2009 - %3, January

Friday Laugh at an Innocent's Expense

| Fri Jan. 23, 2009 9:18 PM EST

This is hilarious! The Star Wars saga from the POV of someone who's managed never to see even one of the SW movies! Hat tip: Andrewsullivan.com.

Enjoy.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Stephen Colbert Demands Remixers Avoid His Lessig Interview

| Fri Jan. 23, 2009 8:52 PM EST

It didn't even occur to me to ask readers to remix my review of copyright reform champion Lawrence Lessig's book Remix, but Stephen Colbert is totally smarter than me. The Comedy Central host has issued a challenge to would-be copyright infringers, demanding that they do not remix his interview with Lessig or throw in any excerpts from his audiobook, "particularly Chapter 7, entitled 'Homosexuals.'" Well, of course some sampling enthusiasts out there took the bait, and then Colbert himself put together a ridiculous rave-up of a video, "as a warning to others." Fluorescent face paint: always good for a laugh.

Video: Arcade Fire Cover "Born in the USA" at Obama Staff Ball

| Fri Jan. 23, 2009 4:41 PM EST

After hearing about all the trouble people had even getting onto the Mall for Obama's speech on Tuesday, I was starting to feel a little better about watching the whole thing from my comfy couch, instead of, you know, going back in time two years and quitting my job and volunteering for the campaign so that I could have been a part of the festivities. But then I found out about this: playing the Obama Staff Ball on Tuesday night was Arcade Fire, the Montreal combo whose raw, ecstatic 2005 Coachella performance brought me to actual tears. Like Obama getting inaugurated wasn't enough to start up the waterworks, ballgoers were treated to the Fire doing a mandolin-led cover of Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," which you can watch above thanks to Stereogum, but only if you have some Kleenex nearby. If you're still wondering what the heck I'm talking about with all this Arcade Fire blah-dee-blah, watch a clip of that Coachella performance after the jump. Sniff, I just have something in my eye...

Monty Python Proves Free Stuff Boosts Sales, Silly Walks Still Funny

| Fri Jan. 23, 2009 3:34 PM EST

mojo-pythonchannel.jpgIt's been a recurring theme around MoJo (and in my life) to impress upon people the seemingly counterintuitive notion that giving your creative output away for free can often increase sales, something the music industry misunderstood disastrously and only now is begrudgingly coming around on. But it's rare we're given such a clear, obvious example of this theory, like the one Boing Boing pointed to over on Mashable. After being frustrated by thousands of YouTube users posting stuff without permission, venerable British comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus created their own YouTube channel with a whole bunch of their sketches and shows on it. As the Pythons put it in a statement on the site:

For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It's time for us to take matters into our own hands. We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back: We've launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube. No more of those crap quality videos you've been posting. We're giving you the real thing - HQ videos delivered straight from our vault.
We're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.

So, what happened? Did a greedy public return all their videos and sit comfortably at home, chuckling over how much money they're saving? Nope. In fact, the presence of the YouTube page seemed to help increase their DVD sales "by 23,000 percent," with a DVD jumping up to #2 on Amazon this week. Like Mashable said, nobody thinks owners of copyrighted content "should give everything away for free and simply hope that the fans will send them money." But it's clear that "cracking down" on what looks to our not-quite-caught-up-with-the-internet brains like a copyright violation can most definitely harm your bottom line, while going with the flow can help it. Either way, it also means we now can embed Python sketches here to our hearts' delight. After the jump: Money, Bicycle Repairman, Every Sperm is Sacred!

The 9 Worst Obama Editorial Cartoons

| Fri Jan. 23, 2009 3:20 PM EST

obama_tophat.jpg For the most part, America's editorial cartoonists have gotten better at drawing Obama over the last year. They're no longer depicting him as a generic black guy but as an unique individual with his own distinctive features. (I'm sure there's a dissertation topic in there somewhere about how this somehow mirrored many white Americans' evolving views of candidate Obama.) But there are some still some stragglers, whom I feel obligated to call out—in the name of improving the quality of political satire, of course. Not that good editorial cartoonists have to be good caricaturists: The Washington Post's Tom Toles, who is for my money the most original of the newsprint cartoonists, draws Obama like he has a bow tie stuck behind his head. But at least it kinda, sorta looks like him.

What bugs me are the cartoonists who still do the random-black-dude thing or use some kind of slapdash combo of Obama's most prominent features ("Big ears? Check! Angular chin? Check! Longer than average torso? Check!"). Or worse. After the jump, a collection of nine of the most egregious examples of editorial cartoonists' attempts to capture Obama's likeness, and some thoughts on who—or what—they actually look like.

TV on the Radio, M.I.A. Top Village Voice 2008 Critics' Poll

| Thu Jan. 22, 2009 9:44 PM EST
There were few surprises in this year's Pazz & Jop, the Village Voice poll that almost inevitably seems to come up with the most reliably accurate rundown of the previous year in music. TV on the Radio ran away with the album honors, with Dear Science earning 1754 points in the poll, way ahead of runner-up Vampire Weekend's 1075 and close third Portishead's, er, Third, with 1058. M.I.A. was able to take the top spot on the singles list despite the fact that "Paper Planes" came out in 2007—in fact, the poll includes 2007 votes, which propelled M.I.A. past Estelle's "American Boy" at #2 and Beyonce's "Single Ladies" at #3. Cheaters, but I'll allow it since I don't want Estelle to be #1. Accompanying essays include noted Party Ben opponent Rob Harvilla's musings on how M.I.A. captured our collective imaginations, and a more serious look at TV on the Radio from Andy Beta, who hesitantly posits that the multiracial New York combo's success may parallel our new president's.

Top 10s after the jump.

ALBUMS
1. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
2. Vampire Weekend - S/T
3. Portishead - Third
4. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Vol. 1: Fourth World War
5. Fleet Foxes - S/T
6. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
7. Santogold - S/T
8. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
10. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

SINGLES
1. M.I.A., "Paper Planes"
2. Estelle feat. Kanye West, "American Boy"
3. Beyoncé "Single Ladies"
4. MGMT, "Time To Pretend"
5. Lil Wayne, "A Milli"
6. Santogold, "L.E.S. Artistes"
7. Hercules & Love Affair, "Blind"
8. Coldplay, "Viva La Vida"
9. Kanye West, "Love Lockdown"
10. Fleet Foxes, "White Winter Hymnal"

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Benjamin Button, Slumdog Lead Oscar Nods

| Thu Jan. 22, 2009 3:06 PM EST

Before we do anything here, I'd just like to post this video from Funny or Die comparing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to another fine Oscar favorite:

Somebody should sue. Anyway, Forrest Gump 2: Old Dude Gets Young grabbed 11 whoops, 13 nominations for this year's Oscars, beating out Slumdog Millionaire which garnered 10. Other best picture competitors include Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader. The acting nominations were a little surprising: Kate Winslet, who won Golden Globes for Revolutionary Road and The Reader, was nominated only for the latter, and in the best actress category rather than supporting; Clint Eastwood was snubbed in acting categories, as was Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins. Perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of the nominations was the poor performance of The Dark Knight, skulking away into its batcave with 8 nominations, all technical except for Heath Ledger's posthumous supporting actor nod.

After the jump: Best Animated Short Films!

Love Guru, Disaster Movie Top Razzie Nominations

| Wed Jan. 21, 2009 8:48 PM EST

mojo-razzie.jpgHow awesome are the Golden Raspberry Awards? They're like the conscience of Hollywood, with a healthy dose of alliterative, sarcastic wit thrown in. The Razzies have been awarded every year since 1980, and this year's nominations are out now, complete with a press release that compares the "plethora of putrid motion pictures" coming from Hollywood to the "disastrous" economic downturn. It helps to imagine the voice of Snagglepuss reading it. The Love Guru was the most-honored film this year, with seven total nominations; other "Worst Picture" nods include Disaster Movie, The Happening, The Hottie and the Nottie, Meet the Spartans and In the Name of the King. Uwe Boll, referred to as "Germany's answer to Ed Wood," will receive a special Worst Career Achievement award. Much deserved.

These Razzies are to be given out at a ceremony February 21 (the day before the Oscars, naturally), and you know, some people have actually turned up to accept their awards in the past: Tom Green, Tom Selleck, Halle Berry and Bill Cosby have all made appearances. If they had a blog version, or a mash-up Razzies, I would totally go. The full list of nominees is after the jump.

Mystery Solved: Where'd Shepard Fairey Get His Obama Headshot?

| Wed Jan. 21, 2009 6:15 PM EST

It may be the most memorable piece of campaign-trail propaganda in recent memory, but Shepard Fairey's Obama "Hope" poster also has been something of a graphic-design mystery since it was unveiled a year ago. Amazingly, until now, no one's known where the original image of Barack Obama that Fairey used came from. Fairey's been slammed for lifting images from other artists and photographers without adequate attribution or compensation, so it's not surprising that he didn't keep track of his source image. (For more on Fairey's response to criticism that he's a rip-off artist with mad Adobe Illustrator skills, see Mother Jones' recent interview with him.) Last week, a gallery owner claimed victory, saying he'd tracked down the original to a Reuters photographer. But now Philadelphia Inquirer photographer Tom Gralish has definitively solved the mystery of the missing headshot. He's located the true original, a photo shot by an AP freelancer at an April 2006 National Press Club meeting where then-senator Obama and George Clooney talked about Darfur.

New U2 Song Picks Up Where Queens of the Stone Age Left Off

| Wed Jan. 21, 2009 5:55 PM EST

mojo-u2-boots.jpgU2's new single, "Get on Your Boots," from their upcoming album with the weird cover, has made its debut, and it's okay. You can listen to a stream over here or at Last.fm, and you can even buy it, unexpectedly early, on iTunes. "Boots" is already a massive radio phenomenon, hitting No. 1 in Ireland and No. 4 in the U.K. on airplay-monitor charts and dominating radio playlists around the US. The track has a fuzzy, lo-fi vibe, and at the very least is a welcome break from the highly-produced pop of "Beautiful Day" or "City of Blinding Lights." More than anything, it evokes Southern California combo (and Party Ben faves) Queens of the Stone Age, with its rumbling guitars and vaguely Eastern half-step chord change. Unfortunately there really isn't a hook, other than the half-hearted exhortation to adorn one's feet with the aforementioned footwear. I'll be interested to see if the single has legs (ahem!) and if there's anything better on the album (out March 3).