Culture Clips: The Fate of the Free World (and Vin Diesel) Edition

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Fate of the Furious cars flying

We have so much serious stuff to get to in our latest edition of Culture Clips. But before we get too grim, let me share with you my reaction to The Fate of the Furious’ mammoth $532.5 million worldwide take on Monday.

“Wha??!”

Turns out, though, I’m just an old curmudgeon. The Washington Post suggests that fans of the franchise—and there are apparently a lot of them around the world—resonate not just with the film’s ludicrous action sequences, but it’s surprisingly sweet messages about family. “In our contentious era, who would have guessed that the Furious franchise would give us a blueprint for how to get along with our enemies?” wrote Stephanie Merry.

The success of Adam Sandler’s Netflix projects, meanwhile, may be a bit more mysterious. According to Netflix’s most recent earnings report, subscribers have watched more than 500 million hours of Sandler flicks on the service since it unveiled Sandler’s much-panned Ridiculous 6 in late 2015. As the guy who reviewed You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, that seems … excessive.

In other (hopefully unrelated) Netflix news, the streaming outlet is on the verge of claiming its 100 millionth subscriber. (Rumor is that that lucky subscriber will be able to watch Ridiculous 6 as much as he or she wants.)

Much of the nation’s bandwidth this week, naturally, was taken up by the tragic story of the so-called Facebook Killer, who picked a man at random, shot and killed him and then uploaded the video to the ubiquitous social network. After a multistate manhunt, the alleged killer killed himself. But concerns persist regarding just how Facebook is used—and, of course, abused. “We have a lot more to do here,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said.

Sadly, that wasn’t the only tragedy America witnessed live on social media recently. A 13-year-old boy accidentally shot himself while cleaning a gun and recording a video on Instagram Live.

And there are those who would argue we have way too much fake violence in our media as it is. In an interview with Britain’s The Guardian, the legendary Dick Van Dyke said that violent video games, movies and television shows are negatively impacting our youth, who then “idolize [violence] as a romantic way of life.” He added that Walt Disney would definitely have something to say about these violent trends. “Walt said kids like to be scared,” he said. “It’s a delicious feeling. But he did it with witches, evil queens and things like that. Now it goes into blood and violence.”

Speaking of which, there’s a great deal of concern over Netflix’s series 13 Reasons Why, with cultural observers suggesting (as we did) that the central character’s eventual suicide—graphically portrayed—could lead to teen viewers more seriously consider taking their own lives. “There is a great concern that I have … that young people are going to overidentify with Hannah in the series and we actually may see more suicides as a result of this television series,” Dan Reidenberg, the executive director for Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, told ABC News. The Daily Beast has a recap of some of the groups taking issue with the show, and Kathryn Watson, writing for Relevant, gives her own insightful take of the show. “13 Reasons Why is bad because it tells an important truth, but only part of it,” she says. “It takes us to a terrible place, and leaves us there.”

Kids and teens do sometimes emulate elements they see on television or in the culture as a whole, and apparently some of them are now styling themselves as transgender because it’s trendy—at least in Australia. But it’s certainly not trendy to out someone’s transgender status on a reality show. Jeff Varner found that out the hard way after he outed Zeke Smith on CBS’s Survivor. Varner was booted off the show, weathered scads of crit on social media and, he says, lost his job over the incident.

If you’re feeling a little down about the state of the world, you’re not alone. More Americans are dealing with stress and depression than ever before. Oh, and more than half of American adults have apparently tried marijuana, too.

But let’s not end this segment of culture clips on a sad note. Instead, let’s turn to Rotten Tomatoes’ collective, aggregate take on Pure Flix’s The Case for Christ. The movie currently has a 77% “freshness” rating—the first Pure Flix film to boast such support. Sure, the world seems awash in bad news as of late, but at least Christian moviemaking may be on its way up.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 3 months ago
The Case for Christ is NOT the first PureFlix movie to "boast such support" from critics. Woodlawn has the exact same freshness rating from the exact same number of critics.

But that does not diminish the success of what happened. The real story is that PureFlix was able to make a movie about the truth of Christianity without needless attacks against people with different views. As a result, the movie got better reviews, revealed some of God's love, and made an even more compelling case for Christ.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I find it sad that people attack Facebook and other social media sites when something like this happens. So many Christians are 150% in favor of gun rights, screaming that "guns don't kill people, people kill people!" (and to be clear, I agree with that), but then they're quick to blame social media for stuff like this? Social media is a tool, just like a gun, and like a gun it's up to each of us to use it for good or for bad, responsibly or irresponsibly. Facebook did nothing wrong in this story, the responsibility lies solely on the murderer.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Nuff said!