"In our culture, instead of just focusing on the Miley Cyruses, we should recognize and applaud the many young adults who are making the right decisions. Teen pregnancy declined by 42% from 1990 to 2008, owing in part to the fact that teens are waiting longer to start having sex. In the period from 2006 to 2008, among unmarried girls ages 15 to 19, only 11% had had sex before age 15, compared with 19% in 1995. Making sure that people—particularly young people—know these facts and figures can play an important role in encouraging better behavior. Too much of our culture—from headlines in Cosmopolitan magazine to TV shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager—sends the message that promiscuity is ubiquitous and a rite of passage toward adulthood. But it's not. Those who do take sex seriously are in good company."
—National Review contributor Hadley Heath [nationalreview.com, 9/19/13 stats]
Jersey Shore's hard-partying Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi wouldn't have gotten many votes in a "Most Likely to Become a Healthy Mom" competition a couple of years ago. But after the birth of her son, Lorenzo, in August, the 25-year-old says that much has changed. "I think after my son I finally decided to grow up," she told Fox News. "My son has taught me the true meaning of life and my outlook on everything has changed. Now I feel like a woman and love to do new things in life I never thought I would be doing." Among other things, the young woman known for her binge drinking is now much more concerned about health and fitness, having recently lost 42 pounds. "I always pictured myself to be a fit mom, and that's exactly what I accomplished. I didn't lose the weight for my career, but it is great to see how I am inspiring other mothers to lose weight, and just girls in general to lose weight the healthy way." Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show, said of Polizzi's positive lifestyle changes, "It's a wonderful opportunity for her to be a role model for a lot of other folks to observe. She went from being a naughty girl to a good girl which is of course simplistically stated, but that's something that many of us aspire to do." [foxnews.com, 9/16/13]
New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara is earning comparisons to Tim Tebow due to his outspoken stances on faith and abstinence (from both sex and alcohol). "Yeah, some people call me the black Tim Tebow," 24-year-old Amukamara told Muscle & Fitness magazine. "I'm a virgin. I'm not ashamed to say that. I still haven't had a drink. I told my fiancée that I'll probably take my first drink at my bachelor party. I grew up Catholic, so it just started out as one of those things. I'd think, 'If I do this, maybe I can get to heaven,' so I said no drinks, no sex, all the big things." [newyork.cbslocal.com, 9/18/13]
On Sept. 16, tragic news began to emerge out of Washington, D.C., regarding Aaron Alexis' shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 12 victims. Analysis of his horrific acts has largely focused on his unstable mental state. But amid the details about possible influences in his life have come reports that Alexis spent significant amounts of time playing M-rated shooters such as Call of Duty. "He could be in the game all day and all night," said friend Nutpisit Suthamtewakul. "I think games might be what pushed him that way." Suthamtewakul told the U.K.'s Mirror that Alexis could be so engrossed in a game that Suthamtewakul would take food to him so his friend could keep playing, sans breaks. The Mirror also quoted an unnamed source involved with the investigation who added, "We know he had an obsession with violent video games, and we will look into that part of the investigation." [mirror.co.uk., 9/18/13 c&e]
Grand Theft Auto V pulled in an eye-popping, wallet-busting $800 million on sales of an estimated 10 to 12 million units its first day of availability. It's the biggest video game launch ever, easily recovering the $115 million the game cost to make and the $150 million Rockstar Games has spent marketing it. Lines of hundreds of fans were reported at some retail outlets—lines long enough that three fans eager to get their hands on the game posed as police in Staten Island, N.Y., in order to cut to the front. (They were subsequently arrested for impersonating police officers and face up to a year in jail.) Meanwhile, in London a 23-year-old gamer was stabbed, hit with a brick and had his copy stolen by three teenagers who were also later arrested.
Controversy surrounding the game's content began to percolate almost as soon as it was released, specifically regarding a torture scene in which players earn a higher score for inflicting more pain. Eurogamer.net reviewer Tom Bramwell said, "This is a series best known to people who don't play it as the one where you sleep with a prostitute and then murder her to get your money back, so the news that you can now waterboard people and rotate analogue sticks to wrench out teeth with a pair of pliers is unlikely to leave a positive impression. The fact you have to use the full range of torture techniques to get a higher score is unlikely to improve anyone's mood either. Even to people who know the series intimately, it is likely to hit hard. GTA is a game full of violence, of course, but it is mostly slapstick, impersonal, cartoon violence. … It's very unusual to be hurting a single person in isolation over a prolonged period, which is why the torture scene is a different and unpleasant experience."
Commenting on the game's enormous popularity, Christian culture expert Walt Mueller, of The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, wrote, "Remember … cultural artifacts both mirror and map our lives. They reflect who we are and what we already value and believe, and they direct us into what we should value and believe. Grand Theft Auto V certainly does both in some powerful ways. We can learn a lot about ourselves by pondering this game. We can see who we are, and who we are becoming." [variety.com, 9/18/13; businessweek, 9/8/13; nypost.com, 9/17/13; worldnews.nbcnews.com, 9/18/13; nbcnews.com, 9/17/13; learningmylines.blogspot.com, 9/17/13 stats]
Grand Valley State University was recently forced to remove a pendulum statue—one that looks suspiciously like a wrecking ball—in the wake of Miley Cyrus' controversial music video in which she rides a wrecking ball nude. While students have always ridden the pendulum, incidents have escalated since the video, with some students mimicking Cyrus' clothes-free approach. [time.com, 9/18/13 c&e]
"There's a lot of sex, especially as a mother and having children with access to the Internet. It's quite scary how accessible sex is and how it's everywhere. It is definitely not a very innocent time."
—actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who stars in the forthcoming movie about sex addiction, Thanks for Sharing. Regarding what she discovered about addiction while filming the movie, Paltrow added, "I learned a lot about addiction. Essentially it is a way to Band-Aid pain. People are looking for something to mask their pain for a minute and feel a bit better." [foxnews.com, 9/16/13]
There were no big surprises in the main categories at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night, with AMC's critically acclaimed Breaking Bad getting the nod for Outstanding Drama Series and ABC's Modern Family collecting its fourth consecutive Comedy award. HBO's biopic about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra, beat out History's The Bible in the Miniseries or Movie category. Claire Danes took home the Lead Actress in a Drama trophy for her work on Showtime's Homeland. Jeff Daniels nabbed the award for Lead Actor in a Drama for his role on HBO's The Newsroom. The telecast also included six somber tributes for TV luminaries who passed away this year, including Glee's Cory Monteith and The Sopranos' James Gandolfini. [latimes.com, 9/23/13; foxnews.com, 9/22/13]