"As deranged manifestos go, the final YouTube video made by suspected Isla Vista, Calif., mass murderer Elliot Rodger was remarkably well-made. Filmed by Rodger in his black BMW, with palmtrees in the background and his face bathed in magic-hour key light, the six-minute diatribe—during which he vows revenge on all the women who rejected him and men who were enjoying fun and sex while he was 'rotting in loneliness'—might easily have been mistaken for a scene from one of the movies Rodger's father, Peter Rodger, worked on as a director and cinematographer. Indeed, as important as it is to understand Rodger's actions within the context of the mental illness he clearly suffered, it's just as clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in. … How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like Neighbors and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of 'sex and fun and pleasure'? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, 'It's not fair'? Movies may not reflect reality, but they powerfully condition what we desire, expect and feel we deserve from it. The myths that movies have been selling us become even more palpable at a time when spectators become their own auteurs and stars on YouTube, Instagram and Vine. If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger—thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections—no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large."
—Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday, commenting on 22-year-old Elliot Rodger's alleged killing of six University of California, Santa Barbara, students and wounding of 13 others in a stabbing and shooting rampage in Isla Vista, Calif. Rodger, who claimed he was a virgin, posted an angry 141-page manifesto online prior to the killings, as well as a video in which he vents his hatred for women. [washingtonpost.com, 5/25/14; cnn.com, 5/26/14; theblaze.com, 5/24/14]
Online multiplayer games can be a magnet for crass, bullying behavior. Players, particularly female players, are frequently harassed and demeaned. And while some believe that such behavior is an unavoidable part of competitive environments where the players are given almost complete anonymity, others think there's more to it than that. Author Rosalind Wiseman and actor Ashly Burch believe that the games themselves—violent and filled with stoic, unemotional protagonists like Halo's Master Chief—may fuel antisocial behavior. "These heroes' coldness isn't necessarily the source of any bad behavior, but Wiseman argues when boys lack other solid role models, game characters' emotional distance can serve as an example to follow," writes The Atlantic's Patrick Stafford. "That in turn allows boys to default to hurtful expression online: racism, homophobia and misogyny. If feelings aren't cool, you're not worried about hurting them, right?" [theatlantic.com, 5/14]
"In today's world, many of us find ourselves oscillating between our need for attachment and our fear of rejection. We so desperately want to be with someone, but are scared to get too close to anyone. So in response, we keep everyone at a safe 'controllable' distance, where they are close enough to kind of know us, but are far enough where they can never really hurt us. Social media provides the perfect platform for this. We have the ability to edit our Facebook profiles, proofread our texts and post photoshopped 'selfies' where the risk is seemingly minimal. What we're not realizing though, is that the reward is temporal and the cost is extremely detrimental. In this age of Facebook, it's never been easier to get the feeling of being accepted while not having to risk vulnerability and the possibility of being rejected. … As a result, so many of us are finding ourselves to be and feel as if we're surrounded by people yet still alone."
—Relevant contributor Andy Gill, in his article "Loneliness in the Age of Facebook" [relevantmagazine.com, 4/23/14]
"It's been ten years since the [Friends] series finale aired, and for those of us who spent hour upon hour watching the show, it's still a bummer that our lives aren't exactly like those of Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey," say Time's Charlotte Alter and Eliana Dockterman, documenting "10 Ways Friends Gave You Unrealistic Expectations for Your Twenties." "Adulthood was supposed to be about coordinated New Years' dances, football games for troll trophies and songs about malodorous felines. Dating was supposed to be fun! (It's not.)" Alter and Dockterman say the show set them up to believe that "working is more of a suggestion than a requirement," that it's possible to afford Greenwich Village apartments on waitressing tips, and that you and your friends will always have plenty of time to hang out. [time.com, 5/6/14]
About 10.2 million viewers tuned in to the season finale of ABC's Modern Family on Wednesday, and they witnessed gay characters Mitch and Cam tie the knot in what many observers are describing as a watershed cultural moment.
The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon, in his article titled "Modern Family's Big, Gay (and Important) Wedding": "How contrived that Modern Family would end its season finale with the tried-and-truesitcom trope: a wedding. How monumental, though, that this wedding introduced us [to], for the first time as husbands, Mitch and Cam. In what is, at the most, a major moment in television history and, at the very least, a quiet step forward for the marriage equality movement, TV's most awarded and second most-watched comedy series aired a gay wedding. … Some might argue that what two television characters do on a sitcom should hardly be construed as 'important,' but as we've long learned, politics and pop culture are often inextricably intertwined. Hollywood and D.C. have made their bed together, and we're just lying in it. Now, it's apparently OK for two guys to share that bed, too."
Salon contributor Daniel D'Addario: "Last night, Modern Family finally saw its gay couple, Cameron and Mitchell tie the knot, in a ceremony remarkable for just how square it was. If Will & Grace cleared the way, as Joe Biden has claimed, for Americans to accept gay people, Modern Family may well have done the same for long-term gay relationships."
Ty Burrell, who plays the sitcom's Phil Dunphy: "This is probably a little overwrought, but I do actually think the writers are making the world a better place. It's one of my favourite things about the show. I love it when I talk to conservatives and they're describing all three couples, and they never mention that one of them is gay. That's the brilliance of the writing. In a completely unaggressive, apolitical way, they are showing this couple as completely normal dealing with ordinary stuff. The banality of it is the most revolutionary thing. I think if you turned around and asked that same conservative person how they felt about gay marriage, that probably hasn't changed for them, but the seed has been planted nonetheless. It's progress, and it's the coolest thing." [thedailybeast.com, 5/22/14; salon.com, 5/22/14; telegraph.co.uk, 3/27/14]
"Someone like Pitbull on Radio 1 makes my soul weep with the way he sings about women. I just couldn't bear playing that."
—Sara Cox, a former DJ for the BBC program Radio 1 and a presenter on Radio 2, on how she felt when her network played songs by rapper and singer Pitbull that sexually objectify women [independent.co.uk, 5/27/14]
"When I read the script, it made me giggle a lot, let's put it that way. And I blushed quite a few times too. And I thought, 'No, they're not going to shoot this. No, they cannot shoot this. They won't be allowed to get away with this!' But they did."
—actor Liam Neeson talking about his role in the new raunchy Western, A Million Ways to Die in the West, written and directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane [today.com, 5/19/14]