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Culture Clips

Number One

February 15-17
A Good Day to Die Hard
$24.8 million
February 4-10
Josh Groban, All That Echoes

145,000 units
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Thrift Shop"

4th week at #1
15.2 million homes
5th week at #1

The Big Bang Theory
12.9 million homes
3rd week at #1
Grammy Awards

18.2 million homes

The Walking Dead
7.2 million homes
Dead Space 3
247,953 units for the Xbox 360

Sources for #1s: Box Office Mojo, Billboard, SoundScan, Nielsen Media Research, Rentrak Corporation, Home Media Magazine, VGChartz

CULTURE CLIPS is researched and written by Adam R. Holz with assistance from Paul Asay and Bob Hoose. It is edited by Steven Isaac.
February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

"I'm proud that Lincoln's fidelity to and illumination of history has been commended by many Lincoln scholars. But I respectfully disagree with the Congressman's contention that accuracy in every detail is 'paramount' in a work of historical drama," says Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner, responding to Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney's criticism that Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated historical drama takes liberties with the facts when it comes to how congressmen from his state voted on the 13th Amendment to outlaw slavery. (In the film, two out of three of the politicians voted against it—a vote for continuing slavery. In reality, all four Connecticut congressmen voted in favor of the amendment.) Kushner continues, "Accuracy is paramount in every detail of a work of history. Here's my rule: Ask yourself, 'Did this thing happen?' If the answer is yes, then it's historical. Then ask, 'Did this thing happen precisely this way?' If the answer is yes, then it's history; if the answer is no, not precisely this way, then it's historical drama."

It's noteworthy that one of Lincoln's production companies, Participant Media, has just announced it will be distributing the PG-13 film to every public junior high and high school in America when it's released on DVD later this year. "As more and more people began to see the film, we received letters from teachers asking if it could be available in their classrooms," Spielberg said of the initiative. "We realized that the educational value that Lincoln could have was not only for the adult audiences—who have studied his life in history books—but for the young students in the classroom as well." [, 2/11/13;, 2/8/13;, 2/8/13]

Angry Superman fans are voicing their ire over DC Comics' decision to hire well-known science fiction scribe Orson Scott Card to write for the forthcoming digital series Adventures of Superman. Specifically, they're displeased by the Mormon author's avowed support of the traditional family (he's served as a board member for the faith-based advocacy group National Organization for Marriage) and by his outspoken comments criticizing homosexuality and gay marriage. "Superman stands for truth, justice and the American way. Orson Scott Card does not stand for any idea of truth, justice or the American way that I can subscribe to," said Jono Jarrett of the gay fan group Geeks Out. Actor and DC fan Michael Hartney voiced similar sentiments in a letter to the publisher. "If this was a holocaust denier or a white supremacist, there would be no question. Hiring that writer would be an embarrassment to your company. Well, Card is an embarrassment to your company, DC." (A Harrison Ford-fronted big-screen version of Card's most well-known novel, Ender's Game, hits theaters this fall.) [, 2/11/13;, 2/11/13]

"A Nicholas Sparks character—unless it's a specifically bad character—is someone you feel could be your brother, your sister, your kids, your neighbor, your friend from high school. Someone you know and like. You don't want to create a character that's perfect because the simple fact is that nobody walks around being perfect. They have to have flaws. And yet, most of my characters are created with my own worldview, which is that 80% of the people try to do the right thing 80% of the time. They try to do what's best for their kids. They try to support their friends and family. I tend to see the glass half-full when it comes to humanity. A Nicholas Sparks character would be the glass half-full type of person."

—author Nicholas Sparks, whose latest book-turned-movie, Safe Haven, opened over the weekend [, 2/11/13]

In a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone, Rihanna recently talked about why she's gotten back together with Chris Brown, the man who infamously beat her up four years ago. "I got real with myself, and I just couldn't bury the way I felt," she began. As for the criticism she knew she'd face, she said, "But I decided it was more important for me to be happy, and I wasn't going to let anybody's opinion get in the way of that. Even if it's a mistake, it's my mistake. After being tormented for so many years, being angry and dark, I'd rather just live my truth and take the backlash. I can handle it." She also insists, "[Chris is] not the monster everybody thinks. He's a good person. He has a fantastic heart. He's giving and loving."

Some are ready to accept Rihanna's explanation. "Someone has to be the good guy and the bad guy in our culture, but the truth is there is no such thing because people change," says Us Weekly's Ian Drew. "If she feels she knows him better than we do, then we need to support her." But other cultural observers still believe her decision to reunite with a known abuser is a dangerous one. "I can't think of a worse message to send to young people," says PR expert Howard Bragman. "You can't do crisis publicity and not believe in forgiveness, OK? But all you have to do is look at this guy's life and his actions, and realize he's the same hot-tempered guy. … I think she is in real jeopardy." [Rolling Stone, 2/14/13;, 2/6/13]

In an article titled "Dear Rihanna: 'Your Truth' Won't Set You Free" at, Sharon Hodde Miller writes, "My truth. This term is really making the rounds these days. In addition to being the title of a three-part reality special about Nicki Minaj, it has become a common feature of celebrity philosophizing. In her 2005 reality show Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, Britney Spears declared, 'People can take everything away from you, but they can't take away your truth. … Can you handle my truth?'' Last year, amidst the swirl of Charlie Sheen's departure from Two and a Half Men, Sheen told one interviewer, 'All I can do is speak my truth.' And more recently, actress Dakota Fanning described her latest character's coming of age journey as 'finding her truth.' … The unique path of the individual who follows 'her truth' is not unique at all. Like the many fools who went before her, her path is a highway to folly. They underestimate the depravity of the human soul." [, 2/11/13]

"I was about 12 or 13 when I developed my eating disorder, and at that time nobody in the public eye talked about their body issues. I feel that if someone had admitted they had a problem, then I wouldn't have gone down that route myself. … That's my goal in talking about my problems: I want to be the person for other girls that I needed to admire when I was looking for help and strength, and it's OK to love your body the way it is, and it's OK to reach out for help if you have drug and alcohol problems, or if you're self-harming or being bullied."

—actress, singer and X-Factor judge Demi Lovato [Cosmo on Campus UK, Spring 2013;, 2/7/13]

More than half of all 17-year-olds now live in homes that have suffered from divorce or separation, according to a report by the Marriage & Religion Research Institute. While some of these kids still live in a household with a mother and father, just 45% live with their biological mom and dad.

Children who come from broken homes are statistically less likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to have their own children out of wedlock. In addition, a new synthesis of existing research indicates that another ongoing impact of divorce is the negative way it affects faith. Children raised in families where their parents remain happily married are twice as likely to attend worship at a church than those whose parents divorce amicably. Research lead Elizabeth Marquardt, an American studies professor at Lake Forest College, says of the findings, "Children of divorce are on the leading edge of the well-documented spiritual-but-not-religious movement." [, 2/12/13;, 1/16/13 stats, c&e]

Experts say that teenagers are increasingly texting in their sleep—or, rather, the dreamy limbo state between sleep and wakefulness. "The phone will beep, they'll answer the text," says Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University. "They'll either respond in words or gibberish. … The thing that happens, though, is that when they wake up, there's no memory." Dowdell says this is a symptom of teens not getting enough sleep and using technology far too much. She suggests that teens make their bedrooms tech-free zones. [, 2/11/13]