"The central confusion [concerning violent media] that embarrasses critics, and progressives in general, is the notion that this is a free-speech issue. Yes, it's absolutely true that strong images are needed to tell strong truths. You can't attack the regime and talk about the violence of government, of sexism, and of racism without depicting that violence. Some of the best filmmakers of the 1960s and '70s, coming off of decades of suffocating censorship, knew this. But let's not fail to recognize that today, violent media is the new regime. The industry, in cinema and gaming, which is monstrously profitable, is a mechanical, repetitive neural training ground for action. And like the Taliban, it targets disenfranchised young men and boys who are unformed and weak in personality."
—Mick LaSalle, movie critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, calling on other film reviewers to discuss not just a movie's artistic quality, but what it's conveying morally, too. "It's time to stop behaving as if we were paralyzed," he writes. "It's time to lose our squeamishness about confronting screen violence—and the monolith of profit behind it—and to start acting like a community." [sfgate.com, 1/2/13]
In December, several celebrities recorded a public service announcement for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, pleading for stricter gun control laws. The video has received more than 6 million views on YouTube, and it prompted a YouTube poster identifying himself as "Mike Hunt" to respond with his own parody video featuring many of the PSA's celebrities—including Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Will Ferrell, Cameron Diaz and Amy Poehler—using a variety of guns in movies or television shows. "When I first saw the original video plastered on the front-page of Youtube I was immediately struck by the irony of the entire campaign," Mike Hunt told Entertainment Weekly. "Here are a bunch of vapid Hollywood celebrities attempting to shame the public into submitting to more gun control. Their entire industry profits from a culture of violence and gun entertainment." [ew.com, 1/2/13]
When Janell Hoffman gave her 13-year-old son, Greg, an iPhone this Christmas, it came wrapped with an 18-point agreement he had to sign in order to use it. And suddenly she's become a national sensation for being … a good parent. "Contractual" stipulations include such things as, "I (Mom) will always know the password," "Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm" and "Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room." Point 18 reads as follows: "You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together." On Good Morning America, Janell said the 18-point roster of conditions was an effort to help her son enter the digital world with a little foresight. "What I wanted to do and show him [is] how you could be a responsible user of technology without abusing it, without becoming addicted," she said. [abcnews.com, 12/30/12]
Internet-capable gadgets now outnumber people in the United States, according to a study by the NPD Group. Research suggests that there are 425 million devices capable of Internet connectivity—ranging from computers and smartphones to video game consoles, television sets and even refrigerators—compared to about 315 million people. [usatoday.com, 1/3/13 stats]
Social media and Internet usage are devastating workers' productivity. That's the assessment from learnstuff.com after synthesizing data from multiple sources into a summary detailing the damage Americans' collective surfing habits is doing. Six out of 10 employees visit social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter while on the clock. And we're interrupted, on average, once every 10.5 minutes by instant messages, Facebook messages and tweets. After those interruptions, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on task. That totals $4,452 in lost productivity annually for every social media-using employee in the country—a $650 billion-a-year hit to the American business bottom line. [learnstuff.com, 10/26/12 stats]
"like i said … 2013 … new challenges. new doubters … everyday growing and learning. trying to be better. u get knocked down, u get up … i see all of u. i hear all of u. i never want to let any of you down."
—Justin Bieber, on Twitter, responding to recent photos published by celebrity gossip site TMZ that appears to show him smoking marijuana [hollywood.com, 1/5/13; edmontonjournal.com, 1/7/13]
Fans attending one of Lady Gaga's upcoming stops on her Born This Way Ball tour may get more than just a T-shirt and a high-decibel concert experience. The singer announced via Facebook that her tour team will begin offering free counseling before concerts for those who want it: "At the BornBrave Bus you have access to professional private or group chats about mental health, depression, bullying, school & friends. … BornBrave Bus Is a place where mental health + depression are taken seriously w/ no judgement, FREE real help available to all. I feel like most kids don't look for help because they feel embarrassed so mom + I wanted to break the stigmas around 'help' and make it fun." [usatoday.com, 12/31/12]
"Being part of a band of three straight men, we felt there was an inherent power in the fact that we aren't gay, and yet we still care and we have a voice—there's a responsibility there. There are moments in history where it's vital [to have a voice], and anyone that is not standing up for the LGBT community is a huge part of what's holding them back."
—fun. guitarist Jack Antanoff [spinner.com, 3/8/12]
"Jean Valjean [the hero of Les Misérables] is a superhero. It's not just that he's both great and good and the protagonist of an epic tale—the term applies fairly specifically. For one thing, Valjean has super strength—the strength of "four men," as Victor Hugo tells us. He also has a secret identity: When he leaves prison after 19 years (the result of first stealing bread for his sister's starving family and then trying to escape), he breaks parole and changes his name to Monsieur Madeleine. He has a nemesis, too, a super villain named Inspector Javert, who is obsessed with Valjean and magically turns up wherever he goes. Javert first meets Valjean when the latter is in prison; later his beat includes the town where Monsieur Madeleine has become the mayor. Javert is the first person to realize that Madeleine is Valjean; he becomes suspicious when Madeleine saves a man's life by singlehandedly lifting a wagon that has collapsed. Just like a superhero: outed by the noble use of his super strength."
—Slate's David Haglund, explaining why boys too seem to love the musical Les Mis [slate.com, 12/27/12]
"Not to sound rude, but [acting] is stupid. Everybody's like, 'How can you remain with a level head?' And I'm like, 'Why would I ever get cocky? I'm not saving anybody's life. There are doctors who save lives and firemen who run into burning buildings. I'm making movies. It's stupid.'"
—Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence, who also says, "I call my mom sobbing all the time … dealing with the repercussions of having no more anonymity. You lose privacy. As much as this is a curse, as stupid as it sounds, to make as much money as I am by doing something that I love, it's hard not to regret it when you're being chased by 15 strangers." [vanityfair.com, 1/2/13; nydailynews.com, 1/2/13]