Inside ‘Problem Areas’—Wyatt Cenac’s Bold HBO Experiment on Policing in America

Less than 24 hours before I arrive at HBO’s offices in midtown Manhattan on an early April morning, Saheed Vassell is fatally gunned down by police in Crown Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood weathering the cruel agony of gentrification. Vassell’s death was preceded by that of Stephon Clark on March 18 in Sacramento, and of Decynthia Clements, days before that, on March 12 in a Chicago suburb. One might attempt to consider the timing for a trio of police-enacted killings eerily tragic if context weren’t such a suffocating determinant in America, where the execution of black people at the hands of law enforcement has become a grim, too-frequent occurrence.

In part, the killings of Vassell, Clark, and Clements were the reason I’d been invited to midtown, though I didn’t know it yet. Seated on the 14th floor, in a conference room overlooking Bryant Park, the comedian and actor Wyatt Cenac convened a room of journalists and critics to discuss his new show, Problem Areas, read more

Why the Music Industry Hasn’t Had Its #MeToo Moment

When a man turns himself into authorities for allegedly punching a woman in the face enough times to knock out her front teeth, there are various ways to respond. Claiming a conspiracy might be most peculiar option to exercise. Yet, that’s what singer Lil’ Mo did when asked about allegations of abuse leveled against rapper Fabolous by his ex, former Love & Hip Hop star Emily B.

“How did they get this information?,” Mo, a longtime collaborator of the artist’s, asked a journalist shortly after the arrest. “I’ll Olivia Pope this situation”—a reference to the controversy-quelling protagonist of ABC’s Scandal—“before I let somebody take down my brother down. Something don’t seem right.”

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If you’ve been paying attention to the music industry as of late, no, something doesn’t seem right—but read more

‘Nier: Automata”s Yoko Taro, Videogames’ Most Interesting Designer

Nier: Automata was always going to be an unusual game. For many fans, it was an alchemic combination made in heaven: visionary game director Yoko Taro, known for his enthralling but often technically broken games, and the production company of Platinum Games, known for slick, stylish action games, a partner capable of making Taro’s vision as exciting to play as it was to think about. That the game was a sequel to NieR, one of Taro’s most beloved (and bizarre) titles? Even better.

“Platinum has a lot of experience developing titles, both our own and those based on other people’s properties,” says Takahisa Taura, a designer at Platinum. It’s March, and I’m speaking with him and Taro at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, nearly a year after Nier: Automata was released. “But this was the first time we were able to work with the person who created that IP. It was a really fresh experience to be able to work with someone read more

Mark Zuckerberg’s Testimony Birthed a Memepocalypse—Which Is a Good Thing

The internet loves to tear things to shreds. So to absolutely no one’s surprise, it jumped on Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony—a serious event in which the CEO of one of the world’s richest companies is answering to the federal government for mistakes like user-data breaches and enabling Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election—like a choice steak. Instead of a fork and knife, though, it used its own pointy tools: memes.

Memes used to be about cats and Chuck Norris. But now, not only is a dry, two-day, multi-hour Congressional grilling session considered meme fodder, it’s a veritable treasure trove of repeatable phrases and exploitable images. It wasn’t entirely Social Network jokes, but those did abound.

No one was safe: not Zuckerberg, and certainly not the octogenarian Senators doing their best to understand the Facebook. A question about websites’ business models has become iconic. Pro-Trump online personalities read more

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Scandal Shows the Price of Tech Utopia

In the dawning days of the millennium, a great harvest was promised. A new class of young revolutionists, who saw the world as not yet living up to its grandeur and thus felt the duty to order it in their vision, vowed a season of abundance and grand prosperity. Among these strivers was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose pursuit—equal parts singular, noble, and naive—was to rewire communication. Beset by a pioneer spirit, Zuckerberg sculpted ambition into reality, upending the way we document, exchange, and consume information. In doing so, he has in part revolutionized the capacity of human potential. But just as a harvest rewards, so will it forsake. What has since transpired from those early moments of millennial innocence is as tragic as it was inevitable. The cost of utopia, we are now seeing, may be too high.

I won’t recount Facebook’s indiscretions here—many of my WIRED colleges have mapped read more

The New ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy Looks to the Past, ‘Solo’ Looks to Denny’s

As Solo: A Star Wars Story continues its rapid march to completion—a process director Ron Howard likes to keep fans abreast of—things have remained pretty quiet on the Star Wars front over the last couple of weeks, which is good; it lets everyone watch The Director and the Jedi in peace. But, as always, things continue to move forward. Here’s what’s happened in the Lucasfilm universe over the past fortnight.

The Next Trilogy Will Feel Old in the Best Way

The Source: Writer/director Rian Johnson

Probability of Accuracy: Only Johnson knows what’s going on in his own head, so let’s say it’s probably very accurate.

The Real Deal: Wondering what Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy is going to entail? So does Johnson, who told Digital Spy that he’s “looking read more

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ and the False Hope of Really Great Trailers

Good day, rogues; a new Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer dropped last night. It looks really incredible. Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian drips swagger. Emilia Clarke is in High Society Khaleesi mode, minus the dragon white hair. There’s even a few seconds of Thandie Newton for folks who can’t wait for Westworld to come back. Chewie is 190 years old and he looks great! It’s easy to have a really good feeling about this.

But that’s what trailers are supposed to do. It’s their whole job. There’s a science to it—one that nobody knows better than the folks at Disney. (Or whoever they hire to make their trailers for them.) That’s not a dig; it’s just the way it is. And it doesn’t mean the movie will be just as entertaining as the teaser.

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Remember the summer of 2012? It was the read more

‘Far Cry 5’ Review: All Games Are Illusions, But This Is Nothing More

The first playable moments of Far Cry 5 are a chase—but you’re the one being pursued. You’re a nameless, silent police deputy fleeing from radical doomsday cultists who intend to gun you down. Feet pounding through the woods of rural Montana, you run, bullets whizzing past your head as you barely manage to escape.

As I did this, I noticed something peculiar. While the intensity of the music and the scene’s framing never changed, eventually my character stopped taking damage, and the semicircles on the screen indicating enemy attention faded. I stopped running. Nothing happened. I waited for my health to recharge, and I walked, calmly and serenely, away from a threat that didn’t exist. The danger, it turned out, was just an illusion.

Videogames are rife with trickery. It’s a known truism of game design that if the player doesn’t need to see it, it probably doesn’t exist. Buildings in the background don’t have roofs; the floor read more

The Backlash Over Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Conservative Content Tops This Week’s Internet News

Last week involved a shooting at YouTube, numerous scandals involving EPA director Scott Pruitt, and surprising new sanctions placed on Russian oligarchs, and yet, none of that makes it into what’s being discussed below. Does that mean, perhaps, that the week was too busy? Read on and make the decision for yourself.

When the News Is News

What Happened: If your local news sounds like something you’ve heard somewhere before … Well, you might be watching a station owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

What Really Happened: That Sinclair Broadcast Group is a, shall we say, controversial entity is hardly a new thing; even those who don’t remember 2004’s John Kerry Swift Boat documentary might recall, say, John Oliver’s piece on Last Week Tonight last year or stories calling Sinclair read more

The World Needs More Funny Fantasy

In recent years fantasy novels have become increasingly dark and gritty, as authors try to replicate the phenomenal success of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. (You know, the one that became Game of Thrones.) Fantasy author Craig Shaw Gardner has mixed feelings about this trend, known as “grimdark.”

“I love some of the grimdark stuff,” Gardner says in Episode 303 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “But it does tend to get depressing after a while.”

Gardner is best known for a completely different style of fantasy—”funny fantasy,” in which lighthearted banter, talking animals, puns, and slapstick humor tend to predominate. The genre’s heyday was the 1980s, when humorous fantasies by authors such as Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin, and Gardner himself achieved bestseller status.

“My books have sold a ton,” Gardner says. “The Ebenezum read more