Is bloodless PG-13 violence "better" than the gorier, R-rated depictions? Huffington Post reviewer Jonathan Kim isn't so sure. "When is violence okay for kids?" he writes. "In the mind of the Motion Picture Association of America, violence without blood is a lesser form of violence that kids won't find disturbing. Films like G.I. Joe: Retaliation illustrate how bizarre that distinction is, since Retaliation involves dozens of people being shot, blown up, sliced with swords, beaten, and falling to their deaths. It's just that all of that violence happens without blood or gore—shot or sliced people simply fall over, the moment of death happens off camera, and dead bodies are clean and intact. But is hiding the effects of lifelike violence really the best way to present it to kids? … Why is it that the conservative, often puritanical MPAA thinks that kids should only see movies where mass violence starring live humans, not cartoons, is turned into a bloodless farce? If we're worried that kids see too much violence, isn't it better to make movie violence as awful, scary, and detestable as it is in real life instead of trying to sanitize it by making every death bloodless or something that happens just offscreen?" [huffingtonpost.com, 3/29/13]
Did Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza consider a high body count at Sandy Hook Elementary School a gruesome kind of "high score," similar to that of a video game? That's what New York Daily News writer Mike Lupica suggests after talking with an unidentified "career cop" investigating the case, where authorities discovered a spreadsheet that included names of about 500 mass killers and their weapons, along with body counts and locations where they committed their atrocities. He writes, "[Authorities] don't believe this was just a spreadsheet. They believe it was a score sheet. This was the work of a video gamer, and that it was his intent to put his own name at the very top of that list. They believe that he picked an elementary school because he felt it was a point of least resistance, where he could rack up the greatest number of kills. That's what (the Connecticut police) believe. They believe that (Lanza) believed that it was the way to pick up the easiest points. It's why he didn't want to be killed by law enforcement. In the code of a gamer, even a deranged gamer like this little b‑‑tard, if somebody else kills you, they get your points. They believe that's why he killed himself."
Some, however, aren't convinced that demonizing video games and gamers is a productive response. Andrew Leonard of salon.com writes, "Over the past 20 years, all forms of violence in males aged 10-24 have declined. That includes homicides, non-fatal assaults and bullying. The Centers for Disease Control has some of the data. … The bottom line: Over the same period that sales of video games exploded, and an entire new generation of 'gamers' emerged, youth violence fell. The drop was most striking from 1991-2000—since then, as far as I can tell from the available data, the trend line has been flat. … It is absolutely folly to tarnish an entire generation of gamers with Adam Lanza's sins and his mother's awful parenting. And yet, we see it happening in the culture at wide more and more often: 'gamers' spoken of as the alien 'other,' 'gamers' seen as just one step away from a killing spree. … As soon as we invest a term like 'gamer' with scorn and fear, as soon as we start labeling an entire class of young people as malign and alien, we not only make the mistake of ignoring the available data, but we're losing the battle to understand and adapt to and guide what's happening before we've even begun to fight." [salon.com, 3/18/13]
"We knew because it was Evil Dead it could go anywhere. There was no place the movie could go you would think, 'That was a little bit too much.' Anytime someone asked, is this too much blood, too much makeup, whatever, my answer was always, There is never too much."
—Fede Alvarez, director of the reboot of Evil Dead (in theaters this Friday) [latimes.com, 3/9/13]
"What we see in the media today affects everybody, whether it's film, TV, radio, magazines or the internet. What the media says about your sexual orientation, and the color of your skin, and the shape of your eyes, and your ethnicity, what you look like, what you weigh, what you wear, how poor you are, how awkward you are, how educated you are, and how different you are, this stuff really sinks in. … How many times have you heard a character imply to another that the worst thing about going to prison isn't being locked up for the rest of your life, it's the homosexuality? … We need to create an atmosphere that encourages people to speak up, so we get this right. How about next time, when any of us are reading a script and it says words like f-g or f-ggot, homo, dyke—take a pencil and just cross it out. Just don't do it."
—Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal, speaking at a fundraiser for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center that raised $1 million for homeless homosexual youth [deadline.com, 3/22/13]
"I think I'm afraid of my child one day seeing that stuff. I've become a Brentwood mom!"
—TV producer Ryan Murphy, whose current shows include Glee, The New Normal and American Horror Story, who says he no longer feels the need to go out of his way to shock audiences with provocative material after the (surrogate) birth of Logan Phineas, a child he is raising with his same-sex husband, David Miller. Oxymoronically, Murphy, who was receiving the inaugural PaleyFest Icon Award, also said, "It [is] a different world [from] when I did [the 1999-2001 WB show] Popular. It's wonderful how the world has changed; the things that I used to get notes on … I don't get those anymore." [hollywoodreporter.com, 2/27/13; usatoday.com, 1/2/13]
Mack Maine recently rapped that he "was supposed to die as a fetus" in his new single "Celebrate." Now he's saying what that line means. "My mom was about to abort me," he told MTV's RapFix Live. "She was lying on the table and she changed her life at that moment. … She changed her life that day, she got saved and became a Christian." [mtv.com, 3/21/13]
A lyric about drugging and date raping a woman in Rick Ross' new song "U.N.E.N.O." has prompted a campaign asking apparel giant Reebok to drop Ross as its celebrity spokesman. The line involves Ross singing about dropping "Molly," slang for the crystal form of MDMA (better known as Ecstasy), in a woman's drink before, apparently, having sex with her without her knowledge. "Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain't even know it," Ross raps. "I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it." MDMA is often identified as a date rape drug because, according to Fox News, "it distorts reality and reduces inhibitions."
Ross claims his lyrics have been misinterpreted. But some observers aren't buying it, including the anti-sexism and women's rights website UltraViolet, which has launched a petition demanding that Reebok send Ross packing. Co-founder Nita Chaudhary says, "It is totally appalling that Reebok would be featuring and paying a spokesman like Rick Ross who is proudly rapping about raping women. … That tells women that Reebok isn't interested in our business. It tells us that Reebok is okay promoting rape culture, and when one out of five women are the victim of an attempted or completed rape, that has real life consequences." She also added, "Keeping Ross on sends a message to young men that some kinds of rape are just not okay, but cool. In the two hours since we have launched this campaign, more than 25,000 people have already signed the petition." [foxnews.com, 3/29/13]
The Mommy Lobby, a 50,000-member parent organization, is asking its constituents to head to Victoria's Secret stores on April 6 to protest the lingerie franchise's "Bright Young Things" ad campaign. The ads feature modeled underwear paired with slogans such as "Call Me" and "Feeling Lucky." One of the products is called "The Date Panty." Mommy Lobby CEO Cindy Chafin feels the company is targeting a younger demographic with an increasingly sexualized message. "Victoria's Secret, they are a corporation. They are free to run their product. We totally get that, but I think there comes a point where there are boundaries," Chafin told Fox News. "Our daughters are not sex objects. We really want them to be innocent and young as long as possible … and [Victoria's Secret is] not helping that." Amid the controversy, Victoria's Secret posted a message on its Facebook page saying, "In response to questions we recently received, Victoria's Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women." [foxnews.com, 3/29/13]