The Wrap-Up: Highlights from SXSW 2014

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The past ten days have been a whirlwind of tacos, talks, and tunes. Here are some of the highlights, lowlights, and just plain strange lights from this year’s SXSW fest.

We’re worried about online privacy, but we still love social apps

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and world-renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden discussed the dangers of the NSA via remote video conference, but all these conversations about privacy seem to be at odds with the scores of new apps and wearable devices designed to encourage even more sharing of personal data. The lure of Facebook may be waning for millennials, but the age of social media is far from over; wearables startups hope to capitalize on direct lines to your heartbeats and nervous systems to provide useful services, but also sell information and make money at the same time.

Typecasting is still alive and well in the film industry

Mindy Kaling of FOX’s The Mindy Project vented her frustrations with being asked questions about her nationality, gender, and appearance rather than her creative process: “They try to put you in a pageant that you never wanted to be in.” Meanwhile, Lena Dunham of HBO’s Girls pointed out that despite the success of her show, actor Adam Driver is the one who gets all the job offers while she and her female costars are mostly offered “high school ditzes.” “People are ready to see Adam play a million different guys in one year, from lotharios to villains to nerds,” she explained. “Meanwhile Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Zosia Mamet are still waiting for parts they can get interested in.”

Celebrities are just as desperate for attention — as usual

Twin Shadow performed in a dumpster, and a performance artist threw up on Lady Gaga onstage. Justin Bieber skipped out on his court appearance and surprised festivalgoers at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, dedicating an impromptu performance of “Boyfriend” to ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez. A savvy University of Texas journalism student managed to snap this hilarious selfie with the Biebs in the background.

Corporations required music fans to jump through a series of social media hoops just to score tickets

Samsung rewarded Galaxy phone owners with complimentary tickets to all of their sponsored shows, and in order to attend Lady Gaga’s much-hyped performance, hopefuls had to post something “bold” to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and plaster it with Doritos hashtags. Despite the backlash, Lady Gaga defended the move in her keynote speech on Friday, explaining, “The truth is that without sponsorships and companies coming together to help us, we wouldn’t have any artists in Austin because the record labels don’t have any fucking money.” No word yet on whether her onstage puke-fest inspired rampant purchases of nacho cheese tortilla chips.

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