Film Lists

7 New Queer Titles to Stream on HBO for Pride Month 2021

Welcome to June 2021, where we're still in the worst timeline, but with this month with a rainbow logo

from "Veneno"

Happy Pride to everyone who is still going to sit inside and rot while watching TV all month (read: us)!

But what to watch?

HBO has established themselves as always on the cutting edge of television, always pushing the boundaries of representation and chronicling the lives of underrepresented groups — not always, however, but where else would we get our fix of terrible rich white people if not for Succession?

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Culture News

Fortnite Versus Apple: Battle of the Microtransactions

Epic Games takes on Apple and Google in a landmark battle royale.

Epic Games

Sometimes the biggest boss battles in video games aren't the ones that play out onscreen.

Currently, the mobile gaming industry is in the midst of a reckoning. Epic Games, the video game publishing and development company behind Fortnite, has gone to war against Apple. And to anyone who thinks that a legal battle between major tech companies sounds boring: Buckle up, because this one's spicy.

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MUSIC

From SXSW to Coachella, Will the Coronavirus Kill Live Music in 2020?

With a recent spate of cancellations and mounting fear of an emerging pandemic, the near-future of live music is in doubt.

Getty Images

UPDATE:

Both SXSW and Coachella have been canceled, with the latter beung technically postponed until October. Coachella organizers released a statement on March 10:

At the direction of the County of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns. While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.

Coachella will now take place on October 9, 10 and 11 and October 16, 17 and 18, 2020. Stagecoach will take place on October 23, 24 and 25, 2020. All purchases for the April dates will be honored for the rescheduled October dates. Purchasers will be notified by Friday, March 13 on how to obtain a refund if they are unable to attend.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you in the desert this fall.

Less than a week prior, for the first time in 34 years, SXSW was canceled by the city of Austin, citing public safety concerns over the coronavirus.

There's something so special about seeing music live.

The energy from the crowd all around you. Thousands of bodies pressed together—moving in rhythm, sharing one voice, one breath, and one expanding cloud of viral pathogens…

Is it even really a concert or a music festival if you aren't making forced physical contact with two to five strangers at all times? With fears around the nascent coronavirus pandemic already disrupting tourism—Disney is forecasting tens of millions in losses from drops in park attendance—and leading to the cancellation and closure of various large, public events and venues, the thought of a music festival is starting to seem like a relic of a simpler time.

Louvre Coronavirus Chesnot/Getty Images

All across the globe people are stocking up on dry goods and hand sanitizer and avoiding crowds as much as possible. So-called "self-isolating" is not just for binge-watching TV shows anymore, it's become actual medical advice along with "social distancing," which adds impossible precautions like maintaining six feet of physical distance when navigating public spaces. Tokyo all but canceled their yearly marathon, and it remains to be seen whether the city will be hosting the summer Olympics as planned. While apps and websites launch to help people avoid crowds, the Louvre is finally reopening in Paris this week with added precautions to protect staff and visitors.

In the US, the first real test of the new state of things will be taking place in Austin from March 13-22. South By Southwest—the annual amalgam of music, tech, and media events—is slated to begin next Friday, and it would normally be expected to draw attendance of more than 150,000. But events are already being canceled. Apple confirmed on Wednesday that it will be joining Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook in pulling back from scheduled events amid calls to cancel altogether. Meanwhile Austin's Public Health offices released a statement posted on the SXSW website saying that "no health departments in the state have requested the cancellation of any gatherings as the current risk of person-to-person spread in their jurisdictions remains low."

If that statement turns out to be correct—and attendance is not substantially affected by mounting fear and the slew of cancellations—then perhaps Coachella will proceed as normal from April 10-19 in Indo, California. With an impressive lineup including Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Run the Jewels, and Lana Del Rey, that's certainly what a lot of people are hoping. But if attendance tanks, or if even one new case of COVID-19 ends up being traced to Austin during SXSW, it seems unlikely that Coachella will take place without some major adjustments.

sxsw SXSW

Some companies are looking at the prospect of monitoring attendee's temperatures at the entrance to festivals, but there is reason to believe that this method has limited value, and with people practically living on top of each other for days on end—breathing the same air and swapping all manner of fluids—even one sociable carrier could quickly lead to a mass outbreak among nearly 100,000 daily attendees at Coachella. The venue has already proven to be an impressive petri dish for other diseases. Now imagine the Japanese cruise ship quarantine, except it's a crowd of underdressed Instagram influencers sharing not enough porta-potties.

Inside China, the rate of new infections is rapidly dropping. If that trend extends to the rest of the world, then perhaps there won't be a need for concern much longer. But if new cases continue to crop up as they have in California, Washington, New York and elsewhere, will bands even be willing to perform in mass venues? What if conditions worsen? Already, some live performances have been converted to livestreams from empty venues. Will that be the model for live performances in 2020?

There is an outside chance that as the seasons change the threat of the coronavirus may recede (or migrate to the southern hemisphere), in which case current concerns about the death of live music may be overblown. If the incidence rate drops in time for the Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, and Lollapalooza, then maybe live music can survive this brush with modern pestilence. On the other hand, if vaccine research doesn't proceed at a rapid pace, outbreaks could recur just in time for the fall and Austin City Limits from October 2-11. Tough year for Austin...

For anyone who's already committed to a crowded public event, the best advice is just to be aware of your vulnerabilities, to keep your hands clean, and to cough into the crook of your elbow. Also, use a condom. Good luck.

TV

Doomed Streaming Service Quibi Launches Today: “Kirby Jenner” Will Have His Own Show

The streaming service that no one asked for is getting a major push

Quibi, the sure-to-last streaming service from superstar film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, has launched today.

Quibi, which is a mash up of "quick" and "bites"—sort of like how Seeso was a mashup of "see" and "so"—is a short form streaming service designed to cater to millennial's extremely short attention spans. The platform is gaining new buzz thanks to the faux-reality show that will follow "Kirby Jenner."

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First, Amazon came for our books.

That's how Jeff Bezos got the idea for the company that would earn him his $134.4 billion fortune. From there, Amazon quickly expanded its reach from books to music, then to home goods and tech—and today, we are living in a world that Amazon built.

Now, Amazon has come full circle, back to the market it cut its teeth on—the arts—and once again, it's meeting the industry on its own terms, trying to oust Spotify and Apple Music by creating its own HD streaming service. Marketing itself as a high-definition platform, Amazon Music will cost $13 a month for Amazon Prime members and $15 a month for everyone else. Of course, Amazon already has a music streaming service, but this new platform is an attempt to appeal to audiophiles and everyone looking for a reason to pay a few extra dollars for a purportedly better-quality sound.

Giphy

So, what actually is the difference between "high-fidelity" and "low-fidelity" streaming? On the average streaming service, you'll hear sound transmitted at 320 kilobits per second, whereas the full CD sound quality offered by Amazon and other high-fidelity streaming platforms (namely, Tidal) runs at 1,411 kbps.

This might mean a lot to audiophiles, recording engineers, and Neil Young (who publicly praised the platform), but in truth, this difference is next to impossible to detect for the average listener. Sonic fidelity always pales in importance to what kind of headphones or speakers you're using and what kind of environment you're listening in; there's a reason why musicians often beg that we don't listen to music on laptop speakers (really, please don't listen to music on laptop speakers). Plus, obviously you're not going to detect the nuances of every sine wave if you're listening on the subway. Some music is specifically mastered for cheap headphones and lo-fi streaming, while other music is mastered for hi-fi production and thereby won't sound exactly as the producer intended unless you're listening on studio speakers. All this is to say that while high-fidelity audio can make a difference it's far less important than just finding a quiet room.

Even so, high-fidelity quality doesn't always make a noticeable difference in a silent environment. According to a CNBC study, people correctly guessed whether or not they were listening to high-fidelity music one out of three times—about the average for people who are randomly guessing. Even though the test was conducted with top-notch audio equipment and professional audio engineers, most people just couldn't tell the difference. This study's findings was replicated several times over, by NPR and other sources.

This is not to say that audio quality isn't important or that high-fidelity audio is inaudible—but it shouldn't be the reason we give even more money than we already do to a corporation that is so unabashedly corrupt.

Amazon's attempt to sell music on a massive scale by pedaling lossless audio as an ideal is yet another one of the company's innumerable scams.

They're not the only company to promote high-fidelity streaming—Tidal also does and charges $20 per month—yet, unlike Amazon, which employs nearly 700,000 people, Jay-Z's company only has about 130 employees. Also, Tidal (despite its fair share of scandals) hasn't faced the disturbing accusations that Amazon has.

Much has been written about the company's horrific industry standards. There are reports of workers forced to pee in water bottles because they didn't have time to take breaks, kept in freezing or sweltering warehouses for months, forced into mandatory overtime and 60-hour weeks, and hired without benefits in huge numbers. All this so the richest man on Earth can continue to expand his fortune. We know this, yet we keep buying, feeding our addiction to Amazon's disturbingly intuitive service, falling for their marketing strategies, and subscribing to Prime because they have great TV shows and will drop a book at your doorstep tomorrow if you order it today.


Amazon's attempt to overtake the streaming industry by glorifying high-fidelity audio is yet more proof that the giant will stop at nothing to develop a monopoly over every industry (it wasn't an accident that Amazon's working title was Relentless). Amazon is far from the only corrupt corporation on the planet, but it is one of the most high-profile and pervasive, and it shows little sign of slowing down.

The truth is that Amazon does make life easier for many people, saving time the way technology always has (though somehow, we don't seem to have any more time for leisure). It does provide thousands of jobs and services. It will, technically, give us better quality audio. But is all this worth it? It doesn't really matter in the end, because we're going to wind up buying it anyway.

Frontpage Popular News

Oprah does it again! She is now one of the 500 richest people in the world

She's the First Black Woman on Bloomberg 500 Richest People in the World List

Anyone who doesn't live under a rock knows Oprah Winfrey, and her success over the years has made her rich.

Really rich. But up until June 20, 2018, the media mogul was not quite rich enough to be ranked on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

500-person ranking www.bloomberg.com

As per its description, "The Bloomberg Billionaires Index is a daily ranking of the world's richest people. The figures are updated at the close of every trading day in New York." Sure, it's a list that many people dream to be listed on, but for Winfrey, it was not such a far-fetched fantasy. She clocked in at number 489 of 500 with a $4.02 billion total net worth. Impressive, to say the least, but also groundbreaking. She's the very first black woman to make the list. Congratulations!

Lose weight with Winfrey dietsarefattening.com

According to Daily News, "The 64-year-old icon built her legacy — and her wealth — on the Oprah Winfrey Show and her cable network, OWN. Her latest bump comes from her shares in Weight Watchers, which has pushed her up an extra $427 million this year alone, according to Bloomberg. She also just signed a multiyear deal with Apple." No wonder she was handing out cars like they were candy.

You get a car...and you get a car...!motor1.com

The top three slots go to Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is right behind Buffet. The majority of the 500 richest are men; Winfrey is among the 65 females on the list, just six being entrepreneurs.

Richest billionaire, Bezos static-33.sinclairstoryline.com

With Winfrey's dedication, determination, and drive, she is sure to continue to appear on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, likely inching her way up the ranks. Will she ever be neck-in-neck with Bezos? When it comes to Winfrey, the world is her oyster.


Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G, Understood.org, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.


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