Activision Blizzard's latest entry in the Call of Duty video game franchise, Black Ops II, racked up a whopping $500 million worldwide during its first day on sale (Nov. 13). That figure handily tops last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's first-day total of $400 million. "With first day sales of over half a billion dollars worldwide, we believe Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. "Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for Harry Potter and Star Wars, the two most successful movie franchises of all time." [allthingsd.com, 11/16/12 stats]
Breaking Dawn - Part 2, the latest—and last—entry in The Twilight Saga, nearly equaled the franchise record for best opening weekend starting Friday, sucking up an estimated $141.1 million. That's just shy of The Twilight Saga: New Moon's $142.8 million in 2009. But before it got to those theaters full of tween and teen girls, it was nearly slapped with an R rating for scenes of intense violence, including multiple decapitations. Cuts had to be made to secure its final PG-13 rating.
How has the Twilight franchise impacted fans, beyond emptying their wallets? That's a question Tanya Erzen explores in her book, Fanpire: The Twilight Saga and the Women Who Love It. Erzen told Time magazine, "Where I saw [The Twilight Saga] make the most impact on peoples' relationships was more with families. … You really did see mothers and daughters, sometimes three generations, generally women, who had read the book. They use it as a way to connect and talk about things, like sex and having a first boyfriend, a lot of topics that are tricky for parents and children. This text becomes sort of a way to engage those questions without it having to be so personalized."
Some believe Edward and Bella's romance causes adult women to have unrealistic expectations of their own relationships—expectations that lead to divorce. But Erzen is inclined to relegate most of those so-called "Twilight divorces" to the category of urban myth. That said, she worries about how Bella and Edward's relationship is perceived among young girls. "I wouldn't want to ascribe Twilight exceptional power, to say that it will affect how girls understand their relationships or sex or romance, but I would say that given the vast numbers of people who were reading it and were captivated by it, it can't help but shape your expectations for sex, for relationships, for what you conceive of as romance. I also think those kinds of messages that are in Twilight—the idea that it's OK to be domineering because he really loves you, it's OK to have somebody bruise your body the first time you have sex with him because he really loves you and he's apologetic—I do think those ideas are part of broader American culture in a lot of ways and Twilight reinforces them." [huffingtonpost.com, 11/13/12; time.com, 11/16/12 stats c&e]
"In Hollywood, I'm obese. I'm considered a fat actress. … [But] I'm never going to starve myself for a part. … I don't want little girls to be like, 'Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I'm going to skip dinner.' That's something I was really conscious of during training, when you're trying to get your body to look exactly right. I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed."
—actress Jennifer Lawrence, speaking out against critics who said she didn't lose enough weight to look realistically famished in The Hunger Games [Elle, 12/12; eonline.com, 11/8/12; salon.com, 11/15/12]
"I didn't expect for a woman to bare her breasts six inches from my face on an airplane. This was a deliberate full-frontal exposure. I was seated in 'sardine class' where every one of the 300 seats was taken on this massive 777LR jet, and when the blonde tore her top off and reached for her partner's zipper, I instinctively grabbed a vomit bag to cover the action unfolding on the TV monitor inches from my face. I held the bag in position until both the gratuitous nudity and ensuing sex scene passed. I could tell the offending material was over when the grunts, groans and moans in my headset gave way to dialogue in a new scene."
—author (and former Plugged In director) Bob DeMoss, reacting to the gratuitous nudity available on Delta's inflight channels during a recent flight between Los Angeles and Atlanta. "Can reasonable adults at least agree there is something seriously wrong about offering that sort of sordid fare on an airplane where children and discerning adults are present?" he continues. "Delta makes a big deal about their efforts to recycle aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and newspapers to preserve the environment. Their website even asserts: 'Delta is committed to preventing pollution wherever possible.' Maybe one day Delta will be equally convicted about polluting the moral environment of their passengers." [foxnews.com, 11/7/12]
"One Direction, the latest object of tween fantasies, debuted its sophomore album, Take Me Home, on Tuesday. The members of 1D—who were put together in London from the show The X Factor—tend to push the boundaries of the traditional clean-cut boy band image, with their tatted-up bodies and rumors of womanizing. Take Me Home does little to bring One Direction towards the innocent end of the spectrum. … Much of Take Me Home features less than squeaky-clean lyrics that any parent of a teeny-bopper wouldn't exactly love. [They include] insinuations of lost virginities to dirty cell phone photos."
—from an uncredited Huffington Post review of One Direction's newest album [huffingtonpost.com, 11/13/12]
Seth MacFarlane's animated Fox comedy Family Guy continues to push every boundary it can find. The Nov. 11 episode (the show's 200th) features regular character Brian, a talking dog, having sex with a succession of human women. One encounter (including movements) is shown from a distance. Others are implied by the situation and Brian's comments. In the latter category is him having sex with a 15-year-old. The Parents Television Council is calling on its constituents to contact the episode's main sponsor, Dodge, to voice their concern. [Parents Television Council Action Alert, 11/14/12]
Israeli Defense Forces aren't just fighting physically with the Palestinians, they're also fighting virtually, via Twitter. "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead," tweeted @IDFspokesperson on Nov. 14. @AlqassamBrigade responded, "Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)." The tweets reveal just how much public relations efforts have changed, even in the midst of violent conflict. "I'm sort of addicted to Twitter, you can say," says Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman for Israel. "It's a great tool to release information without the touch of editors' hands. Militaries are usually closed operations, but we're doing the opposite."
More than 500 U.S. Facebook users were recently asked about, among other things, their credit card usage and debt, their height and weight and how often they engaged in binge eating. Researcher Andrew Stephen (who is an associate professor of business administration at the University of Pittsburgh) summarized the results by saying, "People who use Facebook more tend to have a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, carry more credit card debt and have lower credit scores." Explaining the connection to Facebook, researcher Keith Wilcox (assistant professor of marketing at Columbia University) said, "Simply browsing Facebook makes people feel better about themselves and momentarily enhances their self-esteem. It's that enhanced self-esteem that ultimately lowers your self-control." [lifeinc.today.com, 11/9/12; huffingtonpost.com, 11/12/12 c&e]
"For me getting on a knee and praying is a very special deal for me. A very special moment. For me, it was honoring that and not letting people go out there and make a mockery of it and do a lot of different things and just kind of keeping it safe."
—New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow, on why he's decided to trademark his signature move of dropping to one knee and praying after big plays [todaynews.com, 11/16/12]