Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

The media watchdog group Parents Television Council has issued a report which states that sex and violence are on the rise during what is traditionally called the “Family Hour” on network television. 

The group studied 180 hours of original programming on six broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MyNetworkTV and the CW) during three two-week ratings sweeps periods in 2006 and 2007. It found that instances of violence had increased 52.4% since a similar study in 2000-2001 and that sexual content had increased 22.1%.

The Parents Television Council is hoping that the FCC begins to regulate violence on television the way they already regulate “indecent content.”

The network response is that with the vastly increased number of options available to families, with so many more channels now available in the basic cable package, there is less need to provide that type of programming. 

 To be honest, I agree with the networks on this one.  One of the reasons the FCC had the authority to regulate television was a combination of two factors – 1. the finite number of frequencies used to transmit broadcast signals were publicly owned and 2. there was a scarcity of options in broadcast television.  To the extent that #2 becomes less of an issue, the authority of the FCC to regulate broadcasting should be diminished. 

What the regulate-television-on-behalf-of-families crowd seems not to be able to understand is that television is a value neutral tool.  Like the internet, it has nothing to say about what it is transmitting.  It is not a substitute for parenting in respect to instilling values and exposing kids to what’s out there in the world.  Developing technology that allows “parental controls” to prevent kids from watching whatever they want while the parents are not around is appropriate.  

But the world is a dangerous place sometimes.  And people have sex all the time (at least that’s what I hear…).  I’d like my television shows to have something thoughtful to say about reality.  It’s an art.  Sometimes good.  Sometimes very, very bad.  But it should be free to tell stories that are important and relevant to all of us, even if often it does not.   

Artificial restraints based on someone’s notion of “sensible family” programming simply isn’t the appropriate role for the government.  Especially if there is a vastly less intrusive way to accomplish what is purported to be the goals of the movement. 

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See, what’s most sad about this is she doesn’t sound a whole lot different then a lot of politicians. Africa! Iraq! The future! …. at least she hits all the buzz words:

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The BET is catching a lot of heat with its new, edgy, hip-hop heavy video campaign to promote literacy and black pride.  I think it’s great and smart, to be honest.

And it’s a pretty bold move for a network that has had its fair share of criticism for perpetuating negative stereotypes.  This video campaign takes these stereotypes, makes them larger than life, and then uses them to make its points. 

I especially like the Lil Jon caricature when they start chanting “R-E-A-D-A-B-O-Ohhh-Kaaaay!” 

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The State of New Mexico is investigating the CBS show “Kid Nation” to see if it broke any laws in respect to work permits, contracts, and refusing to allow inspectors onto the property while filming. 

What caught my eye was the description of the premise of the show. 

Sisneros said officials became aware of the show — which places 40 kids, ages 8 to 15, in the New Mexico desert to build a society without any contact with their parents — when an inspector from the Department of Workforce Solutions notified the attorney general that he was not allowed on the property to inspect work permits.

I really have nothing to say about the particular legal issue. 

But if this were a sociological experiment, it would probably be considered unethical.  But since it’s television, I guess it’s perfectly fine to let kids fend for themselves in the desert.  And yeah, I get that the kids were probably not left completely unsupervised.  But 40 of them from the ages of 8 to 15? 

I saw that television show when it was actually a book called Lord of the Flies.  If it were real, it wouldn’t be appropriate to watch.  And if it’s appropriate to watch, it isn’t real.  So what’s the point? 

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“OMG! Talk about casual chic! He’s dirty. He’s sexy. He is so money. Only Jeremy Darling could make a formal occasion look like an after-party… and for him, it probably is.

Via Outta Mind Outta Site, the next step in online advertising: inserting ads directly into “the blogstream.” Sure, businesses and politicians have been trying to do this sneakily (with what level of success, who knows?) for years, but this brazen display of advertlogging (hey, if you people are going to persist in making “vlogging” into a word, then pardon me this one) by celebrity-blogger Perez Hilton is somehow more and less offensive at the same time. I mean, it is marked “advertisement,” but it’s also designed to look and sound identical to a typical Hilton post. Catherine writes:

perez hilton, what the hell is this? for a couple of weeks now i’ve noticed these oddly-written, oddly-imaged posts and wondered if you were on crack while writing them. and now in my slow stupor i finally realize they are ads for dirty sexy money, placed as posts, right in the blog stream.

In my limited knowledge of Perez, I’m not sure he’s ever claimed NOT to be a complete shill. But still. Keep this up, and people are going to start calling for some sort of professional-standards-inducing “blogger’s union.” Oh, wait

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I’ve decided that I’m taking a hiatus from libertarian posts. How often can I post that I’m against banning things and for individual rights? Don’t answer that. I’ll probably post something that irks me the wrong way soon.

So, anyway I like new techie things. Here’s a fun link to play with via my old friend from high school Jeff.

The link, Built With, has you identify a web site and it will tell you what it’s built with (ie CSS, HTML, AJAX, the list goes on).

Fun times had by all, really no joke.

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Oh my, what have we done to deserve this? A new Rilo Kiley album AND a new Wes Anderson movie being released this Aug./Sept.!?! If only Elliott Smith would come back to life, my little hipster heart would be complete.

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I suppose it’s kind of a cop-out to pick the “dumbest thing I’ve read all day” from the first news article I’ve read this morning, but I just really can’t imagine reading anything more silly today than the quotes in this:

In a 2002 National Review Online op-ed titled “Homer, Conservative Hero,” Deroy Murdock wrote, “Conservatives and libertarians should appreciate ‘The Simpsons’ for regularly showcasing much that they hold dear.”

Namely, the nuclear family, church on Sundays, stay-at-home mothering, community, the individual and maybe even big hair with pearls.

“They’ve had their problems, but they always come back together as a family.

No matter how many dumb things Homer does, Marge always sticks with him,” explained Joe Carter, director of Web communications at the Family Research Council, a conservative Washington-based policy group that “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue and the wellspring of society.”

FreeRepublic.com, an online community for conservatives, held a discussion in 2003 about whether “The Simpsons” were red or blue. There were more than 200 posts about all the conservative crumbs tossed out in any given episode, like when Maggie attends the “Ayn Rand School for Tots.” They also wondered whether Springfield’s corrupt, womanizing mayor, “Diamond Joe” Quimby, was Ted or John F. Kennedy — either way, he’s a Democrat.

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Sloooow news day. 

Oh, sure, there was that debate last night. 

The Attorney General is testifying before the Senate amidst numerous constitutional controversies. 

Six medical workers in Libya were finally freed after 8 years. 

And there’s that war somewhere over there.  And over there.  And maybe, possibly, eventually over there

But isn’t there something else we can talk about?  Something, you know, interesting? 

Oh, goodie.  Lindsay Lohan

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Via Paleo-Future, my new favorite blog.

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… because I’ve already written about 27 billion posts today but I like these posts too much not to say something …

OldManCoyote compares radical anti-abortion activists to Islamic terrorists

And before all you radical anti-choicers get your Jack Bauer underoos in a bunch and accuse me of comparing you to terrorists, let me clarify:  I am absolutely comparing you to Al Qaeda.  If the neo-fascist anti-democratic one-God-fits-all theocratic shoe fits…

Jezebel deconstructs the photo-shopping of Faith Hill.

And Jessica Valenti asks whether the “Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl” pillow fight video is funny, instulting, or just dumb?

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Shorter Isaiah Washington: No, no, I didn’t just say faggot!!! I also said “bitch” and “pussy!”

In what universe did this seem like a good defense plan? Someone get Frank Luntz for this man, stat, before he comes out with well, ‘when I said faggot, what I really meant by that was Heil Hitler!’

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The Lost Boys


I can’t wait for this show. I was totally in love with Cory Haim, something about his nerdy ways in Lucas and his driving skills in License to Drive was far superior to Cory Feldman. It’s been sometime, they both look a little beat but most likely I’ll still watch the show. Nothing beat the power of the Corys .

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Two nights ago, I found myself with a group of people watching the Diane Keaton/Mandy Moore flick “Because I Said So” (also featuring Piper Perabo and a Zach Morris look-a-like). Not my typical film fare, by any stretch, but it was one of only two movies that my friend possessed at the moment, and we’d already watched Starsky and Hutch. Short version of this post: the movie is ridiculous. So ridiculous that it’s not even really deserving of any sort of critique, HOWEVER … I will offer you a short one, just in case you are ever in a spot where you are forced to watch a crappy romantic comedy and you think well, diane keaton can be kind of funny and mandy moore is tolerable and you went to school with piper perabo’s brother and she was really cool at that filthy 12-kegger he dragged her to …. No! Do not be fooled! None of this can make the movie less ridiculous!

The premise of the film is that Diane Keaton has 3 daughters, 2 of whom are already married, and even though her youngest daughter (Mandy Moore) seems to have a pretty damn good life (she runs her own catering business and owns a sweet apartment) and can’t be more than 23, thus ensuring her plenty of time to settle down and get hitched and whatnot, Keaton just cannot be happy until she sees her married off. She takes it upon herself to find her daughter a mate, takes out a personal ad, meets a stuffy but well-off architect and a single-father musician, and the rest of the movie we are subjected to them all realizing that, of course, despite mother’s initial impressions, her daughter really should go with the underdog.

The dialogue throughout is ridiculous, and can only have been written by someone who not only has never had a mother or a sister or a daughter but has never seen mothers of sisters or daughters interact, ever. They possibly have no idea what these words even mean, actually. But the worst part comes when Moore is trying to explain to her mom what an orgasm feels like. It is excruciating. From this 2 minutes alone, it clear that no one involved – not the writer, not the director, not Moore, not Keaton – has ever had sex. I don’t care if any of them have children; there could be other explanations for that. But there are no possible other explanations for how bad the sex dialogue is.

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Occasionally I have to break out of techie raee to post on a new obsession. Monday June 18th marked the new seaso of Diddy’s Making the Band Four. I am beyond excited. Here’s to hoping they make them run laps again.

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Feminist issues, libertarian issues, Web geekery, musings on the mediated world …When we started this blog a few months ago, we had some ideas of things we were going to post about. Nothing concrete, but general issues. Guidelines, perhaps. “Soft politics,” you might call it — things that are culturally and politically relevant, but not about, say, health care or the economy or elections or war. Raee is pretty good at it; I’m a bit all-over-the-place. And I’m about to get a bit more all-over-the-place, I suppose, because lately I just keep wanting to post about things that are most certainly not on topic at all, like fiction books and music.

That said … I am on a quest to make the Perfect Feel Good Hits of Summer 2007 Mix Tape®. This quest has led me to consult with various entities about predictions for the Feel Good Hit of the Summer. For the record, my vote is on “Missed the Boat” off of Modest Mouse’s latest album. Suggestions from others have included:

    • “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John
    • anything off Person Pitch by Panda Bear
    • “Hang Me Up to Dry” by the Cold War Kids
    • “Umbrella” by Rihanna
    • “Sugarless” by Autolux
    • “History Song” by The Good, The Bad, and the Queen
    • “Icky Thump” by the White Stripes
    • “Our Haunt” by Palomar, and
    • “Broken Radio” by Jesse Malin

My friend Jables – arguably the most musically-ravenous person I know – suggests:

While there is no definitive summer of ’07 banger, yet, these songs are serious contenders:

Spoon – Underdog
UGK & Outkast – International Players Anthem
New Pornographers – My Rights Versus Yours

These are the songs that have massive crossover appeal, and although interesting enough, don’t get too weird to scare people away. As in, one of these songs will find its way into too many parties this summer, and then eventually stumble into a major league sporting event / car commercial by the end of the year. I’m personally pulling for Animal Collective’s Peacebone to be so ubiquitous by the end of the summer, that they play during the superbowl’s halftime show.

So now I implore you to weigh in on this very important matter. Feel Good Hit of Summer 2007. Go.

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the wedding wars

There’s been a lot of media attention lately on Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, and while it started out sort of engaging – I really found it interesting what she had to say on how getting married once marked a transition from living with the parents to living with a significant other and now that everyone’s already living together, or at least on their own, by the time they marry, the wedding itself has become the momentous stand-in to mark that transition – today’s WaPo review has just pushed the whole thing over into Mommy Wars territory: a possibly interesting socio-cultural musing that applies to a select group of highly privileged individuals blown up into some sort of universal issue that bears no semblance of similarity to the circumstances of the majority of American women.

(I am sorry that that entire paragraph is one run-on sentence. But not sorry enough to bother changing it)

An excerpt from Mead’s book quoted in the WaPo review:

If a bride has been told, repeatedly, that it costs nearly $28,000 to have a wedding, then she starts to think that spending nearly $28,000 on a wedding is just one of those things a person has to do, like writing a rent check every month or paying health insurance premiums. (Or she prides herself on being a budget bride and spending a mere $15,000 on the event.) She is less likely to reflect upon the fact that $28,000 would have more than covered a 10 percent down payment on the median purchase price of a house in 2005 and would cover the average cost to a family of a health insurance policy, at 2005 rates, for a decade. The bride who has been persuaded that $28,000 is a reasonable amount of money to spend on her wedding day is less likely to measure that total against the nation’s median household income — $42,389 in 2004 — and reflect upon whether it is, in fact, reasonable for her or for anyone to spend the equivalent of seven and a half months of the average American’s salary on one day’s celebration.”

While I think it’s an interesting point, how the extravagant cost of weddings has become normalized by bridal magazines and the wedding industry, etc., I just don’t think it’s the reality for the majority of couples. I have had a lot of friends and relatives married recently, and more coming up, and I can’t imagine it’s even crossed most of their minds to spend $30,000 on their weddings; it’s just not even a financial possibility. And while I don’t think Mead is trying to portray this is a majority situation, it seems a lot of the reviewers are. They take an anecdote, they take a quote or two from Mead, and – voila! – trend piece. Cultural phenomenon. Musing on how bat-shit dumb women are …. (there’s always a proper amount of condescension in these reviews).

The worst part of the WaPo review, I think, is the complete absence to account for the fact that “dear old dad” might not be paying for everybody’s weddings. The subtitle of the review is even “Plight your troth – and empty your father’s bank account.” The anecdote is about a man paying over $30,000 for his grown daughter’s wedding. The writer mentions the “fat pack of bills for dear old Dad” and the “parents who are stuck with astronomical bills.” But not one mention of couple’s paying for the weddings themselves, despite the fact that most couples getting wed these days are grown and on their own and thus most likely not relying solely on their parents to pay the wedding bills. Parents paying for weddings made sense when people were getting married right after high school/college. Most people today aren’t (the median age is 26 or 27 for brides and 29 for grooms). While there’s nothing wrong with parents paying for weddings if they can afford it, it’s another one of those privileged sort of things that the reviewer is trying to make appear universal when it’s so totally not.

Anyway, it just seems to me that the whole $30,000 wedding fiasco storyline getting all this attention of late is just the latest installment of when-we-say-we-cover-women’s-issues-what-we-really-mean-is-only-women-rich-enough-to-have-guilt-over-their-relationships-with-their-nannies.

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(photo from BBC)

Mr Spock had a human mother, and Vulcan father, from who he inherited his inability to make sense of human emotion, as well as his green blood.

This is an interesting BBC article, in which a canadian man was found to bleed dark green blood. They say it’s from sulfur from a drug he was taking.

*edit*  I posted this because I thought it was really interesting/strange that the BBC, a very widely respected news source, would release an article completely making fun of a man’s medical condition in comparing him to an alien television character.  The article’s facts are very interesting.  A man was bleeding green blood; it’s strange, we want to know why  it’s happening, and the article tells us it’s because of sulfur.  But why does it continue to compare the man to Mr. Spock, and even offer more information about the character’s background than it does about the man with the medical condition?

(PS, sometimes I make really bad jokes and poke fun at things I shouldn’t?)

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British “rock” band The Zimmers — with a combined age of more than 3,000 and a lead singer in his 90s — releases a cover of The Who’s “My Generation” and an accompanying music video. Results: adorable. And also a kind of powerful statement about relevance in old age.

“This is about old people sticking it back to the society that has cast them aside,” says (producer Tim) Samuels.

They’ll be on Jay Leno tonight.

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My god, in what universe is this girl obese?

[Via Cicero at TTP]

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