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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The Strict Science of Apocalyptic Blockbusters

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If you’ve been to a big-budget blockbuster at the multiplex recently—and by recently, I mean, oh, say, the last decade or two—you might have noticed some significant similarities between films when the heavy cinematic artillery swings into action. Namely, whether we’re dealing with science fiction, super heroes or fantasy, the scope of destruction is simply […]

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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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Technology & Behavior: Benefit, Bane or Both?

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There’s no question that technology is changing our behavior. The question is this: Is that a good thing or bad thing? A benefit or a bane? Perhaps the best answer is yes. Let me illustrate. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently leased a new Subaru that comes with all sorts whiz-bang […]

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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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Ant-Man: A Tiny Lesson From a Tiny Superhero

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So, the new trailer for Marvel’s newest superhero movie, Ant-Man, has just arrived on YouTube. And with 4 million views and climbing fast at the time of this post, the response has been … well, big. After watching another Marvel superhero, Daredevil, take a dark turn over on Netflix this week, it’s nice to see Ant-Man take […]

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