Culture Clips: How Google Shapes Election News

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And so it begins.

As Adam Holz said last week, Culture Clips is moving to a new time (now) and a new place (here), also known as “Tuesdays” and “this blog.” And because this blog is a different sort of beast than our Culture Clips are used to, the weekly wrap of relevant pop culture news items will look a little different. We’ve shrunk them, for one thing: Instead of a paragraph or two, we’re giving you a sentence or two—along with links so you can go directly to our sources. We’re making it a little less formal and a little more conversational. We’re friends, after all: The blog is no place to pretend to be a professional news anchor.

But just how different this’ll look is still in flux, honestly. We may try a few things before settling in on the format we think works best. Which means, incidentally, we want to hear from you about what’s working. Like what we’re doing here? Let us know. Think it could be better? Tell us how. Talk to us in the comments below. No one will take offense … and if we do, we promise to keep it to ourselves.

One thing that won’t change, though, is our commitment to bringing you the most interesting items we can find from around the world related to entertainment, technology and youth culture. Adam Holz, Bob Hoose and I spend our days looking for news items that we think will help you stay on top of of pop culture and a Christian’s place in it all.

So with that said, let’s launch into this week’s clips. And given that it’s election day, it’s only fitting that we start with that election—and, according to Slate, How Google Shapes the News You See About the Candidates. “All in all,” write Daniel Trielli and Nicholas Diakopoulos, “we can say that some links that pop up in the ‘in the news’ list go against Google’s guidelines for what should be listed in Google News results.”

Meanwhile, people in Chicago are still giddy over the Cubs’ thrilling World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians. About 40 million people watched last Wednesday’s clincher—the highest audience for a Game 7 since 1991. That’s even more people than read this blog! Just barely, though.

After the game, Cubs’ second baseman Ben Zobrist sent out a Tweet that said, “Don’t want to go to sleep yet.  I’m still shocked. Thank you Lord for this special blessing.” Relevant Magazine directed readers to a cool 2013 Christian Examiner video where Zobrist talks more about his faith.

But the World Series isn’t the only thing that folks are watching these days. They’re also watching more gay and lesbian characters on television: Nearly 5% of regular television characters are classified as LGBTQ, according to the activist group GLAAD—a record high, though according to The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman, it’s not nearly high enough. “If 5 percent against 95 percent is a number we should celebrate, it also shows how far Hollywood has to go in fully evoking LGBTQ people, and our diverse lives, on the TV shows it makes,” he writes. (It should be noted that a 2011 Williams Institute study found that 3.8% of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.)

Oh, and Netflix would sure like it if we all watched The Crown, given that it cost a record $130 million to make. (Should you? Check out our review tomorrow and find out.)

Speaking of Queen and country (as in the United Kingdom country), the real head of Britain’s famed secret intelligence unit MI6 says James Bond would never make it as a spy. “In contrast to James Bond, MI6 officers are not for taking moral shortcuts,” said Alex Younger. “In fact, a strong ethical core is one of the first qualities we look for in our staff.”

Zayn Malik one-time member of the outrageously popular boy band One Direction, is talking about anxiety and having an eating disorder in his new autobiography. The latter is significant, according to MTV’s Taylor Trudon, given that “10 million men will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime.” She adds that, “It also doesn’t help that there is a special stigma for men seeking help for such disorders. They are uncomfortable or embarrassed, and they don’t want to be perceived as weak.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization say that kids in Europe are being encouraged to eat sugary, salty and fatty foods via ubiquitous ads on social media and casual gaming sites.

Mel Gibson’s bloody, Christian-tinged Hacksaw Ridge, released last Friday, has stirred some strong reactions. “It is, unequivocally, the most violent American film of the year, morally confusing with its us-vs-them dichotomy (“us” being Americans, “them” being the Japanese), yet somehow sort of sublime,” wrote Greg Cwik over at The Week. The Atlantic’s David Sims wasn’t so positive. “It’s hard not to feel euphoric when Hacksaw Ridge is over—but that’s more because the brutality has finally come to an end, and less because it’s offered any great insight.”

We’ve talked before about how our ever-present screens can cause us to lose sleep, particularly if we’re teens or kids. But turns out, you don’t even need to be staring at those screens for them to cause trouble. “A lot of people argue that it’s the device light emission that leads to sleep outcomes, but even if you’re not using it, even having the presence of the device near you affects sleep,” said lead author Ben Carter of King’s College London. And not only is our technology impact how much shuteye we get, it may be affecting how we talk.

We came across some worthwhile reads this week. Relevant offered a great take on porn and sexual addiction in “We Need To Talk About Porn,” including offering some helpful tips on dealing with the problem.

The Atlantic, meanwhile, unpacked why we’re so often disappointed in our celebrities these days: It’s simply an offshoot of our stars not just acting and singing for us, but posting and tweeting and creating viral YouTube videos for us, too—and doing it constantly. Megan Garber writes that celebs are “operating in a commercial environment that rewards volume. the more [controversial comedian Amy] Schumer tweets, the likelier it is that bloggers will analyze—and amplify—those tweets. The more weird videos she makes, the more she will remain in ‘the conversation,’ and the likelier it is that she will stay relevant. ‘The only thing worse than being talked about,’ Oscar Wilde observed, not about Hollywood but also totally about Hollywood, ‘is not being talked about.'”

That’ll do it for this week, folks. Feel free to chat about this stuff down below … and let us know how we could improve this new weekly feature.

Personally, I’m in favor of including more puns.

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 More than 1 year ago
Thank you for your commitment to Families. I have followed CC since near its inception. The previous format works better for me. This seems more like a chore. For me, I do not need any more blogs in my life. For work with our offspring and our students, the previous format worked well. If you leave CC in this new format, to be perfectly candid I probably won't read it -- too cumbersome, too undifferentiated, too little news. This seems like the disastrous formula change that - was it Coca Cola? - went through several years ago in attempting to fix something that was not broken, or make a major change when maybe only a tweak was in order. Did Focus listeners/readers/clients request this change? I know that I did not request such in a recent Focus survey, and don't recall the question being raised. Please change it back. Either way, continued best of success in the great work Focus has done over the years.   
Leah Colwell More than 1 year ago
I agree with this person's views.  I have been reading Culture Clips for years and my husband now loves them too.  But we both agree we will not continue reading if it's in blog format.  I've tried reading several done in this new way and it does just feel like a chore.  Please reconsider the old format.  And thank you for keeping us informed of cultural happenings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like the old format better. I feel that it more user friendly.  I like the pictures too, as it makes the whole section more attractive.  I'm not into the blog format, sorry.  I've read Culture Clips for years (even still have the last printed magazine in my possession).  My husband and I work with youth at church, and we appreciate the weekly Culture Clips.  
Leanne Clark More than 1 year ago
Point form is easier to skim read than paragraphs. I miss the old format.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please bring back the old Culture Clips format.  Somehow there is more crammed into this blog but at the same time much less information.  It's confusing too, without the article/topic headers.  The old layout was much better organized, much easier to read, much more informative.  It was a good balance between being summaries of articles yet conveying enough useful info.  Please also bring back the Culture Clips archive!  I look forward to reading Culture Clips as much as reading the movie reviews.  If I missed a week, it was nice to be able to go back a week or two and catch up.  I still can't figure out why you got rid of the archive.
Tish Soulliard More than 1 year ago
I miss seeing the summary of what was the top movie, rental, tv show, etc that week.  The new format does feel more blog/conversational... but it will take a while to get used to not just seeing a bunch of mini-articles.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
I spent my weekend watching "The Crown," and thought aside from a couple of minor problems, it was the best thing I've seen in months. Granted, I'm a history fanatic, but episode 9 was such pure emotional poetry in motion, full of such gut-wrenching truth and nuance, that I walked around in a daze afterward. Bravo, Netflix -- you finally made something I can watch all the way through.