Mixed Media

Study Says Comedians Have Psychotic Personality Traits—Here's What Some Comedians Have To Say About That

| Fri Jan. 17, 2014 4:44 PM PST

If you've ever seen footage of comedian Bill Hicks taking on a heckler, you might have thought to yourself, "Wow, that was pretty psychotic."

Well, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, you weren't that far off. For the study, which is titled, "Psychotic traits in comedians," researchers recruited 523 comedians (404 male and 119 female, most of whom were amateurs) from the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The researchers determined that comedians scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic personality traits compared to a control group of individuals who had non-artistic jobs. The study focuses on two major categories of psychosis—bipolar disorder and schizophrenia—and examines impulsive non-conformity.

"The results of this study substantially confirmed our expectation that comedians would behave like other creative groups in showing a high level of psychotic personality traits," the authors wrote. "They did so across all the domains sampled by the questionnaire we used, from schizoid and schizophrenic-like characteristics through to manic-depressive features."

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Watch Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Fallon Slam Chris Christie in "Born to Run" Parody

| Wed Jan. 15, 2014 9:01 AM PST

On Tuesday, Bruce Springsteen stopped by NBC's Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, where he helped deliver a scathing comic critique of New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Springsteen and host Jimmy Fallon sang and played and duet of "Gov. Christie Traffic Jam," an original parody of Springsteen's classic "Born to Run." (Watch above.)

The lyrics take aim at the Christie administration Bridgegate scandal, and include lines about the lane closure being a "bitch slap" to state Democrats, and how Gov. Christie's press conference last week was longer than a Springsteen concert.

"You're killing the working man who's stuck in the Gov. Chris Christie Fort Lee, New Jersey, traffic jam!" Springsteen and Fallon belt out.

The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment on Springsteen and Fallon's joint indictment of his administration—but it's not hard to imagine that Christie would feel a little stung by it. Christie is a huge fan of Springsteen and has clearly yearned for The Boss to be his friend. The Jersey-born rock star is a staunch liberal and only recently embraced (literally) the Republican governor in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Fallon and Christie also have a history. The governor appeared on Fallon's show last year to "slow jam" the news (in a bit that included a reference to "Born to Run"), and to participate in a gag about his weight.

Real-Life "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell Really Hates the Liberal Media

| Tue Jan. 14, 2014 2:45 PM PST

Journalist Jake Tapper has taken some heat for an interview that aired on CNN on Friday. The segment focused on the new war film Lone Survivor, and Tapper, who was interviewing actor Mark Wahlberg and former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (the real-life lone survivor who cowrote the movie's source material), raised serious questions about the planning and command-level decisions that led to the failed mission in Afghanistan depicted in the movie. At one point, when Tapper asked about the "senseless" deaths of American military personnel during the 2005 operation, Luttrell got mad at Tapper and accused him of implying that his brothers-in-arms "died for nothing."

Subsequently, Tapper, who is well-known for his support for US service members, met with the expected conservative outrage. Fox News personality Megyn Kelly hosted a segment that ran with the chyron, "some in media suggesting Navy SEALs in 'Lone Survivor' died for nothing." The right-wing crusade to portray MSMers as liberal Blame-America Firsters who don't appreciate or back the US military is nothing new. But perhaps one reason Tapper's interview with Luttrell was so tense is that Luttrell has an intense distrust of the media and seems to view them, as is common in certain quarters, as the liberal media.

In his book Lone Survivor, Luttrell describes his team's difficult decision regarding what to do about unarmed Afghan goat herders who came upon his band of SEALs while they were hiding in the woods and waiting for the right moment to capture or kill a local extremist leader. Luttrell and his comrades debated whether they should kill the Afghans to protect their mission or let them go, realizing that if they released them, the herders would rush to tell the enemy about the SEALs. Slight spoiler alert: Luttrell and the others decide to allow the Afghans to return to their village. But in his book, Luttrell notes that if they had killed these noncombatants, chances were good that he and the others would be crucified by a hostile "liberal media" back home.

This is not his only dig at the "liberal media." If you search his book for the word "liberal," you'll find some harsh critiques of the press and critics of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Luttrell's political views were flagged in this NewsBusters post on Monday.)

Fast Tracks: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings' "Retreat"

| Tue Jan. 14, 2014 12:04 PM PST



From Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' Give the People What They Want


Liner notes: Departing from her usual hard-hitting R&B, Jones (whom we interviewed a few years back) tackles a suave uptown groove reminiscent of slicker Motown greats like the Marvelettes and Supremes.

Behind the music: Originally slated for summer 2013, Give the People What They Want was delayed while Jones underwent successful surgery for cancer.

Check it out if you like: Deep-soul survivors Bettye LaVette and Charles Bradley.

This review originally appeared in our January/February issue of Mother Jones.


Read Beyoncé's New Essay: "Gender Equality Is a Myth!"

| Mon Jan. 13, 2014 11:58 AM PST

On Sunday, journalist Maria Shriver, in partnership with the Center for American Progress, released The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink. It examines the wage gap between men and women and focuses on the issues of the tens of millions of financially insecure women in America. The investigation also features celebrity essays, including ones from Eva Longoria and LeBron James. Grammy-winning singer and self-described "modern-day feminist" Beyoncé Knowles-Carter pitched in with a short essay titled, "Gender Equality Is a Myth!"

"We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality," the piece reads. "It isn't a reality yet...Women are more than 50 percent of the population and more than 50 percent of voters. We must demand that we all receive 100 percent of the opportunities."

Read the full essay here:


Beyoncé has a mixed political record. She is passionate about promoting women's empowerment around the world and helping the victims of hurricanes, but she also got some much-deserved criticism for performing at a 2009 New Year's Eve party thrown by the family of Moammar Qaddafi, the late mass-murdering Libyan dictator.

WATCH: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Roast Celebrities at the 2014 Golden Globes

| Sun Jan. 12, 2014 8:12 PM PST

On Sunday, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler once again hosted the Golden Globe Awards. Their opening bit was—reliably—a good time. The pair spent those first ten minutes roasting nominated celebrities: "It's the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age," Fey said, describing the Best Drama nominee Gravity.

Watch it here:

Amy Poehler & Tina Fey - Opening Monologue... by IdolxMuzic


And here they are hosting the Golden Globes last year:

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How the Artists of "The Square" Fueled Egypt's Revolution

| Sat Jan. 11, 2014 4:00 AM PST

Jehane Noujaim's The Square, which won an audience award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and is on the shortlist for an Oscar this year, delivers a fierce and frenetic portrait of life on the Cairo streets during two years of Egypt's ongoing political unrest. Based on more than 1,600 hours of footage, the film tags along with several revolutionaries—among them Ahmed, a fiery grassroots activist, Magdy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Khalid, a foreign-born actor—as they struggle against a suffocating regime and attempt to breathe new life into Egypt's governance.

The Square made headlines when it became Netflix's first major film acquisition—it will stream exclusively through the service starting January 17—and also because its only scheduled public screening in Egypt was canceled at the last minute. The country's censorship board still hasn't give Noujaim, whose past work includes Control Room and Rafea: Solar Mama, permission to screen the film in public.

The doc's narrative arc initially hinged on the deposition of Hosni Mubarak and subsequent election of Mohamed Morsi as president. But history is often messier than we would wish to tell it. In January 2013, as Noujaim scrambled to meet her Sundance deadlines, she learned that her main characters "were back in the streets again saying, 'Morsi is using the tools of democracy to create another dictatorship.'" The story wasn't over.

Brutal War Film "Lone Survivor" Will Survive its Producers' Ties to International Drug Trade, Convicted Murderer

| Fri Jan. 10, 2014 6:38 PM PST

Lone Survivor, written and directed by Peter Berg, has a lot going for it—especially for a film released in January, a month typically reserved by film studios for dumping less than stellar product. The movie (which gets a wide release on Friday) is a gripping, uniquely brutal portrait of warfare that dramatizes Operation Red Wings, the failed mission to capture or kill a militia leader in Afghanistan's Kunar province in 2005.

The film has earned generally positive reviews. It's a riveting story of American, as well as Afghan, courage. It features solid performances, particularly from Mark Wahlberg as Navy SEAL and lone survivor Marcus Luttrell (the film is based on the book he co-wrote). And the film has received its fair share of support from US servicemembers. For instance, the Army provided four helicopters (two Apaches and two Chinooks, along with their crews) shown in a scene where Army Rangers attempt to rescue the SEAL team, and ex-congressman and Iraq War vet Patrick Murphy introduced and praised the film at a special screening at the US Navy Memorial Heritage Center in Washington, DC, in December.

But earlier this month, the people behind Lone Survivor got the kind of publicity that no studio or filmmaker wants to receive right around the time of their film's premiere. On January 2, LA Weekly published their investigation into Remington Chase and Stepan Martirosyan, two Hollywood financiers and Lone Survivor executive producers who just so happen to come with the baggage of separate convictions for cocaine trafficking. Oh, and both have them have worked as federal informants, and have gone by multiple aliases. (The LA Weekly also details an allegation the producers faced from a convicted murder who, imprisoned for a violent robbery plot that he correctly suspected Chase had helped expose, sought to convince police Chase and Markosian had hired him to execute a contract killing in Russia. A spokesman for the local US Attorney later said "justice was best served by dismissing the charges.")  Here's an excerpt from the incredible story, focusing on the pair's drug connections:

In May 1993, [Martirosyan] arranged financing and traveled to Costa Rica to check on suppliers. Unfortunately for him, the DEA had infiltrated the suppliers. Over the course of several meetings with an undercover agent, [he] agreed to help transport 800 kilos to St. Augustine, Fla. They agreed that [Martirosyan] would send $200,000 from L.A. to Colombia, and that the cocaine would be shipped from Colombia to Costa Rica and on to Florida. Instead, in September 1993, he was arrested in a St. Augustine hotel room.

In all, nine people were indicted. In Costa Rica, the head of the federal police held a press conference and announced that the group had controlled much of the Costa Rican drug trade, according to an article in La Nación.

Naturally, the producers went into damage control mode. They hired crisis lawyer Howard Weitzman, whose clientele has included O.J. Simpson, Justin Bieber, Marlon Brando, and the Michael Jackson estate. One of Chase and Martirosyan's pending film projects at the time of this story breaking was the big-screen adaptation of the Hasbro board game Hungry Hungry Hippos.

So this is all terrible news for the producers, and not-so-great news for the movie. Sure, some Hollywood producers have had insane lives, but most of them manage to stay far away from stuff like this. But there's so far no indication that the negative press has yet to hurt Love Survivor, which has earned plaudits for depicting a true story of survival and remarkable heroism. Advance tickets sales have been strong, and the film is predicted to bring in about $15 million during its first weekend in wide release. (Some have estimated closer to $30 million.) Observers are expecting the picture to do particularly well in red states.

Universal, which distributed Lone Survivor, did not respond to a request for comment, but Army personnel weighed in a bit. "[The bad publicity] is not a concern of mine, and not something that I'm even aware of it," Ken Hawes, an Army public-affairs officer who visited the filming of Lone Survivor, said. "Our involvement begins and ends when the Army is on the scene during the act of filming," Lt. Col. Steven Cole, an Army film and television liaison in Los Angeles, says. "We don't deal with the ins and outs of the industry."

Amanda Hess: "Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet"

| Fri Jan. 10, 2014 2:52 PM PST

Amanda Hess, who writes about sex, gender politics, and culture, had an explosive essay this week in the Pacific Standard about what it’s like to be a woman on the Internet, especially one in the public eye. Too often, she explains, it’s insanely terrifying. Hess, who's written for Slate, Wired, and ESPN and lives in Los Angeles, has been stalked for years by an anonymous reader who went by "headlessfemalepig" on Twitter, a now-suspended account that appeared to have been set up solely to send her abusive messages like these:

"I am 36 years old, I did 12 years for ‘manslaughter’, I killed a woman, like you, who decided to make fun of guys cocks.

...Happy to say we live in the same state. Im looking you up, and when I find you, im going to rape you and remove your head.

...You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this." 

Headlessfemalepig is just a particularly aggressive example from the thousands of trolls who’ve come at Hess over the years. And Hess, of course, is hardly the only woman on the Internet to face their wrath. From her piece:

"Here’s just a sampling of the noxious online commentary directed at other women in recent years. To Alyssa Royse, a sex and relationships blogger, for saying that she hated The Dark Knight: "you are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you." To Kathy Sierra, a technology writer, for blogging about software, coding, and design: "i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob." To Lindy West, a writer at the women’s website Jezebel, for critiquing a comedian’s rape joke: "I just want to rape her with a traffic cone." To Rebecca Watson, an atheist commentator, for blogging about sexism in the skeptic community: "If I lived in Boston I’d put a bullet in your brain." To Catherine Mayer, a journalist at Time magazine, for no particular reason: "A BOMB HAS BEEN PLACED OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. IT WILL GO OFF AT EXACTLY 10:47 PM ON A TIMER AND TRIGGER DESTROYING EVERYTHING."

She's done exhaustive reporting on the failures of law enforcement at all levels to comprehend, let alone address, the emotional, professional, and financial toll of misogynistic online intimidation. She’s called local police, 911, and the FBI on a number of occasions when she feared for her safety IRL; law enforcement officials have recommended to her and other women that they stop wasting time on social media. One Palm Springs police officer responding to her call, she recounts, "anchored his hands on his belt, looked me in the eye, and said, 'What is Twitter?'" "When authorities treat the Internet as a fantasyland," she writes, "it has profound effects on the investigation and prosecution of online threats."

It's a painful read, but Hess's piece should be required reading for anyone with an Internet connection. And check out this excellent response by Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic (a "6-foot-2, 195-pound man"), who recalls guest-blogging for a female colleague there who was on vacation. "I'd never been exposed to anything like it before," he recalls.

"To really understand how it feels to read these missives (to the extent that someone other than the intended recipient can even begin to understand), it's necessary to experience their regularity. Instead of a lone jerk heckling you as you walk down a major street, imagine dozens of different people channeling the same hyper-aggressive hatefulness, popping up repeatedly on random blocks for hours on end. That's what some bloggers had to endure over the course of years to make it.”

Friedersdorf notes that this was in the early 2000s, when political bloggers with major-league cache today like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias were just starting out. “One wonders how many equally talented women we missed out on reading due to misogynists hurling vile invective at rising female journalists."

Short Takes: "If You Build It"

| Fri Jan. 10, 2014 4:00 AM PST

If You Build It


Patrick Creadon, creator of the acclaimed docs Wordplay and I.O.U.S.A., follows TED-talking activist/designer Emily Pilloton and her partner, Matt Miller, as they put rural North Carolina high-schoolers through a "design boot camp." Their curriculum teaches the essentials of construction and citizenship via real-world projects­—the kids design and build a market pavilion the people of their town had always coveted. If You Build It explores the notion that planting the seeds for creative problem-solving could one day help revitalize even America's most hardscrabble communities. "After you design something," one student explains, "it builds your confidence so much that you just want to keep doing it."

This review originally appeared in our January/February issue of Mother Jones.