Culture Feature

On Transgender Day of Remembrance: 5 Iconic Trans Men From History

While we memorialize victims of transphobia, we should take the time to remember the historic contributions of trans men.

Philanthropist Reed Erickson

November 20th is known as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

First marked in 1999, it's now part of Transgender Awareness Week, and an occasion to memorialize victims of transphobic violence who have died in the course of the year. Trans women of color in particular have long been disproportionately targeted by violent transphobes.

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FILM

Jack Waz Is on a Mission to Release the Butth*le Cut of "Cats"

His inside source says that 400 shots of cat butth*les were censored from the final cut, and Jack believes they can still be retrieved

Update 4/2/2020: A fan has stepped up to produce a trailer with restored buttholes, and it is glorious.

CATS: The Butthole Cut www.youtube.com


In recent months writer Jack Waz has made it his mission to gift the world what we were deprived of on December 20 of last year.

In the rush to prepare a final cut of Cats—including edits that continued until just 36 hours before the film's premiere—Director Tom Hooper made a grave error: He deleted the butth*les. Jack Waz is the absolute unit of a Hollywood writer who has devoted himself to righting that grave injustice.

If you saw the film, you may have assumed that the utter lack of visible butth*les on any of the humanoid cat-monsters was simply a gross oversight. For a film that features Sir Ian McKellen perfectly embodying the physicality of an aging stage cat—complete with meows, grooming, and lapping up milk—it was instantly off-putting to not see the entire cast constantly displaying their butth*les to one another and the camera.

Anyone who's ever been intimately familiar with a cat knows that, along with rubbing their cheeks against you, letting you get a good look at their naked pink butth*les is among the best ways they have of showing their affection. Did Tom Hooper and the effects team seriously forget to include that? How much work are we as the audience supposed to do in suspending our disbelief? For the true cat lovers among us, it lent an eerie sense of unease to all the Jellicle interactions—as though these hideous cat-creatures, that are supposedly all members of a tight-knit organization, were holding onto a secret distrust of one another. In every shot of the film—even when butts were prominently on display—there was nary a butth*le to be found. Were they all clenching so tightly? Why were they concealing their butth*les?!

Jack Waz has the answer, and has spent the last three months trying to spread the word of the Butth*le Cut to a world that ignored him—until Tuesday night, when his message finally got some attention and became a trending topic on Twitter—even receiving an endorsement from Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. Maybe it's because social-distancing for the coronavirus pandemic has pushed culture increasingly online, or because Cats has recently become available through on-demand streaming services—prompting Seth Rogen to live-tweet his first viewing while high. Whatever it was that got people to finally notice, Jack Waz had the inside scoop.

According to a tweet from Waz, an acquaintance who works in visual effects was brought onto the project in its final months to remove butth*les from around 400 shots of what would have been a much better movie. To put that in perspective, the final cut of Avengers: Infinity War contains around 2,900 visual effects shots in total. In other words, 400 altered shots represents a huge chunk of the movie that originally featured the butth*les that we all went to this movie expecting. How much time and money went into removing the most expressive part of a cat-chimera's body from the film? Those resources could have been spent on improving scale issues, replacing human hands, and cleansing the world of the image of tiny, line-dancing mouse and roach-people being swallowed by Rebel Wilson.

If censoring the butth*les was deemed necessary to maintaining the film's baffling PG rating, they could have at least allowed the cats the dignity of Twinkle Tushes—the only jewelry designed to hang from a cat's tail and cover its butth*le. Instead, they opted to rob them of their essential character, their felinity, their butth*les.

Twinkle Tush

Thankfully, now that Jack Waz has brought this issue to light, we can abandon juvenile fantasies like the #SnyderCut and the #JJCut, and focus on a movement that can unite the world. In one voice we must rise up against this injustice and demand that Universal Pictures release the butth*le cut. #ReleaseTheButth*leCut

TV Features

Before Its Time: "Freaks and Geeks"

20 years ago, Freaks and Geeks aired for an audience that expected a modern Wonder Years but instead got something closer to Dazed and Confused.

The main cast of Freaks and Geeks pictured.

Photo credit Den of Geek

If Netflix announced a new, upcoming series produced by Judd Apatow with a cast including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, Martin Starr, Busy Philipps, Lizzy Caplan, and Shia LaBeouf, it would be one of the most anticipated projects in Hollywood.

www.youtube.com


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TV

The 5 Best TV Tributes to D&D

Including those incredible "Stranger Things" scenes.

With Halloween coming up, I thought it was time to revisit the phenomenon that was the first season of Stranger Things.

Three years ago it took over our entire culture for two weeks, and reintroduced the world to the wonders of Dungeons and Dragons. The first season is perfectly framed by the four young friend's passionate investment in an epic tabletop quest—informing their battle with the Demagorgon, their understanding of the Upside Down, and foreshadowing the events of season two in the finale. It was charming and fun, and many of us were sucked into a love affair with the endless possibilities of D&D. But then, in season three, Stranger Things betrayed us.

Suddenly, D&D wasn't a priority anymore! Just because everyone has girlfriends now, we're not supposed to immerse ourselves in an imaginary world of magic and wonder? Bullshit! Will is the only one who gets it, and he's dressed like a moron.

Will Byers, Dressed Like a Moron in Stranger Things Season 3 What are you wearing, Will?!


Luckily, there are other TV shows that have professed their love for D&D without turning their backs. So let's take a look at the best D&D tribute episodes in TV history.

Community: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

Troy Barnes, extolling the virtues of D&D

Community creator Dan Harmon loves Dungeons & Dragons so much that he has a show dedicated to animating D&D sessions. So when the study group gets together in the second season (the best one…) to help "Fat Neil" by playing the most epic D&D campaign in history, you can expect it to be legit. Everything from the LOTR voice-over opening, to Danny Pudi's earnest devotion to his DM duties, and Donald Glover's basic misunderstanding of the game—"Shouldn't there be a board, or pieces, or something to Jenga?"—is handled perfectly. And when Pierce's narcissism leads to the party splitting, and Neil losing his most prized magical items, the stakes suddenly become real, and the rest of the study group must use all their cunning and skill to save the day.

The episode is so good, Community actually did a follow up in season five—"Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons"—with David Cross reconnecting with Mike from Breaking Bad. Also worth a watch, and notable for not including Ken Jeong in drow-blackface.

Justin Trudeau

Freaks and Geeks: Discos and Dragons

James Franco, Before it Was Too Late

It's fitting that the series finale of the highly underrated Freaks and Geeks ends with one of TVs best tributes to D&D. The titular geeks are strong advocates and the game is helmed by possibly the greatest dungeon master in history, whose low affect air of authority lends necessary gravitas to the scene.

Best. DM. Ever.

The thrust of their session is the transformation of Daniel, played by James Franco, changing his alignment from Freak (effortlessly cool idiot) to geek (enthusiastic nerd). And isn't it fun to imagine a world in which someone interceded in time to prevent James Franco from becoming pure evil?

iZombie: Twenty Sided, Die

Clive Babineaux, Getting Into It

Another entry in the category of underrated shows showing love for D&D, iZombie is the story of Liv Moore (... get it?) a medical examiner who mixes drugs with energy drinks and gains the ability to absorb dead people's personalities and memories by eating their brains. Standard stuff. In Twenty Sided, Die, the corpse in question is a devoted dungeon master, and must play through a campaign with her friends in order to unlock the dead man's memories. Liv's fellow ME, Ravi Chakrabarti, is a reliable nerd, and dives right into the role playing with some solid accent work, but the real fun comes from the stoic Detective Babineaux, who begins the session with an eyeroll, and finishes on the edge of his seat, more invested than anyone. You love to see it, and the resulting fan art is choice.

Earl

Twitter

Honorable Mention: Mazes and Monsters

Tom Hanks Beginning His Illustrious Career

While technically not a TV show, 1982's Mazes and Monsters deserves to be on this list both for giving Tom Hanks his first starring role, and for being the only TV movie to ever acknowledge the frightening power of tabletop role playing. Produced at the height of a panic over what D&D was doing to our children, M&M follows Robbie Wheeling, a stressed out student whose first exposure to role playing leads to a total psychotic break from reality. His friends must track his alter ego, Pardue the Holy Man through the bowels of New York City to save his life. The entire film is a masterpiece, available for free on YouTube, but you only need to see one scene, near the end, to know that Tom Hanks deserves at least four more Oscars.

By now, we've all heard "Spirit." We've all basked in the track's vast cathartic greatness. The song is majestic in a way only Beyoncé could be.

As the song swells, it carries with it a heavy-handed mix of euphoria and nostalgia, and, according to film critics' reactions to the upcoming The Lion King, the anthem conveys only a fraction of the glory that the movie will offer. "Oh man The Lion King delivers," wrote The Wrap. "It's a visual masterpiece…" BuzzFeed News said the film "[is] going to change the way we look at films forever."

As for "Spirit" itself, there is no way to describe it. The lyrics could only be given justice by Beyoncé. "Your destiny is comin' close," she bellows as a chorus sings in the background. "Stand up and fight." We can't exactly picture Taylor Swift giving the words the same emphasis. In closing, "Spirit" is a level of perfection that can only be reached by Queen Bey. As cliche as it is, the song literally sucked the spirit and breath out of my f**king body.

The single is part of a new album Beyoncé has curated titled The Lion King: The Gift. The "gift" is obviously a new Beyoncé album. "This is sonic cinema," Beyonce said in a statement. "This is a new experience of storytelling." Chance The Rapper was even brought in as a f**king "nostalgia consultant" just to make sure audiences would leave the theater emotionally exhausted. No words can prepare us for what's to come on July 19.

FILM

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of May 3rd

Honestly just don't see UglyDolls.

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This weekend we have an UglyDoll musical for some ungodly reason and spinning umbrella blades.

WIDE RELEASE:

Long Shot

Long Shot (2019 Movie) Official Trailer – Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron www.youtube.com

Charlize Theron is the US Secretary of State in the midst of a presidential campaign. Seth Rogan is a schlubby, unemployed journalist who she babysat when they were kids. A chance encounter leads to her impulsively hiring him as a speechwriter, kicking off a totally improbable romance amplified by the globetrotting lifestyle of her career. This is the first major rom-com to hit theaters in a long time. With a major emphasis on comedy and two solid lead actors, Long Shot seems like an especially fun watch, especially if you miss the era where every weekend brought a new rom-com to the big screen.

The Intruder

THE INTRUDER - Official Trailer (HD) www.youtube.com

In this weekend's dose of obligatory horror, a young couple moves into their dream home out in the country, only to discover that the previous owner (Dennis Quaid) keeps coming back. The premise is actually pretty scary, considering that this is a real thing that happens. When I was a kid, the last guy who owned our house just showed up in the backyard one day to look at the flowers outside. He looked a lot frailer than Dennis Quaid, but it was still creepy.

UglyDolls

UglyDolls Trailer #2 (2019) | Movieclips Trailers www.youtube.com

Remember those UglyDoll plushies from the 2000s? Well, they have their own movie now, and for some absolutely bonkers reason, it's a musical. Now you can watch Blake Shelton sing about body acceptance through the guise of a one-eyed green blob monster. Gabriel Iglesias is also billed, so you know the comedy is going to be terrible. I'm unreasonably confident that this movie is going to be an absolute dumpster fire. Just kidding. It's totally reasonable. Pitbull voices one of them too and he's never been attached to anything positive in his entire life.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix www.youtube.com

From the same director behind Netflix's Ted Bundy Tapes, this portrayal stars Zac Efron as the prolific serial killer. Told from the perspective of his long-term girlfriend, Liz Kendall (Lily Collins), Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile focuses more on Bundy's psychology and strategies of manipulation than his actual murders. There's always a glut of content out there for true crime enthusiasts, but it's not every day you see Zac Efron involved.

Shadow

Shadow Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Indie www.youtube.com

Yimou Zhang ( House of Flying Daggers) is one of the best martial arts film directors in history. His movies combine incredible action with stunning cinematography, resulting in pure visual spectacles. This time, he's employed spinning blade umbrellas––a whole platoon of them. I'm not one to judge people based on their opinions, but if that doesn't excite you then you're wrong and I don't like you on a personal level.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com


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