New York Yankees baseball player Alex Rodriguez has been suspended until the 2015 season for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Parsing the significance of this latest professional sports drug scandal, Christian youth culture expert Walt Mueller noted, "One thing is clear in all of this … we're all over the place in terms of character and ethics. Ben Walker's AP column on the story offers some interesting insight into how baseball players are processing what's happening in their world. Walker quotes Hall-of-Famer Joe Morgan and his opinion on whether or not the penalties doled out today serve as a deterrent as ball-players weigh the pros and cons of this kind of behavior. Morgan says, 'It depends on what the punishments are. The thing with me is always the risk versus the reward. What is the reward? Getting a $150 million contract. What is the risk? A 30-day suspension, a 60-day suspension? The risk doesn't outweigh the reward. Until that happens, it's not going to change. It's very simple: the risk has to outweigh the reward.' What Morgan is saying is that the ends justify the means. Just doing the right thing no longer matters. It isn't the option, but simply one of many options. Sadly, that's how our kids are learning from their heroes about how to evaluate and make ethical decisions. But this methodology is sketchy, it's narcissistic, it's self-centered, it's materialistic, it's dangerous, and it's flat-out wrong. And if this kind of thinking continues, then that last sentence will be hopelessly old-fashioned, irrelevant, judgmental … and, wrong." [learningmylines.blogspot.com, 8/5/13]
R&B singer Chris Brown has released three albums since his bruising abuse of then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. Two of those albums debuted at No. 1. Despite that success, Brown still feels that violent night defines how he's seen and portrayed in the media, so much so that he recently tweeted, "Don't worry mainstream America. After this X album, it'll probably be my last album. … Being famous is amazing when it's for ur music and talent. I'm tired of being famous for a mistake I made when i was 18. I'm cool & over it!" Then, on Aug. 9, Brown suffered a non-epileptic seizure in a Los Angeles recording studio. A statement from his representative attributed the health scare to "intense fatigue and extreme emotional stress, both due to the continued onslaught of unfounded legal matters and the nonstop negativity." [huffingtonpost.com, 8/6-10/13]
A nationwide survey presented at a recent American Psychological Association conference indicates that of the more than 1,000 teens surveyed, 41% of girls and 37% of boys say they've been physically, emotionally or sexually abused on a date. Surprisingly, 35% of girls―compared to 29% of boys―stated they had abused a partner, with 29% of girls and 24% of guys saying they had been both victims and abusers. [usatoday.com, 7/31/13 stats]
What we watch and absorb can change our hearts and minds. And so it may be with the documentary film Blackfish. It tells the story of the SeaWorld orca Tilikum, which killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. And it examines what goes into the keeping and training of killer whales in marine parks such as SeaWorld, presenting a portrait that's not flattering. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite says she didn't have an anti-SeaWorld agenda in making the film, but film critic Matt Zoller Seitz calls animal-focused documentaries such as this one "the 21st century animal rights version of abolitionist pamphlets." Says Patricia Aufderheide, co-director of the Center for Social Media and a professor at the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., "[Documentaries cause] change along the lines of networks of influence. It's not just, 'I saw the movie.' It's, 'I saw the movie, and other people who I know think this movie is important. Now they're talking about it, and I'm somebody who's in some kind of position to be able to do something with this.'" [nbcnews.com, 8/7/13]
"After my first Sports Illustrated cover, I felt terrible about myself for a solid month. Every single guy I met was either married or about to be married, and I felt like I was their bachelor present or something. I'm not a toy, I'm a human. I'm not here to be used. I am a grown woman, and you need to figure your s‑‑‑ out."
—supermodel Kate Upton, who in an interview with Elle magazine said that because she's a model she's often treated as something less than human. Some assume that she's dumb, while others objectify her to an alarming degree. Still others believe that there's no way she could be a religious woman. "'Why are you wearing a cross?'" she says she's been told. "'Like you would be religious.'" [usatoday.com, 8/8/13; msn.foxsports.com, 8/8/13]
"Sitting on a bedroom floor crying is something that makes you feel really alone. If someone's singing about that feeling, you feel bonded to that person. That's the only way I can find an explanation for why 55,000 people would come see me sing."
—singer Taylor Swift [Rolling Stone, 8/15/13]
Actor Mark Wahlberg, on big-budget CGI spectacles: "They are spending so much money to pull the wool over the audience's eyes with these effects-driven movies. It's not like Jurassic Park, where you saw something groundbreaking and innovative and said, 'Holy … I gotta see that. Every end-of-the-earth movie kind of feels the same."
Wahlberg, on Justin Bieber: "Justin, are you listening? Don't be so naughty. Be a nice boy, pull your trousers up, make your mom proud and stop smoking weed, you little b‑‑tard."
Wahlberg, on himself: "I did a lot of things that I regretted and I certainly paid for my mistakes. You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn't until I really started doing good and doing right, by other people as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away." [latimes.com, 8/7/13; torontosun.com, 8/6/13; huffingtonpost.com, 8/6/13]
The Country Day School summer camp in Largo, Fla., gave teen participants this summer a chance to fight to the "death," just as happens in The Hunger Games. The tournament's 26 participants didn't actually kill one another, of course, but instead "killed" by grabbing a red flag belt from competitors' waists. But in a story about the camp published in the Tampa Bay Times, clinical psychologist Susan Toler noted that even playacting such violent themes could have a desensitizing effect on the way teens perceive violence. "When [children] start thinking and owning and adopting and assuming [those killer] roles, it becomes close to them. The violence becomes less egregious," she said. [nbcnews.com, 8/7/13; wncn.com, 8/11/13 c&e]
According to a new Pew Research study of U.S. Census Bureau data, 36% of all Millennials—some 21.6 million twenty- and thirtysomethings—are still living at home with their parents. That's up from the 32% statistic reported in 2007 when the recession began. "It's not just the poor economy," says Richard Fry, a senior research associate with Pew Research Center. "There indeed may be less stigma among young adults about living at home. Even when the economy fully recovers, the tendency may be to live at home longer." [today.com, 8/2/13 stats]
Cadillac, Smart and Tesla automakers have already ditched the increasingly "archaic" CD player from their dashboards, and other car companies will soon be following suit. [usatoday.com, 8/4/13]