Twitter debate: Should conservatives watch the Oscars?!/MattDycus/status/305831962067759104

It’s no secret that Hollywood leans strongly to the left. Conservative actors, directors, and producers are few and far between.

The Oscars is a group of self congratulatory morons in a room thanking no one but themselves & bashing conservatives. All the stupid hurts.

— Lilly Meadows (@akavarmint) February 24, 2013

Because watching spoiled turd leftists kiss each other’s asses while mocking conservatives is ‘entertainment’ #Oscars

— Assault Weapon(@marklindesr) February 24, 2013

Ahhh Hollywood… Thank You for pissing off conservatives for many many decades =) #Oscars

— LisaMicheleGonzales (@lurkingsmirking) February 24, 2013

How many of the intelligent elite tonight at the #oscars are going to dust off their Sarah Palin jokes like they were funny the 1st time?

— Calvin Hernandez (@C_H813) February 24, 2013

Maybe someone at the Oscars will be courageous enough to make fun of Sarah Palin in front of a bunch of leftwing hacks

— Dean Determan (@dean_determan) February 24, 2013

Understandably, some Twitter conservatives refuse to watch:

Why are Patriot Conservatives watching and tweeting about Obama loving Hollywood #oscars now? Other shit is on ya know.

— drhoagie (D) (@drhoagie) February 25, 2013

The Oscars are on 2nite. Most of these r the people who scorn traditional marriage, mock Christianity & despise conservatives. #notwatching

— Watch Dog (@DanMartin_cards) February 25, 2013

Dana Loesch, on the other hand, argues that conservatives must engage popular culture:

To the people admonishing me for watching the Oscars, this is why our side loses the culture war.

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

No people. We lose because we refuse to PARTICIPATE.

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

We refuse to participate thus forfeit any chance to effect change within. The entire point. And yet we still complain.

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

Also people think I’m limited to talking about the Oscars and couldn’t possibly be using the Oscars it to make a larger point. Crazy talk!

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

The idea that if we ignore it, instead of engage and change, that it will go away is silly. We’ve done that for generations, has it worked?

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

Thankful for many on our side who work in Hollywood and fearlessly engage — and work to change perspectives from the inside.

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

If more conservatives participated in culture, engaged, and approached things from a marketing standpoint, we’d be a force.

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 25, 2013

Loesch retweeted these tweets:

If you really want my view on the Oscars, just look up @dloesch‘s tweets and understand just how important participation is.

— Brandon Morse (@CnservativePunk) February 25, 2013

@dloesch Agree. It doesn’t matter how good, right, or factually effective your message is,… If it isn’t cool with culture they #TuneOut

— HippyKilla (@HippyKilla) February 25, 2013

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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We Tried Coca-Cola’s New “Premium” Milk So You Don’t Have To

Does it taste like normal milk? Not really! But maybe it’s not supposed to.

Last week, Coca-Cola launched its new “premium” line of milks, called Fairlife. The products are being marketed primarily on nutritional value and sustainability. To make them, milk gets separated into five component parts — water, vitamins and minerals, lactose, protein, and fat — then recombined in a specific ratio to end up with a rebuilt milk that boasts about half the sugar and double the protein of the regular stuff, along with being lactose-free.

The marketing push for Fairlife had a rough start with this summer’s poorly received pinup girls. Now Coca-Cola is highlighting sustainability along with nutritional value. Despite carefully avoiding the word “organic” in reference to the farms that supply the milk, the promotional materials for Fairlife focus, in pretty vague terms, on the traceability of its “grass to glass” production chain.

Fairlife milk’s national average price ($4.29 for a 52 oz. bottle) is over twice the price of conventional milk (about $2 for 64 oz.) and slightly more than organic milk (about $4 for 64 oz.).

All of which is also to say that Coca-Cola is likely betting on nutrition and production process, rather than taste, as the factors that will help its milk sell better than the traditional stuff, which has been declining in sales for years. Reviews of the product so far have been mixed. But we were still curious: Would normal humans be able to tell the difference between Fairlife and regular milk? And would they like it more, or less?

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

So we set up a blind taste with a very small (but fiercely dedicated) panel of judges, squaring up Fairlife against Organic Valley, a comparably priced organic and hormone-free milk brand that’s available at most grocery stores. (We paid $2.99 per quart for Organic Valley 2% and skim at a Whole Foods in NYC; Organic Valley chocolate milk was $3.69 for a quart. The Fairlife was furnished to BuzzFeed for review.)

One thing I noticed right away at our taste test is that, although the Fairlife bottles are made with a noticeably different material and shape than traditional milk, the colors on the packaging of each type of milk still match Organic Valley’s and the rest of the milk industry’s — light blue for skim, dark blue for 2%, and brown for chocolate. That makes sense if Coke is trying to balance the brand’s image between fitting in (“it’s still milk!”) and standing out (“but it’s BETTER milk!”).

5. Our panel tasted three types of milk (skim, 2%, and low-fat chocolate), comparing Fairlife and Organic Valley side by side for each type.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

The judges, from left to right: Augusta, Jarry, Bryant, Spencer, and Arianna.

They had limited info. They knew that one of each kind of milk was Fairlife, but not which one. Everyone had to pick which milk of each type was their favorite, describe the differences, and say which one they thought was Fairlife.

6. So they sniffed…

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

7. …and they sipped…

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

8. …and came up with these results:

9. Most people (four out of five) preferred regular skim milk to Fairlife skim.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

Bryant thought the Organic Valley skim “tasted more like actual milk,” while the Fairlife was “dry” and had a noticeable aftertaste. The Fairlife skim also “has a weird old smell” according to Jarry, and Spencer suspected that it might actually be coconut milk (it is not).

10. But Fairlife 2% was a surprise winner! Three out of five people liked it better than regular 2%.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

Some compliments the Fairlife 2% received:

“Much thicker and richer, like a hearty drink that will keep me full for a few years. That’s a good-ass cup of milk.” —Augusta

“Kind of tastes like Lactaid, which I like.” —Jarry

“This one was super close. I think 2A [the regular milk] seemed a little sweeter.” —Arianna

11. The two chocolate milks were the most obviously different. Four out of five people liked regular chocolate milk better, and almost everyone mentioned that the Fairlife chocolate milk was really, really sweet.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

Jarry declared the Fairlife “grossly sweet and rich. Like chocolate ice cream that died in a cup,” and most people agreed. “SO MUCH SWEETER. It also smells like fake chocolate powder,” said Arianna. Augusta concurred: “SO goddamn sweet. Like someone dropped a bucket of sugar in there.” Bryant wondered if it involved almond milk (it does not).

Spencer, however, was an outlier strongly in favor of Fairlife’s gonzo approach: “It’s like a milkshake. It’s everything I hoped it would be. I want to take a bath in this chocolate milk. It’s soulful. The other [regular] milk is tame in comparison.

12. Across all three types, our tasters preferred regular milk over Fairlife milk two-thirds (67%) of the time…

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

13. …and were able to correctly identify which milk was Fairlife three-fifths (60%) of the time.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

There wasn’t any noticeable correlation between people’s pick for their favorite of each type of milk and which one they thought was Fairlife. In other words, they weren’t more or less likely to prefer it based on what brand they thought it was.

14. The judges were able to successfully chug both milks 100% of the one time they attempted to.

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

15. The bottom line?

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed Life

Here’s my ~personal~ review: Fairlife is a little bit creepy to drink. The texture is much more viscous and thick than regular milk, and the odor is really strong, to the point that it smells almost spoiled. It tastes OK, but has a slightly musky flavor that reminds me of shelf-stable or reconstituted milk.

Because I’ve never had any complaints about the nutritional content of non-“premium” milk, which I enjoy drinking (especially if a cookie or peanut butter sandwich is involved), and I’m very lactose-tolerant, I can’t ever see myself buying this.

The panel’s take was a little more mixed: Fairlife doesn’t taste quite like normal milk, but it doesn’t NOT taste like milk, either. So, if the nutrition or lack of lactose is a selling point for you, it might be worth a try.

The Fairlife milk used in the taste test was provided to BuzzFeed Life for review.

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No, Lil Wayne did not endorse Romney!/GOPgirl77/status/265857635348279296

The website referenced in the image — clearly a Photoshop job — is a pro-Romney t-shirt store.

A clever (but deceitful) marketing ploy!

And it’s working. Many fans (Democrats and Republicans alike) are taking this “endorsement” seriously:

RT @politixgal: Even Lil Wayne is voting for Romney/Ryan ticket!Woo Hoo! @cspanwj

— Ron(@Cigarvolante) November 6, 2012

even lil wayne voted for romney

— Matt’s Girlfriend♡ (@riaahxoxo) November 6, 2012

Lil Wayne is voting for Romney #realnigga

— Andre Cerball (@AndreCerball) November 6, 2012

Lil wayne voted for Romney? whyyy baby whyy?

— Mirza V. (@_Mvee) November 6, 2012

When lil Wayne is supporting Romney you know Obama fucked up.

— Taylor Griffin †(@TGriffinOrDie) November 6, 2012

Lil wayne voted for mitt romney though , never will i listen to his music again . fucking bitch ! .

— Pimp daddddy D ;)♥ (@MyHoes_Foreign) November 6, 2012

Is Lil wayne HIGH or what ? Voting for Romney WTF !

— mayaaaaa ♥ (@Ma_Ya_Business) November 6, 2012

Lil wayne voted for mitt Romney though , never will i listen to his music again . Fuckin bitch ! .

— Obama 2012 ™ (@PapiJerry_) November 6, 2012

I love the fact that lil Wayne is voting for Romney! #Election2012 🇺🇸 made my day! 😃

— Victoria Springer (@VictoriaSpringr) November 6, 2012

Fuck lil wayne, fuck Romney an all you dick riding romney dick sucking fucks !!! fuck all yall sell out ass bitches !!!!

— † Kayla Victoriaa .(@A1PYNK) November 6, 2012

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21 Excellent Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About “Wayne’s World”


1. Mike Myers wanted Wayne’s World to be about a local cable access show because hosting one was a lifelong dream of his.

Paramount Pictures / Via

In 1992, he explained that he never had one in real life because he “couldn’t get around to filling out the forms and stuff.”

2. Though the film is set in suburban Aurora, Illinois, no parts of the film were actually shot there.

Paramount Pictures / Via

In 1992, the year of the film’s release, Myers said he had never been to Aurora, but “liked the sound of the word.” After some research, he also thought Aurora’s demographics were similar to his hometown of Scarborough, Ontario.

However, the city of Aurora’s official website has a hunch that some scenes were actually filmed there.

3. Stan Mikita’s Donuts doesn’t actually exist, either.

Paramount Pictures / Via

Mikita, a former Chicago Blackhawks hockey player, told Blackhawks Magazine in 2009 that when Lorne Michaels realized Aurora was right outside of Chicago, they thought it was the perfect opportunity to give their local fictional hangout a more relatable theme.

4. Mike Myers originally intended for the character of Wayne Campbell to be introduced on Canadian TV.

Paramount Pictures / Via

After joining the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1989, he presented the character to American audiences. The sketch was a hit.

5. Paramount Pictures was initially on the fence about backing the film.

Paramount Pictures / Via

The sketch did well on SNL and the film grossed over $180 million on opening weekend, but Myers has said the first reaction was a note from the studio saying they didn’t fully understand the concept.

6. Mike Myers has said on several occasions that he would have left the film entirely had “Bohemian Rhapsody” not been included.

Paramount Pictures / Via

Producers wanted a Guns N’ Roses song, but Myers insisted that the public needed to be re-introduced to Queen’s masterpiece.

7. While filming, Myers didn’t think the headbanging scene was funny at all.

Paramount Pictures / Via

Director Penelope Spheeris has said she had to “negotiate” with the actor, and after making him do it over and over again, he was apparently very upset with her.

8. Myers and director Penelope Spheeris did not get along.

Paramount Pictures / Via

They have reportedly made up since then. Spheeris has said, “We’re all getting too old to be pissed.”

9. Thanks to the iconic headbanging scene, Queen experienced a mainstream comeback.

Universal International Pictures / Via

According to Vanity Fair, “Bohemian Rhapsody” shot back up to No. 2 on the charts following the release of the film.

10. Myers wasn’t too keen on Robert Patrick’s cameo, either.

Paramount Pictures / Via

Myers said in 2013 that he didn’t think including the Terminator 2 reference would be funny, but that “people went shithouse over it.”

11. Gary Wright re-recorded his hit “Dreamweaver” specifically for the film’s soundtrack.

Paramount Pictures / Via

It plays every time Wayne sees Cassandra from afar.

12. During the famous car hood scene, Mike Myers is really laughing, but it’s from exhaustion.

Paramount Pictures / Via

Director Spheeris revealed the scene was filmed on the last day of the shoot, and the two were in a “laughing fit.”

13. Dana Carvey based the character of Garth Algar on his real brother, Brad.

Paramount Pictures / Via

Brad Carvey has been described as having the same “shy smile and soft, occasionally squeaky voice” as Garth, and he loves the drums.

14. And Carvey can actually play the drums.

Paramount Pictures / Via

He really played them while shooting the film.

15. After a rights dispute, the original “Stairway To Heaven” guitar riff in the music store scene had to be changed following theatrical release.

Paramount Pictures / Via

As a result, Led Zeppelin “refused to allow those notes to appear in any versions of the film after its theatrical release, from VHS to cable airings.”

16. Rob Lowe has said he discovered his “hitherto untapped gift for comedy” after meeting Mike Myers.

Paramount Pictures / Via

After his comedic success in Wayne’s World, Myers also brought him on to be a part of two Austin Powers films.

17. Robin Ruzan, who played a waitress at Stan Mikita’s Donuts, was married to Myers from 1993 until 2006.

Paramount Pictures / Via

He has rarely spoken of their split and he remarried in 2011.

18. Paramount Pictures created a trailer for the film that only appeared before showings of 1991’s The Addams Family.

Paramount Pictures / Via

In a 1992 interview, the president of Paramount said he saw potential for a crossover trailer since both films had been inspired by TV shows. Myers said the preview “got people talking” about the film.

19. Mike Meyers says filming was “a blur,” because his father’s health was dwindling at the same time.

Paramount Pictures / Via

“I remember finishing the film, then I remember my dad dying,” he said in an interview in 2013.

20. After directing the film, Spheeris had a difficult time getting hired to direct anything that wasn’t a comedy film.

Paramount Pictures / Via

She directed Little Rascals and The Beverly Hillbillies following the success of Wayne’s World.

21. Dana Carvey and Mike Myers had a falling-out after Carvey believed Myers stole his Dr. Evil impression for Austin Powers.

New Line Cinema / Via

Apparently, the Dr. Evil impression was originally Carvey imitating Lorne Michaels. In 2013, director Penelope Spheeris said the two have since made up.

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This Young Mother Has Something Serious To Say. You Might Not Like It, But You’ll Probably Love It.

This is Stephanie Metz, a mother of two young boys in western South Dakota.

To put it simply, she is tired of how modern parenting is creating a society of children who can’t do anything for themselves. I could further try to explain what she has to say – but let’s just let her say it. From her blog:

Why My Kids Are Not The Center Of My World

Wait, what did she say? Yeah, you read that right.
This blog post is a bit of a rant and it’s a bit all over the place. My kids are NOT the center of my world, and that’s quite simply because they aren’t the center of any world, anywhere.

If you’re feeling adventurous today, feel free to read on. I’ll forewarn you though, this post contains subject matter about which I feel very strongly. As are most emotionally heated issues – I suppose it’s controversial. But hey, I feel how I feel and that’s not going to be changed.

The emotions that sparked this blog post were given a little bit of a supercharge last evening. Hendrix was picking out what he wanted to take to school for Show & Tell. He chose a little Imaginext action figure – one that he’s had for about two years now. With the action figure comes a little yellow object. For the two years that he’s had this toy, that yellow object has always been a drill to him. He gathered the action figure, the mask that goes with him, and the yellow drill and proudly told me he’d chosen that for Show & Tell. Then, you could see him thinking. And he promptly changed his mind and said to me, “You know what, I better not take this. My teacher will probably think it’s a gun, and then I’ll get in trouble,” put the action figure back, and chose something else.

I often think about the world my boys will grow up in. I often get angry when I think about it. This particular situation just furthered those emotions for me.

In completely selfish terms, bringing my boys into this world was such a great decision – for me. They bring me so much joy, they fill my heart, they make me happy. But I often question whether or not it was the right decision for them. My boys are typical little boys. They love to play guns. They love to play good guy versus bad guy. They love to wrestle and be rowdy. That’s the nature of little boys, as it has been since the beginning of time.

How long will it be before their typical boy-ish behavior gets them suspended from school? How long before they get suspended from daycare??? How long will it be before one of them gets upset with a friend, tells that friend to go away and leave them alone, and subsequently gets labeled as a bully?

The mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating to me, friends.

Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys. You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they’d find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc – and pretend it was a gun. Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.

There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money. There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this). Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party. And Sally – phew! She should be jailed! She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.

Modern parenting and thinking makes me crazy. The young generations of today (yes, I sound old. I realize I’m only 29 years old.) are being taught that they shouldn’t have to ever put up with anything doesn’t make their hearts feel like rainbow colored unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.

Modern parenting is creating a generation that’s not going to be able to function in society.

Your child, who you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things “evil.” How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood? “Debbie” graduates from high school and goes to college. She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it’s junk and it will get a failing grade. How will Debbie cope with that if she’s always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?

“Donna” graduates from college and gets a job – you know, in the real world. She has to work on a committee to come up with a marketing plan. She shoots out an idea, and it gets immediately turned down. What is she to do? Go home and cry because no one liked her idea? Quit her job because she can’t handle rejection?

Modern parents, who drop everything all the time to sit and play with the child, who “needs attention,” or drop what they’re doing to help the child the second he or she gets frustrated? How is Joey going to deal with the fact that there won’t be anyone in his adult life who’s willing to stop what they’re doing, stop living their busy lives, to cater to his every whim?

How do you think Billy is going to cope in the real world, when his boss gives him a vague task to complete, and offers no helpful information as to how to complete this task? Mr. Boss is certainly not going to hold Billy’s hand and help him through the task. Mr. Boss expects it to be completed by Monday. How has Billy been prepared to use his critical thinking and problem solving skills to be able to complete that task? He hasn’t.

I certainly hope that the title of this blog post is starting to make sense. Parents who make their children the center of their universe are not doing anyone any favors. Obviously, as parents, we love our children more than anything. But dropping everything to cater to their every need is only going to lead to a very rude awakening once they enter the real world.

I’m not telling anyone how to parent, and I’m far from perfect myself. But when my kids can’t find something, I refuse to help them until they’ve at least made a concerted effort to find it themselves. This isn’t being mean, it’s teaching them to at least attempt to solve a problem themselves before just giving up and asking for help.

When the TV gets turned off after the allotted time on the weekends, my kids are instructed to go play together in their room. I love and miss them during the work week, but I am not just a mom, I’m also Matt’s wife, I’m also Stephanie, and I also run our household. There are things I have to get done, and my boys understand that. My children – while Matt and I both spend time playing with them – understand that the world doesn’t begin and end with them. This allows them to find ways to entertain themselves, it builds imagination, and it teaches them to get along with each other without constant intervention.

We follow the rules and don’t take toy guns or weapons to daycare. But I’ll be darned if my boys aren’t allowed to be little boys when they’re at home. They have several toy guns and it’s constantly a good guy vs. bad guy battle in my house. I feel like this teaches them to do the things they want to do, while respecting other’s rules and regulations. It also teaches them that there are differing opinions about things in this world and that’s ok. We can like and believe in the things we want, while respecting that others may not agree with us.

My children are all but ignored when they ask for something without using manners. They understand that when someone addresses or speaks to them, they are to speak back. When we go out to eat, we don’t take 5 electronic devices to keep them “entertained” for the 15 minutes we have to wait for our food. If Hendrix is “bored” (and I use that term loosely), then he can put on his jacket and go play outside.

Everyone parents differently, and I respect that. The current generation may be one that expects nothing less than everything from this world. But I know of two gentlemen that are going to be able to accept failure and move on having learned something from it.

I know of two gentleman who will be hurt emotionally, but who will be able to work through the hurt and carry on with life. I will cushion the emotional fall as much as a mom can, but I will not completely prevent it from happening. They will not expect whoever hurt them to be punished. Heck, I might even teach my children the power of forgiveness.

These two gentlemen will understand the value of hard work, and know that hard work is required to get where one wants to be in life.

They will, while understanding the need for caution, appreciate that not everyone out there is out to get them. Not everyone is out to do evil things.

These gentlemen will understand that there are about a gazillion people in this world. While they are incredibly special to me and my family, they are not special to the world. That probably sounds terrible, but people! It’s the harsh truth, and it needs embraced!

I know that I can’t change the mindset of modern parents. That’s never been and never will be my goal. I just want to make sure that I raise my sons to grow into respectable men who can thrive and succeed, due to having been prepared to do so.

My kids are not the center of my world because I love them enough not to allow them to be.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Original –

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This Is Why Brands Say “Bae”

“To borrow a millennial phrase, we’re on cleek,” said Taco Bell’s incoming CEO. “Not everybody knows what I’m talking about right now. That means you’re on point.”

In the eyes of young people, Taco Bell is “on cleek,” its incoming CEO told investors on a call earlier this month, explaining that it’s millennial speak for “on point.”

“On cleek” was a mangling of “on fleek,” an actual piece of teen speak that really does mean “on point.” But why was a grown man trying to pull off “fleek” on an investor call?

A new Twitter account, @BrandsSayingBae, delighted the Internet this week, calling out chains from IHOP to Taco Bell for imitating teen vernacular on social media as part of their earnest pursuit for consumer engagement — a holy grail sought through “baes” and “on fleeks.”

The screenshots are entertaining, poking fun at Jimmy John’s for replies like “whatcha waitin for bae,” or Applebee’s for tweeting “#WontonTacos on fleek.” The account’s bio reads, sarcastically: “It’s cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation’s products.”

@BrandsSayingBae’s current location, according to its bio: Hell.

So why do brands actually say “bae”? Taking a look at recent conference call transcripts, companies speak earnestly of their attempts to “engage” with those digitally-savvy and elusive millennials, connect one-on-one, and have real “conversations.” They love to note that they have millennials of their own in the house — an age group typically classified as 18-34. Greg Creed, who will become the CEO of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut owner Yum! Brands on Jan. 1, went so far as to say, “We’re in the publishing business, we are no longer in the marketing business.”

“There’s not a millennial that wants to be marketed to,” Creed told analysts and investors on Dec. 11. “What everyone wants to have is a dialogue with a brand. And a dialogue happens because you’re engaged with your customers, you’re not marketing at your customers.”

His deputy, Brian Niccol, went on to proclaim Yum’s messaging to be “on cleek.” His repeated use of “on cleek,” in place of “on fleek” is perhaps the best illustration of how earnestly brands are trying to relate to the young consumer — efforts that can earn chuckles from an audience aware that such accounts are not run by teenagers.

“When we do the brand message consistently, we end up in a place where, to borrow a millennial phrase, we’re on cleek,” Niccol said, pronouncing it “cleek.” “Not everybody in this room probably knows what I’m talking about right now. That means you’re on point, all right? That means you have momentum. That’s how millennials talk about, ‘You get me.'”

He went on to note that Taco Bell is “on cleek” because of how well it knows its customers. He noted, also, that Millennials populate the world with about 100 million selfies a day.

Of course, Yum! Brands isn’t unique in its social pursuits, though the company is probably the most candid. McDonald’s spoke last November about its efforts to cultivate one-on-one relationships with customers.

“We’re moving from mass one-way push communications and we’re building deeper, one-to-one relationships that go beyond our restaurants,” Chief Brand Officer Stephen Easterbrook said. “These relationships are about personalized, fun, social engagement that’s interactive, holds the customer in, and works their way,”

Denny’s CEO John Miller touted his chain’s social media efforts and Millennial-targeting earlier this year, noting: “We think we talk to them really well.” He highlighted Denny’s success on Tumblr, College Humor and other social platforms, as well as its high Klout score.

The Klout Score “is how you watch how you’re viewed and favored…few are among the top brands of any brand, including McDonald’s or Starbucks in Klout scores, which is mostly a millennial score,” said Miller, who added he has “several” children in the targeted age group. “People like the brand, what we stand for, how we talk to them and the positions we take.”

So that’s why brands say “bae.”

It is straight-up someone’s job to make a sandwich shop seem more likeable. People used to be blacksmiths.

— BrandsSayingBae (@Brands Saying Bae)

Jerry Lapin, Al Lapin, and Albert Kallis founded IHOP in 1958 with the help of Sherwood Rosenberg and William Kaye.

— BrandsSayingBae (@Brands Saying Bae)

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Hijack! Tweeter in chief to hold Twitter chat; can’t keep hashtags straight!/joshledermanAP/status/275655797411823616

Once again, the hashtag stops here. President Obama is holding a Twitter chat this afternoon.

President Obama to hold Twitter town hall this afternoon.

— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) December 3, 2012

There is some confusion over which (failed) hashtag will be used.

Have questions for President @barackobama about middle class tax cuts? Go ahead and ask him at 2pm! Use hashtag #My2k

— Jessica Hewkin (@jessicaellen11) December 3, 2012

To send questions to President Obama use #WHChat

— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) December 3, 2012

At 2ET today, President Obama will answer questions on @twitter about extending middle class tax cuts. Ask with #My2k

— Jon Carson (@JonCarson44) December 3, 2012


So Obama personally tweeted “Ask with #My2k” then reporters say to submit questions with #WHchat. Thanks for the confusion.

— Zach Green (@140elect) December 3, 2012

D’oh! Tweeting, like leading, is hard.

Either way, the hilarity will surely ensue as both hashtags are taken over. Again.

@katiepavlich Obama to address the fiscal cliff via Twitter. I think Boehner should hit him with another “you can’t be serious”.

— Zachary Paul (@ZacharyPaul1) December 3, 2012

who will get more twitter Qs about legalizing weed? potus or the pope?

— Sam Youngman (@samyoungman) December 3, 2012

This will end well. RT @markknoller: Pres Obama to take tax cut questions via Twitter at 2PM. Questions to #My2k

— DiploMatt (@mdrache) December 3, 2012

And, hijack alert!

Probably a good idea to hit #WHchat & #My2k & in force at 2pm eastern. #tcot #tlot #teaparty #Gop #RonPaul #Benghazi

— Liberty (@Libertymeme) December 3, 2012

I don’t want #My2K. I want #mygovt to #balancethebudget #WHchat

— David Osteen (@davidosteen) December 3, 2012

How in the world is it a ‘tax cut’ if no taxes go down, but some go up? #my2k #p2

— Kevin Eder (@keder) December 3, 2012

Obama is taking tax cut questions at 2 pm EST (1 pm CST) from the #My2K hashtag. Flood it. #tcot

— Chase Lindley (@chaselindley) December 3, 2012

if #WHChat isn’t the funniest hashtag of all time by, like, 1:30, shut this whole thing down please, it has failed

— John Herrman (@jwherrman) December 3, 2012

Oh, both hashtags will fail … for the president.

We predict that the hilarity, however, will be epic. Keep it coming, Twitter!


Obama’s hard at work on his laptop:

Photo of Pres Obama’s hands typing #My2k answers @ whitehouse:…

— petesouza (@petesouza) December 3, 2012

Obama on laptop

And the hijacking is fully, officially underway!

Mr. President, easy question: Will raising tax rates on small businesses create one job? #WHChat #My2k

— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) December 3, 2012

Dear @whitehouse, can you explain how raising an additional $80 Billion per year will fix a 1.1 Trillion dollar deficit? Thanks! #My2K

— RB (@RBPundit) December 3, 2012

#My2K #WHchat Isn’t the last debt ceiling rise the reason we’re in this mess?And now POTUS wants ALL control of debt ceiling,seriously?!

— Mommasaurus009★ (@mommasaurus009) December 3, 2012

@barackobama Mr. President, Why not place more emphasis on reducing government spending, than on raising revenues? #My2K #WHChat

— David Osteen (@davidosteen) December 3, 2012

$16,000,000,000,000 and rising at the fastest pace on record. WTF @whitehouse? #my2k #p2

— Kevin Eder (@keder) December 3, 2012

Over 3 years without a budget.Shouldn’t we address spending before asking Americans to pay more? #my2k

— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) December 3, 2012

#My2K: Mr. President, how can your “$2K” provide just compensation to Americans that have been fired because of your #Obamacare?

— Adam Baldwin (@adamsbaldwin) December 3, 2012

-BOWhy won’t you negotiate #MY2K on………CSPAN…….??????We want transparency…not tweets!!#WHChat #tcot

— Dawn (@newprezz2012) December 3, 2012

Dear @whitehouse, in what alternate universe is 2% of the population paying over half of all income taxes “not fair?” #My2K

— RB (@RBPundit) December 3, 2012

Or in the backyard grill? #ObamaAteADog #My2K RT @antderosa: @whitehouse Is Bo on Facebook?

— GayPatriot (@GayPatriot) December 3, 2012

All great questions. And all too inconvenient to be answered by our very busy and important president.

No one really expects @whitehouse to take a question that *doesn’t* support their marketing push, do they? #my2k

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 3, 2012

Meanwhile, if we’ve learned anything from this little chat session, it’s that President Obama definitely needs Twitter supervision:

Obama just told everyone to “tweet your Member.” heh hehhehheheeheheheehehehe. #my2K

— RB (@RBPundit) December 3, 2012

Yep. He totally did:

Gotta go.Thx.Keep pressure on Congress. Call, email, tweet your Member & tell them what 2k means to you. Lets get it done. #my2k -bo

— The White House (@whitehouse) December 3, 2012



Once again, the White House offers pathetic “proof” that Obama was totally doing stuff. All on his own!

Photo of the Day: President Obama answers #My2k questions on Twitter live from the White House:…

— The White House (@whitehouse) December 4, 2012


OK, so maybe not all on his own. Presidential tweeting: It takes a village.

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Want To Take Your Possessed Doll On Vacation With You? Better Fly Thai Smile Airways.

Remember in the ’80s when Cabbage Patch Kids were insanely popular? Well, take that popularity and add the souls of unborn children and you have the Luk Thep craze!

Yes, the most popular dolls in Thailand are said to be possessed by the spirits of children, and the only way to make them happy is to clothe them, feed them, and even buy them their own seats on airplanes. It all seems a little silly to treat a doll this way, but do you really want to anger the troubled soul that dwells beneath the plastic?

Adults and children alike have taken to a new fad in Thailand: Luk Thep dolls. Also known as “Child Angels,” these dolls are said to be possessed by the spirits of children.

The dolls were created by Mae Ning, who says she calls on the Hindu goddess Parvati to transmit the souls of unborn children into the dolls.

The dolls are to be treated like they are real children, receiving food and gifts. Thai Smile Airways even allows passengers to purchase tickets for their Luk Thep dolls, so owners can take them on vacations.

Why must these possessed dolls be appeased so? Well, taking care of a Luk Thep is supposed to bring the owner good luck. If the doll is neglected, the owner is signing him or herself up for misfortune.

(via Mysterious Universe)

So while Cabbage Patch Kids seem to be waning in popularity, what makes me think Luk Thep dolls will have continued relevance is that fearing the wrath of a child ghost is weaved into the product’s marketing campaign! The company is basically saying, “Buy this or be cursed forever!”

It’s quite genius when you think about it…

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Some Street Ads Are Attention-Grabbing, Whether You Like It Or Not.

You can mute a commercial. You can install ad-blocking software on your browser. You can flip past ads in a magazine. But companies have more tricks up their collective sleeves to get your attention. I’m talking about street advertising, where companies go all out to think of ways to grab your attention, even if you’re not plugged into anything. 

1.) Ariel, demonstrating their whitening prowess.

Ironically, someone will have to scrape this off the gray wall.

2.) Nike, encouraging physical activity.

Some pigeon-feeding enthusiasts are going to be so mad.

3.) IBM, filling Nike’s bench void.

If their ad contract runs out, are we out a bench?

4.) Kit Kat, also filling Nike’s bench void.

This guy is sitting on the wrapper side, just in case.

5.) The Economist, giving a passerby some ideas.

I hope that’s an energy-efficient bulb, though.

6.) Law & Order, using the materials they have.

The desk lamp interrogation gets ’em every time.

7.) The Copenhagen Zoo, suggesting a fun day with the animals.

Insert your own Samuel L. Jackson quote about how tired you are of [expletive deleted] snakes on motor vehicles.

8.) Folgers, inviting you to have some steaming coffee.

I’m not sure if they meant to associate their product with the sewer, but that’s just the coffee snob in me.

9.) Hubba Bubba, describing infinite gum bliss.

I think they have a deal worked out with the area’s dentists.

10.) Sprite, making a bit of a stretch.

Showering in soda doesn’t seem appealing at all.

11.) Adidas, being subtle.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even know this was for the Adidas brand. I’d just avoid this road in a strong wind.

12.) Mars, doing their part to end world hunger, one giant candy bar at a time.

This might cause accidents.

13.) The Superman Movie, disrobing heroically.

So, we’re standing between his work shirt and his hero onesie? Weird.

14.) The Simpsons Movie, being kind of menacing.

Donuts everywhere quaked in fear.

15.) McDonald’s, suggesting lunch.

Gives new meaning to the term “street food.”

16.) Durex, preying on your insecurities.

Although I have to question their use of oblong brown shapes on a bathroom floor.

17.) IWC Schaffhausen, allowing you to try on their wares.

“But I wanted the other color!”

18.) Coca-Cola, being really, really big.

I hope the residents were in some way compensated for having their views obstructed by giant bendy straws.

19.) Axe, keeping it classy.

Oh Axe, you’ve always been steadfast in your women-as-objects campaign.

20.) Ikea, dressing up bus stations.

I hope that couch is water- and dog-pee proof.

Images via AllMyFaves

What do you think of these ads? Are they clever ways to catch your attention using the surroundings? Or do they make you roll your eyes and wish you could just get to work without being pressured to buy something? 

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Did You Realize That These Super-Simple Inventions Actually Changed The World?

You might hear “invention” and think of that iconic light-bulb “a-ha” moment (a term that this author feels should go the way of the dodo). After sleepless nights of failure, the tormented genius leaps into activity and has an earth-shattering piece of technology ready for presentation by dawn (and mass production not too far into the future).

As usual, reality is less dramatic. Inventions are not singular events that spring up fully formed on their own. Rather, inventions build upon existing technology, and come about via tweaks, tests, re-tweaks, and re-tests. Technology evolves much like how a species evolves based on its past and present forms. Also, inventions are rarely created by just one person–there’s often a team behind them, and by working together, they’re able to create something new out existing materials.

Here’s a look at ten inventions that seem simple by our standards. We’ve all taken advantage of them at least once, and never thought about how different our lives would be if they were never made.

1.) Plow

We’re starting at the beginning here. The plow, developed in various places around the world about 10,000 years ago, is why humans have settlements. Before this, in the Paleolithic Age, humans traveled around as hunter-gatherers, finding what food they could. The plow made growing, and thus controlling, food supplies easier. Humans began to settle in places that became the cities, civilizations and cultures that we still have today. Everything you know about your history and culture more or less got its start here. We of course have no idea who, or more likely, which culture, developed the plow first due to its age. We do know that the adaptation from hunter-gatherer to farmer was pretty much a worldwide one, so we could attribute this to humanity at large.

2.) Wheel

Like the plow, the wheel is another invention that seems to have sprung up around the world. Some civilizations used them earlier than others, and even civilizations without wheels were capable of achieving pretty awesome things, including the Pyramids, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu. The earliest wheel and axel found dates to around 3100 BCE (about the date of Stonehenge’s construction), and is from near Ljubljana, Slovenia. The wheel allowed people to transport and manipulate large items for construction. It also allowed them to create vehicles which expanded travel and trade, leading to interaction between cultures. New interactions led to the creation of larger nations, which would come a bit later, when people figured out roads. Outside of travel, the wheel is also used in a lot of other technologies, such as water wheels, gears, cranks and pulleys and more.

3.) Printing Press

Most people think of Johann Gutenberg creating the printing press in 1430s Germany, but he only improved on preexisting technology. Block printing existed in China since about the 11th century, and the idea came back to Europe via Marco Polo. Gutenberg decided to incorporate a screw press, usually used for olive oil and wine production, and created more durable metal printing blocks than the wooden ones people were using. He also made advances in ink and paper. The result was that books, and the information within, became more accessible to people. Before, handwritten books were rare and were generally the property of the clergy and the upper class. Now that faster and cheaper production existed, the books could make it to more people. That meant that literacy rates increased and the population in general became more educated.

4.) Refrigeration

Refrigerating food to increase its shelf life is less modern than you thought. In the old days, people used the naturally cooler temperatures of subterranean spaces to store food (think root cellars). When they could, they used ice boxes, (literally boxes with ice in them) to keep things cold. The fridge started off simple, gradually improving for about 200 years. There existed a vapor-compression unit designed but never produced in 1805. The 1876 design by Carl von Linde became the ancestor of the modern fridge. As cooling chemicals became safer by the 1920s, they became a standard fixture in homes. They allowed food items to last longer, which allowed people to eat a more varied and healthier diet of fresh foods. The development of refrigerated trucks also allowed for food to keep fresh during shipping.

5.) Communications

Okay, so “communications” is a pretty broad term, and nowadays encompasses the telephone, radio, internet, and television. But each of these items stem from one device–think of them like related species on a genetic branch. The telegraph, developed by Samuel Morse in 1836 (yes, of Morse code fame), allowed information to travel in relatively short time, but over great distances. Morse’s invention served to connect people and cities to allow the sharing of information, while also required intricate wiring systems. Later, Nikola Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi developed electromagnetic waves used to send information wirelessly. This led to the way information transmits today–in real time, allowing people all over the world to watch events as they unfold.

6.) Steam Engine

Steam power was how the Industrial Revolution, the greatest change in the shortest period of time in the history of human civilization, kicked into full swing. People used steam to power things for thousands of years, but it was fully harnessed first in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen’s creation, a device used to pump water out of mines. James Watt modified Newcomen’s design in 1769 to make it more powerful and practical. Eventually, the bulky engines were small enough to put on trains, and the steam locomotive was born. This allowed the transportation of people and goods across far greater distances, and served to expand industry. The railroads were integral in the expansion of the continental US, shaping it into what it is today. Unfortunately, it contributed to the drastic reduction of Native American culture.

7.) Automobile

Car historians consider Karl Benz’s 1885 Motorwagen to be the first automobile. But it wasn’t until 1904 when Henry Ford made adjustments and came up with serious marketing hooks that the car took off, first in America and soon after in Europe. Cars became popular in an instant, allowing people to instantly travel to places otherwise too far. Towns and cities planned around automobile roads and access. Cars also gave rise to suburbs, more spacious than cities and thus requiring a vehicle. The auto industry created many, many jobs and a lot of money, but has also caused massive amounts of pollution.

8.) Light Bulb

Everyone thinks of Thomas Edison as the sole inventor of the light bulb. Like with everything else on this list, Edison was working with, and improving upon, existing technology. There were already plenty of cheap and efficient gas lights in use during the 1870s, when the electric bulb came into play. Letting people see in the dark without open flames was not the light bulb’s legacy. Rather, it gave way to the electric infrastructure that allowed more homes and businesses to connect to the grid.

9.) Computer

So, what is a computer? It’s a machine that can intake information, manipulate it in some way, and output new information. The computer went through many iterations over the years, and concepts for these machines date back to the 19th century with mathematicians and engineers like Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. Babbage designed a general-use, mechanical computer, and Lovelace wrote what would have been its first program, as well as the first computer program ever, if Babbage’s machine were ever built. In the early 20th century, Alan Turing developed many ideas that have been influential in computer development. Computers allow users to process vast amounts of information at extreme speed, making large-and small-scale research more accessible than ever. Computers in turn created space travel, medical testing and the mapping of the human genome, and are also used to create art and music.

10.) Internet

The Internet is the logical sum of computers and communications. It is now a staple of everyday life, even though it was only developed in the late 1960s, not widely used until the late 1980s, and not a fixture in every home the way it is now until the 1990s. It’s used for military purposes, medical applications, businesses, and academic research; for news (hello from ViralNova!) and for personal communication. It allows information to spread almost immediately from one corner of the world to another, including communication across oceans. While it’s become a major part of everyone’s life, it’s still a relatively new development for civilization at large, with computer scientists and developers still discovering its far-reaching impacts.


Can you imagine your life as it is today without any of these incredible inventions? What do you think will be the next big, civilization-changing breakthrough? It kind of makes you want to tinker with existing tools to find the next big invention…

Via Geniusstuff; images via Thinkstock

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New York’s Financial Regulator Worries About An “Armageddon-Type” Cyberattack

Ben Lawsky said today that banks and the financial industry still haven’t caught up to the threat posed by increasingly sophisticated teams of hackers.

Maxkabakov / Getty Images

New York’s superintendant of financial services wants financial institutions to stop depending on their passwords, boost their cyber defenses, and require more of their security providers. In a wide-ranging speech at Columbia University, Ben Lawsky also said banks aren’t doing enough to monitor suspicious transactions, and defended his own aggressive role in going after wrongdoing at the banks he regulates.

He said state regulators “should not be afraid to speak up and act if we spot new risks emerging in the market” and should be willing to sometimes go further than federal regulators “if we think that current approaches to enforcement and prosecution are not effectively deterring wrongdoing on Wall Street.”

Lawsky, a former federal prosecutor who has led New York’s Department of Financial Services since it was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011, has flung his regulatory muscle across the financial world. The DFS has extracted large settlements and fines from the international banks whose New York-chartered operations it oversees, like Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse, and insisted that the chief operating officer of France’s BNP Paribas and the chair of the large Atlanta-based mortgage servicer Ocwen leave as part of regulatory settlements.

“Corporations are made up of people. If there is wrongdoing at a corporation, that wrongdoing was committed by people,” Lawsky said. “But more and more often it feels like we are discussing a corporation’s wrongdoing without detailing who exactly did what wrong.”

The large settlements the Justice Department and regulators have reached with banks over their marketing and sales of mortgage-backed securities have had eye-catching numbers attached to them — $16.65 billion for Bank of America, $13 billion for JPMorgan — but have not included charges against specific bank executives.

“In my opinion, if in any particular instance we cannot find someone, some person, to hold accountable, that just means we have stopped looking,” Lawksy said.

Lawsky also proposed new preventative measures to stop banks from facilitating money laundering, which has been a major focus of his enforcement efforts. In one of Lawsky’s first major actions, he fined the British bank Standard Chartered $340 million after threatening to pull their charter to operate in New York over accusations that it had concealed billions of dollars of transactions with Iran in violations of American sanctions.

Mike Groll / AP

Lawsky said that DFS is “considering random audits of our regulated firms’ transaction monitoring and filtering systems” to ensure that banks’ systems for catching illegal transactions are actually working.

When an independent monitor installed at Standard Chartered alerted DFS that the bank’s monitoring systems weren’t catching illegal transactions, DFS filitrered the transactions themselves and compared the results with Standard Chartered’s. DFS fined Standard Chartered another $300 million last year for “failures to remediate anti-money laundering compliance problems” that it had identified in 2012.

“We believe there are likely widespread problems with transaction monitoring and filtering systems throughout the industry,” Lawsky said.

He also called again for banks and financial institutions to be more vigilant about hacking and cyberattacks, saying that he was concerned about the potential for an “armageddon-type cyber event that causes a significant disruption in the financial system.” While large banks tend to have sophisticated cyber defenses, the vendors they work with can provide a way in for hackers if they have weak defenses.

He said that DFS is thinking about mandating that the banks it oversees “receive robust representations and warranties from third-party vendors that those vendors have critical cyber security protections in place.”

He also said that the regulator was considering doing away with usernames and passwords as the primary method for bank employees to verify their identities. The New York Times reported in December that the massive theft of personal information from JPMorgan was possible because hackers stole a JPMorgan employee’s credentials and one network server did not require two-factor authentication.

“That simple, extra step can actually prevent a significant amount of hacking. And it is something all firms should do,” Lawsky said. “We are currently considering regulations that would mandate the use of multi-factor authentication for our financial institutions. We would be the first financial regulator to take this step.”

Lawsky is far from alone in calling for an end to simple password-based security. In January a senior Obama administration official told reporters that “continuing to rely on simple usernames and passwords as the primary means to secure what we’re doing in cyberspace is not all that effective.”

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My Year In The NRA

I grew up and raised my family in Newtown, Connecticut — and own guns. After 26 of my neighbors were massacred, I signed up to see how the organization that controls our gun debates works.

Illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed

Not a week had gone by since Adam Lanza stole an AR-15 from his mother’s arsenal, killed her, and drove through my hometown to Sandy Hook Elementary School to massacre 20 first-graders and six teachers. Seventy neighbors and friends were crammed into a room at the C.H. Booth Library on Newtown’s Main Street, a few doors down from the Honan Funeral Home, which had just prepared a 7-year-old girl’s body for a closed-casket wake.

It was our third meeting since the tragedy. Our numbers were growing. Both Connecticut senators had come to speak to us. Media outlets from around the world were requesting interviews. Our “Newtown United” Facebook page was gathering thousands of followers a day, but we were not united about what to do.

One man passed around a petition for a local ordinance to ban assault weapons in town. Another urged everyone to picket the headquarters of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a lobbying group for gun manufacturers — a sort of NRA mini-me — headquartered ironically here in Newtown, where I had grown up and returned a decade ago to raise my own family.

A representative from Michael Bloomberg’s gun-prevention group arrived and handed out literature, accompanied by Stephen Barton, a recent college graduate from neighboring Southbury, who was shot at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight in Aurora, Colorado, about five months earlier. Elizabeth Esty, newly elected to represent Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District took the floor, vowing to make “gun control” the guiding mission of the 113th Congress. After the guests left, we resumed arguing.

The next day, NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre broke his silence and in a speech that was really more a fulmination, argued that my 26 neighbors would still be alive today if school personnel had been armed: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” The message, coming before all the Sandy Hook children and their teachers were buried in the cold December earth, was remarkable for its simplicity and its callousness. LaPierre steamrolled over the deep sorrow the nation was experiencing with a single message: It’s not about the guns.

And that’s when it really hit me. What the people of Newtown wanted — and indeed all Americans at that moment wanted and still want — was an honest discussion about how something as awful as Sandy Hook could happen, and how to prevent it from happening again. LaPierre made it clear the NRA was going to do everything in its power to thwart genuine debate. At that point I realized I needed to better understand the NRA. So with a few clicks on the NRA website, I became a member.

Those who oppose the NRA are beginning to match their adversary financially. Bloomberg has committed $50 million to the cause, while Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by shooting victim and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, is on track to raise some $20 million. Mothers are pressuring stores like Target and Kroger to ban guns from their aisles, gathering neighbors in their homes, signing online petitions, and the like. The venerable Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, whose namesake died in August, continues its state-by-state lobbying. There are families of victims, like my friends Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, who lost their first-graders Daniel and Dylan at Sandy Hook; and Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was slain in Santa Barbara. Slowly, they’re galvanizing hearts and minds for what they hope will be a reasonable conversation about gun culture run amok.

But the NRA is still ahead of its fragmented opposition. President Obama alluded to this after the Santa Barbara shootings this May: “Honestly this is not going to change unless the people who want to prevent these kinds of mass shootings from taking place feel at least as passionate, at least as mobilized and well-funded as the NRA and the gun manufacturers.”

As the NRA’s new slogan, unveiled at its annual convention in Indianapolis this April, stated, “Bloomberg is one guy with millions. We’re millions with our 25 bucks.” After the Sandy Hook massacre, I became one of those millions — and a student of the NRA.

Illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed

As a Connecticut Yankee and occasional hunter, I appreciate the role of firearms in American life. My grandfather was a U.S. Army captain, worked in the weapons business in Hartford, and owned a Colt sidearm. I own a couple of shotguns and rifles. When I inherited or bought them from hunting buddies — without a background check — I consulted the NRA’s website for tips on how to safely secure them.

I have padded through old apple orchards in Vermont listening for the drumming of ruffed grouse. On many Columbus Day weekends I have walked a line of shotguns stalking pheasant, partridge, and quail in the Catskills. I have even written for the Wall Street Journal about stalking wild boar in the cane fields around Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and in France’s Loire Valley.

Like millions of Americans — and the Lanzas — I have NRA certificates in my house. One says my son qualified at his Vermont wilderness camp as a “sharpshooter” under the Marksmanship Qualification Program with a .22-caliber rifle in the 50-foot course of fire. It is signed by the secretary of the NRA, the camp’s instructor, and the president of Winchester Ammunition. This NRA taught him how to store, load, and clean his weapon; how to stand before his target, at the range, earplugs in and eyewear safely affixed.

The organization was founded in 1871 by Union Army veterans who were dismayed by their troops’ lack of marksmanship. Their goal was “to promote firearms and hunting safety, to enhance marksmanship skills of those participating in the shooting sports, and to educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological, and artistic context.” This is an organizational aim I understand.

Its political activities, which today overshadow its didactic origins, took off in 1975 when the NRA established the Institute for Legislative Action, “recognizing the critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment.” Today’s NRA is a $256 million nonprofit. About half of that comes from membership dues, leaving lots of room for contributions from a gun industry hell-bent on ensuring it is regulated as lightly as possible.

This became apparent immediately after my membership became active. My inbox jammed up with emails from LaPierre and ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, warning me that my rights will soon be curtailed, stripped away from me by “gun grabbers” exploiting the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Free stuff started arriving in the mail: a shooter’s cap, black with the NRA logo emblazoned in gold. An envelope with a sticker that resembled the ones affixed to cars all over Newtown. Instead of “We Choose Love” or angels and green ribbons, an eagle clutches two rifles against a red, white, and blue shield.

And every month American Hunter magazine began showing up. It served up an unsubtle helping of gun idolatry at the front of the book, with its “Armed Citizen” column summarizing crime reports in which good guys with guns repel baddies. “Standing Guard,” LaPierre’s monthly rant, follows along with an editorial from the NRA’s rotating president.

But American Hunter also offered quality service journalism for outdoorsmen and hunters with headlines like “6 Bow-tuning Tips” and “Gundogs: A Pointer on Flushers.” July provided a feature on hunting aoudad rams in the Davis Mountains of Texas. The meat of the magazine is engaging. Most months, legislative bulldog Cox signs off with his “Political Report” column.

The magazine’s editorial sandwich of valuable content wedged between ideological tirades neatly illustrates the NRA’s methodology. Much as the AARP does for its elderly members, key to the organization’s sway over its membership is an extraordinary ability to graft ideology to a basic consumer product — one that costs just $25 a year (or $35 without one of the many available discounts). The NRA membership is more than a marketing tool. It is the delivery mechanism for a dogmatic worldview that its opponents struggle to emulate.

Illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed

At the end of the Glick Peace Walk in downtown Indianapolis, a Christian youth group bearing a “Honk for Traditional Marriage” sign stood beneath a railroad trellis adorned with a banner advertising the convention inside — thousands of conventiongoers visiting around 600 different exhibits occupying the 400,000 square feet of floor space.

As I entered the midway, a child handed me a flyer for the 3MR fire control system, which claimed to reduce split time and allow for the fastest reset possible on a gun like the one Lanza used to mow down my neighbors’ kids. “Has the 3MR changed the way I approach my livelihood? Who wants to know?” it read.

I passed wild boar earrings to game cookbooks, antique Italian firearms to headlamps for hunting hogs. The biggest exhibits were those of gunsmiths like Remington, Ruger, and Beretta. There was an abundance of what the industry calls tactical weaponry, or “black guns,” something of a misnomer now that they come in pink and other colors marketed to women and kids.

At the Beretta stand, prominence was given to its new line of ARX 160 assault rifles, modeled after the ones it supplies the Italian army. My own preferred field weapon is a Beretta 12-gauge over-and-under shotgun made in the village of Gardone val Trompia, just outside of Brescia.

Nobody matches Beretta’s long-term perspective on the gun business: It’s been making weapons for half a millennium. At its headquarters, which I visited last year, it proudly displays a 1526 bill of sale for 185 arquebus barrels to the Arsenal of Venice for 296 ducats. General manager Carlo Ferlito called the spike in tactical arms sales a fad reflecting two basic fears: the possibility that President Obama would enact gun control legislation, and the other, economic.

“When Americans feel under pressure … they tend to want to protect themselves,” Ferlito told me. The thinking, he said, is, “Once the policemen do not have money to protect me anymore, because the economic crisis reduced the amount that can be spent on security, I have to protect myself and so I buy something to protect my home and my children.” Though Ferlito did not expect the torrid growth in black gun sales to be sustainable, he predicted the category would remain robust in the United States.

Heading further into the hall, I encountered a succession of gun-world celebrities. People queued at the Sportsman Channel’s booth to meet R. Lee Ermey, who played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Bass Pro Shops presented Theresa Vail, an expert M16 marksman and the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos in the swimsuit competition.

I swapped feral pig stories with a salesman from Lightfield Ammunition, which sells Boar Buster shells. Lightfield also sells Zombie Blaster ammo, “intended for close encounter combat with a Zombie (or several when the apocalypse happens).” Teens lined up at the Bushmaster stand to take selfies with a massive gun that looked like it belonged on a Humvee in Afghanistan.

In many ways, it felt like just another trade show, apart from the occasional snarky asides from fellow conferees (“Obama’s done more for gun sales than anybody”), the monumental stand broadcasting the collected speeches of LaPierre, and the acres of guns. Friends whose only knowledge of the NRA is derived from LaPierre’s televised tirades warned me to be careful, as if I were a black man heading to a Klan rally. In reality, fellow attendees were welcoming and, for the record, not entirely white.

Rather, the most distinctive element was a general sense of impending doom, a pervading belief that America is swiftly going down the tubes. This sentiment was particularly evident at the 5th Annual Freedom First Financial Seminar, one of the many sessions taking place off the main exhibition carnival.

Tim Fisher, the director of planned giving for the NRA, kicked off the session. He was having a busy morning; across the street his office was running a seminar on “Creating a Constitutionally Centered Estate Plan.” Fisher injected a financial variation of the NRA worldview about trusting government: “You may not have a plan for your assets when you die, but you can bet they has one for you.” With that, he thanked the audience and left some flyers that explained how to include the NRA in your last will and testament.

Fisher handed off to Shad Ketcher, a Minnesotan wealth manager who first joined the NRA at 12 with $20 he made from detasseling corn. Ketcher opened a briefcase full of fake money: “Our paper dollars are getting worth less and less.” That fearsome preamble began a lecture on the need to include commodities and precious metals alongside traditional investments like stocks, bonds, and cash.

Ketcher talked about rising market volatility and the increased correlation of asset classes. He laid out a rational argument for diversification, ending on a note that aligns nicely with the overall sense of impending doom permeating the convention. Gold, he notes, is an “insurance policy to protect against inflation or disaster.”

And that nicely set up featured speaker and session sponsor Mike Fuljenz of Universal Coin & Bullion. He kicked off with a giveaway. The person with the birthday closest to his son’s, Sept. 5, would receive a prize. A few hands went up — Sept. 18, Sept. 25. I raised mine — Sept. 6. Fuljenz handed me a baggie with five squares of gold.

He then presented a thesis that gold coins will hold their worth better than other assets. This, he said, may surprise people, given “a bias against gold” in the media. It was a well-argued sales pitch, hewing nicely to the pervasive NRA message that America is going to hell in a handbasket. According to Mike’s “Personal Gold Guide,” the precious metal offers “protection against a declining dollar” and “a geo-political crisis hedge.”

After the seminar, I examined my bag of gold. Each square represented a gram of 24-karat gold worth some $40, for a total value of over $200. Handouts like this are a big feature of the NRA. Nearly every convention stand has an enticing raffle coaxing people to hand over their email addresses. There are free guns, ammo, and trips. All year, NRA members receive promotions and discounts on goods and services. A recent sampling from my inbox includes: life insurance, a wine club, a Visa card, and two protection plans against identity theft.

At the convention, these promotions came to life. The NRA Cigar Club table offered 12-month memberships for $400, promising five premium hand-rolled smokes a month from the finest cigar makers in the world. The NRA Wine Club allows members to “defend basic freedoms with every wine shipment and wine order.” On their own, these invitations can feel like spam. Taken as a whole, they communicate a message of belonging to a special cohort of aggrieved citizens who understand something the rest of us do not.

As I walked the floor, I had an urge to ask some of the people I met the questions that I suspect my friends in Newtown who lost their children would want answered. Where do they draw the line on gun regulation? What limits would be acceptable? But I held my tongue. It wasn’t just that I was attending as a member, rather than as a journalist or advocate. It didn’t feel like an environment where genuine debate would be welcome. Come to think of it, that’s worked pretty well up until now.

Illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed

The NRA’s political agenda is pretty simple: It works to perpetuate gun culture in America, and ensure that access to guns is unfettered. And unlike, say, tobacco or automobiles, the constitution gives the NRA an authoritative, to some religious, scripture to which it can continually refer when opposing regulation of the products its corporate supporters sell to its $25-a-head members.

Since joining, I have received countless calls to political action. On the day before a background-check bill failed to pass the Senate in April 2013, LaPierre emailed me that “anti-gun ringleaders in Congress and the national media are waging all-out war on our gun rights” and are “fighting to BAN tens of millions of commonly owned firearms… fighting to register and license gun owners…fighting to create a federal registry of ammo buyers…and fighting to destroy your right to defend yourself, your home and your loved ones.”

The bill in question — sponsored by West Virginia Democrat, gun-rights advocate, and NRA lifetime member Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey — threatened nothing of the sort. The legislation included language approved by many gun-rights supporters that would have made the creation of gun registries a felony charge with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

During the debate over the background-check bill, it became clear to me that the quid pro quo of membership is that you will actively engage, telephone, and badger elected officials. In the weeks ahead of the Manchin-Toomey defeat, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Cox, exhorted us not just to call elected officials and tell them to vote against the bill, but to “forward this email to your friends and family and urge them to take immediate action” and to donate $5 to cover postage for 20 postcards to legislators.

It’s not only in Washington that this message is effective. I accompanied a group of Sandy Hook parents to Springfield, Illinois, to help support a state bill that would have imposed limits on high-capacity magazines. Though a draft of the bill hadn’t even hit the Senate floor, the NRA and other gun-rights advocates had gotten to legislators. By 11:30 a.m. on a Monday, Tom Cullerton, a former military man who had recently been elected to office, had already received a deluge.

Cullerton, who had only recently been employed as a driver for the soon-to-go-bankrupt maker of Hostess Twinkies, sat hunched, tense as the parents explained how 11 children escaped the Sandy Hook classrooms while Lanza reloaded his 30-round magazines. Nicole Hockley told him to imagine if the shooter had to change magazines after 10 shots: “This can save lives.” Cullerton told the parents that “none of that information is getting out there — it’s going to be very hard. There were so many calls this weekend.”

The bill never passed. Another small victory for the NRA’s deployment of its army of pistol-packing mercenaries.

Illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed

The NRA called my home to offer me a special deal. It wasn’t a robocall like the one last year that cycled through Newtown ginning up opposition to a bipartisan gun bill the Connecticut legislature was drafting. The grandparents of one of the children killed in her classroom got that automated NRA message too.

No, this call was of a more personal nature. A salesman with a country twang wanted me to renew my NRA membership on special terms. But before making the offer, he wanted me to answer a simple multiple-choice question: “What do you think is the single greatest threat to your Second Amendment freedoms?”

Was it, he asked, Barack Obama? Was it the United Nations and its Arms Trade Treaty? Or was it the “gun grabbers” Michael Bloomberg, Chuck Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein? I told him I didn’t think the black guy in the White House, foreigners, or the Jews in Congress were the problem. Rather, I told him, I worry about my fellow Americans who routinely abrogate their rights by not recognizing the responsibilities that come with owning firearms. Every time I see the headlines about a toddler who kills his little sister with Dad’s loaded, unsecured pistol, I worry for my rights. I told him that when I see the horrors inflicted by yet another psychopathic young man who should never have legal access to the kinds of guns our veterans have become accustomed to on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, I worry about my freedoms.

The NRA representative was not calling to have a debate. Dismissing my responses without comment, he got to the point: Act now and the NRA would extend my membership through the end of the second Obama term at a discounted rate. Moreover, say yes and I’d also receive a NRA Damascus-finish locking blade knife and an exclusive digital camouflage flat-top cap.

“Wayne,” he said, “wants you to have this.”

All for 25 bucks.

illustration by Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed

Read more:

Members only? Sports Clubs chain scores with ‘Carlos Danger’ ads [pics]!/patkiernan/status/361792220124311552

Snicker. We are all 12 years old now! First, a tequila maker scored with a Weiner-inspired banner and Spirit Airlines cashed in with a “Weiner rises again” package. Now this:!/HallieJackson/status/361793645998899200

But also hilarious. Twitter users are loving the New York Sports Clubs flier ad tweeted out by the NY1 anchor.!/CarloDangero/status/361796707131985922


Boston is in on the giggle-inducing act, too.!/NickFronduto/status/361658535966302209!/KristinMacchi/status/361493407815827457

Philadelphia also rises to the occasion.!/CapeMayMeg/status/361325662545510401

Kudos, marketing team! This Twitter user leaves us with a frightening exit thought:!/PoliticsInNYC/status/361801021342752769

Oh dear.


Tequila! Airplane banner urges ‘Carlos Danger’ to drink and text responsibly

‘The Weiner rises again’: Spirit Airlines cashes in on Carlos Danger [pic]

Full Twitchy coverage of Anthony Weiner

Read more:

Yes, Romney can win without Ohio!/drgrist/status/261597488941772800

Other than Rasmussen, recent Ohio polls show a narrow lead for President Barack Obama over GOP rival Mitt Romney. Most recently, a D+1 poll (a reasonable sample) showed Obama with a 2-point lead:

Ohio Poll has a 2 pt race in OH, 48-46. Has turnout at 45D/44R/11I. I wish they hadn’t leaned indies so we could see how that fleshes out.

— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) October 31, 2012

The auto bailout is a big issue in the Buckeye State, and it appears to be taking its toll on Romney among Blue Collar automotive workers who evidently prefer corporate welfare to free markets.

Obviously, it is premature to count Romney out, but these poll results are not encouraging.

Romney appears to be making big gains in other swing states such as Florida and Virginia. The relative lack of progress in Ohio has some Twitter users buzzing about whether it might be possible for Romney to win next week’s election without Ohio.

@thefix Romney can’t win without Ohio. Period.

— Frank P. Mora (@fpmora) October 31, 2012

Election slated to be a big surprise- consensus says Romney will win with or without Ohio- Interesting!

— Donna Sceviour (@sceeziac) October 31, 2012

Yes, Romney can win without Ohio… via @dcexaminer

— ROMNEY RYAN WINNERS (@MyNamesBOLD) October 31, 2012

If, as history shows, a Republican cannot win the presidency without Ohio, Romney is in trouble. Q-Poll here:

— Watchdog VA Bureau (@WatchdogOrgVA) October 31, 2012

@stefcutter IS there any chance romney wins iowa color and nevada and gets the win without ohio?

— carl foster (@carldavid66) October 31, 2012

We believe it is possible, albeit difficult. Our reading of the polls is that Romney has excellent prospects in North CarolinaFlorida, Virginia, Colorado, and Iowa.

Haa… PPP(D) poll of NC is tied. Sample is D+12.Was D+11 in 08, R+1 in 04. This poll is more telling of PPP’s OH/IA/WI polls as well.

— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) October 31, 2012

Rasmussen polled Colorado on Monday and found Romney up 3, 50-47. Due to hurricane no crosstabs though.

— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) October 31, 2012

New Roanoke poll has Romney up 5 in VA. Romney up 26 among independents. Sample is D+4 (was D+6 in 08, R+4 in 04)…

— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) October 31, 2012

CBS/Q poll of FL has Obama up 1, down from O+9 last month. Reps 16% more enthusiastic. R up 5 w/ indies. Sample is D+7 (was D+3 in 2008!)

— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) October 31, 2012

If Romney sweeps all five of those states — and we believe he has a good shot of doing so — plus all of the “safe” Romney-leaning states, he will have 263 electoral votes.

President Obama needs 270 electoral votes to win. By contrast, Romney needs only 269. That’s because in the event of a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College, the winner is selected by the U.S. House of Representatives. Each state gets one vote, and the House currently has more state congressional delegations with a majority of Republicans than a majority of Democrats.

Assuming Romney prevails in North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Iowa (the five swing states mentioned above), he can get to 269 or more electoral votes by winning Nevada (6 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10 electoral votes),  Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and/or Michigan (16 electoral votes). He also has a good shot in New Hampshire (4 electoral votes) and in Maine’s 2nd congressional district (1 electoral vote), but those won’t get him to 269.

If Romney loses Ohio, we think his best path to victory lies in Nevada. True, the polls show a narrow lead there for Obama, but some of these polls have samples that are slanted to a ridiculous extent toward Democrats. For example, a recent poll by Gravis Marketing showing a 1-point lead for Obama had a D+9 sample. By comparison, exit polls showed a D+8 tilt in 2008, when Obama-mania was at its peak. Does anyone really believe that more Democrats will show up next week than in 2008?

The same Gravis poll showed an enormous 35-point lead(!) for Romney among Independents:

Gravis NV poll has Obama up 1, 50-49. Romney up 35 w/ indys. Sample is D+9 (was D+8 in 08, D+2 in 2010).

— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) October 26, 2012

Polls like this one are encouraging. If Romney is carrying Nevada’s Independent voters by even half the margin seen in the Gravis poll, he will almost certainly carry the state. Which means he can get to 269 electoral votes with or without Ohio.

Read more:

Kirstie Alley slams ad for antipsychotic drug; Updated!/kirstiealley/status/318353141970108416

We’re not sure what ad Alley saw, and we’re not sure what drug other than Abilify is being promoted.

For that matter, we’re also not sure why it’s “Orwellian” for a drug manufacturer to use animated characters to promote an FDA-approved antipsychotic.

In any case, it is just one more example of the idiocy that passes for sound science among the “medicines are poisons” crowd.


Kirstie Alley: Medicines are ‘poisons’

Sarah Silverman, libs pester First Lady about ‘Monsanto-y’ bill signed by Obama


Alley continued her anti-pharmaceutical rant this afternoon:

Big PHAMA not marketing to youth? ABILIFY…Talking umbrella, cute little smiley pill, while lethal side effects like suicide r rattled off

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 31, 2013

I have a great name for a psych drug NOT targeted at children…Broccoli-ify

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 31, 2013

at least when that dirty creep across from the campus is selling smack we see the insanity of it. Same dude on TV Drug ads….just bathed

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 31, 2013

while everyone’s eating Peeps I’m freaking about all these Psych drug ADs on TV.. Disturbing. #greatamericansham….wow!

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 31, 2013

my point is: Check out the side effects of psychotropic drugs. They are real. More kids die on these drugs & commit suicide than U’d imagine

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 31, 2013

She also retweeted these:

@kirstiealley When drug co’s can afford ads that get between a doc & his patients every 15 seconds something is wrong somewhere.

— AsilisArt (@AsilisArt) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley Here’s my experience with Abilify as a patient and former spokesman that I’d love you to share…

— Andy Behrman (@electroboyusa) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley I used to be a pharm. tech but quit. Couldn’t believe the drugs being given to kids and how many people fake to get narcs.

— Ativan Halen(@RadJenny) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley Cymbalta is a horrible drug too. Trying to get off that is next to impossible. Scary side affects.

— Kim (@KimmieC88) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley our son was on ritalin for awhile, he was zombie, we got him off it and have no regrets, he is doing great, let kids be kids..

— Alaskan couple (@jcgreer7777) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley I was put on ritalin/mellaril together in 75.Tore out head of hair,not knowing it.1000yrd stare.Perm. brain damage.Shit is TOX

— Sean L (@Rubble70) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley know thats known as a contra-indicated combination.Has horrid side effects.Good work helping keep kids off that ish Kirstie!

— Sean L (@Rubble70) March 31, 2013

@kirstiealley my cousin was on cymbalta when he took his life

— Susan Monk (@susan_monk) March 31, 2013

Here’s how she responded when a reader defended Abilify’s advertising:

@suzieqolden I consider what I say onmy own timeline my prerogative ..I didn’t seek you out so no need to be a fuckwit…move along

— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 31, 2013

Sounds like Alley and Donald Trump would get along just fine.

Read more:

How “Black-ish” Reflects My Own Experience As A Black Person In America

ABC’s new family sitcom — the No. 1 new comedy of the season — isn’t just challenging the largely lily-white comedy lineup of the networks, it’s doing something more: reminding me of my own childhood.

ABC, Carsey-Werner Productions, Courtesy of Kelley Carter

Grandma Louise’s voice comes in just as clear as day, when I overheard her talking to my parents, describing my childhood experience: fly in the churn of buttermilk.

I was the fly. The buttermilk was the all-white world I was growing up in. I would never know the struggle that my parents did — Dad grew up in the South and was a college freshman in Montgomery, Alabama, by the time the civil rights movement hit its height, and Mom grew up on Detroit’s lower west side, where they were busing kids all over the city in order to force segregation.

My life was vastly different, and it came with its own set of problems. In your formative years, you often see yourself through the prism of your friends. In third grade, we had a project where we all had to write about ourselves as if we were entries in a dictionary. In my description, I wrote I had blonde hair and blue eyes. In sixth grade at a school dance — one of the first times I wasn’t one of the only black kids in class — a group of my friends and I all were dancing, trying to imitate what we saw the black kids doing. I was surprised when one of the girls strolled up to me and whispered, knowingly, “Look at them trying to dance like us.” She looked at me like I was crazy when I gave her my reply. “I’m trying to dance like y’all too. Teach me.”

I was the fly.

My parents unknowingly signed up for this battle when they decided that having a decent salary and good academic pedigree meant taking your family out to the suburbs. With few exceptions in this country, when you’re black, that typically means being sans people who look like you.

That’s why I laughed. I laughed loud and hard last weekend when I finally gave ABC’s new show Black-ish a second chance. I’d seen the pilot months ago, and while I was intrigued and, well, publicly championing a show that featured an affluent black family with a prime spot on network TV to anyone who asked me, I wasn’t quite sold on it. The pilot was loaded, and featured lesson on top of lesson on top of lesson. Dre (Anthony Anderson) is from the ‘hood. Dre promised his mom and dad (Laurence Fishburne) he’d get a good education and get out of the ‘hood. Dre is married to Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), who is a doctor. Ooh, look: Black people can earn college degrees! See?!

Then there was the teen son who wanted a bar mitzvah, and the African rites of passage ceremony, and the lesson on keeping it real.

I thought it was doing too much. The couple’s oldest son prefers field hockey to hoops. Then there was the honorary brother handshake. The wannabe honorary brother who whispers when he wants to know the mundane: “How would a black guy say ‘good morning’?” All in the first episode.

It was funny. But, yawn. Most of us live this without a laugh track. And to me, there wasn’t much else to say. I wasn’t keen on the idea of a weekly show that essentially could end with “…and that’s your lesson of the day on black people, America…” because quite frankly, I get tired of tutorials.

Still, I made a commitment to watch the show. I want it to do well. As a black journalist who covers the entertainment industry, I need it to do well — it gives me a chance to write and report on stories that are important to me, and to the readership I hope to serve. Plus, at the end of the day, I do like seeing reflections of myself, my family, and my social circle play out on screen.

Justine Zwiebel for BuzzFeed

The early success of Black-ish is undeniable. It’s ABC’s No. 1 new comedy and has attracted an audience as diverse as, well, America.

So I watched. And I fell out (and tweeted it out) when Anderson’s Andre Johnson uttered my grandmother’s buttermilk phrase almost verbatim, in reference to his children’s academic experience. And I chuckled when I watched Andre and his wife Rainbow bumble their way through executing disciplinary action on their kids, because they were whipped as kids, but didn’t know if that was the right course for them. It was hilarious when Dre wasn’t quite so sure that his kid’s teacher could teach a lesson on Harriet Tubman (in spite of her impressive academic background) because, well, she isn’t black. And I audibly LOL-ed when Dre tried to teach his son Andre Jr. (who would rather be called Andy because it sounds “more approachable”) the importance of the Negro head nod.

But the best part was in a recent episode where Dre is concerned his son doesn’t have any black friends and goes out to find some for him. (Hi, Mom.)

That so was my parents.

Yes, Dad grew up in small-town Alabama and Mom in big-city Detroit, but her parents migrated from Alabama themselves, hoping to escape the carnage of the pre–civil rights south. My folks met in grad school, a few years after Dad — who pledged the same fraternity as Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, both of whom came to fraternal meetings to inspire their young brothers to get involved in the movement — moved to Detroit.

They connected because they were both the second-born children in their large families, and my mom says that she fell for my dad’s strong sense of family. They were their parents’ dreams; the very idea that two kids from the sticks and the ghetto, respectively, could grow up to be well-educated black folks with letters behind their names, was feted in my family.

By the time I came along, they were living in a two-story house with a two-car garage and a pool in the back. It all felt so… American Dream-ish. We moved around a lot, mostly living in college towns, and our neighborhoods often had one thing in common: lack of diversity. That speaks more to the socioeconomic realities of our country, and less about my parents trying to escape black people. They weren’t. But what they were trying to do was allow their daughter to grow up in the best neighborhoods they could afford. The unexpected turn of that were the things I’m sure my parents hadn’t accounted for. My life was being a Brownie (and the only brownie in the bunch!), longing for blonde hair and blue eyes (like my BFFs!), and wanting to put suntan lotion on my chocolate brown skin (my friends all did it!).

Guess which member of this Brownies troop I am? Kelley L. Carter

That brings me back to Black-ish. I get it and it speaks to me. Loudly. One of my favorite throwback sitcoms was Family Ties. Brilliant show, that was: Two former peacemaking hippies grow up to rear children under a Republican presidency in the 1980s. Masterful. And funny. And that built-in tension coupled with relatable storylines? Magic. And I’d be remiss if I failed to mention The Cosby Show, which premiered on my birthday. I can still remember watching in awe a family that actually was my family. That premiere came 30 years ago, and proved that American families may look different, but share innate commonalities. It also illustrated that nuclear families can also be brown. And… upper-middle class. More importantly, I’m guessing it made the pitch for a show like Black-ish, perhaps its spiritual descendant, all the easier. There was no need to explain that black people can carry a sitcom in spite of their blackness.

With Black-ish, you have two parents who were able to attend college and navigate fantastic careers — she’s an ER doctor, he’s an SVP for a marketing company — and because of that success, they’re able to live in the best neighborhood their salaries can afford. But here’s the rub: You’ve got four brown children who stand out. And who don’t share your struggles. And who sometimes look at you cockeyed because when you describe your struggles or the struggles of your parents, they don’t get it. The president is black. The President, man. “Obama’s the first black president?! He’s the only president I’ve ever known,” little Jack (Miles Brown) says over a dinner of baked fried chicken. The leader of the free world looks like them, has a family who looks like them, and by the way, so do a whole lot of other successful people we collectively celebrate.

But there’s still this idea of knowing where you come from. You have to be armed with it, no matter how flowery your childhood is. There’s almost nothing more jarring than to be the kid who grew up in Utopia, who never had a moment of friction, and then go off to a PWI — Predominantly White Institution — and discover at 18 that you’re black. You know… black. And what being black means.

Thankfully, that wasn’t my experience, because the second my mother saw me lathering suntan oil on my arms and spritzing my Jheri curl (it was the ’80s!) with Aqua Net, she rounded me up, took me to the bookstore, and bought up everything in the African-American collection. It was important to my parents that in spite of the world they were able to allow me to exist in — and become an adult in — that I carry the most important pieces of me, with me.

And of course, to be OK with my blackness. Not my “blackishness,” but my blackness. Because even though being black isn’t a monolith experience — there’s an important, shared cultural experience that we all should be equipped with, be mindful of, and celebrate.

Just like Blackish‘s Dre and Rainbow are trying to do.

Read more:

Meet The Network Of Guys Making Thousands Of Dollars Tweeting As “Common White Girls”

The Twitter illuminati that made “Alex From Target” an overnight sensation can drive millions of clicks with a simple retweet.

Design by Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed, original photo by Justin Hanson

Cameron Asa is a 21-year-old communications major at the University of Tennessee. He’s also the owner of Tweet Like A Girl, a Twitter account with 1.2 million followers.

Asa doesn’t tweet as frequently as some “parody accounts,” but when he does, he wracks up thousands of retweets. On Nov. 4, he tweeted, “stress goin up on a tuesday”; it’s been retweeted 12,000 times. On Nov. 1, he tweeted, “No shave November aka guys with scruff aka what a time to be alive”; it’s been retweeted 6,000 times.

He told BuzzFeed News that he’s part of an unofficial network of Twitter users, all with massive parody accounts who are regularly responsible for making new memes go super viral. He said the network — which has no corporate sponsor backing it — was responsible for the “Alex From Target” sensation on Sunday.

“I know for a fact it was the parody accounts that started it,” Asa said. “It was just absolutely nuts. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

But randomly flexing their power to launch random cute boys into superstardom is only the tip of the iceberg for Twitter’s unofficial parody account network. The guys running these accounts are also making impressive amounts of money.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

Asa said he started messing with novelty Twitter accounts during his senior year of high school. His first big hit was a Carly Rae Jepsen parody account.

“I made a parody account that just made, like, parodies to that song, parody tweets to that song,” Asa said. “And I thought, Hey, it’d be kind of cool to have a Twitter account with a lot of followers.”

Asa’s “Call Me Maybe” account got around 40,000 followers, and it got him thinking about other kinds of things that could do well on Twitter. He tried one he admits was pretty stupid called Retweet Dares that got around 180,000 followers. The tweets would basically dare users to retweet the account.

Asa stumbled upon Tweet Like A Girl in 2012. He said in the beginning the account was meant to make fun of girls.

“Like, for example, one of the tweets would be like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so fat,’ with a picture of a stick or a twig,” he said.

He said he gained 100,000 followers in five days, but Asa hit the wall that all novelty accounts eventually hit: He ran out of material. So he decided it was time to expand Tweet Like A Girl’s scope.

“I transitioned into relatable tweets for girls, and ever since I did that, it’s still been nuts,” he said.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

Asa’s new game is keeping his account relevant and relatable — and it’s working. He’s now pulling in pretty massive money. He was a little uncomfortable discussing the amount he makes per retweet, but he said that it can be as high as hundreds of dollars.

“Lately I’ve been posting for different apps, and it can range from anywhere from $500 – $1,000 per post — it’s awesome,” Asa said. “I actually did an app tweet last week and I ended up getting the app 20,000 downloads off one tweet.”

It makes sense that brands are clamoring to work with parody accounts; the engagement for an account like Tweet Like A Girl is astronomical. Asa said he’s hoping to branch out to working with movie studios.

He posted a trailer for the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Best of Me and said he was able to send it 13 million impressions. He sent BuzzFeed News a screenshot of his Twitter analytics for a similar movie trailer tweet he posted in July boasting 4 million impressions.

Courtesy of Cameron Asa

The elephant in the room, though, with Asa’s account — and large female-oriented parody accounts like his — is that at the end of the day, he’s a 21-year-old guy tweeting as a teenage girl.

“People ask me all the time,” Asa said. “I know, it’s kind of weird. I kind of made the page and I have to run it. I really do enjoy running it.”

Asa said that he’s met and communicates regularly with the people running about a dozen or so of the largest parody accounts on Twitter. They all communicate with each other over direct message.

He said at the most there are only about four women running relatable parody accounts, noting that Common White Girl — one of the largest female-oriented parody accounts with over 4 million followers — is run by a woman.

A way these accounts keep momentum going is by a retweet-sharing deal organized amongst other large parody pages. A large Twitter account like Tweet Like A Girl will make a three-retweet deal with another large Twitter account, like Dory or Fat Amy. Each account retweets three of the other account’s tweets. Usually one of those three retweets is a paid ad.

That system helps these independent accounts drive up advertising rates, which usually have a variable included for clicks. Essentially, by working together, each of these guys can make his own independent Twitter media network go viral.

David Rhodes is a 29-year-old from Toronto, Canada, who has been running a network of parody and novelty Twitter accounts since 2012. His largest account is Sex Facts Of Life, which has 1.8 million followers and is also one of the few relatable novelty accounts on Twitter to be verified. Rhodes’ second-largest account is Not Will Ferrell, a Will Ferrell parody account.

Those two are just the largest peaks, however, in his incredibly large Twitter network. Rhodes also runs a Brick Tamland parody account, Sarcastic Wonka, Hilarious Ted, and a handful of picture-based accounts like Wow Pics Of Life and Wow Food Porn.

Rhodes’ network is so large, he hired a friend as a independent contractor to help him manage all the content.

Rhodes told BuzzFeed News that someone running parody accounts could easily make six figures a year. He was able to start monetizing his parody Twitter accounts in 2012 and quit his job shortly after; his Twitter network is a full-time gig.

“I’ve always treated it as a business. It’s all about integrity,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said that Asa’s tactic of targeting young girls with an account is a great market to try to tap into.

“You see a lot of people running those kinds of accounts, a lot of guys running those girly teen accounts,” Rhodes said. “I think part of the reason, in terms of engagement, is females are usually the most engaged.”

He said the key across the board for anyone to put together a successful novelty Twitter account, though, is finding content that people can relate to.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

From an outsider’s perspective, this can seem pretty vague and confusing: a group of twentysomething guys who scour the internet for “content” on places like Facebook, Vine, and Tumblr, and then push to their large Twitter networks to help them support a backchannel advertising system.

David Orr refers to the whole setup as “social influencer” marketing. Orr is a 23-year-old entrepreneur from Effingham, Illinois, and he’s been able to pivot on his Twitter following to a position as COO of a company. He starts his new role next month, though would not tell BuzzFeed News what company he’s joining, only saying that it was a fairly large one.

His largest account is a Bill Nye-themed parody account called Ya Boy Bill Nye. It tweets things like “rims on the prius” or “shouts out all my kids out there grindin through AP tests like ‘this shit a game to me homie’ getting high scores and college credit I SEE U.”

“I’m definitely in this for the marketing aspect, and at the end of the day, obviously the revenue,” Orr told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not a writer. I do not write most of my content. I find it [in] other places.”

Obviously, going at content creation with a purely revenue-centric mind-set can be problematic. Orr, Rhodes, Asa, and the parody account owners like them all face a tremendous amount of criticism for plagiarism. Orr said rampant plagiarism on Twitter is Twitter’s problem, not the people who use it.

“Unfortunately Twitter limits us. I don’t think in 140 characters we can add a source,” Orr said. “Should Twitter allow for a place to link for a source, I’m sure everyone would be definitely open to that and do it.”

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

To understand the true scope of what this Twitter illuminati can accomplish, you need to look no further than Nov. 2’s “Alex From Target” sensation. On the night of Nov. 4, Dil-Domine Leonares, CEO and founder of a tech startup called Breakr, took credit for Alex LaBeouf’s viral explosion.

Leonares claimed it was Breakr’s network that rallied people around Alex From Target. Leonares couldn’t back any of his claims up, but Asa and his parody account can.

Asa, Orr, and Rhodes all agree that it was the swarming of their networks that really bolstered support for LaBeouf early on.

“The parody accounts were the real reason Alex From Target became so famous. They gave him the initial exposure he needed to kind of get the ball rolling,” Orr said.

But it wasn’t coordinated in the way you’d think. It wasn’t a planned campaign; large parody accounts say fans of the band 5 Seconds of Summer engaged with the original tweet and swarmed it.

Rhodes said what happened with Alex From Target was only unusual in the sense that it exploded beyond Twitter. He said that parody accounts are constantly creating worldwide trending topics, and that he used to sit on Twitter at night and start globally trending hashtags for fun.

As for whether or not parody accounts capable of manipulating all of Twitter are ultimately a good thing for social media, Orr wasn’t too certain.

“If I didn’t think it could have negative effects, I’d be trading retweets on all of my accounts, but I’m not,” Orr said. “I don’t know the long-term effects.”

For Asa, though, he’s just having a tough time wrapping his head around the scope of all of this.

“I’ve been doing this for a really long time now,” Asa said, “but sometimes I’ll be in class and get on my page and I’ll just look at it and just be like, Wow, this is crazy.”


This post has been updated to more clearly reflect Cameron Asa’s typical going rate for a sponsored tweet. His going rate is $500–1,000; an earlier version of this article misstated this amount. BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { document.getElementById(“update_article_correction_time_4199026”).innerHTML = UI.dateFormat.get_formatted_date(‘2014-11-06 17:07:30 -0500’, ‘update’); });

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