According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, many Hollywood studios aren't doing themselves any favors. They keep cranking out R-rated fare when films with any other rating generally make more money. Last year, for example, 117 R-rated pics were produced, and they averaged $16.8 million per film at the box office. The 119 PG-13 rated movies, however, averaged $47.3 million; the 49 PG films averaged $43 million; and the meager eight G-rated films grabbed an average of $23 million per movie. "PG-13 is the sweet spot," said the organization's head, John Fithian, adding that the year's overall attendance drop compared to 2011 came from "the weight of too many R-rated films. Make more family-friendly films and fewer R-rated titles. Americans have stated their choice." [usatoday.com, 6/25/13]
Just three rock acts had albums that were certified platinum (meaning they've sold a million units) in 2012: The Black Keys, Mumford & Sons and … the Christian rock act Skillet. In his profile article on the band, "Exalting the Sacred, Wooing the Secular," New York Times reporter James C. McKinley Jr. says that the hard-rock quartet "is an unabashedly Christian band that has won over mainstream rock aficionados without alienating its religious fans." Speaking to that tension, frontman John Cooper told the Times, "That is a little bit of a trick. I tend to write songs I believe in, that get my message across in the best way possible and leave it as nonthreatening as possible." The band's latest effort, Rise, recently debuted at No. 4 on the mainstream Billboard 200 album chart. [nytimes.com, 7/9/13]
The latest single from Willow Smith, "Summer Fling," is sparking criticism from some who believe both the song's lyrics and video suggest that the 12-year-old singer is promoting casual sex. Human behavior expert Patrick Wanis told Fox News, "Willow is singing about having sex, and this is totally inappropriate and not in line with the developmental physical, mental or emotional stages of a 12-year-old girl who is barely an adolescent; the video reveals that she is still a little girl—not a teenager. She is not mature enough mentally or emotionally to be boasting that she and her 'fling' are walking 'the beach at midnight.'" He also added, "Her parents [Will and Jada Pinkett Smith] are being irresponsible and verging on negligent by failing to fulfill their role as parents—to guide their daughter and set boundaries and limits for her. While children might rebel, they actually need boundaries, discipline, guidance and wisdom. And the Smiths are obviously not doing that." [foxnews.com, 7/11/13]
"I didn't put on a pair of heels until I was 21. And that was for a Matthew Rolston-directed video. These days, the couture image and sexier vibe happens way earlier. I had a way more accessible and affordable style."
—1980s pop singer Debbie Gibson, comparing her experience as a celebrity to what today's young stars must deal with. She goes on to say she believes today's stars could do more to showcase a healthier image for their young fans: "What kid in Middle America has a trainer and a stylist?! Kids need role models who teach them how to be healthy. Young stars have so much power." [foxnews.com, 7/8/13]
"It shouldn't come as any surprise that kids who are developing physically during the transition from childhood to adulthood compare what they see unfolding in the mirror with what they see in media. Of course, that's the way the marketers want it. The sad result is a generation of kids who buy the lies that 'I am what I look like' and 'if I don't look like that (or him or her … insert name of the hottest celebrity dujuor), well … then I'm worthless.' This reality is not only feeding the pandemic of eating disorders and depression among children and teens, but is also feeding the dissatisfaction that's leading a growing number of kids to pursue cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery in an effort to tweak or even overhaul their physical appearance."
—Center for Parent/Teen Understanding youth culture expert Walt Mueller, in his blog post "Not Good Enough … Teens and Plastic Surgery" [learningmylines.blogspot.com, 7/5/13]
"[Amanda] Bynes has become an easy if uncomfortable punch line. Her Twitter feed is crammed full of replies mocking her. … No less an expert than Snooki, meanwhile, has helpfully surmised that Bynes should get a reality show because 'she's entertaining' and 'my guilty pleasure on Twitter.' Bynes has nearly 3 million Twitter followers. Snooki's clearly not the only one enjoying the show. But the last thing I'd call watching someone deliberately wasting down to a hundred pounds and dancing erratically down the street and endangering herself and others by driving around with a suspended license and posting really, really incoherent things on the Internet is entertaining. I see people like that all the time on the A train, but because they weren't in Hairspray, most of us just try to avoid eye contact. And we have entered a very weird age of celebrity watching when Dr. Drew, of all people, emerges as the voice of reason and compassion when he says, 'It may be time to leave @AmandaBynes alone … if she needs help, hopefully she'll get help one day before something bad happens.'"
—Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams, on the devolution of one-time tween and teen star Amanda Bynes [salon.com, 7/11/13]
"Reasonable people will agree that the easy sleaze of yesteryear is no match for the elaborate hyperspace filth-propulsion system of today. Our collective core has gotten more [extreme]. The degradation of women is a foundational premise of modern pornography. … That is to say: [1978's] Debbie Does Dallas is a linear 90-minute film that affords its characters trace amounts of a few personality traits other than horniness; the mainstream porn of 2013 encourages an accelerating spiral into a dimension exclusively populated by degenerate sluts, by way of the same device where you conduct your virtual social life."
—Slate columnist Troy Patterson [slate.com, 7/10/13]
"I highly recommend kids to take drugs."
—Sebastian Silva, director of the forthcoming independent film Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, starring Michael Cera (This Is the End, Juno, Superbad). The film revolves around people using the hallucinogen mescaline. And Silva says it's that category of drug, along with its mind-altering sibling LSD, that he's talking about. "I'm not talking about cocaine or crystal meth." Instead, he thinks hallucinogens can provide young users with a pseudo-religious experience that they're not getting anywhere else these days: "It's so important, I mean, to like develop somehow like a spiritual life or relationship with yourself that's outside of like mundane experience, right? And I feel that, yeah, if it's you not buying into religion, which is really hard to nowadays. I think this kind of substances [sic] kind of help step out of yourself and like see things differently." [uinterview.com, 7/12/13]
Orson Scott Card has responded to gay marriage proponents who are threatening to boycott the forthcoming big-screen adaptation of his bestselling novel Ender's Game. Card, a Mormon who's been vocal about his convictions regarding traditional marriage, told Entertainment Weekly in a statement, "Ender's Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. … Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute." [insidemovies.ew.com, 7/8/13]