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    Thu. March 26

    What Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ Campaign Got Right

    Katrina Trinko

    You didn’t have to be a fan of the specific “race together” campaign to understand that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is right about one thing: Americans do need to have more conversations.

    In particular, they need to have them on painful, divisive topics.

    Last week, Starbucks announced the initiative, with Schultz encouraging employees to write “Race Together” on cups “to facilitate a conversation between you and our customers.”  It was brief: Saturday was the last day employees were urged to write the message, although the initiative is continuing in other ways.

    In some ways, it was a bad idea. Employees shouldn’t be pressured to talk to customers about such a charged topic—or frankly, any topic that doesn’t pertain to their job.

    But it’s true that we probably should be talking about racial tensions—and many other issues—in face-to-face conversations.

    I’m guilty myself of preferring…

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    Culture

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    Thu. March 26

    No, ‘Pretty Woman’ Is Not Pro-Prostitution

    Ashley E. McGuire

    A sex trafficking bill is languishing in Congress. But Hollywood is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pretty Woman, a movie about a prostitute. NBC’s Today show even hosted an on-air reunion to celebrate the “movie magic” of the film, in which Richard Gere falls for Julia Roberts, the woman he hires to be his escort.  But not everybody is celebrating.

    Nina Burleigh wrote a piece for Newsweek pointing out that the film has only made the work of anti-trafficking activists harder, activists who are working to reframe prostitutes as victims and “sex buyers” as criminals. The airy and comical portrayal of prostitution, she writes, is a “fantasy,” one that is threatening to make a comeback.

    Donna Gavin, the head of the Boston Police Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, wrote a piece for the Boston Globe, decrying the celebration of a film that seems to celebrate the, “exploitation caused by those who…

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    Movies

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    Wed. March 25

    The Infectious Optimism of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

    Melanie Wilcox

     “Life beats you up. You can either curl up in a ball and die, or you can stand up and say we’re different. We’re the strong ones, and you can’t break us!” — Kimmy Schmidt

    This message is the heart of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s newly-released Netflix comedy series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Schmidt, played by Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids) is a bright-eyed and high-spirited 29-year-old trying to make it in New York City. To that end, this show appeals to Millennials and all those entering the real world post-grad, taking on new challenges and opportunities as they come. However, unlike most twenty-somethings, Kimmy is at a significant disadvantage: for the last 15 years, she was totally cut off and separated from the world as part of an underground doomsday cult, dubbed the “Indiana Mole Women.” Kimmy isn’t just new to post-grad, she’s new to real life.

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    Television

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    Wed. March 25

    “House of Cards” and the Weight of Lies

    R. J. Moeller

    Forget that Dos Equis chump—the most interesting man in the world is, without a doubt, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey). The high-octane Netflix political drama House of Cards recently released a new batch of episodes for its third season, and the game-changing show shifts slightly from edge-of-your-seat thriller to in-depth character study of the handful of primary characters that we came to know and love/hate in Seasons One and Two.

    Some fans are bummed by the dialed-back plot lines this time around, but I found the moral (and even theological) explorations in each episode to be thoroughly interesting and worth my time.

    Now that a few weeks have passed since the newest season of House of Cards was released, I wanted to pay tribute to some of the more poignant moments I found along the way. Do not worry: No significant spoilers were utilized in the making of this…

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    Television

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  • Blade Runner

    Tue. March 24

    “Blade Runner”: Are Real Men Now Replicants?

    Mark Judge

    It’s one of the most celebrated science fiction films of all time. Blade Runner is being rereleased this spring to play in Britain, and is also being shown as part of the Environmental Film Festival at the American Film Institute. They are also planning a sequel.

    More than thirty years later, the film speaks to something troubling in our own time: the predicament of real humans, particularly real men, in the 21st century.

    (Spoiler alert) At the climax of Blade Runner, which was released in 1982 and stars Harrison Ford, Ford’s character faces off with a robot, or replicant. Replicants are genetically engineered androids that are “more human than human.” In a dystopian future they were created for slave labor, military operations, and pleasure. After a group of them revolt, replicants become outlawed. Bounty hunter Rick Deckard (Ford), has the job of “retiring” the few remaining replicants. Deckard is…

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    Movies

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    Tue. March 24

    New Study Reveals that Nice Guys Are Manipulative Jerks

    Mark Tapson

    Recently a new study about so-called “benevolent sexism” stirred up internet indignation with its provocative conclusion that “Being Nice to Women Is a Sign of Sexism,” as one headline put it. “Men who hold doors open and smile may actually be sexist, study claims,” said another headline. “It turns out chivalrous men are actually just benevolently sexist,” read a third. That sound you hear is the collective groan of decent men everywhere giving up.

    Jin X. Goh and Judith A. Hall, researchers in the Department of Psychology at Northeastern University, published the study with the dryly academic title, “Nonverbal and Verbal Expressions of Men’s Sexism in Mixed-Gender Interactions.” It is described as “the first to examine how men’s hostile sexist and benevolent sexist beliefs are differentially expressed, nonverbally and verbally, during actual social interactions with women.” The study concluded that “benevolent sexism is expressed differently than hostile sexism” and “was associated with more patience, more…

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    Culture

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  • 'Dancing with the Stars' Season 20 Debut Party, Los Angeles, America - 16 Mar 2015

    Mon. March 23

    A “Shark” Adrift Finds His Way Again

    Mark Tapson

    Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec is arguably one of television’s most likeable personalities. He is the elegant, gentleman investor audiences love, the counterpoint to gleefully greedy co-star Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary—the business shark whom audiences love to hate. But being a good guy and wildly successful (the tech mogul Herjavec is worth an estimated $100 million) are no insulation against personal pain and despair.

    I’ve praised Herjavec on Acculturated before. The 51-year-old is no pushover in the shark tank, but he unfailingly exhibits a class, politeness, and respectfulness that are out-of-sync with the melodrama, selfishness, and immaturity that dominate reality TV. But last year he struggled with his own drama behind the scenes: a divorce from his wife of 24 years. “We were great parents and a great team,” he says, “but over time we drifted apart.”

    He recently revealed to People magazine that the breakup hit him…

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    Culture, Television

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    Mon. March 23

    SXSW is Evidence of Hollywood Virtue

    Erin Vargo

    “I’m not weird; I’m limited edition.”—Unknown

    As a native Texan living in or around Austin for the majority of my life, I’ve always appreciated the rebellious sentiment behind the catch phrase, “Keep Austin weird.” I think it started as a rallying cry for the localization of business and quickly took on a life of its own—inspiring a generation of local artists, musicians, politicians, entrepreneurs, and other innovators who simply see a different way of doing business as usual.

    The same spirit has driven the evolution of the annual music, film, and interactive festivals known as SXSW (South by Southwest). What started as an independent music festival in 1987 has transformed this college town and capital city into an annual call-to-arms: The speakers, artists, and other visionaries featured at SXSW are reliably the most impassioned leaders in the battle to defend the…

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    Culture

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    Fri. March 20

    Chris Borland and the Future of Football

    Bryan Dik

    The blogosphere is blowing up in the wake of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland’s announcement that, at age 24 and just one year into a promising career in the NFL, he is hanging up his cleats and retiring from football. “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” he told ESPN. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

    Borland considered the accumulating research linking repeated concussions with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a neurodegenerative brain disease found in a disproportionately high percentage of former NFL players. “When you read about Mike Webster and Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, you read all these stories, and the type of player I want to be in football, I think I’d have to take on some risks that, as a person, I don’t want to take on.” …

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    Sports

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    Fri. March 20

    Starbucks and the State of Our Disunion

    Mark Tapson

    It’s admirable when successful business leaders like, say, The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick or Virgin’s Richard Branson place as much emphasis on changing the world as on profits. But Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz may have come up with a socially responsible idea that is likely to fall flat on both scores. Sure, he has good intentions, but we all know where the road paved with those leads.

    Schultz has used the company previously as a platform to address marriage equality and gun control. Now he is launching a new campaign at his coffee chain to defuse the powder keg of racial tensions in America by sparking that “national conversation about race” we’ve been hearing about ever since former Attorney General Eric Holder called us “a nation of cowards” for not talking about it. Schultz hopes that this conversation will begin between his baristas and their customers.

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    Culture

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