It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And no – not because it’s the holiday season (although that does have its benefits). It’s the most wonderful time of the year because we’ve gathered the hottest selfies celebs have shamelessly snapped over the course of the year. Whether it’s Chris Pratt flaunting his slimmed down rockin’ bod, or Rihanna taking a flawless bikini-licious pic, this season is about to heat up. Big time. So go on and grab yourself some ice water, and prepare to be dazzled by The 13 Most Sensual, Scandalous & Sexy Selfies Of 2013. Don’t burn yourself on the keyboard. It’s that’s sizzlin’ people.
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With the “Yeezus” tour in Chicago on Wednesday night, the rapper who brought you such rants as “I feel like I do everything I can to break media” and “I am Shakespeare in the flesh” delivered this revisionist auto-tuned screed about Jordan’s departure from the Bulls after the 1997-1998 season.
WARNING: Video Of Kanye’s MJ Rant Contains NSFW Language
One of these new music phenoms, who became popular because of the internet, is rapper Childish Gambino. Better known as Donald Glover, the former writer on “30 Rock” and soon-to-be-former star of cult sitcom “Community,” the artist is a bit of an anomaly.
Last year he decided to make the lateral move from acting to music, and defy hip-hop conventions by rapping about his feelings like a less egotistical Drake (who, of course, was also an anomalous TV star).
Glover then took that honesty even further this past summer, posting a series of instantly infamous Instagrams listing his many insecurities. The move prompted media outlets (we, admittedly, dubbed them “troubling”) to worry that he was having a breakdown.
“Why am I crazy for being honest?” he asked us. But of course, the reason for the widespread overreaction is shared in the title of Childish Gambino’s new album, “Because The Internet.”
On a recent trip to Toronto, Glover sat down with me to have a long, winding conversation that, surprisingly, ended in a detour about the racism that even a famous black man faces in America. (Read that story here.)
But before we got there, we had an in-depth discussion about Glover’s departure from “Community,” Drake’s origins online, how the internet has changed hip-hop and ourselves, and what he thinks about people who say, “Put your cellphone down, let’s go back to reading books and having real conversations.” (Spoiler: “They’re fucking lame and stupid.”)
Oh, and to be fair, Glover doesn’t defy all hip-hop conventions: he casually puffed pot through a vaporizer during our entire ritzy hotel room interview.
Q&A continues after slideshow
Have you had issues being taken seriously as a rapper coming from another medium?
I mean, yeah, but it’s kind of like asking a kid, “Are you afraid of the dark?” The problem was I was looking at it like, “I’m an actor wanting to be a rapper.” All of that sentence is wrong. The sentence should be, “I’m an artist.”
Why do people act like it’s such a crazy thing?
It’s a lot of work to not see me as Troy Barnes if you love Troy. That’s the thing, it’s just work. Everybody’s aware that I’m not Troy, but it’s just way easier to see me on the street and be like, “Hey, Troy!”
Do people say that a lot?
Yeah. People don’t say, “Oh my gosh, I love the acting, I like the way this actor does this.” No, they like that character and when they see that person, they want to see the character they fell in love with.
Especially if it’s a show that has a cult following, I guess, where fans are really into it.
Human beings are…we’re weird. TV is still pretty new. I don’t know if people are totally okay yet with, like, “I see this person on TV every day, he brings me joy every day or she brings me joy every day, and now I see them for real.” Of course they’re gonna to be like, ‘Be that thing I know.”
People initially wondered how Will Smith could be anything other than Fresh Prince. But he was really funny in the music videos—it makes sense that he could do all this other stuff.
But I think I’m doing something kind of different, like this isn’t part of the same brand. It was time for me to transition because this is who I am. That’s why I left, because that isn’t who I am. Being on “Community” was awesome and it’s one of my favourite shows, but that’s not something I would do anymore as an artist endeavor.
You’ve had all these different outlets. What is it about hip-hop that appeals to you as far as like being an outlet for your artistic expression?
I never really look at all those things like that. Like I never really looked at it, “Oh, I wanna do hip-hop.”
Right, but you’re saying that with “Community” you didn’t write your words, so you weren’t really being yourself. So obviously with this there’s like no intermediary, there’s no filter, right?
With “Community” it wasn’t like, “I didn’t write those words so I wasn’t being myself.” When I first started on “Community” that was definitely me. That’s like how I would display myself.
But it was also a character that had never really been seen on TV before, right?
Yeah, there’s a uniqueness to that character that you know me and Dan [Harmon] would like play off each other: “Oh, I wanna make this character a Jehovah’s Witness.” And you could look at episodes where characters on the show are dealing with what people in the show are dealing with, which is cool because that’s what makes him [Dan] an amazing writer.
But why music and how did that come about? I always kinda did music. But I feel like music travels faster than everything. Like music can travel at the speed of the internet; it’s the only medium [that can], and timing is so important to things.
Yeah, like Drake recorded at “5AM in Toronto,” and then put it online about an hour after they finished. What do you think the lasting impact of the internet is going to be on hip-hop?
The lasting impact is that we’re not going to remember what it was like before the internet when it came to rap. Our vision will be skewed. Or is already skewed. But also you can choose what your view point is. If I wanted to believe that gangster rap was always a niche market, it was never the dominant, I could find all the things on the internet that support that. I feel like that’s what the album is more about: we don’t know what we’re doing with all this power we have.
People forget that Drake started out as an internet phenomenon. He plays hockey arenas now, but he had this huge YouTube following before the big mixtape even came out. The mainstream media only knew him as the kid from “Degrassi.”
Jimmy, yeah. That’s the case of the internet working the way it should. Like, let’s get these people in the same place and do this thing. That’s all Drake is. Most people who listen to Drake are more like Drake than they are Lil’ Wayne, and he tied those things together. Like, ‘I’m singing these songs and what I’m rapping about isn’t popular at the time, but actually there’s more of us, we just didn’t know that.
Obviously, Drake made a ton of money. How has that made it easier for you to put out music where you’re honest and personal?
I don’t know if that made it easier. If you’re doing it right, it doesn’t matter what’s popping at the time. Yeah, Drake is an emo-rapper, for lack of a better term—he raps about his feelings. But rappers always rapped about their feelings. Lauryn Hill, one of the biggest acts ever, sang about her feelings and was a great rapper, too. It’s different because Drake’s a boy, and his masculinity is being questioned, but at the same time even the hardest rappers always had a song, like, “I miss my friend.”
The difference is that they’re all emotions, but Drake’s are coming from a place, like, “I grew up in a pretty good circumstance. My circumstances are more relateable to what you’re going through—you’re not from the hood, obviously, because you’re listening to me.”
Rapping about your emotions is always going to be dangerous if you allow them to be. The shit on the record, the way I feel, the honesty, even with the Instagram posts, would Drake do that? I don’t know if he would.
Were you surprised about the reaction to the Instagram posts?
I knew people were going to talk, and some people would feel it and some wouldn’t. I was more surprised about the media and how they tried to close it off. After I wrote it, they were like, “He’s having a crisis,” or, “He’s being a drama queen.” Everybody tried to put it in this little box. Why is it one of those? Why isn’t it just: I’m alive and this is how I feel? And I feel like everybody else feels this way, too. Why am I crazy for being honest?
I think the answer is because the internet. Because it’s clicky to say a sitcom star has an emotional crisis in cheap hotel room.
I guess it’s very clickable. And that’s the way the internet works. I’m not against the internet. I think a lot of people will want to make this album, or certain songs, a stance against the internet. I think that’s so lame. I am not like, ‘Put your cellphone dow,n let’s go back to reading books and having real conversations.” That’s fucking lame and stupid and anybody who says that is fucking lame and stupid. The internet is here.
But we talk different now, and people don’t realize the differences. We just assume that’s real life. People assume my real life is like: I go out and hang out with Lil B and we show each other our stacks, and yeah, that happens sometimes, but there’s also the other side where it’s like really boring and I’m stuck in Cleveland for two days. The moments of sadness need to be there in order to enjoy the moments of happiness. It’s like a drug, where we can’t feel for real anymore.
I’m more faceless than I’ve ever been. I feel like we all are. We don’t know who are friends are online, people are fake. The people who say shit about me have no face. We should be really connected, and we’re not. So I’m gonna try and speak the language of the internet, because nobody is doing it.
2013 was a huge year for Chicago. We’ve seen multiple venues resurrected such as Dolphin, Underground and Castle (formerly known as Excalibur). The electronic dance music (EDM) scene in Chicago is undoubtedly seeing an explosive growth. The music festivals have become more extravagant, and nightlife venues are booking some of the best talents out there. 2013 was a monumental year for Chicago. Below, I listed some of the top 10 events that occurred this year, in no particular order.
Kaskade Atmosphere Tour @ Navy Pier
Kaskade, originally a Chicago native, spared no expense during his October 12 show at Navy Pier. This event was the first EDM show that was ever held at Navy Pier so no one had any expectations of what would ensue. Upon entering, the bones of the show quickly became apparent. A warehouse style event with a gigantic oval truss with two DJ booths — one in the middle and one in the front. Kaskade secretly “teleported” himself between the two locations throughout the show and he ended it with a massive confetti shower with fans desperately trying to Instagram the moment.
Eric Prydz Epic 2.0 Tour
Eric Prydz ended his Epic 2.0 tour in Chicago during Thanksgiving weekend. So what makes this show so special? For beginners, the show opens up with two of the hottest up and coming DJs: Jeremy Olander and Fehrplay. They were featured on the cover of DJMag and have completed their Pryda Friends tour. Epic 2.0 was a concept show. Aside from the massive amounts of lasers and lights that made this show a true spectacle, Epic 2.0 was a show that didn’t operate on a pre-recorded set or a preprogrammed animation. Instead, the lighting/visual team was responsible of figuring the appropriate visualizations on the fly that coincided with Eric Prydz’s song selections. This meant that no two shows were identical. Ridiculous holograms were the highlight of the night along with some of the craziest lasers that lit up Aragon Ball Room.
Electric Daisy Carnival Chicago
This was the first year that EDC was held in Chicago, and based on current rumors, EDC is not expected to return to Chicago in 2014. Approximately 65,000 party-goers attended this three-day event with 21,000 fans braving the adverse weather on the third and final day. Throughout the three days, fans were immersed with breathtaking installations, carnival rides, over the top costumes, and a surprise air show from Red Bull skydivers. EDC Chicago was the first EDC event where it included an on-site campground, similar to Tomorrowland/TomorrowWorld.
Wavefront Music Festival
Wavefront Music Festival was perhaps one of my favorite events in 2013. If you’re looking to hear bass drops and build ups, Wavefront isn’t for you. Most festivals these days capitalize in bringing the top tier DJs to headline the events. Wavefront, with a few exceptions, focused primarily on bringing house/techno DJs. During the day, fans were able to stuff their faces in with plenty of food trucks and relax on the beach. The evening is when the festival really came alive. Fans started to fill every single stage and danced the entire night away with a never ending firework display at the end.
Calvin Harris @ American Junkie
Calvin Harris highlighted Techweek’s event at American Junkie. By far, this was the most absurd parties at American Junkie this year. American Junkie brought in external speakers that literally rattled the roof of the venue. CO2 and confetti canons were brought in for this event and LED batons were being thrown from the rooftop. Unfortunately, this event was strictly for Techweek attendees and many people were denied at the door.
Spybar Thanksgiving Weekend
Spybar was voted #9 best dance club in America. I have never witnessed such an amazing line up during Thanksgiving in Chicago until this year. Spybar pulled off the unthinkable: hosting four nights with four world class DJs back to back. For all the house and techno music lovers, this was a dream come true. On Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday shopping was nowhere on the agenda for Chicagoans. Instead, they flocked to Spybar and braved the frigid temperatures to be part of an unforgettable night. Never has Chicago witnessed four world class DJs in four days at one venue, until now.
Swedish House Mafia- One Last Tour
Held in the colossal United Center, Swedish House Mafia made their pit stop in Chicago in February. Their production consisted of some of the best preprogrammed light shows. Swedish House Mafia took over the United Center to play in front of a sold out crowd and played all their biggest hits. The concert was held on a Wednesday night, but judging from the crowd, I’d assume most of them took the next day off of work.
Tragic Kingdom @ MID by Bam Creates
The masterminds behind Bam Creates threw one of the biggest Halloween parties in Chicago. They transformed the MID into a Disney-themed kingdom with outrageous acts and spectacles throughout the night. The DJ booth was placed right in the middle of the dance floor for everyone to see with a steel cage octagon hovering in the air behind the booth. Patrons took Halloween to another level at this event, unveiling some of the craziest costumes Chicago has ever seen. They were covered in malevolent face paint, brought special props to accompany their costumes, and some even coordinated different acts to complement the show.
Spring Awakening Music Festival
Tens of thousands of party goers packed Soldier Field this summer to partake in one of the biggest summer festivals in Chicago. This year’s event was headlined by some of the biggest names in the EDM industry such as Moby, Calvin Harris and Dirty South. One of the best things about Spring Awakening is that it caters to almost every single EDM sub-genre — electro, house/techno, dubstep, and trap. Unlike many other music festivals, Spring Awakening never felt too cramped. They had four different stages all in close proximity of each other and restrooms were easily accessible (huge plus).
NYE 2014 – To be Determined
Lastly but not least, we’ll save this one for the last party of 2013. As we reflect back on 2013, it’s without a doubt that Chicago has witnessed some of the most outlandish parties we’ve ever seen. There aren’t too many EDM focused parties in Chicago for NYE with the exception of the sold out show at the Aragon Ball Room with Zedd. Y Bar Chicago is ringing in the New Years with Size Records’ Tim Mason which should be a night to remember.
So as we say goodbye to 2013, we’ll have pretty high expectations for 2014. Thank you Chicago for a memorable year.
I was trying to come up with a way to avoid the standard list, so here’s what I’ve got for you: 10 things to be thankful for in 2013 movies (plus five things to really bitch and moan about because, let’s face it, that’s more fun.)
Ten Great Memories:
1. Kai Greene from Generation Iron
In this pseudo remake of Pumping Iron, Greene takes on the Lou Ferrigno role, and he proves to be a far more emotionally involving character than the more successful Phil Heath (in the Arnold Schwarzenegger role).
2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut
Gordon-Levitt’s films with Rian Johnson (Looper and Brick) appear to have left him with some formidable writing/directing chops of his own, and Don Jon is better and more stylish than pretty much any other rom-com this year.
3. Lake Bell
She didn’t work with Rian Johnson, and In a World is not as stylish as Don Jon, but writer-director-star Lake Bell proves just as talented as Gordon-Levitt in this buoyant rom-com.
4. The kids
Last year, Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest person to be nominated for an acting Oscar in Beasts of the Southern Wild. This year, you can look north to Canada — Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief) — or south to Mexico – Loreto Peralta (Instructions Not Included) — for similarly extraordinary performances by young actresses.
5. Paul Dano
Leave the leading man roles to Gordon-Levitt and Gosling and Fassbender. The character actor of this generation is Paul Dano. His brief stint in 12 Years a Slave is terrifying, and his longer role in Prisoners is heartbreaking.
6. “If I Had Wings”
13 years ago, the Coen Brothers used repeated performances of “Man of Constant Sorrow” to great effect in O Brother, Where Art Thou. Working once more with T-Bone Burnett, the brothers employ multiple versions of the haunting “If I Had Wings” to similar effect in Inside Llewyn Davis.
7. Michael B. Jordan
There have been some extraordinary performances by lead actors this year. Though he won’t likely be recognized over better know and older actors, Jordan’s Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station would be my choice for Best Actor. He is, in turns, sweet and kind, tough and street. A hard working guy and a fuck-up. Always real.
8. Bob Nelson and Alexander Payne
I realize that I’m stepping on a lot of toes when I say I’ve never thought very highly of Alexander Payne’s movies. But Nebraska is far and away the best thing he has ever done. Is it possible that this is because it is the first one for which he did not take screenplay credit? Clearly, Payne was involved in the screenplay, but it is credited solely to Bob Nelson, and it is marvelous. Sometimes, it’s better to compartmentalize.
9. Solomon Northrup hanging from a tree
12 Years a Slave is excellent on many levels, but the centerpiece scene, where the hero Solomon has been beaten and is left hanging all day as activity slowly resumes around him, is the most intense moment put on film in 2013. If for no other reason, Steve McQueen gets my vote for Best Director.
12 Years a Slave and Gravity may well battle it out for the Oscar, but the movie that is not on everyone’s list that gets my vote in Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. Some people were put off by the subject matter, but if you can stomach some difficult episodes, this psychological thriller about action and doubt will stay with you as long or longer than any other movie from 2013.
Five Not-So-Great Memories:
1. The wrong guy
I know Hollywood dictates that Justin Furman’s convenient thriller Runner Runner be focused on the young hotshot played by Justin Timberlake, and not on the older villain played by Ben Affleck. But Timberlake’s Richie is really no match for Affleck’s Ivan Block. There’s a better movie waiting to be made about Ivan. (FYI, Gangs of New York, a hugely flawed movie that I love, suffers from a similar problem, but works much better).
2. Hailee Steinfeld and the Bard
A few years ago, Hailee Steinfeld was in the position of the young actresses mentioned above. But she is overmatched by Juliet, and I think, done a serious disservice by Romeo and Juliet director Carlo Carlei, who seems to want to give all the beauty shots to Douglas Booth’s Romeo.
3. Before Midnight
It has an 8.1 on IMDB (which is really, really high) and critics marvel at how real and inventive this entire trilogy is. But just because something is real, that doesn’t mean it’s good. And to me, hearing Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke bitch about their lives in extraordinarily long takes is almost as bad as…
4. The Counselor
Okay, it’s been done to death. It’s horrible, wretched, unpleasant and pretentious. But it’s not the worst movie of the year, because of…
5. The Family
Scorsese, Besson, De Niro, Pfeiffer — it’s hard to remember a time when more talent has been squandered on a more frivolous, obnoxious product. (And I’m a Washington Redskins fan, so that’s really saying something). This is basically a movie where a bunch of assholes do whatever they want and a lot of innocent people end up dead. What a hoot.
OK, those are my moments. What are yours?
The panel of six men and six women reached its verdict Thursday after a three-week trial. O’Neal has maintained for years that the portrait, one of two Warhol created, was a gift from the artist in 1980. Fawcett left all of her artwork to the University of Texas at Austin, which sued O’Neal to gain possession of the portrait. The school received another version of the Fawcett portrait after the actress’ death in June 2009.
O’Neal testified the artwork remained a treasured memento of his relationship with Fawcett. He said he wanted to leave it to his son with the actress, Redmond O’Neal.
Unless you’ve just learned that they have the Internet on computers now, you know how this works: The hashtag was first tweeted by @BasketballBozos on Thursday morning and within minutes Milhouse Van Exel and Dr. Julius Erving Hibbert were being retweeted and favorited.
From Reverend Kevin Lovejoy to Superintendent Mario Chalmers, below are some of the best combinations of NBA names and characters from “The Simpsons” to come up. As you’ll see, some were priceless like a mother’s love. Others were the good kind of priceless.
I recently met up with my collaborator, the singer Gloria Gaynor, as we discussed our book We Will Survive (Grand Harbor Press). We met at the Strip House on 12th Street in the Village near my apartment.
“What kind of place are you taking me to, Sue?” she asked with a degree of concern over its risqué name.
“Gloria,” I replied. “I wouldn’t take you to Scores. It’s Strip — as in steak.”
I have no clue why I like steak joints, as I’m a vegetarian — who once grew up with a slaughterhouse in my backyard — but I do know I love their clubby feel and mouth-watering creamed spinach. They also feel so ol’-time mafiosa.
But if I like steak houses for their atmosphere, Gloria Gaynor could survive on eating steak alone. At her recent birthday soiree, she even asked for steak house certificates, along with being registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Gaynor started schooling me on her steak fetish.
“When I first started frequenting steak houses, I always got filet mignon,” she said. “I had known since I was a child that it was the most tender and tasteful steak. In recent years, I discovered I prefer rib eyes. It took a while for me to make that discovery, as I did not like the idea of eyes in one’s ribs. What was the cow trying to see from the vantage point of his ribs, anyway? I didn’t get it. Soon I found the nerve to ask, and was informed that it is a center cut steak with no bone, hence the name. However, in some places it has a bone. At any rate, now, I always get the rib eye steak.”
Gaynor is a steak house world traveler, it seems, eating steak from her home state of New Jersey to California, Canada to Florida, and other places like Morton’s in Las Vegas and McMahons’ Steak House in Tucson, Arizona, and everywhere in between.
“I’ve even eaten steak in a few foreign cities, such as Acapulco, Mexico City, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Vienna, London, England, Austria, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, and of course, Sao Paolo,” she said.
Gaynor still travels the United States and abroad, belting out her two most iconic songs, including “I Will Survive,” which has sold over 14 million copies and earned her a Grammy award. Gaynor, in her new book, has collected some 40 stories of survival, including two by her — one about her molestations at a young age and her rape, and the other detailing her sister’s murder. Other writers include an Auschwitz survivor, an Oklahoma City bombing rescuer, and young and limited autistic boy on his adventures ordering his mother roses for Mother’s Day.
But back to the beef, which she has trouble with in one country.
“The British might be able to cook a good Sunday roast, but they need to leave steak alone,” Gaynor said. “For one thing, they cook everything to death, never mind the thing is already dead. The French, on the other hand, want to serve beef with the cow still mooing. I’ve heard that Argentina has the best steak in the world, but I have never tasted steak in Argentina that was better then the steaks I’ve had at our own American steak houses.”
While she can name drop famous steak houses across the world and also loves even Outback (especially for their blooming onion and accompanying chicken wings), she adds, “I’d stopped calling it a steak house, really. It’s like calling McDonald’s a fine restaurant. You really are using the term loosely.”
But of all the steak houses in the world, Gaynor does have a favorite.
“I like Ruth’s Chris the best,” she said. “Although it’s a chain restaurant and not particularly exclusive, it is consistently good. The steaks are always juicy, tender, and tasty. I am never disappointed. The appetizers, sides and other entrees are unique and well-chosen and consistently fresh and delicious. The desserts are decadent and mouth-watering. The service is excellent as well.”
Singer turned steak reviewer? Well, with the money she has made, it certainly hasn’t added up to hamburger! Plus, meatloaf was already taken.
Feminism isn’t about encouraging women to live a certain way. It is, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it on the album, about “the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” Full stop.
Feminism isn’t about rescuing women from marriage or motherhood. It isn’t about the decisions women make at all. It’s about a woman’s right to make those decisions for herself — and it’s about promoting a culture in which those decisions are respected. Respected not because they’re the decisions we’d make, but because they aren’t our decisions to make in the first place.
If you are criticizing Beyoncé for naming her most recent tour “The Mrs. Carter Show,” then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. (And, by the way, isn’t it possible that the name of the tour is meant ironically?)
That said, while I’d like to think we can lay claim to music that goes beyond Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, there’s a bigger issue here than whether one artist gets to call herself a feminist or not.
But all of us feminists arguing in the comment sections should recognize that true feminism shouldn’t ignore the fact that gender inequality isn’t the only inequality worth recognizing, attacking, and ultimately defeating.
At Planned Parenthood, we’re often accused of representing “white feminism” — a perspective that focuses too narrowly on rights and excludes concerns about access and justice.
Sometimes, these criticisms hit home. We could all stand to check our privilege.
The truth is that reproductive rights, economic justice, and access to power are all inseparable elements of the feminist movement. If you care about any part of it, you have to care about the whole of it.
Feminism isn’t just about sexual politics and reproductive health. Feminists have to care about the tax code. Feminists have to care about the minimum wage. Feminists have to care about voting rights.
Feminists have to care about the unique obstacles faced by women of color, women in poverty, women in rural communities, women of all sexual orientations, women in the military, and women with disabilities.
Most of all, feminists must recognize that the power we seek for every woman — the power to make your own decisions — does not come with strings attached. Women don’t owe feminists anything. And it does us no good to fight so hard for a woman’s right to make her own choices if we then turn around and tell her she’s made the wrong ones.
What decides whether or not I, indeed, am a feminist isn’t the choices I make in my own life. It’s whether I’m truly committed to empowering every woman to make whatever choices are right for her own life.
So for me the question isn’t whether Beyoncé passes that test — it’s whether her critics do.
So my mom told me to record a song for her. She didn’t give specific instructions like what kind of song and she didn’t tell me not to fool around while singing, so there.. now’s my chance to do some impressions
Listen to her epic Britney Spears tribute, below, and scroll down to see the list of impressions (in the order she sings them). Head over to her blog for more.
Her dad’s GPS
What we can offer by way of conjecture is that the role for Wonder Woman in a film already top-heavy with marquee characters and A-list names, built around a conflict between DC’s two heaviest hitters, is not fated to be of the substance her biggest fans crave. Firstly, the movie is intended as a sequel to Man of Steel, so it’s not meant to be an ensemble piece with each character having his and her requisite beats. Superman remains the lead part with Batman as a second lead/supporting player. The primary character arc, the hero’s journey, will be Superman’s. The demands of a limited running time mean Wonder Woman is unlikely to be given much of an origin story; she’s likely to merely show up at some critical point (or be disguised as Diana Prince, new reporter for the Daily Planet and Lois Lane rival, for the majority of the plot before a third-act costumed reveal). And the character’s Greek mythological (i.e. fantasy) background is an uneasy fit in between Superman’s science fiction nature (at least, as it was depicted in MoS) and Batman’s hard-boiled detective leanings. The Justice League animated series adopted a “just go with it” approach whereby the characters simply got on with battling whatever military/magical/alien villain happened to show up this week, without stopping to explain how all these genres could logically coexist. But I doubt that an intended-for-mainstream-audiences movie will be satisfied with that. Marvel’s The Avengers had the advantage of five different introductory movies to get the exposition out of the way so you could accept the idea of Thor and Iron Man together; MoS II or whatever it’s going to be called has no such luxury. (Part of the problem is that the rollout of the DC properties has been haphazard, first with the mediocre Superman Returns, then the abysmal Green Lantern, and the incompatibility of Nolan’s wildly successful Dark Knight trilogy with an overarching story, and now they are struggling to play catch-up to Marvel’s much more strategic approach.)
The thought, then, is that her extended cameo in Man of Steel vs. Dark Knight, or whatever they’re calling it, may serve as a springboard for her own standalone spinoff. That puts a heckuva lot of pressure on Gadot to deliver a performance that stands out just enough amidst the testosterone-fueled Kryptonian/Gothamite smackdown without taking so much focus off the two male leads that we lose interest in their story. And she has to accomplish that herculean (hera-ian?) task while competing for attention with Amy Adams, no slouch with screen presence. While the trolls trashing the relatively unknown Gadot for not having the right look or not being American or not being insert favorite large-breasted actress you’d love to sleep with here need to open a window in that basement of theirs (seriously folks, have we learned nothing from the short-lived backlash over Heath Ledger and The Dark Knight?), legitimate questions can be asked about how the character will be written for her to play. For one of the most difficult characters for any person to write well is an empowered woman, and especially difficult is a superpowered woman. Going back to my mention of James Bond earlier, while he may be held up as an aspirational example of a certain kind of masculinity (he shouldn’t, in my view), hardly anyone in criticism writes of Bond as a template for Man. But every time a woman of significance appears on screen in a role that calls for slightly more than “focus group-required love interest,” critics leap to immediately assign her a greater significance in the canon of All That Is Female. Woman becomes Everywoman. So too, we expect, will Wonder Woman.
And they won’t be able to help themselves. Wonder Woman is essentially, a goddess; flawless beauty and figure combined with indomitable strength and abilities, an unachievable paradigm of feminine perfection. You’re the writer of Man of Steel 2: Batman Boogaloo or whatever. Now quick, go pen some dialogue for this character. Dialogue that, you know, intrigues and endears audiences but doesn’t send them bolting for the exits with a preachy collection of dumbed-down feminist stereotypes, or turns a beloved icon into a brainless git making sure to point her shapely hind end provocatively at the camera while slam-punching supervillains through buildings. Fancy that assignment? Particularly when we’re still operating within the restraints noted above, that she has to be memorable but not so memorable that she diminishes Batman and/or Superman, the latter of whom the movie is mainly supposed to be about?
If it sounds like I’m not holding out a lot of hope for Wonder Woman circa 2015, you’d be partially correct. I hope she’s the most awesome version of the character we’ve ever seen, leaving folks asking Lynda who? and begging for Wonder Woman Begins. What I’m missing is the faith that this can be executed properly by the creative team handling her live-action feature debut, or indeed by any creative team in the realistic position to handle this potential franchise. Because too often in the past, we’ve seen them (the generic them) screw it up. They screw it up by refusing to invest female action heroes with humanizing nuance, by writing them as archetypes instead of as people. Broad caricatures who have to lose what makes them women in order to compete on the same playing field as men. Or, they venture too far the other way, where femininity is cranked up to vampy extremes for the benefit of naught but teenage boys. The Lara Croft movies presented a lead utterly without warmth or any discernible charm and consequently any audience empathy. Catwoman put its lead in bondage gear and involved her not in a battle for the fate of the world, but in a silly plot about toxic makeup. (And the failures of these films set back the female action genre by years, as shortsighted executives figured people weren’t going to see them because they didn’t like action movies with female heroes, not the real reason — because the movies themselves just sucked.)
What I’d like to see, and what I expect folks who are far greater fans of Wonder Woman than I am would want to see as well, is a character who despite her superpowered trappings still possesses emotions that we can understand and encounters situations we can recognize. (You know, like walking to work one day and running into a massive, marauding interstellar beast.) A character with some real weight and depth. A goddess who is still human where it counts most, in her heart and in her head. That’s what will make us love her and want to see more of her.
Over to you, Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Gal Gadot. Show us the Wonder.
Which TV star appeared in a video for a fan proposing to his girlfriend? Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt could soon be sharing the big screen again, and we look back at one of the first times we met Ron Burgundy.
- During the world premiere of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom earlier this month, attendees were stunned by the news of Nelson Mandela‘s death as they watched the biopic. Lead actor Idris Elba remarked that he spotted Kate Middleton crying and she was overcome with grief as she turned toward him. With such a gripping performance from the actor, we’re not surprised that Princess Kate was moved to tears. [Daily Mail]
- One of our favorite TV stars just helped a fan propose to his girlfriend — who was it? Find out by getting your fix of The Gossip Table‘s latest celeb news.
- Nearly 20 years after Interview With The Vampire hit theaters, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt may be starring in a new flick together. Why don’t they go full throttle and add Kirsten Dunst to the mix? [Perez Hilton]
- Remember when we were first graced with the presence of Ron Burgundy? Check out MTV’s Throwback Thursday clip featuring Anchorman‘s news legend. [MTV News]
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
Danica McKellar is officially an icon. From 1988 through 1993 the La Jolla, California native was the fantasy girlfriend to millions of middle-school pubescent boys who watched her play Kevin Arnold’s main squeeze, Winnie Cooper, on “The Wonder Years” — and we could place bets that there are grown men all over North America who can still feel there hearts palpitating at the mere mention of her name. After that acting gig ended in ’93, McKellar graduated in 1998 from UCLA (summa cum laude). Along the way, McKellar, appeared in two NBC TV movies (“Moment of Truth,” 1994 and “Justice for Annie,” 1996); had a recurring role in the 2002-03 season of “The West Wing,” (playing Elsie Snuffin) and guest-starred in “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory.” On December 28, McKellar, 38, takes a dramatic turn playing a working wife and mother who stands trial for attempted murder in Lifetime’s “The Wrong Woman.” I caught up with McKellar to talk about her movie, a possible “Wonder Years” reunion and to see how quickly she can think on her feet.
Your movie “The Wrong Woman” makes one realize that anyone can be accused of a crime. Did playing this role make you question the justice system?
One thing about the movie is you don’t know whether she is guilty or not until the end. The justice system isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system out there I think, but it’s run by human beings and people make mistakes.
What motivated you to take this role?
I thought it was a great opportunity for an actress to play all of those different emotions and to get to go so many places dramatically. To get to play a role where this character goes from this scared housewife to empowered woman who defends herself in court was really fun. I loved playing that whole transition. It’s an inspiring story for anyone who might think that they would be too scared to deal with a situation like that.
How difficult was it for you to transition from a child actor to a young ingenue and then to play more adult roles in your 30s?
Definitely the most challenging transition is going from child actor to adult roles. Because what happens when you’re on a TV series when you’re young is you become identified with that in a very strong way… so you wonder who you are outside of that character — outside of that role. For me, I think, what helped that transition the most was just having great parents who always emphasized education and health and family — that came first before business. But beyond that, it was finding math. Math gave me a great opportunity to feel strong and important and capable and valuable for something that had nothing to do with all the glamor of Hollywood. It had nothing to do with “The Wonder Years.” It was something that I was building for myself and it gave me a really strong sense of self. I realized you don’t have to have been a child on television to be struggling with your identity as a teenager and you need help with your self-esteem and confidence so that’s part of the reason I write my books. I want to show them that’s actually something that they can use as an adult that nobody else can take away. (Danica wrote four best-selling math books for girls.)
Did you audition for roles along the way that you didn’t get?
Oh, that always happens, absolutely. The audition process is one where there’s a lot of people reading for one role and there are going to be a lot of people in the room who are doing a great job and then it’s just really a matter of: they want a brunette, they want someone who is a little bit taller, you remind them of their ex-wife (laughs). You never know. The trick is, you just don’t take any of it personally at all, and you’re fine.
Ron Howard once told me in an interview that he literally cried when “The Andy Griffith Show” was over. How hard was it for you when “The Wonder Years” wrapped?
Gosh, that was 20 years ago when it ended. For me it was a soft landing because when we were shooting the final episode, we didn’t know if we were coming back or not so that was a good thing because it prevented me from getting very emotional. And then when we found out, I was graduating from high school and it all seemed to make sense because that was a break for me between my high school life and college life so I was certainly sentimental about it and I missed everybody but I was going to college… and it was time.
Do you think there ever be a “Wonder Years” reunion show?
It’s been 20 years since it went off the air so if they haven’t done one yet, I’m guessing it won’t happen.
I read that you had your first kiss on “The Wonder Years.” How awkward was that for you at the time?
That was over 25 years ago. It was fine, it was good. It was exciting as I recall.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Dark chocolate with almonds.
What are you most afraid of?
Fear… “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”
What do you never leave home without?
My cell phone.
What TV show that is no longer on the air, do you miss the most besides “The Wonder Years?”
The original “Dallas.”
If you only one choice, would you rather be the sexiest person in the world or the smartest?
Smartest. I think you’re always [going to be] good that way.
What would you consider the biggest waste of time?
Watching most reality TV programming… not all, but most. (Laughs.)
What would you not do for a million dollars?
A lot of things I wouldn’t do for a million dollars. I wouldn’t take my clothes off. I wouldn’t betray friends and family. I wouldn’t do something that betrays my readers either. For example, when I was 14, I was offered an endorsement deal with a very large granola bar company. I was offered a lot of money, and I didn’t do it because I thought there were all these little girls looking up to me and I didn’t want to encourage them to eat something that had sugar in it. I didn’t eat sugar and I didn’t want to be a liar basically. I won’t lie for a million dollars. I will never be a politician. Today somebody asked me, ‘Would you consider being a politician? You’ve got so many great messages.’ I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t think you survive in that business without playing all these money games. I’m not going to play along, so I don’t think I’d survive.’
What’s the ugliest piece of clothing you own?
I just went through my closet and got rid of a lot of stuff. I have this shiny pink top with black swirls on it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know why I got it, how I got it, but I’ve probably had it for 20 years and I just got rid of it. I thought: What is this doing here? (Laughs) I’ve never worn it.
What’s your biggest pet peeve when you’re driving?
People texting and driving.
If you’re talking with someone who is boring you, how do you gracefully get out of the conversation?
I find something truly and genuinely nice to say about them because that will make them feel good and probably get them to stop talking about whatever they were talking about all at the same time so it’s a win/win. You have to find something real. It has to be genuine.
When was the last time you told a little white lie?
I used to have a habit of telling people — if I was driving and I’d pretend I was a little bit late, like five minutes, and I’d tell them I was driving by the next exit beyond the one I was actually driving through. Like that one exit was going to make a difference. I don’t know why I do that. (Laughs) It doesn’t make any sense at all. For some reason, it makes me feel better.
Describe one time you thought “This is harder than it looks.”
Is it OK to recline your seat on an airplane?
Oh, gosh, that’s a really good question. I think that you need to take a look at how close the person is behind you because it really does mess with their space. Maybe you can recline a little bit but not all the way because the person behind you can’t have their laptop open on their tray.
Danica will be live tweeting during “The Wrong Woman.” Follow Danica on Twitter: @danicamckellar
So what makes this song stand apart from the hundreds of other real, good and honest holiday tunes recorded every year? Afanasieff believes it had to do with timing. In 1993 when the track was first released, the demand for Christmas music was much greater than it is today.
His other explanation: Carey’s willingness to take risks. “Back then creating a Christmas album signaled the end of an artist’s career,” he explained. Carey was at the forefront of hers.
Despite its mass appeal, Afanasieff concedes, “I welcome a hit… but it’s not my favorite song I’ve ever written.”
If the tune isn’t already stuck in your head, listen below.
To learn more from Walter Afanasieff, watch the full segment HERE.
Babs went so far as to run through a list of Kanye’s most notorious outbursts whilst postulating why Kim would ever fall for him in the first place — a portion of the segment which seems to be set to a sound bite most closely associated with “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
To be fair, if anyone is allowed to tell us how they really feel it is this indelible journalist. Although, maybe it would have been best to just leave Kimye off the list …
At the time, figuring out whether the chats on the dating site came from a fembot or female meant the difference between dismissing spam and pursuing romance. But we’re nearing the point where our dearest partners could just as easily be a line of code as a human being. One day, we might even prefer the bots.
Spike Jonze’s new film, “Her,” presents one vision of how these man-machine love affairs might unfold. Set in the not-so-distant future, the love story is eerily plausible. Theodore, a depressed divorcé, falls in love with “the first artificially intelligent operating system,” Samantha, and, like most human couples, the two have sex, bicker, vacation and even double-date.
To some, this digital romance might seem as plausible as talking animals or zombies. Look closer, however, and you’ll see that these cyber-soulmates are not only coming, but, in some respects, are already here.
“My husband is going to be mad,” a woman told Intel researchers last year. “But my smartphone is just as important to me as he is.”
Our devices are becoming more sensitive to our feelings, more in tune with our desires, more in sync with our activities, more gifted at expressing themselves and more adept at understanding our language. We may be approaching an era when we use our computers not to access one another, but for the companionship of the software itself. It’s a love affair with “no one.” And where that leaves the humans — who are more selfish than software — may be anyone’s guess.
“There already are people who display the behavior of the character in ‘Her’ with machines far less capable than the operating system shown in that movie,” said John Sullins, a professor at Sonoma State University who studies the philosophical implications of artificial intelligence. “What we would need is an operating system that would have the ability to both recognize human emotions and display appropriate reactions … When that happens, everyone’s going to be in love with their machines.”
In his book Love and Sex with Robots, artificial intelligence expert David Levy predicts robots and humans will be falling in love by 2050. (He likens naysayers to the skeptics who believed the world was flat.)
But even now, though our gadgets have little more charm than a graphing calculator, we eagerly ascribe the hunks of plastic their own personalities. The elderly are forming bonds with robotic companions, like the Paro seal, and we talk about smartphones as though they can love, fight, flirt and make up their own minds. A survey earlier this year found that 57 percent of cell phone owners felt a “personal connection” to their virtual assistants, and more than half had named their artificial helpers. We’ve already accepted bots as entertaining conversation partners: Twitter accounts penned by algorithms, like @Tofu_product, @RealHumanPraise and @ProfJocular have attracted thousands of (presumably human) followers who delight at the humor and glimmers of insight produced by a piece of software’s sensibility.
Talking about technology as though “it” were a “he” or “she” with feelings is a precursor to seeing machines as having their own agency and motivations. That’s in turn the first step toward people falling in love with their gadgets and believing the software can love them back, experts say.
“We have this device that has become a companion, and when we talk to people, they describe it in that way,” said Steve Brown, a futurist at Intel who focuses on evolving trends in technology. “As these devices become more personal and they get to know us, that bond and relationship we feel with our devices will only start to strengthen.”
Theodore in the new film “Her” falls in love with Samantha, a computer-generated “consciousness.”
Nonsense, many counter, pointing to how ignorant and ineloquent our gadgets remain. And to a large extent, they’re right. Software systems still have trouble understanding what we say — much less the emotional tone of our voices or body language — so phrases like “Let me spend my life with you” are more likely to trigger confusion than affection. While algorithms are good at predicting what we might like from Amazon, they’re still awful at guessing our mood, or dispensing thoughtful life advice. A human friend can sense you’re depressed and try to cheer you up. Your phone, on the other hand, will just keep pushing irritating Facebook alerts.
Yet as you read this, engineers are tackling the very challenges that stand in the way of creating human-like machines. Companies are determined to make computers interact with us as naturally as we do with each other. With this goal in mind, they’re pioneering programs that can understand our language, decode our gestures, talk to us, recognize our emotions and, with impressive accuracy, guess what we’d like to do next.
“My team is working very hard on the idea of a richer conversation with Google,” Google engineering director Scott Huffman told the Independent this month. “Google will answer you the same way a person would answer.”
Google’s Moto X already lets people converse with their smartphone just by speaking to it from across the room. Nuance, which powers Siri’s speech recognition abilities, imagines creating different personas for its virtual assistants, a vision Siri’s original creators shared. (Similarly, in “Her,” Samantha is just one “consciousness” of many.) Companies like Affectiva have created emotion-recognition systems that enable algorithms to gauge our moods, then adjust what they show us accordingly. One day Facebook could try to cheer you up when you’re down, or Siri could sense you’re worried and whisper kind words to calm you down. Cars are already trying to step in for stressed and sleepy drivers. (Ford calls this “the car that cares.”)
Having computers act more like people will make them easier to use, say engineers. At the same time, training them to merge seamlessly with our lives could also make them more appealing friends.
“As technologies become more competent and as they speak like us … we will see people responding much more socially and much more powerfully to technologies,” said the late Clifford Nass, a Stanford University professor who died last month, in an interview earlier this year. “We’ll feel a much more emotional attachment to technology.”
Even without this progress, it turns out our own software makes us inclined to accept machines as companions. We’re programmed, for example, to think that others love us, even when all evidence points to the contrary. A study by psychologists at Harvard and Princeton Universities concluded that people believed they were loved when told “I love you” — even if that declaration had followed desperate pleading like, “Just tell me that you love me.” At the University of Calgary, computer scientists found people were quick to ascribe intentions to a mechanical wooden stick. Some thought the pole was threatening them or angry; others that it was dancing or thinking deeply.
“[U]sers’ ability (or is it need?) to be deeply engaged with abstract robotic motion is, we believe, powerful,” the researchers concluded.
The potential for a powerful bond, even with something as rudimentary as a stick, raises an uncomfortable question: What if the robots make better lovers than humans?
In “Her,” chatting with people is far more awkward than speaking with software. The women Theodore dates are needy, complicated and downright weird. One reaches climax during phone sex only after she makes Theodore pretend he’s choking her with a dead cat. Another interrupts a passionate kiss to offer meticulous feedback on how he’s using his tongue. But Samantha needs only ask a few questions and to read through Theodore’s hard drive to instantly acquire the perfect personality to meet his needs.
“You just know me so well already,” he marvels during his first conversation with Samantha.
In some respects, the operating systems may actually have an advantage. Given how much data we generate — through sensors, social networks and searches — the day could come when a bot will know your desires better than a lover.
Already, Google Now could discover my interest in Japanese cookbooks or Ken Burns documentaries before my fiancé. Unlike Google’s virtual assistant, he doesn’t have the benefit of instantly collecting my searches, or analyzing every message in my inbox. Our own Samanthas could endear themselves by anticipating — and catering to — our every whim. They could have our favorite meal waiting for us when we got home, with mood music to match and jokes to tell, while our roommates or husbands are off tending to their own affairs.
We’re also less accommodating than our digital counterparts, who can be discarded with a click. Siri will never complain that you didn’t call — and if she does, you can download a different assistant.
For the early adopters who have begun bonding with machines, the appeal, in part, is that “it’s hard to get people to do exactly what you want,” observed Sullins. Our extended interactions online may be acclimating us to relationships that progress entirely on our terms. Anthony Weiner’s Internet tryst with Sydney Leathers allowed him to impose his fantasy on her, without any turn-offs like sloppy kissing, bad breath or emotional demands. At the very least, we’re getting comfortable with deep relationships based on screens.
Computer scientist Alan Turing pioneered a test by which a computer could be judged truly intelligent: if a person couldn’t tell she was speaking with a machine, then the machine had passed. In this day and age, another standard — this one for gauging artificial affection — may be necessary. This new Turing test will check not whether we can tell that our companion is a computer, but whether we care.