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October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression

Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviewed Australian painter Pricasso on his unique artwork created using his penis, and how his art relates to freedom of expression and issues of censorship. He is to be featured at the upcoming adult entertainment event Sexpo Australia in Melbourne this November 5 to November 8.

File photo of Pricasso, 2012.
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Background

Pricasso painting a portrait in Australia at Sexpo (2012)
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Pricasso is the stage name of Australian painter Tim Patch, in a nod to the artist Picasso while using the word prick. Pricasso has been painting portraits using his penis for more than ten years.

Based in Australia, Pricasso paints his artwork using his buttocks and scrotum in addition to his penis. According to 640 Toronto News, Pricasso markets himself as “The World’s Greatest Penile Artist”.

Cquote1.svg I consider my work as satire just like late night TV, something that gives light relief to a serious subject. Cquote2.svg

Pricasso

He is able to create 20 paintings in one day. Pricasso also practices other styles besides portraits, including landscape painting and nudes. Typically his portraits take him not more than 15 minutes to paint. He told Coconuts TV he chose to specialize in creating artwork in this manner because he felt it was a niche market.

His fanbase is international; Pricasso has journeyed to locations including the United States, Holland, Germany, Brazil, Mexico and China to paint portraits for people. Though he is willing to travel to display his talent, Pricasso told In Touch Weekly most of his income is Internet-based.

Wikinews interviewed Pricasso about his artwork and asked for his thoughts on topics of censorship and freedom of expression. We discussed what are considered appropriate forms of parody and satire of public figures — protected in the United States following the Supreme Court case Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.

The interview touched upon a 2013 conflict which arose on our sister site for images and media, Wikimedia Commons, when an image of a portrait of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales painted by Pricasso was uploaded to the site. Wales called it “harassment” and a succession of deletion discussions ensued. We asked Pricasso about this as well as the different reaction from former-Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille, who called his painting of her part of a “free society” where artists “exercise their freedom in unusual ways.”

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Pricasso, thanks for agreeing to do this interview with Wikinews.

Pricasso: Thanks for doing this, great questions.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long have you been painting in this particular fashion?

Pricasso: I first tried it over 10 years ago and realised it would be possible with practice to get as good with it but in a slightly more impressionistic style than I could with a brush, and I really liked the results, of course at first I had to work out the paint formula and what to paint on which was done by trial and error — and then finding somewhere to practice, which was a problem until I was invited to become a member of a Bondage club in Brisbane, my first patron. There I realised that there were so many people with totally different views on what is acceptable in society, and were always protesting over most censorship issues.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long can you paint with your penis at one time before it gets too tiring?

Pricasso: At most Sexpo’s and Adult Expos I paint for 13 hours a day in half slots so I paint 20 plus paintings a day. When I am painting I have to concentrate hard and go into a meditative state; I don’t notice much going on around me until I have finished.

Example of Pricasso applying paint before creating a piece of artwork.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Other than your penis, what other parts of your body do you use in the painting process?

Pricasso: I quickly worked out that I could speed it up by using my testicles and butt cheeks to cover large areas in no time at all, but only recently do I paint the edges using my butt-crack, I call it the credit card swipe!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How did you come up with the name Pricasso?

Pricasso: That was the heading they christened me with in the Picture Magazine interview in 2006. I realised it was Gold and took out the website and trademark.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What’s the most positive reaction you’ve had to one of your paintings?

Pricasso: It is always satisfying to get applause when a painting is finished; at most adult shows this happened all the time; but I do like painting disabled people. I have painted several people with severe cerebral palsy and they are over the moon with the result; this gives me the most pleasure, as I do realise that they are still sexually active people and everyone should realise this.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have any of your paintings been featured in a gallery somewhere?

Pricasso: I have entered the Bald Archy Exhibition in Australia every year and sold a few. Also at an exhibition of politicians in Australia, and last November I went to Miami for the Art undressed exhibition and also painted 15 minute portraits there which was fun.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider it a form of freedom of expression to create your artwork in the way you do with your penis?

Pricasso: When I first thought of the idea I was really thinking I could get invited to a few parties as the entertainment which I do regularly, but now I am getting a good style about my work and want to take it to the next level and be accepted as an innovator.

Cquote1.svg A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their freedom in unusual ways. Cquote2.svg

—Cape Town former-Mayor Helen Zille

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 2008, prior to a Sexpo event in South Africa, you uploaded a video to the Internet of yourself painting a portrait of then-Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille. Why did you decide to do this?

Pricasso: No particular reason on my behalf, it was the organisers of the Sexpo who got me to paint it mainly for publicity. But also to have a portrait on my stand, who people in Cape Town would relate to as I now know she is very popular and has a great sense of humour.

Cape Town former-Mayor Helen Zille
Image: Helen Zille, Democratic Alliance, South Africa.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille commented of your portrait painting of her: “This is a free country. A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their freedom in unusual ways. And if this is how he wants to do it, I must accept his constitutional right to do so.” — what are your thoughts on her reaction?

Pricasso: Sounds a bit formal but that is how politicians usually talk, guarded and a totally correct response, the trouble is that if they spoke from the heart it might come back to bite them one day, but I did talk to one of her aides privately and she said they were all really impressed and loved the concept, I really should have offered to paint her too but I was probably flat out all day — I always am at the South African shows.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Mayor Zille further commented about the quality of your painting of her: “[Pricasso] has achieved a good likeness and I can’t imagine how he painted it without brushes or conventional equipment.” — what do you think of this assessment?

Pricasso: Most people are impressed when they see it done, skeptical at first but after the initial shock they all usually stop to watch until I finish that particular painting, usually they take about 15 minutes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png If you could speak to Mayor Zille, what would you say to her about her reaction to your painting of her?

Pricasso: I would say I was impressed with her response, mostly girls are much more impressed than guys only a minority of guys I might add, lots of them love it and me too!! But in general she gave a responsible and educated reply and was not at all offended by the experience.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 2011, one member of the Gold Coast Sculptors’ Society quit in protest due to your participation in the ‘Exotic Erotic’ show — how do you feel when people react to your artwork in this way?

Pricasso: I guess I could say; This is a free country. A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their dissaproval in various ways. And if this is how she wants to protest, I must accept her constitutional right to do so. There was that politically correct enough? Or maybe the silly old B***ch — but her reaction did get heaps of publicity for the show and they had record numbers coming through the doors so there was a silver lining. But obviously it is a bit confronting and not everyone’s cup of tea but if they could just see it before they get on their high horse they might have a different point of view.

The painting of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, the uploading of which Wales called “harassment”. 2013.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You painted a portrait of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales in 2013; a picture and a video file of the making of this painting were uploaded to Wikipedia’s sister site for images and media, Wikimedia Commons. Shortly thereafter, the files were nominated for deletion and a deletion discussion ensued — what are your thoughts on this discussion?

Pricasso: I did not think Wikipedia censored anything as on Jimmy Wales’ Twitter account his banner heading is: “Wikia guy. Free speech activist, entrepreneur.” Either this is misleading in the very least or blatantly untrue.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The deletion discussion at Wikimedia Commons resulted in keeping the photograph of your portrait of Jimmy Wales, but deleting the video of your making-of-the-portrait — do you consider a video of your portrait painting to be offensive?

Pricasso: Not in the least; it’s pure performance art.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png During the deletion discussion, Jimmy Wales commented “I encourage people to go to commons and work to explain to the community there some of the concepts behind Hostile environment sexual harrassment. I encourage everyone to seriously consider whether it is appropriate behavior to upload a clearly non-notable film of someone using his penis to paint a picture of a Wikipedia volunteer. It is harassment, it is trolling, and I am deeply disappointed to have to point this out to some people.” What do you think of his response to your artwork? Do you feel your paintings constitute harassment?

Pricasso: Harassment is when one continually annoys someone, over and over again; I only painted the one painting of him and it to my mind was not offensive, I consider my work as satire just like late night TV, something that gives light relief to a serious subject. There are many examples of political cartoon images on Wikipedia, so why are they still up there or is it just the things Jimmy Wales doesn’t like get taken down? By the way anyone who has not seen the offending Video can view it on Vimeo under Pricasso: http://vimeo.com/user10315938/review/68837137/893b31ca54

I paint about 1000 portraits a year and get paid by the sitters or a close friend of them to do so. I had a request to paint a portrait, to do [this] portrait of Jimmy Wales with a video of me painting, by Russavia (who is an editor at Wikipedia), something I do all the time and I have great feedback as to how funny the videos are; I had no idea who Jimmy Wales was at the time of the request, but painted him only once so it can’t be called Harassment. Is he just using his position of power to cut and censor … It took me a lot of effort and time to put this together so I was pretty upset. And would really like it to be republished next to the portrait as originally it was before Mr Wales had it removed.

[Editor’s note: Accusations of harassment focused on the uploader, rather than the artist; the successive heated discussions, over about six months, that ultimately led to the video’s deletion from Commons may be read here. Jimmy Wales expressed his position elsewhere and did not directly participate in the discussions themselves.]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How do you compare the reactions by Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille who said your portrait painting of her was a product of a “free society” and a reflection of how people “exercise their freedom” with the comment by Jimmy Wales calling the publication of your artwork “harassment” ? Which of these individuals do you feel is correct, Mayor Zille or Wales, and why?

Pricasso: I think Helen got it. They in South Africa are struggling with change from being suppressed to one of freedom as she said “a free society”. Jimmy Wales on the other hand although promoting himself as The Free Speech Guy is censoring things he does not agree with and calling it Harassment, not a good look Jimmy!!

I did put the video of Helen Zille being painted on YouTube. It was there for a few months but they too delete my work quite regularly so it’s probably long gone.

She is an experienced politician and would weigh up the fors and against before she acted, obviously the fors had it.

Mr. Wales on the other hand has probably not seen a lot of my work; if he had he would know I do it for fun and not really to be taken too seriously, it’s a comedy performance, but he could not see the unique talent of someone who has cornered the world market of penis portraits painting with no imitators for the past 10 years, so before too many people could have a small chuckle at his expense he had it deleted, I’m sure there would be many others who would like to remove things on Wikipedia but don’t have the muscle to do so.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you experienced censorship or attempts by others to limit your freedom of expression? How so, and what was your reaction?

Pricasso: As I said before YouTube is always deleting my videos when someone complains, sometimes even when there is no genitals visible. Once one was taken down because the guy I was painting had the word (fuck) on his tee shirt; I mean how many films have this word in the dialogue. Also in Macau at the adult show, the people who make the rules make me perform inside an enclosed area, and people are wary of coming in through the door so is a bit slow there; and the guys that run the show are so polite and passionate trying to change China slowly, making it more open, that I keep on returning year after year.

Signed painting of a French Bulldog, by Pricasso. 2013.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider some of your art pieces to be forms of parody or satire of famous people?

Pricasso: Oh yes I love creating something topical and painting a spoof on famous people, and painting with a penis really lends itself to this form of art, but I just painted a normal portrait of Jimmy Wales, as I said before I had no idea who he was before I googled him. And found this heading [on] his Twitter account (seems to me he has a few double standards) “Jimmy Wales
 Verified account
‪ @jimmy_wales You know, the ‪@Wikipedia and ‪@Wikia guy. Free speech activist, entrepreneur.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are you familiar with the U.S. Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell ? How do you feel after reading about the unanimous decision protecting parody as a form of freedom of speech in that case?

Pricasso: Thanks for sharing that with me, I had no idea about this case and it’s good to know that freedom of speech is alive and well in America. Actually I was a bit taken aback by the parody and slightly offended that I have been put in the same category, my painting is pure performance art and I don’t go out of my way to offend. And I am totally against censorship. It’s a shame the same is not true about Wikipedia and Mr. Wales.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Pricasso, thanks again for doing this interview with Wikinews, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Pricasso: Not at the moment. I’m exhausted! Thanks.



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Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Pricasso
  • Commons-logo.svg Pricasso
  • Wikiquote-logo.svg Pricasso
  • Wiktionary-logo.svg Pricasso

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May 22, 2015

David Letterman signs off after 33 year career on the Late Show

David Letterman signs off after 33 year career on the Late Show

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Television
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David Letterman in 2011.
Image: Joint Chiefs of Staff.

American TV host David Letterman announced his retirement on Wednesday night, after a 33 year career as host of the Late Show on CBS. His farewell included an abundance of clips from his classic skits, a few restrained fillips of sincerity and humility and sarcastic, self-deprecating humor with a tinge of nostalgia.

Letterman chose as his last musical guests the Foo Fighters, as the band in the past had canceled their tour in South America to play on his first show after Letterman’s heart surgery operation.

Over the last few weeks, a parade of celebrity guests including Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and George Clooney paid their respects to Mr. Letterman. Jason Alexander from Seinfeld tweeted: “David Letterman, thank you for the laughs, both live and on air. May your family bring you joy and inspiration and may you laugh for all your days.”

On Wednesday, he described all the encomiums as “over the top” and said he found it “flattering, embarrassing and gratifying”. After more than an hour of tributes and laughs, David Letterman signed off his last show yesterday night with the words: “That’s pretty much all I got … thank you and goodnight.”



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February 21, 2015

Harris Wittels, Parks and Recreation executive producer, found dead aged 30

Harris Wittels, Parks and Recreation executive producer, found dead aged 30

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

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Harris Wittels, an executive producer on the comedy television series Parks and Recreation, has been found dead. The 30-year-old was found unresponsive at his home in Los Angeles by his assistant on Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have announced they are investigating the possibility of a drug overdose.

Wittels had a history of drug abuse and spoke openly about his addiction and treatment in drug rehabilitation centers. As well as working as a producer he was also a writer, musician, and stand-up comedian. He performed a stand-up set in Hollywood the night before his death.

Wittels, from Texas, started work on Parks and Recreation as a writer before being promoted to producer and eventually executive producer. Parks and Recreation is in its seventh and final season. The last episode is due to be broadcast on NBC next week.

His other working credits include work on The Sarah Silverman Show and Eastbound and Down. He authored a book, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, which came from a phrase he coined on Twitter. #humblebrag was used as a term to describe the art of false modesty.

Tributes have come from across the world of television and comedy. Sarah Silverman called Wittels her “baby”. She said on Twitter “You should know that Harris was brilliant beyond compare. That his imagination was without limit. That he loved comedy more than anything”.

Parks and Recreation actress Amy Poehler said at a Variety event where she was being honored “I don’t really feel like telling any jokes. Today, I lost a friend. I lost a dear, young friend in my life who was struggling with addiction.”

Fans of Wittels also paid tribute to him. Posting on culture website The AV Club, one fan wrote “I don’t mean to belittle what those who knew him are going through at all, I know how I feel is nothing compared to what they’re dealing with, but it does feel like I lost a friend.” Another posted “Been sitting here crying since I found out an hour ago. Just unbelievably awful. Said this elsewhere but I genuinely feel like I lost a friend, don’t care how lame that sounds. RIP Harris.”

An official cause of death will not be known until results are released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.



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  • “Paul Schneider leaving NBC’s Parks and Recreation; Rob Lowe, Adam Scott to appear in series” — Wikinews, March 15, 2010

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August 12, 2014

Actor and comic Robin Williams found dead at 63

Actor and comic Robin Williams found dead at 63

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams at the premier of Happy Feet Two in 2011.
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

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The US comedy actor Robin Williams was found dead yesterday by the Marin County, California Sheriff’s Office, apparently by asphyxiation. Williams had been suffering from depression and announced he would re-engage in a twelve-step program.

Williams was the star of a whole series of comedy films winning an Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting and Golden Globes for his acting in Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Fisher King. As well as films and television, Williams did stand-up comedy and appeared on chat shows; he appeared on the finale of Johnny Carson‘s tenure hosting The Tonight Show.

Williams’ initial claim to national fame was his role in Mork and Mindy where he played an alien who comes to earth, falls in love and gets married to a woman, Mindy McConnell, played by Pam Dawber.

Susan Schneider, Williams’ wife, said: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

President Barack Obama paid tribute to Williams: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalised on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”

Comedian Steve Martin tweeted: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”

Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: “I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I’m heartbroken.”

Born in 1951, Williams leaves behind his third wife, and three children: daughter Zelda, 25, and two sons—Zachary, 31, and Cody, 19.



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September 2, 2013

Veteran journalist David Frost dies aged 74

Veteran journalist David Frost dies aged 74

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Sir David Frost
Image: Chatham House.

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The British broadcaster and journalist Sir David Frost has died of a heart attack, aged 74.

Best known for an interview with former President Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal, Frost died on Saturday night aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, where he was due to give a speech. “His family are devastated, and ask for privacy at this difficult time,” said a statement released from Frost’s family.

Frost got his start in the early 1960s presenting on satirical BBC show That Was The Week That Was. With a career spanning five decades, Frost would go on to interview an extensive list of the famous and powerful – including virtually every British Prime Minister and US President of his time, as well as royalty, celebrities and leaders including Mikhail Gorbachev and The Beatles. Highly versatile, Frost would prove confident at both serious political journalism as well as light entertainment and comedy, hosting sketch show The Frost Report in the mid-60s.

Frost famously interviewed former US President Richard Nixon in 1977, during which Nixon apologized for the Watergate scandal—where Nixon had bugged the offices of political opponents. The face-off would be turned into multi-Oscar nominated film Frost/Nixon in 2008, with Frost played by Michael Sheen.

Frost wrote 17 books, produced eight films and started the British television networks London Weekend Television and TV-am. He became Sir David after being knighted in 1993, and won numerous awards for his work throughout his time.

Frost is survived by his wife Carina and their three sons.



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December 22, 2012

\’Gangnam Style\’ YouTube view count passes one billion

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

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The music video for “Gangnam Style“, a song by South Korean artist Psy, has become the first YouTube video to surpass one billion views. The video, which was uploaded to the video sharing website on July 15, became the most viewed of all time last month after overtaking the music video for “Baby“, a song by Canadian singer Justin Bieber, which was placed on YouTube two years ago.

Cquote1.svg [T]his song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not Cquote2.svg

Park Jae-Sang

With more than 6.1 million likes, Guinness World Records has recognised “Gangnam Style” as being the most liked YouTube video ever; it also has over 449,000 dislikes. ‘officialpsy’, the YouTube channel upon which the video was uploaded, now has in excess of 2.1 million subscribers and has achieved over 1.4 billion video views overall. According to Google, the company which owns YouTube, the video has attracted between seven and ten million daily views on average since being uploaded to the site.

Park Jae-Sang, the actual name of Psy, explained the meaning of the song in an August 2012 interview with CNN. “People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are — it’s only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are ‘Gangnam Style’ — so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not”, he said. Despite its international popularity, in a separate interview with Reuters earlier in August, Park Jae-Sang said “Gangnam Style” — a satire of consumerist aspects of the Gangnam District of the South Korean capital of Seoul — “never targeted foreign countries. It was for local fans”. His said his intention with the video “was to look uncool until the end. I achieved it.”

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“Gangnam Style” has inspired countless parody versions, prompting UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph to suggest it was “the most parodied video ever”. Among the parody versions are one performed by inmates of the Philippines’ Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, one with students from Eton College in the United Kingdom, one from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and one created in the approach to the 2012 United States presidential election called “Mitt Romney Style”.

Numerous prominent figures have attempted to imitate the “Gangnam Style” dance — which involves crossing one’s wrists over each other and motioning as if “you’re riding an invisible horse in your lower body,” Park Jae-Sang explained — including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US President Barack Obama and Google chairman Eric Schmidt.

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  • “‘Gangnam Style’ becomes most watched YouTube video ever” — Wikinews, November 25, 2012

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November 25, 2012

\’Gangnam Style\’ becomes most watched YouTube video ever

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon performing a “Gangnam Style” dance move alongside Psy
Image: VOA News/United Nations Webcast.

The music video for “Gangnam Style“, a song by South Korean artist Psy, has become the most viewed YouTube video of all time. The video, which now has over 816 million views since being uploaded in July, became the most watched after overtaking the music video for “Baby“, a song by Canadian singer Justin Bieber, which was placed on YouTube in 2010.

With approximately 5.4 million likes, “Gangnam Style” is the most liked YouTube video ever, as recognised by Guinness World Records. The video has averaged approximately six million daily views since its upload. Guinness World Records previously said about the video: “In years past it was unthinkable that something would be viewed a hundred million times, and now Gangnam Style has achieved more than twice this figure in just three months on YouTube.” Should its daily view count average rate continue, “Gangnam Style” could potentially pass one billion views by the start of 2013.

“Gangnam Style” satirises consumerist aspects of the Gangnam District of Seoul, the South Korean capital. The music video has influenced numerous parody versions, including one called “Mitt Romney Style”, which was created in the run-up to the 2012 United States presidential election.

Park Jae-Sang, Psy’s actual name, said “Gangnam Style” “never targeted foreign countries. It was for local fans”. He said his intention “was to look uncool” in the music video “until the end. I achieved it.”

The song has reached number one on music charts in about 30 countries. Its popularity has extended as far as US President Barack Obama; and Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who can be seen performing one of the dance moves to the song in the video above.

Psy has now signed with The Island Def Jam Music Group, a record label representing such acts as Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber.



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September 2, 2012

English entertainer Max Bygraves dies at age 89

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

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English television presenter and variety performer Max Bygraves has died at his residence in Australia. The comedian, who was born in the Rotherhithe of the British capital London, was 89 years old. Johnny Mans, Bygraves’ agent, confirmed Bygraves had died as he slept in his home of Hope Island, in the Australian state of Queensland, Friday night.

“We have lost one of the best entertainers that Britain has ever produced”, said Mans, calling his death “a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry.”

Bygraves, whose catchphrase was “I wanna tell you a story”, was born Walter William Bygraves in 1922. He received the first name Max for impersonating Max Miller, another English comedian, while entertaining at the Royal Air Force [RAF]. He became an entertainer there having been prohibiting from joining the RAF for having inadequate eyesight.

Bygraves became notable for performing various self-composed comedic songs, as well as for his appearances on the Royal Variety Show. He was at one time the presenter of ITV game show Family Fortunes.

“He as a person never dated,” ex-radio broadcaster Ed Stewart said of Bygraves, who was his friend. “He was a great character with a great sense of humour, a lovely family and it’s just a shame that he’s gone, but at nearly 90, he had a good run. He was an entertainer through and through.” His works provided “a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and were huge sellers,” Stewart said.

During 2005, Bygraves emigrated to Australia from his UK residence in Bournemouth, in the south west of England. His family reported that he was experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, earlier this year.

Bygraves is survived by six children, three of whom he conceived with his wife Blossom Murray, who he married in 1942. Murray died in 2011.



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June 7, 2011

Scottish university to introduce comic studies degree

Scottish university to introduce comic studies degree

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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In the Central Lowlands of Scotland, the University of Dundee is to become the first university in the United Kingdom to provide degrees in comic studies. The university has said that courses for its comic studies subject within the English section will commence in September 2011.

The city of Dundee is known to be the headquarters for D. C. Thomson & Co., a publishing company whose works include various comic books, such as The Beano, The Broons, The Dandy and Oor Wullie. Dr. Chris Murray, a leading British authority on comic books, will be leading the comic studies programme. “This is a very exciting time for comics scholarship, and I am delighted to be able to offer this postgraduate course on comics,” he explained. “This is a unique opportunity to give this important medium the attention it deserves, and to allow those with an interest in comics to study it in detail.”

Those organising courses for the degree believe that comic books now appeal to adults as well as children due to their impact in the areas of politics, art and literature, as well as aspects of popular culture. Amongst the program will be the examinations of comics of an autobiographical nature and similarities with the culture of comic books on an international scale. Students who complete the Master of Letters learning program — running either full-time for a year and two-years if done part-time — will be eligible for a Doctor of Philosophy in comic studies.

Dr. Murray has also noted: “Employability is an important consideration for any postgraduate programme, and it lies at the heart of what we aim to do with this course. There will be practical advice on publishing and developing a career as a comics scholar, writer or artist, and we hope to arrange work placements for students. Comics and graphic novels are becoming an increasingly important form of literature, art and field of study, and it is our intention that our graduates are at the forefront either as researchers, writers, artists or filling other roles within the industry.”



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November 9, 2010

US TV: Jay Leno bested by Conan O\’Brien in late night ratings

US TV: Jay Leno bested by Conan O’Brien in late night ratings

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

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Television audience ratings for U.S. TV host Conan O’Brien‘s first TBS program Conan last night were higher than rival Jay Leno and his late night program on NBC, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. O’Brien’s ratings were also higher than CBS network’s David Letterman, as well as Comedy Central programs hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Conan O’Brien in 2007
Image: John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service.

Monday marked O’Brien’s return to late night television after his departure as host of The Tonight Show on NBC following a dispute this year, in which Leno’s program The Jay Leno Show was canceled after poor ratings, and NBC reinstated Leno as host of The Tonight Show.

Cquote1.svg Conan O’Brien is enjoying a sweet, sweet victory in the ratings. Cquote2.svg

The Hollywood Reporter

O’Brien’s debut program featured guests including curator Arlene Wagner of the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, actor Seth Rogen and actress Lea Michele. His guest schedule for Tuesday night’s program included actors Tom Hanks and Jack McBrayer, in addition to music from the group Soundgarden.

The premiere of Conan was watched by over 4.1 million viewers. Nielsen ratings data made public today showed that Leno’s program The Tonight Show was only watched by 3.5 million viewers, and Letterman’s Late Show was seen by 3.4 million people. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report were watched by 1.3 million and 1 million viewers, respectively.

O’Brien announced his move to TBS, a cable channel founded by Ted Turner and owned by Time Warner, in April.

O’Brien’s viewership trended towards younger people, with 2,451,000 individuals ranges from ages 18 to 34 – and 3,285,000 people in the 18 to 49 age demographic. Leno’s The Tonight Show, in comparison, only drew in 950,000 people in the same younger demographic breakdown.

In an analysis of O’Brien’s ratings win, Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times wrote, “the debut of ‘Conan,’ the new late-night show starring Conan O’Brien, got off to a strong start”. James Hibberd commented for The Hollywood Reporter, “Conan O’Brien is enjoying a sweet, sweet victory in the ratings.”



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  • “US TV host Conan O’Brien leads in late night ratings” — Wikinews, January 17, 2010
  • “US TV host Conan O’Brien rejects NBC’s offer to switch his show’s time slot” — Wikinews, January 13, 2010

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