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Here are the deeply disturbing winners of Infowar’s hateful “Make Fun of Hillary” video contest

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Last November, a bizarre story started slithering its way through the right-wing media.  The owner of the world famous Laugh Factory in LA claimed that someone from the Clinton campaign called and harassed him after he posted a video about Hillary on the club’s website.  The mystery man demanded that the video be removed and said that making fun of Hillary could be bad for the club’s business.  The owner says he hung up on the man once he started asking for the names and contact info of the comedians featured in the video.

Conservative bloggers and pundits and talk radio hosts ate this story up because it confirmed so many of their wildest fantasies about Clinton; it basically proved that she’s a humorless you-know-what that hates the first amendment and that wants to destroy anyone who dares stand in her way.

Of course there was just one problem with this story.  According to Slate.com it was probably total B.S.  (story link)  The Internet is filled with thousands of blog posts and videos and memes that make fun of Hillary Clinton.  Why would someone from the campaign care about one random, non-viral video that featured a few extremely harmless jokes.  (It seems like most of the comedians featured in the stand-up montage actually like Clinton.)

After the story first broke, the owner of the Laugh Factory told a reporter from Slate that he has “no idea” if the call really came from someone in Clinton’s campaign.  In fact, he suggested that it may have been a prank.  (Which seems very possible since the owner knows hundreds of comedians.)  Slate theorized that the caller may have been “an overzealous Hillarybot” or a “dirty trickster, who then took steps to send the story ricocheting through conservative media.”

But conservatives aren’t about to let a little thing like reality ruin their good time.  On November 24th, (five days after Slate published their expose about the rumor) right-wing radio show host and Grade-A scumbag Alex Jones of InforWars.com launched the “Make Fun of Hillary” video contest.  Here’s what InfoWars.com had to say about the contest:

We launched the contest back in November to reassert our birth right to free speech after Clinton attempted to censor comedy skits that poked fun at her produced by the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, Calif.

“They threatened me,” club owner Jamie Masada told Judicial Watch. “I have received complains before but never a call like this, threatening to put me out of business if I don’t cut the video.”

In response, we asked for the funniest, most outrageous satire and comedy videos making fun of Hillary Clinton.

Infowars announced the winners of their contest a few weeks ago and the videos they picked are absolutely disgusting.  The right’s hatred of Hillary Clinton is so deep and so rabid that it’s genuinely frightening.  Apparently these people think that Hillary is some kind of twisted, psychopathic, despotic MURDERER that can’t wait to take away our liberties and destroy the American way of life.

Here’s the video that won the grand prize.  I’ve seen a lot of creepy things on the Internet but this video is truly disturbing.  It gives us a glimpse into the sick and twisted minds of the bunker-dwellers who sit in the dark and listen to Alex Jones while photoshopping “funny” pictures of Hillary’s head on a witch’s body.

First Place Winner. Prize: $5,000:



It sounds like the dude who made that video believes that the Clinton’s are straight-up evil and out to destroy the United States of America.  He goes so far as to claim that the clintons intentionally surround themselves with “physically repulsive people who are angry at the world” (e.g. James Carville, Robert Reich, etc) who want to use political power to get revenge against “the normals” that shun them.  That’s some seriously sick sh*it right there! And yet THAT is the type of content that the InforWars judges thought was worthy of $5,000.

The second place winner is a little less creepy but it’s still pretty insipid.  I guess the judges gave this guy extra points for his random and obviously super-hilarious fake gay voice.

Second Place Winner. Prize: $1,000:



The presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump has said that if he’s elected, he’ll bring back waterboarding and “much worse” because “torture works.”  Well Mr. Trump, if you make it to the Oval Office I recommend that you make the bad guys watch videos created by InforWars fans because that last video made me want to puncture my own eardrums.  And to all the Bernie Bros out there that are saying they’ll never vote for Hillary, I hope these videos will serve as a bit of a wake up call.  Now that you’ve seen what the true Hillary-haters believe, do you really want to be on the same side as them?

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Help my friend Dave defeat an army of trolls!

One of my oldest friends is a good dude from Ohio named Dave.  Dave wants to sell his house but first he needs to re-do his whole kitchen.  He’s a pretty good musician so I told Dave that maybe he could make some extra cash by winning a video contest.  I searched through some contest listings and I helped him find a good one he could enter; The annual Trend Micro “What’s Your Story?” contest.  This year the theme is “What does the Internet Mean to You?”  Here’s Dave’s entry:

Click the screenshot to view and vote!

Click the screenshot to view and vote!



To have a shot at the $10,000 grand prize, Dave first has to get enough votes, views and comments to make the top 10.  I usually like contests that pick their finalists via a public vote because the cheating doesn’t get too vicious.  Ten spots leaves room for some cheaters but most of the open slots are filled by good videos that actually get a lot of real votes.

But this contest turned real ugly, real fast.  The problem is that “the public” can rate videos using a star system like this….

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So you can probably guess what happened.  Dave’s entry is pretty good so some of the other contestants started down-voting him like crazy. Dave’s friends and family have been incredibly supportive and based on the number of facebook likes and comments he’s been getting, I’m sure he’s gotten literally hundreds of real, 5-star votes.  But instead of having a rock-solid, 5-star score, his rating has been going down and down and down.  He’s now hovering around 2 1/2 stars.  That means he’s probably received about 200 1-star votes in the last 10 days or so.

Dave has never entered a video contest before so he wasn’t prepared for such blatant, hardcore trolling.  He and his wife have taken the down-voting really personally and he’s been kind of distraught for the last few days.  He feels like if he could just make the top 10, he would have a serious shot at winning. (He absolutely would.)

So I contacted the judges and told them what was going on.  They must have gotten a lot of complaints because today they sent out a message that basically said “hey people, knock off the trolling or get disqualified.”  The effect was almost immediate.  Dave’s score stopped going down and the top entries stopped changing positions every 5 minutes.

The judges actually took things one step further and said that the star system isn’t the only criteria they will use to determine the top 10.  They will look at how many votes each video got in total.  So Dave’s video (with 200 five-star votes and 200 one-star votes) would actually score much higher than a video with 20 five-star votes.  They also said that views, comments and shares are also going to be VERY important.  And fortunately, the sponsor actually has a great system in place to prevent fake comments.  Whenever a comment is posted on a video, the creator of the video gets an email that says something like “Your entry has received the following comment _______, from commentorsemailadress@whatever.com via IP address # 00000000.”  So they are basically letting the contestants know that they are recording the IPs and email addresses of everyone who leaves a comment.  So it would be very stupid for someone to leave a ton of positive comments on their own video.  And that probably explains why three of the top four videos have less than 5 comments each.

So VCN readers, I’d like to ask you guys a favor.  Dave will never be able to get a 4 or 5 star rating at this point but maybe he can still win the battle for comments and views.  So if you have a moment to spare, please help Dave stick it to the trolls by watching and/or voting for his video.  It would also be super, duper helpful if you could leave a nice comment or click the share button.  Thanks in advance for the help.  I’ll be sure to post the results of this contest when the judges make their final decisions.

Dave’s Entry:  https://whatsyourstory.trendmicro.com/blog/entry/1-5d44e/

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USC student uses stolen content to win $7,500 video contest prize

On April 3rd, the Milstein Family Foundation and the Israel Video Network announced the winners of the “Inspired by Israel” video contest.  For this contest, filmmakers from around the world were asked to create entertaining and informative videos about the state of Israel.  The $7,500 grand prize winner was a student from USC named Rachel L.  Here’s her entry:



That’s an amazing video and it genuinely deepened my knowledge of, and respect for, Israel.  But there’s a big problem with the entry.  The “filmmaker” didn’t actually make any of the film.  Except for a few graphics, it looks like all of the video was taken from new stories and other sources.  Even the music (One Call Away by Charlie Puth) was presumably used without permission.  The rules were very clear that the entries could only include original, non-copyrighted material:

VIDEO REQUIREMENTS:

Videos must contain only original material. Submissions cannot contain copyrighted music or images, unless they have authorization of proof to use them or they fall under generally accepted fair use guidelines. When filming people, participants must ensure the subjects have given their consent. By submitting a video to this contest you affirm that no copyright law has been infringed on.

I guess an argument could be made that this entry constitutes “fair use” but that argument would simply be incorrect.  You can’t just take existing works and cut them together to create a new work, even if that new work is a documentary.  The accepted (but unofficial) fair use guidelines state that existing works must be credited and used sparingly.  But even if the judges did feel that this was fair use, there’s zero chance in the world that the winner tried to get the consent of any of the people (especially those that were sick, trapped or suffering) that were featured in this video.

So even though this entry was really, really good, the judges should have booted it from the competition.  I didn’t enter this particular contest but I’ve lost plenty of prizes to filmmakers who should have been disqualified.  But when that happens, I never get mad at the winning contestants.  My rule is “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”  In this particular case, Rachel L. took a gamble and guess what, it paid off.  It’s not her fault the judges decided to throw their own rules out the window.  So keep that in mind the next time you get screwed out of a prize.  You can be mad at the judges, but don’t hate on the winner.  Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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Doritos debuts the winner of their Dinamita ad challenge

The Crash the Super Bowl contest may be dead but Frito-Lay is still running commercial contests via their Legion of the Bold platform.  Last week they debuted the winner of one of their biggest contests to date, the Create A Dinamita Spot challenge.  Here’s how the LOTB described the contest:

This entire thing started over two months ago when we asked Legion of the Bold for ideas. Then we selected three bold ideas. Then we asked you all to pitch us your vision. Then we selected 3 Legion members to go make those spots.

Holy sh*t, wait a second…this all sounds really familiar.  Is it possible that Frito-Lay just ripped off Tongal’s 3-phase, contest model?  Tongal was running idea, pitch and video phases long before LOTB ever existed.  This Dinamita contest even had a “wildcard” element; three pitch winners were guaranteed to receive prizes (in addition to their production grants) but one of the four prizes was set aside for a “wildcard” video that anyone could shoot on spec.  That is EXACTLY how things work over at Tongal.

Ok, I’m going to stew on all this and do some digging.  For now let’s get back to the Dinamita contest.  Here’s the entry that won the grand prize.  The sponsor must like it because they’re already running it as a web ad.  In the last week, it’s been viewed more than 800,000 times on Facebook alone.

First Place Winner.  Prize:  $15,000:

The other three winners in this contest also received some pretty big prizes.  Second place got $12K, third got $10K and 4th got $7.5K.  To see all the winning videos, head here:  https://www.doritoslegionofthebold.com/assignments/28/ideas

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Filmmakers Beware: TheAudienceAwards.com wants you to PAY to enter their video contests

Suckers Welcome.

Suckers Welcome.

So far the new video contest site, TheAudienceAwards.com has failed to catch on with filmmakers.  Most of their contests have had small prize pools and received only a handful of entries.  For example, their recent “Webisodes” contest offered just $600 in prizes and only 5 people bothered to enter.  One of TAA’s biggest competitions to date was for Hilton’s Home2 Suites.  $17,000 was at stake but only 37 entries were submitted.  And a lot of those entries are kind of fishy….I think the folks behind TAA may have enlisted friends to make some quick and sloppy entries just to make the contest look more popular.  (Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.)

I think TAA’s main problem is that their system is kind of confusing.  Some winners are picked by a panel of judges and some winners are picked via an online vote.  Some prizes are paid out in cash and other prizes are paid out in mysterious “site credits.”  And even though the contests are open to the public, sometimes entries might be rejected if the “quality of content” is too low.  But the craziest and weirdest thing about TAA is that some contests are free to enter but others are not.  Check out the details for TAA’s new “Filmmaker Tips” video contest:
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DIY-contest

So TAA wants you to create video content for them on spec and then PAY for the opportunity to have it judged.  (I wonder if you get your $10 back if your work is rejected when you first try and upload it.)  I thought that maybe this DIY contest was an aberration but then I realized that the Site Credit prizes are supposed to be used to pay future entry fees!  I poked around the site and found a few more contests that also have entry fees:
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The Reel Pitch Trailer Challenge.  Deadline:  July 4th, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $30

2016 Music Film & Video Contest.  Deadline:  May 17, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $15

Wild and Green Short Films.  Deadline:  April 18th, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $10

Anime Shorts Contest.  Deadline:  April 25, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $25
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I don’t know for sure why TAA charges entry fees but I think it’s because the company has connections to the world of Film Festivals.  In fact, it seems like they’re trying to get film fests to use the TAA platform to run their competitions.  But Film Festivals charge entry fees because most of them are are not-for-profit.  So the fees help cover the events’ costs.  But I’ve looked all over TAA’s website and I didn’t see the words “non-profit” anywhere.  In fact, the folks in charge of The Audience Awards are actively trying to recruit companies (and not film fests) that will “pay” to run contests on their platform.

Frankly, I don’t care why TAA is trying to charge people to enter their contests.  The reasons don’t really matter.  Let me say this loud bold and clear:  Under no circumstances should you ever pay a fee to enter a video contest.  It is unethical and inappropriate.  For-Profit companies should not be charging you to create content on spec.  I’ve only seen a few other companies try and do something like this but TAA is definitely the most egregious offender I’ve ever come across.  That Anime Shorts contest I just listed has a grand prize of just $300!  It takes a lot of nerve to ask filmmakers to pay $25 to have a shot at winning $300.  Obviously the sponsors of this contest are probably expecting people to submit material that already exists.  But it still feels like a scam, doesn’t it?  (Maybe that’s why the contest has only received one entry so far.)  And if a contest looks like a scam and feels like a scam, it’s probably a scam.  After all, if a website is so desperate for cash that they NEED everyone to kick in $15, do you really think they’re going to pay up when you win?

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Frito-Lay wants you to break some crazy Doritos-themed world records

I think the folks over at Frito-Lay were getting pretty sick of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Those poor people have been watching cheesy homemade ads about Doritos-loving zombies, dogs and ninjas for almost ten years.  The marketing team must have been dying to make a change because the company started promoting Doritos NEW crowdsourcing initiative a few hours before The Crash actually came to an end.  On Super Bowl Sunday, Doritos hoisted a bunch of football fans 137 feet in the air in front of Levi’s Stadium so that they could break set the world record for the “Highest Suspended Football Party.”



This ridiculous exciting stunt was the official kick-off of Doritos’ new BIG BOLD 50 campaign.  For the next 11 months, the company will help fans break set 50 crazy, Dorito-themed world records.  The whole thing is meant to celebrate Doritos’ 50th anniversary.  Via the sponsor:

“50 years of DORITOS means 50 DORITOS World Records.  We call this celebration Bold 50.  Because when DORITOS does anniversaries, we do them BIG and BOLD.”

“Doritos will create new records for consumers to break, such as the highest location from which to eat Doritos chips or building the tallest house of cards using Doritos chips”

I keep saying that Doritos fans will “set” rather than break these records because obviously these records are all made up.  That’s probably why the people over at Guinness aren’t involved in this.  All of these chip-themed records will be verified by the website RecordSetter.com.

Bold 50 has been up and running for almost two months but very few details have been released yet.  The website is pretty empty and it doesn’t explain how you can break the records or what you’ll receive if you do.  But there is a radically BOLD form you can fill out if you’d like to receive super extreme updates about future record contests:  https://www.doritosbold50.com

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