"The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place. I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again."
—actor Mandy Patinkin, who starred on the CBS crime procedural Criminal Minds for two seasons before abruptly quitting in 2007. He added, "I'm not making a judgment on the taste [of people who watch crime procedurals]. But I'm concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn't what you need to be dreaming about." [nymagazine.com, 9/9/12 c&e]
How does entertainment's portrayal of violence against women influence us? Researchers recently asked 150 men and women to watch scenes that featured violent acts perpetrated against females. Two of the clips, from Showtime's The Tudors and The Masters of Horror, showed subservient women passively accepting their fates. Two others, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, focused on strong female characters who fought back. Men who watched the more passive female characters reported more negative attitudes toward women than those who watched the stronger ones. Women who watched those same passive females reported having twice as much anxiety as those who watched the stronger ones. [theatlantic.com, 8/12]
What does a TV-PG rating actually tell parents? According to a new study from the Parents Television Council, not much. The new report, "What Kids Can See When It's Rated TV-PG," analyzed the type and amount of explicit content contained in television programs with that rating during a two-week period in 2011. A PTC press release summarizes the study's finding by saying, "In many instances the ratings were inadequate and failed to reflect the type or amount of adult-themed content within the show." PTC researchers counted 637 instances of "explicit language, sex and violent content" in 59 hours of programming analyzed. That equates to exposure to adult content once every 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Sexual content accounted for 181 of those 637 instances, and included people making direct reference to sexual body parts, statements that included the word "sex" and either obvious or implied nudity (often pixelated or blurred). [paretstv.org, 9/19/12]
Homeland (Showtime), Modern Family (ABC) and Game Change (HBO) were the big winners at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards this year. Each show nabbed four winged statues: Showtime's series about counter security was named Best Drama Series, ABC's look at an extended family (which includes a gay couple) took home Best Comedy Series honors, and HBO's controversial miniseries about Sarah Palin got the nod for Best TV Movie/Miniseries. Meanwhile, AMC's perennial Emmy darling Mad Men, which had won Best Drama Series four years in a row, went home without any trophies this year, despite being nominated in a whopping 17 categories. Jon Stewart's The Daily Show extended its now decade-long ownership of top honors for Variety Series. He showed his appreciation by punctuating his acceptance speech with an f-word. But that wasn't the night's lowest point. An opening skit pictured the star of HBO's Girls, Lena Dunham, sitting naked (partially pixelated) on a toilet, eating a cake. [usatoday.com, 9/23/12; huffingtonpost.com, 9/24/12; nydailynews.com, 9/24/12]
"When I was a kid everything was about nurturing the kid. There was a family hour, there were regulations that said we are nurturing our children, and that's all gone now. Basically every message they get now is almost antithetical to education."
—actor Tony Danza (best known for his roles on Who's the Boss and Taxi), who in 2009-10 spent a year teaching English to 10th grade students at Northeast High School in inner-city Philadelphia. Some of the actor-turned-teacher's experiences were captured in the 2010 documentary Teach. Danza has now written a book about his experiences titled I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. He told Fox News, "[Being a teacher] was so much harder than I thought, emotionally grinding. … You ultimately not only have a responsibility to the kids you have daily, but for their future. They only get one 10th grade, it's got to count, and they don't care. You have to convince them, I'm getting a sweat just thinking about it." [foxnews.com, 9/20/12]
Bettina Wulff, the 38-year-old wife of former German president Christian Wulff, is suing Google over its autocomplete function. Why? Because when you type her name into the popular search engine, it suggests you complete your query with the words escort and prostitute, apparently reflecting persistent rumors that began to spread in 2006. Google's public relations head in Germany, Kay Oberbeck, says, "All terms that appear have been previously entered by Google users." But it's not the first time Google has had its autocomplete functions legally challenged . The company was fined $65,000 after its autocomplete tool paired a French insurance company with the word crook. [nydailynews.com, 9/11/12]
Nearly two-thirds of the world's leaders now have Twitter accounts, according to a study of the public relations agency Burson-Marsteller. About 264 national leaders participate in the Twitterverse, with an estimated 30 doing their own tweeting. [AP, 7/26/12 stats]
Sweden is the best country in the world at leveraging the Internet for positive purposes, according to a new study by the World Wide Web Foundation. It edged the United States (which was second) and the United Kingdom (third) for its knack for using the resources online to better its citizens' lives. "The main criteria appeared to be that lots of people should be able to get on the net and lots of stuff should be there for them to look at," writes Brid-Aine Parnell of Britain's The Register. "So in a completely unsurprising development, the top 10 in the index were filled out by wealthier democracies with passable technological infrastructure, with Canada, New Zealand and Australia in there along with four other European countries."
But some wonder just what "best" really means when it comes to the Internet. "Given the consequences we are seeing in U.S. society … we might reconsider these measurements," writes Amy Simpson of Christianity Today. "As the tech executives expressed [in a recent statement], 'The lure of constant stimulation—the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates—is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.' In other words, one of the greatest personal productivity tools ever invented is undermining personal productivity. And the most powerful avenue for communication and social connection hurts our social connections." [theregister.co.uk/, 9/5/12; christianitytoday.com, 9/14/12]
"It's probably the worst time to be famous in the history of fame because of the Internet and the level of invasion of privacy is so extraordinarily high."
—actor John Travolta, in an interview with the BBC. Regarding the recent nude photo scandal involving Kate Middleton, Travolta added, "There is a right to privacy, whether you're famous or not famous. I feel that anyone being invaded at [that] level is unfortunate. There should be a law." [usatoday.com , 9/21/12]
"I was born into the business. My mother was an entertainer. It was natural. But yes, in the next life, I might not do it."
—Dina Lohan, mother of troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, talking about whether she would encourage her daughter's career in show business if she had it to do over again [nydailynewscom, 9/21/12]