Werner Herzog Does the Internet in ‘Lo and Behold’

A few months ago I sat in a Munich conference room with Werner Herzog listening to him talk about, among other things, his upcoming documentary, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. He shared anecdotes about interviewing Elon Musk (“It was hard to get any human emotion out of him”), and the semi-staging of the monk shot – a “happy accident” that was both unplanned and essential. That’s just the kind of mysterious magic his films are known for. I was at his Rogue Film School, famous for including lock-picking in the syllabus. But beyond the anarchy he encourages, in filmmaking and in life, the real pleasure of Herzog is in hearing him talk about things he’s enquiring into, because he embodies the zero-fucks-given mentality better than anyone.

In the trailer for Lo and Behold (below), it’s clear Magnolia Pictures is counting on audiences heading to theaters for the iconic filmmaker himself as much as for the à propos subject matter. “The internet is a manifestation of evil itself,” says one woman being interviewed, while another man postulates that future generations may evolve beyond needing any human interaction or companionship altogether. Nothing will depress me more today than that sentiment. But if I have to hear about the downfall of humanity via technology, it’s Herzog’s voice I want lulling me into the seemingly inevitable. Lo and Behold hits theaters August 19.

And for the record, Herzog thinks Musk’s Mars plan is idiotic.

Here are 10 Facebook GIFs You Can Finally Post

Facebook GIF

Today brings some of the most exciting Facebook news we’ve seen in a while. It’s hard to believe Mark Zuckerberg never let us post them until now, but social media’s Big Brother finally supports GIFs. Wahoo. Our Facebook wall posts are about to get a whole lot funnier. To get things started, here are 9 Facebook GIFs, plus the Agent Cooper “Thumbs Up,” you can finally post.

When you’re complaining about your latest Tinder date:

Facebook GIF

When your racist uncle posts a rant on your wall:

Facebook GIF

When your ex is “In a Relationship”:

Facebook GIF

When you want to post a vague emo status about all your feelings:

Facebook GIF

When everything’s coming up Milhouse:

Facebook GIF

When you surpass 1,000 Facebook friends:

Facebook GIF

When you get a chemical peel:

Facebook GIF

When everybody loves your new profile pic:

Facebook GIF

When you realize that you can’t upload GIFs to Facebook, just play them inline with a link:

Facebook GIF


New Zealand Man Out to Make Internet’s Job Harder

In a world where natural resources are scarce, ideas are few, and there is generally very little to be gained, the currency of our times has become the cat video. Just kidding, it’s money. It’s still money. Unless you live in a place or situation where the barter system is used. In which case you could trade for cat videos. 

Per usual, a cat-related story has been all over the Internet this week, but it’s not Tard the Grumpy Cat on the Today Show or Colonel Meow looking angry. Economist Gareth Morgan prompted a cat-aclysmic reaction when he suggested a ban on domestic cats in feline-crazy New Zealand (Kiwis own more than 1.4 million cats, which doesn’t seem like a lot but keep in mind New Zealand is a pretty small country and only has about 4 1/2 million people). His website, Cats To Go, suggests in a series of adorable but very serious infographics, that cats are a detriment to local ecosystems and the furry killing machines have been responsible for threatening already-fragile indigenous bird species. The site leads with the phrase, "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer," which sounds an awful lot like something from The Oatmeal

Now, seeing as I’m not a cat owner (and generally particularly indifferent about cats, but you do you), not a resident of New Zealand (although apparently it’s lovely) and not a conservation expert (got nothin’), I’m not in a position to tell you how to live your lives or to get rid of your cats. And the combination of general global apathy w/r/t sustainability issues and the fact that people love their pets and will have difficulty telling their kids that they can’t get a new cat to replace the gaping, Fluffy-shaped hole that remains makes this measure seemed unrealistic, well-intentioned as it is.

But think of the cultural implications if this were ever to become a thing. With a decrease in the domestic cat population, think of what we could accomplish. The tired, antiquated and pretty sexist "crazy cat lady" trope would slowly fade away. I’m not saying we should get rid of cats, or that you should part with your beloved Kitty Sanchez or Catticus Finch, but maybe we could scale back on the cultural cat-worship a little teensy bit. And, you know, also care about invasive bird species. Although let’s be real, if cats didn’t occupy this space in pop culture, and Internet culture in particular, some other animal would. Corgis, probably. 

Here’s an NBC News report about Morgan, in which you’ll get a quick overview of the debate, some points and counterpoints and lots of images of little four-legged fascists skulking around looking for prey.

Internet Wastes No Time Jumping On Romney ‘Binders Full of Women’ Meme

So remember that time Bon Iver won a bunch of things at the Grammys and people really got off on making fun of tweens’ cultural blind spots so it took literally like five minutes for someone to make a "Who Is Bon Iver?" Tumblr and turn "WHO IS BONNY BEAR" into a short-lived meme? Well, last night, the Internet didn’t even wait for the debate to finish—didn’t even wait for Mitt Romney to finish his sentences, almost—before turning his comment about being brough "binders full of women" in his search for cabinet members into a Twitter account, a Tumblr and an ill-advised rap mix. This has probably set some sort of record for how fast a politician’s dumb comment has gone viral, and it’s probably already dead by now, but hey at least now people are sort of talking about a really important issue (equality in the workplace) and about the election instead of that dude who free-fell from space. 

As with any meme, some variations have actually been quite funny; others, not so much. The Twitter account features some pretty big eye-rollers ("Obama, imma let you finish, but I’m one of the best binders of ALL TIME. #bindersfullofwomen."); elsewhere there are some tired-ass Mormon jokes and Honey Boo-Boo references, and Patton Oswalt tweeted that as a "Brooklyn misogynist," he has "Moleskines full of women." A number of Lisa Frank jokes have appeared because the ’90s were a thing, you guys, although the Lisa Frank binder with the "Trap Her Keep Her" pun, for all intents and purposes, is pretty good. Perhaps most impressive in its own right is this work from painter Dan Lacey, who actually took the time to paint Romney with a binder full of women, although the whole thing is a little creepy.

And Tumblr being Tumblr, it took even less time for someone to make the connection between "binders full of women" and the "burn book" from Mean Girls. We can only imagine what a Romney burn book would look like: "’Senator Olympia Snowe… made out with a hot dog?!’ Oh, come on, it was ONE TIME!" 

Cats Rule Everything Around Me, Including Art Exhibitions and Film Fests, Apparently

Memes come and go, but the supremacy of Internet cats appears to be here to stay. Sorry, corgis, today is not your day. Apparently, we have moved on from mere LOLcats and into a whole range of multimedia riffs upon the feline domination of the web. We saw evidence of this back in April, when we wrote about Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes scoring his brother’s film project, an existential meditation involving one man’s quest for meaning through LOLCats. Last week, the feline frenzy hit another peak when the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis announced the first ever Cat Video Film Festival as part of the center’s "Open Field" summer programming. The festival, which takes place on August 30th at Open Field, is still accepting submissions for the feline filmographer-to-be through the end of July, and encourages would-be participants to "experience the joy of a surprised kitten or keyboard cat together."

But this is going beyond video too, folks. Internet-themed art collective Forced Meme Productions (dang, that’s some self-aware branding going on) and the feline meme curators of Tumblr are joining forces for ca$hcats.biz, an art exhibition at the DUMBO Loft in Brooklyn on September 6th. The theme of the exhibition, whose poster features a brightly-colored cat lounging on a pile of cash, is "how the one purr-cent live." Inspired by Tumblr cashcats.biz, a blog which sports 27 pages’ worth of images of cats, stacks and occasionally, gats, Portland-based artist Lisa Hildebrant began painting cats in response to the site’s themes and images, and the gallery show is accepting new submissions. Although CashCats the blog is mostly photography-based, organizers of the show encourage "C$C$-themed ink/watercolor, neon, stained glass, interactive, taxidermy, maybe some limited edish jean jackets." 

Guess the mere diversion of labeling images with pidgin English and Impact font wasn’t enough.

Adam Goldman Opens Up About His Webseries, ‘The Outs’

These days, when there’s a cultural lack in the mainstream, artists are heading to the internet to create a new venue in which to express themselves as well as entertain others. The Outs, a webseries written by Adam Goldman and Sasha Winters, fills a void currently left open on television. The series follows Mitchell and Jack, two gay men living in New York, as each deals with their recent break-up and newly single status. Funny and poignant, The Outs takes a refreshingly honest look at what it’s like to be a young gay man now in New York—the awkward dates, the awkward sex, and, thankfully, the awkward (and hilarious) social scenes. Funded by two Kickstarter campaigns, The Outs is already a modest success. With three episodes online and three more to be completed, co-creator and co-star Adam Goldman chats about the process of creating a web series, the inevitable comparisons to Lena Dunham’s Girls, and the still disappointing lack of gay characters in media.

Where did the idea to film a web series come from?
I wrote the last scene of the first episode originally; it’s when my character Mitchell shows up at his ex-boyfriend Jack’s house and they have a fight. I had forgotten about it—this was last October or November. One day, my boyfriend at the time saw that I was wearing a blue shirt and he said, “You look really desperate in blue.” I said, “God, that’s a fucking mean thing to say,” and he replied, “Oh, you wrote that, I was quoting you.” He showed me the scene. I had forgotten it, but I kind of liked it. My roommate and my co-writer Sasha, who plays Oona, and I both wanted to make something, and I wanted to write a part for her. We started starting in February and we shoot a couple weekends a month and try to put them out every four to five weeks, which people are starting to not be happy with, but that’s our schedule because we don’t get paid.

How long does it take to film each one?
One of our actors, Hunter Canning, is in War Horse at Lincoln Center, so his only day off is Monday. Typically we’ve done them in two days—Sundays and Mondays. I think lately we’ve done three-day shoots when there have been more locations, or, in the last episode, we had to do some reshoots and it was much longer. We try to do each one in a few weekend days and a Monday, which is why we have like 20-hour days. It’s really stupid and everybody ends up grumpy, but the product is good and now everyone’s happy.

I know you have planned for exactly six episodes, but the first three are of varying lengths. Is that on purpose?
It was a natural thing in the sense that when I was writing them I didn’t think we were going to produce them. Luckily, we got to make them, and there are challenges and there are assets to doing something for the web. One of the nice things is that we can write each episode to be as long as the story is—exactly that long. The third one is 22 minutes long, the second is 18, and the first is 12. The fourth one is going to be 12 or 15 minutes. Some people on the crew are going to be bummed that it’s only 15 minutes, but I think people get it.

When I think of what people want to watch on the internet, it’s a lot of dumb YouTube videos that you can watch at work. It’s ambitious to create something longer with a story.
We’re walking this line where we want to make this little television show for the internet, but we do sort of want you to be able to go home after work and watch it. Watch it at work, I don’t give a shit—it depends on your work place, I guess. But it wasn’t deliberate; it was an accidental thing, and I feel like it’s about what you can deliver. If I can write a three-page script that leaves someone satisfied at the end, I’ll do that instead of writing something like Prometheus, because it’s just about where we leave you and that’s really important to me: the taste that you leave in people’s mouths. The second episode, which I love, definitely has some issues, but people really loved the final image of the two guys in bed. And I knew as soon as we shot it that it was really beautiful. As long as we can let people walk away feeling something, we win.

Have you written the entire thing?
Basically, yes. It’s all carefully outlined, and there’s some dialogue stuff that’s sort of in flux.

It definitely follows the British model as opposed to American sitcom, in which the entire season or series in written before shooting.
And if we wanted to be 12 episodes or 20 episodes, you can’t write that all at once; that’s very hard. It’s amazing to that people want more than six episodes! If it happens, that’s fine. At the moment, we just want to deliver on all the stuff we’ve set up frankly in the first three episodes.

Was there anything that you were sort of thinking about style-wise or writing-wise that inspired you to do certain things with the show? Is there anything you point to and say, “I was inspired by this movie or this television show or this writer?”
There’s a British TV show called Pulling. Everybody should watch it. It’s one of those things that’s on Netflix instant one week and then it’s off the next week, but it’s incredible and we certainly, as far as just balancing being a little bit edgy or in your face and funny and then ultimately like, “Oh fuck, I’m crying”—that’s sort of what we wanted to be like. I just want everybody to have a voice. It really gets under my skin when everybody in a show sounds the same. I know that I happen to hang out with people that are funny, so I think the characters end up being funny and that’s where the humor comes from, but I hope that everybody sounds differently.

I’ve read other writers who have compared The Outs to Girls. How do you feel about that?
I didn’t know about Girls when we started, and I think our first episode came out before Girls. I’ve tried to avoid it just because our Venn diagram kind of overlaps a little bit. I think that this Brooklyn thing is really in the zeitgeist right now, and I think we’re doing something unique. What stands out to me about Girls is that it ultimately feels very much like Curb Your Enthusiasm. My problem with the show initially is that I don’t really like those people, and that’s the point.

That’s sort of HBO’s wheelhouse: they’re making you like these people that are inherently unlikeable.
Or making you want to watch them. It’s funny because people are like, pitch The Outs to HBO! Well for starters, thank you, but it’s impossible because it’s an iteration of a show that’s already on HBO. I try not to compare this show to anything. People have said I’m the new, gay Lena Dunham. Well, Lena Dunham’s really new already, she doesn’t need like…

Someone already imitating her, even if it’s not on purpose.
That’s what’s so funny: it happened contemporaneously, so it makes sense that they do have a lot in common. I do think that there’s stuff about gay characters and gay culture that’s not there.

Absolutely not.
Are there gay characters on Girls?

Well, her ex-boyfriend, who is played by Andrew Rannells, comes out to her when they’re living in New York after college. He has a recurring role, but it’s kind of just a joke that she had this gay boyfriend in college and didn’t realize it. But that’s the thing: there really aren’t that many gay characters on television at all.
If I may, what is your favorite TV show about gay people?

There’s Happy Endings, which has one main character who is gay. I don’t watch Modern Family, and I know that people love it, but it’s still not accurate because they’re not affectionate with each other in a realistic way. They hug when they get excited about something rather than kiss.
They’re gay because that show told me they were gay. At the same time, then people say The Outs is “the new gay web series.” What does that mean? Like, is every other web series a straight web series?

What I like about The Outs is that it’s very honest about the sexual side of being gay. You don’t shy away from that; like, you’re never going to see the guy from Happy Endings having sex or making out. It’s still important not to scare people away from the sex and pretend it doesn’t exist.
In the beginning of the first episode, there’s less than three seconds of blurry gay sex and I guess kind of vulgar sex noises. We decided we needed to put that up front because if you can’t watch that, I really don’t want you watching the show.

I haven’t seen all of Girls yet, but what I’ve seen I feel is very accurate to my own experience in my twenties. And unfortunately, it’s a show about women rather than gay men. There has never been any sort of medium or art that I identified with that was written about a gay man. I always identify with women in films, sometimes men, but usually I react to things with such strong feelings and emotions that you don’t see straight men do that in film at all. It’s refreshing to see that in The Outs. Not only that, but you’ve got gay guys playing gay guys, which so rarely happens.
I saw Zachary Quinto in Angels in America last year, and I wanted to bring a fucking sign because I don’t think you get to be Louis in Angels in America if you’re in the closet. I was really pleased when he finally came out because I just wanted those kids in Ohio who liked Star Trek to know that Spock is gay. Spock! I have a friend that feels very strongly, that especially like a place in New York, only gay actors should be playing gay roles, and philosophically I really disagree with that because it goes against the idea of acting. That said, it is our total pleasure to have as many gay actors on the show as we do and—not that you need to have experienced it to act it, that’s not what acting is about—since it’s about New York and people and whatever, it helps. And we had experiences with one of the minor gay roles; a couple of them are played by straight men or whatever they want to identify themselves, and one of them asked, “Can you tell me if I’m going to have to do any guy on guy stuff,” and I was like, this probably isn’t a really great match because, no you’re not, but that’s not the point and I kind of don’t want you hanging around. Another straight guy said, “Whatever you want to do is fine, I don’t feel like making out with people on screen.” He handled that right. It’s just about how you handle these things and the level of sensitivity, because no gay actor will ever say, “Hey, am I going to have to, like, touch a boob?” Fuck off already. If you’re a professional actor, then put on your big boy pants and deal with it.

I don’t think that it’s inherently bad that straight actors are playing gay roles. It’s just the response to them being so brave for doing it…
It’s preposterous.

It just drives me up the fucking wall, especially because they’re usually playing someone whose going to die. But look at The Boys in the Band, which is still one of the most realistic gay films ever. All but one of the actors was gay, it was before Stonewall, and no one dies. Granted, that was before AIDS. And I think it’s very controversial but it speaks of such a specific time period that’s really not much different. I think that people are still going through the same issues and interacting in the same way. I think that we address self-hatred a lot differently than we used to, and we use it now to insult other people.
It’s a really funny thing. I noticed in the comments, which I usually don’t read, how differently people react to it. In the first episode, it opens with Jack having sex with someone, like anonymous intercourse, and one person wrote, “I really don’t appreciate the way you’re implying gay men in New York have anonymous sex all the time.” Right below it was a comment that said, “I can’t believe the person having anonymous sex has all this angst to deal with. Why can’t he just be a happy slut?” What people don’t get is that we’re telling a story about people. It’s not like we’re not calling it The Big Gay Show, or saying this is how all gay men are. We’re just trying to create a funny show that also honestly shows how people live their lives. 

Publicly Masturbating Kony Director Reportedly Not On Drugs, Just Super Tired

Things just went from crazy-WTF-bizarre to just plain sad.  Jason Russell, the director of the viral "Kony 2012" video, went berserk yesterday, running through the streets of San Diego in his tighty whiteys, masturbating in public and banging the pavement while naked on a street corner.  Drugs were the obvious suspect behind his behavior, but now his family is stepping forward with another reason.

He just really needed a nap. And a glass of water.  Badly. "Let us say upfront that Jason has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn’t caused by either of those things," the Russell family statement said. "But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration. On our end, the focus remains only on his health and protecting our family."

Run through the bullshit Crisis Control Decoder Ring, this means he has severe mental problems, which unlike going on a bender at the corner bar with your drug dealer, is a much more intense problem and one that can be less easily remedied than a trip to rehab.  Addiction is a terrible thing, but it can be cured. Mental illness is a lifelong problem.

Police picked Russell up yesterday, but did not arrest him.  He was transported to a local medical facility, reports CNN

"We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it. While that attention was great for raising awareness about Joseph Kony, it also brought a lot of attention to Jason—and, because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard," the statement continued.

Blogging Relationship Failures: Why My Ex Sucks

imageBecause a blog + sucky aspect of your life + pithy, voyeuristic comment about said suckacity = book deal $ucce$$, there’s little stopping Why My Ex Sucks from becoming an internet sensation the size of Susan Boyle and ending up on some poor HarperStudio intern’s desk to be scanned for grammatical errors on its way towards coffee-table purgatory. Think of it as the morning after Texts From Last Night.

This particular blog is comprised of confessions from casual readers scribbling in grievances with past paramours in lists of threes. Because three is an auspiciously sacred number, as evinced by the present quantity of Destiny’s Child members and Greek goddesses of fate and destiny. Not that the two cliques are mutually exclusive.

One useful entry reads:

1. His breath smelled like dead people covered in rotten eggs.

2. He was always baby talking me, even while having sex. I’m not sure what that means, but it can’t be good. Or legal.

3. He’s trying to “buy me out” of our $150,000 condo with a $5,000 counter offer. Yeah, umm, I’ll take half, thanks!

A prolonged skim through the blog will find you noticing patterns that won’t matter until The New York Times officiates them in about four months when it does its inevitable social trends piece on this blog. Patterns that include misanthropy, arguments in favor of celibacy, and a poor selection process for companions almost across the board. Not that someone whose own list could include, “He may have once done some coke with Paris Hilton in the backseat of a limo,” is in a position to critique such things.

The History of the Internet

Henry Ford invented the automobile. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. God invented fingernails. Santa Claus invented the PS2. But who on earth invented the Internet, the modern world’s most ubiquitous and influential tool? Who is responsible for you reading these very words (other than us, and you)? The answer is no one in particular, since something so vast and, well, invisible couldn’t have possibly been created by one brain. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Mosaic, the first widely-used web browser, Vanity Fair has compiled an oral history of the creation of our new best friend, featuring recollections by some of the people who were instrumental in it.

It features such goodies as this one, from Sky Dayton, founder of EarthLink, an early Internet service provider: “I owned a couple of coffeehouses in L.A., and I had a computer-graphics company that I co-owned. And I heard about this thing called the Internet. I thought, That sounds kind of interesting. The first thing I did is I actually picked up the phone and dialed 411, and I said, I’d like the number for the Internet, please. And the operator is like, What? I said, Just search any company with the word Internet in the name. Blank. Nothing. I thought, Wow, this is interesting. What is this thing anyway?”

Here’s the thing: the reason we hardly sleep anymore, the reason we don’t have (or need) girlfriends, the reason the record industry is in ruins, the reason we don’t need cable, the reason we’re pale, the reason we know who Chris Cocker is, the reason we have a job, the reason for our social disconnect—irony alert!—and the reason we wake up in the morning, is because of this thing. Shall we continue?