Culture Clips: No Words

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Candles

We suffered through a week of loss and grief, a week that left us looking for answers. We know the who, what and where of the tragedy in Las Vegas, when a gunman opened fire on a stadium filled with country music fans, killing 58 of them and injuring hundreds more. But the why remains elusive.

We can only react, and react we have. Jason Aldean, the country singer who headlined the concert reacted on social media. “Over the last 24 hrs I have gone through lots of emotions,” he wrote. “Scared, Anger, Heartache, Compassion and many others. I truely [sic] don’t understand why a person would want to take the life of another.” Lee Brice, another singer who performed at the same venue just two nights before, offered words of encouragement. “I have faith that God has a plan and that he will prevail,” he told Fox News.

And even as we hear about moments of heroism from that dreadful night, we’re increasingly aware that entertainment venues—places that people often go to let their guards down for a while—are among the most vulnerable to attack. And in a story titled “Google and Facebook Have Failed Us,” The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal also lamented the false, damaging stories that circulated on social media in the massacre’s immediate aftermath. “These companies are the most powerful information gatekeepers that the world has ever known, and yet they refuse to take responsibility for their active role in damaging the quality of information reaching the public,” Alexis wrote.

We lost famed rocker Tom Petty this week as well—and that, too, initially caused as much confusion as grief. When Petty’s death was officially confirmed, from cardiac arrest at the relatively young age of 66, eulogies began rolling in from everywhere—many focusing on Petty’s everyman status. The Atlantic titled its own eulogy “The Humble Hugeness of Tom Petty.” In The New Yorker, Amanda Petrusich wrote, “I’m fairly certain Petty knew how it felt to be us.” Michael Tedder, writing for The Daily Beast, said, “Though he was an American master and globally famous superstar, Petty came off like a guy who would have a beer with you as long as you didn’t gush at him too much …”

And while Petty was no Christian and struggled with a heroin addiction in the 1990s, he certainly had some interesting, grounded things to say about fame and wealth. “We’re told we’re nothing if we don’t have a mansion and dress like a movie star,” he said in 2014. “It’s hard on a young person to not think that’s the game.”

Petty’s death overshadowed that of another man who influenced entertainment mightily: Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine. Hefner’s perspective on sexuality certainly helped shape the culture. And the magazine he founded largely spawned the inundation of pornography present today. But for all Hefner’s talk that his sex-saturated magazine helped free women from sexual shackles, Susan Brownmiller reminds us that he demeaned women constantly. “Are we really O.K. with the reality that our girls are being raised in a world that Mr. Hefner made?” she writes for The New York Times. “I’m not.”  And Mercer Schuchart tells us in Christianity Today that the society Hefner helped create is one that few of us particularly like. “Well, like it or not, the Playboy philosophy is now your culture’s philosophy,” he writes. “Do you feel better?”

Given our culture’s fixation with sexuality, maybe it’s not surprising that there’s a push to make Wonder Woman bisexual in the sequel. “One of the first things I learned is that representation is power, especially in today’s society ruled by technology and social media,” writes Gianna Collier-Pitts, who authored the change.org petition, which currently has about 9,000 supporters. “What we are exposed to on our televisions, in our movie theaters and Netflix queues, can have a direct correlation to how we view ourselves and the world around us.”

Also, nearly a quarter of adolescent girls in the United Kingdom report being depressed. The study points to the pressures found on social media and “body image dissatisfaction.” Writes Mary Kenny for The Belfast Telegraph, “Sexual liberation can be freedom from old taboos; it can also bring new insecurities. It may well be depressing for a 14-year-old to be worried about whether she will measure up in terms of sexual performance.”

But let’s not forget the influence of those portable digital devices most of us carry in our pockets, too. According to The New York Times, technology has changed the love lives of teens dramatically, and not always for the better.

They’re exposed to worse things on television these days as well: The Parents’ Television Council found that modern television reboots of old-school fairy tales (such as Once Upon a Time and Emerald City) are often have much more problematic content than their earlier, more innocent inspirations.

That said, teens are actually having much less sex than they used to. They’re dating and drinking less, too.

That’s a bit of encouraging news in a week that saw precious little of that. I’d like to offer some more but … well, about the best I can do is tell you that, thanks to Comedy Central’s animated cult fave Rick and Morty, McDonald’s is bringing back Szechuan Sauce for one day only—Oct. 7. Having not ever tasted Szechuan sauce, is this reason to celebrate? Let me know below.

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 16 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Soooo, why was my comment below deleted? I didn't say anything bad; I just posted something bad the someone else said.
[removed] 17 days ago
This comment has been deleted
bobed 17 days ago
It is just like you said below. Liberalism is a cancer. They hate us - they truly wish we were all dead. They secretly rejoice when they believe we have been targeted or harmed. That woman's views are merely the tip of a very large iceberg.
Amy Blickensderfer 15 days ago
"They hate us"

What?

Get to know some people who don't think the way you do.  Who don't divide the world into "us" vs "them"

I promise you, there are people on both sides of the political spectrum who are kind,  loving people.   Go out and introduce yourself to some of them.

I've been in liberal churches, I've been in conservative churches.  You should get out more.  

Of course some people are jerks.  I'm not sure how you equate one terrible woman with "all liberals".   Just terrible logic.  You make me sad.


bobed 17 days ago
What you said about Once Upon a Time rings true for me. My daughters and wife once fervently watched the show. There was apparently little problematic content involved. However, one day (I believe it was a few years ago) my wife came to me, troubled, and told me there was a lesbian love story featured prominently in one episode - only implied, but strongly implied. After we researched the scene together it troubled both of us, but we agreed to allow the show another shot.

Bad idea! One bad apple ruins the whole bunch. Not long afterward, the show featured a passionate lesbian kiss that lasted what my wife described as a full minute, and went beyond anything that could be considered appropriate. My wife watched in shock and disbelief and we were forced to give our daughters a talking-to about what they had seen. Once Upon a Time is a show that children watch, and it is fully aware of that fact, and wants to use that fact to its best advantage to further its creators' agenda. It is social engineering at its most obvious and disgusting. We have never watched it again. 
bobed 17 days ago
In this same vein is the idea of making Wonder Woman, a hero who millions of little girls look up to, an experimentor of bisexuality. It's social engineering. It's horrifying to watch as it grows and grows.
Anonymous 17 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

The LGBT community is a cancer that's getting worse each day, infecting everything we know. Boy Scouts, Beauty and the Beast, and now Wonder Woman.

So I'm wondering, how do we as Christians respond to the LGBT? I know we shouldn't participate in what it infects, but how do we show them God's love for us without coming off as short sighted bigots?
bobed 17 days ago
We cannot show them the love of God without being called bigots. It is simply impossible nowadays. Any stance on homosexual issues other than rigorous support is considered verboten. Personally, I don't care what anyone thinks of me. I love them, but I believe their lifestyle is harmful and deluded. I will not waver on that issue. The Bible is my compass, and its "north" has never wavered, so why should mine? They may call me "bigot" if they like. All I know is that the word of God tells me the truth.
Chuck Anziulewicz 16 days ago
When you refer to the LGBT community as a "cancer" that "infects" things, how are we to think of you as anything OTHER than a short-sighted bigot?

Do you think all LGBT people share the same "lifestyle"? Or are you capable of making a moral and ethical distinction between a married monogamous Gay couple, and a sexually promiscuous Gay man?

Maybe it's time for you to get to know some Gay people. Tell them how you think they are a "cancer," then ask them to respond.
Anonymous 16 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I already know some gay people. One of my coworkers is gay, actually. I have never told him that he is a cancer, because that would be incredibly rude.

We all know the LGBT is wrong about the idea that "Love conquers all." It's wrong, plain and simple. There's no grey about it; only black and white. The question is how do we navigate a world with the LGBT.

Here's a question for you Chuck: how would you handle a gay person who tells you that he or she can love whoever they want? Do you agree to disagree, or do you stand for what's right? If we choose the latter, how do we do it?
Chuck Anziulewicz 15 days ago

Why would supporting marriage for Gay couples necessarily a liberal position? Is just shacking up together preferable?


The morality of Gay marriage is comparable to the morality of Straight marriage: It is morally and ethically preferable to encourage people toward monogamy and commitment, rather than relegating them to lives of loneliness and possibly promiscuity. 


So YES: Supporting marriage equality is the true conservative position.


Studies have repeatedly shown that the benefits are substantial:
1: Married couples typically contribute more and take less from society.
2: Married couples support and care for each other financially, physically and emotionally and often contribute more to the economy and savings.
3: Individuals who are married are less likely to receive government entitlements.
4: Individuals who are married statistically consume less health care services, and often give more to churches and charities.
5: Married couples are better able to provide care and security for children.


So what sense does it make to exclude law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples from this place at the table? Why is it, for example, that Straight couples are encouraged to date, get engaged, marry and build lives together in the context of monogamy and commitment, and that this is a GOOD thing yet for Gay couples to do exactly the same is somehow a BAD thing? To me this seems like a very poor value judgment.

Anonymous 15 days ago
(Replying to Chuck Anziulewicz; the comments thread got cut off due to being too long.)

Because it is same-sex. That is why we as Christians oppose it. The Bible explicitly says that homosexuality is wrong, in any form - "shacking up," marriage, sex, etc. It's not just that Christians oppose same-sex *marriage*, or that we want to "doom" same-sex couples to a life of "loneliness and possible promiscuity" - we oppose homosexuality itself. Homosexuality is a sin, plain and simple.

- Lionsong
Dan Haynes 16 days ago
Just a heads up: WW has been bisexual in canon since at the latest 2008, but it has been heavily alluded to all along. Carry on. 
bobed 16 days ago
Perhaps in the comics. Not in the movie. Not yet, at least. I am quite disappointed at the idea that she will become so, though. Obviously since she comes from an island of just women, the implication was always there.