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    Fri. November 21

    Amy Poehler and How Cell Phones Want to Kill Us

    Marina Olson

    The best comedians are those who notice reality as it is, and allow us to also see the absurdities that come with it. One of my favorite observers is Amy Poehler, whose deadpan delivery and comedic earnestness has been a central fixture of both SNL and Parks and Rec. But perhaps one of my favorite bits she has ever done was not on screen, but rather the concluding chapter of her new memoir, Yes Please. In a chapter entitled the robots will kill us all: a conclusion, Poehler discusses how cellphones aim to kill us. It’s both funny and sad, because it’s true.

    She begins by recounting an early cellphone encounter, after which she told her friend “Nope…I just don’t need it. Cellphones aren’t for me. What am I going to do? Carry this thing around all day?” As someone who is currently writing this article on a…

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    Books, Tech

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  • school discipline

    Thu. November 20

    Wasting Time 101: Coming to an Ivy League School Near You

    Gracy Olmstead

    Do you wish you could surf the Internet mindlessly all day?

    Lucky for you, there’s a class for that. Kenneth Goldsmith, a poetry professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is going to teach a new class in the coming spring semester—a class completely devoted to wasting time online:

    Although we’ll all be in the same room, our communication will happen exclusively through chat rooms and listservs, or over social media. Distraction and split attention will be mandatory. So will aimless drifting and intuitive surfing. The students will be encouraged to get lost on the Web, disappearing for three hours in a Situationist-inspired dérive, drowsily emerging from the digital haze only when class is over. We will enter a collective dreamspace…

    Nothing is off limits: if it is on the Internet, it is fair play. Students watching three hours of porn can use it as the basis…

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    Culture

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  • Anne-Hathaway-a-la-premiere-d-Interstellar-a-Londres_reference (1)

    Thu. November 20

    Redemption Time for Anne Hathaway?

    R. J. Moeller

    Over the past three years, Anne Hathaway has become the most disliked actress in Hollywood. Or at least the one that Twitter has mocked the most. The criticisms of Ms. Hathaway have reached epic proportions since 2011, the year she co-hosted the worst Academy Awards show in recent memory with the stoned corpse of James Franco. So, to be fair, she can’t take all of the blame there.

    In my opinion, it doesn’t help that she comes off like a high school girl who is over-acting the role of a young, attractive starlet, but is the vitriol deserved?

    On the acting front, she was more than solid in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises as Catwoman and then did an even better job as Matthew McConaughey’s space partner in another Christopher Nolan epic, Interstellar. In between she won an Oscar for Les Misérables and got married. Not too shabby.

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    Culture

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  • 0_Colosseum_-_Rome_111001_(2)

    Wed. November 19

    A Colossal Mistake: Trivializing the Past

    Mark Tapson

    Last week, Acculturated’s own Abby W. Schachter reported on the dismantling of the “Blood-Swept Lands and Seas of Red” art installation in London, a flood of red ceramic poppies serving as a poignant memorial to the nearly 900,000 British lives lost in World War I. As it happens, I had just read about a sort of modern upgrading of the Colosseum in Rome. In their different ways, the two monuments reflect a vital connection between memory and history.

    Even though the United States participated in the nightmarish conflict that Henry James called “this abyss of blood and darkness,” it’s very difficult for Americans today to grasp the impact that the Great War had on Europe. It marked, in an unprecedented way, a traumatic break with the world of the past and the beginning of our modern era. Artist Paul Cummins’ installation, a temporary sea of individually hand-crafted and -planted poppies…

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    Culture

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  • matt-taylor-shirt

    Wed. November 19

    Matt Taylor’s Shirt was Sexist. Period.

    Brandon McGinley

    Matt Taylor should have picked a different shirt for the biggest and most public day of his career.  And that’s that.

    No, Matt Taylor’s sexy short sleeves do not in any way vitiate his technical accomplishments.  Yes, the reaction against Taylor was very often way out of proportion with the offense.  But that doesn’t change the fact that there was an offense: Regardless of its story or its wearer’s intention, The Shirt represents precisely the type of crass sexualization that marginalizes women, both in the pursuit of science and technology careers and in everyday life.

    I understand the shirt is kitsch.  But sexist kitsch is still sexist in a similar way that a racist joke is still racist: It capitalizes on, and thus perpetuates, tropes that debase historically marginalized groups.  In this instance the trope is that women’s primary asset is their sex appeal, and thus…

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    Culture

    2 Comments

  • Untitled

    Wed. November 19

    The Duggars: A Pretentiousness Problem?

    Erin Vargo

    On November 1, Jessa Duggar (of TLC’s notorious 19 Kids and Counting reality television family) wed sweetheart Ben Seewald after a courtship and engagement that spanned the course of a year. The ceremony marked a momentous occasion beyond the exchanging of vows: Per their commitment to self-imposed rules of courtship, the couple had waited until their wedding day to exchange their first frontal hug (pre-matrimony, only side hugs were allowed for the Duggar daughters) and their very first kiss. According to their pastor, the long-awaited smooch was “private” and “important,” so much so that they elected not to kiss in front of the wedding viewers: 1,000 of their closest friends and family members. Instead, the pastor facilitated “alone” time for the couple, while parents, Michelle and Jim Bob, offered to kiss in front of the crowd, so as not to deprive onlookers of an official wedding day peck.

    It was all very…

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    Television

    1 Comment

  • lorde-midriff-in-tanktop-v-magazine-92_1

    Tue. November 18

    The Disappointing Moral Hypocrisy of Lorde

    Chelsea Samelson

    I have never been as disappointed by a celebrity as I now am by Lorde.

    The teenage powerhouse burst onto the scene last year with her hit single “Royals,” the rebel anthem that took aim at all things Hollywood. She slammed the pervasive vanity, materialism, and opulence that so often defines the world of celebrity, shrugging off the “gold teeth, Grey Goose, ball gowns, diamonds, jet planes.” She proudly sang, “that kind of luxe just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz…we aren’t caught up in your love affair.”

    She was the precocious rebel, the girl who had the power to transform pop music and culture through her down-to-earth values and fearless morals. Over the last year, she reaped the rewards of more wealth and more fame, and yet she never sacrificed her standards for publicity or attention. She remained unique, humble, and clothed.

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    Culture

    7 Comments

  • sevendeadlyvirtues-homepage

    Tue. November 18

    The Seven Deadly Virtues and the ‘New York Times’

    P.J. O'Rourke

    From The Seven Deadly Virtues, political satirist and author P.J. O’Rourke assesses the vices found on the pages of The New York Times Sunday Styles section. —  [Ed.]

    Before we consider what virtue has been up to lately, we should take a look at how vice is faring.

    The conceit of every era is that people are more inclined to vice than they used to be. In The Clouds, first performed in 423 BC, Aristophanes has the personification of “Just Discourse” recount how vicious children are nowadays, compared to the youngsters of yore who “would not have dared, before those older than themselves, to have taken a radish, an aniseed, or a leaf of parsley, and much less eat fish or thrushes or cross their legs.”

    What Aristophanes said is true to this day. I’ve seen a child, sprung from my own loins, munch a radish. With crossed legs. And…

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    The Seven Deadly Virtues

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  • 1016995_10151820905314078_279357479_n

    Tue. November 18

    Are Pixar Films ‘Sexist’?

    Melanie Wilcox

    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…

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    Movies

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  • csr25xideiwxl5p24cuj

    Mon. November 17

    We Land on a Comet, the Media Cry Sexism

    Mark Tapson

    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…

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    Culture

    2 Comments

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