Don’t Blame Social Media for the “Oprah For President” Talk—Blame Everyone.

Within hours of Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech last week, the internet had somehow transformed the moment from the capstone of an exceptional career in entertainment to the launch of a new political ascendant: President Winfrey. #Oprah2020 surged on Twitter. Quinnipiac University tweaked their polls to pit Trump against Winfrey. Etsy sellers began rolling out Oprah campaign merch. It was on.

Why not Oprah? Politicians have long used rousing speeches as a ticket to a national campaign; Obama’s 2004 DNC keynote address charted a path that led to the Oval Office. And for viewers, the presentation of the Cecil B. DeMille Award looked a lot like political convention, albeit a glitzier, more attractive audience (and a significantly more presidential-seeming speaker than the current holder of the office).

Besides, as many love pointing out, the floodgates are open. While Donald Trump’s presidency may be an anomaly—the result of a strange confluence of events that landed a reality read more

Trump’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Comment Tops This Week’s Internet News

Last week Facebook decided that maybe it should make some changes to the information people see on the platform; also, a lot of people got very interested in the pay discrepancies between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. But, beyond that, it was also a week where everyone learned that a school kid could play the Cantina Band song from Star Wars with a pencil.

Yes, it was yet another strange, wonderful week on the internet. But what else happened? Here we go.

President Trump’s Unsavory Comments

What Happened: President Trump reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and some African nations as “shithole countries.” The internet responded in kind.

What Really Happened: There is absolutely no denying that Trump has had an impressively full week, declaring himself a stable genius, denying the possibility that he might be deposed as part of the Russia investigation, and avoiding Kendrick Lamar. But it was his comments reported Thursday that will likely have the longest-lasting impact.


Some were concerned about read more

‘Black Mirror’ Should Not Be a Shared Universe

The science fiction anthology show Black Mirror recently wrapped up its fourth season with the episode “Black Museum,” which was stuffed with references to earlier episodes, including a lollipop last seen in the “U.S.S. Callister” episode and a bloody bathtub last seen in “Crocodile.” Screenwriter Rafael Jordan enjoyed the nods to previous storylines.

“It was a great way to wrap up the season, since everything kind of built up to that,” Jordan says in Episode 290 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It was neat to see all the little Easter eggs in this episode referencing the other episodes.”

So many connections between different storylines have led to speculation among fans that every Black Mirror episode is set in the same universe, a theory that writer Theresa DeLucci finds puzzling.

“It was funny to me to see ‘White Bear’ Easter eggs in ‘Black Museum,’ because that one—like ‘Fifteen Million Merits’—seemed so far-flung in the future that read more

Complex and Satisfying, You Should Read the ‘Black Panther’ Comics

Last October, at the tail end of a year propelled by circus-like disbelief and political egocentrism, a tweet found its way onto my timeline. “#BlackTwitter alerting friends to the new #BlackPanther trailer,” wrote user @Maria_Giesela. With it, she attached a short clip of Dallas megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes mightily booming, “Wake up! Wake up! … Wake up outta your sleep,” as a camera pans the congregation, itself an overflow of jubilation. The clip perfectly crystallized the collective mood shared by many people who’ve long waited for a superhero epic that they can identify with—the anticipation, the giddy restlessness that verged on soul-warming hysteria.

What began with Black Panther’s initial announcement, followed by the title character’s debut in Captain America: Civil War, to the online upswell that greets each new taste of news, the film has become a true pop phenomenon.

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New read more

The Strange History of One of the Internet’s First Viral Videos

You’ve seen the video. Everyone on the internet has. A man sits in a cubicle and pounds his keyboard in frustration. A few seconds later, the Angry Man picks up the keyboard and swings it like a baseball bat at his screen—it’s an old PC from the ‘90s, with a big CRT monitor—whacking it off the desk. A frightened coworker’s head pops up from over the cubicle wall, just in time to watch the Angry Man get up kick the monitor across the floor. Cut to black.

The clip began to circulate online, mostly via email, in 1997. Dubbed “badday.mpg,” it’s likely one of the first internet videos ever to go viral. Sometimes GIFs of it still float across Twitter and Facebook feeds. (Most memes barely have a shelf life of 20 minutes, let alone 20 years.)

Beyond its impressive resilience, it’s also unexpectedly significant as the prime mover of viral videos. In one clip, you can find everything that’s now standard in the genre, like a Lumière brothers read more

The Best VR News at CES Isn’t Even a Headset

This week at the Consumer Electronics Show, HTC unveiled a new headset as part of its Vive virtual-reality line. The Vive Pro isn’t an entirely new generation of VR hardware, but it’s an impressive incremental upgrade, boasting integrated audio, a 2880 x1600 display that matches Samsung’s Odyssey as the highest-resolution consumer headset, and improved ergonomic design. (How much will it be? Great question. When will it be? Another great question!)

It’s a nice machine, so far as I can tell from a headset that I’ve never worn, and judging from its specs and early hands-on feedback it’s absolutely an improvement on the initial Vive experience. But while the Vive Pro might look like the most important announcement to come out of the Vive press conference, the headset is really second fiddle. The real big deal, and the thing that could significantly change VR’s mainstream prospects for the better, is HTC’s wireless adapter.

The adapter—which, read more

Where Did ‘Doggo’ Come From? Wouldn’t You Like to Know, Fren

The only way to explain the reaction to Merriam-Webster’s year-end announcement that “doggo” was one of the dictionary’s “Words We’re Watching” is to use another colloquialism: Twitter lost its damn mind.

It wasn’t the first time Merriam, the hippest dictionary that ever was (sorry, Oxford), has incorporated internet-beloved words into its corpus; it recently added definitions for the terms “troll,” “woke,” and “hashtag.” Nor was it the first time social media reacted strongly to such a move (see: the Great “Shade” Elation of 2017). But for the prestigious lexical arbiter to acknowledge doggo’s place and popularity was a win for practitioners of “DoggoSpeak,” a specialized vernacular used primarily in memes extolling the cuteness of dogs. (DoggoSpeak includes fun-to-say made-up words like doggo, pupper, flufferino, and doge. You probably don’t have to be fluent to translate, though NPR did a thorough deep-dive on the vocabulary.)

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The read more

Softwear: How Outlier, the Underground Fashion Label for Nerds, Got Cool

It’s 12:21 pm on a Tuesday, and the new coat from Outlier is going live.

For the obsessed fans of this technically minded menswear house, Tuesday drops are always a big deal. This one is bigger than most. The Shelter From the Storm is Outlier’s first breathable waterproof shell. That’s the kind of thing that, if you care about it, you care about it a lot.

The jacket, in Outlier parlance, is an “experiment,” a limited-release garment that indulges every bit of the otaku flair for which Outlier has been known since Abe Burmeister and Tyler Clemens founded it in 2008.

Which means: The textile isn’t anything so prosaic as GoreTex; it’s Neoshell, two kinds of nylon sandwiching a polyurethane membrane that, as Outlier’s website puts it, isn’t “extruded like traditional garbage bag ‘waterproof breathable’ fabrics, but is instead electrospun using a nonwoven process.” It’s black, unlined, and its seams are sealed with pale-colored tape, which gives the inside a sort of Mondrian look.

The pockets close with magnets. The flap that protects the read more

Steve Bannon’s Breitbart Exit Will Slow His Far-Right Insurgency

When Steve Bannon got fired from his job as President Trump’s chief strategist in August, he told the Weekly Standard he felt free. “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. I built a fucking machine at Breitbart,” he said of his return to the far right media outlet. In response to Bannon’s White House ouster, one prominent Breitbart personality took to Twitter to declare “#WAR.”

Now, it seems, Bannon’s weapon has slipped through his fingers—along with the rest of his arsenal.

On Tuesday afternoon, Breitbart announced that Bannon was stepping down from the company, following the publication of Fire & Fury, an incendiary book that depicts the White House as a chaotic vortex of confusion, backstabbing, and recklessly uninformed decision-making. Author Michael Wolff’s reporting of conversations with Bannon read more

Winter TV: From Philip K. Dick to ‘The Chi’—All the New Midseason Shows You Need to Watch

If you happen to live on the East Coast, then you know this feeling: cold. It’s genuinely, bone-chillingly, brutally cold out there right now. No one wants to leave the house. And for that, there’s another feeling: the idea that you don’t have to abandon the comfort of your couch. Sound boring? It won’t be. Thanks to that joy known as “midseason premieres,” there’s plenty of television coming your way to keep you entertained. From comedians talking to people to the latest crime soap opera from Ryan Murphy, there’s more than enough to fill the hours. Start programming your DVR and Netflix queue now.

The Chi (Sunday nights, Showtime)

One popular media narrative about Chicago’s poor, black neighborhoods is that they’re a breeding ground for bloodshed, a den of bodies and bullets. It’s not all true, but for many residents who call the South Side home, it is an inescapable fact of daily life. In Lena Waithe’s new Showtime read more