Newsweek senior writer Ramin Setoodeh: "Fifteen years ago a film as violent as Texas Chainsaw 3D would be considered shocking. It wouldn't be rated R, it would be rated NC-17. Now it's just tucked into all the other holiday films that revolve around guns and violence. Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's revisionist slavery tale, ends with one of the goriest shootings I've seen in a movie. Jack Reacher opens with a sniper shooting along a river. … The Hollywood Reporter's Pamela McClintock notes that half the movies released this January will feature assault rifles. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pointing a giant bazooka-like gun in the ad for his new film, The Last Stand. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters manages to change the fairy tale so that its protagonists are armed like GI Joe. One of the posters for the upcoming Mafia action movie Gangster Squad has Josh Brolin aiming a handgun while Sean Penn cocks his machine gun. … Hollywood can pretend that it doesn't have a responsibility. But most of us know better. After Sandy Hook, all that gore at the movies just doesn't feel entertaining."
Aris Christofides, an editor at the parental media review website Kids in Mind: "Movies are definitely getting more violent. There's definitely more gore. In a PG-13 movie 10 years ago, you expected violence, but not gore. We tend to think of the MPAA as being an independent organization. It's not. It's the lobbying arm of the movie industry. What they are trying to do is accommodate marketing decisions. The ratings system is dynamic; it evolves and changes with our culture."
Time columnist and avid gamer Jared Newman, on why he supports President Barack Obama's call for more research on violent video games: "There is a serious debate to be had about whether a certain level of media violence—I'm talking really gruesome, depraved stuff—deserves the same type of classification as pornography, which is illegal to sell to minors in the United States."
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre: "Thousands of music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke, and they play murder—portray murder as a way of life. And then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?"
A new survey by NBC and the Wall Street Journal shows more Americans seeing the NRA in a positive light than they see Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Specifically, the survey found that 41% of American adults view the NRA positively, while 34% view it negatively. In comparison, just 24% of adults see the country's entertainment industry positively, while 39% have a negative perception of it. [thedailybeast.com, 1/7/13; hollywoodreporter.com, 12/21/12; time.com, 1/17/13; nbcnews.com, 1/17/13 c&e, stats]
"[Criminal Minds is] a much-maligned show. I happen to enjoy the show. It's not for everybody. It's an adult show. … It's given an appropriate rating. I don't let my [14-year-old] kid watch it. I do. … What's happened [at Sandy Hook in Connecticut] has shaken me and all of us to our core. To the sense that people come to work with a renewed sense of sensitivity—absolutely. We are parents, and we respect the jobs that we have; we respect the relationship we have with our audience. Nothing that's on the air is inappropriate. … Our shows are appropriately rated on television."
—president of CBS Entertainment Nina Tassler, responding to criticism from NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, who recently said, "Criminal Minds is worse than [Showtime's] Dexter ever was" in terms of violence [ew.com, 1/12/13 c&e]
Some conservatives in Utah are fed up with what they label "obscene" movies screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, each January. Consequently, they've asked the state to pull its financial backing of the high-profile independent film festival. Among the films this year that are making waves are Lovelace, a biopic about famous pornography actress Linda Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried. "There are a lot of people here that find that kind of thing objectionable," says Sutherland Institute director of public policy Derek Monson. "We are a family-friendly state, and we endeavor to be so because we value the benefits that strong families bring to society." Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, said the state spends $300,000 supporting the festival annually and notes that the University of Utah has estimated that Sundance brings in about $80 million for the state. [huffingtonpost.com, 1/15/13]
The upcoming film Spring Breakers, starring former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, along with Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars fame (on ABC Family), is generating lots of buzz—mostly for how far from the wonderful world of Disney the film's racy subject matter is. Gomez recently told MTV, "Disney was my life, and in a way, it's all I knew, so once that ended, I definitely think it was good for me to go to an extreme like this. That's what was so liberating about it." Hudgens added, "Evolution. As an actor, you've got to grow. If you're not growing, you're dying, in a sense. … I've never done anything like this before, and it was so freeing. Every girl at some point would like to go on spring break and have that opportunity to let loose." In November, however, she was quoted in the Canadian magazine Glow as having serious second thoughts about acting out the film's three-way sex scene with co-stars James Franco and Ashley Benson. She said then, "It was very nerve-racking for me. I told my agent that I never want to do it ever again." [mtv.com, 1/17/13; dailymail.co.uk, 11/15/12]
Justin Bieber tweeted an Instagram picture of himself mooning the camera on Saturday with the caption "#moon," then quickly deleted it. But not before the masses got a look at his backside, with the picture quickly going viral, according to the New York Daily News. Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, has regularly talked about the challenge of shepherding his young charge. But this time, Braun apparently thought Bieber's latest lapse was merely worth a chuckle or two, tweeting in response, "As a prankster u have to respect another good prank. only makes sense. #crackdealer." [nydailynews.com, 1/20/13]
"I've seen people be healed. Even now, in the church I go to, during praise and worship I could feel that I was maybe getting ready to speak in tongues, and I'd have to shut it off because I don't know what that church would do if I started screaming out in tongues in the back."
—actress Megan Fox (Transformers, This Is 40), who told Esquire magazine that she first began speaking in tongues when she was 8 and attending a Pentecostal church in Tennessee. She also says that she's making church a greater priority in her life these days. [latimes.com, 1/15/13]
Christian worship music stalwart Chris Tomlin topped Billboard magazine's mainstream album chart last week after moving 73,000 copies. His latest effort, Burning Lights, becomes just the fourth Christian album to accomplish that feat, joining tobyMac's 2012 release Eye on It, along with LeAnn Rimes' You Light Up My Life and Bob Carlisle's Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace), which both bowed at No. 1 in 1997. [billboard.com, 1/16/13 stats]
The CW network is planning on airing a show based on The Hunger Games, according to Entertainment Weekly. In the Hunt will feature 12 two-person teams that must subsist on the surrounding environs and "survive" without being captured by the other teams. [ew.com, 12/12/12]