Who were the real winners and losers of the 2014 MTV VMAs?

If there’s one award show that guarantees drama each year it’s the MTV Video Music Awards.

The celebration has been the host of a number of infamous incidents in the past – Madonna controversially kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on stage in 2007, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009 and last year Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke shocked audiences with their risqué performance of Blurred Lines.

Lorde, Ed Sheeran and 5 Seconds of Summer were amongst those to walk away with a moon man trophy this year, but who were the real winners and losers of the night?

Winners…

Beyonce

The verdict from Twitter was that Beyonce ruled the night with her extravaganza of a performance and emotional acceptance of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. However, she may have been slightly overshadowed by her adorable daughter…

Blue Ivy Carter

After announcing her pregnancy at the 2011 VMAs, Beyonce brought Blue Ivy along to this year’s awards. The toddler stole the show with her adorable dancing and even Katy Perry tweeted that her “life is over” because the child waved at her.

Miley Cyrus

Following last year’s catastrophic performance of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke, all eyes were on Miley Cyrus at the 2014 VMAs.

After winning the Video of the Year award the singer sent a homeless teenager named Jesse onto the stage to collect the moon man trophy. Jesse then directed viewers to Cyrus’s Facebook page, where the star encouraged people to donate to My Friend’s Place, a homeless shelter in Hollywood.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith’s incredible stripped-back rendition of Stay With Me wowed the VMA audience, who could be heard singing along with him during the captivating performance.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry decided to channel Britney Spears with her VMA outfit by rocking double denim alongside Riff Raff, her collaborator on This Is How We Do. She admitted that her look was inspired by ‘nostalgia’ and her ‘Tumblr addiction’ and Britney even tweeted that she thought Katy looked great.

Losers…

Amber Rose

Amber Rose’s outfit was inspired by another VMA trendsetter, Rose McGowan, but she turned heads at this year’s awards for all of the wrong reasons. There’s having fun with a throwback outfit and then there’s being nearly nude.

The Kardashians

When rapper Common requested that the audience should have a minute’s silence as a tribute to the Ferguson conflict, Kim, Kylie and Kendall appeared to be looking at their phones. In fact, the sisters were frequently on their phones throughout the night and viewers were unimpressed by their lack of respect.

Nicki Minaj

After it was revealed that her backing dancer had been bitten by a snake during rehearsals it was clear that Nicki Minaj had grand plans for the VMAs. However, many were unimpressed with her suggestive dancing when performing Anaconda and then she had that dress malfunction on-stage with Jessie J and Ariana Grande.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pretty Little Liars – A Pretty Little Television Adaptation

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the US. The show’s third season has just finished and is going from strength to strength with ABC picking it up for another two seasons. There’s also a spin-off show, Ravenswood, in the works.

Based on the captivating book series by Sara Shepard, the show follows four girls who are tormented by the disappearance of their best friend Alison. Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) are all stereotypical teenagers with different interests. The girls are fundamentally different yet pulled together by Alison, the glue of the group. They share secrets like all best friends do, but Alison seems to have dirt on everyone in town so when she disappears and is never seen again there are many suspects who could have been involved.

Alison’s disappearance causes the girls to drift apart and they believe their secrets are buried with her… until a mysterious person starts sending them intimidating messages revealing things only Alison knew, signing off the messages with “-A.” Initially the girls think Alison is still alive but when her body is found buried under the gazebo of her old house, the girls regroup to find the perpetrator.

The original book series has proved to be extremely popular, with twelve novels published as well as a companion novel. Two more books are planned for release by the end of this year.

Due to the loyal fan base of the novels, there has been a lot of controversy about the production of the television adaptation. Whilst certain elements remain the same, such as the characters names and the general plotline, some viewers have complained about more major differences. For example, some truly sinister characters in the book series have been transformed into love interests and well-received characters are still featured in the television series despite being killed off or leaving in the novels.

Whilst it’s fair that dedicated fans get frustrated about the differences in the adaptation, it’s clear to see why the production of the show doesn’t follow the same narrative as the original series. Most of the novels only span a timeline of a few days, which wouldn’t transfer easily onto a weekly television show of 20 or so episodes a series. New plotlines need to be introduced, or drawn out, to have enough material. The pilot episode, for example, was based entirely on the first book. If the show continued at this pace, there wouldn’t be enough material to make one series.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The issue with television adaptation is that suspense needs to be built in every episode, which usually only focuses on a few plot points. In the case of Pretty Little Liars, with four main characters, it is essential to address a number of different plotlines in each episode. Due to the amount of content that needs to be addressed, fans often become frustrated when questions remain unanswered and sub-plots are forgotten about.

Marlene King, the executive producer for the show, constantly comes under fire on social networking websites for the show’s direction. Fans either criticise her for digressing away from the books or for leaving too many unanswered questions. But that’s surely what good television is all about – Intrigue, suspense, shocks and debate.

Fidelity to the source text is important to some extent, but with television adaptations, you never know how long the show is going to run for. To remain popular, producers will respond to what audiences want.

It can be frustrating as a viewer when questions remain unanswered and characters disappear for a number of episodes and it can be annoying when promos are edited to suggest viewers will receive answers when they don’t – but is fidelity in adaptation as important when it comes to television?

With Pretty Little Liars’ incredible fan base, and the go-ahead for at least two more seasons, it’s likely that producers will be able to plan ahead for what needs to be revealed and when. They have many hours of content they need to fill with plots so it is clear they will need to bring in new ideas rather than remaining entirely faithful to the books.

After all, if the show followed the exact plot of the book series surely we’d all be passive viewers, never excited about character developments and never intrigued about what would be happening in the next episode. It’s far more exciting to be an active viewer, continually being shocked by characters and wondering what will be revealed next. Pretty Little Liars is, in my opinion, a great example of how adaptation should be done for a continuing series.

What is your opinion on adaptation for television? Is fidelity less important for a continuing series?

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preview: Gavin and Stacey’s US Remake – Us and Them

Cast of 'Us and Them' [Image: Independent]

Cast of ‘Us and Them’ [Image: Independent]

The pilot of the American Gavin and Stacey adaptation, Us and Them, has officially been picked up by Fox TV.

I previously wrote about the remake, originally under the working title of Friends and Family, over on Yuppee Magazine but the trailer for the pilot has finally arrived:

Some things are clear from the trailer, there are new jokes but the general plot remains the same – a pair of young lovers start a relationship whilst dealing with their eccentric families. Gavin (Jason Ritter) is now a city slicker from New York and Stacey (Alexis Bledel) is from small town Pennsylvania.

Whilst adaptations are always exciting to watch, part of the beauty of Gavin and Stacey was the simplicity of its scripting. Catchphrases from the show weaseled their way into common phrasing and whilst the representations of characters were stereotypical, they were always relateable.

I think the main contribution to the success of the remake in America will be how viewers warm to the characters. In the original version of the show all of the characters were likeable and hilarious so hopefully with Ruth Jones and James Corden on board as executive producers this will be the case with the remake.

I’m excited to see the show when it airs but as a huge fan of the original I can’t help but be dubious about how it will translate on American television and whether it will do the show justice. I know that this has been the general feeling amongst UK viewers (and even American fans who have watched the original series) but others have expressed their excitement on social media at seeing the show being reinvigorated, stating it will fill the void left when Gavin and Stacey finished.

What are your thoughts based on the trailer? Will it be a tidy remake or a big mistake?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why the world is going gaga for Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga features creative levels and challenges building on the traditional match-three formula

There has been an invasion of games on Facebook in recent years. From Farmville to Bejeweled, the inclusion of game apps on the social networking site has had a Marmite effect – you love them or hate them.

The game of the moment is undoubtedly Candy Crush Saga. Following months of resisting signing up, I am now hooked.

Candy Crush Saga is just like Bejeweled before it but with added twists. To advance each level, the player is tasked with different challenges. Not only do you have to get high scores, but you need to unblock certain squares or drop certain tokens to the bottom of the grid.

Interaction is important in Candy Crush Saga – you need to engage with your Facebook friends in order to advance or pay a small fee to unlock more levels. Whilst there was once a sense of “oh god another game request” when you logged into Facebook, now people are writing statuses asking for help and it’s incredible to see the amount of people playing via the on-screen map.

There are a number of reasons why Candy Crush Saga has remained one of the top played games virally over the last few months:

It’s Goal Orientated

Candy Crush Saga has its own narrative and doesn’t follow the same formula with every level. Whilst you might be against the clock on one level, the next will challenge you to break chained blocks of ice to free candy pieces. These differences stop the game from becoming monotonous and intrigues the player to wonder what challenges will appear next.

It Allows Synced Platforms

The game doesn’t standalone on Facebook as it is also a downloadable app. One of the biggest problems with gaming apps on Facebook is that they don’t captivate users to a full extent – not everyone logs into Facebook everyday and if they do, they might not have time to play a game. By creating the app to connect with smartphones, users are able to sync their accounts so that they can engage with their Facebook friends without ever having to log into a computer. If they have a spare five minutes, they’re far more likely to play on their mobile.

The Game Map

Competitiveness is a natural aspect of life, so Candy Crush very cleverly includes a game map. Players will want to get further than their friends and will want to beat the high scores displayed, what better way to motivate them than including their friends profile picture over the level they’re on?

It’s Not Endless Gameplay

Most would see this as a fault, but I think it encourages a return to play. Each player only has five lives at a time. If they run out, they can pay for more or ask their Facebook friends to send some but if they want to wait an hour or so, the lives will return. This not only encourages competitiveness to advance but motivates yourself to progress in the next five lives.

What are your thoughts on Candy Crush Saga? Do you love the app or do you hate the influx of requests?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

more! Magazine Suspended after 25 years

More Magazine Suspended

This week Bauer Media announced that it was suspending more! Magazine after 25 years of publication. Some embraced the news saying that these women’s magazines promote negative lifestyle choices but others stated their fears that this wouldn’t just be the beginning of the end for young adult magazines but of the production of print magazines in general.

Reports have stated that more! Magazine was suspended due to a significant drop in readership over the last year. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (cited in The Guardian), for the final half of last year the magazine had an average weekly circulation of 92,459, compared to 200,000 in 2007 and 300,000 in 2000.

There’s no denying that the decline in print sales is due to the increase in online writing. Bloggers and online magazines are now prominent outlets for the 24 hour news (or gossip if you will) cycle. If people want celebrity news, it’s now readily available online from a number of popular blogs. News hits Twitter quicker than anywhere else and with increased engagement with readers, online writers are far more personable than an unnamed person in a magazine.

Some publications have adjusted to these changes – Company Magazine place a lot of emphasis on fashion bloggers, promoting them on their website and in their magazine, but it remains to be seen if this will be enough.

Whilst I’m the first to admit that it’s easy to fall into the trap of visiting a magazine’s website then not feeling the need to buy the magazine itself, I’ll be sad to see more! Magazine go. Regardless of what people say about the influence of the magazine industry on young girls, for me, more! inspired positive career choices, embraced women from all walks of life without judgment and looked at sensitive issues that many women struggle with whilst always maintaining the magazine’s infamous witty humour.

Hopefully other magazines will be motivated to adapt following the news of more!’s cease in production by embracing the digital age and working on what readers want and what will encourage them to remain loyal to the print format.

Tagged , , , , ,

Crowd Funding: How Veronica Mars Could Change the Film Industry

Crowd Funding

Crowd funding is the process in which individuals can donate money to people and organisations to help them achieve their goals. It has long been associated with the arts, specifically with unsigned musicians or filmmakers, who ask their fans to help fund their projects.

These funding websites, such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, frequently reward donators with perks and rewards for their financial contributions.

In the past, these websites were predominantly used by those who were relatively unknown, but recently they have become a source of backing projects made by well known organisations and filmmakers.

Since the cancellation of television series Veronica Mars in 2007, fans have been campaigning for series creator Rob Thomas to make a film version of the show. Both Thomas and actress Kristen Bell had expressed their interest in doing so but Warner Brothers, the show’s production company, opted not to fund the project.

Following persistence from Thomas and Bell, Warner Brothers agreed that should they find a way to provide funding for the film, they would back it. The pair organised a profile on Kickstarter with an objective of raising $2,000,000, the highest ever goal on the website, to be reached by April 12th. At the time of writing this article, with 18 days left to go, they have surpassed their aim and $3,872,624 has been pledged.

Due to the Kickstarter funding campaign, a Veronica Mars film is going into production this summer [Image: Kickstarter]

Due to the Kickstarter funding campaign, a Veronica Mars film is going into production this summer [Image: Kickstarter]

With the target being reached, the production of the film will now happen, with contributors winning rewards including scripts, limited edition t-shirts, DVDs, signed posters, twitter follows, premiere tickets  and even a speaking role in the movie.

Due to the support of the Veronica Mars movie project, the rumour mill has been going wild with the possibility of other defunct television shows being able to make films through fan funding. Shows including Pushing Daisies, Chuck and Firefly are now all being rumoured for revival.

The biggest issue with the increased interest in fan funded films is the fact that, should these higher budget films be successful, it will be a more frequented method of covering production costs and smaller independent projects may get overlooked.

When big production companies are already involved with the film’s development, it does feel like an elaborate ploy for these corporations to earn extra money and it is a shame that people are likely to be more willing to contribute to these ventures than those with absolutely no means of funding their projects without extra support.

Furthermore, this method of funding changes the whole viewing experience for film fans. Rewards are there to ensure that financial contributors aren’t taken advantage of, but the process still holds great risk – what if the production doesn’t deliver with its promises and, more importantly, what if the fans who contribute towards the project aren’t happy with the final result?

Fans will be donating a lot of money to the film, what with the initial funding pledges, cinema trips and the purchase of dvds and merchandise, these contributors will therefore expect a lot from the final product and so they should.

I guess it comes down to Veronica Mars to set the precedent but, because of the media attention of the project and the persistence of fans, it seems likely to be a commercial success, which may mean film fans could soon have a more active role in the production of higher budget films, whether this is for the best or not.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 5: Invaluable Web Tools for Bloggers and Online Journalists

[Image: Zoomzum]

[Image: Zoomzum]

Web tools are essential for bloggers and online journalists, whether for generating traffic, sharing articles or enhancing your skills. There are numerous free tools on the web that are invaluable for these writers in order to make their posts, and websites, the best they can possibly be. Here are my picks of the best of these web tools:

Google Trends

Sometimes it can be so difficult to decide what is newsworthy enough to be written about. Whilst I’m a firm believer that as long as you are writing about something that interests you it will be worth it, publishers don’t always think in the same way.

Google Trends allows the user to not only see the “Hot Searches” in their country of choice; it allows them to see the most searched terms on any subject of their choice. This is a great way of seeing what subjects are of interest, and will potentially bring traffic to your website, and what trends people are interested in at the moment.

Google Alerts

This goes hand in hand with Google Trends but is of more use to the a subject-focused journalist. For example I have alerts set for Film, Literature, Music and Television as they are the subjects I enjoy writing about most.

You can set alerts to be emailed to you however frequently you want (with broader topics like mine I would suggest getting updates less frequently).

With Google Alerts, the best articles of your subject of choice are sent directly to your inbox so you are kept up to date with trends and interests.

Dropbox

I tend to work using numerous devices, so it can be really frustrating keeping track of a master document. I’ve had bad experiences using USBs in the past and as I frequently use my tablet for editing, the Dropbox app is a great find.

Dropbox is user friendly and simple to use. It creates a folder to save documents in on the computer, which is then synced to the tablet’s app. When using a different computer, documents can be accessed by logging in online, making work accessible whenever and wherever needed.

Bitly

Sharing posts is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, especially when you can use social networking websites, like Twitter, to reach like-minded people. However, with a limited amount of characters to use, it is often essential to shorten URLs in order to be able to say everything that needs to be said.

Bitly not only shorterns URLs, it allows you to organise URLs into bundles to save, and share, all over the web. Once links have been shared, you can go back onto bitly and get their stats– when they were clicked, the location of the viewer and the referrer of the link.

Codecademy

Whilst many blog hosts don’t require knowledge of HTML and CSS, it’s still a great skill to have as an online writer. Codecademy offers simple lessons on Web Fundamentals (as well as many other programming topics) in an easy to do format.

Instructions are relatively straightforward, with hints available when needed. The layout of the website is great, you enter the code you’ve learned into the box on the left and it appears in a result tab next to it.

As well as teaching the fundamentals of coding, it offers productive tutorials that can be applied straight to the user’s personal website, such as the design of a button.

 

Whilst these may not suit all writers, I’ve certainly found them to be useful. Are there any tools you would suggest for an online journalist or blogger?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers