Pop Culture & Amusements
Ikea is Bringing Back its Furniture from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, by Jenny Xie, Curbed, November 20, 2014
Long before the Swedish furnishings giant made news by Photoshopping women out of these pages, the catalogs—now the third-most printed publication in the world, behind the Bible and Harry Potter—embraced the bold hues, omnipresent denim, and eye-popping florals of the era. The IKEA Catalogue (US spelling: IKEA Catalog) is a popular mail order catalogue published annually by the Swedish home furnishing retailer, Ikea. First published in Swedish in 1951, the catalogue is now published each summer in 55 different editions, in 27 languages for 35 countries, and is considered to be the main marketing tool of the retail giant, consuming 70% of the company’s annual marketing budget. The catalogue prints approximately 175 million copies worldwide annually, more than 3 times as much as The Bible.
Horror sequels are the exact opposite of horror, by Tasha Robinson, The Dissolve, October 29, 2014
“By the time Freddy Vs. Jason rolled around in 2003, we were no longer expected to root for the nominal good guys (teenagers without an ounce of fat on them). What we were rooting for as the sequels plodded on and on was a high body count. These sequels are basically snuff movies.” [Stephen King]
He has a point, but he seems to miss that the sequels also become comedies. As victims come and go, they become faceless and generic. Meanwhile, the villains endure and become iconic characters, secretly the heroes of their movies. Once viewers are cheering for a villain, or laughing along with him, they aren’t afraid of him anymore.
And while you could make the argument that, “Hey, we all like Batman, and he’s white, but we can all learn from him, so who cares?” a study published in Communication Research from 2012 found that “children are affected when they don’t see themselves represented on TV.” Further, “it affects them when the young people who look like them are seen doing something wrong.” In fact, the same study found that TV exposure directly correlated to a decrease in self-esteem for white and black girls and black boys, while white boys experienced a self-esteem boost. In essence, when girls and black boys are shown acting stupid, deferential, or malicious on TV, those messages get to kids. And if they’re not even shown at all? Forget it.
Dora The Explorer, for instance, started out as a little white girl named Tess before Nickelodeon executives asked the show’s creators to convert her into a bilingual Latina, citing some research on how Latinos were the most underrepresented minority on television. Neither of the show’s creators spoke Spanish or knew anything about Latino life, but they hired a Latino writer and several savvy consultants and language experts. Thus the Dora empire was born.
As Kriegman told us, “Diversity is inherently richer than just one voice.” He continued: “Why wouldn’t you want the richest environment creatively in terms of voices and characters and stories?… Why eat Wonder Bread when you can have bread from all over the world?”
8 Words That Are Older Than You Think, Dictionary.com, October 13, 2014
The first citation of OMG in the Oxford English Dictionary appears in a 1917 letter from the British admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher to Winston Churchill. Dudes, believe it or not, have been around since 1883.
How Do You Differentiate Good Acting From Bad Acting? by Marcus Geduld, Slate (via Quora), September 10, 2014
Fourth, the actor knows how to listen. It’s fascinating to watch actors when they’re not speaking. Some are too caught up in ego or technicalities (e.g., trying to remember the next line) to totally focus on whomever it is they’re acting with. Others seem to register everything they hear. You can see whatever is being said to them physically affecting them, as if the words are slapping them across the face. Watch Claire Danes. She’s an amazing listener.
What If Men Weren’t Allowed on Facebook? by Amanda Hess, Slate, August 27, 2014
Women.com, a new social network exclusively for women, is currently testing that premise.
Here’s a map that lets you cyberstalk cats all around the world: “I Know Where Your Cat Lives,” by William Hughes, A.V. Club, July 21, 2014
Mundy gathered the photos by searching for images tagged “cat” on popular photo hosting sites like Flickr, and then pulled metadata from each picture that gave him the longitude and latitude they were taken at to build a global kitty map (it also produces a number of false hits of drawings of cats, or reposts of cat meme photos). Of course, you could do the same thing with pictures tagged “new car,” or “husband,” or “kids” just as easily. Which is essentially the point Mundy is trying to make, by exposing just how much data Internet users willingly give up when they upload pictures of themselves and their loved ones to publicly accessible sites.
Watch Dave Foley welcome The Ramones to heaven, by William Hughes, A.V. Club, July 21, 2014
With the death last week of final surviving founding member Tommy Ramone, there have been a lot of comments and jokes of late about how The Ramones have reunited at last. A new Funny Or Die video by Jake Fogelnest, featuring Traci Lords and Dave Foley, takes that idea and runs with it, with the duo as angels welcoming the legendary rockers to heaven…
Binge-watching will also kill you, say stupid scientists who won’t let you have anything, by Sean O’Neal, A.V. Club, June 26, 2014
As part of the ongoing study of the many ways living will kill you, scientists in Pamplona, Spain—where people run in front of stampeding bulls for fun—have sounded the alarm on the deadly dangers of watching television.
We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome, by Tasha Robinson, The Dissole, June 16, 2014
If she [your Strong Female Character] does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?
Iconic carpet from The Shining now available for your home and body, by Becca James, A.V. Club, May 2, 2014
The Austin, Texas-based Mondo Tees—already responsible for scores of limited-edition screenprinted posters, soundtracks, and VHS reissues of classic films—has announced possibly its most ambitious undertaking yet with Mondo 237, a product line based on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Consider three shows: ABC’s Trophy Wife, Fox’s Enlisted, and NBC’s Hannibal. Though the three could not be any more different in subject matter or premises, they share one major thing: Their ratings are disastrous enough that even a season ago, they would have been marked for swift, brutal cancelation. And yet as we head into renewal and cancelation season, all three have varying degrees of hope for renewal, even though their numbers would argue anything but.
For instance, consider three other shows: Fox’s The Mindy Project, HBO’s Getting On, and FX’s The Americans. Here are another three shows that couldn’t seem more different on the surface, but they’re also three shows that have one major thing in common: Despite a live viewership you might need a microscope to see (particularly in the case of the HBO show), all have been renewed for new seasons.
The test has become popular because it’s easy to understand and sets the bar pretty low in terms of female representation, making it especially egregious that so many films fail. To pass the Bechdel test a film must:
1. Have two named female characters
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a man.
In November, Swedish movie theaters announced they would be running Bechdel “grades” alongside their movies. While some found the proposed system off-putting or unnecessary, I think the MPAA rating system serves as an interesting comparison point here. An R-rated movie is not inherently “better” than a PG-13 movie (just as a movie that passes the Bechdel test is not inherently “better” than a movie that doesn’t).
When it comes to choosing the mound of bleached wheat flour and salted beef that most suits their lifestyle, the deciding factor for 21st-century youth is, unquestionably, whether that meat-pile is “on trend.” Today’s savvy millennials want a haystack of saturated fats that speaks to them, in their own language—and as food technology is still years away from perfecting fried, edible hashtags, restaurants such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell that want to be perceived as “hip” for some reason have had to focus on rebranding.
Finally, in a statement that manages to capture the palpable desperation behind all modern rebranding efforts in just four short words, the McDonald’s press release quotes Ronald as saying, “Selfies… here I come!”
Meanwhile, Taco Bell has faced its own questions about how to change its brand perception as a place for cut-rate Mexican cuisine—an accurate image which has so far yielded them untold profits, but zero flattering Instagram photos.
Mike Vago: I’ve used a fair amount of Photoshop, and I have a rather good idea of the limits of improving picture quality. Basically, you can make it brighter, you can make it a bit sharper, and that’s it. So it drives me nuts every time a TV character utters those magic words, “can you enhance the image?” A 10-second flurry of pretend typing later, that blurry daguerreotype taken during a snowstorm that the detectives found in a whale’s stomach becomes clear enough that you can read a license plate number reflected in someone’s watch. Thanks, magical computers. Not only does it take me right out of the story, it also gives my co-workers completely unrealistic ideas of what I’m able to do with a real-life blurry photo.
Once again making all other dead people look downright lazy—just lying there breaking down into simpler organic matter, not making a dime—Michael Jackson has topped the list of the year’s highest-earning dead celebrities for the third time since 2009. Forbes (which can explain even death with a ranked list about money) estimates that Jackson earned some $160 million in the past 12 months…
A study by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia has concluded that, for every hour of television watched after age 25, the average human lifespan drops by 22 minutes. A person who watches six hours of TV per day will, on average, live five years less than people who spent less time on the couch and in front of the television screen.
This study doesn’t prove that TV is quietly killing us. It’s more likely that lack of exercise and bad eating habits are shortening the lifespans of TV couch potatoes.
We recently learned that sitting in front of the computer for six hours a day increases your risk of death by 40%.
Strip-mining nostalgia: The A.V. Club looks to yesterday for the potential franchises of tomorrow, A.V. Club, August 17, 2011
With Hollywood planning to develop movies based on Lego, Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Ouija and Magic 8-Ball, the A.V. Club — part of the satirical online magazine The Onion — suggests other ideas for movie franchises.
The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, “you’re so gay” banter, and sex—but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance—but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it)…Older women like feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies: they are the core audience for stories of doomed love and triumphs of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men; they hate seeing a child in danger… Older men like darker films, classic genres such as Westerns and war movies, men protecting their homes, and men behaving like idiots.
The Irony Epidemic, by Paul Rudnick and Kurt Andersen, Spy Magazine, March 1989
[Scroll down to page 92.] From the Google Books archive of Spy Magazine, the satirical monthly magazine co-edited by Vanity Fair editor E. Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen, and published from 1986 to 1998.