BFF Stories: Let’s Talk About Busy Philipps

Instagram is good for celebrities. Unlike Twitter, which has a greater potential for social media faux pas and the inescapable scourge of unrestrained hate speech running amok on its site, Instagram gives its users better control of their experience and an obviously more visual means to explore it. You can post something and choose not to say a word if you so wish: The photos do the talking. That has immense appeal to any major star who just wants to plug their latest project and give their public image a well-filtered boost while out on the promotional trail. You don’t need to interact with anyone, you can use it to release statements without having to meddle with publicists, and it offers the most direct and visual way for your audiences to appreciate you. It’s easy to tell when a celebrity isn’t running their own Twitter page; with Instagram, there’s always that more intimate edge because their image is key to the experience. It’s a way to be personal without revealing anything about yourself.

Usually, that makes for pretty boring social media. Does anyone really care about Jeremy Renner’s Instagram, for instance? Elizabeth Olsen admitted she signed up to Instagram in part for the lucrative branding opportunities, and it shows in her samey, uninspiring content. If you like those actors, you’ll find something to enjoy on their pages, but overall, they’re just like everybody else’s: Polished and ready to share but not especially revealing. Then again, they don’t need to be revealing because that could get messy very quickly. It takes a near impossible balance of charm, nerve and utter shamelessness to reveal all on social media and turn that into your most bankable attribute without it becoming obnoxious or unnerving.

Enter Busy Philipps.

There are few celebrities of any level of fame that have managed to harness the power of Instagram to its pure, unfiltered and potentially chaotic limits quite like the former star of Cougar Town and Dawson’s Creek. Not only does she frequently post charming, unpretentious images of herself, her family and her BFF Michelle Williams, where her real talent lies is in the platform’s stories option. While it’s essentially a Snapchat rip-off, it’s one with its own aesthetic appeal — less goofy filters, more text options — and one that has the opportunity for intriguing new methods of storytelling. Imagine vlogging with a time-limit and more word vomit. It’s something Philipps has made all her own, to the point where even the New Yorker have profiled her as the breakout star of the platform’s Stories. It may seem like a minor achievement, but it’s one that’s turned a talented but sinfully underrated comedic actress into the unlikely face of the realities of celebrity as a business in the social media age.

While her official name is Elizabeth Jean Philipps, she’s been known as Busy since her earliest months, a nickname given to her because she was an active child. Her breakout role came in the form of the cult TV show Freaks and Geeks, a one season wonder that found its fanbase many years later, partly due to the sheer level of star power in its mighty cast. In a Judd Apatow show that featured James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Lizzy Caplan and Linda Cardellini, Philipps was in good company, although she later admitted to having a mutual hatred of Franco, who shoved her to the ground during one scene (the pair have since reconciled). After that show’s cancellation, she joined the cast of Dawson’s Creek in its final two seasons, playing Audrey, a college friend of Joey.

Philipps was also open about the experience of working on the show being less than wonderful, noting in a Vulture interview, ‘It was a word-perfect show, which I’d never had any experience with. And it was really shocking for me. I felt really hemmed in… I also felt — which is something that I talk about in therapy all the time, because I always feel disrespected — but they left my character Audrey out of the series finale and my feelings were really hurt. On top of everything else, I felt like I had done 44 episodes of the show, and then they didn’t even want me in the series finale? I just felt like no one particularly cared about me. And in fact, I remember at one point somebody referencing us as «talking props.» As an actor, not the best feeling!’

The show was where she met her real-life best friend for the first time, Michelle Williams. The pair have been inseparable since then, and while Philipps’s career has been a solid mix of supporting and guest roles in film and TV, for many in the celeb world, her defining part has been as the dream BFF. While the phenomenally talented multiple Oscar nominee Williams avoids the press and stays off social media, Busy is the vivacious extrovert who sticks by her side and always knows the best angle for a selfie. Williams gushed to People that Busy was the love of her life, and their mutual adoration is evident in every photo. She’s equal parts big sister, confidante, style guide and bodyguard, and their presence together on the red carpet is always a joy. Hollywood is not a business that fosters great friendships. How do you find your companions in an industry where backstabbing is encouraged and any two women in the same room immediately inspires whispers of catfights and jealousy? The red carpet is a place for spouses and maybe your mum (or your publicist if you must). Bringing your best friend, holding their hand and posing together is a real rarity, but seeing Busy and Michelle do it makes you want to see it more.

As her name suggests, Busy has kept very active in the industry over the past 15 years, with the arguable peak being Cougar Town, a very funny show with a godawful title that allowed Philipps to show off the hilarious range of her comedic talents. As Laurie, she gets to be the brash and no-filter life of the party, stealing scenes left and right. Like many projects she was involved with, Cougar Town never really broke out of its cult mode into mainstream success, particularly after ABC cancelled the show and it was later picked up by TBS, but by this point, Philipps was becoming the kind of personality that inspired fervent devotion in the pockets of fandom lucky enough to stumble upon her work. Critics loved her too, even in the less discerning projects (White Chicks, anyone?) Philipps’s comedic prowess lies somewhere between Mae West and Anna Faris. She’s a proper broad with the laugh to match, and a willingness to go where the joke needs it. Why have a filter when getting the good reaction is far more rewarding?

Perhaps that’s what makes Philipps such a delightful and worthwhile social media presence. She has an understanding of the dualities of her life — famous but not that famous; living a Hollywood life but not one that’s completely unattainable; working regularly but solidly B-List — that makes the stories she tells on Twitter and Instagram so captivating.

Busy’s Instagram stories can go on for days, playing out like the most modern of soap operas — Dynasty by way of I Love Lucy, with just a dash of the Real Housewives franchise for good measure. She talks about everything, from running around with her kids on their epic Disney cruise family holiday (her husband is writer-director Marc Silverstein and the pair have two daughters with the wonderful names of Birdie and Cricket.) to a fascinating rant about possibly being nearly killed in an Uber car. These are fleeting stories, told off the cuff and deleted into the void 24 hours later, so the spontaneity of them brings a surprising addictive quality. I don’t care about anyone else’s Instagram Stories but I always watch Busy’s. She has a mind working at a mile a minute and social media is the most creatively satisfying means to get that energy across. It’s screwball for the modern age, and for a moment, you get to experience that potent BFF vibe that Michelle Williams gets all the time. It’s performance, obviously, but in a medium that invites the personal. Instagram is storytelling by Philipps’s hand, and her life is the stage.

Sometimes, being no-filter means revealing the disappointments. While writing this piece, I watched Busy’s latest Stories, which included her Saturday morning yoga session. The first two clips showed her sweating and panting as she followed the instructions, half smiling and half wincing as she perspired heavily. Those were followed up with a photograph and an admission that sometimes, this was all she had. After two sweet and funny moments showing the unglamorous reality of Hollywood life, you’re hit with the realization that, even for those with name recognition and the supposed dream life, this is a brutal industry.

One of Busy’s most candid Instagram moments came when she found out that the comedy pilot she starred in with Casey Wilson had not been picked up by NBC, despite being one of the most lauded of the season. She felt no qualms about letting out all her emotions on the decision, from anger to tears, and admitting the difficulties of being a working actress who’s faced frequent rejection for close to 20 years. Classic Hollywood narratives rely on a happy ending, and the implication that everything stays happy after the credits role: A star is born and she never has to worry about anything again. Busy isn’t alone in her willingness to expose the constant fears of money, work and possible irrelevance, but she is the one who’s told it in real time to a generation for whom 15 minutes of fame is an everyday possibility.

She’s also at the forefront of exposing another oft-ignored reality of fame in the online age — the financial benefits. Sponsored content is par for the course for anyone of marginal name recognition, particularly on Instagram. You can hardly swipe up without being bombarded by blonde bevvies on the beach drinking detox tea or wearing waist trainers. For major stars, the profits can be eye-watering, with someone like Kim Kardashian able to charge up to $ 500,000 per ad campaign on the site. In terms of mid-level fame people, the kind with sizeable fanbases but nothing earth-shattering, social media advertising can be a safety net, and Busy has been remarkably open about how she makes her money. Earlier this year, she admitted that she made more money doing partnerships with brands and sponsored content than from her acting work. She is selective about the brands she works with and everything she chooses fits neatly with the kind of life and marketing you’d expect from Busy, but it’s rare to see any celebrity air out their business to the public and discuss what that really means. Audiences would probably assume that someone like Busy Philipps, a well-liked and talented actress with good connections and undeniable hustle, would be swimming in job offers, but she’d be the first person to tell you that’s not how this all works. This is the way things go, so why hide that?

Being good at social media is hard enough, what with the constant moving goalposts and endless Nazis in your way, but being good at it while committing to a brand of honesty and emotional openness is a minefield for anyone, much less someone whose job involves projecting an appealing public image. Nowadays, she has more work in the pipeline and is a fill-in guest host for Kelly Ripa’s daytime talk show, another ideal outlet for her talents. Still, the genius is in the Stories, although if you find Instagram too daunting to check out, don’t worry: Busy has an essay collection coming out soon as well. Busy Philipps is a great on-screen presence, one who should be getting better acting gigs to reflect that, but the way she has taken something as innocuous as Instagram and turned it into the perfect platform for herself and what she has to sell is a fascinating case study in celebrity of the modern age. It’s not that she makes it seem effortless: Really, she shows it to be exhausting, and that’s where the power lies.

Just a sad Minnie on the last night of the cruise. #ipaidforthis #disneycruise

A post shared by Busy Philipps (@busyphilipps) on

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Gilbert Arenas Ruthlessly Lets Jahlil Okafor He’s Done in Philly

Former third overall pick Jahlil Okafor recently told SB Nation he’s “unsure” if he’s still a part of the Philadelphia 76ers’ infamous process. Looking at the depth chart, the answer appears to be “no” considering the team is loaded with bigs — Joel Embiid, Rishaun Holmes, Amir Johnson, Dario Saric, etc. Basically he might get minutes if/when Embiid gets hurt. Not a great situation for Big Jah.

Former Wizard Gilbert Arenas chimed in when he saw that headline, and as per usual, held no punches and told the guy he’s getting traded for a washing machine:

😂😂😂😂 when they signed @joelembiid to that max deal, yo ass was like Michelle from destiny child “you are the weakest link #skedaddle” they about to Jackie moon you ass…..breaking news:: Delaware 87ers announced they traded away they washing machine for center JAHLIL he punches in bunches OKAFOR OKAFOR OKAFOR 😬😂😂 bye bye first class HELLO greyhound 💯💯

Savage, and this time we’re pretty sure this isn’t a publicity stunt by Gil.


Sports Gossip, Sexy WAGs, NFL and Hot Cheerleaders: BustedCoverage

Who Is the Killer on Riverdale? Let’s Break Down the Most Likely Suspects

Jason Blossom’s murder may have been solved last season, but it looks like Riverdale has another killer on the loose. During the season two premiere, the series takes a dark and twisted turn when Miss Grundy is killed in cold blood in her own home. If her death isn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, the mysterious killer also appears to be the same man who shot Fred Andrews in Pop’s in season one. Needless to say, we have a lot of questions. What does he want? Why is he doing this? And more importantly, who is he? Bear with us as we try to break down the most likely suspects.

1. The Blossoms

This one certainly seems like a long shot, seeing that Cheryl and Penelope are literally escaping a burning house the night before Fred is shot. But the family does have a reputation for murdering people, so they can’t be discredited.

2. The Southside Serpents

Even though the Serpents say they have nothing to do with Fred’s shooting, we can’t help but wonder if there is more to the motorcycle gang than meets the eye. After all, they are willing to torture one of their own to get information. There’s no telling what they would do to someone who isn’t a Serpent.

3. Hal Cooper

OK, this might sound crazy, but of all the characters on the show, Hal fits the description of the killer the best. He has the same build and has light eyes. He and Alice are also two of the few people who know about Miss Grundy’s affair with Archie. But would he actually go as far as murdering someone?

4. Sheriff Keller

Anyone else feel like the sheriff is a bit hesitant when it comes to finding Fred’s shooter? Maybe after Jason Blossom’s murder investigation, Kevin’s dad has gone to the dark side and decided to take the law into his own hands.

5. Hiram Lodge

We almost want to clump the Lodge family matriarch and patriarch together, because let’s be real — they both have their own motives for murder. Then again, while Hiram was certainly the number one suspect when it came to Fred’s shooting, something tells us that he could care less about a predatory music teacher he’s never met.

6. Hermione Lodge

If we’re being completely honest here, Hermione starts acting incredibly shady the moment she steps into the hospital during the season two premiere. She may seem like Hiram’s faithful wife, but something tells us she’s got a few tricks up her sleeve. Perhaps she went behind her husband’s back and teamed up with an unknown man to do the job for her?

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How Would a Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead Crossover Even Work? Let’s Investigate

Try as AMC might, The Walking Dead spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, has never quite caught on the way its predecessor did. While AMC’s OG zombie drama starts in the gritty, brutal months after the outbreak in and around Atlanta, the spin-off’s story begins in the days leading up to the first case of the undead walking among the living in LA, and then follows one family through the immediate aftermath. These contrasting timelines are exactly what makes the news of an upcoming crossover episode between the two shows so confusing.

At a New York Comic-Con panel for The Walking Dead over the weekend, creator Robert Kirkman dropped the exciting news. «I think that we’ve finally gotten to a place with Fear the Walking Dead where it has its own identity where we can play with some things,» Kirkman explained. «So what I’m going to say, and this is all I’m going to say, is that there are two Walking Dead shows. I’m not going to name them. But there are two. There’s one character that is going to go from one show that I will not name and appear in the other show, which I will not name.»

So, which character will make the jump between shows? It’s safe to assume that it’s no one major from the early days of The Walking Dead — Rick, Maggie, Daryl, Carol, or Carl — but maybe if the crossover took place on Fear the Walking Dead (meaning it was in the past), we could get some previously unknown backstory on a peripheral character, or even someone like Negan.

«Are we going to see an interesting backstory of The Walking Dead character showing up in Fear the Walking Dead?» Kirkman further teased on Saturday. «Or are we going to see a Fear the Walking Dead character show up in The Walking Dead, and see a future version of a character? What could happen? Is it going to be something completely different than that?»

For what it’s worth, Fear the Walking Dead‘s Madison is from Alabama, which is close enough geographically to the rest of the other show’s characters that we can see a connection being made. Panel moderator Chris Hardwick even joked, «I just want the phone to ring and be like, ‘Daryl, it’s your cousin, Madison Clark.'»

Kirkman went on to reveal that «this is a huge event in the world of The Walking Dead,» and that the crossover episode is expected to air in the coming year. «There’s going to be some more news on this front in the coming months, so please stay tuned to what they call the Internet.»

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How Old Is the Cast of Riverdale in Real Life? Let’s Break It Down

Since Riverdale premiered on The CW, its undeniably attractive cast has kept our eyes glued to our screens as angsty teenage relationships have formed and mind-blowing plot twists have dropped. Though the show’s characters are meant to be high school sophomores between the ages of 15 and 16 (except Cheryl, who is 17 years old), the actors are actually much older in real life. Spoiler alert: learning KJ Apa’s real age may or may not make you feel slightly creepy for having such a passionate obsession with him (and his mesmerizing abs). As we not-so-patiently await season two, read on to learn more about the stars behind your favorite Riverdale characters.

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Please Like Me: Let’s Talk About Zoella

Any time I find myself writing about YouTube celebrities or the site’s entangled ecosystem of fame, profits, scandals and community, I almost always end up feeling hopelessly lost and achingly old. It’s clear that YouTube has its benefits — it’s a democratisation of ideas and entertainment, accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a good enough camera — but most of those upsides seem rooted in the abstract these days. Between the increasing toxicity of the comments section, coupled with a festering subset of channels specializing and profiting from hate speech, and the site’s seeming disinterest in dealing with the rot, an act as simple as looking for a video to watch has become treacherous. There was a point where I couldn’t watch an innocent clip of a person or piece of pop culture I liked without the site instantly recommending me Tolstoy-length screeds from screeching men on why the thing I liked was wrong, a feminist conspiracy or a tool of the liberal media. While I stress that yes, Not All YouTubers, it’s still a site that, like Twitter, I have a complicated relationship with. I spend way too much time on both, find immense pleasure in each platform, then feel tired and dirty when inevitably confronted with the chaos that’s been allowed to breed unchallenged, front and centre.

Yet I can’t deny my fascination with the very thing that makes me feel so bemused and cranky. The concept of instant fame is equal parts alluring and repulsive, and now it seems more accessible than ever. Andy Warhol talked of those elusive 15 minutes of fame, but even he probably couldn’t have envisioned something like Vine cutting that down to 7 seconds. YouTube has also commodified banality in a way even the most committed reality TV couldn’t. There are people who make their living by playing video games or unboxing toys or showing off their recent shopping hauls or even whispering sweet nothings into the microphone. Something literally anyone can do is now a marketable skill that can be mined for millions if the stars align.

In the UK, the biggest YouTube star is easily Zoe Sugg, best known to the world as Zoella. It’s the nickname-turned-brand that can be found on various lines of beauty and bathing products, the moniker on the shelf above a pile of pretty bestselling paperbacks, and even the official title of her Wikipedia page. The 27 year old vlogger has over 11.9m subscribers with views totalling over 1bn. Her debut novel had the highest first-week sales of any debut author in the UK since Neilsen began keeping records in 1998. She sang on Band Aid 30’s re-release of Do They Know It’s Christmas? in aid of raising money to fight the West African ebola epidemic. She was a guest contestant on the Comic Relief edition of The Great British Bake Off, and when YouTube began major print and TV advertising in the UK, Zoella was the biggest solo star of the campaign, her smiling visage on billboards across the country.

Zoella 1.jpg

The chances are many of you will have gotten to this paragraph and asked yourself ‘Who the hell is Zoella?’ That list of impressive achievements will mean very little to most people, even many Brits who primarily use YouTube for listening to music and indulging in cat videos. YouTube celebrity is fascinating in that regard — you can be known to tens of millions of people, make 7 figures a year and have your face on an array of products but it’ll be the job of someone’s ten year old niece to explain who you are and why you’re famous. Despite its growing power and increasing influence over traditional media, to large swaths of the population, the internet remains separate from real life. Zoella’s managed to break through into the mainstream to a certain extent, but for most, especially those over the age of 21, her acclaim and appeal may forever remain elusive. It’s strange how someone three months my senior can make me feel so old.

Sugg started her online career with a beauty and lifestyle blog in February 2009, which was the kind of scrappy blog of youthful enthusiasm you would expect from any 19 year old. Encouraged by her rapidly increasing follower count, she made the jump to vlogging, which was beginning to make a real impact on YouTube, well beyond the mystic days of lonelygirl15 and experiments with Mentos and Diet Coke. It took her two years for her vlogging to become a full-time career, then another year after that to reach 1 million subscribers.

Watching a Zoella video is invitingly normal, if somewhat repetitive. Vogue referred to her appeal as being rooted in her ‘extraordinary ordinariness’, and that’s evident in her most popular videos, which tend to follow the same patterns. Hanging out and performing wacky challenges with her fellow vlogger friends (including her boyfriend Alfie Deyes and brother Joe Sugg); simple make-up, hair and baking tutorials; shopping hauls from the High Street and glimpses into her handbag; and the occasional moment of sincere confessional. A video of Zoella showing off some clothes she bought from Primark got 4.1m views. There are over 11m views on a 5 minute tutorial on how to do a messy bun hairstyle.

Search for any YouTube channel involving a pretty white 27 year old woman and you’ll probably find dozens of videos exactly like the ones on Zoella’s channel. Searches for ‘Primark Haul’ alone bring up about 1.37m results. Shopping at Primark isn’t an unusual or dazzling experience for most of us, so the idea of taking 15 minutes out of my day to watch someone else show off their purchases from a shop I visit regularly is somewhat baffling to me. Yet Zoella’s made a career out of the everyday routine turned relatable treat. It makes sense that her biggest audience demographic is young girls because watching her channel is a little like your big sister, or that super cool babysitter, telling you about her cool and very adult day, or at least the greatest level of adulthood you can imagine at the age of 11. There’s no pretension to a Primark haul, nor is there any illusion of grandeur to showing off the make-up you bought in Boots. That’s the charm. Anyone can do it. Zoella just happens to do it best, somehow. That ‘100 per cent wholesome, attainable and approachable’ image as Vogue called it, one that newspapers cannot help but compare favourably to women like the Kardashians (the perpetual forced catfight continues), has made her equal parts agony aunt, style guru and cultural zeitgeist, but never to the point of losing that relatable edge.

This simplicity has made Zoella a lot of money and opened the door to immense opportunities. Her body and beauty line, packaged for Instagram perfection and affordable to all, regularly sells out and has proven popular even among those for whom the name ‘Zoella’ is but a brand. Her YA novel Girl, Online smashed sales records too. However, she’s not without controversy. That book, the one that headlines giddily proclaimed sold more in its first week than the first Harry Potter novel, came with its own issues of authorship. I was a book blogger when the novel was released and it never seemed in doubt to me that a ghostwriter had actually done most of the legwork. The timing just didn’t match up otherwise, nor did the idea that a major publisher like Penguin would let a guaranteed cash cow like Girl Online make it to the
shelves without a little guidance.

Most YouTubers don’t write their own books, and nobody really expects them to either. It’s not literature, it’s just more branding. The difference here was that Zoella’s book was a novel and not a pseudo-memoir or picture-filled activity guide like her contemporaries, and no ghostwriter was ever fully credited unless you knew where to look (generally, the first paragraph of the acknowledgements, just search for the name who isn’t a friend or family member and may be credited as having ‘helped’ in the process). I don’t think anyone really would have minded if Zoella and Penguin had been honest from the beginning, but when your entire brand is built on the foundations of supposed relatability, that iron-clad authenticity that makes you just one of the girls, an omission like that means more than a business decision, particularly when your audience are teenage girls who hang on your every word. Being a millionaire with a book deal is one thing; outsourcing the actual writing of the book is just a step too far from being a normal gal.

Zoella Book.jpg

Zoella and Penguin eventually admitted they had ‘worked with an expert editorial team to help her bring to life her characters and experiences in a heart-warming and compelling story’, and sales were never impacted by the news. Both sequels sold well and her brand was reinforced (the novel isn’t autobiographical but the parallels are obvious and intended). It pushed forward Zoella’s next literary venture — a nationwide book club, in conjunction with WH Smith, who had previously partnered with former daytime talk show hosts Richard and Judy for their own book club (think Oprah’s Book Club but a bit boozier). Her choices are all YA, in keeping with her audience, and now she’s ‘invited’ prominent writers like Juno Dawson to recommend their own choices for readers. The Zoella magic even worked on other people’s books: One recommendation, The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward, saw its sales increased by more than 11,000% (Alward is Zoella’s editor).

On top of scandal, Zoella’s literary influence has come under fire for not challenging children enough. According to a University of Dundee study, a decline in reading age has taken over secondary schools, where Zoella’s books remain a favourite, and this led to yet another tiff over whether a rather fizzy rom-com for teens that’s not unlike the wish fulfillment stories of many a fan-fiction was somehow destroying the fragile little minds of children everywhere. For those of you wondering, the answer is obviously no.

Undoubtedly, Zoella is an influencer of immense power. She recommends a product, people buy it. Her name appears on a book or bottle of body wash and the shelves are cleared. When Zoella is named ambassador for mental health charity Mind, people take notice. Having suffered from panic attacks since her early teens, Zoella has spoken extensively about her anxiety and how it affects her life, particularly as it intersects with her fame. In many ways, vlogging is probably the worst career to have for someone living with a panic disorder. It’s a job that requires endless levels of emotional labour and forces you to engage with millions of judgemental ciphers whose names and faces you’ll never know. Countless people will want more from you, will demand more of your time and energy and you’ll feel obliged to give it because that hunger drives your ad revenue. Others will spend hours of their life harassing and abusing you, to which plenty of rolling eyes will tell you to just get over it because it’s not that big of a deal. Your life and personality become a commodity that advertisers will dictate changes to, and throughout all of this, you must remain relatable. You can’t stop being the thing that people want, even at the cost of your own personal evolution.

That’s one of the things that fascinates me about Zoella. We are separated in age by three months but when I watch videos of her, I often forget I’m the younger one. Her persona has been made softer and sweeter and bouncier over the years as the subscriber numbers go up. She’s perennially peppy and each video shows her smiling big or small, eyes wide and make-up impeccable. Her accent has lessened over the years but her voice is clear, casual and appealing to kids. The life she presents nowadays is one of more evident glamour than her earlier days — she’s got money and she spends it — but she still feels so achingly young. She’s closer to 30 than 20 now but her videos are a cloud of youthful frivolity for the most part, and that fascinates me. Would her viewers revolt if she decided to start swearing and talking about politics or she clothed herself head to toe in Versace and read Pynchon novels?

An interesting contrast to Zoella is Louise Pentland, best known to her fans as SprinkleofGlitter. Last year, the vlogger, UK based like Zoella and part of her circle of friends, announced she’d be ‘quitting’ her YouTube channel as it was and changing it to something more suited to her interests and desires. In short, she wanted it to be more ‘adult’. In the video, she admitted to being tired of having to tailor her personality to its most sparkly and easily digested form, and wanted to make content that reflected how she actually lived her life. Living for other people, for girls half her age who loved the pastel fairytale, had left her infantilized and exhausted, so she started afresh. Now, her videos are decidedly more adult but no less relatable. She talks of her faith, her experiences with the morning after pill, her current pregnancy, and struggling with body confidence as a plus size woman. Sometimes, she even swears. She’s a 32 year old mother and you get to see her be that. Making that confession easily could have killed her career. Bigger names than her have tried to shift into new content or styles and found themselves flung violently back into place by their fans who saw change as a betrayal. There were probably advertisers or agents who asked Pentland to think twice about dropping the glitter for fear of lost financial opportunities, and she doesn’t have anywhere near the pressure on her shoulders Zoella does.

Zoella’s life and personality isn’t the only commodified element of her being. Her relationship has become the stuff of idealized fantasy to many of her fans. Alfie Deyes, the man behind PointlessBlog, has over 11m subscribers across three channels, is responsible for three best-selling activity journals named after his site, and has done his fair share of internet influencing. The pair have been together for over three years and are essentially the Posh and Becks of YouTube celebrity. Together, their brands are unstoppable, and that domestic bliss is another excellent selling point on their respective channels — Deyes with spontaneous insights into their lives, Zoella with her excitement for homeware hauls. For their fans, their story is the stuff of true romance. You can even read Zalfie fanfiction, or buy some from Amazon if you prefer. Their videos together are some of their most popular content. Fans have waited for the engagement video, but both have promised they won’t get engaged online. If you thought being relatable for a living was hard enough on your psyche, imagine having your love life become the dreams of millions. The pair have had to repeatedly deal with fans trying to visit them at their home in Brighton, often accompanied by their parents, who never seem to see such things as a bad idea. According to Deyes, the house has so much security and tech in this house. It’s insane… We have panic buttons hidden all over the house. If you press it at any time, 24/7 365 days a year, every single police car in the area that’s available will come to the house.’

I’m sure there are some of you who made it this far into the piece — and I thank you for that — who are still wondering, ‘But seriously, why am I supposed to care about her?’ Fair enough, you do you, but when a 27 year old woman has close to 12m people at her beck and call, and can wield that support to immeasurable personal and business clout, that’s something worth discussing. Ignoring the internet doesn’t make it or its problems go away, and dismissing the growing impact of YouTube celebrity won’t make them disappear into the ether either. Zoella is a symbol for a particular brand of feminine stardom, one that’s become a power player in the online age: She’s not as intimidating as a Gigi Hadid or quietly tragic as a Kylie Jenner. She’s a girl next door whose house is full of panic buttons, a High Street shopper with her own beauty line, an adult woman who may be the most powerful adolescent in the UK. More teenage girls care about her than they do the most dazzling of A-List movie-stars. Zoella has made being herself the brand of a lifetime, but how does one sustain that when you’ll never truly be yourself forever, certainly not in front of millions? YouTube is the most toxic popularity contest in the world. Zoella’s on top now but can Zoe Sugg stay there?

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Albert Haynesworth Lets All The Real Women Know That He’s “Trying To Smash”

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Albert Haynesworth hasn’t played football since 2011 and I’m willing to guess that most people haven’t thought about Albert Haynesworth since 2011. But all of the sudden, this random week in 2017, Big Al pops up again and you probably could’ve guessed it, but it wasn’t for the most positive reasons.

Basically, he accused his ex-girlfriend, via Twitter, of physical and emotional abuse when they were together. He lays out the backstory in these tweets:

Now apparently after he brought this to light, people on Twitter and such have been bringing up his past that included his own sexual assault violations and comments about not dating black girls, because that’s what the internet does.

So, what’s his response to all of this? Well, he took to Twitter last night again (right in the middle of a Rams-Niners SHOOT OUT) and reminded all of the ladies out there that if they’re a “beautiful REAL WOMAN”, he’s down to smash.

And just like that Albert Haynesworth is back in our lives. Color doesn’t matter when you’re just a squirrel trying to get a nut.


Sports Gossip, Sexy WAGs, NFL and Hot Cheerleaders: BustedCoverage

Let’s Relive That Time Jimmy Fallon Found Out That He Totally Had a Chance With Nicole Kidman

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in January 2015, Nicole Kidman dropped a bomb on the late-night host: he could have dated her! While recounting the story of how they first met back in the early 2000s — a mutual friend named Rick offered to introduce the two by bringing Nicole to Jimmy’s NYC apartment — the Oscar winner couldn’t contain herself as she revealed that she «liked» the then-SNL star and had considered the visit «a hangout.»

Unbeknownst to Jimmy, he totally blew his chances at landing the Australian beauty; between his offering of brie cheese and corn chips, lack of communication, and the fact that he «put on a video game,» Nicole admitted, «After about an hour and a half, I thought, ‘He had no interest, this is so embarrassing.'» Needless to say, Jimmy was horrified, and the following week, he tweeted, «I am so embarrassed.» Watch the entire video above to relive the hilarious conversation.

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All Tied Up: Let’s Talk About Armie Hammer

The chances are, your favourite celebrity isn’t running their own Twitter account.

Social media management is a fascinating occupation of the modern age. It forces corporations to adopt a façade of personable warmth and achingly cool personality to shill everything from burgers to drain cleaner. Major chains will be represented by one beleaguered employee manning the account amidst a barrage of angry messages from people who don’t quite understand that very little can be accomplished on their end. In the world of celebrity and entertainment, visibility is of utmost importance, but now there is the illusion of access. You feed fans with the possibility that they too can get a reply from you, or they may find your joke funny enough to like it. Most of the time, this gig is outsourced to a star’s publicist or a 3rd party representative who specializes in authentically replicating the voice of their client for online purposes. If you were one of the biggest stars on the planet and had to put up with thousands of insults combined with countless tweens calling you ‘mummy’ or ‘dad’, you’d probably pay someone to cover that job too.

That’s what makes it so fascinating when you can tell a celebrity is running their own Twitter account. There’s no reason for them to do so, it would probably be safer and less of a mental strain to do so, and their PR teams would probably prefer a quieter life where there’s no fear of a tweet gone wrong. Being a right-wing baiting Trump troll who occasionally indulges in Japanese rope bondage makes you an ideal candidate to get a social media team, just in case it all gets a little too embarrassing.

For Armie Hammer, that unruliness has just made him more interesting. Why be the pretty face when you can be the freak?

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Armand Douglas Hammer was handpicked for stardom at the earliest point in his career. The young actor, born from immense privilege with eclectic family roots in publishing, entertainment and Communism, was hand picked by director George Miller to play Bruce Wayne himself in his planned take on Justice League in 2007. This was before Christopher Nolan re-invented the character for the big screen, and way before the term ‘expanded universe’ became common in the entertainment vernacular. This was Batman post-Schumacher, where the only way was up for Gotham’s finest. As you can imagine, this would have been a major deal for an actor whose filmography was mostly bit part appearances in TV.

Hammer certainly looked the part — he’s a man of such epic levels of handsomeness that it almost becomes bland. He’s undeniably good looking but in the way where you can’t help but note how many other handsome guys look exactly like him, symmetrically perfect and with a jawline you could chisel marble from. As GQ noted in a 2015 profile, ‘It means being so unimpeachably, conventionally good-looking, you have transcended appeal into boring perfection.’ He’s Disney Prince pretty; Abercrombie & Fitch pretty; That nice man helping your grandmother cross the road pretty. That’s certainly great news for anyone looking to cast a hero whose nipple moulded suit was last worn by George Clooney.

Imagine a Justice League film about a Bruce Wayne who builds an army of robots that go rogue and want to take over the world, forcing the League, comprised of Hammer, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, and Common as Green Lantern, to fight back. The budget was huge (reportedly between $ 220 — 300m), the director acclaimed, and filming set to begin in Australia. Then the writer’s strike happened, and then filming was delayed, and then production was removed from Australia, so Miller jumped ship. Bad news for Hammer, who went back to bit parts and questionable movie choices — a biopic of Billy Graham?! — but found his breakout role a couple of years later, not once, but twice.

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It’s probably every showboating actor’s dream to play twins: Why show off all your skills in just one role when you can act against yourself for maximum impact? David Fincher’s The Social Network needed its foils, and who better to play the Winklevoss Twins than Hammer? Cameron and Tayler Winklevoss, who allege that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook and sued for $ 65m, are positioned as the jocks to Zuckerberg’s nerd: The ’80s college campus movie with more brains and limitless spite. The Winklevosses are handsome, athletic, rich and have been allotted privilege by society to do whatever they want, but Zuckerberg has the brains to actually do it. Hammer plays the brothers with a sneering bravado, the kind that shows two men who wouldn’t say out loud that they’re better than you but yeah, actually, they probably would. It’s a great performance(s) and one that banks heavily on the reality of Hammer just being super-hot. If you were that handsome, wouldn’t you feel like you deserved everything?

Playing varying degrees of handsome can be immensely boring (although hardly the most difficult task in an aesthetic driven industry), and Hammer has always found fascinating shades in that process. In the sadly underrated Mirror Mirror, he plays the literal handsome prince who’s not so secretly kind of useless; In Nocturnal Animals, he is the buff representation of Amy Adams’s perfect but unfulfilled life; and even in voice form in Cars 3, he’s the grandstanding pretty boy of the future who puts the old generation to shame. Going against that grain, like his first post-The Social Network stab at prestige glory in Clint Eastwood’s wildly misjudged biopic J. Edgar, didn’t stick. Putting on bad prosthetics may indicate a dedication to the craft, but the end result was borderline camp in its ineptitude.

Between 2013 and 2015, Hammer had two shots at leading man glory, both of which flopped at the box office, but neither were total creative failures. First came The Lone Ranger, Disney’s attempt to breathe life into the icon of old with a massive budget and oddly bleak approach to the material. Hammer was visually right for the role, a hero from an older era, part Jimmy Stewart, part Errol Flynn. He’s not half bad, but he’s saddled with one big racist elephant in the room, that being the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto. It’s not just that it’s difficult to watch a white man with a bird on his head pretend to be a Native American — although it totally is — the problem is that the film bends over backwards to serve Depp’s shtick. It’s not really a film about The Lone Ranger: It’s an attempt to make a solo Captain Jack Sparrow movie in the Old West. Understandably, the movie flopped hard, grossing $ 260m from a bafflingly high $ 250m budget.

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Hammer’s next leading man role wasn’t much of an improvement in terms of box office gross, but stylistically, it was a far better fit. I could probably talk about Guy Ritchie’s wonderful adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. until I’m blue in the face. I love it. It’s a delightful fizz of a movie, a GQ photoshoot come to life with dazzling fluidity and frenetic set-pieces. It’s a movie where the two leading men, dashing CIA agent Napoleon Solo and brooding KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, fight over whether the heroine’s outfit should fully co-ordinate. It’s a film where the score includes jazz flutes. It’s the Bond movie you wish they’d make if they stopped worrying about all that tragic backstory crap. Hammer also finds his niche: Just stoic enough but always in on the joke. His Illya is basically a 1960s Soviet spy stereotype, but lovingly so, and his one-up games against his cocky American counterpart — played by Henry Cavill with such charisma and sex appeal that you wonder if he’s contractually obliged to be a drip in the DCU — keep the action moving forward. It’s pure peacock strutting, but when everyone looks this good and is having so much fun, who cares? Nowadays, the film has a small but mighty fanbase, possibly made up entirely of Film Twitter, but the chances of us getting the sequel we deserve are scant.

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It’s taken until this year but 2017 may be the time Hammer finally sees his career catapulted to the next level. Call Me by Your Name, the coming-of-age drama directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory, is based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman, and centres on a 17 year old boy living in Italy with his family who forms a passionate relationship with an older academic assistant of his father. Immediately upon its premiere at Sundance, reviews were rapturous. Hammer has already been credited with giving the performance of his career. Finally, the pretty face has character, but once again, that handsomeness plays well with the role of a doctorate student who becomes the object of fascination and adoration for a younger man. It’s masculinity made emotional. It could see him go all the way to the Oscars if he’s hungry enough for it.

Hammer seems aware of the trappings of his brand of masculinity, but he doesn’t seem all that trapped by them. He likes guns, priding himself on being a responsible owner but also joking that ‘it’s fun to have a gun on your hip. You’re like, ‘This is an extension of my manhood.» He drinks whisky, eats his steak rare, enjoys a cigar now and then, and boy does he love knots. He doesn’t mind bringing that up either, although when he was asked about it on Stephen Colbert’s show, he briefly faked coyishness. When asked why, the audience laughed. They knew the obvious joke but still humoured Hammer when he said it was because ‘they make sense, they’re logical… there’s just a language to them.’ To his credit, he is very good at tying knots, which I’m sure his wife appreciates.

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When we talked about Channing Tatum, we discussed the ways in which he has harnessed his past as a stripper to excellent form in his movie career, using that status as an object of desire for women to emphasise his appeal to that demographic. Hammer is Disney prince handsome but he’s never been quiet about his love of getting down and fucking his wife. In an interview with Playboy — where else? — Hammer admitted he kept one of the Lone Ranger masks and ‘my wife loves it’, he talked about being a ‘dominant lover’ but changing that once he married, and experimenting in the bedroom. He doesn’t say anything graphic, but the message is clear as to how he likes it and that he and the lovely Elizabeth Chambers go at it like woodchucks. Hammer’s a freak, but a respectful one.

Anyone can find proof of his preferences if you dig through his Twitter likes long enough. His penchant slants heavily towards Japanese rope bondage, and he has no shame in showing that off. Have a browse and you’ll find a solid mix of film promotion, Trump hating and women in latex hanging from the ceiling. Hammer’s even happy to indulge others with a like or two if they show the goods, like one user who bragged that they bet they could get Hammer to like a photoshoot of Cate Blanchett in bondage gear (Hammer complied). Outlets reported the likes as something he probably wasn’t aware of and would be embarrassed by, but it’s clear he has no guilt or shame in it. Why would he? He’s got, his wife is beautiful, he’s got two adorable kids and his career’s never been better: Rope bondage and S&M is just the icing on top of a very pretty cake.

It’s not just his kinks that make Hammer’s Twitter account so interesting. Like Chris Evans, he’s passionate about reminding the world of how awful Donald Trump is, and how racists should be punched accordingly. There’s no faux mercy here or calls for peace: Hammer thinks Nazis should be punched. His recent smackdown of James Woods was a moment of pure catharsis. In between his usual routine of being the worst person ever, Woods RT-d a faux concern troll tweet from conservative author Chad Felix Green regarding the age difference between the romantic leads in Call Me By Your Name, then added, ‘As they quietly chip away the last barriers of decency. #NAMBLA’. Putting aside the point that the age of consent in Italy is 14, Hammer brought down the ultimate ahem, hammer of justice and responded accordingly.

It’s quietly devastating and an utter joy to watch. Hammer has, as the kids say, zero chill, and he has no qualms about letting the world know he’s not here to be the quiet nice guy. Well, he’ll always be the nice guy, the handsome guy, the prettiest guy in the room, but he’s also got a few more tricks up his sleeve.

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The Losers Club of ‘It’ Dreamcast Their Adult Counterparts, Let’s Judge Them

In the interest of full disclosure: I have not seen It. I have no intention of seeing it in the theater where I can’t stop the movie turn on a light, or say «FUCK THIS SHIT!» at any point and walk away. However, I’ve heard it’s very good and I’ve been happily reading all the coverage of it because then I’ll be better prepared whenever I get up the courage to actually watch it. While skimming the dubious IMDB «trivia» for the film, I came across this bit:

«The cast of the Losers Club were asked whom they wanted to play their adult parts: Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier) says Bill Hader, Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh) says Jessica Chastain, Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon) says Chadwick Boseman, Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak) says Jake Gyllenhaal, Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris) says Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom) says Chris Pratt and Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough) says Christian Bale.»

This is interesting! I knew that the structure of the movie was that it was just the Losers Club as kids, leaving the filmmakers room to adapt the second half of the story later. Given the staggering amount of money that It has made, that’s almost certainly happening. So, let’s see how well the dreamcast matches up with their childish counterparts and perhaps crush the dreams of children in the meantime. Rules are trying to stick closer to the same age overall, and you have to make a case for why you want to pick a different actor. The kids with their chosen adult counterparts are below, with my comments and preferred casting underneath each set of pictures.

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Bill Hader is 39, so that’s what we’re setting as an age benchmark, and I can see that as a reasonable version of grown up Finn Wolfhard. Thumbs up!

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Jessica Chastain is 40 so we’re sticking in the same ballpark age wise. I do think that she has much stronger features than Lillis, particularly her nose and cheekbones, but the coloring is right on. I think Amy Adams would be a bit closer but at 43 she’s slightly outside the range we’re working in so far. But not that far.

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I feel like Jacobs reminds me more of Gaius Charles of Friday Night Lights, but he’s 34 so a little young compared to the rest of the choses. Chadwick Boseman is 40, so he’s right on the range we’re looking for. Of course, as the new Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman may be pretty busy for the next few years.

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Starting to skew a bit with the ages here, as Gyllenhaal is 36. I don’t hate this, although the eyes bug me a bit. I feel like Orlando Bloom would be a better match and closer to the right age.

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Gordon-Levitt is another one on the younger side for this, also 36 years old. I also feel like the face shape and eyes are off, probably because I know what JGL looked like as a kid from 3rd Rock and he looked nothing like that. There’s someone he reminds me of, but it’s the kind of actor who’s always a third tier character so I’m totally blanking on a name. You know the guy, I know you do.

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Pratt is the right age and I can tell why Taylor picked him. But, as Joanna Robinson pointed out, there’s a more poetic choice available:


At 43, Jerry O’Connell is a little outside the age range but I feel like the symmetry of it is too good to fuss about.

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Christian Bale is a tricky one because he seems to delight in doing whatever (literally WHATEVER) he needs to do to embody a role, so I’m sure he COULD look like this kid if he wanted to. But I saw one adult and one adult only looking at his pictures and that’s:
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Search your heart, buddy, you know it to be true.

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