Slouching From Adolescence to Social Security
"Today’s saturating media tug children beyond childhood prematurely, but not to maturity. Children are cosseted by intensive parenting that encourages passivity and dependency, and stunts their abilities to improvise, adapt and weigh risks. … Such students come [to college] convinced that the world is properly devoted to guaranteeing their serenity, and that their fragility entitles them to protection from distressing thoughts. As Penn State historian Gary Cross says, adolescence is being redefined to extend well into the 20s, and the 'clustering of rites of passage' into adulthood—marriage, childbearing, permanent employment—'has largely disappeared.' Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Cross says that 'delayed social adulthood' means that 'in 2011, almost a fifth of men between 25 and 34 still lived with their parents,' where many play video games: 'The average player is 30 years old.' The percentage of men in their early 40s who have never married 'has risen fourfold to 20%.' In the 1950s, Cross says, with Jack Kerouac and Hugh Hefner 'the escape from male responsibility became a kind of subculture.' Today, oldies radio and concerts by septuagenarian rockers nurture the cult of youth nostalgia among people who, wearing jeans, T-shirts and sneakers all the way, have slouched from adolescence to Social Security without ever reaching maturity."
—Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George F. Will [washingtonpost.com, 5/13/15]
The Result of Recording … Everything
"I used to wonder what it meant for children whose early years were recorded by their parents. They no longer had simple childhood memories—they were augmented by film of how they looked, what they said, how relatives and friends acted around them. Now, our lives are recorded far more comprehensively, and the images often tend to the extreme: moments of joy, sorrow, surprise, and embarrassment. And of course, the home movie was designed for those who visited your home. Social media is designed to broadcast your image to the world."
—Rabbi David Wolpe in his article "Drunk Mistakes Posted on Facebook Are Forever" [time.com, 4/28/15]
Games + Porn = 'Masculinity Crisis'
Excessive exposure to video games and pornography constitutes a "masculinity crisis" because "boys brains are becoming digitally rewired," says psychologist Phillip Zimbardo, author of the new book Man (Dis)Connected. Zimbardo and a team of researchers conducted a study on 20,000 young men, examining their relationship with video games and pornography. In an interview with the BBC, he said of the research, "Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation—alone in their room. … Now with freely available pornography, which is unique in history, they are combining playing video games and, as a break, watching on average two hours of pornography a week." The outcome, Zimbardo says, is a "new form of addiction" that results in a "psychological change in mindset." He says a typical video game and porn user might say something like, "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected." [independent.co.uk, 5/10/15 stats, c&e]
'Last Vestige of the Monoculture'
With Late Show host David Letterman signing off on May 20, many are looking back at his legacy, noting that he's had a strong influence on most every late-night host on the docket today. But in some ways, notes Slate's Seth Stevenson, there will never be another host like Letterman. "Grandiose as it sounds, watching Letterman pace the stage, charisma still radiating, I couldn’t help thinking that this guy represents the last vestiges of the monoculture," Stevenson writes. "The fortress of macro-entertainment has crumbled. The new late-night shows have no prayer of reaching all of America, all at once. … You can see it in the way the other hosts plod wearily through their audience interactions, passing time until the cameras roll again: They barely knew we were there. These shows are designed to chase likes and shares, to be easily chopped up into discrete grabs for elusive virality. There’s no need to put on a really big show in a really big theater when your end goal is a 30-second clip that will play in a tiny frame on someone’s Facebook feed." [slate.com, 5/10/15]
The Listing Legacy of 'American Idol'
"Fox canceled American Idol on Monday. The show’s ratings pale in comparison to its heyday, and it hasn’t found a superstar in years—but for the love of Seacrest, it still matters. … American Idol might not be the dominant force it once was. But its legacy still very much dominates television. Would Glee have existed had Fox not already been able to bet on a voracious appetite for good singers performing covers of familiar songs? Would Empire exist had Idol not proven, back in 2002, that there’s still a market in this day and age for music and television to coexist? … [And] the cult of Pitch Perfect fans are the descendants of the Idol nation. It’s fitting that one is being released at the same time as the announcement that the other is soon to be over. It’s proof of the Idol legacy."
—Daily Beast pop culture writer Kevin Fallon, on Fox's announcement that American Idol's 15th season next year will be its last. [thedailybeast.com, 5/11/15]
'CSI' Says See Ya, Wouldn't Want to Embalm Ya
"Set in Las Vegas, police procedural CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was game-changing when it launched on CBS in 2000: glossy, hi-tech and introducing viewers to a gruesomely geeky world of blood splatter, DNA testing, ligature marks and gunshot residue. It also became staggeringly popular, named the world’s most watched series for five years between 2005 and 2012, with a global audience of 75m. … The stuff that CSI invented is now everywhere, part of the landscape of crime drama. Everyone does forensics, from Sherlock to Broadchurch. Everyone does loveable lab nerds. … CSI’s snazzy special effects—cameras squelching into wounds, whizzing through bullet holes and reconstructing grisly injuries in flashback—are now standard."
—Michael Hogan, writing for Britain's Telegraph, on the news that CBS is cancelling its genre-spawning show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation after a 15-season run. [telegraph.co.uk, 5/13/15]
A Prurient Prom Recap
This prom season was awash in controversies over what constitutes appropriate prom attire. High school girls are increasingly taking fashion cues from Hollywood fashion, donning dresses with plunging necklines, provocative cutouts and see-through materials. And at Shelton High School in Connecticut, girls went so far as petitioning the school to allow them to dress however they like. "There is a sexist and backwards logic that girls must cover up so that boys are not distracted or tempted to behave inappropriately," reads the petition. "Don't teach girls to hide their bodies; teach boys self control and that they aren't entitled to a girl's body just because she dressed in a way that made her feel beautiful or just didn't want to get overheated." The school insists it will continue to make restrictions on what is appropriate prom attire. "We want our young ladies to be dressed beautifully; we want them to be dressed with class and dignity. But we are going to draw the line relative to attire that would be deemed overexposing oneself," said school superintendent Freeman Burr. [mtv.com, 5/13/15]
The Number Ones
#1 DVD (Sales)
#1 DVD (Rental)
#1 TV Show (Comedy)
#1 TV Show (Drama)
#1 TV Show (Reality)
#1 TV Show (Cable)
CULTURE CLIPS is researched and written by Adam R. Holz with assistance from Paul Asay and Bob Hoose. It is edited by Steven Isaac.