"Orwell was wrong: It's not Big Brother controlling your thoughts. It's millions of pundits chanting Don Draper's name, sacrificing slivers of everyone's brain to the hungry god of their own much-touted perspicacity."
—Noah Berlatsky, describing why he thinks our culture is obsessed with "hit" TV shows such as HBO's Game of Thrones and AMC's Mad Men [theatlantic.com, 5/13]
According to research firm GfK, about 45 million American adults watch television shows and original video programs online each month. Traditional television viewing has fallen nearly 50% since 2002. [televisioninfo.com, 5/1/13; homemediamagazine.com, 4/29/13 stats]
Get online to get married. That's the way things work now, according to researcher Andriana Bellou, an assistant professor at the University of Montreal's Department of Economics. Writing about Bellou's findings, Atlantic contributor Derek Thompson notes, "Bellou doesn't just find a correlation between broadband adoption and rising marriage rates. She also finds that marriage rates among twentysomethings rose significantly in areas after broadband became available, suggesting a causal link." Bellou herself then issues this caution: "If targeted search leads to matches of more compatible people, such matches will likely be more stable. However, if meeting people becomes easier at all times and ages so that a divorce seems less costly, then this could imply entering a marriage less thoughtfully to begin with. In the latter case, we might expect higher marriage rates (related to Internet expansion) but also higher incidence of divorce." [atlantic.com, 5/2/13 stats, c&e]
"The big thing I learned is I can't blame the Internet for my problems. I thought leaving the Internet would fix some of my issues, but they are more innate."
—The Verge tech writer Paul Miller, who abstained from using the Internet for an entire year. He wrote, "It was really easy to not load a browser or use apps and keep WiFi off, but when people tried to show me things—funny YouTube videos or Instagrams—it just felt really selfish of me. They wanted to show me something—they weren't doing the experiment—and it felt rude of me. They just wanted to share something with me, and I felt rude. That was hard." [abcnews.go.com, 5/2/13]
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
—Jason Collins, currently a free agent in the NBC, writing in Sports Illustrated about becoming the first widely recognized athlete in any of the major American sports (football, basketball, baseball and hockey) to come out as gay. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," he adds. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand." [si.com, 4/29/13]
We've reported many opinions about whether television shows featuring gay characters have influenced America's attitudes toward homosexuality. Now comes a study conducted by Ipsos MediaCT, data from which indicate that 18% of viewers ages 13 to 64 reported shifting in a positive direction on the issue because of TV shows, compared to 10% of respondents who indicated being swayed in a negative direction. [salon.com, 4/12/13 c&e]
Reebok recently severed ties to spokesman Rick Ross after the rapper released a controversial song that talked up date rape. Now PepsiCo has bowed to public pressure and cut ties with another rapper, Lil Wayne. His inflammatory lyrics in the song "Karate Chop" reference racism victim Emmet Till, who was tortured and killed in 1955. According to the Associated Press, his rap "refers to a violent sexual act on a woman and says he wants to do as much damage as was done to Till." Though Wayne apologized to Till's family, Till's relatives nevertheless mounted a campaign against the soda manufacturer to have Wayne removed as a celebrity spokesman from the company's Mountain Dew brand. PepsiCo eventually agreed, saying in a statement that Wayne's "offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand." [AP, 5/3/13]
"I wanna rhyme about God, I wanna do a God album, a positive album so the kids and everybody will understand what's going on. I want to tell what's going on through my eyes. I don't wanna give too many of my ideas away because people just be taking them. Feed the poor people, feed the animals, that's one of the main reasons I'm here. God put me here to teach people and to lead people to his direction. I'm not a Christian, I'm a Muslim, but God is one. I just believe in the most high. I know what my duty is."
—42-year-old Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah [factmag.com, 4/16/13]
"I'm surprised I still have a nose on my face and that I don't look like I'm a million years old. I'm lucky, I've had this amazing life, and I've obviously always had someone or something looking out for me, that's protected me. The fact that I'm actually speaking to you right now is a miracle because honestly with the kind of life I had in my past I probably should be dead or at least in an insane asylum. … It was a choice between life and death. I instinctively knew that if I carried on I would die. You can't be a 47-year-old woman and do as much coke as I was doing. It was divine intervention. My bottom line was a spiritual bottom not a material bottom. I didn't lose my family. I didn't lose my possessions. There was nobody home; there was no soul, which is pretty bad. I was just sick and tired of it. I now have eight years of sobriety."
—The Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle, on kicking her 30-year cocaine habit [foxnews.com, 4/22/13]
"Typically, when a celebrity is arrested, especially when drinking and even more especially when drinking and driving are involved, it's a publicity nightmare. Words like 'doomed,' 'career-ending,' and 'toxic' may be thrown around," writes The Daily Beast contributor Kevin Fallon. "But as more reports about Witherspoon's run-in with the police emerge, including recently leaked video footage of the whole ordeal, the words being used to describe the would-be fiasco are 'terrific,' 'fantastic,' and 'funny.'" His answer for why? "We all know there's not even the smallest of small danger that Witherspoon is on some debaucherous path, so we just get to relish in what it is a rare, humbling mistake in the life of an otherwise groaningly infallible star—and love her all the more for it. And it couldn't come at a better time for the actress, as it has been a long while since we really loved her." [thedailybeast.com, 5/3/13]
Among Millennials, 39% now say they don't want to work hard. That's a drastic increase from the 25% of respondents who said the same thing in the 1970s. This according to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. And researchers Jean Twenge (San Diego State University) and Tim Kasser (Knox College) believe that this rise in entitlement can be traced to the environment these kids were raised in. "Youth raised during times of societal instability (e.g. unemployment) and disconnection (e.g. more unmarried parents) were especially likely to endorse materialistic values," they wrote. "Furthermore, when a larger percentage of the nation's economy was oriented toward advertising messages, youth were also likely to prioritize materialistic aims." [salon.com, 5/2/13 stats]