*Sonic Mania* Review: Sega Makes Sonic Super Again By Trusting the Hits (and the Fans)

Sonic Mania, the latest installment of Sega’s venerable franchise, churns with the improvisational energy of a jazz ensemble. It is something of a remake of Genesis-era 2-D Sonic the Hedgehog games, with refurbished stages you may remember and new ones that pay tribute to those of the past. At first glance, it looks like an empty nostalgia trip. But Sega has created something else entirely: a resurrection, one that portends a promising future for gaming’s most important icons.

But first, a confession. I never played much Sonic the Hedgehog as a kid. I remember its first level from brief forays at friend’s houses, but I never had a Sega console of my own. That limited my adventures with the perennially speedy mascot, and I didn’t even know what Chaos Emeralds are until I was in my twenties. So when Sonic Mania unleashes the vibrant sights and sounds of the original 2-D games—games created read more

MoviePass Wants to Save Moviegoing—If Theaters Will Let It

The average movie ticket costs $8.95. In major metropolitan areas, you can easily spend twice that. So the economics behind subscription service MoviePass’s new plan—$10 per month, for as many movie trips as you can stomach—seem at least halfway insane. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a scheme that doesn’t just potentially save you a stupid amount of money, but wants to help save the movie theater business. If only it could convince the movie theaters.

For moviegoers, the $10 MoviePass plan offers a monthly cinematic smorgasbord for the price of fancy sandwich. For MoviePass, it’s a bid to increase its current 20,000-person subscriber base by a few orders of magnitude. But while it could represent a short-term windfall for theaters—MoviePass pays them full freight for each viewing, excepting a few instances where they get a small discount—the industry has reacted with alarm. “It is not yet known how to turn lead into gold,” said AMC, read more

The Artist Who Made Zuckerberg Out of Poop Has a New Muse: Elon Musk

Of all the dimensions of Elon Musk that fascinate his fans—his intellect, his work ethic, his rockets, his dating life—there’s one that hasn’t been definitively explained: his seemingly self-restoring hairline. In early career moments, like a 1999 CNN segment that followed Musk getting a McLaren F1, or a 2000 image of he and Peter Thiel hyping PayPal, normal signs of male pattern baldness are visible. Since then, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla appears to have found a solution, but it’s his earlier incarnation that an experimental artist has plastered across San Francisco this week.

And that artist has a theory. “I’m pretty blown away at how good his hair plugs are,” says Katsu, whose mysterious posters appeared in San Francisco and New York City. “It’s like the perfect metaphor of what you get when you reach his level of success. You get your fucking hair back.”

The posters are not a personal attack though: They’re promoting “A.I. Criminals,” read more

What Is the Alt-Left? For Starters, Not a Thing

Hours after a rally in Charlottesville organized by white nationalists turned deadly, President Donald Trump blamed “many sides” for the violence that transpired. Three days later, at an impromptu press conference at Trump Tower, the president doubled down on this message, condemning groups “on both sides” of the fighting. “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?” the president said.

Many people know the phrase “alt-right,” a term coined by white nationalist Richard Spencer to describe the white nationalist movement. But “alt-left” is a term that’s recently floated around in various corners of the internet. It gained some popularity earlier this year when violent riots erupted in Berkeley during protests over an appearance by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos at UC-Berkeley.

White nationalist David Duke defined the term after President Trump referenced it Tuesday.

read more

After Charlottesville, Dark Humor Helps Twitter Grieve

The question was simple enough: “Where the hell is Kendall Jenner with her Pepsi 12 packs?” As terror enveloped Charlottesville during the “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday, where hundreds of neo-Nazis and Klansmen violently mobilized in a mutinous showing of white pride to challenge the removal of confederate statues, that was all it took to resonate with tens of thousands. Though cloaked in humor, its meaning cut deep, the mockery of Pepsi’s ill-conceived April TV ad distilling how racial and social harmony in America remains something of a joke.

The reaction was neither unexpected nor the exception—on Twitter, the binding of anguish, cynicism, and satire has become a shared lingua franca in the wake of national torment.

I spent the weekend in Cleveland, mostly offline, celebrating a friend’s wedding. What news I did consume, as I attempted to make sense of the Charlottesville protest turned read more

One Year Later, ‘No Man’s Sky’ Is Still Worth Exploring

No Man’s Sky promised infinity, and that’s a promise nothing can ever keep.

You may remember that Hello Games’ epic space exploration opus landed one year ago. In the months preceding its release, the game became a sensation based solely on word of mouth. Studio lead Sean Murray appeared on Late Night With Stephen Colbert. The technology behind the game garnered breathless coverage in The New Yorker and every gaming publication. Fans buzzed with anticipation.

No Man’s Sky promised a galaxy of infinite, procedurally generated planets to explore—a rich microcosm of life to catalog and experience. It became, in the imaginations of many players, a sort of final game, the end product of digital entertainment that you could live in indefinitely.

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Naturally, read more

Instagram’s CEO Wants to Clean Up the Internet—But Is That a Good @&#$ing Idea?

Instagram’s Kevin Systrom wants to clean up the &#%$@! internet.

08.14.17

Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, was at Disneyland last June when he decided the internet was a cesspool that he had to clean up. His company was hosting a private event at the park as part of VidCon 2016, an annual gathering that attracts social media virtuosos, and Systrom was meeting with some Instagram stars. They were chatting and joking and posing for one another’s phone cameras. But the influencers were also upset. Insta­gram is supposed to be a place for self-expression and joy. Who wants to express themselves, though, if they’re going to be mocked, harassed, and shamed in the comments below a post? Instagram is a bit like Disneyland—if every now and then the seven dwarfs hollered at Snow White for looking fat.

After the chat, Systrom, who is 33, posted a Boomerang video of himself crouched among the celebrities. read more

‘Game of Thrones’ Recap, Season 7 Episode 5: The Sins of the Father Persist

Much of recorded history has been the story of fathers and sons, with women written down merely as the familial covalent bonds that connected them when they were recorded at all. The names of fathers pass to their children, here and in Westeros, where men announce their pater familias to strangers as a way of locating themselves, both in society and in power.

Dead fathers loom large in “Eastwatch,” where Cersei quotes the late Lord Tywin and insists that they must fight the dragon queen as he would have, and where Sam echoes the sentiments of his own abusive father—“I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men”—before setting out to make a name for himself. Meanwhile, Tyrion returns to King’s Landing and remarks that the last time he was there he killed his father with a crossbow; Davos says that the last time they were there, Tyrion killed his son with wildfire. When Davos goes to fetch Gendry, the young smith claims to be tired read more

Star Wars Rumor Round-up: A Firehose of Clues From the ‘Last Jedi’ Cast

Beginning to think that, post-D23 and San Diego Comic-Con, we wouldn’t get any new information about Star Wars: The Last Jedi until it hits theaters this December? Then you hadn’t considered the importance of publishing realities, with Entertainment Weekly dropping all kinds of fact bombs about the next installment of the saga from a galaxy far, far away. Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian is causing trouble, and the backstory of Rogue One turns out to raise an ethical conundrum that few people had really thought about before. Thank you for tuning into the latest update on the HoloNet, and please remember to tip your Bothan.

Never Meet Your Heroes

The Source: Entertainment Weekly‘s massive Last Jedi preview

Probability of Accuracy: Consider this one more of an intentionally vague teaser than an accurate piece of information. But what a tease…!

The Real Deal: For those expecting the Rey/Luke meeting in Star Wars: The Last read more

Facebook’s Hate Speech Policies Censor Marginalized Users

As queer artists and activists who have challenged Facebook’s “real names” policy for three years, we’re alarmed by a new trend: Many LGBTQ people’s posts have been blocked recently for using words like “dyke,” “fag,” or “tranny” to describe ourselves and our communities.

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ABOUT

Dottie Lux (@redhotsburlyq) is an event producer and the creator of Red Hots Burlesque, a queer burlesque and cabaret; she is also a co-owner at San Francisco’s Legacy Business The Stud Bar. Lil Miss Hot Mess (@lilmisshotmess) is a PhD student in media studies at NYU by day and a drag queen by night. Both are organizers with the #MyNameIs campaign.

While these words are still too-often shouted as slurs, they’re also frequently “reclaimed” by queer and transgender people as a means of self-expression. However, Facebook’s algorithmic and human reviewers seem unable to accurately parse the context and intent of their usage.

Whether intentional or not, these moderation fails read more