Voodoo Wrestling and Big Placebo (Preview) | VICE on HBO

This week, on VICE on HBO, Dexter Thomas dives into the Congo’s Catch Fétiche, a sport that combines mystic voodoo rituals & professional wrestling. And then Charlet Duboc talks to Gwyneth Paltrow about how “wellness” has become a booming industry.

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China’s Hip-Hop Answer To “American Idol” Is Huge — Even Though Rap Was Banned In China (HBO)

It might be a few decades late, but hip-hop is now huge in China.

It’s all thanks to a show called “The Rap of China.” Imagine American Idol (except full of rappers, and everyone is Chinese), and you’ll get the idea.

It’s slick, it’s dramatic, and a bit goofy. It’s also massively popular, pulling in 3 billion views in its first season, and the show has pushed a few rappers into superstardom.

There’s just one hitch: none of this should be happening, because in January, the Chinese government banned hip-hop from being shown on TV.

But somehow, The Rap of China is still on the air, and in its second season.

VICE News’ Dexter Thomas went to a live taping of The Rap of China in Beijing to find out how an entertainment company is building a fortune on a genre that wasn’t supposed to be on the air, and how local rappers are keeping audiences — and censors — happy.

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Therapists Are Using VR Headsets To Cure Phobias (HBO)

VICE News correspondent Dexter Thomas is absolutely terrified of heights. A tiny startup called Limbix thinks they can cure him with a VR headset.

Now that virtual reality is getting cheaper, it’s becoming a more accessible option for use in exposure therapy. It allows, for example, a therapist to take their patient to a plane, or a cave full of spiders, or a street corner where they were mugged ten years ago — all without the cost and danger of “in vivo” treatment.

Dexter Thomas went to Palo Alto to test out what some people are hoping will be the next big thing in therapy.

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How Tetris Became The Addictive Classic It Is Today (HBO)

Even if you don’t like video games, odds are you’ve played Tetris. It’s not only the best selling video game of all time, it might also be the most addictive game ever.

But you’re probably not as into Tetris as Box Brown is. He wrote a whole comic book about it, covering the exhaustive history of Tetris — from its humble beginnings as a side project in a Soviet Russian computer lab, to becoming a hard-fought prize for Nintendo that brought portable gaming to the world.

VICE News correspondent Dexter Thomas visited Box’s home studio in Philadelphia to find out why Tetris deserves its very own origin story.

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Making Saturday Night Live Funny For Everyone (Not Just Black People) (HBO)

Sam Jay is one of SNL’s newest staff writers, but she hasn’t had one of her sketches air yet. She’s also working on how she can introduce her own unique voice into the broader SNL tradition. “Like urban culture stuff, gay culture stuff…women stuff, that they may not necessarily have their pulse on,” she says. “Just who I am, you know what I mean?”

Kenan Thompson remembers this feeling. He’s been on SNL for 15 seasons, making him the longest-serving cast member in the history of the show, but he still remembers how nervous he was when he started.

He also remembers when the show wasn’t nearly as diverse.

Dexter Thomas met up with Sam Jay and Kenan Thompson in New York to hear about the challenges of making Americans – all of them – laugh.

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Wolfenstein II Is The Video Game That’s Pissing Off The Alt-Right (HBO)

Bethesda’s Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is set in 1961, in an alternate history where the Nazis won and colonized America.

After the company started releasing trailers for the game with the slogans “Not My America” and “Make America Nazi-Free Again” – clear references to the Trump administration – some gamers have gotten offended.

Dexter Thomas spoke to the creators of the new Wolfenstein about what it’s like to have created a game that accidentally feels way more real than they ever intended.

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Meet The Black Comedian Who Has Become Japan’s Most Unlikely Star (HBO)

It’s extremely difficult for anyone from the outside to make it in Japan, and it’s even harder in the entertainment industry. Dexter Thomas went to Tokyo to meet one Nigerian-American comedian who’s now on Japanese TV every day.

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This Holographic Anime Character Could Be Your Next Girlfriend (HBO)

A booming subculture of young Japanese men are obsessed with anime—to the point of craving actual intimacy. Now a company called Vinclu [prono: winkle] has invented a machine that can help bring their fantasies at least partway to life, in the form of a dedicated virtual companion. Dexter Thomas went to Tokyo to meet her.

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Chengdu’s Hottest Rappers Want To Make It In The U.S. (HBO)

The Higher Brothers is a rap group from Chengdu, China, that is starting to gain popularity in the US. Dexter Thomas went to Chengdu to meet them.

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The Man Who Relives Slave History Through Food (HBO)

Culinary historian Michael Twitty has made a name for himself touring the country to lecture about southern food traditions. His new book, ‘The Cooking Gene,’ is out today. The book explores the history of cuisine in the American south, by focusing on the people who laid the foundation for it — enslaved Africans. Twitty is currently on a teaching residency in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. VICE New’s Dexter Thomas joined him there for a meal.

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