A recent European Commission YouTube campaign designed to get girls interested in science incorporated the slogan "Science: It's a Girl Thing!" and featured lots of pink backgrounds and makeup brushes. The "i" in "science" was even represented by a lipstick tube. And that's got critics hotter than an exothermic reaction. The "commercial" has been labeled as misguided, patronizing and cliché-ridden. And it's prompted Petra Boynton, a social psychologist at University College London, to write, "For the love of all things holy, what is this crap?"
Salon.com's Mary Elizabeth Williams sums things up this way: "The problem with these frou-frou attempts to coax females into traditionally male-dominated fields is that they assume the main barrier to entry is that girls think they're icky. It's a trope perpetuated down to the clothes on our daughters' backs, riddled with messages that girls are 'allergic to algebra,' 'too pretty to do homework' and 'pretty like mommy'—while boys are 'smart like dad.' … If you really want to face, head on, the obstacles that females face in any number of professions, then you need to stop acting like the problem is that girls just need everything fed to them on a glitter-daubed pink spoon."
The video has since been taken off the commission's YouTube page. [salon.com, 6/25/12]
In the wake of an online petition asking Seventeen magazine to publish at least one undoctored photo each issue, the publication has released what it's dubbed the "Body Peace Treaty"—an eight-point pledge promising never to alter girls' body or face shapes and only to use "real girls and models who are healthy." It also encourages readers to check out Seventeen's Tumblr blog, which will show how photos are digitally edited before hitting the publication. Editor Ann Shoket included what she says is an example of what is edited out of photos (a bra strap, an unseemly fold in the clothes and a few stray hairs) and what the magazine doesn't change ("Her gorgeous smile—totally authentic!" the illustration says). "While we work hard behind the scenes to make sure we're being authentic, your notes made me realize that it was time for us to be more public about our commitment," Shoket wrote to concerned readers. Julia Bluhm, the 14-year-old girl whose petition garnered more than 85,000 signatures, declared victory. "It's even more than we asked," she says. "The important thing is they agreed to do what we asked them to do. However they want to say it in their magazine is OK." [nytimes.com, 7/3/12]
Small-time rappers are sometimes being convicted of crimes in part because of the lyrics they write. Louisiana rapper Clyde Smith, for instance, was recently thrown in jail for 30 years on drug charges after police caught him with prescription drugs hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma—bought in Texas. Though Smith had prescriptions for the drugs and a medical condition that allegedly necessitated their use, the prosecution showed the jury two videos. The first was for his song "B.M.F. Freestyle," in which he talks about going to Texas to do some "doctor shopping." The other featured Smith telling the camera that "We really do the s‑‑‑ we rap about." The jury apparently considered those videos legitimate evidence, but some suggest that hyperbole is part of the rap culture, and the lyrics (or, by extension, a YouTube admission) shouldn't have been allowed in the trial at all. "Using lyrics as evidence against hip-hop artists is as preposterous as bringing organized crime charges against the author of The Godfather or gang charges against the director of Scarface. It's art, stupid," says Paul Butler, professor of law at Georgetown University [theroot.com, 7/3/12]
Many observers believe Katie Holmes' main motivation for filing for divorce from Tom Cruise is to gain sole custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri, and to keep her from being raised as a Scientologist, as Cruise reportedly wants. Jenna Miscavige Hill, a niece of Scientology chairman David Miscavige who left the organization in 2005, reacted in a statement, "My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive. I was allowed to see my parents only once a week at best—sometimes not for years. We got a lousy education from unqualified teachers, forced labor, long hours, forced confessions, being held in rooms, not to mention the mental anguish of trying to figure out all of the conflicting information they force upon you as a young child. … As a mother myself, I offer my support to Katie and wish for her all the strength she will need to do what is best for her and her daughter."
Mark "Marty' Rathbun, once the Church of Scientology's No. 2 leader behind Miscavige, officially severed ties with the organization in 2004 and now describes himself as an "independent Scientologist." He said of Holmes' aggressive legal maneuvers to secure sole custody of Suri, "Katie could blow Scientology wide open. … If Tom's smart, he won't fight her on anything, even custody. He should just try to settle his way out of it. She could press this sole-custody issue and litigate it, and that would be the biggest nightmare in the Church of Scientology's history. It would be a circus they couldn't survive."
On July 9, the Associated Press reported that Holmes and Cruise had reached a settlement regarding the terms of their divorce. Details of the agreement were not publicized, but Holmes' lawyer, Jonathan Wolfe, released a statement that said, "The case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. … We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life." [hollywoodreporter.com, 7/4/12; AP, 7/9/12]
"The humor in the movie I guess you could say is similar to Family Guy, but [writer and director] Seth [MacFarlane] is probably pushing things a little bit more in this movie. I think it is going to offend more people than Family Guy does but, hey, I didn't write it. I told them I want that as a disclaimer!"
—Ted star Mark Wahlberg, who says that when he got the script for the movie, he'd never seen MacFarlane's claim-to-fame TV series Family Guy. He then recounts what happened at his home when he flipped it on to watch an episode with his kids: "The baby is locked in [a bank vault] with the dog; the dog eats poo out of the baby's diaper; then they are drinking alcohol; then they get this gun out of a safety deposit box. … All this crazy stuff is going on and my wife comes barging in from the other room because she hears all this laughter, and she immediately turns the TV off and yells at me for letting the kids watch it." [telegraph.co.uk, 7/5/12]
"There are a number of ways to judge the six-day $140 million debut of The Amazing Spider-Man. First of all … a film grossing $140 million in its first six days ($65 million over the traditional Fri-Sun weekend) is a pretty big financial success. … While final figures won't drop until Monday, the six-day weekend puts it between 25 and 30 among the biggest six-day totals. It's the fourth-biggest Fri-Sun debut of 2012 and the second-biggest of summer. On the other hand, as far as Spider-Man films go, it's actually pretty weak sauce. … Factoring in inflation (Spider-Man—$196 million; Spider-Man 2—$229 million; third best six-day of all time, Spider-Man 3—$202 million) and the 3D ticket-price bump, The Amazing Spider-Man sold far fewer tickets than its predecessors over its first six days of release. Point being, the Sam Raimi trilogy set box office records, while The Amazing Spider-Man merely exists as another relatively large-scale blockbuster amid a sea of preordained blockbusters."
—film critic Scott Mendelson, on how to parse the box office performance of the rebooted Spider-Man film franchise [huffingtonpost.com, 7/8/12 stats]
Facebook has introduced a new feature that allows same-sex couples to announce their marital status to the world via a timeline icon. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation applauded Facebook's decision. "This move is the latest in a series of measures Facebook has taken to support and include the LGBT community, which earned it the distinction of being the first social media company to receive a GLAAD Media Award earlier this year," the organization said in a statement. [abcnews.com, 7/3/12]
According to a new study of more than 10,000 13- to 17-year-olds who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, around 40% describe themselves as "happy," compared to nearly 70% of straight teens. More than half had experimented with drugs or alcohol (more than twice what their straight peers report), and 17% say they've been assaulted in school. [latimes.com, 6/6/12 stats]