Avril Lavigne isn’t a racist, just stupid.

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If you’ve gone the last two days without having seen Avril Lavigne's latest music video, 'Hello Kitty’, then consider yourself lucky. Many have labeled the proceedings offensive and even racist. Billboard Magazine went as far as calling it ‘an embarrassment in any language.’

And while the ire is (for the most part, anyways) justified, there’s a larger issue not being talked about here: Avril Lavigne is stupid.

Not an “idiot,” in the way we brush off a friend who thinks “public domain” refers to anything posted on the internet. Or a “dumb-ass,” in the way Red Forman constantly scolded his son for making poor decisions at an adolescent age. I’m talking stupid, as in below average intelligence.

For instance, take a look at her reaction to all of this bad press from the last day:

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See? How could it possibly be racist if she had Japanese people in it. That’s basically like an Asian-Pacific Hood Pass. And therein lies the problem: she doesn’t understand why people might take offense to her portrayal of Japan.  Because in her mind, her heart was in the right place.

Here’s another example. A gem of-a-quote from a 2007 interview with Q Magazine, “It’s important to be thankful, even if you’re poor. I mean, come on, we all have clean water—well OK, not people in the developing world.” At least she caught herself in her own stupidity there, right?

Or the time she tried to help ‘Katrina’, “When the hurricane thing happened, I went to my closet, filled six boxes of stuff and said to my assistant, ‘Take it to Katrina!’ I also like to give stuff to people who are my ‘workers,’ especially if they don’t make much money.”

So now the question becomes, should a stupid person be forgiven for doing inappropriate things if they have no idea they’re doing something wrong? Well, no. But, let’s not forget we’ve constructed a society that not only celebrates idiots, it gives them a large (and loud) soapbox to stand on. Jessica Simpson, as you might recall, couldn’t tell the difference between chicken and tuna. Within months of that incident, Simpson was practically a spokesperson for Chicken of the Sea, even consuming the product in a music video. Tough to teach anyone a lesson, if we reward ignorance with money and handouts. Why would anyone ever want to get smarter?

At the end of the day, ‘Hello Kitty’ visualizes whatever shallow concept of Japan Avril Lavigne has carried around with her for the last twenty-something years. Absent from the equation are thousands of years of art, literature, and music, or achievements in mathematics, electronics and biomedical sciences. What’s left is the color pink, sushi, pachinko, and anime. You can call that racism, but it’s actually just plain ol’ ignorance. A stupendous failure by our society to shape this girl’s mind to appreciate another culture for more than just a few of it’s shiny, sugar-coated parts.

After all, this is the same Avril who once said, “School teaches you what to do with the rest of your life. I already knew.”

We created this monster. We should be angry at ourselves.

Maybe Fincher was perfect for the Jobs movie after all

Sony Pictures is looking to replace David Fincher as director of its highly anticipated Steve Jobs movie due to his aggressive demands for compensation and control, according to several sources.

But wait, here comes the best part…

Fincher is said to be seeking a hefty $10 million up front in fees, as well as control over marketing, in negotiations with the studio. Sony allowed him considerable input into the marketing of the 2011 film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, including honoring his request to use the tagline “The feel bad movie of Christmas” in its campaign. A source says Fincher also had the studio create metal, razor-blade-shaped one-sheet materials for the film that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce but were not suitable for display in theaters.

Control over marketing? Can’t imagine who else had that problem.

Microsoft leaker scroogled by Hotmail

From CNet:

Microsoft went through a blogger’s private Hotmail account in order to trace the identity of a source who allegedly leaked trade secrets.

A court filing reveals that the company’s Office of Legal Compliance approved the decision after confirming that the leaked data in question included proprietary Microsoft code.

But wait, before you grab that pro-privacy pitchfork…

Legally, Microsoft appears to be protected by its privacy policies. The policy for Outlook.com, formerly Hotmail, states that, “We may access information about you, including the content of your communications…to protect the rights or property of Microsoft.”

Dat fine print, am i rite?

David Fincher thinks Christian Bale is the Steve Jobs we deserve

As reported by The Wrap:

Fincher recently met with Sony’s Amy Pascal to discuss the possibility of directing the film, and told her, in no uncertain terms, that he’d only take the reins of the project if Bale plays Jobs.

Fincher and Pascal had a tense relationship during the making of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” but Pascal believes in him as a filmmaker — and is inclined to keep him happy, according to one insider. It helps that Pascal has a good relationship with Bale, following a positive experience on “American Hustle.” The film earned Bale an Oscar nomination during a highly-competitive year.

An interesting, if odd choice. That said, Bale is one of the better character actors working in Hollywood right now. He rarely takes on a part that doesn’t require some sort of physical transformation, so Jobs would fit that bill quite well. Part of me still wonders if this movie is really needed? I realize the same was said of The Social Network back in 2010, however, that story didn’t already have two filmed adaptations preceding it. 

This whole project strikes me as unnecessary, and frankly, too late.

Drake takes Rolling Stone to task… for honoring the dead

What an awful life Drake, a.k.a. Wheel Chair Jimmy, must live. Not only did his latest album Nothing Was the Same debut at number one, but it also sold over a million copies, and earned him three subsequent Grammy nominations. As you can imagine, life at the top is tough.

So when Rolling Stone magazine bumped Drake’s cover story for one about the recently deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman, it drove the rapper/thespian/Raptor’s Ambassador to a Twitter tirade:

I don’t know about you guys, but I have to side with Drizzy on this one. How dare Rolling Stone use up valuable cover-space for a dead person!? Last I checked, and I did some fact checking on this, Drake is (in fact) alive. As a result, he probably has more to say.

And to Rolling Stone I ask: How do you sleep at night? Don’t you understand you are preventing Drake from giving his music to the people? Clearly the man is hurting for money. He started from the bottom. Do you even know what that is like? Did Philip Seymour Hoffman even start from the bottom?

Actually wait, let me just check your cover story on him…

He didn’t. He came from an affluent family. Can’t you see how this move is putting down the strife of the working man? After all, Drake came from the ghettos of the Toronto’s suburb. Not only was he not the lead actor on a internationally acclaimed television show, he had only an entire basement to himself when he lived with his mother. Right by (at the time) Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, no less. Can you imagine the horrors of living next to Theme Park all summer? Having to hear the distant roar of ride’s like Top Gun and the Tomb Raider all day?

Well, don’t worry Jimmy. We’ve got your back at Vinyl Collective. You have worked insanely hard to get were you are. That’s why you occasionally need to cancel your  shows. Or show up to Drake Night at the AAC and not even have the energy to sing for the crowd (Although, still have the courage to stand behind your personal DJ as he spins one of your singles). You are a shining beacon of hope in a world overcome with self-importance and laziness.

Finally, we’re also sorry you didn’t like Kanye’s latest record and had to talk about it behind his back. It must have taken a lot for you to be that blunt about your friend’s work. After all, you two party together.

We can only hope this article helps right the many wrongs you have incurred over the past few months. Take the day off today, Drizzy. You worked too hard at being too good to us.

Source: Pitchfork

This article originally appeared on Vinyl Collective

GameInformer: How Inner Turmoil Brought Down LucasArts

Andrew Reiner:

A similar situation arose with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’s protagonist, Starkiller. “[That name] was only supposed to be a nickname or call sign, not a proper name from the beginning,” a former LucasArts employee says. The development team hoped that Lucas would give Vader’s apprentice a Darth moniker, which at the time, was something that didn’t happen often.

“The team threw a Hail Mary to George, saying the game would have more credibility if the apprentice had a ‘Darth’ title,” a Force Unleashed team member says. Lucas agreed that this situation made sense for Sith royalty, and offered up two Darth titles for the team to choose from. “He threw out ‘Darth Icky’ and ‘Darth Insanius.’ There was a pregnant pause in the room after that. People waiting for George to say ‘just kidding,’ but it never comes, and he just moved on to another point.”

And to think, George still has a say in the upcoming Star Wars films.

Twitter still doesn't quite know what it is

From Engadget:

 Select users are reporting that their Twitter profiles look now look like a cross between Google+Pinterest and Facebook, complete with large header photos (up to 1500 x 1500 pixels), left-aligned profile images and flat content cards representing each tweet. The entire redesign is a jarring departure from the Twitter norm, but it’s that last element that proves to be the most disruptive: rather than piling up in the normal vertical fashion, the new card layout allows tweets to lay side by side, a fundamental change in how Twitter displays content. 

While the design in and of itself is nice, part of me wonders why move away from simplicity? Twitter’s charm comes from its easy to navigate chronological structure. If a major news story breaks, you can wade through a timeline of events. In this new proposal, tweets take on a certain level of abstraction and selfishness. Twitter has been, to this point anyways, about the collective. Not the individual.

So why change now? Well, It could be a reaction to the company’s recent earning’s report. Growth and sharing has slowed, while revenue continues to be non-existent. A stark contrast to Facebook.

Another reason might be seeded deeper in the company’s DNA. As documented in Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter, neither co-founder (be it Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone or Noah Glass) could agree on what Twitter was supposed to be. Glass and Dorsey saw the service as a means to share one’s status with friends. Williams saw it as way to broadcast what was happening in the world to the world.

Somewhere along the way, Twitter’s very enthusiastic user-base figured out a way to use the service in whatever way best suited them. It led to the creation of hashtags, @ replies, and parody accounts, some of which was initially frowned upon by the Twitter team but ultimately implemented into the platform. What users are not asking for, however, is an improved timeline experience.

Of course Twitter is now a publicly traded business and with that comes a responsibility to its shareholders and quarterly forecasts. Perhaps bringing the design inline with emerging services like Instagram and Facebook will increase the user-base (Twitter’s 250 million vs. Facebook’s 1.2 billion) and in turn generate more profits. Or maybe it will further aggravate an already  growing number of Tweeters who’ve had their favorite apps and services shut down to Twitter’s ever-tightening restrictions.

Simplicity, it seems, may no longer be an option.

The death of Flappy Bird. A.K.A. This is why we can't have nice things

Nguyen has several other top app store games, including Super Ball Juggling and Shuriken Block, which are currently #6 and #18 on the iOS store, respectively. Nguyen says that he has no plans to remove those games, which he termed “harmless.” If he thought users were getting addicted, however, he said he would not hesitate to also take them down.

In mulling whether to pull Flappy Bird, Nguyen said that it was guilt – atop the fact that “my life has not been as comfortable as I was before” – that motivated him. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said. He added that his conscience is relieved; he spent the past few days, Internet-free, catching up on slumber.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake,” he says. “I have thought it through.”

It’s strange to see, and I can’t think of a reason why Nguyen would be dishonest about his feelings, a developer looking out for the best interests of his/her audience. EA could learn a thing or two from his debacle. 

With that said, should a game’s designer feel responsible for his audience? While I appreciate Nguyen’s insistence that his game was  meant to be played “in a few minutes when you are relaxed”, it’s a touch naive to think a game as unforgiving as Flappy Bird might be considered relaxing.

Or perhaps that’s the larger question: What’s happening in Vietnam where hopelessness is considered a past-time?

More people are using Windows 8 than Vista. That's the good news.

The Next Web has some interesting numbers regarding desktop marketshare. Despite making some gains since it’s free update in October, Windows 8 has only managed to take over 10% of the market. A far cry from Window 7’s 47% share and XP’s 30. 

Another shocker, 3% of the market is still using Vista.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is said to be restoring Windows 8 back to its Start-button roots in a upcoming update.

Who needs integrity when you have Jay Leno

The Leno roller-coaster keeps climbing:

CNN aired a look at Jay Leno's life and career Friday, but the special omitted a key part of the story – CNN head Jeff Zucker’s role in the famous 2009 Leno-Conan O’Brien late night debacle.

Zucker ran NBC during Leno’s first transition from The Tonight Show, and famously promised Conan O’Brien he would get the job in 2009. Seven months later – after slipping ratings and O’Brien publicly attacking the network, Leno was restored to his former perch as Tonight Show host and O’Brien left the network.

Forget protecting his self-image, word is Zucker wants Leno to jump ship to CNN. Middle-Americans stuck in Airports around the world will no doubt welcome this news, since that’s about the only place left that airs CNN.

In other news, remember that 60 Minutes interview with Leno? Turns out he asked for it

NIGHTNIGHT by DEDDY