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Taylor Swift's new video 'Shake It Off' features twerking, for you haters

Taylor Swift's new video 'Shake It Off' features twerking, for you haters

Timing '1989' and the unrest in Ferguson: You can't please everyone, you should please a few

There are people who hate hate hate hate hate Taylor Swift, and they will hate her more for this video and this song precisely because of the phrase "haters gonna hate."  It is class-A trolling, trolling the trollers. It's colorful, featuring people of color, using styles and tropes we've grown to hyperbolically love or hate, on a white background of shake-shake-shake. It's its own meme.

It also borders on dangerously upbeat and ill-timed. This month we're glued to our media, watching the ongoing hostilities in Ferguson, Mo., and bombarded with a much-needed conversation about race relations. There are costs to ignoring the scourge of racism, some of which play out in 140-characters, relatives' poorly worded Facebook posts, half-formed editorials and half-informed talking heads...

"Shake It Off" isn't about Ferguson, it just fell on the calendar where the context renders it seemingly tone-deaf.

Now, hang tight.

Swift is featured as the "lead" dancer in a series of skill-specific dances -- hip-hop, ballet, cheerleading, modern, etc. The comedy here is -- as if you didn't already know it, gosh dernit -- Swift's skill set doesn't include the coordination to hold a candle to these athletes. She merely fumbles her way through choreography, but damn if she isn't having fun: here's Swift bunny hopping in a tutu. Here's Swift adorkably faking a break dance. Here she is, crawling under a bridge of twerking asses.

There are parts of pop star shelf life that require its participants -- particularly women -- to diverge into territory that isn't "them." Pantomime romances; dress for the job they want and not the one they have; smile when they're frowning inside. Stars like Britney Spears take flack for faking dance skills when they've long gone. Christina Aguilera eats sh*t for "forsaking" her 20-something, pre-baby body. Madonna has tried and often failed for her varied stylistic appropriations.

The point is, in "Shake It Off's" video, that Swift can approximate a thing she is not, but she will never succeed in being what she isn't. Just as Miley Cyrus was not that thing, smacking the butts of black backup dancers as they turn around and praise her dance. Just as Katy Perry is not this thing (Japanese) or this thing (Egyptian) or this thing (a Marine).

Swift is trying on the visages of other pop stars all at the same time, and similarly calling it: "it" isn't working. Do the ballerinas not remind you of Kanye's "Runaway" short film and performances? How about the futuristic goggles and platinum blonde, of Lady Gaga's "The Fame?" Or the cheerleader chant of the (admittedly poor and weak and awful) bridge from Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" and her own taunting "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?" Swift literally takes a line from Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" as she's Great Escaping the sexualized, bobbing butts of the dancers above.

So, yeah, in earnest, she's reinforcing her own precociousness, her ineptitude and yes, dammit, the joy she feels in performance. She comes into her own as a singer, leading a big band. She considers herself one of the Normies, just like the rest of us schlubs, when it comes to dancing, and specific adoptive styles. "Shake It Off" is cleansing, yet snarky, incurring haters' wrath and uncaring -- because dammit, you can't please everybody.

It just may not be what people want right at this second. Check out the elemental presentation of what is "hip-hop," with the oversized boombox and doofy color coordination, and of the bodies of the women of color during the twerk-off. Swift here isn't calling these "lesser" artforms, they're merely whittled down to a 2-D essence of Things I Can't Do And Things That I'm Not. Which doesn't add much to that race conversation above. African-American-founded art-forms (now co-own by the masses) and brown bodies (frequently co-opted by the masses) are deservedly under an analytical microscope now, and making caricature/commentary of them ought to do something earnest, or hopeful, or intellectual. In short, invulnerable, bulletproof. That's not the video she made. "Shake It Off" is a troll.

And one I happen to like, like, like, like, like. Like her video's characters, she's not gonna nail the landing, particularly in the current socio-political context. By it nature, this will be a tune impossible to avoid, just as it will be hard to avoid an analysis. Swift has made a certifiable hit that complicates and compliments her brand, her girl-next-door brand. I think it's a contagious melody, easy to listen to, fun, broad enough to apply to many but specific enough to reveal her as an artist. "Shake it off" is really credible advice and a decent message.

But was the video myopic in execution? Would the twerking or "this sick beat" or boom-box-on-a-shoulder read differently were it a black performer? Is that reading too sensitive -- or isn't it time we be more sensitive?

"Shake It Off" is the first single from Taylor Swift's newly announced album "1989," due Oct. 27. Check out the video and the album cover below.

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<p>Clint Eastwood</p>

Clint Eastwood

Credit: AP Photo

Off the Carpet: Eastwood crashes the season as Telluride gears up for another edition

What can you really expect of an Eastwood late-comer these days?

It's been an interesting run of films for director Clint Eastwood in the 10 years since his "Million Dollar Baby" crashed the 2004 Oscar party and ran away with the gold. I say "interesting" because, at least in awards season terms, it's been a run particularly notable for lots of revving but nothing that ever materialized as a significant player.

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<p>Jason Reitman</p>

Jason Reitman

Credit: AP Photo

'Men, Women & Children' from director Jason Reitman sets October release date

The director's 'Labor Day' follow-up premieres at the Toronto Film Festival next month

One of the few remaining mysteries of the season has been where Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" would settle on the calendar. Would Paramount opt for a very late bow like last year's "Labor Day" after the director's traditional Toronto Film Festival premiere slot, or try for earlier in the fall? Turns out it's going to be the latter.

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Fox passes on Tina Fey comedy 'Cabot College'

Fox passes on Tina Fey comedy “Cabot College”
The comedy about a women’s college that begins accepting men starring Margaret Cho is dead under Fox's new entertainment regime.

Craig Ferguson reacts to the events in Ferguson, Missouri
"Ferguson family motto is 'Dulcius ex Asperis' which means "Sweeter after Difficulties,’” tweeted "The Late Late Show" host. "I hope for the town of #Ferguson that this is true."

Bravo to re-air Robin Williams’ “Inside the Actor’s Studio” episode
The June 2001 interview will be shown on Thursday at 8 pm.

“The Odd Couple” nabs Leslie Bibb
She’ll recur as Lindsay Sloane’s sister.

TLC orders more Kate Gosselin specials
After a June special drew strong ratings, Gosselin will be back on TLC in December.

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” promoting Season 2 with a mysterious billboard
What message is the ABC series sending?

The Mountain from “Game of Thrones” wins Europe’s Strongest Man Competition
Hafþór "Thor” Björnsson came in 1st in three events in Europe's Strongest Man 2014 competition.

Jaime Ray Newman is headed to Amazon’s “Bosch”
The “Eureka" and “Eastwick” alum will join Titus Welliver as an attorney on his police detective series.

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Keanu Reeves is set to star in his 1st TV series

Keanu Reeves is set to star in his 1st TV series
Reeves would produce and star in “Rain” for Slingshot Global Media, playing "a half-Japanese, half-American contract assassin who specializes in taking out his targets by making it look like death by natural causes.”

NBC is making a pilot based on the movie “The Devil’s Advocate”
Based on the 1997 film starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, the pilot would focus on a public defender who joins a law firm run by The Devil.

Parents TV Council warns MTV to avoid another explicit VMAs
The conservative watchdog doesn’t want to see anything like last year’s Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke twerking performance.

Nick and Drew Lachey to star in A&E reality show “Lachey’s Bar”
A&E is following up on “Wahlburgers” with another show about famous brothers opening an eatery, this time in Cincinnati.

“Big Brother” hits a season high
Despite NFL preseason competition, last night’s show attracted 6.9 million viewers.

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<p>Allison Janney in Mom.</p>

Allison Janney in Mom.

Credit: CBS

Emmy Predictions 2014: Outstanding comedy/drama supporting actress

Will Allison Janney beat Kate Mulgrew? And can anyone stop an Anna Gunn repeat?

Because it's NBC's turn to air the Primetime Emmy Awards this year, and because the Peacock would understandably rather air its lucrative Sunday night NFL package in September, the ceremony will take place in late August again. And as an added wrinkle, this year's ceremony will actually happen on a Monday, August 25 at 8 p.m., with Seth Meyers hosting.

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Sony Playstation’s 'Powers' casts lead role of Christian Walker, adds Michelle Forbes as Retro Girl

Sony Playstation’s 'Powers' casts lead role of Christian Walker, adds Michelle Forbes as Retro Girl
"District 9” and “Maleficent” alum Sharloto Copley will play the “dapper and charismatic” Detective Walker.

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<p>Cam Newton</p>

Cam Newton

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: NFL preseason gets FOX preliminary Sunday win

'Big Brother' leads CBS to total viewers win

Fast affiliate ratings for Sunday, August 17, 2014.

Pre-season football and "Big Brother" led to a split in Sunday night's early ratings, with FOX winning the night among young adults, while CBS had the most overall viewers. Keep in mind, much of this is likely to change due to the live nature of football.

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Ian Ziering wants a 'Sharknado 3' pay raise — will he be replaced?

Ian Ziering wants a “Sharknado 3” pay raise — will he be replaced?
According to a source with producer Asylum, “The sharks are graphics, and everyone else is replaceable.”

John Oliver weighs in on the unrest in Ferguson while other fake news shows are on vacation
“The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” which were on vacation last week, aren’t scheduled to return to work until Tuesday of next week.

Chris Pratt may have won the Ice Bucket Challenge
Watch the “Parks and Rec” star fail to avoid getting soaked. PLUS: Amy Schumer attempts it in her underwear, and watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Max Greenfield, and "Bachelorette" Andi Dorfman, and Andy Cohen, and Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama, and Lena Dunham in her bathing suit, and Kaley Cuoco, and Nina Dobrev, and Jemima Kirke, and “The Voice” stars, and Tori Spelling, “Duck Dynasty’s” Willie Robertson, and Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Lopez. PLUS: Charlie Sheen dumps $10,000 in cash on his head.

Meredith Vieira will guest co-host “Today” the same day her talk show debuts
She’ll fill in for Savannah Guthrie on Sept. 8.

Check out Jessica Biel on “New Girl”
Here’s a clip of her guest appearance as Zooey Deschanel’s rival.

Harry Shearer and “Bob’s Burgers” won their 1st Emmys
“I want to thank the Academy, for this incredible honor, and for the impeccable timing,” said Shearer, who when asked about the “impeccable timing” part, said: “25 years. And getting it while I’m starring in a play in London’s West End.”

President Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” interview scored an Emmy
The Funny or Die series won for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program.

Watch Uzo Aduba’s emotional reaction to her Emmy win
"I’m stuffed really,” says the “Orange is the New Black” star. "I’m beyond full. My cup runneth over right now. I feel absolutely all of those things: I feel full of joy, like a fountain. Mission accomplished. Thank you."

Seth Myers is literally on fire in GQ
The Emmy host is “just getting warmed up."

Watch Beyonce and Jay-Z’s HBO trailer
Their “On the Run Tour” special event premieres Sept. 20.

“20/20’s” Elizabeth Vargas returns to rehab
“While on vacation this weekend, I decided to return to a recovery center,” Vargas said in a statement.

“The Closer’s” Gina Ravera to visit “Castle”
She’ll guest on the 2nd episode of the season.

See a new “Unauthorized Saved by the Bell” clip
"Mark-Paul Gosselaar" tries to hook up with "Lark Voorhies"!

As he writes a book about relationships, Aziz Ansari finds himself in a relationship
The “Parks and Rec” star is dating food industry professional Courtney McBroom.

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John Ottman

Interview: Composer John Ottman on 'X-Men,' Honey Boo Boo, and his favorite score ever

Just don't try to visit him during a scoring session

POZNAN, POLAND—John Ottman is a traditionalist. The composer for such films as “XMen— Days of Future Past,” “Superman Returns,” “The Usual Suspects,” “X2: XMen United,” and “Apt Pupil,” writes scores in the style of his musical heroes, John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith.

Here at the Transatlantyk Festival in Poznan, he talked to attendees about the emotional points film music should hit and lamented the lack of finesse in so many of today’s scores. Ottman is unique among composers in that he serves not only as the scorer for Bryan Singer’s films, he also edits them, which severely limits the amount of time he has to score. He recently emerged out of a three-year work jag that included working on “Jack the Giant Slayer,”  “X-Men—Days of Future Past.”

My colleague Kris Tapley interviewed Ottman about “Days of Future Past,”  in May so I decided to do a quick lightning round with him on different topics. We were both very jet lagged and kept laughing at our difficulty concentrating, but he came through like a trooper. And one thing he made perfectly clear: Just don’t visit him during a scoring session.

What’s the hardest scene to score?

A fight scene is one of the hardest scenes to score, for me, at least, because you have to search for what the scene is really about to be motivated musically and yet people are just hitting each other. If you can find out what the scene is about underneath the action that is going on, it’s easier to write music for it, but
some times you just have to go for what’s on the screen and that’s the toughest for me because I’m always motivated by things within the character.

What’s the easiest scene to score?

I would say a creepy scene, someone walking through halls and something’s going to happen. You’re really just suspending the moment.

What’s your favorite creepiest scene you’ve scored?

There are many moments in “Hide & Seek,” a movie I did which I’m very proud of. I’m very thematic, so there was a character called Charlie, who was [the main character’s] imaginary friend and I used string harmonics to create this “Charlie’s Theme,” so when he’s being talked about, it’s very creepy, even though in a strange way, it has a personality to it, which is probably what makes it creepy.

How hard is is to tie in your theme with a well-known existing theme by another composer, such as in “Superman Returns,” when you go from your theme into John Williams’ “Lois Lane" theme during the flight scene?

Frankly, it was a lot easier than I thought to weave in the Williams’ stuff into the score for “Superman Returns,” probably because the themes from his score are so iconic, that you just hear a fragment of them and you recognize them, so all I had to do is throw in a note or two of one of his themes within mine and you understood I was giving a nod, so I just basically find out whatever key I’m in and throw three notes or two notes from either the “Superman” or the “Lois Lane” theme.

Who’s your favorite “X-Men” character to write for?

Xavier. On “Days of Future Past,” it was the first time he’s had a theme in the franchise because the movies have never really centered around him like “Days of Future Past” did. It’s all about rediscovering the hope that he lost, so it was gratifying to be able to do a theme for him.

We saw some old footage today from when Patrick Stewart and Bryan Singer came to the scoring stage for “X2" Do you like it when the actors stop by?

It’s always unnerving for me when anyone comes into the scoring session. My team knows me very well and they know that the day that supposedly someone might come, I’m very cranky and very irritable and everything ticks me off because all I’m doing is staring at the door the whole time because every time the door opens I think [someone] is walking in who is going to screw up my entire day [laughs].

What’s your favorite scene you’ve ever scored?

It’s naturally from a film that no one ever saw, which is usually the case. One was a movie called “Incognito,” which was aptly titled because it remained as such. That movie was a rare opportunity for a composer because it was long, long sequences, some five or six minutes in length, without any dialogue and very little effects. It was showing how a guy would forge art. It was a composer’s wet dream, There’s an almost six-minute sequence where Jason Patric basically forges a Rembrandt and the whole process of how he goes through that process, the real paints, the metals he melts down to make it authentic.…It was a lot of wasted passion because it went nowhere.

You brought up today how scores have changed and are much less subtle. How have expectations changed in terms of what is expected of a composer?

I think the bar has been set so low that I think the expectations aren’t very high, frankly. And it’s sort of depressing because when you’re on a movie, you get so much pressure from everyone because they’re all terrified and scared and so then the music’s suddenly important. [laughs] It’s not important until it comes down to it. Even though they’re all very on edge about it, I think if I just hashed out some string astinados [repeated patterns] and it worked because it’s something new, they’d all love it. I really could just do that and it would be signed off on, but I can’t bring myself to do it because I want to do more than that. I think that’s a lot of what’s going on today.

It starts with the temping, there are so many of those kinds of scores out there now— it’s sort of the sound that’s out there— so an editor throws that onto a movie, suddenly there’s an association with the visuals and everyone just instantly can’t imagine something different. Then the poor composer comes on and if he’s not really an opinionated composer, he’s just going to do that and so then that score goes out there  and that gets temped in the next movie and it basically becomes a circle that doesn’t stop.

You’re a descendant of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. Is that traditional style getting lost?

Well to be thematic doesn’t mean to sound dated. I think that’s the fear— if we’re thematic, we’re going to have a score that sounds cheesy, and that’s not true. You can be thematic and still be relevant in today’s scoring styles. It doesn’t mean you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and just thrown in repeat bars after repeat bars. You can actually find a way to be lyrical in a more modern sense. It just takes more work.

Do you think scores are getting dumbed down?

Yes. There’s a whole “South Park” episode where James Cameron finds the bar and raises it, well the bar just keep going lower, lower. I don’t think modern film scores are quite as bad at Honey Boo Boo, but sometimes I  feel like we’re going there.

What can you say about “X Men: Apocalypse?”

The script is just an outline right now. There are some ideas, but obviously I can’t talk about them, except it’s about the apocalypse (laughs). And all my favorite characters are back, including Quicksilver.

You also edit Bryan Singer’s films. You recently came off three years with out a break. How do you decompress?

The 15 hours a day, 7 days a week just stops and suddenly the freedom you’ve been seeking you have, and then I’m lost. I’m like  a drunk person who’s not drunk. Typical me will see the glass half empty. I realize the sacrifices I made because when it all stops and I’m left with my free time, I realize I only have two friends and I don’t have anyone in my life because it’s all about my work. So it’s sort of sobering when I finish one of these projects to realize how much you don’t have in your personal life. That’s what I’m sort of dealing with right now.

What was the hardest score to write?

“Jack The Giant Slayer” was the hardest time I’ve ever had in terms of cracking what the theme was of the movie because I broke my own sacred rule: never start a film score unless you've established your  themes first. I always write this sort of overture before I start the writing of the score, otherwise I’m lost. I was [in]  a fog every time Jack cam on the screen. I had a temporary place holding theme for him, but I never really liked it and not until I stumbled across something in reel 5 where he’s walking over to his horse, did I realize "There’s the theme right there.” Unfortunately most of the score had been sent off to orchestration. I had no time, but it would be wrong to just have it as it was, so I went back and re-scored every moment that was with Jack and then, only then, could I write the big rousing version of the theme because it was Jack’s theme.

What’s the one score you would take with you to a desert island?

The “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” of course, because I’m the ultimate Trekkie of the original series. When I say original, I mean the ‘60s, not “The Next Generation.” Even though that theme was used on “The Next Generation,” I associate it with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” which was like the coming of Jesus Christ to me. The score is super thematic, it’s deep, it employs many modern sounds. Despite the fact that Goldsmith was traditional, he was always trying to find ways to be with the times that were, so he’d bring in the blaster beam, that thing that was the new thing and some of his efforts had dated themselves, like in the ‘80s we used some of those electronics, but Star Trek remains timeless. That Blaster Beam thing, a lot of the water phone sounds they use and so forth. you combine that beautiful sweeping version of that theme over the most beautiful thing ever created by man— the Enterprise— and it’s just complete, absolute orgasm.

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Recap: 'Big Brother' Sunday - Nominations and Skittle-Power
Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Sunday - Nominations and Skittle-Power

Strategy has gotten too complicated for the hamsters to handle on their own

When it comes to surveillance video, it's hard to get more disorienting than transitioning from a LiveStream in Ferguson, Missouri to CBS' voyeuristic "Big Brother" and it saddens me that that's what I find myself doing tonight.

Between this unfortunate media juxtaposition and some exhausting travel, I can't say that I'm all that involved with what's going down on Sunday's (August 17) "Big Brother," but the job is the job...

So let's watch what happens!

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<p>Deborah Ann Woll of HBO&#39;s &quot;True Blood&quot;</p>

Deborah Ann Woll of HBO's "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'True Blood' - 'Love is to Die'

Jason finds a new use for frozen veggies, Eric allows Ginger to use him, and Bill settles for being more useless than ever

With one more episode to go, it doesn’t seem too premature to go ahead and award Ryan Kwanten, A.K.A. Jason Stackhouse, the coveted Hit Fix Award for Most Valuable Player of the final season of “True Blood.” As already predicted in this space, Jessica and Hoyt have finally, fully reunited, falling in bed together after Jessica has broken down and confessed to Hoyt that they used to be a couple before she cuckolded him with the irrepressible, sexually irresistible Jason, after which Hoyt asked her to erase all his happy memories of their time together before lighting out for Alaska. Hoyt is all forgiveness towards Jessica, but he does injure his fist by applying it directly to Jason’s hard ol’ head. Hoyt’s ex, Brigette, loads the unconscious Jason into her car and is driving him to the hospital when he comes to. She tells him that he needs medical attention, because he probably has a concussion. Jason has to laugh; the dear girl doesn’t know that he averages a concussion a week. Sometimes he bleeds from the ears from the strain of trying to do long division. 

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