"Two-thirds of Americans have yet to see any of the movies nominated for the best picture Oscar," reports Reuters, based on a Reuters/Ipsos poll. And according the "Annual Movieguide Report" published by Dr. Ted Baehr's movieguide.org, it's movies that embrace themes of family and faith that generally do better at the box office. In other words, films like Frozen make more money than the likes of The Wolf of Wall Street. And movies that embrace "strong patriotic messages" (which Movieguide says include Iron Man 3 and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 2013's two highest-grossing films) perform well too. The report notes that of the 25 highest-grossing movies last year, only two were rated R. "There is a great incentive to make movies that are good, true and beautiful," says Baehr, founder of the Christian organization. [huffingtonpost.com, 2/24/14; foxnews.com, 2/17/14 c&e]
"Paul Verhoven's [1987 movie] RoboCop is a far more disturbing film than the one that pulled in more than $100 million worldwide this month. The 2014 version, directed by Jose Padilha, exemplifies a trend in recent cinema, especially in remakes, to up the amount of violence on screen but to downplay its consequences. We're seeing more death and maiming in the theaters these days, but we're being asked to think less about what it means."
—James Orbesen, writing for The Atlantic. Orbesen suggests that the R-rated RoboCop original was, in a way, more socially critical than its PG-13 remake. The original forced viewers to confront the cost of violence in a way that the new one does not, he says. "The Verhoven approach—bloody, unsettling, and confrontational—seems more and more like a relic. What people want now is violence that is clean and quick, provoking no questions." [theatlantic.com, 2/14]
With Jimmy Fallon sitting down in the host chair of NBC's iconic The Tonight Show, some early reviews have been positive, with pundits talking about how genuinely nice Fallon seems to be (in contrast to the more cynical, acerbic humor frequently found on late night shows). But some observers believe Fallon's enthusiastic sincerity may eventually hurt ratings. Peggy Drexler notes that men classified as "agreeable" make about 18% less per year than those who are "moderately disagreeable." Nice guys are known to sometimes struggle in romance as well. And she writes about how niceness is always under "relentless media attack," while "internecine nasty" is the mainstay of reality TV. [time.com, 2/18/14]
"I haven't changed, but public life has. It used to be you'd go into a restaurant and the owner would say, 'Do you mind if I take a picture of you and put it on my wall?' Sweet and simple. Now, everyone has a camera in their pocket. Add to that predatory photographers and predatory videographers who want to taunt you and catch you doing embarrassing things. (Some proof of which I have provided.) You're out there in a world where if you do make a mistake, it echoes in a digital canyon forever. … Now I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible. I used to engage with the media knowing that some of it would be adversarial, but now it's superfluous at best and toxic at its worst."
—actor Alec Baldwin, reflecting on the intersection of technology, celebrity and publicity [vulture.com, 2/23/14]
Think there's too much misinformation on social networks? Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England want to ride to the rescue: They're hoping to build a lie detector for social media. Called Pheme, the detector would examine a given statement for its accuracy and reliability, taking into account where the fact/rumor began and what sources are being used to back it up. Ultimately, they hope the tool can be incorporated into networks like Twitter, to help users determine Internet information's reliability in real time. [time.com, 2/20/14]
A mother, fed up with shirts she called "indecent" and "pornography" being displayed at a mall in Orem, Utah, recently took matters into her own hands by buying all 19 of the offensive T-shirts in stock so they couldn't be displayed anymore. The PacSun shirts, which feature pictures of scantily dressed models in provocative poses, sell for about $28 each, which means Judy Cox spent $567 for them (including tax). "These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall," she told the Associated Press. She added that she hopes her actions will inspire others to take a more active role in what's done in their hometowns, saying, "You don't have to purchase $600 worth of T-shirts, but you can express your concerns to businesses and corporations who promote the display of pornography to children." (She admits that she plans to return the shirts sometime during the offending store's 60-day return period.) [foxnews.com, 2/19/14]
"The best story is the story that gets to the most people. If the message of Jesus was love, hope and compassion, and I can bring that to more people by being a more appealing Jesus, I am happy with that."
—actor Diogo Morgado, who plays Jesus in the upcoming movie Son of God. His comments were inspired in part by the fact that his matinee idol looks have apparently inspired the Twitter hashtag #hotjesus. [nytimes.com, 2/16/14]
After the recent success of The LEGO Movie, creators of The Simpsons have announced that they will air an all-LEGO episode titled "Brick Like Me" later this spring. Meanwhile, The LEGO Movie's continued success at the box office (it just notched its third week at No. 1) has prompted Warner Bros. to greenlight a sequel. [tvguide.com, 2/16/14; boxofficemojo.com, 2/24/14; vulture.com, 2/21/14]
Cable network VH1 has approved 10 episodes of a new reality TV show dubbed Naked Dating that's about exactly that. The Hollywood Reporter summarizes: "Each episode will feature a man and a woman as they date two different—and naked—suitors. The series will explore the art of romance—free of preconceived notions, stereotypes and, yes, clothing." VH1 will reportedly edit the racy series "according to network standards." [hollywoodreporter.com, 2/18/14]
"There is no truth whatsoever to any stories or rumors of venues pulling out of the Bangerz Tour. Miley has created a tour that's big, spectacular, entertaining and everything you would expect from Miley Cyrus. Reviews have been amazing and most important, fans are loving the show and having a great time."
—promoter Live Nation, in a statement reaffirming its support of a tour that has generated criticism from parents of young fans for its explicit content. The tour has thus far featured Miley simulating masturbation onstage, simulating oral sex on a Bill Clinton lookalike, putting thong underwear in her mouth that was tossed onstage by a fan and kissing Katy Perry on the lips. Says Cyrus via Twitter, "Save your complaints for the McDonalds drive thru when they forget the 'fries with that.'" [huffingtonpost.com, 2/19-23/14; eonline.com, 3/20/14]
"As a community here in Buckhead, we have worked hard to achieve our goals and get to where we are. Justin Bieber's relocation to Atlanta can be nothing but bad for our children, as well as the community. Some can't even let their children play in the driveway without fear; he has raced vehicles under the influence, before. What's to say he won't do it again?"
—the Protest Justin Bieber Moving to Buckland Facebook page, created after the troubled pop star was rumored to be interested in a property in the upscale Atlanta suburb [facebook.com, 2/23/14; hollywoodreporter.com, 2/23/14]