"In 16 years of teaching I can't think of anything that has ever disrupted my classroom more than today's @snapchat update."
—teacher Tracie Schroeder, via Twitter. In a follow-up interview with Slate, she unpacked the statement a bit more: "I am pretty lenient about phone use in my class because we use phones for various things. (Most kids don't have a separate calculator, we take pictures of things we do in lab, there are some apps that we use on projects, that kind of thing.) There is always the kid that sneaks in a text or two, but as long as it isn't a distraction, I don't worry too much. Today was the first day in a long time I actually took phones away. I have no idea what all was included in the update, but you would have thought it was crack. They seriously could not keep away from it. I even had one girl crawl under the table with her phone." [slate.com, 5/4/14]
Nintendo has come under fire for its simulation game Tomodachi Life because it won't allow players to have romantic relationships with characters of the same sex. Gay advocates are asking that the game include the ability to create homosexual couples. "I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé's Mii, but I can't do that," says Ty Marini, the 23-year-old Mesa, Ariz., resident who launched the campaign. "My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiancé's Mii or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it."
"Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of Tomodachi Life," the American branch of the company responded in a statement. "The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation." Then the company went further in a second press release: "We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game's design, and such a significant development change can't be accomplished with a post-ship patch." [AP, 5/7/14; foxnews.com, 5/11/14]
The summer of 2014 looks like it will be one of the naughtiest in recent cinematic history. A whopping 15 raunchy comedies are slated to splat onto the big screen between now and mid-August. They include Elizabeth Bank's alcohol-drenched Walk of Shame, Seth Rogan and Zac Efron's booze-and-pot fueled Neighbors, Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy's profane and hard-drinking Tammy, and Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel's Sex Tape. "Going for the R rating goes against conventional wisdom. But when it comes to comedy, particularly in the summer, it's the R rating which gets you the street cred," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for the movie tracking company Rentrak. "To get noticed these days you have to get raunchy, so take it up a notch." [usatoday.com,5/7/14]
A picture of 13-year-old singer and actress Willow Smith (daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith) lounging (fully clothed) on a bed with (shirtless) 20-year-old actor Moisés Aria has fired up the Twitterverse. Most commenters are worried about what the image suggests regarding the adolescent entertainer's trajectory. "Sure looks like it is time to reel Willow Smith in," one tweet read. Jada quickly lashed back with, "Here's the deal: There's nothing sexual about that picture or about that situation. You guys are projecting your trash onto it, and you're acting like covert pedophiles, and that's not cool."
Will Smith has described his and Jada's parenting style this way (in an interview with Metro): "We don't do punishment. … The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been—it has a little too much of a negative quality. So when they do things—and you know, Jaden, he's done things—you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life." [foxnews.com, 5/7/14; latimes.com, 5/8/14]
Hardly a day goes by without tabloid reports of celebrities behaving badly or pushing the boundaries of good taste. Last week, however, no fewer than three well-known entertainers talked about their convictions when it comes to dialing down the racy and raw in their entertainment.
When asked by Glamour magazine why she refuses to do nude scenes, actress Jessica Alba said. "I don't want my grandparents to see my boobs. That's it. It would be weird at Christmas." She went on to say she doesn't buy the rationale that nudity is necessary to enhance the artistic nature of a given film, saying, "I mean, really, if you look at the movies I have done, getting naked would never 'elevate' the picture."
Singer and actress Demi Lovato stated that she's backing away from putting sex in her lyrics because, "There's still that weird feeling in the back of my head that's like, 'All right, I know that my mom and dad are going to hear it and my little sister, and that's really weird for me.'"
And Prince explained to Essence magazine why he no longer uses profanity in his music: "Did you ever hear Muhammad Ali curse? Would you curse in front of your kids? To your mother? Marsha, Lianne, Janelle, they're all my sisters. We shouldn't curse at them. We need to treat all of them, and all people, like royalty." [usatoday.com, 5/6/14; AP, 5/7/14; nydailynews.com, 5/6/14]
"The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is; have we shined Christ's light today? Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying. Over the last decade, we've sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views. We were saddened to hear HGTV's decision. With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it."
—a written statement from David and Jason Benham, after it was announced that HGTV was cancelling their forthcoming reality series Flip It Forward, allegedly because of the brothers' Christian faith and past statements they'd made criticizing homosexuality and Islam. The announcement came a day after the activist organization People for the American Way publicized information regarding the Benhams' convictions. In an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett, David added, "We love homosexuals and love Muslims and have nothing against [them]. The point of this is there's an agenda that is seeking to silence the voice of men and women of faith. That's what all this is about. I absolutely think any sex outside marriage is not healthy for human flourishing." [deadline.com, 5/8/14]
"There is a tendency for music to need to be transgressive. But today faith is the last transgression. So the time was ripe, but no one noticed."
—the Rev. Raffaele Giacopuzzi, attempting to explain the runaway success of Sister Cristina Scuccia, a nun and contestant on Italy's version of The Voice. Sister Cristina, dressed in a full habit, shocked both the studio audience and the judges by belting out Alicia Keys' "No One." She's pushed the show to the top of Italy's rankings and has become an Internet sensation, her performances gathering in excess of 47 million views on YouTube. Italian rapper J-Ax, a judge on the show and now Sister Cristina's coach, teared up when he first heard the woman sing. Here, he said, was "somebody breaking the rules, and doing it in a joyful and cheerful way." [nytimes.com, 5/6/14 stats]