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    Wed. July 16

    Conservatives and the Pop Culture Divide

    Abby W. Schachter

    There is a lively discussion going on among some serious conservatives who love pop culture. There isn’t so much a disagreement among the discussants as there is a difference of emphasis.

    Adam Bellow, who has been publishing non-fiction conservative books for a couple of decades now, has launched a new venture called Liberty Island Magazine, which is an effort at grassroots crowdfunding of independent authors of conservative fiction, video and music. As Bellow explains in his recent cover story for the National Review,

    “Conservative books today sell millions of copies. By all apparent measures, the culture war is going extremely well. Except that in reality it isn’t… The real problem isn’t the practical challenge of turning serious books into bestsellers. The real problem is that we may have reached the limit of what facts and reasoned arguments can do. The real problem is that the whole conservative nonfiction enterprise…

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    Wed. July 16

    ‘Family with Fire’: The Free-Market Telenovela

    Melissa Langsam Braunstein

    The morning after Election Day is too often painful. The night before, Latino voters were tantalizingly within reach. Yet, in the morning’s light, Republican politicos are heartbroken, having failed to woo that coveted demographic.

    Dominican-American Clara Del Villar, herself a conservative, has a better idea: The GOP should engage Hispanics where they already are, namely in the telenovela audience. Toward that end, Del Villar created Familia con Fuego, or Family with Fire, a pro-free-market telenovela, whose first season includes 12-Webisodes. Del Villar recently spoke with Acculturated about the show:

    What inspired you to create Familia con Fuego? My parents came here in 1956, after being harassed by the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. My parents suffered through many challenges, but they always stressed the opportunity of this country. The point is to show all the characters in aspirational roles, embracing the possibility and potential of this country.

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    Culture, Television


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    Wed. July 16

    Good Riddance to the Cupcake Fad

    Julia Shaw

    Crumbs, the largest cupcake chain, has filed for bankruptcy. The cupcake trend is finally over.

    Good riddance.

    I confess. I’ve never been a cupcake fan. Cupcakes could not measure up to the joy of a slice of cake. At my kindergarten birthday party, my mother brought yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting to share with the class.  I had milk instead.

    As an adult, I thought I’d give cupcakes a second chance. It’s like cake, after all: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Perhaps there was a Holy Grail cupcake, and once I tasted that perfect cakelet I’d be converted.  As a grown up, office birthday parties are the culinary return to kindergarten. At these cupcake fests, I tried cupcakes from a variety of local places: Buzz Bakery, Hello Cupcake, Baked and Wired, Red Velvet, The Sweet Lobby, and the cakelets that cause people to line up around the block, Georgetown…

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    Tue. July 15

    In Defense of Violent, Sexy, Revenge-Based Fiction

    Mark Judge

    I admit it: I like violent, sexy entertainment in which people and things I hate get overthrown or blown up.

    I consider this enthusiasm completely healthy and normal. Through recorded human history people have had a need for catharsis, for emotional purging, for gaining revenge through fantasies depicted by other people. If it doesn’t spill over into sadism, it’s usually all good. Some of my favorite action epics and revenge fantasies: Game of Thrones, The Iliad, Macbeth, The Road Warrior, The Killer Inside Me, Iron Man.

    I also like Liberty Island, the new website and media group founded by Adam Bellow. Bellow is a well-known editor of conservative authors, from Jonah Goldberg to Sarah Palin, but Liberty Island is his first venture into fiction. Its theme is genre fiction—westerns, sci-fi, crime—that have a conservative or libertarian theme or flavor. The bad guys are usually liberals. (Full disclosure: I…

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    Tue. July 15

    The Brave New World of IVF

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Where does one even start with this story?

    With the facts, I suppose. Sherri Shepherd, former host of The View,  used technology to create a baby using her husband’s sperm and a donor’s egg. She used a surrogate to carry the baby, where the baby is still in utero. Sherri and her husband are now divorcing, and Sherri no longer wants the baby, to which she has absolutely no biological connection. She has filed for divorce in New Jersey, a state that does not recognize surrogacy agreements as legally binding. Of the baby she said, “It is not my child. I’m not paying child support.”

    It’s a story Aldous Huxley would have been proud of. Ordering a baby. Growing it elsewhere. And then sending it back.

    Our society likes to think of itself as progressive, and liberals especially like to think that the so-called “arc of…

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    Tue. July 15

    Overcoming the Attractiveness Bias

    Ryan Duffy

    Bodies have been on people’s mind perhaps more than normal the past few weeks. Whether it be critiques about how we talk about Melissa McCarthy’s body or salivation over all those world cup studs or the surprise of bulky baseball player Prince Fielder being on the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s annual body issue, conversations around people’s attractiveness have been on full display. But how does how we view people physically impact how we think of them personally?

    In psychology there is a famous phrase called “What is beautiful is good”. This refers to the fact that human beings have an inherent bias to view attractive individuals as better—more socially competent, mentally healthy, well adjusted, and intelligent. This bias is very strong and recent research on children has shown it to be just as strong as race or gender biases. There are several hypotheses about why…

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    Mon. July 14

    Colbie Caillat’s Fresh, Uplifting Message

    Chelsea Samelson

    Last week, I wrote that pop starlets like Iggy Azalea who sell sex and shock rather than talent and class don’t deserve the fame we give them. It is becoming harder and harder to find stars whose music and messages actually merit attention and popularity. But Colbie Caillat is one woman worth watching, and worth listening to. She has repeatedly and firmly set herself apart from the mind-numbing, sleazy fluff that has come to dominate pop music, and her latest release might be the most powerful and refreshing example yet.

    The music video for her new single, “Try” begins with a number of women done up in full hair and make-up, trying to look as beautiful and sexy as they can. Then, Caillat comes quietly in, repeating the same old message women are told over and over again: put your make-up on, get your nails done, curl your hair,…

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    Mon. July 14

    The Real War on Women

    Elise Italiano

    Many television pundits and their guests have been analyzing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case and its implications for the supposed “war on women,” but if you turn on the radio, you’ll hear a much more vicious attack against the fairer sex taking place.  Two Top 40 songs of the summer, “Wasted” (by Tiesto featuring Matthew Korma) and “Wiggle” (by Jason Derulo featuring Snoop Dogg) are denigrating anthems for sexual objectification. While some might argue that they are simply catchy pop and R&B songs and will be gone from our memory when the summer passes, their popularity makes me think that listeners don’t mind their scandalous message.

    In “Wasted” Tiesto croons that drunken sex is the best kind of sex, because it excuses the need for any communication or intimacy: I like us better when we’re wasted It makes it easier to fake…

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    Culture, Music


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    Mon. July 14

    LeBron James: The Prodigal King

    Mary Rose Somarriba

    King James is coming home!

    The world’s most famous basketball player and four-time-MVP, LeBron James announced he will leave the Miami Heat and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years. After weeks of what commentators have called “holding the NBA hostage” as a free agent, LeBron has finally made his decision (this time sans The Decision), ending the suspense and relieving front offices across the NBA from bartering to gain him as a player.

    Announcing Friday in an interview for Sports Illustrated, James explains:

    “When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”

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    Mon. July 14

    In Defense of Trophy Hunting

    Mark Tapson

    I’m not a hunter, but I’m tempted to become one just to stand in solidarity with people—young  women especially—who have recently become the targets themselves of vile anti-hunting hysteria.

    First, a 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader named Kendall Jones roused a firestorm of social media anger after posting on Facebook pics of her posed with her legally acquired big game trophies. After taking heat from accusations of animal cruelty, Jones replied, “The rhino was a green hunt, meaning it was darted and immobilized in order to draw blood for testing, DNA profiling, microchipping the horn, and treating a massive leg injury most likely caused by lions.” A lion she brought down with a bow (!) was within a game reserve: “Controlling the male lion population is important within large fenced areas like these in order to make sure the cubs have a high survival rate.”

    As for the…

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