A study by the investment management firm Piper Jaffray reveals that teens are now spending more on food than they are on clothing, a first in the survey's 13-year history. Favorite hangouts? Starbucks, followed by McDonald's, Chipotle, Olive Garden and Taco Bell. Meanwhile, the report states that "top clothing brands (continued to) include Nike, Action Sports, Forever 21, American Eagle, Polo Ralph Lauren and Hollister." [piperjaffray.com, 4/9/14; huffingtonpost.com, 4/16/14]
Are electronic books as good as the real thing when it comes to how children who use them retain information? Research indicates the answer is no. A study by the U.K.'s National Literacy Trust, along with the Pew Research Center, suggests that kids who use e-books instead of those made of paper end up with poorer reading skills. And a separate, ongoing study by Jordan Schugar and Heather Ruetschlin Schugar of West Chester University of Pennsylvania backs those conclusions up. The couple has been comparing the reading habits of grade-schoolers who use e-books vs. print, and they've found that e-books can result in lower reading comprehension because kids tend to skip whole pages in search of "noise-making character illustrations, interactive passages and other distractions." [nbcnews.com, 4/11/14; digitalbookworld.com, 6/12/13]
Lupita Nyong'o, who won an Academy Award this year for her role in 12 Years a Slave, has been given People magazine's "Most Beautiful" award. Officials from People said that the selection was a no-brainer, but Nyong'o knows that the honor is still significant, recalling how when she was a child, beauty was often associated with straight hair and light skin. She says, "I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [the cover] and feel a little more seen." [nydailynews.com, 4/23/14]
A new set of commercials for HBO's mobile service HBO Go features two kids (in their teens or early 20s) watching explicit shows with their parents, and squirming when Mom or Dad make embarrassing remarks about the graphic content or subject. Then there's this sales pitch: HBO Go provides "the best of HBO on all your favorite devices … far, far away from your parents." Fans are also encouraged to recount or create their own "awkward HBO viewing moments" and disseminate them on Facebook and Twitter. [slate.com, 4/22/14]
A recent episode of HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones contained a rape scene so twisted that even mainstream critics feel it crossed a line. Vulture called it "grotesque and dangerous." The Atlantic said it was "an appalling mistake." And Wired called it "very, very wrong." The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern wrote, "As far as sheer quantity of taboo-breaking goes, [the April 20] episode may have boasted the most disturbing sequence in Game of Thrones history. In fact, when you put it in context, it may be the most screwed up sex scene ever broadcast on television."
Some believe such boundary-pushing on cable television may be reaching the limits of what viewers can or will tolerate. Writing for Relevant, Tyler Huckabee said. "The fact that so many television critics are taking serious issue with how shows are treating their women and sexuality is notable, if only because this sort of outrage was generally laughed off a few years ago." Others aren't convinced. "On Thrones, power, politics, money, and force constantly trump goodness, in each of its ineffectual forms," penned Daily Beast contributor Andrew Romano. "In theory, a show that subscribes to such a cynical worldview should be pretty much impossible to watch. But Thrones is impossible to stop watching. Why is that? My hunch is that the story's cynicism—its capacity for letting goodness go unrewarded—is also its key addictive agent. Most mainstream narratives adhere to a simple rule: the good guys are always OK in the end. … Game of Thrones doesn't play by this rule. At all. From the start it has conditioned us to accept that the intelligent plan might fail, that the loyal pact might crumble, that the hero might get his head chopped off at any instant. You never know. … And when you never know—when anything could conceivably happen—you're more obsessed with what might happen next." [thedailybeast.com, 4/20/14; relevantmagazine.com, 4/23/14]
"Here's the main reason why TV nudity makes me anxious: The characters on any series become, over time, familiar and squishy and cosy. They become my TV friends. Because they are my TV friends I expect them to behave like my real friends. In the days of Gilligan's Island and Family Affair and Three's Company and even Roseanne, my TV friends could be relied upon the do just that. And now? My TV friends are going berserk. They are constantly tearing off their foundation garments and bonking their brains out, right there in front of me … If I were ever to walk in on a couple of my non-TV friends and they were in some complicated nude entanglement, we, my real friends and me, would not know what to say to each other. We would probably just put rocks in our pockets and walk into the sea."
—fashion guru and pop culture commentator Simon Doonan [slate.com, 4/17/14]
Experian Marketing Services reports that about 6.5% (7.6 million) of U.S. households don't have a cable subscription, up from 4.5% (5.1 million) in 2010. In any household that includes an 18- to 34-year-old, the percentage of those not plugged in jumps to 12.4%. If a home has a Netflix or Hulu subscription, the percentage rises to 18.1%. [usatoday.com, 4/21/14; huffingtonpost.com, 4/18/14 stats]
On a recent episode of Lindsay Lohan's OWN TV series Lindsay, she talked with Oprah Winfrey about her miscarriage. The public response is telling with regard to how our celebrity culture operates.
Writing for Salon, Daniel D'Addario said, "That the sad culmination of this strange series involved viewers gawking at Lohan as she admitted a medical trauma suggested that no one had really thought through what it meant to build a series around a figure who's been the object of prurient attention for a decade. … Lindsay ends with a revelation consciously framed as a Shocking TV Moment—and there's something particularly callous about seeing a miscarriage treated as just another of Lohan's tabloid-ready bombshells."
The Wrap's Tim Molloy wrote, "Apparently having a miscarriage is a crime. At least, you would assume as much from our idiotic celebrity media, which described Lindsay Lohan's discussion of her miscarriage [on her OWN network series Lindsay] as a 'confession' (perezhilton.com) that she was 'coming clean' about (hollywoodlife.com) and had 'admitted' to (The Indepenent). All of these judgmental phrases insinuate that she did something wrong. As countless women who have had miscarriages can tell you, they don't need to be treated like criminals. Or publicly shamed. You confess to a murder. Come clean about a robbery. Admit to a cover-up. You suffer a miscarriage. … I don't suspect all the judgment—or outright mockery—is helping her get better. It seems obvious that the people most interested in writing about her have ceased to see her as a human being deserving even basic sensitivity." [salon.com, 4/21/14; thewrap.com, 4/21/14]