“Bandersnatch”: The Possibility—and Peril—of Story

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bandersnatch

Stories are never one-way streets. It’s not just what the story’s creator pours into them; we, the consumer, bring elements to the party as well—our experiences, our ideals, our moods. These elements inherently shape a given story we’re reading or viewing or playing. So even while watching the same movie, two people can have two […]

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Pop Culture’s Top 10 Movers and Shakers (2018 Edition)

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movers and shakers

See ya, 2018. Wouldn’t want to be ya. Who would? The year was so crazy that even Vincent Van Gogh would have suggested it get a hold of itself. Terrible fires in California. Terrible cold out east. A Tesla Roadster is driving around in space. Certain eels are compulsively swimming into the noses of certain […]

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Top Television 2018: Paul Asay and Kristin Smith’s Year-End Picks

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television tops

Fun fact: About 495 scripted television series were reportedly aired in 2018. If true, that’s a new record—up from the old record of 487 set last year, which in turn was up from the previous record of 455 set the year before. That’s a lot of television. And even for Plugged In’s intrepid television reviewers […]

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Culture Clips: Nostalgia Cuts Both Ways

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Nostalgia is big business. If it’s been a hit in the last century, whether on the big screen or small, someone in Hollywood is figuring out a way to reboot, repackage or relaunch it. That’s because familiar entertainment properties from the past pack built-in marketing muscle, full of yesteryear’s fond memories. Disney, of course, has […]

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Can 13 Reasons Why be tragically influential? A Grieving Mom Says Yes, and Why.

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13 Reasons why

When researching a book I wrote about media discernment, I found scores of studies linking numerous negative human behaviors to entertainment. For instance, researchers believe that kids who see characters smoke onscreen are more likely to light up in real life. Other studies link onscreen sexual activities and actual sexual behaviors. But what about suicides? […]

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Culture Clips: Are Conservative Stars Keeping Quiet?

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Many celebrities these days adopt political views that tend to align with liberal positions and politicians. But what about those who don’t? What price might a conservative actor, actress or entertainer pay for voicing a right-leaning opinion? The Hollywood Reporter notes that conservative celebrities are “skittish” about being politically vocal in our “toxic” times. “There […]

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Lots of Winners at the Emmys, But Families Were the Losers

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emmys

Did you watch the Emmys? If so you’re one of a select few. Television’s annual awards gala posted a 7.4 rating—which might not mean much to you, but it’s apparently a 10% drop from the previous year and puts the viewership bar at an all-time low. Like, don’t-try-to-limbo-under-that-sucker low. Some will naturally point to the […]

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‘Hey, Do You Guys Review Netflix Movies?’

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netflix movies

Yes. That’s the short answer to the question in the title—and a question we’ve been hearing from our readers more and more frequently, I might add. The long answer is slightly, um, longer. Netflix, of course, continues to challenge both the TV- and movie-distribution paradigms. The streaming service, along with others such as Amazon and […]

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Speaking of Speaking …

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speaking of speaking

In my 2011 book, Plugged-In Parenting, I included a chapter titled, “Ten Things You Can Do to End Fights Over Family Entertainment.” One of those suggestions was to get your pastors involved. Here’s what I said: When your kids hear other people—pastors, parents, teachers—echoing your advice on media, they may be more willing to listen. […]

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Culture Clips: And Now a Word From Our Sponsors …

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netflix commercials

Netflix, you clever dog, you. “Commercials are terrible!”you told us, and then you filled your streaming service with roughly three quintillion original shows (OK, 323, a number that has tripled between 2016 and 2017) that we could binge without seeing a single ad for shampoo, beer or personal hygiene products. Now, my own children treat […]

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Vodcast: How Does Parenthood Change Our View of the Media?

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Parenthood is full of surprises, no matter how much we try to prepare for everything before the arrival of our firstborn. One of those surprises may be the ways becoming a parent changes how we see the world. And that includes entertainment and media. In this week’s Plugged In Vodcast, Kristin Smith, Bob Hoose and […]

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Culture Clips: State of the Teens, Summer 2018 Edition

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Are the kids alright? It’s a question that many in our culture return to again and again. Rightly so: Today’s children represent the future of our society. But while the question itself seems a simple one, answers almost never are. And so it is today. The news about what’s happening with young people—mostly teens, but […]

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