"I'm on Two and a Half Men. And I don't want to be on it. … Please stop watching it, please stop filling your head with filth. People say it's just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television on your brain, and I promise you you'll have a decision to make when it comes to television."
—19-year-old Two and a Half Men star Angus T. Jones, who later tried to smooth things over with his co-stars and producers, but didn't go so far as to retract his statement. He said, "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed." He told Christianity Today, "I know I am there for a reason, but at the same time I have this strange twist of being a hypocrite: a paid hypocrite. That's the way I have been looking at it lately. … Even though it's my job to be an actor, I have given my life to God. I am very comfortable and firm in that, but I still have to be on this show. It's the No. 1 comedy, but it's very inappropriate and the themes are very inappropriate. I have to be this person I am not." Jones went to Christian school for most of his life and has now become involved with the Valley Crossroads Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pacoima Valley, Calif. [youtube.com, 11/26/12; christianitytoday.com, 11/27/12]
Stephen Baldwin, an actor who has experienced blowback because of his own conversion to Christianity, had this to say about Angus Jones' now-viral comments about Two and a Half Men: "It just sounds like Angus is having an authentic experience with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a serious thing. A real, true walk of Christianity is very difficult, quite radical. … He meant to probably have it come out differently. He didn't want to offend [show creator] Chuck Lorre or any of the people from the show or be disrespectful, but I think he authentically means what he says where he finds now if you hold up the content of his show to the Bible, what he's saying is, 'Now there's a conflict for me.'" Baldwin shared this about his own experience: "As a Christian, I had a casting director come up to me two years ago and say, 'I'm really sorry because I've brought your name up in castings for a while now and they all just kind of look at me like I'm crazy.'" [abcnews.com, 11/28/12]
Fans of The Hunger Games are flocking to a North Carolina forest where the movie was filmed, according to a local newspaper. DuPont State Recreational Forest has welcomed an estimated 327,000 visitors through the end of October, a more than 25% increase compared to attendance for all of 2011. [AP, 11/30/12 stats, c&e]
Adele's album 21 has achieved super-rare diamond status, confirmed sales figures of 10 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The last album to reach such lofty sales heights was Usher's Confessions in 2004. "In an increasingly singles-dominated era," writes Time's Joseph McCombs, "this may well be the last diamond-certified album we'll ever see." [time.com, 11/30/12 stats]
"It's weird to think of it as being a pioneer, in some ways, because technology becomes so ubiquitous and we adapt so quickly to new tools. But when you look back to when [iCarly] first began, it was a time when young people were still getting accustomed to personal broadcasting via YouTube, Tumblr … it rode that wave."
—Shelley Pasnik, director of the Center for Children & Technology, on Nickelodeon's longtime hit, which aired its final episode Nov. 23. iCarly's central premise focused on two teens who earned a measure of celebrity through an Internet show. Nickelodeon leveraged iCarly's Internet DNA by crafting an in-depth website (complete with games, blog posts and special scenes) to serve alongside the half-hour television comedy, one of the first times that a television show and a website were so integrally linked. [latimes.com, 11/17/12]
With earnings of $110 million, Dr. Dre is the world's highest-paid musician right now, according to Forbes magazine. (The tally includes musical and business ventures.) Lined up behind him are Roger Waters of Pink Floyd ($88 million), Elton John ($80 million), U2 ($78 million), Take That ($61 million), Jon Bon Jovi ($60 million), Britney Spears ($58 million), Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift (tied at $57 million), and Justin Bieber and Toby Keith (tied at $55 million). [forbes.com, time.com, 11/30/12 stats]
The more friends we have on Facebook, the more likely we are to be stressed about having so many friends. That's the conclusion of a study from the University of Edinburgh Business School. According to the study, most Facebook users have seven different social circles (friends, family, work colleagues, etc.), all of which might never intersect in real life but constantly rub elbows on Facebook. And since most of us don't act in exactly the same way with each of those groups (what one group might find funny another might find offensive, for instance), lots of Facebookers can become worried about making an online faux pas.
"Facebook wants us to—and, really, forces us to—conduct our digital lives with singular identities: identities that can be harnessed and streamlined (and sold to and analyzed)," writes Megan Garber of The Atlantic. "We, however—we as people, we as cultures, we as societies—tend to expect that identities will be what they have been since the advent of society itself: prismatic. Varied. Contextual. These tensions will inevitably clash. They will come to terms with each other as Facebook adapts to users' expectations and, more to the point, as users adapt to Facebook's. In the meantime, though, users are bearing the brunt of the conflict. And that is, yes, stressful." [theatlantic.com, 11/12]
About 71% of teachers polled believe that entertainment is hurting their pupils' attention spans, and nearly 50% believe that it's keeping them from doing their homework well. The study by Common Sense Media Research—which classifies texting and spending time on social networks as "entertainment," alongside watching television, playing video games and listening to music—found that a majority of teachers believe that such media is also hurting students' ability to write coherently (58%) and communicate face-to-face (59%). And 42% of educators say that entertainment and technology are impairing critical thinking. Wrote one elementary school teacher for the study, "Attention spans seem to be decreasing, as does students' abilities to persist through difficult tasks. (They'd rather just push restart and start over.)" [Common Sense Media, 11/1/12 stats, c&e]
So, is technology making us smarter or dumber? Yes, according to Time. Auto-complete functions on smartphones seem to make teens faster but less accurate in cognitive tests. Kids who were frequent texters scored higher on verbal reasoning ability (because they could easier connect sounds to letters) but lower on actual literacy. Scientists believe search engines are reshaping our memories, because with so much information at the tips of our fingers, we no longer have to store it in our brains. And studies have shown that while email is an effective way to communicate on the job, employees who juggle looking at email with other tasks suffer a temporary 10-point drop in their IQ by the end of the day. That's equivalent to losing an hour's sleep, and twice the decline researchers observe when subjects smoke marijuana. [time.com, 11/29/12 stats, c&e]
Transformers star Shia LeBeouf is reportedly shooting a new movie, Nymphomaniac, in which he and co-star Mia Goth will forgo simulated sex scenes for actual intercourse. [nydailynews.com, 11/28/12]
"Life is NOT a movie it's a reality that needs to be faced."
—Lindsay Lohan's assistant Gavin Doyle, taking to Twitter to advise his employer to get help after Lohan was arrested for allegedly punching a woman at a New York City nightclub. (Lohan was also charged on the same day for lying to California police about her June car accident.) [abcnews.com, 11/30/12]