Christian singer and American Idol alum Mandisa wasn't present at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony to collect the two awards she won, Best Contemporary Christian Album (Overcomer) and Best Contemporary Christian Music Song ("Overcomer"). The next day, she took to her blog to explain her reasons for not attending: "Both times I have gone to the Grammys I have witnessed performances I wish I could erase from my memory, and yes, I fast forwarded through several performances this year; but my reason is not because of them, it's because of me. I have been struggling with being in the world, not of it lately. I have fallen prey to the alluring pull of flesh, pride, and selfish desires quite a bit recently. … I knew that submerging myself into an environment that celebrates those things was risky for me at this time."
Meanwhile, musical peer Natalie Grant did go to the awards show, but ended up leaving early due to her discomfort with what she was watching. Here's her take: "I had many thoughts about the entire show, which were best left inside my head and that is where they will stay. … I am honored to be a part of the Christian music community. I've had many people throughout my career ask why I never tried to go in to mainstream music, and last night was a beautiful reminder that I love singing about Jesus and for Jesus." [mandisaofficial.com, 1/27/14; facebook.com/nataliegrantmusic, 1/26/14; christiannews.net, 1/30/14]
"I don't want to put anyone down, but you won't see any twerking from me."
—Scotty McCreery, winner of the 10th season of American Idol. McCreery, who has never made a secret of his Christianity, says his faith helps keep him on the straight and narrow, even if it makes him something of an outlier in the music business. "I'm not ashamed [of my faith] but I know that everyone doesn't agree with me," he says. [foxnews.com, 1/22/14]
Newlyweds Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici, stars of The Bachelor, waited until marriage to consummate their love—at least according to a lie detector test they took on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The Christian couple vowed to abstain from sex until marriage—a vow that Kimmel was dubious about. When the results came in, Kimmel was at a rare loss for words. "Wow!" he said. [abcnews.com, 1/28/14]
Faith-oriented singles are growing more comfortable with premarital sex, according to a study by two religiously oriented dating sites. The sites, JDate (an online dating service for Jewish singles) and Christian Mingle, found that 87% of those polled would have sex before marriage—up two percentage points from the previous year. And the same number said it would be OK to cohabit with someone before tying the knot. [relevantmagazine.com, 1/27/14 stats]
"The way kids dress when they go to school is beyond me. They come into my office barely clothed. They're wearing a little cami, and if they are among the developed kids, you know, who let you out of the house? It's all designed to be provocative, but I don't think they know what they're provoking. … Kids seem to be developing earlier and getting more sexually focused earlier. They are sexually active a lot earlier, too; as early as 12 or 13 is not so unusual, whereas before, I'd say about 10 years ago, it used to be really unusual."―Boston pediatric psychologist Barbara Daley, as quoted in Newsweek's article "Sex and the Single Tween." The article also noted that girls ages 8 to 12 now spend approximately $7,170 on face creams, lipstick, nail polish and other beauty products during their tween years. [newsweek.com, 1/22/14 stats, c&e]
"While you were busy reading your 27th think piece on Macklemore performing 'Same Love' at the Grammys and [HBO's gay dating dramedy] Looking being boring, something actually kind of monumental happened: the Disney Channel featured its first gay couple on an episode of one of its original series. Good Luck Charlie, one of the network's most popular original comedies, featured a lesbian couple [in its Jan. 26] episode. The plot was refreshingly innocuous, but pointed enough to let it be known that it was, you know, kind of a big deal that a Disney Channel series aimed at young children was taking this step."
—The Daily Beast entertainment writer Kevin Fallon [thedailybeast.com, 1/28/14]
Disney's hit movie Frozen has become the Mouse House's biggest animated movie ever—moving past The Lion King—with its worldwide box office now topping $864 million in only 11 weeks of release. (And the movie has yet to be released in China and Japan.) [huffingtonpost.com, 1/28/14 stats]
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won an Academy Award for his role in 2005's Capote and has most recently appeared in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday. Authorities say the 46-year-old apparently died of a heroin overdose, with a needle still sticking out of his arm. [cnn.com, 2/2/14]
Anecdotal reports recently have suggested that teens are tiring of the social network behemoth Facebook. Now a detailed statistical assessment from the digital consultancy firm iStrategy Labs has confirmed that younger American users are in fact fleeing in droves. Even though Facebook has seen growth from 146.8 million U.S. users in January 2011 to 180.0 million in January 2014, iStrategy estimates that the number of 13- to 17-year old users has fallen by a whopping 25.3% and that the number of 18- to 24-year-old users has dropped 7.5%. iStrategy reports that Facebook's own Social Advertising platform indicates that those percentages translate to the company having 3 million fewer teen users in 2014 than it did in 2011.
So where are those teens going? They're flocking to social networks and applications that don't leave permanent tracks, according to experts. Snapchat, the app that allows people to take and send photos that soon self-destruct, is the most well-known example, but there are others. Blink erases text messages. Skim does that program one better by deleting the message as you read it. Whisper promises that whatever you send through its network will never, ever be traced back to you. [istrategylabs, 1/15/14; business.time.com, 1/15/14; time.com, 1/17/14 stats]
"Social media is running rampant. We could get to the point where without those phones or iPads or whatever kids are texting or typing on, they won't even know how to communicate, how to sit down and have a conversation with each other verbally. … The phone has become our lives."―Motown legend Smokey Robinson, who admits that he even gets caught up in the tech sometimes, saying of his smartphone, "If I'm in the car and get a great idea for a song, I can call my voicemail and sing it. [Before,] you'd lose them, no way to put them down immediately" [usatoday.com, 1/28/14]
The two French DJs in the Grammy-winning group Daft Punk haven't performed without their trademark robot helmets and outfits since 2001. And in a recent Rolling Stone interview, one-half of the duo, Thomas Bangalter, said their rationale was partially artistic, partially pragmatic: "We're interested in the line between fiction and reality, creating these fictional personas that exist in real life. … [Another] thing I like about the masks is that I don't have people constantly coming up to me and reminding me what I do. It's nice to be able to forget." Adds the other half of Daft Punk, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, "We're not performers, we're not models. It would not be enjoyable for humanity to see our features, but the robots are exciting to people." [huffingtonpost.com,1/30/14]