Star Trek: Into Darkness is about more than just action and dazzling special effects--it's about the human conscience and its relationship to authority.
Last week the Fox network announced plans to reboot Cosmos, the massively popular documentary TV series hosted by the late scientist and science popularizer Carl Sagan.
Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety is a terrific portrayal of the way marriage intertwines with friendships, the way one's own marriage isn't solely one's own.
Ashley E. McGuire
What Angelina Jolie's recent decision to have a double-mastectomy can teach us all about love, bravery, and strength.
In this final season of the show, it’s been heartening to see the show focus on the office romance that drew many of us in way back in season one.
Ashley E. McGuire
While many Americans in their 20s are still wearing baseball caps and yoga pants as street clothes, the royals show us what it means to dress with respect.
Wed. May 22
One of the reasons that we here at Acculturated celebrate and analyze popular culture is that it is often pop culture that asks the big questions about humanity. Iron Man is about weighing the good of defending one’s country against the deadly nature of militarism and military weapons. The Dark Knight is about proportionalism, or whether the ends justify the means (why not kill the Joker if he’s going to go on a crime and murder spree?). Spider-Man is about power and responsibility.
And Star Trek: Into Darkness is about the human conscience and its relationship to authority. The film is, in fact, a series of sequences that all draw their drama from whether a character will listen to his or her conscience or submit to an authority telling them to take a different course of action. In that way it ties in to a powerful new book…
Wed. May 22
Last week the Fox network announced plans to reboot Cosmos, the massively popular documentary TV series hosted by the late scientist and science popularizer Carl Sagan. When it aired 33 years ago, the original program became the highest-rated series on PBS (and held that distinction for 10 years until Ken Burns’s The Civil War). “Before there was Downton Abbey,” said Fox President Kevin Reilly, “the biggest thing to happen to PBS was Cosmos.”
With Sagan as guide, Cosmos swept viewers along on a grand tour of the origins of the universe, the evolution of our planet, the miracle of life, and the nature of consciousness. It celebrated our innate curiosity and our longing to return to the stars from whence we came. “We’re going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination,” he promised. Each of the 13 episodes—with titles like “One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue,” “The Harmony…
Tue. May 21
All three novels of marriage I’ve looked at so far have a certain sense of the privacy of marriage, which can become isolation. In fact, the focus has narrowed with each novel: Extended family and community are essential parts of Kristin Lavransdatter, but its heart remains with Kristin’s marriage and home; the isolation of the married couple is part of the point of How to Be Good; and Gilead gains much of its force from the sense that the dying narrator is increasingly separate from his wife, child, and best friend. Something is missing here. Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety is a terrific portrayal of that missing piece of marriage: the way it intertwines with friendships, the way one’s own marriage isn’t solely one’s own.
Crossing to Safety tells a story which begins during the Depression, but is being recalled in the 1970s. It’s…
Tue. May 21
My older sister is a 30ish, single, professional woman who lives in Chicago with two roommates fitting the same description. Whenever I visit, I am struck by a large sign above the front door. It says “Make Good Choices.” Its size and prominence in their apartment is an indication of how important that simple slogan is to the three women living there. Each day they are attempting to navigate the difficulties of being 30ish and single with the difficulties of advancing professionally. Making good choices is so important mainly because making bad choices could be so harmful.
In a TED talk posted earlier this month that has now received nearly a million views, psychologist Meg Jay attempts to debunk the myth that 30 is the new 20. Meg uses her clinical experience to share stories of individuals who during their 20’s “just lived” and did not worry much about how…
Mon. May 20
Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living. If I can piggy-back on my boy ‘Crates for just one second, I would add to that pearl of wisdom the following: the over-examined TwitPic serving as fodder for an indulgent Huffington Post blog entry is not worth reading (brevity was never my thing).
Thanks to the patronizing thoughts of a “freelance minister” from Ben & Jerry’s home state named Zach J. Hoag at Huff Post Religion, I was mercifully made aware of a recent chilling and provocative trend in the culture. Apparently some evangelical pastors have been Tweeting out pictures of their wives and commenting on how attracted they are to their own spouse. Reports from that front tell us the grim news that phrases such as “Smoking Hot” and “Boo ya!” are being bandied about willy-nilly, without the slightest care of what all those people might think! (Who,…
Mon. May 20
There were plenty of Big Gulps available. Not to mention beer, bikinis and cigarettes.
But the main thing, of course, were the cars. I just got back from Cruisin’ Ocean City 2013, the annual vintage car show in Ocean City, Maryland. Ostensibly just a weekend about old and restored Camaros, Chargers, GTOs, Ford Mustangs, and pretty much any kind of (mostly American) car you can think of, it’s also a chance to think about liberalism, masculinity, and the relation of class to the virtues in modern America.
One of the first things you notice about the weekend is just how flat-out fun it is, which can be a surprise since America’s leaders, from Mayor “Ban It” Bloomberg to Michelle Obama with her fitness crusades, tend to frown upon fun. Cruisin’ OC is everything the nanny state hates: junk food (although I wouldn’t put crabs in that category, which is what…
Fri. May 17
This week we bid a fond farewell to The Office and give the nod for Post of the Week to Bryan Dik’s piece on the many lessons the show has offered over the years on love—not “Michael and Jan love” (TWSS), or “Andy and Angela love,” or “Ryan and Kelly love,” but true love—the kind Jim and Pam have.
Fri. May 17
Even the non-sports fan had to cringe on Sunday watching the epic meltdown of Sergio Garcia at golf’s “fifth major,” The Player’s Championship. Coming to the most famous hole in golf—the island green at TPC Sawgrass—Garcia had just birdied the previous hole to put him in a tie with Tiger Woods. The 17th hole at the TPC is famous because it’s surrounded by water and has a long history of crushing player’s dreams for winning the tournament when their ball fails to make the green.
With dead silence and millions of people watching, Garcia took a swipe at the ball, it flew for about 5 seconds, and then splashed into the water. Garcia did a half smirk out of disgust and astonishment. Knowing his tournament was over, he asked for another ball from his caddy and swung again. Five seconds later another splash. Garcia…
Thu. May 16
Never have two breasts received more news coverage than those of Angelina Jolie. If you missed the news stories this week, she had a double mastectomy after learning that she carried a gene that made it almost certain that she would develop breast cancer. She will now have both ovaries removed, as she currently has a fifty-fifty chance that she will develop ovarian cancer.
After watching her mother, with whom she was very close, die at a young age from breast and ovarian cancer, her decision is understandable. She wrote about her decision in an op-ed for the New York Times entitled, “My Medical Choice.”
These days, it seems as though any conversation about “women’s health” is code word for abortion, especially when the word “choice” is lurking. For once, it’s refreshing to have people talking about a woman’s decision that really is about health and not about lifestyle.
Thu. May 16
I don’t think I’ll see the upcoming film The Butler, which tells the story of Eugene Allen, the White House butler from 1952 to 1986. It’s a story about America in the days of segregation and how a group of enlightened liberals triumphed over the racist, narrow minded repressors of mid-century America.
I don’t think I’ll see The Butler, even with its huge celebrity cast—everyone from Oprah to Robin Williams are in it—because I get the sense that I’ve seen this theme in the movies before. Maybe it was 42. Or The Help. Or Mississippi Burning. Or The Long Walk Home. Or Hairspray. Or Remember the Titans. Or Men of Honor, Malcolm X, and Forrest Gump.
America once had a very bad racism problem. It hasn’t been totally eradicated. But Hollywood never seems to tire of going back in time to refight earlier battles about…
When David Karp was 14, he…CONTINUE READING >
Over the last decade, the United…CONTINUE READING >
The brooding Sherlock star and Star Trek Into Darkness villain has a beloved, lesser-known…CONTINUE READING >
Success has largely been determined by money and power, Huffington…CONTINUE READING >