Culture Clips: A Window Into the World of Teens

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print
Share on email

It’s not easy being a teen. Never has been, never will be. How are today’s adolescents navigating that vast pubescent wasteland? Both teens and the scientists who observe ’em like lab rats have offered some thoughts on that over the last several days.

First, some good news: High schoolers aren’t having sex as much as they used to. About 41% of high school teens reported having had sexual intercourse in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while that may seem awfully high, keep in mind that a decade earlier that rate stood at 47%. That coincides with drops in both teen pregnancy and teen birth rates. Indeed, the latter hit an all-time low last year. They’re not partying much these days, either. “no one is really that interested—including me,” high school freshman Priya told Wired.

But parents, hold that sigh of relief. Sure, teens might not be having as much sex as they used to, but they’re sure asking for a lot of nude photos of each other. They’re smoking more marijuana these days, too, and doctors are cautioning that using the stuff could cause brain damage. And that’s not the only bad habit that teens are dealing with. Two prominent Apple investors called on the company on Monday to study its products’ “unintentional negative consequences,” and Apple announced the very next day that it was introducing new tools to help parents control their kids’ screen time.

Yep, various addictions continue to be troublesome—not just for teens, but for adults, too. Why, when a story rolled out that the American Psychiatric Association had classified “selfitis“—that is, an addiction to taking selfies—as its newest mental disorder, many folks accepted it without question. And while the announcement turned out to be bogus, at least some psychologists believe that taking and compulsively touching up one’s selfies can indeed be addictive. So maybe it’s not so much “fake news” as it is … prophecy?

But maybe such addicts are in luck: Some scientists believe that help for addiction may be around the corner with a handy-dandy brain implant.

Few people, I’d imagine, have an addiction to awards shows, but lots of people watch them nevertheless. Ratings for Sunday’s Golden Globes were down slightly from the previous year. But 19 million viewers still tuned in, according to Nielsen. We’ve already blogged a bit about the evening’s biggest moment, but there’s no question that the #MeToo movement dominated the evening. Right after Oprah’s speech, Natalie Portman slammed the fact that the Globes’ Best Director category was dominated by men. Most everyone wore black to the gala to draw attention to #MeToo, and those who didn’t were forced to defend themselves. Relevant declared that “This is the Year the Golden Globes Mattered.” But all was not peaches and cream. Rose McGowan, one of the leading faces of #MeToo, called the whole black-dress thing “Hollywood fakery.” And James Franco, who wore a #TimesUp pin to the awards, was almost immediately called out for his own alleged sexual misconduct after accepting a Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy. (Franco has since tried to diffuse the situation with an appearance on last night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert, calling the allegations “not accurate”.)

Elsewhere in the sexual harassment scandal that continues to widen with each passing week, Broadway star Ben Vereen and Crash director Paul Haggis have both been accused of sexual assault. Oh, and while Woody Allen’s own sexual antics have been tabloid fodder for years, a writer recently read his private notes and found that he was “obsessed with teenage girls.”

Some movies are coming under fire, too. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, despite its Golden Globes success, has experienced a backlash for its portrayal of a violently racist character. And Call Me By Your Name, a story centered on a 17-year-old boy and his 24-year-old male lover, has received criticism in the secular press, too, for not mentioning AIDS.

Speaking of poor public missteps, you can bet that H&M is really, really sorry that it had a young black model showcase a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”

Not all the news was quite so dire, of course. Nintendo can rejoice that its Switch is now the fastest-selling console of all time. And while the final season of Game of Thrones won’t be airing until 2019, fans can at least gaze at some newly issued GoT stamps.

But for many this year, all those stories pale in comparison to a problem closer to home—like how to get their new Christmas drones out of trees. Or hair. Or the living room wall. Some watched their drones simply disappear over the horizon, never to be seen again.

Does that mean that these disappearing newfangled flying gadgets have something in common with this blog? Are they just droning on and on and on?