• Chris Rock poses with his award during the Hollywood Film Awards in Hollywood

    Mon. December 15

    Chris Rock: College Audiences Are Too PC

    Mark Tapson

    The college circuit used to be where many newer, edgier comedians built their audience and reputation, and where some established comedians remained relevant by connecting with a new crop of fans. But in recent years, those fans seem to have traded their funny bones for a very humorless hypersensitivity toward the feelings of others.

    In a recent, wide-ranging Vulture interview, comedian Chris Rock was asked for his thoughts on the controversy back in October about talk show host and comedian Bill Maher speaking at UC Berkeley’s commencement. Ironically, considering that this is the 50th anniversary year of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, students disinvited Maher over remarks he had made about Islam that some found “racist and bigoted.”

    Curiously, it was the university that stepped up in support of free speech over student objections; the administration reinstated Maher’s invitation, asserting in a statement that it fully respects and…

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    Culture

    1 Comment

  • sdcc-14-the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-c_acdu

    Fri. December 12

    The (Blessed) End of Middle Earth on the Big Screen

    Chelsea Samelson

    After the final Hobbit film is released next week, Middle-earth may never again grace the big screen. Last week, director Peter Jackson announced that the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien has denied future film rights to any of Tolkien’s other works, including The Silmarillion.

    Most fans were devastated. True fans were relieved. Tolkien’s writings are some of the most beloved in all literature, but Jackson’s movies are some of the most controversial in all film.

    With such cherished and timeless works like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, a filmmaker has an enormous, often-overlooked responsibility to proceed only with the utmost care and delicacy, forethought and deliberateness, to preserve the treasure of the original story. No matter what he does though, he knows some people will still go home unhappy.

    I was one of those people.

    Like so many others, I was mostly disheartened…

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    Books, Movies

    8 Comments

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    Fri. December 12

    Long Live the Santa Claus Legend

    Brandon McGinley

    During childhood road trips my mother would tell me that her father told her that the “Falling Rock” signs on the side of the road were placed by a Native American man who had lost his son of that name.  I was encouraged to keep an eye out that I might be the one to find him.

    The primary purpose of this little legend was to assure a nervous child that we would not be crushed by a boulder on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  But I wanted to believe the tale for a bigger reason: I was quite taken with the idea that there might be an ageless man in the mountains searching for his ageless son, and furthermore that I might be participating in this story simply by remaining alert—and that perhaps I could be the one to bring thrilling closure to his quest.

    I was reminded of this…

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    Culture

    3 Comments

  • Monica-Bellucci-1200x800-722026f364c9d962

    Thu. December 11

    New ‘Bond’ Girl is a ‘Bond’ Woman

    Mark Tapson

    Late last week the producers of the James Bond blockbusters officially announced the title (Spectre) and cast of the 24th installment of the franchise, including the return of Daniel Craig as 007. But all the buzz about the announcement has been centered not on Bond himself, but on the newest—or rather, the oldest—Bond girl.

    Fifty-year-old Italian actress Monica Bellucci has just made history as the oldest Bond girl in 50 years of Bond movies. This smashes the record held by Goldfinger’s Honor Blackman, who was 39 when she played Pussy Galore back in 1964. The gorgeous model-turned-actress Bellucci is older than even Bond himself—Craig is 46—which has happened on only a couple of previous occasions through the decades. The Washington Post, which actually charted the ages of the Bonds and their women throughout the franchise’s history, proclaimed that “James Bond finally falls for a woman his own age.”

    Bellucci…

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    Movies

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  • taylor_swift_640

    Thu. December 11

    Taylor Swift’s Dysfunctional Version of Love

    Chelsea Samelson

    Taylor Swift is not exactly known for thought-provoking lyrics. She is bubbly, cheerful, humble, and still classy, but her music is, well . . . predictable. The sweetheart of pop music has released close to 100 songs, and almost every single one sounds the same—lyrically, that is.

    She writes love songs—happy ones, sad ones, nostalgic ones, hopeful ones. Young love is her trademark topic. Her songs are catchy, but not deep. They are fun, but not profound. Girls everywhere know her songs by heart, but never stop and think about her words.

    They’ve never had to. Until now.

    Swift recently released her newest single, “Blank Space,” and it has lingered in the number one slot ever since. But the song, and its underlying message, is surprisingly dark—dare I say disturbing. Perhaps for the first time, her lyrics deserve attention, as does her commentary on our culture’s love problem.

    “Blank…

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    Music

    11 Comments

  • Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings

    Wed. December 10

    The N-Word in a Fallen World

    R. J. Moeller

    “To me, it’s just a word, a word whose power is owned by the user and his or her intention. People give words power, so banning a word is futile, really… The key is to change the person. And we change people through conversation, not through censorship.”— Jay Z

    After a series of racially charged incidents surrounding the 2013 season, the National Football League decided to instruct game officials to flag and penalize any player who uses the n-word on the field. Many black players, including all-pro defensive back Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, voiced their displeasure with the league’s decision.

    “It’s an atrocious idea,” the Super Bowl champ told Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King. “It’s almost racist, to me. It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?” he asked.

    Mr. Sherman argued…

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    Culture, Sports

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  • people-shia-labeouf-1

    Wed. December 10

    Shia LaBeouf: Bad Boy, Interrupted

    Mark Judge

    Shia LaBeouf is trying. He really is. From the bag-over-my-head routine (wherein he put a paper bag over his head announcing I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE), to his weird interruptions of live plays, to his silent hour-long interviews with the media, the young actor is doing his damnedest to cause trouble. But LaBeouf just can’t get any traction for his outlaw act. He can’t because the days of the bad boy artist are over. Our madman cultural geniuses are no more. They were killed by technology, political correctness, and celebrity.

    Americans once had a kind of unspoken pact with their artistic bad boys. We would allow them some room to maneuver outside the circle of civilization, and may even end up elevating them to the status of genuine artist. But there was one condition: Our rebels had to be responsible for a substantive work of art. We allowed…

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    Culture

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  • BlowingKissesHolidayShopping

    Tue. December 9

    Women: I Figured Out Victoria’s “Secret” and It’s Brilliant

    Erin Vargo

    Tina Fey has more than earned the writing awards to her credit, and her social commentary continues to slice through the nuances of politics and culture in an unparalleled fashion. In true form, her autobiography, Bossypants, pretty much nails the state of confusion surrounding women’s body image in modern media:

    “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll [breasts]… The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

    A review of pop culture events over the last few months supports the theory: In July, Meghan Trainor (“All…

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    Fashion

    No Comments

  • exodus-gods-and-kings-christian-bale-joel-edgerton

    Tue. December 9

    The ‘Exodus’ Controversy: Misplaced Moral Outrage

    R. J. Moeller

    Director Ridley Scott’s new biblical epic—Exodus: Gods and Kings—opens nationwide this week and there is quite a hullabaloo preceding its release. Unlike Darren Aronofsky’s Noah earlier this year, this controversy is less about biblical authenticity and more about the color of the skin of the leading actors in Exodus.

    From MSNBC.com:

    Before it even hits theaters, director Ridley Scott’s biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” has generated heated debate and controversy because of its alleged “whitewashing” of Egyptian culture.

    The film stars white actors Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver as Egyptians, while critics point out that black members of the cast are largely relegated to playing servants, assassins and thieves. Edgerton, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Australian who plays the iconic Ramses, is made to appear more ethnic with the use of make-up and copious eyeliner.

    The backlash on social media has been swift,…

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    Movies

    5 Comments

  • 2015 Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

    Mon. December 8

    Learning How to Grow Old

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Sometimes, the fact that I am almost 30 makes me want to freak out. I know that 30 is not old,  but it’s not really young, either. It’s entering that “in-between” period of life. My 40s are next. Gulp.

    Like most normal people, getting older is a source of a certain amount of anxiety. Polling shows that most Americans wouldn’t opt to live longer than current life expectancy, even if they could.

    Our culture prizes youth to the point of obsession. Perfectly healthy people are willing to endure knife and needle to look younger than they are. People juice and cleanse and run ‘til they drop to cling to that youthful energy that starts to wane as the years click by. Elderly Americans are increasingly invisible, stuffed away in nursing homes.

    These new realities only exacerbate natural fears about age—fears like growing less attractive to others, fears about illness…

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    Culture

    1 Comment

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