Are dads good for more than just dough and "d'oh!"? You bet, says W. Bradford Wilcox, co-editor of Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives. Dads have important things to teach their children about boundaries in physical play; they're more likely to encourage healthy risk-taking; they serve as a protective presence; and they typically discipline and set rules more authoritatively than mothers. Those influences correlate with lower incidences of teenage delinquency, pregnancy and depression. [theatlantic.com, 6/14/13 c&e]
As the school year wound down, on two continents teachers were "torturing" students with raw, R-rated movies in class. Near Paris, French sixth-grade math teacher Jean-Baptiste Clement traded in equations for the 2004 torture-porn film Saw, telling students, "This will be your first horror film." (It earned him a one-day suspension.) And in Fulton County, Georgia, another sixth-grade teacher allegedly assailed 12-year-olds with The Campaign and Ted, which include obscene language and nudity. (It's reported that the teacher warned the kids that what goes on in this classroom, stays in the classroom.) [today.com, 6/12/13; hollywoodreporter.com, 6/11/13; myfoxatlant.com, 6/17/13]
By the end of its opening weekend, Zach Snyder's Superman reboot, Man of Steel, had sped through $128.7 million in ticket sales. And its bam-boom trajectory left behind a broad swath of commentary regarding its violence and spirituality:
Superman comic book scribe Greg Rucka wonders if the film should have aimed for a PG rating, saying, "Superman is precisely what we should be teaching our children. Superman inspires us to our best. I haven't seen Man of Steel. … But that PG-13 on Man of Steel is making me nervous. I don't know what it means. … I just know that if you make a Superman movie you can't take kids to, you've done something wrong."
The Huffington Post's senior entertainment writer, Mike Ryan, says of the trend toward massively destructive superhero films, "Somewhere along the line, it was decided that every superhero movie had to end with a big blowout battle scene. … The ante keeps being raised, to the point where apocalyptic, Earth-in-the-balance violence now seems normal. In the same way that we don't notice how tall little Johnny has gotten until he stands next to that pencil mark from last year, it's startling to compare any recent [superhero] movie to the original Superman. … In today's movies, my reaction to seeing entire cities destroyed while superheroes fight is to shrug. That doesn't seem right."
As for the film's many obvious Christ allusions, Fox contributor Justin Craig says, "It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's … Jesus? When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created their iconic comic book hero Superman in 1938, their character wasn't just a representation of 'Truth, Justice and the American Way,' but for many, a metaphor for Jewish immigrants in 1930s America. Created by two young Jewish men, Superman was an allusion to the Jewish faith and history, from his baby Moses-like origins to his golem-esque invincibility, to his outcast status and his ultimate struggle to assimilate in a new land. But somewhere along his journey since 1938, Kal-El converted to Christianity, which is no more evident than in Zack Snyder's current Man of Steel." [mtv.com, 6/13/13; huffingtonpost.com, 6/13/13; slate.com, 6/14/13; foxnews.com, 6/14/13]
Earth has been taking things apocalyptically on the chin in big-budget movies quite a lot lately. But if some predictions about the future made by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are accurate, we might also be approaching the end of the box office as we know it. The moguls, longtime friends and two of the most influential movie directors of all time, sat down for a conversation recently with audience members at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts:
"There's eventually going to be an implosion—or a big meltdown," Spielberg said. "There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm." He suggested that the box office of the future might have a tiered ticketing system, with big budget actioners costing perhaps $25, while small, independent films might be much cheaper. He and Lucas also talked about how difficult it is to get a film made today, with both saying that their most recent efforts, Lincoln and Red Tails, respectively, barely made it into theaters at all. "The pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller," Lucas said. "I think eventually the Lincolns will go away, and they're going to be on television." [hollywoodreporter.com, 6/12/13]
Hasbro's popular My Little Pony cartoon franchise is getting its own (limited-release) movie. But My Little Pony: Equestria Girls comes with a critical difference: The ponies are being turned into girls, and critics allege that these super-skinny, miniskirt-wearing (animated) females are overly sexualized. "These look more like Bratz dolls," says Eynat Amir, mother and one-time My Little Pony fan. Slate's Amanda Marcotte hypothesizes that Hasbro is no longer catering to preteen girls with the movie, but rather "Bronies," the teenage and twentysomething guys who have, for some reason, embraced the cartoon. "My Little Pony didn't set out to capture that cherished 18-45 male demographic when they started making cute little TV programs about pony friendship, but now that they have that demo, I suspect they're going to do everything in their power to keep it," she writes. "Bronies have expressed a strong interest in seeing the Ponies in sexy, humanized forms—if you doubt this, I dare you to search for 'my little pony porn' on Google—and it seems Hasbro has given them exactly what they want. If there was any danger of the Brony trend dying off any time soon, turning the Ponies into imitation sexy anime characters delayed that potential decline. A few mad moms is an easy price to pay when you consider the huge profits Hasbro will rake in with this move." [slate.com, 6/13/13]
The long-held assumption has been that teen boys make up the lion's share of the gameplaying population. But boys under the age of 17 actually represent only about 19% of the gaming pie. According to a new report released by the Entertainment Software Association, girls and women now make up nearly half (45%) of all gamers. The fairer sex also accounts for 46% of the most frequent video game purchasers. [usatoday.com, 6/12/13 stats]
With the advent of the CD now 30 years in the past, and cloud-based listening the new rage, why are so many people buying … vinyl records? The New York Times reports that "every major label and many smaller ones are releasing vinyl, and most major new releases have a vinyl version." Some manufacturers and specialist retailers are suggesting that about 25 million LPs (remember, that stands for "long play") were pressed in the U.S. last year. And most of the demand is credited to youthful buyers. "We never expected the vinyl resurgence to become as crazy as it is," says Josh Bizar, director of sales for the Chicago company Music Direct. "But it's come full circle. We get kids calling us up and telling us why they listen to vinyl, and when we ask them why they don't listen to CDs, they say, 'CDs? My dad listens to CDs—why would I do that?'" [nytimes.com, 6/12/13]
"Viewers are very desensitized, and they want to see the most extreme things. It's our responsibility to show people what weather is and what it's doing, but in a responsible manner."
—Mike Bettes, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, who's among some in the weather industry questioning the wisdom of chasing, filming and broadcasting extreme weather phenomena in the wake of the deaths of Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young, the stars of Discovery's Storm Chasers series. The trio was killed while filming a tornado that hit El Reno, Okla., on May 31. [foxnews.com, 6/12/13]
Since news of the National Security Agency's surveillance of phone and Internet records broke, sales of George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984 have surged more than 6,000%. The British writer's 64-year-old story focuses on an ever-watchful government known as Big Brother, a phrase that's since entered the popular lexicon. [slate.com, 6/11/13 stats, c&e]