"All the legendary stories that got created just aren't true. I just saw some Beatles program the other night, and in the first five minutes were four mistakes. This is why we don't know who Shakespeare was or what really happened at the Battle of Hastings."
—Paul McCartney [Rolling Stone, 3/1/12]
"All music is autobiographic. Particularly when it's not meant to be."
—Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth [torontosun.com, 2/4/12]
"If we don't engage with movies, television and social media storytelling, I think we as Christians fail to engage our culture and community. Oscar season is a great opportunity to do that. We should be looking at the stories and movies that our culture honors, and dialogue about whether we can embrace them, learn from them, and what we find true or beautiful about them. It's a way for us to reflect on our own journey and find out if and how it matches up with the stories, and then dialogue about why it does or doesn't. … We should ask ourselves, 'What are the key questions the story is raising? How do we respond to these questions? What theological reflections relate to these questions? How do our responses connect with the movie story's responses?' Asking good questions is a great way to get people into dialogue with the movies."
—movie producer Ralph Winter, whose production credits include the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, as well as several Star Trek films [christianitytoday.com, 2/23/12]
Reactions to the environmentally minded message of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax have been all over the map. "The Lorax would cause a commotion thanks to his bristly mustache alone," writes bighollywood.breitbart.com critic Christian Toto. "But [voice actor Danny] DeVito makes his oddly urgent proclamations—'I speak for the trees'—the kind of battle cry modern tree huggers will call their own. He's angry, not joyous, with an edge to his voice that would make him a fine candidate for an eco-terrorist academy." USA Today's Susan Wloszczyna, meanwhile, says, "The Lorax doesn't shy away from its message. But to take the edge off, five catchy songs were written to make the heavier exposition go down more easily. Plus, the Humming-Fish, Swomee-Swans and teddy-bearish Bar-ba-loots are constant sources of amusement, especially when the Once-ler feeds them marshmallows." Taylor Swift, who gave voice to Audrey, says, simply, "It really teaches people that sometimes they don't know what they have until it's gone, and it's a lesson I've taken to heart my whole life." [bighollywood.breitbart.com, 3/2/12; usatoday.com, 3/1/12]
A new documentary film titled Bully has been assigned an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America for its inclusion of obscene language. But director Lee Hirsch says, "I made Bully for kids to see—the bullies as well as the bullied. To capture the stark reality of bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives—and the fact is that kids use profanity. It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most."
Still, on Feb. 23, The Weinstein Company, which distributes the film, lost its appeal to the MPAA for a less restrictive rating. In response, more than 150,000 people have signed a petition to pressure further reconsideration by the ratings board. Katy Butler, who started the petition on change.org, says, "I can't believe the MPAA is blocking American teenagers from seeing a movie that could literally save thousands of lives. The MPAA needs to give Bully a PG-13 so the students being bullied, and bullies themselves, can see this film and schools can show it as well." The MPAA's response? "Bullying is a serious issue and is a subject that parents should discuss with their children. The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that Bully can serve as a vehicle for such important discussions," says Joan Graves, head of the organization's Classification and Ratings Administration. "Unfortunately, there is a misconception about the R rating of this film limiting the audience to adults. This is not true. The voluntary ratings system enables parents to make an informed decision about what content they allow their children to see in movies."
Note: In 2005, upon appeal, the MPAA granted a PG-13 rating to Gunner's Palace, a documentary about the Iraq War, which contained about 35 f-words. [ew.com, 2/21/12; foxnews.com, 3/1/12]
"There's all this focus on the victims, but victims and bullies are on the same playing field. They both need our help. So how do we not just save the victim but save the bully too?"
—Lady Gaga, at the launch of her new anti-bullying foundation at Harvard University. Gaga was inspired to create the organization, the Born This Way Foundation, after the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who was bullied for being homosexual. She has since been very candid about her own experiences as a bullied teen, relating that she was once thrown into a trash can by peers in high school. [slate.com, 3/1/12]
One Million Moms, a project of the American Family Association, is asking Toys 'R' Us to remove an Archie comic that focuses on a same-sex wedding. The cover shows two men walking together under a banner reading "Just Married." One Million Moms' website urges its constituents to contact the toy retailer, noting, "These comic books are sold at the front checkout counters so they are highly visible to employees, managers, customers and children. … This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand." [ew.com, 3/1/12, onemillionmoms.com]
Newly released data from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health research group, indicates that both teen pregnancy and abortion rates have fallen to record lows. Contraceptive use has been credited with a teen pregnancy rate of 67.8 pregnancies per thousand women ages 15 to 19, the lowest level since at least 1972. That represents a drop of 42% from 1990, when teen pregnancies peaked at 116.9. As for the teen abortion rate, it dropped to 17.8 per 1,000 teen girls, a decline of 59% from its 1988 peak of 43.5 abortions per 1,000 teens.
Meanwhile, for the first time more births to women in their 20s take place out of wedlock than in, according to government data analyzed by the Washington research group Child Trends. A majority, 59%, of all mothers (all ages combined) are married when they give birth. But nearly two-thirds of mothers under the age of 30 are unwed. [Reuters, 2/8/12; nytimes.com, 2/17/12 stats]
Nearly 20% of teens have driven while high on marijuana, according to a study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions. "While parents seem to have done a fairly thorough job instilling in our kids the importance of not driving after drinking alcohol—only 13% of teens have driven while under the influence of alcohol—apparently we've been slacking off a bit on relaying the dangers of driving after smoking pot," writes Kristin Varela of cars.com. [chicagotribune.com, 2/23/12 stats]
"North Korea has officially agreed to suspend its nuclear program. Apparently they watched one episode of Toddlers and Tiaras and realized we're destroying our own society."
—Jimmy Fallon, in a monologue during the Jan. 29 episode of his NBC show Late Night With Jimmy Fallon [usatoday.com; newsmax.com, 2/2/12]