission fighters.  I’ll let Riley describe the philosophy of the “Warrior Brothers” in his own words:

“What is a warrior-brother? Three things which bind warrior-brothers one to the other: A passion to fight each other, a passion to love each other, and a passion to grow together. This is about bringing the sacred back to unarmed combat between warriors. It is honorable, sacred and F*****ING hot all at the same time.”

Now I’m not one to criticize these two men for doing what they love.  But Riley’s channel contains dozens of wrestling videos, and such a large library is bound to contain material for comedic fodder.  Watch Riley describe how he got his bruises, or watch Dave gingerly pick lint from his friend’s belly button.  I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of moments that seem too private to display on Youtube.  These videos taught me less about the fine points of grappling and more of how to feel uncomfortable in my own home.

Doggone Review

Ok, I have to admit that this last entry is not a creepy internet find but a regular web series created by some friends of mine.  Watch the video and like the Facebook page or I will come to your house drunk and verbally assault your family.




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