"We're the reason you have no attention span. And you can pin reality TV on us too. You're welcome."
—Mark Goodman, one of MTV's original video jockeys, discussing MTV's ongoing influence in the culture. Goodman and three other MTV pioneers recently published the book VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave. [AP, 5/6/13]
Researchers recently observed 263 students (from middle school, high school and college) as they were studying: Within two minutes, many were texting, tweeting, surfing the Web, watching TV or updating their Facebook page. After 15 minutes, the scientists found that students had spent just 65% of their time, on average, actually studying.
Research also indicates that multitaskers generally remember less of what they study. And the stuff they do remember, they have more difficulty understanding. "There's nothing magical about the brains of so-called 'digital natives' that keeps them from suffering the inefficiencies of multitasking," says David Meyer, a professor of psychology from the University of Michigan. "They may like to do it, they may even be addicted to it, but there's no getting around the fact that it's far better to focus on one task from start to finish." [slate.com, 5/3/13 stats]
According to a new study by the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes involving cellphones are "vastly underreported." The council estimates that fully 25% of all motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. now involve cellphone use. [usatoday.com, 5/8/13 stats, c&e]
Many consumers, especially younger ones, use the Internet to watch cable programming for free. According to television research firm TDG, 13% of households with broadband Internet service don't have cable or satellite TV service. Among that group, 2.6 million—the biggest percentage of which are ages 18 to 24—say they've never paid for cable or satellite television; they simply find that content online. Some television executives believe that as Millennials age and land better jobs, they'll naturally subscribe to cable or satellite offerings. Other analysts aren't so sure. "Who says that's a certainty, when the cost of a pay-TV subscription is going to be $160 a month, and at the same time, the number of options available online is going to increase manifest? You're talking historically about what you've seen from young people, not about this new crop of young people who were raised in a world with computers and watching online video on a regular basis." [time.com, 5/9/13 stats]
YouTube has begun charging people to subscribe to some of its channels. Initial subscriptions will cost 99 cents to $2.99 a month. Only 50 channels are immediately slated to move to the fee-based model. [new.com.au, 5/6/13; wsj.com, 5/9/13]
"Turns out the critics of Murphy Brown—who had a child out of wedlock on TV and got lambasted by then Vice President Dan Quayle for doing so—were right about one thing: TV does have an impact on how Americans view the concept of family. According to a new study by uSamp and Oxygen Media, a full 87% of Americans believe the definition of a traditional family has evolved and 55% say there is no longer such a thing as a 'traditional' family."
—Diane Anderson-Minshall, writing for the gay and lesbian news magazine The Advocate [advocate.com, 5/8/13 stats, c&e]
A new program in Denmark titled Blachman (named after its creator Thomas Blachman) features women standing naked in a room as two men critique each one's physical attributes. Cameras zoom in and out on the parts under discussion. While some in Denmark have called for the show to be cancelled, the station that airs it—publically funded DR2—is standing behind the series. "I am representing DR2, which is a society channel," says the show's producer, Sofia Fromberg. "Our main focus is what's going on in society and we debate it. Here we have a program that reveals what men think about the female body. Quite honestly, what is wrong with that?" [time.com, 5/9/13]
Some of the new literature aimed at young adults is getting steamier and more frank about sexuality. But Abbi Glines, author of the Sea Breeze series, responds to critics of her books with, "Yes, there is sex, but these aren't porn books for children. These are books about the excitement of first love and the first sexual encounters. Yes, I could cut the sex out, but that wouldn't be realistic." Glines says she writes her stories for readers between the ages of 18 and 25, and that her 12-year-old daughter is forbidden from reading them until she turns 18. [express.co.uk, 5/7/13]
Tim Lambesis, frontman of the Grammy-nominated Christian metalcore band As I Lay Dying, has been arrested for allegedly soliciting an undercover detective posing as a hit man to murder his estranged wife, Meggan. Lambesis has plead not guilty to the charges. His defense attorney, Anthony Salerno, said in a statement, "Tim never had the intention to harm his wife. … This whole thing was a set-up by a scumbag snitch, and then law enforcement ran with it." He also added, "Tim will have his day in court, and when he does he will be exonerated because a jury will see that in his heart Tim is a good, decent and Christian human being." [mtv.com, 5/8-9/13; today.com, 5/8/13; sandiegoreader.com, 5/10/13]
Quarterback Tim Tebow may be "just" a free agent in the NFL after being released from the New York Jets. But according to Forbes magazine, the quarterback is the most influential athlete in the United States. (Other athletes in the Top 10 included Olympians Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Gabby Douglas, as well as New York Yankee Derek Jeter.) Ironically, Tebow's influence is perhaps one of the reasons no NFL team has yet added him to its roster. So passionate are Tebow's fans that some NFL pundits speculate no one wants to cope with the well-documented and distracting hassle of "Tebowmania." Commenting on the Forbes article, CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel writes, "Any idea how many NFL teams—from the owner to the general manager to the coach to the locker room—want a backup quarterback who is considered the most influential athlete in the country? Zero. You've done this, Tebow fans. You've loved Tebow's career to death." [forbes.com, 5/6/13; cbssports.com, 5/8/13]
Andy Warhol once speculated that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes—a pop-culture prophecy of sorts that quickly mutated into a well-worn and much-accepted cliché. But it turns out that he might have been wrong. A new study indicates that once you're genuinely famous, you tend to stay famous … forever. Researchers from Stony Brook University analyzed data from more than 2,200 news sources gathered since November 2004, and found that fame is fairly stable for those who achieve it. "Fame exhibits strong continuity even in entertainment, on television, and on blogs, where it has been thought to be most ephemeral," says the team led by sociologist Arnout van de Rijt. "Even in areas of social life where occupational success is most determined by trends, hypes, and consumer taste, and less by formal positions of public prominence—that is, entertainment, arts, and fashion—there appears to exist a similar degree of annual stability in the ranks of the celebrated." [salon.com, 5/6/13]
It seems as if hardly a day goes by lately without some crude, rude or insensitive ad campaign hitting you right between the eyes. A new commercial for Mountain Dew created by rapper Tyler, The Creator, featured what MTV characterizes as a "crazed goat who went so far as assaulting a woman on his quest to secure more Mountain Dew." It then shows the goat in a police lineup with only black men. The soda company yanked the ad after accusations of racism emerged.
Korean car manufacturer Hyundai, meanwhile, apologized and pulled an ad that featured a man trying to commit suicide by letting his car idle in a closed garage. The new Hyundai he was sitting in, however, is a fuel cell car that emits only water vapor, thus thwarting his dark attempt. Freelance British copywriter Holly Brockwell blogged about the ad, saying that it reminded her of how her father did commit suicide. She wrote, "I understand better than most people the need to do something newsworthy, something talkable, even something outrageous to get those all-important viewing figures. What I don't understand is why a group of strangers have just brought me to tears in order to sell me a car."
Sometimes, however, hue and cry from offended would-be consumers doesn't result in an ad being removed. Kmart's suggestive "Ship My Pants" commercial was an online-only ad before controversy caused a viral reaction. Now it's heading for cable TV, and its creator has been promoted. [mtv.com, 5/3/13; businessinsider.com, 4/26/13; copybot.wordpress.com, 4/25/13; adage.com, 4/17/13; chicagotribune.com, 4/26/13]