“Why we’re never gonna give up on the Rickroll”: Milner + Phillips Article on The Conversation

July 29, 2014 § Leave a comment


Do a barrel roll

Today my collaborator (we’re working on the title) Ryan Milner and I published an article for The Conversation on the history & significance of the Rickroll phenomenon, specifically the recent 5-second YouTube takedown that never was. Quoth:

Rick Astley, 80s pop singer and unlikely king of internet memes, is dead. Or at least the most persistent song in his catalogue is. Or at least its most popular unofficial YouTube upload is. Or at least it was, for a few hours, most recently in July 2014 but before that in 2012 and again in 2010. And in the exaggerated rumours of its death are lessons on intellectual property, internet culture, and what resonates in the ephemeral swirl of the socially-mediated web.

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References Done!

April 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

I don’t have much of a temper, as a human, and in fact could stand to cultivate maybe 10% more of one. There are however a few things that make me just RAGE: booking flights and hotel rooms (really, filling out any sort of online form), mouth sounds, sexist men, board games, and formatting references for academic papers. This last thing in particular is the one area in my life where sometimes I am tempted to procrastinate (excuse me, “engage in tactical delays“), and occasionally even do (only for like an hour though). So, it is with great delight and happy-of-myself-ishness that I can announce that I am done-done-DONE with my highly weird 50-page reference list. It’s been ages since I looked the list over carefully, and was struck by the following:

  • Good god I have a lot of sources that have “since been deleted.”
  • I had to think carefully about how I handled Encyclopedia Dramatica references, since in the 5 years since beginning this project, the site has undergone 3 respawns and the majority of the content I originally found there has been lost in the anals (not a typo) of time. The Chicago Manual of Style isn’t equipped for that shit.
  • Related to my second point, it’s funny to format sources created by friends.
  • It’s funny to remember where I was geographically and in my life as I picked through each reference. Like I can clearly remember where I was sitting not just when I first found whatever source, but when I initially formatted whatever source. Feels time-capsuley man.

In conclusion, I am done with formatting, and from here on out will be concerned with final revisions & line editing! PROGRESS.

A Christmas Story

December 23, 2013 § 3 Comments

"Well it ain't fuckin' frosty"

“Well it ain’t fuckin’ frosty”

I can’t remember how Katie came across that first copy of Jack Frost. I can’t even remember the year. Were we in high school? Community college? If it was community college, she would have been working at this truck stop video store just off the 5 in beautiful Castaic, California, which in addition to having the funniest selection of porn I have ever seen (it had me at “Anal Princesses”), is likely where the mutant killer snowman first caught her eye. If however it happened in high school, I have no idea. I do remember watching the VHS tape in my childhood home, so taking into account the film’s release date, our first viewing could have been anytime between 1996 and 2001, when my mom remarried and we moved from Awesometown to a still-rural part of Castaic, just a few miles up the freeway. Not very helpful. Then again, I like that those details escape me. I quite literally cannot remember my life before Jack Frost, lending a cool time immemorial quality to our fandom.

Which is to say — our fandom isn’t just about the movie itself. Don’t get me wrong, the movie itself is a cinematic achievement, as the following clips will attest:

But beyond the razor-sharp dialogue, terrifying special effects, and salacious sex scenes (“looks like Christmas came early this year!”), Jack Frost is special because Katie is special, because I have laughed more with her over the years (decades, actually) than I have with anyone. I’ve written some about our longstanding Martha Stewart fandom (fandom which precipitated my exploration, and ultimate rejection, of the term “anti-fan”) in this post, an edited version of a much longer essay written as Katie’s engagement present. The longer version is more personal, and places our Martha obsession in the appropriate context — we were taking many of the same community college classes, ran together on the cross country team, and spent much of our free time giggling about our various classroom nemeses, including one million year-old, shark-eyed, predatory English professor who had, let’s say, taken an interest in me. This last thing was actually pretty traumatic, but that just made our jokes about him funnier. Somehow references to Martha Stewart Living got woven into these proceedings, and when things got really creepy with the Dark Lord (as Katie and I half-jokingly called him), Martha’s star text functioned as an odd sort of lifeline. It gave us something to latch onto and laugh about. What can I say, Martha just fit in, which is an inside joke you probably won’t recognize (oh fine, here).

And it’s the same with Jack Frost. Our giddy declarations that fucker’s a snowman, or that I only AXED you for a smoke, and jokes about antifreeze, Snowmonton, and State Execution Transport Vehicles are actually references, however indirect, to all the serious real-life shit Katie and I have navigated since first meeting in 1993. Like the time (one of the times, jesus christ) I got my heart broken in graduate school, and Katie hopped on the next plane to Eugene so we could laugh at old episodes of Dawson’s Creek (Dawson: “Dad, will you teach me to kiss?”) and Beverly Hills, 90210 (Kelly, smelling her mom’s newborn baby: “mmm, toast!”). Or the time she called while I was living in Boston and told me she’d just gotten engaged to her now-husband Brent — after which I happy-cried for like an hour. Or the time she IM’d when I was sitting in a coffee shop in Eugene and told me she was pregnant with her first baby — after which I happy-cried for like a day. Or the times I’ve sent her deeply disturbing Christmas presents designed to gross out her husband, for lulz (I do it because I like you, Brent). Or all the times I’ve emailed her about my most recent poor life choice(s), and she’s talked me off the ledge, usually by making a Jack Frost or Martha Stewart joke.

What I’m saying is, the sort of antagonistic, or at the very least highly ambivalent, laughter that accompanies these sorts of fandoms –any fandom, really, including/especially the ones that strike non-fans as weird– are actually quite sweet, in their own way. Because ultimately, they’re about connection, shared memories, even communitas if you want to be fancy. This is even true, or maybe even especially true, when the people engaging in this sort of laughter are separated by geography. The texts we engage with ground us, and make distances seem less far. So it makes perfect sense that this Christmas eve eve, Katie and I will be simultaneously streaming Jack Frost and ichatting that shit to shreds. Frankly I can’t think of much else I’d rather do this holiday season. Well except maybe cuddle up on a couch with my family and play Dirty Unwrapped (i.e. watch The Food Network’s Unwrapped, a show that goes inside America’s food and candy factories, and yell “lol he said X” whenever host Marc Summers makes a reference that could be interpreted as sexual and/or scatological). Try it out for yourself! Because candy cane “trees,” sure.

And with that, I bid you all a merry night before night before Christmas. Later this afternoon I shall prepare a pitcher of antifreeze (pumpkin liqueur mixed with bourbon; also spoiler alert), get Katie on the ichat, and cue up Jack Frost on Netflix. It might be weird, but it is going to be perfect.


April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of my dissertation defense, which…how, but ok. This reminded me of some of the odd compulsive behaviors I normalized during those last few months of writing. I had this thing about music, and not just music but bad/weird/otherwise shameful music — I would ironically-ish listen to the same, say, Britney Spears song one hundred times on repeat, which I’m assuming kept the snark part of my brain occupied while I wrote. Whatever, here is one of the songs I must have listened to two thousand times during that summer (a bad lip read of this musical splenda-fest). I love this shit so much. It is playful, completely unnecessary to society, and not mean. I’m going to listen to it ten times right now!

Also, unrelated, here is another thing I like. Posting only things that don’t give me an ulcer is fun!

Never Go On Reddit, Never Go on Reddit

March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

This 10-second video posted by Neil Cicierega via the Slactory Tumblr is an important Public Service Announcement.

Micro Soft

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was a simpler time.

via BuzzFeed

This is a Post About Trolling

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I like the part about how he's a little bit scary looking

I was afi (away from INTERNET) most of yesterday, and am just now catching up on the last 36 hours of cats and general fuckery. I don’t like missing INTERNET, it makes me feel the way normal people feel when they’re sick or on vacation and their friends end up going out and doing stuff without them and the next time everybody gets together their friends keep giggling about “sloth penis is not a meme, is now a meme” or whatever, and they’re all like hey. Yup, that is precisely the relationship I have with INTERNET.

Also, yeah ok so, this morning BuzzFeed posted a clip of the BBC chasing down an RIP troll irl (they interviewed me for the program, though I haven’t seen the whole thing so don’t know if I was just a consultant or if any of my statements were actually used) and linked to the Gawker piece which talks about my piece which is…weird. Here’s the vidya:

The interesting this about this is that the producers assume he’s going to try and justify his behaviors, freak out, trip over some tortuous self-aggrandizing logic — which of course is not what happens at all, and reminds me of my favorite clip from MTV’s H8RS. The premise of this latter show is like, bullying is bad, and forces “h8ers” to confront the celebrities they hate (get it, H8). In the first episode, Snooki from That Show I’ve Never Watched ambushes her biggest “h8er” and demands to know if he’s willing to say the same things to her face. The “h8er” is surprised, but holds his ground. “Yes,” he says, then tells her she’s terrible. Back to actual trolling: when the host asks “Nimrod” if he knows the impact his behaviors have, his answer is unequivocal. “Yeah,” he says. And when asked what he thinks, Nimrod shrugs. “Fuck ’em.” This doesn’t surprise me one bit, but it does surprise the producers. “There you go,” the host says. “An internet troll. That’s what they look like.” All I can say is, well, yes and no…

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