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Pop Culture

This awesome 2001 cover of Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' just can't stop going viral

Alien Ant Farm made the video an homage to MJ.

michael jackson smooth criminal alien ant farm

Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" cover still rocks.

When Micheal Jackson released "Smooth Criminal" in 1988, I was a 13-year-old named Annie. As you can imagine, the "Annie, are you okay?" jokes came fast and furious, and they haven't let up much in the three and a half decades since.

It's all good. Those jokes gave me a respite from the "Annie get your gun" and "little orphan Annie" ones, and besides, it's a great song. It wasn't Jackson's biggest hit, but it was always my favorite, and not just because it bore my name. The music video—a nine-minute, dance-heavy mini-movie set in the 1930s gangster era—made it even better.

But apparently, mentioning "Smooth Criminal" or "Annie, are you okay?" to the younger folks doesn't conjure up the zoot suits and dimly lit speakeasy images it does for me. For them, it brings up images of an alternative rock punk band playing in a … boxing ring?


In 2001, a band called Alien Ant Farm did an alternative/punk cover of "Smooth Criminal" that has repeatedly gone viral since then. In fact, it went viral in June 2022 and then again this week, when Lindz McLeod on Twitter asked if anyone would recognize the lyrics, "Annie are you okay, are you okay, Annie?" without looking them up. (Ahem.) Some people, seriously or jokingly, pointed to the Alien Ant Farm cover as the source.

The Alien Ant Farm "Smooth Criminal" video is actually an homage to Michael Jackson, though the folks that didn't grow up in the MJ era may miss many of the small details that point to him. Watch and see how many Michael Jackson references you can find:

The kid dancing while wearing a mask has a whole different feel now than it did when the video came out, for sure. Seems downright prescient, in hindsight.

The masked kid was the one part of the Alien Ant Farm video that Michael Jackson himself took issue with at first. (Michael Jackson would often wear a face mask in public, long before it became a pandemic habit.) The band shared that story in an interview with Los Angeles Times:

"When you asked if we had any reservations of how it would be received, the only person we were mindful of was Michael Jackson himself. We were kind of worried. We sent the video to MJ to get his nod of approval. And he commented back that he didn’t really dig the kid with the mask. I think MJ wore that mask because of all of his failed surgeries. We were like, 'Oh s—, maybe we should remove it.' We were already on tour. But a few weeks later, the director of the video [Marc Klasfeld] went to the same street, got a bunch of the extras together and reshot the dancing kid without the mask. We went through quite a bit of money and bulls— to make sure that we were appeasing Michael Jackson. We sent it back to him a few weeks later with the kid with no mask and he said, 'You know what? I like it better with the mask!'"

The Alien Ant Farm "Smooth Criminal" video has racked up a whopping 257 million views on YouTube alone since it was shared in 2009. People say it's a perfect representation of the early 2000s, both the sound and the visuals.

Some people have also said they prefer the Alien Ant Farm version to the original, which feels a bit blasphemous, but whatever. It's a great cover—the band did an admirable job of keeping the overall elements of the original while adding their own sound to it—but there's just nothing like Michael Jackson's original. Enjoy:

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

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Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

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Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

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Go above and beyond day-to-day work

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Joy

'90s kid shares the 10 lies that everyone's parent told them

"Don't swallow that gum. If you do, it'll take 7 years to come out."

via 90sKidforLife/TikTok (used with permission)

90sKidforLife shares 10 lies everyone's parents told in the era.


Children believe everything their parents tell them. So when parents lie to prevent their kids to stop them from doing something dumb, the mistruth can take on a life of its own. The lie can get passed on from generation to generation until it becomes a zombie lie that has a life of its own.

Justin, known as 90sKidforLife on TikTok and Instagram, put together a list of 10 lies that parents told their kids in the ‘90s, and the Gen X kids in the comments thought it was spot on.


“Why was I told EVERY ONE of these?” Brittany, the most popular commenter, wrote. “I heard all of these plus the classic ‘If you keep making that face, it will get stuck like that,’” Amanda added. After just four days of being posted, it has already been seen 250,000 times.

Parents were always lying #90s #90skids #parenting

@90skid4lyfe

Parents were always lying #90s #90skids #parenting

Here are Justin’s 10 lies '90s parents told their kids:

1. "You can't drink coffee. It'll stunt your growth."

2. "If you pee in the pool, it's gonna turn blue."

3. "Chocolate milk comes from brown cows."

4. "If you eat those watermelon seeds, you'll grow a watermelon in your stomach."

5. "Don't swallow that gum. If you do, it'll take 7 years to come out."

6. "I told you we can't drive with the interior light on. ... It's illegal."

7. "Sitting that close to the TV is going to ruin your vision."

8. "If you keep cracking your knuckles, you're gonna get arthritis."

8. "You just ate, you gotta wait 30 minutes before you can swim."

10. "If you get a tattoo, you won't find a job."

Internet

Lawyer explains how and why she refuses to sign waivers of liability forms for her child

"I do not waive my child's rights when it comes to liability or catastrophic events."

Representative photos by RDNE Stock Project and João Rabelo via Canva

Lawyer refuses to sign waivers of liability for her child

Every parent is familiar with the standard liability waiver for children to do just about anything. Going on a school field trip, sign a liability waiver. Playing a sport, sign a liability waiver. Going to a birthday party at a trampoline park–you got it, sign a liability waiver. The form is so common that parents often sign it without thinking about what they're actually signing.

The assumption is that if you don't sign the form, whoever "they" are will know and your kid will be left out of whatever activity they wanted to do. But do you actually have to sign those things? Shannon Schott a mom, criminal defense and personal injury attorney says declining is an option.

The attorney took to TikTok to explain how she gets around signing the liability forms for her child and it's much simpler than one might think. According to Schott, she's never been questioned when she simply crosses out the things she doesn't agree with and writes decline next to that particular section. No secret liability waiver police jump out from behind the nearest bush, and her reasoning is quite simple.


Blindly signing on the dotted line essentially waives your child's rights to take legal action if an accident occurs that severely injures, maims or kills your child, Schott explains. The mom tells her audience that as a lawyer who handles personal injury, she would never agree to sign away the option to sue, reminding others that liability waivers are a mutual agreement. Keeping this in mind she only signs what she's comfortable with.

"First and foremost if people are not paying attention, I just don't do it. If someone says you have to go online and sign a waiver I say, 'okay thanks' and I don't do it and no one checks and that's not on me. That's me being smart and not waiving my child's rights," Schott reveals, immediately clarifying that she and her family are safe and not trying to trick someone into a lawsuit.

While many people didn't realize that you had the option to decline, some did and explained how they do it in the comments.

"On my first day of torts, my professor taught us to cross out all of the negligence/death clauses. 10 years later with 2 kids, I've never been questioned (no one noticed)," someone writes.

"I always wrote, 'unless under negligence.' No one ever rechecked my signature," another says.

"I always do this!! My mom did it when we were kids so it became a habit," one commenter shares.

@shannonschott.esq #jaxfl #jaxlawyer #floridalawyer #juvenilejustice #juveniledelinquency #juvenilelawexpert #personalinjury #personalinjurylawyer #personalinjuryattorney #personalinjurylaw #personalinjurytips #personalinjurylawyers #personalinjurylawyerflorida ♬ original sound - Shannon Schott

Schott makes it clear in her video that while she is particular about arbitrarily signing her child's rights away, she's not looking for litigation and she's fine with having her child sit out of an activity if needed. The attorney also reassures a commenter that parents always have the right to revoke a waiver and ask for a new form if they've signed thinking they didn't have a choice. Parents are thanking her for the information with some admitting they need to take a closer look at those forms in the future.

Steve Martin's 2000 novella, "Shopgirl."


Over the past few years, book bans have been happening in public libraries and schools across America. In the 2022-2023 school year alone, over 3,300 books were banned in 182 school districts in 37 states.

Most books that have been banned deal with LGBTQ and racial themes. According to a report from PEN America, Florida has been the most aggressive state regarding book bans, accounting for about 40% of those taken off the shelves.

On November 5, Collier County, Florida, announced that it was banning 300 books from its school libraries out of an effort to comply with state law HB 1069, which says books that depict or describe “sexual content” can be challenged for removal.


Among the books banned by the school district was “Shopgirl,” a novella by author Steve Martin published in 2000. Martin is also the star of the hit Hulu show, “Only Murders in the Building,” featuring Martin Short and Selena Gomez.

Upon hearing about his book being banned, Martin responded with his iconic wit on Instagram, saying, “So proud to have my book Shopgirl banned in Collier County, Florida! Now, people who want to read it will have to buy a copy!"

“Shopgirl” is a story about a young woman who works in a luxury department store and has an affair with a wealthy older man. It was made into a movie in 2005 starring Claire Danes and Martin. It’s believed the book was banned for its mild sexual content. On Amazon, the book is recommended for readers ages 13 and up.


This article originally appeared on 11.11.23

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash (left) and Dan Renco on Unsplash (right)

The staring is part of the competition.

A video of kids waving a narrow rod in front of a pig while hunching like Dracula and giving someone a death stare has taken the internet by storm, leaving people scratching their heads.

"What did I just watch?" seems to be the primary response to the video shared on the @dadsonfarms TikTok page, followed by various versions of "Where am I?" and "What is happening?" and "How did I end up here?"

The befuddlement is only matched by the curiosity and confused laughter that naturally result from seeing something so…unbelievable? Unexpected? Unusual? Uncanny?


How else should one describe this?

@dadsonfarms

Krew and Karis at The Revival livestock Show! #showpigs #pigshow

"This is the weirdest thing 😂😂🤣 I have so many questions!!!" wrote one person.

"Why do I feel like this is a staring competition and the pigs are just a added difficulty 🤣," wrote another.

"Yay!!! I’m back on hunchback death stare competition while also showing pigs tiktok!" exclaimed another.

"Again. What did I react to, to end me up here?" asked another.

If you've ever stepped foot in the world of 4-H or FFA (Future Farmers of America), you likely recognize there's a livestock showing competition happening here. But if you're a city slicker with no rural or agricultural ties, you may not know that "showing" animals is even a thing.

Not only it it a thing, but it's a highly competitive endeavor with specific rules and guidelines and expectations. It does help to have the showmanship requirements explained, however, and thankfully the kids' dad explained in a separate video.

The kids showcased here are Karis and Krew, twins who compete in the 13 to 16-year-old category of pig showing. The pigs are Smack Down and Greta. The reason the competitors stare so intently is to show they are paying attention to the judge and also to show how much control they have. (And according to one commenter, they get extra points for keeping eye contact with the judge the whole time.)

More questions answered here:

@dadsonfarms

@Lawrence Johnson I tried to answer all your Questions about showing Pigs 😊! #showpigs #pigshow

People have been fascinated to learn about how much goes into these exhibitions. Who knew pig showing was this intense? And with judges being flown across the country—there's an official Livestock Judges' Association and everything—this is clearly serious business.

Except when you add the music to it, it just comes off as seriously strange hilarity.

@dadsonfarms

Great night to show at western regionals #showpigs #hogshowman

So what exactly is the point of all of this?

When livestock showing began in the 1800s, the primary purpose was to improve the quality of livestock. These days, it's more about helping young people developing character qualities through programs like 4-H and FFA while learning about farm animal care and preparation for selling. They learn about responsibility, self-discipline, hard work and professionalism through these competitions.

And they clearly master making eye contact as well. You can follow @dadsonfarms on TikTok for more.

Palestinian and Israeli whose family members were killed sit face-to-face to talk peace

One man lost his parents. The other lost his brother. Their dialogue is moving people to tears.

Photos by cottonbro studio/Pexels (left), and by Ahmed Abu Hameeda on Unsplash (right)

Hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians

Conflict between Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for many decades, with scholars around the world spending years analyzing and explaining why and how. But regardless of how we got here, the violence we saw perpetrated on Israelis on October 7th and the violence we've seen perpetrated on Palestinians in the months since has been a drastic escalation with unspeakably tragic results.

People of goodwill everywhere search for hope in times such as these, for evidence that humanity hasn't been completely destroyed by vengeance and violence, that real peace is in fact possible. And there is no better pair to offer glimmers of such hope than Palestinian peacemaker Aziz Abu Sarah and Israeli peacemaker Maoz Inon, who sat down face-to-face on a TED stage in April of 2024 to share their personal stories and talk about what peace requires.

Unlike those of us watching war unfold from half a world away through the lens of media spin and social media algorithms, these men have lived this conflict up close. Sarah's brother was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces when he was just 19 years old. Inon's parents were killed by Hamas on the October 7th, 2023 attack. They both have every reason to be angry—and they are—but the way they purposefully process their anger into peacebuilding is an example to us all.


Inon begins their conversation by sharing how his parents and childhood friends were killed on October 7th, then shares how grateful he was that Sarah was one of the first people to reach out to him even though they'd only met once before. Sarah shares how his brother was killed by the IDF and how all of his friends have lost family members to Israel's bombardment of Gaza, yet praises how he Inon has processed his loss.

"When I sent you that message to offer my condolences after your parents were killed, I was surprised by your answer," Sarah told Inon. "Not just to me, but your public answer. Because you said you're not only crying for your parents, you're also crying for the people in Gaza who are losing their lives, and that you do not want what happened to you to be justifying anyone taking revenge. You do not want to justify war."

"And it's so hard to do that," he added. "So much easier to want revenge, to be angry. But you are a brave man."

Sarah said it took him "much more time" to reach such a place after his brother was killed. "I was angry, I was bitter, and I wanted vengeance. I was 10 years old and I thought there is no other choice. And only eight years later, when I went to study Hebrew with Jewish immigrants to Israel, that's only when I realized that we can be allies."

Both men have been peace activists for years. What's particularly beautiful about their conversation is that they are talking directly to each other, not to the audience, offering an example of what sitting down with the "other side" can look like when you share the goal of peace. They tell their personal stories and explain what has driven them to seek reconciliation over revenge. They listen to and learn from one another. They acknowledge the difficulty but are unwavering in their dedication to build peace.

The division stemming from the historical reality and current politics of Israel and Palestine may feel intractable, but if these men who have lost so much can find common ground and a shared vision, then hope remains. Their dialogue is moving people to tears and is well worth a watch: