TV

'Me @ the Zoo': Chris Crocker on Celebrity on HBO starting 25 June

Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch's film uses Crocker's experience as a window onto the business. He's a helpfully self-aware subject, even at his Britney-est.

"I guess I'm one of the first to be famous for not being famous." Pausing to reflect, Chris Crocker isn't so much explaining his popularity as he is describing the phenomenon of YouTube. And that description isn’t so much ongoing as it recalls a moment, way back in September 2007, when his immediately memed-out video, "Leave Britney Alone!" first landed on the web. "Broadcast yourself," YouTube invited all comers in 2005, another long-ago moment when the parameters of celebrity -- or maybe just the speed -- changed. According to the documentary Me @ the Zoo, premiering on HBO this week, the website made it possible for users to measure one another and themselves by hits, to perform and judge, parody and adore, all the while refashioning the very idea of what it means to be a star. Or maybe just a person with fans.

Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch's film uses Crocker's experience as a window onto the business. He's a helpfully self-aware subject, even at his Britney-est. Prior to the breakout video, he'd made others, in part an effort to sort out frustrations over living in Bristol, Tennessee with his Pentecostal grandparents ("They think the internet turned me gay") and classmates who taunted and abused him ("Every day was terrible and violent"). Forced to stay home, Chris found an outlet in performing himself, in conjuring a manic but also self-determining identity out of his favorite music videos. On YouTube, he found fans and haters, and in this, he felt a connection with his beloved Britney. As her own exposure turned frightening -- the film reminds you of the easiest to remember scenes, the umbrella swinging and the head shaving and the puppy in the driveway -- Chris' performance of what he imagined she was feeling, and perhaps his own feelings too, went, as they say, viral.

At first, as he re-performs the saga here, Crocker was happy with the fallout, the attention negative and not, the TV show offer, the phone call on Jimmy Kimmel. Gradually -- or maybe quickly, it’s hard to tell -- he also comes to see himself in relation to his mother, Pamela. At first this takes the form of comparing his image (and Britney's) to his mom's: they look alike, he says, and she looks young because she had him when she was just 14 years old. When Pamela returns from a tour in Iraq, traumatized by the experience, unable to find work, and soon homeless and addicted to meth as well, their relationship evolves, and so does Crocker's sense of self-performance.

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In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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