R. J. Moeller
It turns out that once you deny, ignore or eliminate religion and spirituality from a story of this size and scope, you effectively gut the heart of any tale that hopes to become the stuff of legends.
In her new book 'Yes Please', Amy Poehler offers thoughtful observations on how modern technology tends to divorce us from real life.
We’ve created a scholastic atmosphere in which anything goes—in which students can surf the Internet for three hours and somehow call it “creative,” instructive, and educational.
Matt Taylor should have picked a different shirt for the biggest and most public day of his career. And that’s that.
Lorde wanted to be the catalyst for a cultural revolution. Someone ought to tell her that you don’t change Hollywood by worshipping Kim Kardashian.
Feminist activists and organizations have been criticizing the Disney-owned film studio because 10 of its 14 feature-length films fail the Bechdel Test.
Tue. November 18
Readers of Acculturated may remember reading my earlier post about the Bechdel Test ratings system that was introduced in movie theaters last year in Sweden. The Bechdel Test is a tool that evaluates whether or not a film has gender bias based on the following criteria: in order to pass the test, two named female characters need to talk to each other about something other than men. So that’s:
a) at least two named female characters
b) talking to each other
c) about a topic unrelated to men
Its purpose is to push for more female representation on the big screen, as Ellen Tejle, director of a cinema in Stockholm that was one of the first to launch the rating system, elaborated, that its goal is to “see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens.” And…
Mon. November 17
Last Wednesday, the European Space Agency (ESA) landed a space probe on a 2.5-mile long comet over 300 million miles away. Let that extraordinary human achievement sink in for a moment. Now let this sink in: the bulk of the media attention for this historic event is centered on a garish bowling shirt worn by one of the scientists, which has become the target of feminist anger about pervasive misogyny in the scientific profession.
Matt Taylor, part of the team of scientists that landed a space probe on a comet over 300 million miles away, was interviewed briefly prior to the event. He seemed like an articulate, amiable guy who was passionate about his exciting work. Unfortunately, he was wearing something that resembled the side of a 1970s van: a retro Hawaiian shirt adorned with an illustrated bevy of provocatively dressed women posed amid sunbursts and ocean waves.
So, instead of marveling…
Mon. November 17
It is perfectly natural for human beings to protect their own when they feel threatened. The “I can criticize my family, but you can’t” mentality we have all exhibited at one time or another is an understandable response to someone who has sent a verbal shot across the bow of your brood.
But is it always the best way to handle criticism? Should we continue to write off bull-headedness (that borders on full-blown denial) because the person pushing back against the criticism is emotionally invested in those being critiqued? Whether we’re talking about your blood relatives or the cultural, ethnic, or religious group you identify with, what role should a thicker skin play in the continuing development of a society?
None of these questions seem to be on the minds of those few thousand people who recently signed a petition to remove comedian Bill Maher as the slated…
Fri. November 14
My Acculturated colleague Erin Vargo wrote a very nice reflection this week on the bipartisan values we share as Americans, and on the Veterans Day “Concert for Valor” at Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, a three-hour concert that included Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Bruce Springsteen, and others. Vargo felt that the show depicted a “universality of America’s regard for our veterans” that crossed party lines. But some were less than thrilled about Springsteen’s choice of material for an event intended to honor our nation’s warriors.
Justin Moyer at the Washington Post wrote that Springsteen sparked social media unrest for playing—along with Zac Brown and Dave Grohl—Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Vietnam-era anti-war song, “Fortunate Son.” “Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes,” songwriter John Fogerty’s rock classic goes. “They send you down to war/And when you ask them, ‘How much should we give?’/They only answer, more, more, more.”
Fri. November 14
If you want to know what women want, you may need to spend an hour watching the hit television series, Dancing with the Stars. There may be no other show ever created that is so beloved by women, and yet so despised by men.
The competitive reality show features sort-of famous stars paired up with professional dancers, who then all dance their way to becoming the top couple. It was designed to be gender neutral, family friendly, and appeal to everyone, but now, it may be one of the only shows that women would rather die than miss, but men would rather die than watch. The show is, after all, about dancing, and let’s be honest…that’s not exactly the kind of thing that appeals to the macho man. But in between dances, you’ve got drama, emotion, crying—the kind of stuff that tends to really put men off. (Not to mention the…
Fri. November 14
The smartphone dating app Tinder has been catching fire faster than Katniss Everdeen can wield a bow and arrow. Currently, Tinder boasts over 50 million global active users, who check their accounts 11 times per day or spend an average of 1.5 hours daily on the app. From its start, however, Tinder has been clouded with allegations and accusations of bias against women. It recently came under fire again when its founder, Sean Rad, was charged and demoted for sexual harassment. The company’s exponential growth and connections with harassment are the perfect example of what can happen in a culture that blurs the lines between sexual objectification and empowerment.
Sexual objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like an object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure. Tinder’s success demonstrates how casual the public has become about sexual objectification, which is understandable. Objectification is pervasive and deserves exploration in two…
Thu. November 13
Upon cracking open my laptop (pun intended) to the shiny robustness of Kim Kardashian’s breathtaking bum this week, I had no words, except perhaps the line from a recent Red Foo song: “Literally, I can’t.”
Ms. Kardashian has done more than “break the Internet”; she has (for better or worse) shocked, entertained, and altogether dominated the collective consciousness of American culture. Her latest photo shoot is truly the checkmate of her career thus far: No one can prevent this woman from doing what she wants to do. She has left perhaps the most significant (if grievous) imprint on popular culture since Marilyn Monroe. Kim Kardashian is—literally—unstoppable.
This, as it turns out, is her redeeming quality, and as shocked as I am by my own thoughts on the subject, she is one of America’s most awe-inspiring (if unnatural) resources. Kim Kardashian is perhaps the freest woman alive.
Thu. November 13
Over the course of three and a half months, 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each British or Colonial military fatality of World War I, were placed in and around the moat at the Tower of London. They are now removing the installation. And while dismantling one of the most powerful war memorials in recent memory is sad, it is also appropriate.
In one respect, the memorial entitled Blood Swept the Lands and Seas of Red is like others of our era: it is literal. Just as the Vietnam memorial in Washington and the 9/11 memorial in New York have the names of all the dead inscribed in stone, so too does artist Paul Cummins’ installation have one poppy for each of the fallen soldiers. Indeed, from the details provided in this video about the making of the poppies, it seems the artisans who worked in shifts, 23 hours a day, took their…
Wed. November 12
Pinterest: we love it, we hate it. It inspires us, maddens us, makes us laugh. It gives us a delusional confidence in our ability to turn mason jars into chandeliers, and rocks into cutely painted owls. Shannon Ralph did an excellent job pointing out the craziness of Pinterest, especially when it comes to parenting, in a recent Huffington Post article. My favorite excerpt:
I understand from Pinterest that there are no fewer that 101 uses for this magical elixir (coconut oil). With coconut oil, I could make homemade deodorant, a natural diaper cream, my own Mayo, coconut lotion, homemade sunscreen and coffee creamer. Topically, it fights yeast infections, assuages hemorrhoids, soothes nursing nipples, treats psoriasis and reduces varicose veins. I can season my cast iron skillets with coconut oil. It cures split ends. It whitens teeth. I mean, what does this stuff NOT do? And, more importantly, why are people…
Wed. November 12
On the night of Veterans Day, hundreds of thousands of people attended “The Concert for Valor” on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall (also available on HBO and Ustream), a three-hour concert that included a dozen musical acts, comedians, and gracious hosts, interspersed with emotional video vignettes about exceptional servicemen and women. Only a week after an enormously disappointing upset for the Democratic Party, the show illustrated the universality of America’s regard for our veterans, which clearly crosses party lines. Moreover, the traditionally liberal Hollywood actors and artists who performed electrified the audience in a breathtaking show of grace and gratitude.
It was a lovely tribute to veterans and active duty members, and it moved me to reflect on the common values we share as Americans—values and virtues that transcend the daily grind of partisan politics in the media; values and virtues best exemplified by our military servicemen and…
From The Huffington Post:
Australian newscaster Karl Stefanovic wore the…CONTINUE READING >
A decade after the Nazis’ 1933 book burnings,…CONTINUE READING >
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