"Fundamentalism, whether raining down terror abroad or in homilies from our home parishes, is the enemy. It is the death knell of tolerance, progress and compromise. Fundamentalism is, in all practicality, nothing but an invitation to bigotry. … The next time someone dares to say, 'Just because I don't approve of homosexuality doesn't make me a bigot,' we must all answer back, 'Yes, it does. Not only does it make you a bigot, it makes you a criminal, a danger to me, my family, my community, my city and my country.' Intolerance is not a matter of opinion. It is a call to violence."
—actor Harvey Fierstein (The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, Mulan, Independence Day) [huffingtonpost.com, 5/28/13]
"When I teach skills in media evaluation and cultural exegesis, I always tell students to listen and look for spiritual hunger cries. There is always some cry for redemption. There is always some indicator of humanity's universal hunger for heaven that is rooted in our brokenness and lostness."
—Christian youth culture expert Walt Mueller (founder and president of Center for Parent/Youth Understanding), from his blog post "How Music Has Changed … And What That Says About Us" [learningmylines.blogspot.com, 5/22/13]
Young entertainers often lose their way—a tendency former child actress Mara Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda, Miracle on 34th Street) analyzed in her article "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)." Wilson observes, "Years of adulation and money and things quickly become normal, and then, just as they get used to it all, they hit puberty—which is a serious job hazard when your job is being cute. It's basically a real-life version of Logan's Run. A child actor who is no longer cute is no longer monetarily viable and is discarded." As for young stars' tendency to rebel, she notes, "Having to live up to your fan base is a little like having to deal with a million strict parents who don't actually love you. They reward you for your cuteness and cleverness, but are quick to judge and punish. And they do not want you ever to grow up. How do you react? The way any sullen teenager does: You get resentful, and as soon as you have the freedom, you act out." [cracked.com, 5/28/13]
The Parents Television Council has long voiced its support for cable consumers to have the right to choose which channels they want à la carte. A recent example of the kind of programming the PTC suggested families might not want to pay for was pop singer Ke$ha drinking her own urine on her MTV reality show Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life. The watchdog group was surprised, however, by how much flack it took for proffering this example in media coverage of the story, with many news outlets defending the singer's consumption of her own bodily fluid while accusing the "p‑‑‑ed off" PTC of "favoring censorship." Wrote the PTC's Christopher Gildemeister in sarcastic response, "Because wanting not to be forced to pay for something you never use is totally the same thing as being a book-burning Nazi." [parentstv.com, 5/29/13]
Superheroes have alter egos. Everybody knows that. But a new animated show on cable network the Hub (co-owned by Discovery and Hasbro) is taking its main character's super identity into controversial territory. By day, its 12-year-old protagonist is a boy named Guy Hamdon. When duty calls, he morphs into female superhero SheZow. His transforming catchphrase? "You go, girl!" Breitbart.com's Ben Shapiro writes, "Nothing says 'child-appropriate material' quite like gender-bending underage superheroes," noting that "the target audience for the Hub is children aged two to eleven." [brietbart.com, 5/28/13; salon.com, 5/29/13]
Most social networks ban images that are considered sexually explicit or pornographic, including Pinterest. But the Financial Times says that that site is currently relaxing its rules when it comes to so-called artistic nudity. Artists and photographers have reportedly been complaining to Pinterest about how the restrictions limit them, and an unnamed representative for the site told Financial Times, "Pinterest is about expressing your passions, and people are passionate about art and that may include nudes. So we're going to try to accommodate that."
Meanwhile, HBO's Game of Thrones is already in the habit of baring so much flesh that one of its primary female stars has reportedly had enough. Talking about the unnamed actress, co-star Oona Chaplin told the U.K.'s Telegraph, "One of the girls in the show who got her kit off the most in the first couple of seasons now doesn't at all because she said, 'I want to be known for my acting not for my breasts.'" And she's not the only one concerned about the trend (which goes far beyond just one HBO series). According to The Telegraph, actors' union Equity has "raised concerns about how many of its members are expected to bare all at casting sessions." Eleanor Dearle, a member of the union's women's committee, says, "We have a duty to promote a safe and healthy working environment. We don't want a workplace that opens doors to sexual abuse." [businessinsider.com, 5/30/13; telegraph.co.uk, 5/19-24/13]
The violence in Syria's civil war has reached horrific proportions, and many atrocities are finding their way to YouTube. A recent video (the authenticity of which has yet to be confirmed) features a rebel commander holding human organs and taking bites from them. Writes Aryn Baker of Time: "War is rarely anything but violent, but in Syria, where more than 70,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict since it started as a peaceful uprising inspired by the Arab Spring more than two years ago, the savagery has reached ghoulish proportions. And it seems that soldiers on both sides of the war are committing what appear to be crimes of war at least in part so that those acts can be viewed on the Internet. The ubiquity of camera phones and social media are enabling a mixture of propaganda, intimidation and boastful exhibitionism. In this, the first YouTube war, videos have driven the conflict even as they document its horrors." [time.com, 5/12/13]
"After the bombing at the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago, the mom of a 13-year-old girl told me her daughter had been shaking she was so scared, despite the fact they live hundreds of miles from Boston. All of the places that the girl was supposed to feel safe—school, the movies, sports events—had come under fire, making her worry that something bad could happen to her at any moment. … The 24-hour news culture, bolstered by citizen journalists on Twitter and Facebook, adds to the imposing fear kids feel. While teens aren't spending much time tuning into TV news or reading CNN online, they are logging on to social media where the news they see is mixed with gossip, speculation, and misinformation, making it hard to know who or what to believe."
—MediaPost contributor Melanie Shreffler, in her article "Coming of Age in a Culture of Fear" [mediapost.com, 5/16/13 c&e]
"If speed is the currency of the modern information era, misinformation is the increasingly high cost. Some, like Matthew Ingram at Paid Content, argue that journalism is made better by multiple sources. … It's not. We have more information, but it's a morass of truths, half-truths, and what we used to call libel. It's fast, but it's bad. And bad information is a cancer that just keeps growing. I'd argue the opposite of Ingram: that the hyperintense pressure of real-time reporting from Twitter, crowdsourcing from Reddit, and constant mockery from an online community that is empirically skewed toward negativity and criticism is actually hurting journalism. It's making all the news worse. When CNN makes a mistake, it matters more, but CNN can't afford to be slower than Twitter. Talk about a lose-lose."
—Molly Wood, in her cnet.com article "Social Media as Breaking News Feed: Worse Information, Faster" [cnet.com, 4/19/13]
"It would have been difficult. For sure the headline on Twitter [for The Sixth Sense] would have been like 'surprise ending,' right? Or 'I didn't guess the ending.' It immediately orients you in a different way to it. I don't think it would have been the same experience in today's market. The fact is, it was very lucky timing. It was right before the Internet became a real, real place where everyone constantly went. I remember it at the time, it wasn't even talked about when we put that movie out."
—director M. Night Shyamalan (whose latest film, After Earth, opened over the weekend), on how the impact of the surprise twist at the end of his breakout hit The Sixth Sense in 1999 likely would have been diluted by social media had it been released today [huffingtonpost.com, 5/30/13]