While You Were Offline: Star Wars’ New Droid BB-8 Wins the Internet

It’s been a week where the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens proved it was possible for the Internet to be optimistic about something without a wave of cynicism immediately following it, and a genuinely amazing music video from David Hasselhoff proved that irony has itself discovered irony and now no one knows what they really like and just pretend to like anymore. (No, really, go watch that video; it’s nuts.) With all that in mind, here are the other highlights from this thing we call Internet over the last seven days.

The New Hero of Star Wars

What Happened: Never mind the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser; the thing that really blew up on the first day of Star Wars Celebration is the next movie’s new droid, BB-8.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: It’s not as if the world hadn’t seen BB-8, the droid that debuts in this December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens; he showed up in the first teaser for the movie last year. But when he rolled onto the Anaheim stage during the first panel of this year’s Celebration on Thursday, the Internet went mad for one simple reason: He wasn’t a CGI special effect. He was real.

Within hours, he was being called “the adorable new Star Wars character you’ll love more than your parents,” with posts trying to summarize everything we know about him and explain how he worked (Not to mention stories about the company responsible for creating the technology behind him.) The new trailer was great, but BB-8 has quickly become a phenomenon.

The Takeaway: If BB-8 toys don’t rule America this holiday season, someone’s going to get fired.

In Chipotle, Nobody Can Hear You Canvas

What Happened: How much does America love prospective presidential nominee Hillary Clinton? Apparently not enough to recognize her when she visits a local Chipotle.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: A day after Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign celebrating “everyday Americans,” she did the most everyday American thing she could think of: She went to a Chipotle restaurant for lunch, and impressively, nobody recognized her. “She has these dark sunglasses on,” the manager of the restaurant told the New York Times. “She just was another lady.”

That wasn’t enough for the media, however, which immediately went into over-analysis mode. Was the choice of restaurant a “masterly move”? Maybe not; after all, it meant she bypassed the more “centrist” Taco Bell. Maybe it was “Hispanic outreach.” But, really shouldn’t we be thinking of the people who made the food that she ate? After all, she didn’t even tip.

Twitter, too, felt compelled to weigh in on the subject:

The obsession with the subject reached such a point that a backlash started, with Jon Stewart’s Daily Show leading the way.

The Takeaway: On the plus side, Clinton’s campaign was the first to launch without any obvious online disasters, but as this kerfuffle quickly demonstrated, that didn’t mean that we’d get a lot of coverage of the issues. As Stewart ruefully commented on TDS, it’s going to be a long campaign. Oh, and that’s not even all Hillary got up to this week…

At Least It Wasn’t Comic Sans

What Happened: The Clinton campaign’s new logo is very eye-catching. So much so, in fact, that it’s already gone viral. Well, kind of.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: As this very site pointed out Wednesday, the Internet has gone insane for the Clinton campaign’s logo. While designers and cynics may call Michael Bierut’s design “uninspired,” others found themselves excited by it—although perhaps not for the right reasons:

Soon enough, WikiLeaks had weighed in:

Meanwhile, someone gave the logo a Twitter account, which commented on the response:

As might be expected, the logo and its response prompted many think pieces, including one asking other designers to take their own swing at it, but it’s worked out for one man: Rick Wolff, who created a new typeface based on the logo, known by most as “Hillvetica.” (It’s official name is Hillary Bold, but the nickname stuck.) A GoFundMe campaign to manufacture the font was an immediate success, more than doubling its modest goal and allowing the Internet to do things like this:

Well, at least the Clinton campaign seemed to roll with it:

The Takeaway: As above: This is really going to be a long campaign…

Sizzler Knows What America Needs (Or, At Least It Did in 1991)

What Happened: A promotional video intended to sell potential franchise owners on Sizzler back in 1991 leaked online. It is, to be blunt, spectacular.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: It’s genuinely difficult to explain the appeal of the Sizzler promotional video that showed up on Reddit earlier this week. In fact, you should probably just watch it for yourself to get the full flavor.

As is only right, the clip quickly spread across the Internet, sharing its patriotic message with everyone (even if some haters didn’t appreciate it). And, man, was the Internet ready to receive that message:

While Sizzler’s corporate response to the ad’s revival was charming enough (“We’re very humbled by the thousands of wonderful posts from our customers,” a statement from the company said), Esquire tracked down Stan Beard, the man behind the music in the video, who had the most appropriate reaction to the whole thing: “You don’t think things have changed so drastically in 24 years, but holy crap.”

The Takeaway: Sure, we can look back and laugh now, but just think what people in 2040 are going to think of all the commercials we’re currently watching. Holy crap indeed. Maybe we should drown our sorrows at Sizzler.

If Internetenfruede Isn’t a Word, Dennis Quaid Sure Wishes It Was

What Happened: When footage of Dennis Quaid freaking out on set appeared online, many thought that the Inner Space actor had finally snapped. Turns out, he was trying to catfish the Internet’s gawkeratti.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: At the beginning of the week, video of Dennis Quaid having a meltdown on set leaked online, reportedly because someone wandered onto set during a particularly intense scene and ruined his moment. (Watch it below, but the language makes it NSFW.)

The clip went viral, but the majority of the coverage was interestingly suspicious, convinced that it was fake. Indeed, Jimmy Kimmel even went so far as to deny responsibility, because so many people were assuming it was his handiwork. Turns out, while Kimmel wasn’t to blame, it was still a prank, as Funny or Die revealed midweek.

So, what was the point? It’s unclear, beyond “Haha, fooled yoooou!” Although some believe it was intended to raise Quaid’s profile ahead of his upcoming Crackle series, The Art of More.

The Takeaway: As always, don’t believe anything you see on the Internet.

Why Don’t You Tell Us All What Happened to You?

What Happened: Finally, someone has realized just how nosy the Internet really is. And they want to make sure you realize, too.

Where It Blew Up: Blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: We’ve seen the plea many times: brands wanting to know how you use their products, inviting you to “tell us your story.” It’s not always phrased that way, of course; sometimes, it’s an invitation to “share your story,” but the idea that you have a story is always primary. As Slate puts it, “having strong personal preferences—and maybe even a story!—about a certain soft drink doesn’t seem totally out of the realm of possibility. But a Depends story? A Chick-fil-A story? A GLOCK STORY?” Thankfully, then, there’s Tell Us Your Story, a Tumblr dedicated to tracking the many, many companies that want to help you tell your stories. Did you know, for example, that Preparation H wants you to tell your hemorrhoid stories? Or that Clorox would like you to share “your bleachable moments”?

The Takeaway: On the one hand, it’s almost affirming to believe that we’re all made up of stories that everyone wants to hear. On the other hand, marketing. Although, come to think of it, we really wouldn’t mind seeing how other people define “bleachable moments”…

Is There Any Escape From Game of Thrones Spoilers?

The moment of truth is here. For years fans of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire have been hoping that he could somehow write fast enough to stay ahead of the HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones . But Martin recently announced that Season 5 of the show will definitely be getting ahead of his books.

That puts book fans who want to read the tales before seeing them on TV (or hearing about them on Twitter) in a difficult position. Fantasy author Douglas Cohen, who started reading the series back in 1996, is adamant that he can and will avoid spoilers.

“I will go to extremes,” he says in Episode 146 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I will walk out in the middle of a conversation with friends if they start talking about Game of Thrones.”

But most fans think that avoiding spoilers will prove well-nigh impossible. The internet is an obvious minefield, with spoilers cropping up on every news site and social media network. But even avoiding the internet won’t be enough, since ubiquitous billboard ads provide a running update on which characters are still alive. Author and TV producer Andrea Kail is throwing in the towel and watching the show.

“It’s going to get spoiled for you,” she says. “It just is. You can’t avoid it.”

Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams is also planning on watching Season 5.

“If it was just me, maybe I would try to avoid the spoilers and read the books first,” he says. “But I’m watching the television show with my wife, and we have friends over when we watch it, and so it’s become a social thing.”

Fantasy author Chris Cevasco is still on the fence, but more and more he’s leaning toward watching the show, since the stress and aggravation of trying to stay in a spoiler-free bubble just seems daunting.

“I almost wonder if that’s going to sour me to all things Ice and Fire more so than having a couple of spoilers is going to sour me to it,” he says.

For more on the pros and cons of spoiler avoidance, listen to our complete conversation with Douglas Cohen, Andrea Kail, John Joseph Adams, and Chris Cevasco in Episode 146 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Douglas Cohen on George R. R. Martin:

“I came to George’s website, and he was actually selling off first edition hardcovers of his book, and he would sign it and everything. You just had to send him a check for 25 or 30 dollars. … I actually took the time to write him a letter. At this time I hadn’t done anything editorially, I had no writing [in] publications, I hadn’t been to any writing workshops. I just knew that I loved this stuff and I wanted to be involved with it, and I thought that George was just the most amazing author in the world after reading that book. And I got the book back, signed to me, and much to my amazement he actually took the time to write out a whole letter to me—on a typewriter, no less, very old school. … Not a lot of authors would take the time to do that. And the way he signed the book was great: ‘Dear Douglas, may all your winters be short and your books bestsellers.’ I mean, what more can you ask for if you’re a fan and an aspiring fantasy author?”

Chris Cevasco on divergences from the books:

“What I think the clincher was for me is that HBO and George R. R. Martin have now confirmed that the series on TV—to some extent—is going to be going in different directions. In some ways I think that’s what is going to make this all possible for me, because by not knowing ‘Is this actually from the books or not?’ I can trick myself into thinking none of this is from the books. And until I actually read the books, for all I know nothing that I’ve seen on the show is actually the way it turns out.”

John Joseph Adams on unfollowing people who post spoilers:

“Just the other day, somebody I follow on Twitter just cavalierly wrote [a major Game of Thrones spoiler]. And I said, ‘Dude! What are you doing? That’s a huge major spoiler!” And he said, ‘Oh, it’s been a year. I think the statute of limitations is passed.’ And I said, ‘Dude, you just watched it now! Lots of other people are just going to be watching it now. What are you doing?’ … And I’m actually really, really quick to unfollow people on Twitter if I see them post any kind of spoiler—even in a case like this where that’s not a spoiler for me because I already saw it—I will unfollow that person. This is a case where I didn’t feel like I could unfollow the person who said that, but I’ve unfollowed people for way less than that.”

David Barr Kirtley on the recent Coldhands spoilers:

“So you know there’s a lot of speculation about who Coldhands is? So George donated a bunch of manuscripts to some library somewhere, and some fans dug them out and looked at them, and George’s editor had written some notes throughout the manuscript, and there was a section with Coldhands, and the editor wrote, ‘I think this is such-and-such character. Am I right?’ And George had written a response. And I don’t know what he said—I purposely stopped listening to the podcast at that point. But that’s just another thing that’s out there on the internet. People know this secret information.”