The Man Behind Bob and Larry Sounds Off On Today’s Media

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In 1993, Phil Vischer launched what became a hugely popular series for kids called VeggieTales. Back in 2009, we talked with him about VeggieTales, his new venture JellyTelly and the challenges of guiding kids through the entertainment culture. This time around, I wanted to talk with Vischer about the entertainment culture as a whole—and to […]

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American Idol, CSI & the Passing of the Monoculture

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It doesn’t seem that long ago, really, that two influential, iconic network juggernauts dominated the ratings, week after week, year after year: Fox’s American Idol and CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Both shows spawned imitators and shaped America’s TV culture. Both exhibited a Goliath-like ability to intimidate any would-be rivals. And both, like Goliath, were […]

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Star Wars: The Memories Awaken

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In late May of 1977, my mom and I clambered into the cavernous back seat of our neighbors’ Chevrolet Caprice Classic wagon and headed downtown to see Star Wars at the palatial River Hills theater in Des Moines, Iowa. The opening scene is forever seared into my memory, and to this day I don’t think […]

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Abercrombie Shelving Sexy Ads

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Remember the days when clothier Abercrombie & Fitch was all about selling its stuff with images of barely clothed, beautiful teen bodies—the sort of sexiness prominently featured on in-store displays in the form of bionic backs, parabolic pectorals and implausible parades of perfect tanned curves? That was a time when a clothing catalogue could shamelessly […]

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Pop Culture Might Have Replaced the Prophet, But Nobody Can Push Away the Power of Story

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Our world is soaked in pop … culture. Entertainment saturates everything around us. It’s impossible to get away from it all, even if we wanted to. And, truthfully, how many of us want to? Entertainment tries to fill lots of holes in our lives. It can be an escape. A salve for hard times. It […]

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Exposing the Birthday Party Industrial Complex

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Two of my children went to friends’ birthday parties last weekend. My 6-year-old daughter joined a friend at a trampoline park, while my 8-year-old son headed off to Dart Warz (an establishment catering to the irrepressible urge for tweens and teens, mostly boys, to plunk one another with Terminator-ready Nerf blasters almost as big as […]

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Ad and A.D. Add Up to a Big Easter on TV

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About 3.7 million people tuned in to watch Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus on the National Geographic Channel last Sunday—the most ever to watch a show on the network, and a 300% improvement on NatGeo’s typical Sunday-night ratings. It was a success. But it wasn’t a surprise. Jesus—or, rather, shows predicated on Him—is big business these […]

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Music Videos Shape Teens’ Values

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MTV doesn’t focus much on music these days. But the medium that the cable channel helped pioneer back in the 1980s, the music video, continues to exert significant cultural influence. Specifically, a new study conducted by researchers at Catholic University of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, finds that some teens who watch music videos today are […]

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Unpacking Madonna’s Spiritual Beliefs

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Madonna’s 13th album, Rebel Heart, includes quite a lot of spiritual imagery—sometimes couching temptation in terms of a struggle requiring divine assistance, other times merging erotic sexual innuendo and religious iconography in deliberately provocative ways. In a lengthy new interview with Rolling Stone, the Material Girl talked about some of her spiritual experiences growing up, […]

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