"There's a reason his name begins with 'God,' I think. He is a god, really," says British director Gareth Edwards, the man behind the latest reboot of the six-decade old Godzilla franchise. "He's at the top of the food chain and probably King of the World, in a sense. We did this title sequence at the beginning of the film filled with sea serpents, ancient Greek symbols, and that sort of thing, and the idea is that for all of time man has always found that there's something out there for us to worship or fear, and it's gone away for a while but in our film it returns."
Writing about that subtext in the film, Christianity Today reviewer Timothy Wainwright said, "Godzilla is the weirdest Christ figure I've ever seen. I'll avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that the movie honestly portrays a giant lizard with blue atomic breath as a divine figure."
He's also an environmentalist hero of sorts: Edwards states, "Man vs. Nature is the predominant theme of [Godzilla], and I always tried to go back to that imagery. At the beginning when they find the fossils, it was important to me that they didn't just find them—it was caused by our abuse of the planet. We deserved it, in a way. So there's this rainforest with a big scar in the landscape with this quarry, slave labor, and a Western company. You have to ask yourself, 'What does Godzilla represent?' The thing we kept coming up with is that he's a force of nature, and if nature had a mascot, it would be Godzilla. So what do the other creatures represent? They represent man's abuse of nature, and the idea is that Godzilla is coming to restore balance to something mankind has disrupted." [thedailybeast.com, 5/14/14; christianitytoday.com, 5/15/14]
"I consider myself a Christian. I don't know if I'm a very good one but I'm praying the forgiveness thing is legit."
—actor Sean Astin, who starred in Rudy and The Lord of the Rings movies, and recently appeared in the Christian film Moms' Night Out. Regarding the films he chooses, Astin says he's influenced more by quality than by whether something is being made by Christians or not. "What's funny is the idea that I might become a paragon of Christian filmmaking because I've done two Christian films," he said. Astin added, "Hollywood is antagonistic to Christian films because of forces that are hard to describe, but Christians have made things difficult for themselves by the way they approach the outside community." [foxnews.com, 5/12/14]
It's been widely reported that a majority of young adults drop out of church in high school or college. (LifeWay Research puts the percentage at seven out of 10.) But there's more to the story, it seems. Of those who stop attending, about two-thirds start again eventually. And Christianity Today's Ed Stetzer adds that youth aren't turning away from God as much as almost accidentally letting church slide. "In most cases, our surveys show a lack of intentionality in dropping out," he writes. "Eighty percent of young people who dropped out of church said they did not plan to do so during high school. It's not that most rejected the church. Our teenagers aren't primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life." [christianitytoday.com, 5/14/14 stats, c&e]
How to Train Your Dragon 2 opened at the Cannes Film Festival in France last week and will arrive in North American theaters on June 13. Earlybuzz has focused on the character Gobber—voiced by The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson—"coming out" as gay. Dragon director Dean DeBlois told E! that Gobber's onscreen admission was an ad lib by Ferguson, but one the director really liked: "When we were recording Craig Ferguson, I had written the line, 'This is why I never got married,' and he, as he often does, added it as an ad lib, and he said, 'Yup, Gobber is coming out of the closet.' I think that's a really fun [and] daring move to put in. I love the idea that Gobber is Berk's resident gay." In a separate interview with Fox News, DeBlois added, "And we all started chuckling and said, That's right, Gobber's coming out in this movie. I just love that about Craig. He'salways got just a little extra something for you. I think it's nice. It's progressive, it's honest, and it feels good, so we wanted to keep it."
Dragon 2 star Jay Baruchel, who voices Hiccup the Viking, said of Gobber's new sexual status, "I think it's open to interpretation. Preaching tolerance in any respect is never a bad thing. I don't know if drawing a massive amount of attention in the middle of a kid's movie is, like, necessarily what you should be doing, but listen, if somebody catches it, then good for them." [thewrap.com, 5/17/14; foxnews.com, 5/19/14]
Nielsen reports that American households had access to an average of 189.1 television channels (by way of broadcast, cable and satellite services) as of the end of 2013. But how many channels do viewers in the U.S. actually watch? That would be … 17.5. To compare, in 2008 a typical couch potato could choose from 129.3 channels—and chose to watch 17.3. In other words, adding nearly 60 more channels in the last five years has corresponded with viewers watching a whopping two-tenths of one channel more. In percentage terms, the number of channels available has expanded 46%, while actual viewing has increased about 1%. Nielsen's report on the findings commented, "This data is significant in that it substantiates the notion that more content does not necessarily equate to more channel consumption. And that means quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers. So the best way to reach consumers in a world with myriad options is to be the best option." [arstechnica.com, 5/6/14; slate.com, 56/14 stats]
According to Nielsen's annual State of the Media report, companies spent about $78 billion on television advertising in 2013, up $2 billion from the previous year and $14 billion from 2009. That's despite the fact that average rates for a single 30-second commercial have gone down from about $8,900 in 2009 to $7,800 today. [Nielsen, 5/14 stats]
"The way we talk about Beyoncé consistently verges on idol worship. We say she is 'everything,' and in a way that's more telling than the vacuous term ever intends to be. … But when we pause from 'literally dying' over her every move, what do we really know about Beyoncé? She creates the perception that she's sharing with us. Beyoncé posts what seem like intimate glances at her life to Tumblr. We see her frolicking with Blue Ivy, rolling around in pajamas or 'going make-up free,' but it's all highly curated. … Her entire presence, be it through filtered photos or quasi-confessionals, is perhaps the most genius PR operation Hollywood has ever seen."
—Huffington Post contributor Lauren Duca, parsing Beyoncé's image in the wake of leaked elevator security camera footage showing Queen Bey's sister, Solange, physically attacking the singer's husband, hip-hop kingpin Jay Z (while Beyoncé stands and does nothing) [huffingtonpost.com, 5/14/14; cnn.com, 5/16/14]
Tim Lambesis, frontman for the Christian metalcore band As I Lay Dying, has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to the charge of soliciting the murder of his wife, Meggan. Still, U-T San Diego reports that Meggan is afraid, sometimes even of As I Lay Dying fans. Journalist Dana Littlefield writes that Meggan "had seen 'horrible comments' online from Lambesis' fans about her and her family. She said because of Lambesis' notoriety, he has followers who would do anything for him." Meggan says, "The question of who else Tim talked to or will talk to will forever haunt me. I am plagued by vulnerability." [utsandiego.com, 5/14/16; AP, 5/14/16]