"Spring Breakers may go down as the turning point in the evolution of the fallen teen idol, an archetype for our times. In generations past there was generally a long narrative arc from arrival to fame to scandal to demotion to disgrace. Now … it means knowing that you're going to be let down, or accepting that the letdown is part of the fun."
—New York Times reviewer Jon Caramanica, on former Disney starlets Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens' participation in the edgy R-rated film, using it (according to Carmanica) "to show off their dissolved innocence, only a few years removed from the peaks of their childhood stardom" [nytimes.com, 3/8/13]
Teen girls' mag Seventeen has come under fire for a cover story with Spring Breakers star Ashley Benson. In the interview, Benson promotes her racy film (which includes a threesome with her, Vanessa Hudgens and James Franco) to the magazine's audience, saying, "We all came from a Disney background, and this was different from anything we've done. But we wanted to prove that we're not just girls who play happy parts. It was such a crazy experience and it was character-building. I'm so proud of all of us. I'm really, really excited for everybody to see it."
Fox News interviewed several experts critical of the magazine's interview with Benson. "It is not just inappropriate for Benson to be on the cover of Seventeen, it is ludicrous. The girls reading Seventeen are 13 and 14 years old, and they are learning about an actress whose most recent film includes a threesome sex scene? That is awful," said body image expert Sarah Maria. "That is a disgrace to our society and our consideration for young girls. It sends a message to young girls that is beyond inappropriate. It is downright destructive." Therapist Nancy Irwin characterized the story as "hyping a soft-core porn movie to minors." [foxnews.com, 3/7/13]
"Girls are sexualized in our culture long before they are cognitively and emotionally prepared. They are left with little time to consider their burgeoning sexuality and changing physicality before they are immediately thrust into a world that views them as objects to stimulate male desire. With so much attention and focus on meeting this standard, something is lost. That something can be the development of a girl's self, her likes and dislikes and identity outside of appearing physically pleasing as the object of someone else's desire."
—Jill Weber, writing for USA Today. Weber discussed how many clothiers, including Victoria's Secret, are marketing risqué underwear at underage teens or, sometimes, even tweens. "Why does this matter?" Weber continues. "After all, teenage girls just want to have cute underwear. But if we dismiss this move by retailers too easily, we miss noticing the subtle ways that our girls are trained to focus on their external appearance at the expense of developing a more complete identity." [usatoday.com, 3/12/13]
After gossip sites announced that Harry Potter star Emma Watson had been confirmed to star in the big-screen adaptation of the S&M novel Fifty Shades of Grey last week, Watson took to Twitter to dispel the rumor with four tweets. "Who here actually thinks I would do 50 Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life," she asked. Later, she tweeted, "Good. Well that's sorted then." [huffingtonpost.com, 3/17/13]
Is there really less sex on the big screen these days? According to Entertainment Weekly, the answer is yes. In his article "Where's the Love," Adam Markovitz writes, "Chances are you didn't see [a sex scene] at all in 2012. In a year when TV shows like HBO's Girls and Showtime's Homeland had more pants-down action than a urologist's office, only one of the 25 highest-grossing movies had a genuine roll in the hay: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1." Markovitz believes that the movie industry has become increasingly skittish about sex scenes in mainstream films over the last 15 years or so, saying, "Part of the explanation dates back to the '90s, when studios began targeting teenage boys, those walking hormone piñatas, as their most reliable customers. Bada‑‑ heroes, explosions, and tight-shirted ladies? Yes, yes, and oh-boy-please yes. Romantic subplots? Boooring. And forget about substantial nudity; teens might want to see it, but the MPAA doesn't want them to—not until they turn 17." [Entertainment Weekly, 3/22/13]
"We may see more TV for religious believers as a result of [History Channel's] The Bible. What I'd love to see—but am not so sure we will—is more TV about religious believers. Religious faith (or the passionate lack thereof) plays a huge role in billions of people's lives. Primetime TV, however, has a habit of dealing with faithful characters badly or—more often—not at all. … The reason TV series should have religious characters and take them seriously is the same reason they should have racial and cultural diversity: not as an act of charity, not to pander to demographics, but because it makes for better stories. People who believe things are interesting. People wrestling with the big questions are interesting."
—Time television critic James Poniewozik [time.com, 3/5/13]
"At first glance, this looks like a great moment for women on television. Many smart and confident female characters have paraded onto the small screen over the past few years. But I'm bothered by one persistent caveat: that the more astute and capable many of these women are, the more likely it is that they're also completely nuts. I don't mean complicated, difficult, thorny or complex. I mean that these women are portrayed as volcanoes that could blow at any minute."
—television reviewer Heather Havrilesky, in her New York Times article, "TV's New Wave of Women: Smart, Strong, Borderline Insane" [nytimes.com, 3/12/13]
In a recent interview with Good Morning America, 73-year-old Valerie Harper (best known for her roles in the popular 1970s sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda) talked about her terminal brain cancer. She said, "Let's discuss it because we are all terminal. We really are. We have a lot of fear around death and I thought maybe I can help somebody. … I want people to be less scared." Salon contributor Mary Elizabeth Williams is impressed. "Ours is a death-denying culture," she wrote. "We burn through our financial resources and emotional energy on extraordinary, unnatural measures to prolong life when life is clearly insisting it's time to wrap it up. We turn away from grief—our own and that of the people we know—as if it's shameful or embarrassing. That's why [Valerie] Harper's plainspoken resolve has been so newsworthy. There's been no vow to fight this thing and beat it, and there's also been no tearful gloom either. And somehow, just being normal about dying makes her response incredibly unusual." [salon.com, 3/13/13]
"At the beginning of the digital revolution it was common to say that digital was killing music," says Sony Music CEO Edgar Berger. "[Now] digital is saving music." That's in part due to illegal file sharing falling 17% in 2012. NPD Group researchers believe the plethora of downloading, subscribing and streaming options for obtaining music has made illegal file sharing less appealing. And, indeed, for the first time since 1999, the music industry as a whole gained ground in 2012. Never mind the meager amount of ground (0.3%). After losing half their revenue over the last 14 years (from $38 billion to $16.5 billion), even holding steady is heady stuff for music makers. [nytimes.com, 2/26/13; nbcnews.com, 2/27/13; salon.com, 2/26/13 stats]