Culture Clips: Putting the Spring in Our Cultural Step

Yes, spring is upon us—a time of … well, snow where I live in Colorado. But everywhere else, it’s a time of budding trees and growing grass, It’s a time of regeneration, when the dismal, dead grayness of winter is replaced by new life and new expectations. Why, even dead television shows can, like crass daffodils, rise again.

I’m talking, of course, of ABC’s Roseanne. Last time we saw the venerable sitcom in 1997, it had jumped a whole bay full of sharks, what with (gasp) Roseanne and Dan Conner winning the lottery, only to (gasp) lose it again when viewers learned Roseanne made it all up to get over the fact that (gasp) hubby Dan actually died the previous season. Let’s face it? The X-Files was never so weird.

But TV viewers are a forgiving lot, so when ABC decided to pretend that the final season never happened and reboot the whole shebang last night, folks turned out in droves to watch. And we’re talking old-school, before-Netflix droves: 16.6 million people’s worth of droves, in fact. That’s more than watched HBO’s Game of Thrones season finale, and that’s saying something.

Another geriatric television program, 60 Minutes, scored some back-to-the-future ratings of its own. The episode featuring an interview with porn star Stormy Daniels, who had an alleged tryst with a certain politician, scored the sort of ratings that would make even Roseanne blush: 22 million folks watched the interview, the most who’ve tuned into the CBS news magazine since 2008.

But ancient TV shows aren’t the only things seeing new life this spring. New concerns over  Facebook privacy seem to sprout like dandelions pert near every season. But now it seems as though the public might be ready to do a little weeding.

In the wake of new revelations that a political consulting firm bagged scads of data from Facebook users, the social network’s stock has plummeted by $80 billion. That’s, like, a whole paycheck for Mark Zuckerberg (just guessing), and it’s certainly causing a lot of consternation for Facebook’s shareholders. Apple’s Tim Cook and IBM’s Ginni Rometty had a rare moment of agreement when they suggested that Facebook’s data breeches suggests a need for more regulation. A #DeleteFacebook movement is making waves online, backed by such players as WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, tech guru Elon Musk and Playboy.

(Ironically, many of those who are leaving Facebook, for these or other reasons, are finding their way to Instagram—a company that just happens to be owned by Facebook.)

In response, Facebook is tweaking its privacy settings, introducing an easier way for users to adjust who they allow to see and use what. But even as Fox News reports on a poll that suggests fewer Americans trust Facebook with personal information, it also tells us that big data is here to stay.

Facebook’s not the only social media giant hitting hard times right now. Snapchat has been dealing with blowback since it tweaked its feed. It lost 8% of its value after celeb Kylie Jenner criticized Snap. Now social media celeb Chrissy Teigen is voicing discontent with the network, too, leading to another fall in stock. Overall, Snapchat’s value has fallen by 20% since early February.

Like Facebook, other cultural giants are trying to correct perceived past mistakes or, at the very least, stem potential blowback.

YouTube waded into the firearms debate by banning firearm demo videos, for instance. And Disney, in an effort to keep pace with today’s more sensitive age, has again tweaked its “Bride Auction” scene from its Pirates of the Caribbean ride, turning one of the ladies up for auction into a pirate herself. And Netflix, whose show 13 Reasons Why has been a favorite culture clip topic of ours, recently announced that it was going to add warning cards and numbers to crisis hotlines in conjunction with the show’s second season, along with after-show segments featuring out-of-character actors and teen experts talking about the show’s myriad issues. “Soon after the season 1 launch,” wrote Brian Wright, Netflix’s VP of Original Series, on a blog post, “we saw global conversation explode on the controversial topics covered by the series and understood we had a responsibility to support these important discussions.”

But even as companies tried to squelch controversy, others (controversies, not companies) popped up. Walmart punted Cosmopolitan to the curb for its salacious ways. Planned Parenthood demanded Disney churn out a princess who had an abortion, before thinking better of it and deleting its tweet. And several outlets have accused Wes Anderson’s new movie, Isle of Dogs, to be guilty of cultural appropriation. (Two stars of the movie, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Murray, demanded something else related to the movie: more dog-only screenings.)

Speaking of dogs, let’s leave you with this odd little news “bite.” Brazilian Jennifer Pamplona has spent more than $500,000 to look just like her idol, Kim Kardashian, Fox News reports. (We’d include the link, but some of the pictures are a bit graphic.)

Imagine, half a million bucks. Let’s hope, for her sake, that Ms. Pamplona’s look ages as well as Roseanne apparently  has.